UK burlesque starlet Havana Hurricane presents a New Orleans Burlesque Festival Diary…
I fell in love with the city of New Orleans many years ago and after attending the New Orleans Burlesque Festival in 2013 I couldn’t wait to be back on stage at one of my favourite festivals once again. Last year I was full of nerves as it was my first international burlesque festival, but after having the time of my life this year I was ready and raring to go!
Thursday 18th September
The Thursday night showcase It’s Burlesque was the opening night shindig held in The Priory. The show boasted talent from across the globe with performers hailing from all over the United States, Canada, Australia and the UK. Prior to the festival I had been asked whether I would be interested in performing in the Thursday night show alongside competing for ‘Queen of Burlesque’ on the Saturday and I jumped at the chance. There’s no better feeling than performing an act that you love to an audience who live and breathe burlesque as much as you do, right?
When I arrived the room was buzzing with performers and audience members eagerly waiting for the show to start. As I was performing in the show I didn’t manage to see all the performances but the roar of the crowd from the changing room was insane, especially when Cora Vette belted out one of the hit anthems from Disney’s Frozen.
I did however manage to watch a couple of acts, and one of my favourite performances of the night came from The Great Gadso who performed a saucy Latin number. With those snake hips and abs only Zeus could carve, Gadso was a sure hit with the ladies in the audience!
I also really enjoyed Agatha Frisky who performed a sultry bump ‘n’ grind – she’s my kind of girl! Minxie Mimieux played the part of Texas’ answer to Jessica Rabbit with a sensual classic number as she rolled around the stage on her huge boa, and Vancouver’s Lydia DeCarllo wowed with a cheeky Tiki inspired upbeat striptease.
Friday 19th September
With the second night of the festival in full swing I threw on my biggest eyelashes and best bling and headed out to the first of two shows tonight, Mondo Burlesque, which took place at the Harrah’s Casino. Having previously seen the line-up I couldn’t wait to see some acts I’d never seen before and cheer on good friends.
Mondo Burlesque hosted a large variety of performers from the worlds of neo and classic burlesque with a little bit of aerial thrown in! One of my favourite acts of the night was Eva La Feva whose act had me in stitches throughout. Eva’s act took you on a rollercoaster of emotions and her facial expressions cracked me up!
Another performer who completely blew me away was Renee Holiday. Now I knew Renee could move but no one told me that girl can sing! Renee took to the stage in an elaborate outfit and with hair so high Dolly Parton would be proud. Combining burlesque with her operatic voice, Renee stole the show.
I also want to take this time to comment on how incredibly flexible Stephanie Blake is; I’m envious of this woman! There aren’t many who can sit in box splits while the audience is silent in awe and make it look completely effortless; that woman screams sex appeal.
After the Mondo Burlesque show we all made the pilgrimage over to the House of Blues for the highly anticipated Bad Girls of Burlesque show. I love this show because it’s a little wilder both on stage and in the audience and to my delight this year’s show was hosted by Dr. Sick! I met Sick in NOLA last year so I was excited to see how this lovable guy went down in front of the rowdy crowd and I’m happy to say the boy did good! Sick set the house on fire; he kept the audience’s attention and entertained them. My only issue was that I couldn’t package him up and bring him to the UK!
The bad girls (and guys) of burlesque truly tore up the stage. Nina La Voix brought it home that night with her high energy, kickass style of neo-burlesque, and sure as hell Nina lights up my face every time she’s on stage. I love watching people who enjoy what they do.
I also couldn’t write this diary without mentioning Eva Strangelove and Justin F Credible who performed one of the best acts of the entire festival. Their passionate, high energy and expertly choreographed whip act was something else. I can’t begin to describe how much I loved watching their chemistry – seriously, just go watch it.
Raquel Reed stole my heart with a fierce and feisty take on classic striptease and I loved watching Gogo McGregor, a true bad girl of burlesque, oozing with sass. Gogo had the audience eating out of the palm of her hand.
Saturday 20th September
Competition day was here! I spent the main part of my day chilling around the city and rehearsing for tonight’s ‘Queen of Burlesque’ competition, the main event of the festival held at Harrah’s Casino.
I performed in the competition the previous year but unfortunately I had a few costume malfunctions on stage, so I felt so relieved and glad that Rick had asked me back! Knowing what to expect this year I felt a mixture of nerves and excitement; I was performing an act I love and couldn’t wait to hear the band play my track.
Rehearsals came around quick and I finally got to meet all the girls. Charlotte Treuse, Elle Dorado and Athena I had met the previous year, but Lydia DeCarllo, Donna Hood, Iris Le’Mour and Tessa von Twinkle were all ladies I’d admired from the worlds of Facebook and Instagram. The atmosphere backstage was the nicest I could have asked for; everyone was lovely and friendly.
I didn’t get much chance to see any of the performances but they all sounded great and the girls seemed to have fun. When it came to my turn I was so nervous but excited; I went out there and gave it my all. I stayed true to myself and performed my style, in my way, and as a bonus – I didn’t have a costume malfunction! There’s really is no better kick than dancing with a live band and I love the Bustout Burlesque guys.
The end of the night came around quick and the crown went to Elle Dorado, a worthy winner. Once the ceremony finished we packed up, dropped the bags off at the hotel and headed over to the Queen’s Ball at the House of Blues; it was a chance for everyone to let their hair down. Unfortunately I got caught up trying to flag a taxi so I missed most of the acts but I was really excited that I got to see the incredibly flexible Bethany Summersizzle, the porcelain doll herself Miss Miranda, and the girl next door Mary Lynn Mayhem.
Needless to say I sober partied the night away with new and old friends, and I didn’t feel so great the next morning after only four hours sleep, an NFL game and a six hour drive ahead, but NOLA did it again. Until next time my home from home!
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.