Enjoy this fabulous recap of the 2014 Colorado Burlesque Festival, courtesy of headliner Lola Frost! Click the link at the end to apply for this year’s festval…
I walked swiftly but with intention away from the border control desk, passed the steel grey sliding doors and smiled to myself. I did it, I’m free, and I’m on my way! I peeled around the corner clutching my passport; a thin trace of sweat had formed between by boobs as I stopped to collect myself and rearrange all the things I was holding. There, you’re past customs, you have time for a glass of wine before your flight and all is well with the world.
You see, I’m not ‘technically’ allowed to ‘work’ across the US border; none of us Canadians are really, in our field of underground art. There are lots of visas, applications, fuss and muss one must jump through, and even then it might not pan out to get you over the border. Why must they keep the glitter tribe apart?! So, we casually bend the truth and say we are ‘just visiting friends’ because at the end of the day, we are! Just visiting our super fancy, mostly naked, performance friends – hence all the luggage, with all the shoes, and all the makeup, and, and, and…
As I headed down the tarmac to my plane, I was still left with an uneasy feeling. I was excited, nervous and proud to be going to Colorado in the fifth year of their festival, but there was something else, what was it… Oh, I realised slowly – I was alone! I was travelling to a festival for the first time without a duet partner, a member of my troupe or even my sister and fellow performer Villainy Loveless. It was also the first time, I came to realise, that I would be headlining a festival! (Co-headlining technically, with dear friends – this year’s Reigning King Mr. Gorgeous, my fellow BHoF 2013 title holder Sydni Deveraux and local powerhouse Orchid Mei, who was to be my roomie – but more on that later). This was a thrilling thought, and with it I wiggled visibly with joy to a few raised eyebrows around me. Let’s do this!
I arrived mid afternoon at an airport which is loaded with the strangest of histories, as I found out later from Midnite Martini. Having known it previously I would have been casting protection spells on the plane (we are talking ancient aboriginal burial grounds, killer horse art and murals depicting the chosen people’s revolution… oh yeah, it’s a thing, look it up!). I was fetched by one of the festival’s co-producers, Thursday and Friday night’s venue co-owner (Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret) – Naughty Pierre. I could tell right away he was a riot: funny, warm, generous and organised. My favourite kind of people! I was going to like it here, I could tell already.
We stopped at registration – a delightful pizza restaurant with GF options – signed in and had a bite. I also got to meet some more people I would grow to adore over the next few days – Binky and Glen, Bunny Bee, Selene, Alex Valdex and Fannie Spankings! It was also here that I was filled in on the mile above sea level effect on bodies, alcohol and water consumption. I had one sip of my wine and felt like I was swimming – I live on the ocean you see, so altitude can have an effect! As I chugged my water I listened and planned carefully for optimal weekend balance.
Binky and Glen dropped me off at my ‘hotel room’ or as I referred to it as ‘the condo’. It was a split level loft I would be sharing with Orchid – but as it turned out, not until the last night/morning for the festival when I would crawl into bed with her, her puppy and her partner Dylin for cuddles and recap of last night giggles. I got ready for the show leisurely with my music a touch too loud when I heard a knock: it was Lola Spitfire and partner Branwen! All the hugs, a small glass of champagne and plans to be ready by a certain time to catch the early show at the Clocktower. The festival was arranged really well this way, divided into two nightly showcases (early and late) on Thursday and Friday at the Clocktower and one big showcase on Saturday at The Paramount Theatre.
As I was teaching two back-to-back classes the following day, I knew I would only be staying for the early show. From travel and being a mile high I needed to be conscious of energy conservation, but I was getting excited to see everyone and watch the festival kick off. I walked into Lannie’s and melted: it’s a perfect cabaret, decked wall to wall in gilded frames, lush fabric seats, raised booths for appropriate viewing levels, a stage rigged for circus, and the kind of atmospheric lighting that makes you wanna make out all night long.
I saw Midnite Martini from across the room, sending beams of light with her 1000 watt smile shooting every which way. I ran up and embraced her fully and at length. We laughed and reminisced that last time we saw each other was when I woke up in her bed, still decked out in onesies, after a respectable and sober night in Las Vegas the month before. She slapped a *Zoca patch on me, pulled me into the velvet booth and ordered me a drink to begin the evening. Midnite’s partner Buster sidled up beside me; the camera that would be attached to him the whole weekend already slung proud and waiting for action. The COBF had the fastest turn around for social media that I’ve ever witnessed. It was lovely to be able to share the moments from the festival live feed style, well done Buster!
After we enjoyed an embracive reunion, I thanked him for letting me sleep between him and Midnite that same, sober evening in Vegas. He informed me the COBF was just a party with some burlesque thrown in for good measure. He winked, picked up his camera and turned towards the stage – the show was about to begin. I would learn his humour well over the weekend, and from the amount of organisation and flawless qualities of festival, it was clear all the producers did an incredible job to ensure it ran without a hitch. I have mad respect for the caliber that was both onstage and behind the scenes this year.
*Zoca patches saved our lives! They are a natural recovery vitamin patch you slap anywhere on your body to infuse you with goodness while you – ahem – enjoy libations.
The show was beautiful, hosted by Cora Vette, in a radiant blush of Maxi Millions, Minx Arcana, Tila Von Twirl, RiRi Syncir, Lily Liqueur, Mr.Valdezx and more! Fantastic – I could not wait for tomorrow to unfold! On the way home that evening Glen and Binky took me the long way – to the airport! There I was able to meet ‘The Golden Glamazon’ Sydni Deveraux and welcome her, peacocked out in my Misty Greer couture, to the city and festival. It was a win/win really; we got to catch up comfortably before the madness ensued. Off to bed, it was gearing up to be a big weekend!)
I arose fresh and ready, starfished in the giant bed. Somehow I had found a use for alllll the pillows, classic Frost decadence. Coffee. Fruit. Review notes. Classes. It was super convenient that the hotel was hosting many of the performers for the festival as well as hosting the classes. I adore organisation on this level, and the COBF had it down. Both of my classes had great groups; we dove into sensual movement, burning slow with self-respect and love, penetrative and receptive energy, chair humping and flirtatious choreography. As I was leaving Mr. Gorgeous had arrived, I hugged that tall hunk of man candy and sent him on his way to teach. We would be taking the stage together later that evening.
That early evening we arrived at the Clocktower for tech – which was smooth, proficient and professional. The four of us headliners would be performing in the earlier VIP Showcase produced by Midnite, and we were happy to know our featured legend Gail Winns would be in the audience! She would be taking the stage tomorrow night at the theatre showcase, and did – naturally – bring down the house!
We got ready for our set early as the back room is close quarters and we didn’t want to be in the way for the other performers starting to file in. Each show has two sets and the four of us headliners, save Sydni Deveraux who would also do a song in the first set, were all in the second set of the evening. After a few silly faces posted to Instagram, we went to watch the first set, which was highly entertaining! What a treat to be able to take in so much of the festival, to sit together and ohhh and ahhh at the dazzling entertainment. A luscious whirlwind, hosted by Fannie Spankings, of Bunny Bee, Cha Cha Velour, Lando Blaze and Narcissa, Di’Lovely, Musette, Lola Spitfire and Alphua, Whiskey Darling, and more!
Insert Photo (fri1, fri2, headlinertable, producersall, upside)
When the venue was changing over for the late show, Midnite and Pierre brought over a dapper gentleman to our table – Professor Phelyx, Mentalist. I’ve seriously not been blown away by close up magic since I went to NY and worked a few shows with Matthew Holtzclaw. But this was different… Fork bending, card play and things written on arms with no touching. I’ll let the photos do the talking. We looked at Mr. Gorgeous for the final trick: the card number he pulled early on was written on the inside of his arm! Astounded, we looked back to Phelyx – who literally disappeared in a puff of smoke, leaving nothing by a calling card, some bent metal and blown minds!
Backstage hospitality was on point the whole festival; snacks of all dietary needs, water and juice and even wine for the Saturday showcase night. Well played to keep the hanger of righteous babes at bay! Half way though the late show Mr. Gorgeous brought out a few snacks and a sideways face. He subtly told me another performer had shamed him for opening a new hummus when there was already one opened. There were four flavours you see, and he only wanted plain – red pepper was not on the pallet for the evening. Was that okay? May we have choice?! We giggled wildly and would name the shenanigan ‘the great hummus incident’! Pro tip: never get in the way of a man and his hummus.
The late show whizzed on in a beautiful array of glitter and gin martinis. Hosted by Hazel Humdinger, it featured Tatianna Tata and Peggy Tulane, Bambi Le Fleur, Donna Denise, Miss Theresa, Joy Coy, Brothers of Burlesque and more!
Later back at the hotel…
Insert tater tots, living room dance party, bed pile ons and security knocking…
Picture this: A gaunt man with glasses too big for his face stands in the doorway, black and beady eyes squinting at us. He is visibly shaking and holding his authority for us to see, fingers curling the area where his flashlight is; perhaps in his mind it’s a holster.
Like he wanted to draw pistols with us at dawn.
I can only imagine his mild confusion and bewilderment to open a door to a glitter clad pants-off dance-off with well-mannered, wine sipping and potato eating friends, a party of about eight salacious creatures.
I guess it was time for bed…
Before I crashed, I took a moment to open the wonderful gift bag given to us by the festival. I’ve never seen such generosity! I had a few moments to myself caressing and clutching the beauty I was seeing. Along with some lovely trinkets and functional beauty products there was a custom necklace from the one and only Whisky Darling, a custom birthstone and local marble wonder from David, t-shirts, tequila, sex toys, and a giant, sticky, smelly bud. Yes, bud. Smokeable, smiling wide, LEGAL bud.
Sex, drugs and rock’n’roll – hello Colorado!
Insert much, much, much laying about luxuriating and social media-ing in bed. I knew Sydni and I were online at the same time. We both thought about going for brunch together, but – those beds needed our attention!!!
Mr G and I were taken down to tech in the beautiful Paramount Theater before Sydni as it was her afternoon to teach. I could see Gail in the wings watching with a smile. I finished my number and was complemented by her. She pulled me over and said my style reminded her of the way it used to be in her day. Then she glimmered, pulled me closer and told me “Miley Cyrus has nothing on you kid!” I died a small and happy death, not only for her witty pop culture slag, but also because even as a neo performer I carry a torch for my legends and seek to keep the fires of classic concepts alive and well on our burlesque stages.
We had some time to wander before getting ready and Denver is a really cool city. It reminded me a bit of my beloved Vancouver in many ways – lots of arts, bike riding, hipsters and health conscious people. In the heart of downtown, where the theatre was located, is a cool feature they call ‘the mall’. It has a free tram that runs up and down a car freeway full of shops, eateries and other fun nooks. Mr Gorgeous and I went all the way down and all the way back discussing life, love, circus, art, boobies, our craft and beyond. Part of the innate joy I get from being part of festivals is being able to get to know each other. The amount of time I got to spend with everyone that weekend was priceless, the kind of goodness that makes you miss them when we are all back in our own pockets of the globe.
We came back to a bustling backstage! The big show was gearing up and tickets were almost sold out. A packed house is amazing, a packed 3000 person theatre, astounding. It was incredible to be a part of a festival that had such a solid base of love, dedication, and following, and with so much hard work continues to grow exponentially. Sydni joined us and we began the sassification process; how I adore the ritual of transformation. Being able to watch each other become different reflections of our inner desires and characters, enhancing one glimmer that becomes the personification of that power on stage. I looked over at Sydni – it was one of those in-between moments – and told her how radiant she looked this evening; that smile, that heart – one of a kind. Orchid Mei had arrived as well, a perfect blend of effortless ease and pre-show tizzy, we headed to the meeting area for a final cheer – show time!
It would be ludicrous to go into the vast and encompassing evening (again as headliners, we were able to watch so much of the glory before heading backstage to close the last set). The diversity, talent, and integrity of the performers onstage that night truly blew me away. Naughty Pierre was an amazing host and held down the size of the audience masterfully, and they were indeed lapping it up all night long.
The after party at a local lounge was divine; a whirlwind of hugs, deep conversations and connections. You know those times you see someone on stage and then in person, and you just have to approach them, gaze into their eyes for a moment, then wrap them up tightly in your arms for a bit… that was happening all over that joint!
Well played COBF, well played.
As we rolled back to the hotel, chauffeured in a bus donated by a lovely gentleman – music loud and seat dance parties on high – who was there to greet us? Mr. Security! We turned down the music, made a play at being demure, went to our separate rooms quietly, changed and snuck out to meet in Sydni and Mr G’s room for one final sassdown in with the producers and several other performers.
We proceeded to… * footage not found* What happens in Denver…
In the morning, as mentioned, I crawled out of my bed and up into the loft with Orchid and crew. I had called for a late checkout so there was time to relax before we would all head to the ‘hangover brunch’ for a goodbye session. It was hard to fully express my gratitude to all the producers – Honey Touche, Bunny Bee, Naughty Pierre, Boopsie, Lola Spitfire and our glorious, modest, exceptional, instigating – reigning queen of burlesque Midnite Martini. I had never felt so taken care of; they truly made us all feel like stripteasing rock stars.
Overall the festival had a distinct lack of ego or entitlement; the COBF crew pride themselves on honouring the neo, the classic and all in between. I was touched by their generosity, endless energy, and full commitment to making the festival flawless. Success all around! I could not be more proud to have be a part of something so special. If you have not been, I highly suggest you get on that for 2015 – it’s a cherished gem that should be experienced!
Thank you COBF – Frosty loves you!
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.