February 14, 2012
Les Coquettes @ Revival Bar, Toronto
Billed as “vintage decadence with a feast for all the senses,” Speakeasy is an exciting sassy new dinner cabaret series held at the gorgeous Revival Bar that debuted on Valentine’s Day. The brainchild of local cabaret troupe Les Coquettes, it’s 90 minutes of creative artistry that includes local music, burlesque, singing, acrobatics, acting…. and boobies.
You can catch the show three times a month. It’s a laid-back, sultry affair that’s perfect for those looking for a little romance, a bit of ambiance, and perhaps a bit of tease with their tart (apple, that is). The evening starts and ends a little earlier than your average burlesque show – perfect for a dressy date night (with enough time left to get home for some wink, wink, nudge, nudge of your own).
Les Coquettes have the evening down to a science – each show features a different local musician to serenade guests during dinner, there’s song and dance, nouveau strip tease, aerial silks, some man meat, and a classic burlesque guest artist. All performers have solid song and dance skills and are constantly impressing with new talents such as silks and suspension. Patrons who have never seen the show may come for the striptease, but are blown away by the amazing talent packaged in those stockings and pasties.
Executive Chef Christopher Woods serves up a sumptuous dinner that matches perfectly with the luscious surroundings and performances to come. I had the chance to smell and admire each dish as it came out of the kitchen and my mouth was watering… If I ever come and actually “see” the show – you know, sitting down, no camera – I think I would have the grilled citrus and dill marinated organic salmon fillet, silken sweet potato mash, roasted heirloom carrots with fresh thyme & sherry, and roasted garlic scented haricots verts with a saffron vinaigrette as my entrée. But that’s just me.
So what was the show the night I visited the Speakeasy? Here are some highlights…
Award-winning Hamilton-based Ginger St. James serenaded the patrons with her blend of blues, country, and rock & roll. Originally a classic burlesque performer, this stunning redhead teased her way through a one hour set that rocked the room.
The troupe was introduced to the patrons as beautiful angels, all in pink corsets and feather wings. So lovely. Even the man meat was appropriately dressed, if not a bit more masculine, in revealing gladiator skirts, bare-chested, with their own soft fluffy wings – strong, but with a soft feminine side. Personally, I didn’t think that they needed to leave the stage so soon. I think the patrons and I were all content to just watch the angels for as long as possible.
Dante Inferno is a cabaret performer extraordinaire – she can dance, she can sing, and she does it all with a creative flair while taking her clothes off. And what better way to show off her talents than in a jailbird routine, wrapped up beautifully in a skintight black & white striped inmate costume. Well, a burlesque version – I don’t think I’ve seen any prison gals wearing matching striped thigh-highs, garters, corsets, opera gloves, and matching caps, even in the raunchiest low-budget B-movies. Her lyrical voice floated through the theatre as she stripped down to a cute striped bikini set but alas, was finally caught, handcuffed (much to the delight of the patrons), and hauled back to cabaret jail.
Not everyone can pull of a solo chair dance. That’s not the case with long, lean, and leggy Georgie Gates. What she can do with a chair will make your heart beat go into overdrive and a swirling, shivery, quivery hot spot start out in your very core, expanding out like wisps of flame out into the tips of your fingers, the end of your tippy-toes, and break your whole body into a sweat. And that’s before any of her clothes come off! I just set my camera to continuous shooting so I could watch her acrobatic peel and reveal all over again in the comfort of my own bedroom.
Everyone loves a fan dance. Make that three gorgeous ladies with hot pink fans to match their hot pink outfits and you know it’s going to be sizzling! Of course, this was a fan dance with a twist… although these lovely gals play together all the time, I think there’s a bit of friendly competition between them. As the lovely dance progressed – and clothes came off – each lovely lady would try to grab the spotlight with a little change in routine to stand out, or by covering up their partner with the fans, or just plain grandstanding. It was fun to watch them try to outdo each other, get angry, then remember they were on stage and plaster that smile right back on. Fantastic routine!
If anyone can sing about boobies, it’s the aptly named Lilli Bubalotovich. Starting on the bar and slinking her way to the stage, stopping here and there to sit on a lucky gentleman’s lap, this multi-talented performer belted out a multi-tempo piece focusing entirely on her beautiful, perfect, ample… boobies. It was a great song and made me think that perhaps my boobies deserve a song in their honour as well. I’m still working on that.
What better way to end off the evening than with an intimate glimpse into the mysteries of the Sultan’s harem – the forbidden pleasure palace of lustful concubines. Or at least that’s what popular culture would have you believe. The beauties of Les Coquettes, swathed in the sheerest I Dream of Jeannie outfits, danced and sang on stage, in what could be the sexiest harem slumber party ever! When the Sultan, muscles in all the right places, interrupted their festivities they swarmed around him, admiring a very fine specimen of man meat. As with all harem scenes, clothes must be shed eventually, and with a final bow of their heads our ladies retreated to more sinful pursuits.
There were many more wonderful performances and I give kudos to the cast: our lovely host La Minouche, Lilli Bubalotovich, Georgie Gates, Charity Dawn, Billie Black, Dante Inferno, Suki Tsunami, and man meat The Barback, special guest The Cabana Boy, and singer Ginger St. James. I hope I got everyone – it was such a hot and steamy show that I may have blacked out in spots.
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.