by Sandra O’Connell
March 28, 2012
The Electric Owl, Vancouver, BC, Canada
On first glance, the industrial space couldn’t be in starker contrast to the intimate event that is about to unfold. But dig a little deeper, peel back a few layers, and anyone can see the raw and bare surroundings complement the exposed flesh on stage. The candles on the tables cast longer shadows when they have concrete as their palette, warming up the room and adding a sultry touch.
A crowd has gathered to take in The Night Owl Revue at the Electric Owl, a lounge on a quieter stretch of Main Street in Vancouver. Pandora and the Locksmiths provide the cool and sophisticated jazz as the ladies, Nicky NineDoors, Burgundy Brixx, Miss Fitt, and Lydia DeCarllo, remove their clothes with nimble fingers and flirty footwork.
Before the girls get down to it, or out of it, the host, Doug Thom, otherwise known as the Purrrfessor at the legendary Kitty Nights, croons an opening number reminiscent of Frank, Neil or Tom in their Vegas heydays. He is dapperly dressed for the part in a treasured tuxedo jacket with satin covered lapels and buttons straight from the Bellagio Hotel, a jacket that may have even seen such renowned acts live in its youth.
The vixens, minus Lydia DeCarllo, file onto the stage in flowing flowery dresses to enchant the audience in perfect harmony. Clothes are not removed… yet, which is just as well, as nudity would have been overkill to the sweet honey voices that come from their lips. The acts that follow appeal to a great range of tastes and flavours. Each with her own persona, the ladies delight the audience with their songs, expressions, attire, and movements.
Trained as a ballet dancer, Lydia DeCarllo’s elegance and glamour transcend the Hollywood greats from a time long past. She’s a siren and well aware of the power she holds; each toss of her garments, each flick of her ostrich feathers, and each wink into the crowd is calculated to draw us in further – it’s as effective as a hypnotist’s watch. She was born to perform and entertain she does as a raven-haired, tattooed femme fatale.
Nicky Ninedoors not only captures with her desirous, classically trained voice, but also with her wide eyes that could make a glacier melt with just one glance. Appearing on stage in a graduation gown for her first act, we all know she has something delicious hiding underneath, and we wait in trepidation as she lingers to disrobe. While the words she sings with her red mouth, which sparkles like Dorothy’s shoes, say, “teach me tonight”, it is she who is schooling us in the art of seduction. Nicky’s second act puts Jessica Rabbit to shame – the sparkling scarlet gown is the same colour as her lips – and with each tug of her zipper, men in the audience could likely feel their trousers tighten. Finally standing before us sans dress, she teases with fleeting glimpses of skin as her crimson feathered fans pulsate around her. I cannot help but bite my lip.
The quirky and impish aura of Miss Fitt brings smiles to everyone in her eye line. Her routines are infused with comedy as she first portrays a lush lounge singer and then a spritely 1990s Charlie Chaplin. Her ability to make even a drunk look sexy lies in the way she caresses the microphone as though it were a lover, and even her stumbles across the stage are suggestive. I have flashbacks to myself dancing and singing in my room after a few tipples, but she’s got better lingerie and more sex appeal.
The sensational force that is Burgundy Brixx, one of the brains behind the weekly Kitty Nights and a co-founder of the Vancouver Burlesque Centre, knows how to combine colour to make her luscious red hair and milky skin pop. When she unpins her hair to let it cascade around her in one tousled mane, I swear everyone moves a little closer to the edges of their seats. Her partner, the Purrrfessor, eyes her hungrily from the sidelines. She is all woman.
As the stage kitten, the Voracious V, picks up the remaining items of corsetry, silks, and feathers from the stage, we all sit still until the throbbing in our hearts die down to a slower beat. Pandora and the Locksmiths continue to play until drinks are emptied and lust is but a memory imprinted on the air.
Captivated by the world of burlesque, Sandra O’Connell is no stranger to the Vancouver scene. In addition to weaving burlesque into words, she is a freelance writer for a variety of publications covering fashion, travel, lifestyle and culture. Find Sandra on Twitter or at her personal blog.
All photos ©Baron S. Cameron, and used here with permission. Please respect photography copyrights and do not use images without obtaining explicit permission.