by Sandra O’Connell
May 3, 2012
The Rio Theatre, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Calendars are cleared months in advance of the Vancouver International Burlesque Festival. People wait on their tip toes for the three nights once a year that highlight Vancouver and international burlesque stars. With performances, revues and cabarets spread out around the city like a pair of the longest legs, it’s at this festival that one truly grasps the magnitude of talent in our culturally growing city.
The first night of the 7th year of the festival opened at the Rio Theatre with three saucy musical acts, Pandora and the Locksmiths, Beatles Burlesque, and Bender in Bermuda. The cheeky Connie Cahoots hosted the night wearing a multitude of personalities, including the Queen and Ed Sullivan, easily sliding into character with spot-on accents and quirky mannerisms.
The first showcase was the “scintillating soul spectacular” Pandora and the Locksmiths, a five-piece jazz band hell-bent on getting feet tapping, and hosted by the dashing Purrrfessor.
Eyes and ears were captivated by the dreamy rendition of Aretha Franklin’s “Daydreaming” by Miss Fitt, Nicky Ninedoors and Burgundy Brixx. Can these women get any more desirable? Clearly, they were up for the challenge with their “come hither” performances to follow. Carol Brunette, a modern day Jackie O, donned her minx hat and fox tail and seductively teased the audience to Burgundy Brixx’s “Foxy Lady.” High kicks are seemingly Carol’s speciality. Miss Fitt and Nicky Ninedoors wowed the crowd in tasseled dresses worthy of Tina Turner’s closet, which they swiftly removed to reveal different kinds of tassels all together. Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman has got nothing on Voracious V as a purring cat coquette, and later in the set a flaming Burgundy Brixx convinced the crowd that she truly is an evil woman child as she tore layers off her dress and procured a cigarette from her panties.
Beatles Burlesque began with a bang and an energizing foray into “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “Back in the USSR,” and “Can’t Buy Me Love.” The band members were clearly living out childhood dreams judging by the jubilant smiles on their faces. An opportunity to personify icons doesn’t come all too often.
We were treated to a deliciously chilling “Blackbird” sung by Miss Fitt and danced by Miss Via Rose and her sensual fans. Is it just me, or do you want Miss Fitt as your best friend, too? Every ounce of her cries with joy when she’s on that stage. Calamity Kate stunned all in a metal-plated chastity belt which she attempted to cut off with a sparking and smoking edge grinder – it was a scene straight out of “Cry-Baby.” “Oh Darling,” a song that can give me goosebumps as is, was powered through with passion by Miss Kiss in such a way that my body stopped breathing.
Completing the evening was Bender in Bermuda, a creepy yet colorful cast of creatures led by host and singer Aida Manic. A beautiful sea being comprised of floating balloons was portrayed by Sister Madly, and a bevy of beach babes suffered from a shark attack while dead pirates drank their poison at an adjoining ghost bar.
The long evening left audience members with a lighter step in their walk and music in their hearts. When will “Glee” do their burlesque episode…?
Pandora and the Locksmiths: The Purrfessor (host), Callio P. Cock (stage manager), Ava Lure (sweeper), Ruthe Ordare (sweeper), Burgundy Brixx, Miss Fitt, Nicky Ninedoors, Carole Brunette, Voracious V, Rebel Valentine, Miss Kiss, John Bews (bass), Sean Bayntun (keys), Trevor Grant (drums), Alison Gorman (trumpet), Dominic Conway (sax)
Beatles Burlesque: Calamity Kate, Connie Cahoots, Miss Kiss aka Jacqueline Breakwell, Rebel Valentine, Melody Mangler, Miss Fitt, Ruthe Ordare, Miss Via Rose, Vanity Feral, Violet Femme, Andrea Superstein, Jeff Bryant, Blue Morris (guitar), Ryan Marsall (guitar), Eric Rasmusson (drums), Max Lazarus (bass)
Bender in Bermuda: Aida Manic, Sparkle Plenty, Maggie Pie, VaVa Vunderbust, Coco Cinders, Voodoo Pixie, Sister Madly, Riannaconda, Bloody Betty, Polli Morph, Stone Calisa (drums), Mike Laviolette (guitar), Steve Graf (bass)
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.