In the first of the BHoF 2012 diaries, ‘Best Duo’ co-winner and Chicago Starlet, Frenchie Kiss shares her daily entries…
I can’t believe it finally arrived, my favourite weekend of the year: BHoF! I was up with the roosters to catch my flight to Vegas. Thankfully Lady Ginger was willing to be up this early, too, because it’s always more fun to travel in pairs (and help each other carry all those pairs of shoes!)
Once we arrived at The Orleans Hotel and Casino, we found Michelle L’amour, Ginger Valentine and Missy Lisa for some iced tea and catching up. I love those first hours after arriving for Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend when you run into others who have just arrived. It’s especially fun when you get your first Legend sightings, and I started the afternoon with love from Holiday O’Hara and Toni Elling. Swoon.
After the hellos and hugs, Jett Adore and I got right to work unloading and assembling our desk in preparation for Saturday night.
We then shopped for gaudy accessories (Jett needed a new ring for the show) and ran into the impossibly charming Mat Fraser, who invited us to join him for lunch. I’d say the day was going swimmingly. Before I knew it, it was time for the Movers, Shakers and Innovators show! I’d been looking forward to this show ever since the line-up was revealed, and it did not disappoint. Let’s start by discussing my new crush: Blanche DeBris. She had me with the first notes of her high-pitched rap. There were so many fabulous acts that my heart skipped more than one beat. I couldn’t possibly name all of the fabulosity, but here are a few of my personal favourite highlights: Melody Mangler and her rose bush, The Dolls of Doom and their dragon head, Bazuka Joe and his unicorn horn, Anita Cookie and her drums, Alotta Boutte and her booty, Ginger Valentine and her tan lines, Angi B. Lovely and her passport to Istanbul, Iva Handfull and her double handfull, and of course Blue Morris and his guitars.
Over a late-night bite with my Chicago Starlets family, I thought, ‘I can’t believe we got three more nights of this magic!’
You know, Diary, I thought we’d be off to a slow start on Friday morning, but I got an early call from my legend: La Savona. My escorting duties had begun! La Savona was this year’s Legend of the Year award winner, so I felt honoured to be her escort for the weekend. She told me stories from her days in Prague, dancing in Germany, New York and for Papa Bouche in Chicago. She absolutely loved talking to everyone, and I loved seeing everyone gush over her as she signed photos.
I was so emotional anticipating the Legends Show because it’s my favourite show of the weekend. The Legends are the reason for the season! And La Savona’s excitement about her award was contagious, so I knew we were in for tears and tugging at the heart strings. The show started with a bang as the super hot Gypsy Louise performed with the ever-hot Stage Door Johnnies. The show continued to be awesome from there, and as I hoped to look and move as great as the Legends, Bambi Jones left us with this: ‘I’ll wait for you in the dressing room. If you’re not there in ten minutes, I’ll start without you.’ I hope I’ll be that dirty, too. Everyone was incredible. It was an emotional roller coaster of love, awe and inspiration. And I was particularly proud of La Savona!
Once I saw La Savona safely back to her room, I grabbed some food with the other Starlets and Jett, then went to my room to prep for Saturday!
Big day today, Diary! I woke up nervous and excited and ready for a fabulous show. I already knew that the Duo category would be one of the most exciting of the Tournament of Tease because Lola Frost & Cherry On Top, and Ray Gunn & Jeez Loueez are all killer performers. I think the Rocky theme music was playing in my mind all day.
I checked in with La Savona, then had a delicious breakfast with Honey Halfpint. I squeezed in a few minutes of pool time (the pool is my happy place) before Jett and I met for our show tech and rehearsal.
Finally it was show time and we were ready. I watched most of the Tournament of Tease from backstage, so I couldn’t see everything clearly. But the energy was palpable and from what I could see, everyone brought their best and left it all on the stage. I was completely thrilled to be part of it all, particularly because I shared the stage with my beloved and dear secretary, Jett Adore.
Indigo Blue brought the house down with her killer farewell performance production! I needed to catch my breath after what she brought to the stage, so I took a break to use the ladies room. What I didn’t realise was that they were starting to announce the night’s winners. Thanks to Lady Ginger, and running in heels from the ladies room to the showroom, I made it back to just in time to hear our names called as winners for ‘Best Duo’! Everything from that point on was a dreamy, star-filled haze. I heard the other Starlets scream, and Jett took my hand and we were off to dreamland. Knowing that we competed in such a dynamite category was its own win; the trophy was icing on the cake, and sharing this with Jett was like getting a second slice. Yummm and wheee!
Diary, this weekend always goes by faster than I want it to. It’s Sunday, and I’m still over-the-moon about Saturday night. I got some pancakes with Lady Ginger and Nora Gretz, then headed over to the Legends Q&A Panel. I knew La Savona would be excited to share more stories, and she was in great company with the other incredible Legend panellists:
Tammy True, Gypsy Louise, Kim Summers, Dolly Jones, Haji, Kitten Natividad, Tiffany Carter, April March, Alexandra the Great 48, Camille 2000, Shannon Doah, Bambi Jones, Holly Carroll, Jean Idelle, Gail Winds, Toni Elling, Tai Ping, Holiday O’Hara, Penny Starr, Ellion Ness, Eartha Quake III, Velvet Ice, Dee Milo, Dusty Summers, Gina Bon Bon, Holly Carroll, Val Valentine, and Di Alba.
They dished about everything from feminism to beauty secrets, tipping light men, being classic and getting paid what you’re worth. They also gushed about seeing burlesque revived; the weekend is all worthwhile if they feel special. I think Jo Boobs put it best when she said, ‘we put you Legends on a pedestal to look up your skirt.’
After the panel, it was time to get ready for the All-Stars and Icons show. This is where I’d get to open the show with my sisters, The Chicago Starlets, and share the stage with my idols. I consider myself to be the president of every All-Star and Icons performers’ fan clubs. Again, I asked myself, ‘how can I be this lucky?!’ The show went great – Bastard Keith brought his bastardliness, Roxi D’Lite did a pole number that is a new favourite of mine, Captain Kidd made my jaw drop, Dirty Martini made me laugh, Michelle L’amour made me cry, and Tiffany Carter, Toni Elling, Kitten Natividad and Marinka all brought the house down.
It’s weird to say, ‘that’s it’ Diary, because there was so much magic from the weekend that it can’t possibly all be summarised in a few little entries. I feel like my heart is covered in rhinestones and filled with love. My mind is racing with dirty thoughts. And I’ll be looking very forward to BHoF 2013.
Love and bisous,
Quoted in major international newspapers and held in high esteem and affection by the international burlesque community, 21st Century Burlesque Magazine has documented the contemporary burlesque scene since 2007. Founded and edited by Holli-Mae Johnson.