Girlesque 7: Toronto’s biggest one-night only burlesque revue!
January 27, 2012
Revival Bar, Toronto
What better way to celebrate your birthday then get all dolled up, put some jewels and feathers in your hair, grab your camera, and head down to Toronto’s biggest and best burlesque revue, second only to the annual 4-day Festival. Okay, you might not take the camera… After a great dinner with some equally great photo colleagues, we all headed down a little early to the Revival Bar in Toronto’s Little Italy district to get settled in for the big show.
I have to give massive kudos to our hosts for the evening, the mind-tingling Mysterion and silver-suited (and silver-tongued) Canadian Wolfman, for having the stamina to keep going… and going… and going for three hours, introducing 20 spectacular acts from all over North America!
Although I had the chance to see legend Tiffany Carter perform at the Montreal Burlesque Festival in 2011, this event was her first time on a Toronto stage since 1975 when she competed in, and won, the Miss Nude Universe Pageant. She hasn’t lost any of the moxie that got her that title! When the lights dimmed and her cat mask whiskers lit up, you knew you were in for a real show. She slinked across the stage in true Newmar style, clawing and growling at the audience in her stunning beaded purple corset cat outfit with matching duster. I don’t think anyone in the audience could take their eyes off of her as she performed her striptease. With her sassy new short ‘do, this dame was all sexy curves and attitude, and she definitely received the biggest applause of the evening.
I was on the edge of my chair waiting for Midnite Martini to come on stage and do her act. I snuck a peek at her warmup and was so blown away by her moves that I knew her full performance was going to be amazing! Introduced as the famous “Stocking Girl”, this athletic beauty wowed us with her innovative stocking peels. I’ve been to a lot of shows in my time and have seen a lot of peels – sitting down, standing up, splits, behind a screen – but watching a performer use her mouth to perform a standing split stocking peel… well that was a first for me! That wasn’t the end of her flexibility – in a move that I can only describe as AWESOME, she slid on her back through the tiny space at the back of a fold-up chair, letting the chair do the work of taking off her dress. As if the chair hadn’t gone through enough, she later used it in a hyper extended split – which every woman in the audience must have felt – one foot on the floor and one foot on the chair. Yow! I can see why she won the title of “Most Innovative Move” at the Burlesque Hall of Fame in 2010. I truly hope I get a chance to see her perform again as I hear her aerial work is fabulous.
I’m a huge Tim Burton fan, and although I truly love his haunting romantic gothic works, one of my favourites is his homage to 50s and 60s science fiction – Mars Attacks! Blonde bombshell Tanya Cheex’s homage to Lisa Marie’s Martian Girl was absolutely spot-on – from the stylized walk to the glittering white dress adorned with hand-painted red swirls. I can’t even imagine how long it took for Tanya to make this gorgeous costume – but it was worth every minute! It was almost a shame to take it off… almost. After all, this is burlesque, not musical theatre, and one thing must follow another. This striptease was not a simple means to an end, as it transformed a silent evil Martian Girl into a futuristic femme fatale. Hidden beneath that killer outfit was a 60s Barbarella-inspired heroine, complete with go-go boots and laser gun.
Based out of Ottawa and founder of Capital Tease Burlesque, porcelain skinned beauty Koston Kreme is a headliner that always delivers. Dressed in a glittering golden shift with a row of pearl fringe at the bottom, she slowly and seductively teased the audience from behind gorgeous large white feather fans with a twist – brass knuckle handles – sugar sweet, with an edge of kickass! Always showing just enough to get the audience riled up, her slow and sensual feather dance eventually revealed a stunning skimpy pearl bra and g-string.
One of the most creative concepts of the evening was a sweet reverse striptease by local favourite Mina LaFleur. The scene unfolded in a small seamstress’ shop as she toiled into the late hours on a new outfit draped on one of her mannequins. Like Kim Cattrall’s magical Emmy – think way back to 1987’s Mannequin – our beauty would only come to life whenever the seamstress left the stage. Having eyed a gorgeous shimmery green gown on a companion mannequin, the fabric swath is discarded, revealing that her mannequin form was actually a sneaky corset disguise. After teasing her way out of her corset to reveal her beautiful, and very well-developed human female form, she slinks into the green gown, complete with white fur stole, finally taking off her mannequin topper to complete the transformation.
It was a huge treat to finally see the Schlep Sisters perform – I’ve seen Minnie Tonka when she was in town last year as part of GCB’s Big Apple revue but never had the opportunity to see her partner Darlinda Just Darlinda. Not only did we get to see the Schlep Sisters, but both Minnie and Darlinda graced us with amazing solo acts as well. It was one fantastic and fun act after another. Minnie Tonka waited longingly for that special phone call that changed her into a super-sexified kitten, complete with red hot leather outfit and fishnets. Darlinda’s big-coiffed, leopard print wearing, gum chewing, nail filing rocker chick showed everyone the true meaning of the song “Hair”, shaking and shimmying a very full set of matching shag curtains and carpet (poking out from behind a glam g-string). The Sisters topped it off with a 70s retro piece set to “Love Will Keep Us Together” (which is still stuck in my head, damn you!). The stage was filled with glittery blue polyester and velvet as the disco queens hustled their way across the stage. With beautifully coordinated reveals, the Sisters tied it all together with a final pose – just miles of creamy skin, a pair of glimmer bras, tiny (really tiny) g-strings, and fishnets ending in gorgeous dazzled shoes.
The last act of the evening was quite the show-stopper. Reigning Queen of Burlesque, Miss Exotic World 2011 Miss Indigo Blue – such a sultry and talented performer – wowed the audience with a truly erotic fan dance, using 3 different sizes and colors of feather fans. Wearing her signature crown, she started her routine swathed in large light blue fans, swirling effortlessly along the stage like a modern Ginger Rodgers. She swapped out her large fans for a smaller dark blue set and continued her exotic dance, teasing the audience with a bit more skin. These fans were swapped out for an even smaller pair of black feather fans that left little to the imagination – which she worked beautifully and skillfully as she continued her dance. The audiences’ mouths watered with each little reveal that would flash here and there, getting a glimpse of that beautiful, soft Indigo skin. For the finale, all three sizes of fan were put together for a final frenzied romp across the stage and full reveal.
What a way to end an evening full of amazing performances – worked up, sweaty, and wanting more, more, more… You can bet I’ll be there for Girlesque 8!
There were so many other amazing performances but there’s just not enough room here to describe them. Luckily for you the evening was filmed by sponsor CNON.tv and now that the event is over, you can check out the entire evening – every single stocking peel and split – here.
A big shoutout to Great Canadian Burlesque for putting on such an amazing show, and to our talented roster of performers – legends April March and Tiffany Carter, Queen of Burlesque Miss Indigo Blue, Great Canadian Hall of Fame inductees Tanya Cheex and Miss Mitzy Cream, Midnite Martini, Fionna Flauntit, Esther De Ville, the Schlep Sisters – Minnie Tonka and Darlinda Just Darlinda, Nathalia Rose, Coco Lectric, DD Starr, Ms Chaos Divine, Mina LaFleur, Aviva the Mirage, Koston Kreme, Dolly Berlin, Ava Noir, and Mistress Shelley Pop Pearl.
Olena Sullivan (Photolena) is a Toronto-based model and performance photographer who specializes in onstage burlesque photography. All photos ©Olena Sullivan-Photolena and used here with permission by Burlesque Beat. Performers may use shots for promotional purposes, but please credit properly with photographer’s full name and a link to this piece.