In the first chapter of a two-part diary, Goldie Candela relives the magic of the 2014 Texas Burlesque Festival…
To say that the Texas Burlesque Festival is my favourite Texas burlesque event would be a full understatement; this is my home festival and the one time of year I feel like quite the southern hostess. As someone who grew up jumping from one coast to the other, it feels great having a true sense of home and, of course, being able to show off that ‘Southern Hospitality’. This was my first year hosting out of town performers at my house for the weekend so I was delighted when some of my Houston, Tx ladies asked to stay. Now who, you ask, would be brave enough to enter the Candela Chateau of Clutter and live to tell about it? Only my favourite Houston people to ever exist, Tifa Tittlywinks and Emma D’Lemma of Dem Damn Dames. They are to me the definition of old school entertainers, both holding multiple talents with creative minds that know no bounds, so needless to say I adore spending time with their structured craziness. It feeds my forever hungry artistic soul. So here we go!
Thursday April 10th
My Houston guests would arrive just in time to squeeze in a few hellos, including my introduction to our Legend of the Year, Ms. Toni Elling. My night could have ended there with her sweet words and overall magnetic presence. This was only the tip of the iceberg as the show began, Thursday night’s Nouveau Nuit Showcase. I really love Thursday night as it allows for new talent on a festival stage as well as witnessing the new works of some of the more experienced festival performers. This year did not disappoint.
Hosting the festival for all three nights was again the hysterical and damn sexy Cora Vette of Denver, Colorado. With a stunning outfit and some raunchy humour, as only Cora can execute, the show began! From a whimsical Cinderella (Double Down Dixie, Austin, TX); to Man Johnson (Seattle, WA) with some strategically placed zippers on his leather man get up; to Andi Stardust and her gender twist of the Goblin King and his forever loyal bulge, aka the ‘Crotch Muppet’; then back to elegance and tease with headliner Ruby Joule performing her routine ‘Leg Show’ (which to this day is by far my favourite in her repertoire) with it’s fun and cheeky energy – it truly brought you back to the days of Lili St. Cyr where the name of the game was tease. Finishing the night’s performances was one third of the Stage Door Johnnies, Bazuka Joe, with his bath towel routine that made me want to get my rubber ducky and join that bath house.
There were so many standout performances, some of which were Holli Pop and Jay Bird (Austin, TX) in their beautiful duet which also put them into the night’s runners up for Audience Choice, Pelvis Costello (San Antonio) with his festival debut of everyone’s holiday favorite, ‘Dick in the Box’. Though none had the crowd screaming with joy, intrigue and just plain insanity like the duet of Austin Locals and members of Black Widow Burlesque, Harlet Davidson and Andy Licious, who would win the Audience Choice award and therefore win a spot for Saturday’s competition with their horse play on a sex swing routine.
Yep, this year was the year for ‘Crotch Muppets’, sex swings, beastiality, assels, and butt kazoos (thank you, Kitty Sangria). And this was only the first night! Keeping the late night rage until later in the weekend, The Dames and I headed to Austin staple Kerby Lane for some of their famous queso and other yummy foods. Not too bad for an opening night where your mind is blown to the point of exhaustion.
Friday April 11th
Friday started a bit early as I woke up to prepare breakfast for my house guests; I love playing hostess, can ya tell? Makes me wanna tie a sweater around my neck and be Martha. Might have to be a routine soon… When everyone was fed, the ladies left to partake in Bazuka Joe’s jazz workshop. I stayed behind and did some last minute touches and rehearsal for the official debut of our Jigglewatts group routine that had been over a year in the making. As the host troupe of the festival we knew we wanted a true Austin, TX routine to say ‘Welcome to Austin!’ I have to say we did just that, adding some old country and the forever Austin icon, Stevie Ray Vaughn.
Friday is by far my favourite show as it is the night we have our legend(s) perform. I had at this point been yearning to watching Ms. Toni Elling perform for a few years, and now it was finally going to happen. Anyone in our community who has met this woman knows how beautiful she is. She has taken in many of us within this new wave of burlesque as her own children and I am proud to not only know her but to have had this opportunity to speak with her and just hug this amazing human being.
Friday night’s performances were kicked off with a beautiful classic routine from Miss Victoria Pnematica (Denver, CO), then in our home town fashion Chola Magnolia would take the stage with her bump and grind to Low Rider; seriously, look it up, it’s amazing! We had strippers paying homage to their favourite things: Divertida Devotchka (Dallas, TX) and her sizzling ‘Bacon’ routine, Vixy Van Hellen (San Antonio) came and filled the stage with every DIY show girl’s obsession… getting dirty with your pin cushion. From peacocks to Nerdlesque, to aerials, Friday night was packed with performances that kept the crowd hooting and hollering all night.
I do have to list my favourites of the evening. Lowbrow Lullabies (Dallas) with their vaudevillian throwback to the Tex Avery days, and Ginger Snaps (Austin, TX) and her beautiful ‘Lyra’ piece; when this lady does pretty she does pretty VERY well. Then my houseguests Tifa Tittlywinks (Burlesque Girlfriend) and Emma D’Lemma who amazed with their Willy Wonka routine. Yes, Emma D’loompa as she is now called for said routine, twerks in silks! Mind blown! Though not to be outdone by the multitude of Texas acts that we had this year, (Texas came in full force, and from what I’ve seen in the lineups for other festivals in the past year, this hasn’t been the only festival where our Lone Star talent has come in droves) California brought it in spades! Caramel Knowledge (LA) with her Nicki Fury routine complete with black light and just impeccable choreography, Di’Lovely (San Diego) bringing her infamous dance talent with one of the hottest routines I’ve seen (this girl has floor work down to an art), as well as Jet Noir (Oakland, CA) who took us from the good old days to the dark depths of fetish. I love when festivals can be cast in such a wide range of styles and really celebrate the diversity in our community that in the past has separated so many. It now brings us closer as our worldwide family grows and I love watching it all unfold.
Closing out the night were myself and The Jigglewatts Burlesque Revue along with brand new Jigglettes and stage kittens for the weekend, MsSomething Blue and Layna D’Luna. We are so proud of these ladies and how hard they work for this festival year after year. Watch out for them! Their passion and stage presence is something not to be missed.
Jett Adore (Stage Door Johnnies, Chicago,IL) would bring everyone to their knees with his solo. Fur coat and his hypnotic stare… Need I say more? Perle Noire would take the stage next in her tribute to legend Toni Elling. There are no words for what comes over me when I watch Perle Noire on stage. As a performer you want to own that kind of power where with only a step onto the stage the audience is all yours. Perle was joined on stage by the reigning King of Burlesque and Stage Door Johnny, Ray Gunn, as they paid respect to their burlesque mother and mentor Ms Toni. Needless to say the eyes in that room were filling up with tears. Tears of love and adoration which would only run heavier for the act that closed Friday night, Toni herself. Exquisite is not powerful enough a word and entrancing isn’t quite the state you are put in when this legend and spirit of a classic era steps foot onto the stage. I only hope to be able to capture a percentage of what she puts onstage. The care and placement of each movement and the true raw presence she gives to not only us as performers but to the audience who was being introduced to her for the first time and was left feeling as though they themselves had shared a moment that they could not express. They could only revel in the emotions it left them with at the end of the night.
After the eyes had a moment to dry it was time to call the performers on stage for one last bow and to announce the top acts for the Audience Choice Award that would not only gift one of the Texas Burlesque Festival’s famous Barbie statues (courtesy of Black Mariah), but also a chance to come back the next evening to perform in the big competition for even more Barbie statues. The runners up were Caramel Knowledge, Jet Noir, Chola Magnolia, with Tifa Tittlywinks and Emma D’Lemma taking home the glory and the Barbie with their insane Willy Wonka routine.
After the show it was time for a beverage and some ninja camera action. Being able to chat with so many audience members as well as those in the industry I really only get to see possibly once a year is possibly my favourite activity done at festivals. Photos attached of some of the fun and games after the lights go down on the stage. Then it was off the Candela Chateau, now with a Paco Fish in tow, for some more wine and eats before it was off to bed to rest and prepare for a long day of chatting and performances.
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.