I’m Miss La Vida from New Zealand, and I was one of the international performers invited to perform at the inaugural Perth International Burlesque festival, produced by Coco Poppin and A’dora Derriere of Sugar Blue Burlesque. This is my diary of the festival, which took place between May 24th and May 27th.
Tuesday 22nd May
Arrived in Perth after a seven hour flight. This isn’t my first time in Australia but it is the first time I’ve been to Perth. Got picked up from the airport by my host, who is a local magician. I’m so grateful that Coco and A’dora found me someone to stay with to save money. It’s really nice to be looked after, and there’s nothing like a magician carrying your heavy suitcase and cooking you dinner after a long flight. Need to sleep to get over the four hour time difference. Goodnight.
Wednesday 23rd May
Got a day to explore Perth before the festival officially starts. My magical host took me to Fremantle, a suburb of Perth known for its heritage buildings and vintage markets and where a few of the festival events are happening. Was hoping to make it to Dr Sketchy this evening – the festival’s ‘warm-up’ event, starring Missy Fatale from the UK – but still suffering from jet lag so off to bed early.
Thursday 24th May
My burlesque bestie Tasia, from Sydney, arrived this morning, and after a yummy lunch we headed to tech rehearsal for tonight’s opening show of the festival, The Burlesque Battle. Tasia and I were the guest acts for the show, which was actually a competition between the local Perth burlesque performers.
The winner, Agatha Frisky, performed an energetic, garden inspired act topped with a very unique and creative costume. The runner-up, Scarlet O’Harlot, performed one of the best Charleston acts I’ve ever seen. Not only did she have excellent technique, but seamlessly incorporated the strip and the tease and lit up the room with her joy. From the performances I saw tonight, it is clear that the Perth burlesque scene is very professional, creative and of a high standard.
The venue, Deville’s Pad, has to be the funkiest venue I’ve ever performed in, with awesome go-go cages and sixties inspired devilette décor, all in my favourite colour – red. I totally loved that A’dora and Coco had drinks and snacks backstage to keep us going, and a special VIP area for the festival performers out front to watch the show, with free food for us all. It’s just so nice to be looked after like that. The audience were awesome, and despite a little bra malfunction, my act, ‘Tequila’, went down a treat. The festival is well and truly kicked off.
Friday 25th May
Because both Tasia and I were performing twice tonight in The Dark Of The Cabaret show (which had two runs due to audience demand), we both relaxed at our host’s place, before heading to the venue for tech rehearsal. Met a lot of Aussie performers and the other four international performers in the festival backstage, who I’ve been chatting to on Facebook for the past month. What I love about festivals is meeting so many new faces and making new friends, and being immersed in the community spirit. The atmosphere backstage was awesome, with so many friendly, like-minded people coming together to be fabulous.
I was first on, which was great as I got to watch the whole show. I performed my ‘Big Butts’ act, which is the act I performed for the ‘Best Debut’ category at BHoF last year. Both shows went really well and I loved the variety of the acts. The audience’s favourite performances had to be Tasia’s beautiful and atmospheric moth act, Betty Blood’s quirky and original Eastern European meat fest act, and an eye-popping contortion act by Twisted Vaudeville Circus.
After the two shows came the Festival Party with performances to a live band. Tasia and I went out for dinner at midnight after the shows, but we were both too tired to go party and unfortunately missed some of the performances. Festivals are great, but they’re pretty tiring and we needed to save energy for teaching workshops tomorrow.
Saturday 26th May
This morning I taught a basic burlesque class as part of the festival’s workshops. I had a lovely group of about twenty ladies who really enjoyed the class. Then I did a bit of window shopping at Wheels & Dollbaby’s flagship store (I was surprised to learn the label started in Perth). It’s a very dangerous shop full of gorgeous tempting clothing, all of which I will buy when I win the lottery.
I then attended Tasia’s sixties go-go inspired class, which teaches the moves and attitude of the sixties sex kittens, such as Ann-Margaret and Raquel Welch. I’ve never done a go-go class before and I loved it. It’s great to learn new skills and forms of dance, and the history behind them.
Other workshops included fan dancing with Missy Fatale from the UK, magic for burlesque by De Masi, a magician from Melbourne, and advanced striptease with Danica Lee from Sydney.
We then headed to the final show of the festival, Glitter, Garters & Tease. It was full of huge acts, including a hilarious act by the only boylesquer in the festival, The Astonishing Johnny Domino, a hot, sassy and joyous samba performance by Coco Poppin, and a strong, sexy and captivating ‘black swan’ act by A’dora Derriere, in a gorgeous feather mantle. The show ended on a huge high with an absolutely stunning fire act by Missy Fatale.
We all hung around backstage chatting until very late, then headed home.
Sunday 27th May
Today was the last day of the festival. Tasia and I went to the Retro Markets organised by the festival, selling burlesque and vintage related goodies. I got myself a thirties style tilt hat with face veil for a bargain $10. I then said goodbye to Tasia, who returned to Sydney, and then I went off to the closing party.
Because the Perth burlesque community are swing dance enthusiasts, the party was themed ‘the Swing Soiree’ and even had a Charleston battle. I’ve always wanted to learn how to swing dance and thought this would be a great opportunity to do so, but I was far too tired.
But I did get to have a proper sit down and chat with the producers, Coco Poppin and A’dora Derriere. I told them how wonderful and well organised the festival was, and how grateful I was to them for looking after me. It was truly a pleasure to perform in the festival, and seeing so much great burlesque has been both inspiring and invigorating. I think it’s quite easy to get a bit jaded and stuck in a rut as a performer, which is why festivals are so important as a source of learning, inspiration and networking.
In the coming week, A’dora and Coco will be touring a small show with the other international performers – Mrs Rose (France), Dixie Ramone (Italy), Missy Fatale (UK) and Billie Rae (UK) – to the towns around the Western Australia state, bringing a part of the festival to those outside of Perth.
Monday 28th May
Heading to Sydney for a week before the Australian Burlesque Festival, which I’m performing in, kicks off in Melbourne on 7th June. I’ll be writing a diary about that for you. Looking forward to it…
To find out more about the Perth Burlesque Festival, visit www.perthburlesquefestival.com
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.