Day Two of the New York Burlesque Festival and The Brooklyn Bowl was the place to be. I was warned in advance that the large, standing-room-only floor in front of the stage could become a real crush and hard on your feet, not to mention make it very difficult to see clearly and take notes, so I happily held court with the delightful Coco Lectric on comfortable couches in front of one of the big screens. We enjoyed a variety of visitors throughout the night, offering their thoughts on the performances and taking a rest from their heels.
Medianoche kicked things off and set a standard for the evening with her customary attack, fluid movement, and intensity. She performed her ‘Granada’ routine in a gorgeous, coffee coloured costume (made by herself, as are all her lovely ensembles), sweeping her ruffled skirt across the stage before discarding it and treating us to some smouldering bump and grind. She concealed her breasts playfully with her garter belt, before bringing the number to a close with a feisty tassel-twirl.
Tansy was a real treat in a saloon-girl-meets-Scarlet O’Hara green gown, gliding across the stage to the strains of Love for Sale, teasing herself with a feather and easing out of her corset with polish and elegance. Every layer is considered and toyed with before it is discarded; every look and gesture is so playful and suggestive. As her corset slipped away to reveal her pasties, her glossy dark hair, piled on top of her head, was released and stroked down over one shoulder as her eyes locked on her audience, sparkling with intensity. It was slow, deliberate and luxurious.
Sandria Dore thoroughly seduced me with her Minnie the Moocher routine, and she really used the classic track well. With a knowing, dazzling smile she caressed her furs, whipped off her gloves, drew down the zip on her dress and dropped it to reveal her luscious figure. I have watched a few videos of this routine online and it has clearly improved with time; she seems much more comfortable, rehearsed and focused performing it now.
The fabulous Minnie Tonka treated us to her cavewoman act, shaking her spear and caressing herself with a bone before shedding her leopard print and twirling like her life depended on it. You can’t help but fall in love with her and cheer her on; her charisma is so infectious and endearing.
Injecting some testosterone – and very tight, tiny briefs (thank you) - into the evening, Go-Go Harder, a lean, cheeky vision in denim, was extremely entertaining to watch. He really worked the photographers, involved the crowd, and shamefully abused his bucket to enthusiastic applause.
Kristina Nekyia performed a traditional, classic routine for a change which, while influenced by Catherine D’Lish, was still all Kristina. She is a captivating, beautiful mover; snake-like as she sensually disrobed and took up a pair of plush red fans, with her sexy, Cheshire Cat smile inviting us to sit back and enjoy the fantasy. She skilfully proved just how versatile she is; classic or neo, her exquisite physicality and polish sees her through with ease.
Lillian Starr is quite simply unique in her concepts and presentation. Whether she’s violating a cherry pie or blaspheming with abandon, she always gets my vote. On this particular night, shrouded in shadow, she was a muzzled, harnessed pony-girl, slapping and pulling on a rein in each hand and whipping her pony-tail back and forth as if to thrash herself to freedom. All delivered to a pounding techno track with a kinky assel display thrown in. You really have to see this one to understand and imagine the full effect. People mentioned it to me throughout the rest of the festival; Lillian never fails to make a lasting impression.
The evening climaxed – literally – with Darlinda Just Darlinda, straddling the back of a chair with her long red robe open at the back to display her beautiful, voluptuous bottom making slow, grinding circles and sudden thrusts, as her arms, hands and fingers danced gracefully in the air. She stood and turned towards us, fixing us with her unmistakeable eyes, hands outstretched in a silent plea of desire, as her dance built into a hair-tossing, frenzied, shameless display of utter surrender to the music and the moment. She flung her robe up above her head and whirled it like a cape, before holding it against herself as she sat, legs apart, trembling and convulsing in ecstasy. Finally, after what felt like an agonising but enthralling wait, she revealed her breasts and fell to her knees, slapping the floor and crawling like a stripper possessed. (Can you tell this was my favourite yet?) It was like watching the personification of a long, aching, earth shattering orgasm, which vibrated through the entire venue, played out to the raw, hypnotic soundtrack of Otis Redding’s I’ve Been Loving You Too Long. Sublime.
Nods and notes. Stroker Ace acted out a creative transformation from caterpillar – complete with four sets of golden limbs – to Isis-winged butterfly. Kita St Cyr was shaking what she’d got, spanking herself with her glove and revealing a shock of red hair to a roar from the crowd. I liked Miss Blondis’ striking playing card costume and fans; it was visually memorable. Minx Arcana presented a stunning costume, but I felt it was a little ‘style over substance’. Lady Monster almost became Satan’s Angel at times; it was a passionate, committed tribute to her mentor. Peaches ‘n’ Gin’s Harry Potter and Malfoy love story acted out what the especially dirty-minded amongst us have surely tried to imagine at some stage, but not quite to this gratuitous and comical extreme. Mrs Rose’s act was somewhat confused and vague at times, but the disturbing jagged teeth bared at us as she opened her legs can’t be unseen! Finally, a nod to Lola Love for her excellent footwork and authentic samba.
Brace yourselves for the Saturday Night Spectacular – coming soon!
Photo Gallery: New York Burlesque Festival 2013 – Friday Night Premiere Party. (Click to browse, hover for caption.)
Burlesque Hall of Fame / Miss Exotic World Judge, 2011 Holli Mae Johnson is the founder and editor of 21st Century Burlesque Magazine, a pioneering publication created twelve years ago to unite, document and celebrate the global burlesque community. Holli is actively involved in the burlesque community on a day to day basis and is privately consulted by performers and producers at every level for promotion, critique, recommendations and encouragement. As a documenter and critic, she has seen countless burlesque and variety performances from across the world and provides an intimate perspective and insight into the lives and careers of burlesque’s greatest pioneers, performers and personalities.