Frenchie Kiss shares her adventures at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend 2013.
This was my sixth Burlesque Hall of Fame weekend, Diary. Sixth! The first year I attended, I was wide-eyed and trying to soak in every moment, and this year I thought I was ready; I thought I already knew exactly what to expect. I’m so happy to say that I was wrong! Six years later, I’m still wide-eyed and trying to soak it all in.
It all started late night on Wednesday, May 29th, when I arrived in Las Vegas. My flight was ridiculously delayed and I felt like we’d never land, but when I finally touched down around 11pm, I found my darlings Jett Adore and Honey Halfpint waiting for me at Baggage Claim 9, passing the time by putting final touches on butterfly costumes.
We gathered up our piles of luggage (can I deny that most of it was mine?) and did some fast-talking with the cab driver in order to convince him to pack all the suitcases and the butterfly wings in his minivan. Once we were – in the words of Honey – locked and loaded, it was off to The Orleans. We had a whiskey shot to toast the weekend with Ivy Fabulous and Lily Bloom (the other Chicago Starlets who had already arrived). It was a quick cheers to a great weekend! Then it was off to dreamland with my gorgeous roomie, Jett. I needed my beauty sleep for my lunch date the next day…
Thursday, May 30th
The first order of official BHoF business was lunch with Blanche DeBris. As the self-proclaimed president of her fan club, I was thrilled that we were able to meet for some QT, Vegas-style. After saying hello to a few folks and meeting the delightful Eddie Van Glam, we left the property to head to a Las Vegas landmark, The Peppermill, where the 1970s meets comfort food 24-hours a day. I absolutely loved people-watching with the hostess with the mostest. Then, after lunch, we drove to all the costume and party shops around town looking for the last remaining devil horns to wear in memory of Sparkly Devil to that night’s show.
It seems that many other BHoF attendees had the same idea, because all the stores were horn-less. Meaning that nearly everyone at Thursday night’s show wore horns of various shapes and colors, and it was a remarkable sight. Both the sea of horns and the show itself would have made Sparkly proud. Johnny Porkpie, our host for the evening, struck an incredible balance between paying homage to Sparkly’s memory and celebrating the first show of the weekend: The Movers, Shakers and Innovators Showcase. I loved many of the performers in the show – from Gilbert de Moccos to Iva Handfull, and Russell Bruner doing his fabulous step-down performance (I want Evil Hate Monkey to roll me around in one of those mini cars, too!) But the showstopper for me was Jett’s stunning butterfly act. He stole my heart, and I was on the edge of my seat with him, Michelle L’amour, Honey Halfpint, Ivy Fabulous and Lily Bloom – all the people I love – on stage together.
After the show, I grabbed the first (of many) late-night bites at TGI Friday’s with Jett, Honey, Ivy, Lily, Michelle and Franky Vivid. Chicago in the house!
Friday, May 31st
We should have just declared this as Kitten Natividad Day because I was lucky enough to spend Friday with her, and witnessing the attention she got was worthy of a national holiday. Kitten very sweetly invited me to join her for breakfast, and never has the first meal of the day been so spicy. Technically I was her escort, Diary, but she is so lovely and takes such good care of her own things that I felt like I was just lucky enough to get such quality time with her.
After breakfast, we got her set up at Legend Vending and had a quick shopping spree amongst the other booths there. Big Fannie Annie was selling her fabulous boas and Kitten immediately spied one that would add just the right touch to her show later that night. Then Kitten settled in to sign photos and speak to her many fans, and I cruised by the pool for a little bit of Chicago Starlets quality time. I also ran into the ever-athletic Tila Von Twirl and Switch. I was also thrilled to run into Lola Frost, who introduced me to her sister, Villainy Loveless. I could not get over the fabulousness of two bad-ass, talented sisters being in the Tournament together. Does it get any better, Diary? I love it. And this was just the little happy place break needed to fill the time while waiting for Kitten’s tech time.
After Kitten’s tech, we headed back to our rooms to get ready for the 56th Annual Titans of Tease Reunion Showcase. Kitten had her corset and her boa set, and she slithered and titillated the audience as only she can. I was thrilled for her! I loved the entire show, as our ‘Vintage Vixens’ really are the reason for the season. World Famous BOB is the perfect host for this show and has me eating out of her palms every year. And I thought Imogen Kelly was delightful as the emcee for the Legend parade mid-show. I was emotional for most of it and bolstered for the rest of the weekend.
After the show, Kitten invited me and Jett to join her for dinner at the Japanese restaurant. While there, we ran into Viva La Muerte, who was enjoying one more meal before catching her plane. It was a lovely meal: sushi with a side of sass. I was blushing the entire time. We turned in early in order to get a jump on Saturday.
Saturday, June 1st
SHOW DAY! The day I’d get to share the stage with Jett in our new heart-swelling duet. We started with a quick cuddle, then huddle, then it was – break! – off to the races.
We had to do a few little errands and add the last few lovely feathers to our dreamy boa. Diary, we’ve been asked many times how long it is… Well, I’m a size queen, so it is no less than one-hundred feet long and includes at least five-hundred feathers that were custom dyed specifically for us by Cindy and her team at FancyFeather.com.
We were so excited to share this duet with the Tournament of Tease audience because this act is filled with grand love (for each other and our community). It was a thrill sharing the stage with so many killer performers and to fall in love with Jett all over again. And I was especially happy to be performing immediately after the category that sent my dreams soaring last year – ‘Best Duo’. We were stepping down from our title, but this category is magic. I cheered loudly for all the duos, but especially for my Chicago family Kami Oh and Bazuka Joe, who knocked it out of the park with their charming ways, showing everyone how much fun it can be to play with a snake.
I wish I had seen every single performance of the night. Missing ‘Best Debut’ and ‘Best Group’ is my biggest regret of the weekend. But I got to see the King and Queen categories and was gripped by so many inspiring performances. I was on my feet cheering the whole time! And Imogen Kelly moved me to tears with her step-down performance. Huge congratulations go to all the winners, but especially to another member of my Chicago family, Ray Gunn, for securing the ‘King of Boylesque’ title. He nailed every back flip and raised eyebrow.
I will sheepishly admit that the rest of the night was a blur, Diary. First, it was the after party, swirled with exceedingly generous comments, love, drinks and fun. Mr. Gorgeous proved that he, too, is able to lift me (though not over his shoulder, as Jett quickly pointed out). And I proved that it is important to eat dinner. So next it was late night – early morning? – eggs with the ridiculously sweet Paris Original, Nikki Knickers, Jett and Ivy. We got back to the room at sunrise and my face hurt from smiling so hard.
Sunday, June 2nd
I woke up a few hours later, still a little swirly. Bazuka Joe came by the room for a little pre-rehearsal costume work and coffee talk. He claims that Jett and I were a mess, but he probably means that we were a glittery delight. We pulled ourselves together and headed off to rehearsal for the epic Stage Door Johnnies group act that would premiere at the Icons and All Stars Showcase. This act featured everyone who’s anyone, and rehearsal was a sight to behold. I was on ruffle shirt duty, but really I was distracted by all the star-gazing (and secretly smug for the sneak peek). I proudly helped make Jett and Bazuka’s pasties for the show – and want to publically thank Iva Handfull for helping me out with my pink rhinestone emergency! Collaboration was the name of the game for Sunday’s show, starting with the costuming. After rehearsal, we got in some time at the pool party, where we found Minnie Tonka in a deck chair putting the finishing touches on Ray’s pasties. It truly takes a village, Diary.
I mentioned collaboration, and it was all over the Sunday night stage. The group work started with the surprise visit from Dita Von Teese to present Catherine D’Lish with her Sassy Lassy award; it was sweet to see the friends together in this way. And collaboration continued: from Jo Boobs’s tribute act to Sparkly Devil with a stage full of fiery assel twirlers, to Dirty Martini and her mermaids, Camille 2000 and her military policy, Ray Gunn’s appearance in Perle Noire’s tribute to the beloved Toni Elling, and – of course – the closing act from the Stage Door Johnnies, which featured seventeen other performers, from Waxie Moon to Foxxy Tann, Tigger!, Coco Lectric and Indigo Blue! There are too many to list, but it was an awesome spectacle of ‘holyshitholyshitholyshit’. I was dripping with Chicago pride, but not just because of the Johnnies. Hot Toddy had us in stitches with his Liberace tribute, and Michelle L’amour was gripping. She killed us and left our hearts on the stage.
The show was followed by dinner with Michelle and Franky, Hot Toddy and Ivy, which was then followed by a quick stop at the after party before sadly heading to my room to cry and pack, and pack and cry. It was a blur of intense emotions and not enough sleep, and I was sad it was ending.
As I wrap up the weekend, Diary, I can say that every year – every single year – is filled with moments of inspiration, love, shock, admiration and surprise. Each day of this weekend brought me closer to people who I love to the point of stalking. And this year I was thrilled to meet some lovely new people who I hope will become part of what I expect for future Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend reunions.
With love and bisous,