Enjoy all the onstage and backstage antics at the Show Me Burlesque Festival 2013, courtesy of the fastest tassel twirler from East to West, Peekaboo Pointe!
Day 1: Wednesday
Lola Van Ella picks me up from the airport and takes me directly to Van Ella Studios, where she and Sammich the Tramp live upstairs. I’m totally jealous of all the space. Being a New Yorker, having a dance studio as your ground floor is the epitome of heaven! I can’t even believe it. She takes me upstairs to get comfortable and show me where I’ll be staying, and who do I see in the living room but Sweetpea and Perle Noire and two of the cutest doggies in the world! Oh… now this is going to be a fun weekend! And what did I just hear? The Stage Door Johnnies and Midnite Martini are on their way? YES! We are all staying at the Van Ella compound, and I have a feeling I know what’s in store for me… a whole lot of debauchery and fun!
Recovering from my flight, which really wasn’t very long from NYC, I decided to take it easy. Perle and I walked down the street to one of the many Mexican restaurants on Cherokee St. and had some pretty amazing tacos. I re-fueled, then prepared myself for intermediate pole class with Michelle Mynx! I’ve wanted to take a class with her for a long time now, and this weekend I get to have group classes and I’ll be taking a private with her on Saturday morning; that is if I don’t party too hard on Friday night.
Class Wednesday night was great! Michelle is an incredible teacher and things that seemed hard before, she makes easy somehow. After class we go out for a glass of champagne, catch up, and then she drops me off at the Van Ella Compound, where I spent the evening giggling and gabbing with everyone in the house.
Day 2: Thursday
I wake up to the sounds of people milling about the house. I notice my beautiful bedmate, Sweetpea, is no longer in bed and I wrangle myself up! And, to my surprise, there is coffee made and everyone is chatting and getting ready to take full advantage of the studio downstairs. The Johnnies have arrived and Jett is already in the studio working on his wings… OH THE WINGS!
Soon, everyone is rehearsing for the show, and I’m sipping coffee, taking in how much I love my community; enjoying watching them all rehearse I’m in awe of what we can do with this silly little art form. It truly amazes me sometimes the depth of originality and creativity that happens in burlesque. Who would have thought that the simple act of taking your clothes off on stage could inspire such a world of creativity? I love it and I could never live without it. So, I basked in the glory of everyone’s work and sipped my coffee… happy.
Later, I took a walk down Cherokee St. with Perle and Pea (hee-hee) and we went to a few vintage stores. No purchases were made, but it was nice to spend the afternoon with them, chatting and laughing. We grabbed a coffee and headed back to the Van Ella Compound to get all slutted up for the opening night of the festival. And damn… what a night of shows it was!
Holy cow – where to begin?! Well, how about Mona Montague and her freaking Darth Vader act to destroy all Darth Vader acts! I had seen it in Minneapolis but only via the TV prompter backstage; this time it was for reals, up close and personal from the front of the house, and I totally almost peed my pants. Then there was Musette the Mistress of Mischief with her Amelia Earhart number that is freaking smart and adorable and just makes me smile until I hurt.
Sweetpea made my loins flare uncontrollably. Seriously, how is she so damn hot? Holly Rebelle made me almost shed a happy tear with what I think is the first burlesque act safe for children; who knew we could be wholesome onstage while stripping? Then, seeing Midnite Martini and her OWN INVENTION of the finger fans! And finally, Bazuka Joe and his ‘little friend’; a puppet show not for the faint of heart, but it made me swoon. Yeah, I’ve got a thing for puppets. I think I literally cried with laughter! And that was just the Thursday night show. There’s two more nights of this!?
After the show, all those staying at the Van Ella Compound headed back home, ingested more alcohol and whatnot, and taught Bazuka Joe how to make a frozen pizza. I still have no idea how he got through college not knowing how to cook a frozen pizza! We all enjoyed playing with Chappy (Lola’s dog) who loves to talk, and Memphis (the other dog) who loves to hump a giant stuffed lion. It was a perfect cap to the night.
Day 3: Friday
I woke up early, had a nice big cup of coffee, went for a walk and then prepared to teach my class. I taught my Sensuality Through Eye Contact class, which honestly is one of my favourite workshops to teach. I had a nice group of students and the class went great. Then it was time for another visit to the local coffee shop, where I got a double espresso and a gluten free veggie ruben and fries with truffle-mayo, and then I headed back to the Van Ella Compound to get ready for the show that night. I was performing with the band so I needed to be there early to make sure that they knew how to work with me, or I at least knew what they sounded like.
We arrived at the venue, which was this totally haunted old warehouse that has been turned into a venue. It’s rough around the edges and made me wish there were more places like this in New York; we simply don’t have the space like the rest of the country, so big stages and big venues are such a treat! And the band fucking rocked! I couldn’t wait to dance with them!
As I was performing in the second show of the night, I got to watch the first show. It’s such a treat to watch performances from the front. Too often as performers we are stuck watching our peers from the side backstage and we miss some of the small details. So, here are my highlights. Cora Vette makes me feel like a twelve year old boy when I laugh at her jokes; seriously, I love them. Foxy La Feelion makes me feel things that I’m not sure I’m allowed to feel, and she was wearing the HOTTEST garbage bag after the show; seriously, she made that garbage bag look like it was couture! We’ll discuss her again on Saturday.
Freya West did the most adorable typewriter-come-to-life act which was perfectly timed and made me smile the entire time. Michelle Mynx did a pole solo complete with fire dancers surrounding her; my jaw was wide open the whole number, and I think I even humped her leg later that night. And, of course, Perle Noire came out in almost no costume at all and beat the shit out of the stage and the hearts and loins of every single person in the audience. Well done.
The second show of the night I didn’t really get a chance to see; the one drawback of performing is that you don’t get to see much. I spent most of the night backstage making trouble with one Ray Gunn; I love that boy and I’m pretty sure he can read my thoughts. Then finally, at around 1:30am, it’s my turn to go. I have to admit, I was pretty tired by the time I came up in the line-up and I was worried that the audience would be too. I dug deep, pulled out every bit of energy I had, had a shot of tequila, and walked on the stage. The audience was hot and ready – just how I like an audience. I had so much fun onstage. I have no idea what I did, but it felt so good! A good performance is like good sex, and a good performance makes me just as horny as good sex does. And that’s how I felt Friday night – so fucking horny. I was ready to go, and my outlet was St. Louis! Thanks for letting me fuck your eyes and your hearts.
Day 4: Saturday
On Saturday morning I woke up early for my long-awaited private pole lesson with Michelle Mynx. I know I said it before, but she’s a really great teacher. If anyone is in the St. Louis area and curious about pole dancing, she is your girl! She makes everything so easy and not scary, when in reality, it is really hard and scary. Not in Michelle’s class though! After class with her I popped into a ‘Spinny’ pole class that was going on in the studio. Hangovers and spinning pole are not really the best combination, but I made it through hour two of class and headed back to the Van Ella compound to eat and get ready for Round 3!
Saturday night of the Show Me Burlesque Festival is a very special night. It’s the Beggar’s Carnivale Show, which Sammich the Tramp is the artistic director of. They do Beggar’s Carnivale shows throughout the year, but this one is extra special! The venue was this huge old ballroom, so big that the 600 or so people that were there didn’t really feel like that crazy a crowd. The way Beggars works is that there are silent film style interludes in between every number that the core group of actors all work on together. They’re REALLY funny! And I haven’t seen anyone do such great silent slapstick like that, ever. There’s no host, just slapstick, and a large screen with the name of the performer on it.
During the intermissions there’s a side stage upstairs that acts as a ‘cootch tent’, with games and carnival attractions, like the ‘tattooed man’ or ‘live mermaid’, all upstairs for you to entertain yourself during intermissions. It is such a well put together show! I highly enjoyed it and really enjoyed seeing something so different from our standard ‘host then act’ kind of shows.
Now, that’s just the show structure. This show was not only creatively put together by a passionate group of artists; the acts in the show were, simply put, OFF THE FUCKING HOOK! I really don’t know where to begin. Honestly, there are too many to mention. Jett Adore and his butterfly wings, Midnite Martini and her kimono that becomes her silks, Lola Van Ella and the sexiest absinthe act ever, The Dolls of Doom, Ray Gunn, all the interlude silent sketches that almost made me pee my pants, Gravity Plays Favorites on a spinning pole… I can’t even mention all of the amazing things that happened; I’d be here forever. And I still have an after party to write about…
Ah, yes, the infamous after party! Some of this might be a bit foggy… There was tequila aplenty and Lola’s ‘extra special lollipops’ being passed about, so my memory is a bit hazy on this part of the night. But, I do know this: there was a ‘HOT MESS TALENT SHOW!’ And, yes, it’s exactly what you think it is: there was Siobhan Atomica who can ‘fart’ a dollar up in the air; I made my ass clap upside-down in the lap of Sweetpea; Ray Gunn did a full on lap dance which was supposed to be for Perle Noire but ended up on Russell Bruner instead; and then there was Foxy La Feelion who did a full out dance/lip synch of Miss Prada. I don’t even know how to explain what happened; all I know is that she was wearing a trash bag and I REALLY want to see it again! At about 5am, I’m pretty sure I stumbled upstairs with a lollipop in my mouth and somehow got into bed.
Day 5: Sunday
Sunday. Lovely, relaxing Sunday. No shows – all fun! We woke up, nice and hung over, and headed off to a brunch at the Lemp Mansion, which, in case you don’t know, is one of the ten most haunted places in the country. Like, for real. It’s not supposed to be creepy, but it sure is. Apparently, about five people in the Lemp family killed themselves in the house and they’re all still there, roaming around and creeping everyone out. Sammich has seen one of them; ask her to tell you the story next time you see her!
However haunted the place was, the brunch was awesome. We took over a whole room of the restaurant and had Sunday brunch, which consisted of all-you-can-eat fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, biscuits, cucumber salad, roast beef… Honestly, I can’t even remember all the different foods on our table. It was DELICIOUS! And much needed after a weekend of full-on partying.
After brunch, we went to the City Museum, which I can honestly say is worth the flight to St. Louis all on its own. I’m planning a trip back just so I can spend more time there. It’s a fully interactive museum where you can explore tunnels, climb on stuff, and even go on a ten storey slide! It was so much fun! We topped off the fun with a much-needed Bloody Mary at the bar before we all headed to the airport.
Show Me Burlesque Festival, YOU ROCK! I’ll be back for sure!
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.