Read on to find out what is in store at this week’s Scandanavian shimmy-fest!
“Being of northern descent, I know I’ll love the culture of Finland. And I’ve heard nothing but beautiful and fabulous things about Helsinki burlesque! The people and the producers go so out of their way to make your visit a truly memorable one! This is true, classy burlesque at its finest! And that’s why this old legend knows… It’s going to be HOT HOT HOTTER THAN HELL IN HELSINKI!”
With Ta Ta’S Flambe,
QUEEN OF THE FIRE TASSELS
Burlesque fever has been raging in Scandanavia for some time now – the community is thriving. One of the annual highlights on their burlesque calendar is The Helsinki Burlesque Festival, and this year, the line-up is especially impressive!
The headliner and honoured guest this year is none other than Satan’s Angel herself! And she will be joined by World Famous *BOB*, Vivienne VaVoom, Scotty the Blue Bunny, Fancy Chance, and native nymph Sugar Kane, amongst many another wonderful performers.
As well as the big show on the 6th, there are workshops, photo exhibitions, fortune telling and shopping to enjoy throughout the week.
I had a chance to chat with Bettie Blackheart, who heads up the festival production team with her husband, about what lies in store for visitors this week…
So Bettie, what can visitors expect from the festival this year?
The visitors will get a wide variety of contemporary burlesque, from legends to newcomers. The local artistes have more stage time than last year. There are more MEN among the performers than ever, men also have their own workshop! And the main event will be a three hour showcase of burlesque at it´s best!
Are you excited/encouraged by the increasing popularity of burlesque in Scandanavia?
This is a question with two answers – the popularity is good and bad. The phenomenon is being discovered by the mainstream businesses here – that brings exploitative and greedy people to the community. But this is something that has surely happened in many countries before and the scene will keep going anyway after the hype has settled. The good thing is that new people will discover the artform and, since getting a lot of visibility, we can do our best to tell our side of the tale and keep the Burlesque community alive, kicking and creative!
What is different/new this year compared to the 2008 and 2009 festivals?
The first festival was a total leap into the unknown – we had no idea if there were going to be thirty or one-hundred people, we ended up selling out for almost four-hundred people.
The next year was like when a band make their second album – you have to prove that the first hit was not just a happy accident. All went well and the crowd seemed to want more so here we are!
I think this year is the first one when we can really concentrate on the smallest details and also enjoy ourselves at the party – be more relaxed. This is also the first year that we have a big enough crew that we can take the time to perform ourselves too. We are totally honoured by the AMAZING talent who want to come all the way to winterwonderland!
Can you tell us about some of the hard work and preparation that goes into organising the festival?
Our main team is fairly small. This year we have some changes ahead too since Kiki Hawaiji who has been working with us from the beginning has brought Burlesque into her hometown Turku. So when Turku Burlesque kickstarted with a bang we desided together that my husband Frank Doggenstein and I would continue managing Helsinki so Kiki can concetrate on Turku. We collaborate among other things by performer exchange and by organising Burlesque Bus trips to parties inbetween cities. So there has been changes and also the work has increased.
The preparations for 2010 have begun in 2008, when Frank and I visited Tease-O-rama. We try our best to see all the performers that we bring out here live before booking. We then decided we would try to bring Satan´s Angel to Finland, because it has been clear to us from the beginning that we do not want to compete with the quantity of performers, but the quality!
And I could not be more pround of the fact that among other fabulous performers, a legend like Satan´s Angel is now packing her firetassels and flying here to melt the snow!
Since we take care of all the travel and accomodation for the performers, the booking work starts early the previous year. The theme of each year is decided approximately eight months before. The people here love to dress up accordingly and they do it fabulously – the audience start preparing for the biggest burlesque event of the year in good time ahead. Finland is dark and cold for some months in the year, so people are really in need of some feeling of carnival in the middle of the darkest winter. The audience here is certainly a big part of the whole show with their amazing creations. For the last two months, the preparations have sped up, so it takes up all the available and unavailable time!
But, as I said, it is fantastic that there are so many more enthusiastic, creative, talented people who are working with us – so most of the work, besides sitting by the computer, in fantastically interactive joyful collaboration with people that are your second family!
Finnish beauty, Sugar Kane, is also extremely excited about the upcoming festivities…
“It’s an understatement to say I’m looking forward to this festival. I’m actually in fits about it for numerous reasons! First – Satan’s Angel! I can’t believe I get to perform with such a legend. I’m very honoured and thankful to HBF that I get to be a part of it (the line-up is filled with other huge names too!)
The burlesque scene in Finland really started blossoming since the first HBF in 2008 with new performers taking to stage and events been organised on a regular basis. It’s very important for me to support this growth and for my own part hopefully make more Finnish people aware of the artform.
The act that I’m doing at HBF was made with Finland in my mind so only the Finnish audience will get the whole self-irony, parody and the use of music 100%. Though it’s an act that has had great success in other countries too, it’ll be a real treat for the HBF10…”
6th February: Main Event / Show (Kulttuuriareena Gloria, Helsinki)
See all the stars do what they do best, then party until dawn!
Click here for more information…
World Famous *BOB* (4th and 5th Feb)
Satan’s Angel (7th Feb)
Click here for details…
Finnish Book Release of Michelle Baldwin / Vivienne VaVoom’s ‘Burlesque and the New Bump-N- Grind’
“This is my first overseas performance, so I’m very excited to experience burlesque in another country! I’m also looking forward to my book, ‘Burlesque and the New Bump-n-Grind’ finding a whole new audience with the Finnish translation. The Helsinki February temperature is a little daunting, but I’m bringing my fuzziest winter hat and warmest vintage coat, and if those fail, I’ll just have Satan’s Angel light her tassels and stand next to her!”
We wish Bettie and her team all the very best – it sounds like everyone is in for a truly fabulous time!
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.