Red Herring’s Toronto Burlesque Festival Diary: Friday
Why are your eyelashes wonky whenever you’re in a hurry? That’s what I want to know…
A gorgeous sunny day, accompanied by a hellish heatwave, had turned grey and dreary as I headed over to the Gladstone for Friday’s night of a thousand pasties. Apparently the stars of the Toronto Burlesque Festival were too hot for even the sun to handle.
As soon as I stepped through the doors of the Gladstone I managed an instant hug from Roxi DLite. She’s probably the best possible omen to superstitious performers. After a quick registration and greeting from the festival’s executive producer, Dr. Mysterion, there was a short wait (a quickly expanding crowd) and we were in!
I lucked out with a seat, and was quickly accosted by a gorgeous damsel in distress, Ava Noir! Pre-show mayhem involved disintegrating pasties and a rescue mission! Oddly enough, I do occasionally carry emergency pasties in my purse. Luckily they were not needed this time, as her costume designer Brook arrived in time for me to escort her to the scene, but you never know when you’ll need spare pasties!
Keela Watts kicked off the Friday night with a set of sultry songs. Her banter between sets put a perfect narrative to her choice of tunes, and gave a reason for the songs to come across the way they did. She created an act where she could have simply sung.
Canadian Wolfman, a Toronto staple on the stage, kicked off the night emceeing and later introduced Rouge Fatale from Halifax, later joined by Tara Hazelton. These three did an amazing job of covering the show and introducing performers. It’s important for a burlesque show to have an emcee who can carry the time between acts and guide the audience, and these three worked together to titillate and dominate as they saw fit.
The Harlettes started off the burlesque aspect of the show in a very Canadiana-appropriate way, with their Mountie and hockey act. Some highlights of the first half of the show include Mickey D. Liscious and his Superman act (and inflatable co-star), Miss Kay Liscious with a sword on her head, hips, and impossibly, balanced on her well-shaped behind.
Chicago’s Viva La Muerte awoke the nerd in me full force with her hilarious and amazingly-costumed Cthulhu act. I was speechless, and then very loud as her (awesome) music ended. What a perfect and hilarious act! After last year’s AC/DC and confetti-guns, I knew to expect to love what she was going to do this year, and I was not let down.
Dolly Berlin, who helped me cover the Thursday of the festival, performed with an act that paid homage to her Native American background. She made great use of her tasselled behind. Speaking of behinds, Cherry Temple and Foxy Finale of Skin Tight Outta Sight showed us their backstage shenanigans in a creative act that let the audience into what happens BEHIND the curtain. Anything involving a roll of duct tape is pure genius.
Miss DD Starr and Dew Lily followed each other on stage. The lady tied herself up and stripped herself down, and Dew followed with his sexy sailor act, in which he covers himself with champagne. There were many hollers in the crowd for these two blondes’ acts, and with good reason!
The performances over the night ranged from funny to sexy and right back. From Coco La Creme‘s penis-related balloon act hilarity, to GlamourPuss Burlesque‘s wonderfully choreographed and feathered group act, to to Mlle Oui Oui Encore‘s gorgeous wind-assisted performance. Several small intermissions kept the audience fresh, though the room was packed. Luckily, this night was air conditioned, compared to Thursdays’ story of heat, and the drinks were flowing from the bar.
Ruby Joule, who I had previously seen only thanks to the wonders of YouTube, performed a gorgeous classical act. I had a chance to speak with her after the show, and discovered we both have a thing for techno music, which was in drastic contrast to the act she performed, the same act she graced the New Orleans stage with!
I also had the opportunity to chat with Jett Adore, whom I found very near Roxi DLite. That woman has secrets, I tell you. She always seems to be surrounded by the most delicious male specimens – this time it was her own ‘burlusband’ and Jett himself. This brief meeting and a later discussion with the Burlesque University coordinator Coco Framboise, helped me cement which classes I would take at the University the following morning.
After a very long night, and some great connections, I taxied my 5″ heel-wearing feet home and collapsed (most gracefully) into bed. Day One of the festival: Complete!