Strawberry Siren’s Kansas City Burlesque Festival Diary
21st Century Burlesque Magazine has documented the contemporary burlesque scene…
The Strawberry Siren shares her Kansas City Burlesque Festival experience…
Monday 22nd April 2013
My trip to Kansas City got off on a bit of a rocky start.
While sitting at Melbourne International Airport with fellow burly performer Raven (Mr Boylesque Australia 2012, who was getting on the same flight to LA to head towards NYC for the Boylesque Festival), we were quietly having a stretch before being squished on the plane for the next fifteen hours. All of a sudden, a rather loud alarm started going off! We were looking around to try and see what the problem was, but we were unable to figure it out. After five minutes of our ears ringing in pain, there was a voice over the loud speaker announcing: ‘Ladies and Gentlemen on United Airways 11:20am flight to Los Angeles… There has been damage to your aircraft and your flight has been CANCELLED and will not be flying today. Please wait patiently as we sort out the problem and prepare to re-book every passenger onto a different flight.’
Our plane managed to crash while parking and damaged the wing! Look, it even made the news!
I was then booked on a flight twenty-four hours later and had to go back home and start all over again the next day! But after thirty hours in transit, I finally made it to Kansas City and was greeted at the airport by the festival producers, Scott Smith and Marissa McKay.
Scott and Marissa took me for a lovely night time scenic drive through KC and then dropped me off at the Westin Hotel at the Crown Centre, where a good majority of the travelling performers would be staying and where three of the festival shows were to be held. (I do love a bit of convenience!) I got settled into my room, hung up my gowns and ran myself a bath. While lying in the bath, however, I looked up at one of my costume pieces and came up with the ridiculous idea that it could, in fact, have more swarovski added to it! So, like any good showgirl, I then spent the majority of the next two days adding tiny ss10 swarovski to my costume!
Thursday 25th April: Opening night
On Thursday morning, my roommates and I woke nice and early to head down to the hotel restaurant for breakfast! We then did all good showgirl chores like emails, workout at the gym and setting our curls, before we got all dolled up and headed to the Opening Night Gala at Retro Downtown, where we were treated to pizza, burlesque beer and some light entertainment.
The highlight of the night for me, though, was the final performance of the night by Lolita Bonita – one of the best renditions of Tequila I’ve ever seen. She walked out in one of the funkiest suits with massive seventies platforms, strutted her way to the bar, leapt up onto the bar, and proceeded to go-go, shimmy, shake and strip (all while NOT falling off the bar) and got the entire audience screaming ‘TEQUILA’ as she drenched herself with a bottle of Tequilia and took a final bow. It was like something out of a Tarantino movie!
After all the excitement, we headed back to the hotel and got our beauty sleep in preparation for our next two days of jam packed shows!
Friday 26th April 2013
After a night of meeting the local performers and sussing out where the good vintage stores in Kansas were, myself, Jade and Medianoche (one of the festival headliners from Spain) decided to squeeze in a bit of vintage shopping between our tech rehearsal and the show that night! We made our way down to West 39th street and found an array of cute little stores. My favourite was Rock Candy Boutique, which housed heaps of awesome sixties, seventies and eighties frocks and accessories. I got a few little things and then we headed next door… to one of the prettiest retail stores I’ve ever seen! Retro Vixen housed heaps of gorgeous vintage remakes and vintage inspired dresses, skirts, shirts and accessories galore! I completely blew my shopping budget in one day, but it was well worth it!
The Friday night of the festival played host to two shows for the evening: Spectacularly Burlesque at 8pm and the Late Night Strut at 11pm, both held at the Off Centre Theatre. The two shows saw over twenty-five performers grace the stage! It was quite a night! My performance of my ‘She Said’ routine went off without a hitch and the audience were loud and extremely cheerful!
Two of my favourite performances on the night were delivered seamlessly by Foxy La Feelion from St Louis (Queen of KCBF 2012) and Po’ Chop from Chicago. Both ladies owned every part of the stage they set foot on and had some of the smoothest and hottest moves I’ve ever witnessed! DAMN!
One of the most memorable moments on the night was during Medianoche’s electrifying performance! She was throwing her costume around with such aggression that, at one point, an unsuspecting older lady in the front row was pelted in the stomach with one of Medianoche’s costume pieces and sat there in shock for a few minutes, trying to figure out what had happened!? Luckily, she was not hurt! But she may think again before sitting in the front row!
In the Late Night Strut, I managed to discover one of my new burlesque heroes: Scarlet Harlot from Lawrence, KC. Her disgraceful Disney rendition of the Little Mermaid’s Part of Your World brought me to tears while I screamed with laughter! Her rendition of the song had some of the filthiest lyric changes, yet had the sweetest performance of the night. She not only looked the part, but her voice was breathtaking!
Saturday 27th April 2013
The one day you don’t want to wake up with a hangover… I DID! After having the ‘Loser’ symbol pulled on me by Medianoche when I suggested I was going to head to bed after the late night show the night before, I of course went out for drinks with all the performers at our late night hang out, The Brick, and drank and ate my weight in carbohydrates, into the wee hours of the morn. So the only thing that was going to fix this situation… ALL DAY BREAKFAST, which I happened to stumble upon across the road from the hotel at the Union Station. Plus, I managed to pick up some hot breakfast dates on my way…
After a hangover-worthy breakfast, I headed back to the hotel to set my hair and continue Swarovski-ing my costume before I headed to the venue for tech. The venue for the competition was the Folly Theatre – It was DEVINE! The Folly Theatre has been around since 1900! Its stage has seen the ‘ball-changes’ and discarded costumes of historical burlesque queens, such as Tempest Storm, Ann Corio and Gypsy Rose Lee! To be able to have the honour of gracing the same stage as these legendary ladies was an experience I will never forget.
The Saturday of the festival hosted THREE massive shows! The Performer Competition and Showcase at The Folly Theatre, plus the Royal Burlesque Ball at the Off Centre Theatre. (BUSY!) I had the pleasure of performing alongside some absolutely amazing performers and shows in the Performer Competition. And I somehow managed to get 1st Runner Up! Charlotte Treuse took out 2nd Runner Up and the Queen of Kansas City Burlesque Festival was – DRUM ROLL PLEASE… Iva Handfull from Seattle! With the King title taken out by Kansas City’s own Damian Blake!
Promptly following the competition was the Showcase, which featured some stand-out performances from the festival headliners: Lady Jack from Chicago, Medianoche and Ginger Valentine from Dallas. But my favourite performance of the night was by burlesque legend Stephanie Blake from Los Angeles. Oh my goodness… What a hotty! It may have been the flame red hair that won me over, but this legend still had ALL the right moves!
After the crowning, we all raced back to the Off Centre for the Burlesque Ball, where we screamed, whooped and hollered for the final performances of the festival, before heading back to The Brick for the after party! (My favourite part of any festival.)
AFTER the after-party (because I’m always one of the last ones to call it a night!) Jade and I remembered we had a bottle of champagne in our room, so we invited Medianoche and Lady Jack back to our hotel room to kick on. We all piled in, got comfy, turned on some music and SNAP! Jade looks up at me with this look on her face of ‘Oh… Shit!’ She had managed to snap the corkscrew inside the cork of the bottle! (Why it had a cork that needed to be screwed out is beyond me? In Australia we like to make drinking easy – pop corks and twist tops!) So we then called down to hotel reception to ask for another corkscrew to be sent up to the room. Thirty minutes later there was still no sign of the corkscrew, so we called again… Fifteen minutes later, Jade cracked it and went down to reception, where she got them to go into the bar in the lobby and grab one! (Two minutes!) She then headed back up and the two of us attempted to get the bottle open… WITH ABSOLUTELY NO LUCK! It was the most lame, yet hilarious after-after-party I’ve ever hosted! At 5am, Medianoche had to leave to get ready for her flight, so we finally called it a night, feeling very tired, lame and sober! But laughing all the same!
The Kansas City Burlesque Festival was an absolute delight to be a part of! A massive shout out has to go out to the producers, Scott and Marissa, and the local performers who all rallied together to make sure no performer was left without a ride, a meal, a hair curler and the locations of the nearest vintage stores! Thanks so much for having me! I hope to return again in the years to come!
Remember Kids… If you can’t be good? Be good at it!
Strawberry Siren x
Find out more about the Kansas City Burlesque Festival…
21st Century Burlesque Magazine has documented the contemporary burlesque scene since 2007. Founded and edited by Holli-Mae Johnson.