Kitten ‘n’ Lou’s Helsinki Burlesque Festival Diary
21st Century Burlesque Magazine has documented the contemporary burlesque scene…
Hi! We’re Kitten ‘n’ Lou, ‘The World’s Show-busiest Couple!’ We kicked off our marvellous month-long European Honeymoon Tour with the Helsinki Burlesque Festival, and we would love to share it with you! (Disclaimer: this journal in no way attempts to speak for everyone else’s experience; it is simply a glimpse of the festival through our own champagne-addled goggles.)
Our unforgettable Helsinki Burlesque Festival adventure began with being picked up by the unmistakably statuesque beacon of height Frank Doggenstein, who presented us with adorable gift bags including HBF fans, posters and, best of all, matching winter hat/scarf combos with entwining tails (for honeymoon honeys!) hand-knitted by Bettie Blackheart’s mother, who created custom knit items for each performer! (It is shocking that we were actually able to perform after this, as we instantly died from cuteness.)
Walked into the chic and cozy hotel, where we were greeted by the fabulously dressed cast, already in the middle of the kick-off meet ‘n’ greet. We tried to scurry by unnoticed, as we were serving up ’10 hours on an airplane stinkbug realness’, but couldn’t escape the warm and ﬁrm embrace of our dear pal Jett Adore, who naturally was sporting a 3-piece suit, cravat, and perfumed like a Greek god.
Clearly the festival and Bettie Blackheart have had a major inﬂuence on the hotel’s decor. From the lobby done up in leopard and pink, to our (wait for it) honeymoon suite custom painted and decorated by Bettie herself with gorgeous burly gal murals, and appointed with special touches like towel swan sculptures. (Again, dead a second time from cuteness.)
We must now take a moment to recognise the magniﬁcence of the hotel’s breakfast buffet, as it was truly a festival favourite. Not only did it include an epic and endless spread of various breads, cheeses, eggs, meats, cakes, and weird Scandinavian ﬁsh specialties, but it served as a fabulous morning meet ‘n’ greet where all the performers got to start their day with lovely chats, giant multiple heaping plates of food, and enough diesel-fuelled Finnish coffee to give Scotty The Blue Bunny a minor heart attack. P.S. Anyone who thinks showgirls don’t eat should’ve witnessed the major chowdown happening every morning around this buffet! (No photo of the buffet will be posted in order to protect the eyeballs of performers with gluten sensitivities.)
The Friday Showcase
Bettie and Frank curated an incredibly special weekend featuring both international headliners as well as local favourites, and there were too many highlights to list all of them! Here are some memorable moments we were able to catch between costume changes:
– The theme this year was ‘Tropical Tornado’, so the show kicked off with a giant Polynesian dance troupe; who knew the Finns were so great at the hula?!
– Bettie and Frank did an awesome hell-themed duet together, managing to be simultaneously badass and totally adorable, as only they can.
– Cherry Typhoon’s insane and magic facial expressions!
– Jett Adore as Zorro, duh.
– We realise at this point it’s almost a cliché to mention that Perle Noire brought the house down, but DAMN if the roof wasn’t on ﬁre after her fan dance, which seamlessly incorporated classic burlesque, Vogue ball runway moves, and her patented athletic sensuality, resulting in an act both quintessential and totally new all at the same time.
After the Friday show, in the wee hours of the morning, our honeymoon suite somehow turned into an after party, which included bed cuddles with our favourite giant Blue Bunny, freaky wizard massages, and last but not least, our driver performing a full on puppetry of the penis spectacular. Never before has a lesbian honeymoon suite become such an epic dongfest! (No photo of the dongfest will be posted in order to preserve the honour of the driver’s sweet wife.)
After sleeping in late (scrambling down to the breakfast buffet just in time – no way were we missing that even once!), we headed down to the venue for the Saturday spectacular. Highlights we were able to catch:
– Mama Ulita’s incredibly charming hula hoop/bathing beauty act: so skilled and sweet.
– LouLou D’Vil’s cray-cray ‘Aztec Princess’ set, complete with lush waterfall stripper action.
– Imogen Kelly’s music cut out during her hilarious blacklight act, and she handled it like the true pro that she is, bringing the house down regardless of tech snafus. (Please note: despite this one snafu, the tech and general production of the whole festival was flawless, complete with rockstar lights, amazing set design, a delicious and healthy green room spread each night, and a magical massage lady named Paivi backstage to work out your showgirl aches and pains. WTF?! Bettie and Frank, you spoil us.)
– Kitten De Ville’s Dixie Evans ‘Casting Couch’ tribute was so bombastic that she broke the damn couch from humping it so ferociously!
Saturday night’s after-party happened backstage, with photographer and raconteur extraordinaire Neil ‘Nez’ Kendall instigating an impromptu photo shoot inspired by his upcoming exposé tell all: Showgirls Gone Wild!
The weekend was full of incredible workshops, and we had the pleasure of teaching three in a row to some of the most enthusiastic and willing students we’ve ever had; the scene they are cultivating in Helsinki is truly exciting! Being the masochistic nut jobs that we are, we decided to take both of Jett Adore’s workshops in the morning before launching into our triple-header. It made for a loooonnnng day of nine hours straight in the studio, but what are you gonna do, not let the sensual pearls of wisdom that drip from Jett’s perfect lips wash over you if you have the chance? Don’t think so.
The day ﬁnished with the most perfect and delirious dinner at legendary Helsinki eatery The Seahorse with Bettie, Frank, Kiki, Cherry, Kitten DeVille, Jett Adore, and Neil Kendall. All of us were feeling the mind-altering effects of an amazing, crazy, bombastic and jam-packed weekend of festivities, and by the end of it we were all crying tears of laughter over absurd nonsense that would not be funny to any sane person who wasn’t at that table.
A few of us had an extra day to explore the city before leaving Helsinki, and ours couldn’t have been more magical. We spent the day gallivanting around with our number one boyfriend Jett Adore, the three of us holding hands, eating exotic shrimpy things at the indoor food market, purchasing multiple ponchos at everyone’s favourite second hand shop UFF!, and seeking out the perfect rainbow ﬂag-encrusted bar for a beer and a couch cuddle. Ah, romance!
In conclusion, the Helsinki Burlesque Fest is a goddamn miracle. It was super fun, run like a Swiss watch, ﬁlled with personal touches that made you feel exceptionally cared for, and most importantly created a real sense of global community: like the sparkliest, nakedest, bestest summer camp of fabulously talented people from all over the world. It was the perfect kick-off to our European Honeymoon Tour, and we feel so fortunate to have been a part of it. HBF forever!
21st Century Burlesque Magazine has documented the contemporary burlesque scene since 2007. Founded and edited by Holli-Mae Johnson.