Kitty Bang Bang’s Burlesque Hall of Fame Diary
21st Century Burlesque Magazine has documented the contemporary burlesque scene…
Here is another fabulous BHoF diary from feisty London feline, Kitty Bang Bang…
Thursday 31st May 2012
I actually arrived in Las Vegas late on the Wednesday night. But owing to an extended stop over in Texas and having drunk a fair quantity of dubious tasting Shiraz to pass the time, I was in no fit state to do anything but unpack the 27kg of sparkly things that I had with me and crash out. Only of course, after jumping on my gorgeous room mate and burlesque superstar, LouLou D’vil.
On Thursday I woke up early, like 6am early. I am much more of a ‘drag myself out of bed at the crack of noon’ kind of girl normally. After trying and failing to go back to sleep for a few hours, I decided to get the hell up and be productive. I located a Red Bull and some painkillers (breakfast of champions), then it was off to get the first thing on my shopping list for my show on Saturday night. Back in London, for possibly the first time in my life, I had decided to be organised and had spent about four hours unsuccessfully Googling, ‘where to buy dustbins in Las Vegas’. It transpires that Americans call their dustbins, ‘trash cans’.
“I trotted in wearing six inch leopard print wedges, a black backless sun dress and vintage shades. This is not normal Home Depot shopping attire. Somebody actually walked their trolley into a stack of paint cans as I walked past…”
It was plain sailing from that realisation onwards. The Orleans, where I was staying, is literally a block from the most enormous Home Depot I have ever seen. Bin shopping could not have been more conveniently located; it was like the Stripper Gods really wanted me to jump out of that glittery trash can. I trotted in wearing six inch leopard print wedges, a black backless sun dress and vintage shades. This is not normal Home Depot shopping attire. Somebody actually walked their trolley into a stack of paint cans as I walked past. I think he’d never seen that much lipstick on one person before. There was a whole aisle devoted to trash cans. I got into a couple to test their strength and size. More Americans decided I was crazy.
I then had to wheel the stupid thing back down the road and through the casino of The Orleans to get it back to my room, because we couldn’t put our props backstage until the day of our performance. A security guard stopped me at the lift, wanting to know why the hell I was taking a giant wheelie bin to my room. After I explained, he gave me his number and asked me to sell the wheelie bin to him after BHoF. He wanted to be the only person on his road who had a ‘glittery trash can with naked chicks in it’. I hope he didn’t think I came with the bin?
After a quick trip to the Strip for other show essentials (eyelash glue, glitter, bananas…) my show prep was done. And it was time for the partying to commence. I met my roomy, LouLou D’vil by the pool and we demanded the strongest cocktails the barman could make. It was lovely to see the other burly people in the building for the first time too. Bettina May, Scotty The Blue Bunny, Roxi D’Lite, Trixie Little and the guys from Burlesque Assassins were all crashed out on the loungers. Cocktails were sunk, introductions were made. We were all excited for the first show that evening. Last year the Movers, Shakers and Innovators showcase was my favourite night (I know I’m not supposed to say that, but Inga Ingenue doing Minnie The Moocher? I died.)
Pre-show, LouLou, Bettina May, Miss Redd, Tansy and a few more girls and I went to The Cosmopolitan for dinner. It is so much fun walking through a fancy hotel with a group of burlesque girls in full on gowns. Lots of people though we were in period fancy dress; they were generally wearing cargo shorts though and so their opinions were not to be heeded.
We got back to The Orleans and headed straight to the show room. The first host for the evening was the absolutely adorable Blanche DeBris. I loved her and her amazing opening rap. I honestly had to stop myself from running up on stage to give her a hug. The line up was fantastic. There were some stand out acts for me personally. Mat Fraser and Julie Atlas Muz performing together. Naked contemporary dance was never so hilarious. Melody Mangler was all hot bod, amazing hair and gorgeous lines. Minnie Tonka never fails to make me laugh and she danced to the B-52’s. Love! And I was really excited to see Inga Ingenue, having fallen a bit in love with her the year before. She didn’t disappoint – that girl’s musicality is just exceptional. I must also give a very special mention to Dusty Summers. ‘The Nude Magician’ was AWESOME. What an opening night! I drank lots of rum and nearly lost my voice yelling for all the acts. Post-show we all went to ‘Big Gay Al’s’ where I caught up with Jac Bowie and Tiffany Carter and met the lovely Gabriella Maze. We all got kicked out at 4am. The first TGI Friday’s action of the weekend happened. It was real. There was drunken fried cheese eating.
Friday 1st June 2012
The next day I woke up early again, cursing my stupid jet-lag. But being up bright and early had its benefits. The gorgeous Tiffany Carter came to The Orleans and drove LouLou, Bettina and I to the enormous indoor swap meet to do some shopping. We were, without exception, too hungover to shop properly. So we gave up and went for Thai food instead. It was so lovely to get to hang out with Tiffany again; I got to meet her for the first time last year and she’s an absolute inspiration.
Back at the hotel everybody was getting ready for the Titans Of Tease show. To honour the Queen, Indigo Blue, we were all invited to wear blue that evening. I paid dual tribute to Indigo and my host country by rocking my Stars and Stripes catsuit. Upon seeing it, Creamed Stu also decided to change into superhero attire. We did not manage to save one single person that evening.
The legends evening was hosted by the (rightly so) World Famous *BOB* who managed to be hilarious, pithy and poignant, all in one sentence. Her reverence and enthusiasm were infectious, and there were so many standing ovations that I honestly felt like I had been doing squats by the end of the evening. Gypsy Louise set the tone for the evening with a spectacular Grant Philipo costumed, Stage Door Jonny supported, rhinestoned dream of an act. It was her first show in (I think) thirty years. And what a comeback! Other favourites were Holly Carroll, the ageless Shannon Doah, the filthy Bambi Jones, and I have no words for Val Valentine. She was captivating. I’d never considered dancing in a panel skirt until she showed me how it could look. What a lady.
After the show it was back to ‘Big Gay Al’s’ to do our duty and help up the bar take. This was a duty we took seriously, possibly a little too seriously. There was some frenzied dancing, I fell off my shoes at least twice. LouLou, Banbury Cross and I were the only people who were competing the next day still drinking at 4am. Cue much shouting about ‘how the Europeans do it’. Then we staggered back to our room. LouLou [D’vil] jumped in the bin naked, Bettina May was the world’s most excellent drunken hair dresser and I went to sleep in my make up for the third night running.
Saturday 2nd June 2012
‘The Europeans’ were slightly less smug about their drinking ability the next day… I’d been so het up and nervous about competing prior to the arrival of Saturday, but it seemed my monster hangover put paid to any coherent thoughts or fears. There was just a low level background nausea that could have been either actual fear or the vast quantity of white wine I’d consumed the night before. I dragged the enormous bin through the casino again to my tech, where the Bishop of Burlesque and his team were hard at work. After tech I slunk back to the room to hang out with LouLou. Having avoided tan lines thus far we decided not to tempt fate by heading down to the pool. My fellow ‘Best Debut’ competitor, Medianoche swung by the room and we talked costumes and potential disasters.
“There is no place you can perform more supportive than that theatre full of those wonderful people…”
I realised at this point that I really was going to have to do what I’d been putting off all weekend and glitter the wheelie bin. Backstage I asked one of the crew if I could take the bin out a stage back door to glitter it and save myself from wheeling it through the casino and getting another round of amused stares. They were just about to go on their break and so he showed me a door I could go out of and disappeared. I went through the door and set up my glitter and my spray mount. There was no handle on the outside of the door and so I propped it open with my bin. This, it turns out, was a mistake. Some sort of siren started wailing. I slammed the door shut but the siren showed no signs of stopping. I grabbed the bin, fled the scene of the crime and hid behind a convenient truck! To decorate, I ended up in the middle of The Orleans car park flinging pink glitter at a wheelie bin while people looked at me in a way that was by that point familiar…
When I got back to the room, my amazing London burly girlies (Polly Rae, Laurie Hagen and Klare Yaya Wilkinson) had sent me the most beautiful bunch of flowers to wish me luck. It was only then that the nerves actually started to kick in slightly!
I headed down to the showroom to get dressed. I was sharing with the very gorgeous and very calm Mosh, and also the Busby Berkley-tastic, Peek-A-Boo Revue. All was going well until ten minutes before show time when I thought that I’d lost my pasties! Having torn the dressing room apart, I sprinted through the casino in cat ears and a dressing gown back to my room to look for them. Nothing! I was quietly hysterical. I eventually found them two minutes before show time, stuck to my feather boa. I was almost a nervous wreck by the time I climbed into the bin. Nadine DuBois, the honey-tongued hostess for the evening most definitely did not realise that I was inside the bin when it was set on stage before my show. I was sat in there in darkness for a while, clutching my confetti cannon and trying not to lose my banana skin from on top of my head while she bantered with the audience. Or maybe it just felt like that?! As soon as I came out of the bin, I saw Dirty Martini AND Val Valentine were judging. I very nearly got back inside and refused to come out. But the BHoF audience were gorgeous and warm and totally encouraging. There is no place you can perform more supportive than that theatre full of those wonderful people. The show passed in a blur. I came off, got changed and ran straight to the bar, where I bumped into Roxi D’Lite who was so, so lovely. I had a chat and a drink with her and then bumped into Jac Bowie on my way back in. More drinks, more post-match analysis and I missed the rest of the Debut category! Epic fail.
But there was still the rest of the show to look forward to. I did not envy the judges and their decision making; the standard of shows was just eye-wateringly high. My favourites from the rest of the night were (and I’m not just saying this because she is my friend and the best room mate ever) the fierceness that is LouLou D’vil, the crazy sassy and sexy Lola Frost and Cherry On Top, King Of Boylesque, Russell Bruner, the newly crowned Queen Of Burlesque, Imogen Kelly, and we all had to take a moment to truly absorb the genius of Indigo Blue‘s step down performance. EPIC WIN.
I do not remember going to bed that night, but I am reliably informed that LouLou put me there and tucked me in. See? Best room mate ever.
Sunday 3rd June
Pool party time! By this point I’d been longing for some pool time, and after a breakfast of fried cheese and six dollar margaritas I was raring to go. I had a gorgeous day hanging with Jac Bowie, Bettina May, Gabriella Maze, Jonathan and Kirsten Burlesque Assassins and all my other friends. It was also nice to get to chat to some people I hadn’t had the pleasure of meeting properly before, like Cleo Clara, Scotty The Blue Bunny, Nadine DuBois, Christopher Wonder and Jeez Loueez (who had the best swim suit ever).
And then, the line up to end all goddamn line ups! I got to see the act that was the very first thing that piqued my interest in burlesque after reading an article about it – Dirty Martini‘s infamous balloon pop. There never has and never will be a balloon pop that compares. And Captain Kidd was as effortlessly genius as always. I cannot watch that man’s shows without gushing like an idiot at him afterwards. I had my huge girl crush on Kalani Kokonuts well and truly fuelled. She is just perfection AND she was supported by Lola Frost and Cherry On Top. Mind-bendingly hot. And Roxi D’Lite had one of the most amazing costumes I’ve ever seen and worked that pole. I can’t wait until the videos come out; I want to watch that whole night back again and again. Inspiringly good burlesque.
Then it was one final TGI Friday with my girls, because one person cannot have enough fried cheese and margaritas apparently…
Then the final ‘Big Gay Al’s’ party, where everybody came out to play because nobody had shows the next day.
Everybody was on form, but special props go out to the last party people standing. Minnie Tonka, who is my new favourite person ever. I am so sad I didn’t get to hang out with her before Sunday. She is TOO MUCH FUN. Jonny Porkpie, Tigger!, Captain Kidd (and all the Ozzies – Briana Bluebell, Fez, Strawberry Siren…) and last but not least, my other new favourite person ever, Roxi D’Lite. Also too much damn fun. I got in a decidedly less glamorous bin and we drank cheap wine until silly 0′ clock. Excellent final partying crew!
Monday 4th June 2012
I wasn’t leaving until Tuesday, but Monday meant that I had to say goodbye to my girls, LouLou D’vil, Bettina May and Miss Redd. I loved every second of hanging out with these wonderful ladies and it was sad to say goodbye, because you never know when you’ll next get to work together. But I was left in the excellent company of Medianoche and Jonathan and Kirsten from Burlesque Assassins. We went out for farewell dinner at the MGM Grand and then farewell cocktails at Frank’s Tiki Lounge. I’d been dying to go all weekend. Because obviously I hadn’t had enough rum by that point…
A huge thank you to everybody who made Burlesque Hall Of Fame Weekend possible. The backstage crew, the programmers, the tech team, the hosts, the performers, the audience… Everybody. What an amazing, crazy, inspiring weekend of awesome. It was just wonderful to meet so many new friends and catch up with some old ones. I take inspiration and happiness from you all. And a fried cheese and margarita addiction from TGI’s. Can’t wait until next time.
Love Kitty x
21st Century Burlesque Magazine has documented the contemporary burlesque scene since 2007. Founded and edited by Holli-Mae Johnson.