Review: The Slippery Belle, Manchester, October 2014

It was a triumphant return to Manchester for its longest standing burlesque event The Slippery Belle, in October. Having felt its absence over the previous months my heart was aching for a slice of this delicious burlesque pie and it packed a punch with naughty, funny and sparkly burlesque.

Let me start by saying this; The Slippery Belle has a place in my heart for many reasons. It was a staple of the circuit throughout my performing career, it’s filled with a fantastic audience and as a home crowd gig you always knew you were in for a good show. The audience are always noisy, fun and above all friendly but it’s not just the audience that make the Slippery Belle events a success it’s the overall atmosphere and the kind of acts that get booked.

In a time when mainstream burlesque and some of the bigger shows out there are going down the “classic showgirl” route the Slippery Belle always sticks to its guns and has delivers with the perfect balance of comedy and classic, side by side and complimenting each other beautifully. What you see and what you get it a show that has variety, substance and style and it doesn’t disappoint.

The new venue (Zoo) is perfect for the show, there is allocated seating for the more expensive tickets and your view isn’t skewed from anywhere in the room. The drinks are relatively cheap and the bar and venue staff are attentive and friendly.

A big shout out to Rock Hart – who gave the audience a little more than they bargained for; the increasingly and ever funny woman with the best name in the business – Titsalina Bumsquash and the gorgeous Ginger La Rouge who wowed the crowd with her Charleston/acrobatic antics – Bravo!

Here are a few pics from the night courtesy of Crystal Nightshade Photography and Jonathan Paul Maddock Photography – permission to share from The Slippery Belle.

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The next Slippery Belle is scheduled for next Saturday, 13th December – you can get your tickets via Skiddle.

Dirty Martini and The New Burlesque

(originally posted on my Tublr blog July 2011)

Well I thought it was about time that I actually wrote something to do with burlesque on here rather than the inane whitterings that come so easily to me…. One of the wonderful things I bought with some money for my recent birthday was the Dirty Martini and The New Burlesque DVD. Trailer below:

Dirty Martini is one of my favourite burlesque performers (if not my favourite), she absolutely oozes old school glamour and glitz and embodies everything that is fabulous about burlesque. When I first started to get into burlesque she was one of the ladies that jumped right out at me, not only for her dance skills and the preciseness of her movement but the characterisation that goes into every act that blossoms from her imagination into reality.

The little glances, the sultry faces, the amazing smile…she’s a complete master of her craft. Sex on legs basically. After watching many a youtube video of Dirty I got to see her perform live at Neil Kendall’s Halloween Ball at the Guildhall in Chester (if you haven’t been to one of his burlesque events you need to get there sharpish) and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

She performed her spider act (Zorita tribute) one of my absolute favourites (below if you haven’t seen) and I was in awe.

I was also lucky enough to meet her backstage at the Tournament of Tease last November and she’s so so lovely (who would have thought anything else?).

Anyhoo……on with the DVD stuffs: As much as I love Dirty it’s not all about her, it’s not just about how she started and the people that she met on her journey to become one of the biggest burlesque stars of our day, it’s about how the new burlesque evolved from performance art and how these performers kick-started the current neo-burlesque epoch in NY.

There are interviews with Julie Atlas Muz, World Famous *BOB*, Bambi the Mermaid, Murray Hill, Angie Pontani, Tigger! Jo Boobs, Scotty the Blue Bunny, and many more who speak not just about Dirty and when/how they met her but about their friendships with each other and how performing neo-burlesque is an an outlet of their art and creativity.

The interviews with Dirty show her for all that she is, a generous, loving, talented free spirit and a beacon for burlesque. She shares stories, talks of her passion and how burlesque has affected her life personally and professionally. All of those interviewed are honest in their opinions about aspects of their work, take for example working in burlesque full time.

In world famous *BOB*’s own words: (speaking of teaching at NYSB) “……..welcome to a fantastic hobby, because the illusion created by a successful burlesque dancer is one of complete glamour and carefree and only having time to be absorbed in this beautiful movie star performers life” and “……and there’s an illusion that there’s money in it but as far as a steady paycheck it’s not something I would reccommend.

People ask me sometimes what’s the difference between a stripper and a burlesque dancer and I always say strippers make money” It’s good to see those interviewed being so upfront about the financial side of a regular performer’s life.

In Dirty’s words: “Interview any burlesque performer that’s doing burlesque today and they’ll tell you they have a day job and they do it because they love it. I am so fortunate to say that I am one of the people that now after five years of being a legal secretary quit my job and I just sort of plunged head on into the world of nightlife, burlesque, corporate parties and gosh, now international touring with the Cabaret New Burlesque“.

It’s refreshing to hear this, esepcially in a climate where some performers see the big names and expect overnight success and big bucks after a couple of gigs and/or a lucky break. I really enjoyed watching this documentary, it was an honest, frank and thoroughly entertaining look at the world of neo-burlesque and the lives of those living it daily, exploring feminism, sex work, burlesque, relationships and friendships. It’s about performers’ passion for their art, for burlesque, for life and for not being put into a box. I would highly recommend this for anyone who performs, is thinking about it or just has a general interest in burlesque. You will not be disappointed!

Available to buy on Amazon for £14.40 (currently)

Want to read more about Dirty Martini? links below:

Dirty Martini’s Website

wiki

Burlesque Daily

revel in new york

21st Century Burlesque

The Martini Lounge

Gilded Lili: Lili St. Cyr and the Striptease Mystique

(originally posted on my Tumblr Sept 2011)

I’ll start with this: Lili St Cyr is the second burlesque artist I ever heard of.

When I was knee high my sister was a massive fan of the Rocky Horror and we’d listen to it in her Austin A35 when either she was driving me about or we were all on long road trips in my Dad’s car. (Not the most suitable material for a 10 year old but a lot of it went over my head, plus after my other sister taught me to shimmy when I was 8 there really was only one way this was all going to go….)

And there was the line Janet belts out: “God bless, Lili St. Cyr”

I remember that I couldn’t quite make the words out but upon discovery of what they were I assumed that Lili St Cyr was a B movie actress, it was only years later with the arrival of the internet (and dial up at that) that I found out who she was.

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The photos I did see showed a statuesque beauty, long legs, blonde hair, a regal stance and a body to die for. I learned about her glass bath routine which got her into hot water (ba boom tissssssh) amongst others, her marriages and of her long lasting career, which I assumed was due to her being at the top of her game.

It conflicted my thoughts of her when I learnt of another side to LSC, from the Mike Wallace interview (1957) in which she appeared not to be proud of herself and what she had accomplished.

http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/multimedia/video/2008/wallace/cyr_lili.html

I really couldn’t get to grips with this stunning beauty who smiles straight at you through the lens of a camera being completely at odds with the image I had construed from the limited information I had.

And so when compiling my burlesque based Amazon wish list (or homework as I like to call it) I was thrilled to come across as book that would hopefully clear up some of the mystery that surrounded LSC.

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Gilded Lili: Lili St. Cyr and the Striptease Mystique

– Kelly DiNardo 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gilded-Lili-St-Striptease-Mystique/dp/0823088898

DiNardo has done a superb job in her research, the amount of work and time that must have gone into finding the golden nuggets of information, especially with LSC being recluse in the later years of her life, is astounding.

Exhaustive yet not exhausting, DiNardo presents a clear image of the facts of LSC’s life whilst placing them in the cultural and social revolutions through which she lived. It’s also commentary on women’s place in society, through the changes in the ways women were perceived and the expectations put upon women through the years that she spent performing, which no doubt troubled her and would have led (in all probability) to the loss of any pride in her profession.

It paints a picture of an independent woman who loved and was loved, a free thinker and spirit who felt the pressure of society moulding her into what they thought as right for a woman in their time but was certainly not right for LSC.

It is sad to know that for someone of such stature, and known so broadly for so long, that ultimately her reclusiveness and unwillingness to let the world into her life in her later years has made her fall to the wayside somewhat in people’s memories when her life should be celebrated. That someone who influenced the style of Marilyn Monroe, Madonna and many more is no longer a household name is wretched to say the least.

I truly hope we can one day see the heydays of her performing life on the sliver screen, I’m sure she would have approved on some level.

Thanks to Kelly DiNardo for this wonderful, insightful book and thanks to Lili St Cyr for being the inspiring woman that she is.