Raven Virginia, the 2017 recipient of the Sparkly Devil Scholarship, reviews the 60th Annual Titans of Tease Showcase at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend 2017.
Red is the fiery colour of love and passion, which made it the perfect theme of the night! The entire evening was chock full of touching stories, love, and admiration for our history and passionate performances from the icons of our past.
Host World Famous *BOB* made a grand entrance with her peachy pink chiffon ensemble and perfectly coiffed Zsa Zsa Gabor icy blonde wig. She looked like glorious, glamorous cotton candy. The audience was welcomed to the “temple” and with a quick scan of the crowd, she noted that there were many first time BHoFers in attendance.
She began with a brief history lesson of our “ancestors and transcestors” detailing the museum’s beginnings in Helendale, California, and described her own trek to the desert to meet Dixie Evans, The Marilyn Monroe of Burlesque. “Dixie preserved the burlesque fire when no one else was talking about it. She guarded it and preserved it so that anyone interested in burlesque could visit her, light their own flame, and take it back to their communities to share it.”
And with that spirited flame ignited, the show began with a bang! April March, the First Lady of Burlesque, has a knack for spectacle. She brings a splash of Vegas showgirl with a hint of Broadway to every performance. The curtains parted to reveal a life-sized black and white photo of April and as a bevy of boylesque stars entered to fawn over her figure, the photo lifted to reveal April herself in ravishing red.
Her oversized red fur collar could overpower a less experienced performer, but April strutted out like the star she is. While her boylesque assistants removed her robe and gown, she revealed a sparkling beaded mini dress. As her signature song played, her boylesque crew disappeared and reappeared on stage in less and less clothing until the final climactic moment when all the nearly nude men framed April for her final pose.
Next up was Monique Murray, The M & M Girl who melts in your mouth and in your hand. Before Monique took to the stage, we learned that she once turned down Elvis Presley because he’d sent an assistant to ask her out instead of asking her himself. Monique proved to be every bit as saucy as she was described with her rendition of Love For Sale by Cole Porter.
She glided out in her wheelchair decked out in a vibrant hot pink ostrich boa and delivered her song with all the sass and class of the era.
Gabriella Maze was third to take the stage. Her impressive resume of international appearances alone would be enough to make jaws drop, but Gabriella amazed with her dramatic entrance. Sporting the night’s theme colour, Gabriella swished and swirled a deep red rose cape with gold accents across the stage with grace and ease.
Her music shifted to a bright and fun melody as she dropped her cape to reveal a gorgeous corset and skirt. The audience was overjoyed as she struck her final pose looking like a glittering goddess.
Val Valentine’s act was a real showstopper. The curtain lifted to showcase a silhouetted Val in all her splendor. Her incredible figure was delicately framed with airy pink chiffon scarves and a sparkling nude dress. Her graceful movements mesmerized the crowd as her hands elegantly accented her sensual hip sways.
With a music change to It Don’t Mean a Thing by Duke Ellington, Val displayed all her dance training with perfectly timed kicks and a polished high energy dance sequence that would put any broadway dancer to shame. As she removed her dress, she expertly shimmied her whole body from top to bottom and finished her act in a sexy panel skirt and triangle bra. With the music’s final button the audience leapt to their feet for a huge standing ovation!
Suzette Fontaine made a marvellous entrance in a bright blue mermaid gown and ostrich boa. She stunned the audience with a gown removal that included a full zipper down the back of her dress to show an incredible black and crystal shimmy costume. Suzette embraced her Latin roots as she delivered a perfect cha-cha-chá with passion and charm.
When I say the night’s theme colour of red is perfect, Suzette’s act comes to mind. While she didn’t wear any rouge, it felt like she left her heart on that stage. She topped her act off with a shimmering and soft chiffon duster to compliment her shimmy outfit.
Eartha Quake III entered in a black sequin gown with red accents and strutted her stuff. She pulled everyone’s attention in with her sultry gaze. Her reverse zipper reveal exposed an exceptional beaded shrug that allowed her pasties to just peek out under the swinging beads. As the beads swished and swung with her movements, we’d see a little more of Eartha’s body, making for a positively scintillating tease throughout her number.
As the bluesy Little Red Rooster blared over the sound system, Eartha revealed a rooster merkin and capped her number off by ever so slowly removing her beaded shrug as she gyrated on a bear skin rug. This was hands down one of the sexiest numbers I’ve ever seen!
With an uproarious duet, Penny Starr Sr. and Penny Starr Jr. paid homage to burlesque of old and new with a fierce and funny battle between grandmother and grandchild. Penny Starr Sr. took to the stage first in a dazzling red mesh bra, star pasties, red rose petal patterned skirt and corset in a tribute to her classic roots. She was abruptly interrupted by Penny Starr Jr. who bellowed over the mic that she was going to do burlesque her way!
With that Penny Jr. entered in a classic costume with a grunge/punk twist. Sporting a checkered panel skirt that looked just like an oversized shirt tied around her waist, star earrings, garbage boa, and high heeled Converse, Penny Jr. came thrusting into view with attitude. After a playful back and forth between Penny Sr. bumping and grinding, and Penny Jr. thrusting and thrashing, both came together for a final tassel twirl.
The Legend of the Year award was presented by reigning Queen Poison Ivory to icon Lottie “The Body” Graves. Poison delivered a touching tribute to Lottie, recounting her own personal experience meeting Lottie and how her charm and generous nature was part of her magnetism, “She made you feel like family.”
Lottie Graves was a stunning performer integrating her classic moves with a touch of her Afro-Cuban dance skills, making her one of the most sought after performers of her time. She also made history by breaking barriers and dancing in white clubs during the height of segregation. Former Legend of the Year, Toni Elling, accepted the award on Lottie’s behalf.
Miss Exotic World 2011 Indigo Blue’s tribute to Patti Wagon was sugar, spice, and everything nice. Draped in a lavender blue tiered gown, soft ostrich boa and Patti’s signature feather fascinator, Indigo floated on stage to perform her tribute to the exciting legend with an act that was pure magic. Encapsulating all the aspects that make for a great act, Indigo was saucy, silly, and sexy. I’m certain Patti would have been honoured by such a flawless tribute!
Before the show broke for intermission, the audience was treated to the glitz and glamour of the Grant Avenue Follies. Starting off with two impressive and contrasting solos from members of the troupe, the act began slowly and softly. As the two soloists finished their routine, the troupe stepped forward to close the number with a spectacular, well rehearsed group dance that included some hip shaking to Gloria Estefan’s Conga. It was a perfect way to end Act 1!
Returning from our short break, the Walk of Fame portion of the show began. First came the 40s and 50s legends hosted by 2016 Living Legend Dee Milo, Venus of Dance, wearing her delightful red sequin gown.
The next to grace the stage was Bic Carroll, followed by Delilah Jones The Untouchable Ellion Ness, Jack Cione and Living Legend 2013 Tai Ping.
Next came the 60s legends hosted by Bambi Jones, The Garter Girl, decked out in a cheeky cannabis fairy costume. As she puffed away on a (fake) joint, Bambi introduced Alexandra the Great 48, Diana Love, Dusty Sage, Kim Gaye, Lola Foxx, Lorna, Marinka Queen of the Amazons, Rubberlegs, Shannon Doah The Good Bad Girl, and Toni Elling The Duke’s Delight.
Rounding out the Walk of Fame was Canada’s Grand Beaver of Burlesque Judith Stein, hosting the 70s legends. Revealing to the crowd that she wasn’t wearing anything under her lacey blue dress, Judith had the crowd in stitches as she introduced Gina Bon Bon, Gypsy Louise, Julie Mist, Liza Jourdan, Velvet Ice, The Insatiable Viva la Fever, and a special shout out to her friend Big Fannie Annie.
Next to perform was Dusty Summers, The Nude Magician. Dusty doesn’t disappoint, and sashayed out in a royal blue gown and fur stole that wowed the crowd. With a bluesy swagger, Dusty removed her gown to uncover an incredible blue mesh corset. She hit every nuance and beat of the music with her body, making the audience see and feel the song as she stripteased. Much to our delight, Dusty produced two white doves out of nowhere!
After bringing up audience volunteers to hold the doves, she made both doves disappear again — but having stripped her clothes off it was impossible to tell where they went! Her magic skills are matched by her striptease artistry making for a truly enchanting act.
Lovey Goldmine made one hell of an entrance to I’m Too Sexy and my god, she was too sexy! So sexy in fact that I barely had a chance to write down notes as I was entranced the entire time. Adorned with white feather wings, Lovey did an achingly slow corset removal that had the audience in the palm of her hand.
Dancing to contemporary music, her smooth, gliding motions and solid acrobatic skills were to die for. Lovey completed her act with some impressive moves on her chair that left the crowd fawning over her as she exited.
Fabulous Fanny lived up to her name with a fantastic number. Producing maracas from behind her back, Fanny shook and shimmied with her maracas to a Latin beat. She whirled and twirled her purple ruffle costume and rhinestoned corset with spunk. Exhibiting some seriously sensual dance skills and finesse, this goddess ground her way around the stage with flawless hip thrusts to every punch in the song. Her final reveal had us all feeling fabulous.
Camille 2000 knows exactly how to make an entrance! Stomping on stage to break through police caution tape, decked out in trash glam military gear, and embellished with bullets and spikes, Camille provoked us to pay attention to her statuesque frame, hanging on to every movement. She paraded back and forth to thrill every member of the audience.
After Bambi The Mermaid made a cameo appearance to hand off glowing nunchucks and snag a moment to make out with the legend, Camille continued to titillate us with her weapons of mass destruction, confirming she is the Cosmic Queen of Burlesque and a true rebel.
To close the evening, Tiffany Carter brought something touching and tender to the show with an act she said was “from her heart”. To John Lennon’s Imagine, Tiffany floated on stage like an angel adorned in white.
Along with six assistants, Tiffany gently danced with each person before gifting them with a flowing white scarf from her glistening costume. She did this all six times until they had framed Tiffany with magnificent white, fluttering angel wings. It was an impeccable end to an emotionally charged night of burlesque.
The 60th Annual Titans of Tease Showcase at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend 2017 reviewed by Raven Virginia.
The Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend took place from Thursday 1st – Sunday 4th June in The Orleans Showroom, Las Vegas.
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.