Miss La Vida’s Australian Burlesque Festival Diary
21st Century Burlesque Magazine has documented the contemporary burlesque scene…
Hi, I’m Miss La Vida. Here’s the continuation of my Aussie adventure with my diary from performing in the Third Annual Australian Burlesque Festival, produced by Rosy Rabbit and Dolores Daiquiri, that took place from 7 – 24th June.
A highlights video from The Big Tease show, Melbourne, Sat 09 June.
Wednesday 06 June
Flew to Melbourne in the afternoon, then put my face and glad rags on and headed to The Burlesque Bar in Fitzroy for ‘Thank Burlesque You’re Here’, a little industry only get together before the official start of the festival tomorrow.
It was lovely to see some familiar faces from the Perth Burlesque Festival and be entertained with improvised burlesque routines by some of Melbourne’s finest, including Becky Lou having to perform with a fan and a diaper as props, and the awesome Peachey Dream directing Bijoux Belle‘s performance with such classic instructions as, ‘Pretend you have an itchy anus’ – cue Bijoux sliding up and down the stage curtain.
For me, burlesque is all about not taking yourself seriously and this evening was all about having a laugh together about this odd little world we all live in. Big thanks to all the performers who entertained us for free and to Poppy Cherry, Raven and Peachey Dream for organising. Really looking forward to the festival starting tomorrow.
Thursday 07 June
I headed into central Melbourne and did a little bit of window shopping (emphasis on window shopping, having blown lots of money I don’t have in Sydney last week). I then met up with Tasia who was having dinner with Peekaboo Pointe and Anna Fur Laxis. As headliners of the festival they were part of the judging panel for the Baby Bombshells competition, where performers with less than two years experience vied for a spot to open the Big Tease show on Saturday.
The show was more than just a competition; it really showcased the future of Australian burlesque which, from seeing those performing tonight, is very promising and exciting. The winner, Little Skink, a manic tooth fairy getting very randy about all things dental, was clearly the crowd’s favourite and I loved her concept, choreography and connection with the audience. Another favourite was Le Fay from Tasmania who did an excellent and very clever monologue of how a lady should strip, in the style of Gypsy Rose Lee.
All the bombshells received feedback from the judges which is great for their professional development and something I wish more competitions would do. Congratulations to all those chosen to compete and to Little Skink for winning.
Friday 08 June
Met up with Ginger Leah Rye who I’d made friends with at The Perth Burlesque Festival. We had a lovely lunch date and I picked her brains about working and living in Melbourne, having decided I definitely want to move there. In the evening I headed to the Thornbury Theatre for the Empress Erotique show. I went backstage and helped Tasia get kitted up for the debut of her katana wielding samurai act. I also caught up with some lovely performers I’d got to know in Perth like Betty Blood and Missy Fatale, and met the legendary Lola The Vamp for the first time.
The show was full of ultra sexy acts along the lines of fetish, kink and generally pushing the boundaries. Throughout the show I was sitting thinking, ‘gee, my life is really tough watching gorgeous women being hot and awesome.’ I say women but there was one male, Raven, winner of ‘Mr Boylesque Australia 2012’ who was, dare I say it, FIERCE! Strutting around in his six inch Bordellos, contorting himself with handcuffs on, doing the splits and all sorts of other flexible things that boys aren’t really ‘built’ to do. My eyes were popping out of my head!
There were lots of other highlights – too many to say here – but particular favourites were Willow J‘s captivating performance as the Madame de Sade with her scratching fetish, and Peekaboo Pointe‘s innocent sailor girl turning all nasty and extremely dirty.
After the show, Miss Jane gave me a lift back to St Kilda wearing a sexy, vampy, lacy affair from being the merch girl at the show, which the cop who stopped to breathalyse her had to disguise his appreciation of. She, on the other hand, looked mortified as her ample cleavage burst out from under the coat she thought would be sufficient to keep her sexy attire concealed. (Moral of the story: best to put your civilian clothing on before driving home from a show!)
Saturday 09 June
Today it was my turn to perform for The Big Tease show. Had a bit of a sleep-in and did half my hair and makeup at home. I had a plan for what to have for lunch to fuel me for the show so I went to withdraw some cash and the ATM swallowed my bank card! I then spent an hour trying to retrieve it and couldn’t, so I got all flustered and grouchy (yes, first world problems, I know).
I headed to the venue a bit rattled, and soaked from the torrential rain, where Tasia rescued me by shouting me lunch. With glucose levels restored I went off to tech and caught up with the Queen herself, Imogen Kelly. It was so great to hear her stories from BHoF. Was hoping to see the trophy but it was still in transit (had to laugh at how it had to be pulled apart to get in the post).
The show was rather fabulous. Apparently I got a standing ovation for ‘Big Butts’ which I couldn’t see – damn glaring lights. I then operated Tasia’s swinging light for her ‘LuminoSINty’ act. It’s a bit stressful being in charge of an integral part of somebody’s act. Now I know how the stage kittens must feel.
One act I was really looking forward to seeing in the flesh was Anna Fur Laxis‘ ‘Bettie Page’ act and it didn’t disappoint. It was so clever, perfectly executed and she has phenomenal stage presence. Another favourite was Missy‘s absolutely stunning pole act; full of emotion, skill and amazing technique. It’s rare for pole acts to tell a story and this did.
After the show I headed up to the headliners dressing room to hang out with Danica Lee, Peekaboo Pointe, Dolores Daiquiri, Tasia, Anna Fur Laxis and Imogen Kelly. We talked for ages about the usual topics of conversation that come up between burlesquers. Then we all headed home at silly o’clock in the morning. Apart from the ATM incident, today has been amazing!
Sunday 10 June
I headed to Chapel Street, a great place to shop and eat and where the venue for tonight’s show was. Had dinner with Tasia at a tea house that served cocktails in tea pots with dinky little cups. Delicious! Then we headed to the venue, Red Bennies, for the last show of the Melbourne leg of the festival, Nouvelle Royale, a celebration of neo-burlesque. This was a show with not a bit of classic burlesque in sight; those that did do it parodied it with interesting twists and ‘well I didn’t see that coming’ moments. There were four pastie pops and a wedding proposal (big ups to Gemma Sheree‘s boyfriend for having the ‘cojones’ to get up on stage on bended knee). However, the show was almost certainly stolen by Perth’s Slanty Eyes Unlimited; a boylesque duo complete with full on lycra catsuits, paying homage to ice-skating satire Blades of Glory.
After the show, Dolores Daiquiri, myself, Tasia and local performer Honey B Goode went to get some food. It was 1am and we were all pretty shattered, having pounded the pavement for twenty minutes trying to find a place that was open. I didn’t have the energy to take a photo of the four of us half asleep eating at 1am what you would normally have for dinner, but it was pretty surreal. Dolores then took me back to my hosts in St Kilda.
Monday 11 June
Since I’ve had four very late nights in a row (and it was a public holiday for the Queen’s ‘birthday’) I decided to stay at home and sleep and hang out with my host. It’s a tough life!
Tuesday 12 June
Headed to Adelaide on the train. A ten hour journey which I thought would be a great way to see some Aussie countryside. Unfortunately there’s nothing but flat farmland between Melbourne and Adelaide and the train travels 35km/h slower than the highway speed limit, so all I got to see was cars whizzing by, mocking me with their speed. Still, at least it wasn’t a plane (having been on four planes in three weeks, I’ve had enough of airports already).
Wednesday 13 June
Since this is my first time in Adelaide, I spent the day being a bit touristy and explored the city. Got in touch with Dolores Daiquiri who arrived this morning. She came to pick me up from my host’s and then we went to collect Anna Fur Laxis, who had been teaching a hair and makeup class as part of the festival’s workshops. The three of us then went back to their hotel in the city centre to have a late dinner. Peekaboo Pointe came down to join us and we stayed up late chatting (my favourite topic of conversation – parts of your and your partner’s body where sequins and glitter end up). It’s amazing how many hours you can pass talking about burlesque – got to bed at 1am.
Thursday 14 June
I went back into Adelaide to do a bit more sightseeing and met Dolores Daiquiri for lunch. We did a bit of pottering around, then collected Peekaboo Pointe and Anna Fur Laxis to drive to a vintage shop they’d been recommended, north of town. Had an amusing car journey being told the wrong way to go by malfunctioning sat-nav and trying to get to the shop before it closed at 4pm. I then went back into town to meet my brother who lives in Adelaide. I helped his team win the pub quiz by knowing that peanut M&Ms come in a yellow packet (thanks to them being in the backstage rider for the festival). I can’t remember much after that (thanks bro for getting me mushed the night before a show).
Friday 15 June
Woke up feeling a little delicate so decided to stay in bed and sleep it off. Put half my face and hair on then headed to the venue for tech rehearsal. I knew almost everyone in the show having performed with them in either Perth or Melbourne, so it was like a family reunion backstage.
This is the first time the festival has been in Adelaide and it was a sold out show. The crowd was great and, surprisingly, full of burlesque virgins. They must have been very happy with what they saw with a really varied line-up, including Silla Black‘s giant champagne glass, some classic bump ‘n’ grind from Anna Fur Laxis and Dolores Daiquiri, Miss Jane‘s tribal queen, Danica Lee’s high priestess, Mrs Rose as a bearded lady and Sapphire Snow‘s obsession with tea bags.
I just loved Peekaboo Pointe‘s act in her stunning beaded dress made by MsTickle, and Luna Eclipse‘s veil-silks fan dance was so refreshing and different to the usual fan dance style. And then there was me with my ‘Big Butts’. The Aussies go crazy for ‘Big Butts’ action. Thanks Adelaide. Tonight is also the Hobart show and I’m seeing a lot of photos on Facebook of friends backstage having a great time, happy with their sold out show. Well done team.
Saturday 16 June
Most of the other performers in the show either headed for the Brisbane show happening tonight or went home to Melbourne early this morning. Mrs Rose from France was around but had no phone, so we tried to meet up like they did in the olden days – be at a certain place at a certain time. That didn’t work though and we missed each other. So I was on my lonesome for the day, getting in some last minute shopping of burlesque items that you just can’t buy in New Zealand. I then headed home to pack for my early morning flight back to Auckland.
The festival continued the following week with shows in Canberra and Sydney, followed by the first Australian industry awards, ‘The Busties’, organised by Imogen Kelly and Danica Lee (a tongue-in-cheek award ceremony similar to the NYBF’s Golden Pasties).
I have to say a massive thank you and much respect to Dolores Daiquiri and Rosy Rabbit who do an incredible job organising such a huge event. They put on ten shows over three weeks in six cities, all on their own. I used to produce shows in New Zealand and know how tiring it is doing one. I don’t know how they managed doing ten and performing in them too. Not to mention organising the workshops and looking after the international headliners.
My month in Australia has been one of the best times I’ve had in a long time. I’ve met so many lovely people, seen some really inspiring, high quality burlesque, and laughed a lot. Next time I’m in Australia I’ll be a resident of Melbourne (that’s the plan anyway). Bonza mate!
To find out more about the festival, visit www.australianburlesquefest.com and to learn more about me, visit www.misslavida.com.
21st Century Burlesque Magazine has documented the contemporary burlesque scene since 2007. Founded and edited by Holli-Mae Johnson.