Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend 2013 Day 3, Finale
Sunday, June 2, 2013
Sassy Lassy Excellence in Promoting Burlesque presented to Catherine D’Lish by special guest Dita von Teese
Sassy Lassy Innovator Award presented to Katie K by Dirty Martini
Sassy Lassy Award for Perpetuating the Art of Burlesque worldwide presented to Scott Ewalt by Paula Swedish Housewife
Winners of the Legends Challenge were:
1. Boylesque Idol, Anchorage AL
2. Sepia Seduction, NY
3. Starstruck with Velvet Ice
So we’ve come to the last evening of the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekender — the Icons & All-Stars big extravaganza. You would think that after the seemingly endless excitement of Saturday’s competitions that this would be a nice relaxing production, a way to just come down from all the crazy sexiness but this festival doesn’t let you do that. No way! It just keeps going and going, never slowing down, never letting you down, and drawing you in night after glorious night. You’ll just have to go home and sleep it all off for a couple of weeks — you’ve got vacation time, right?
I wish I could go over every single act, but there were just too many fabulous ones, so here are some highlights from the evening….
Emcee Foxy Tan kept the evening moving along, introducing all-star after all-star. Seattle’s Indigo Blue is a favourite of mine and I’ve seen her perform several times in Toronto when she toured as Reigning Queen of Burlesque. Her performances are always a beautiful melange of sensual and sassy. There’s always that saucy little wink that she throws in, like she’s letting you in on her sweet little secret. This time, that little secret was a pair of beautiful blue feather fans that she pulled out after peeling herself out of her blingy black beaded gown.
This was the first time I’ve ever seen L.A.’s Kitten D’Vil perform. Two words — Holy Fuck! This woman knows how to command a stage and is she ever so stunningly beautiful. I am now part of the Kitten D’Vil fan club! Eight feet tall and poured into a sparkly red feather trimmed gown with a slit going up, up, up the side — her matching red opera gloves went perfectly with the gloss on her lips. She was like a Tasmanian Devil up on that stage, kicking up a storm from one end to the other. And I’ve never someone use feathers and boas as diversely as Kitten did — from dress trim to boa to peekaboo muff for the final reveal. Creativity rules.
Even if you’ve never seen Jo ‘Boobs’ Weldon perform on stage, you’ve probably heard of her book (or you may be lucky enough to own a copy) — The Burlesque Handbook. She commands a striking presence on stage and we were treated to a fabulous performance by a very large entourage of hers for a fabulous tribute to Sparkly Devil. Decked out in seriously sexy devil attire and sporting the largest horns I’ve seen on a lady this hot, she was joined onstage by over a dozen mostly naked devils, all grooving out to “Soul Stripper.” There were devils gyrating, dancing, and twirling pasties and ass tassels everywhere you looked. What a fabulous send-off to a truly Sparkly Devil.
Every single time I see my Canadian compadre Roxi DLite, she always ups the ante with her routine. I’ve seen her do a gorgeous hoop routine before, but nothing like this. As always, the gown that she came out on stage in was stupendous — she’s always had a knack for the most stunning and sparkly dresses! A blue beauty with stars of all sizes on the layered train, it fell away to reveal a silver blingy star-patterned bustle. So appropriate for a woman with what many would say is a truly heavenly posterior. Just when you thought her act was done, clapping madly as she stood there in her star pasties, out came a huge hoop. That’s when the act blew my mind. It could only work with a performer with perfect timing — she worked the hoop, stepping in and out, mixing in ground work, interacting with it without it ever falling out of step with the music, falling to the ground, or slowing down. Roxi and the hoop were one, it was just an extension of her being, flowing effortlessly across the stage. Fabulous!
Since the first time I saw Dirty Martini perform, I fell in love with her. Her gangster act – and this is going back many years — was the reason I got into shooting burlesque. Her presence on the stage, her charisma, her character, her beautiful hourglass figure and the comfort she felt in her own skin — all these things drew me into her performance and into the artform itself. I was psyched to see her on the stage again at BHoF after so many years — and she did not disappoint! Her act was a beautiful water piece, with long swaths of blue fabric undulating on the stage, held aloft by burlesque beauties. As she made her way through the waves, she shed her blue silky panels to emerge in a stunning beaded bikini. I truly hope that I won’t have to wait years again to see this classy gal perform again!
It’s not often that I see a boylesque number that takes me back to my youth. Hot Toddy made me feel like a kid again, sitting in front of the TV with the family, all psyched to watch… the Liberace Show. Except my grandparents would have freaked if Liberace had gotten up from his piano to do a striptease (they still think he was straight)! What a fabulous and funny performance — our own Liberace up on stage in a sparkly silver suit (blindingly sparkly actually), playing a piano only he could see. And every time an article of clothing came off, there was something equally as glittery underneath. I think if anything was a candidate for giving you Sparkle Poisoning and Glitter Lung, this outfit would do it. There was one place that Hot Toddy outdid the late Liberace — that man knew how to twirl some sparkly ass tassels!
I love a good tribute! Who doesn’t, right? What better way to tell someone — I admire you, your work, and you’re an inspiration. When it comes to the fabulous legend Toni Elling, there are few out there who can do her burlesque career justice — except for the fabulous Perle Noire. I’ve seen her perform several times and she can be slow and sensual then dive right into a shimmy frenzy — whatever the character and music require. Her skills are multi-talented. Her act was a classy one — the woman coming home from her evening with her man, getting into her dressing gown by slowly undressing on a chaise, occasionally going over to her makeup table to fix herself up and spritz on some perfume. You can tell she had a fabulous evening — and don’t we all wish we could do this every night, ladies?
The finale of the evening was the most spectacular group number I have ever seen… so far in my years shooting burlesque. Will it ever be topped? Right now, I highly doubt it. We already know that the Stage Door Johnnies don’t do anything half-assed. These guys are pros, their productions are absolutely perfect, the music sublime, and their striptease… well, let’s just say all that screaming from the ladies (and the gents) has to mean something. Their final for BHoF was like an old Hollywood Spectacular — choreography, multitudes of dancers on stage, groups of dancers performing different steps at once, fabulous music, and three leading men. They had every single performer up on stage with them as backup dancers and somehow choreographed them into groups of three. Each of our Johnnies took their turn moving towards the front of the stage with their group to perform their solos and when they were all done, they danced together, getting all naked for their adoring fans. If you’ve seen them perform then you’ve probably seen them on stage, backs to the audience, in their birthday suits, giving us a stupendous view of their buff backs.
Yeah, that was the last thing I saw during the festival. How’s that for something to dream about? So how was my first BHoF?
6070 photos taken
+ more new friends than I can count
+ 4 nights of the the most spectacular performances
+ getting the experience of a lifetime rooming with a fabulous legend of burlesque
+ a three-hour tour in 104 degrees to photograph a plethora of pinups on the streets of Las Vegas and get an inch from heatstroke
= the best time I’ve ever had in Las Vegas! I can’t wait to come back for the next BHoF.
Congratulations to everyone at BHoF for a fabulous festival! Kudos to those I didn’t have the chance to mention in the article: Shannon Doah, Catherine D’Lish, Camille 2000, Michelle L’Amour. Thanks to my roomie and tour guide for the weekend Tiffany Carter — your hospitality knows no bounds, you’re the best! Thanks to Don Spiro for putting me on the BHoF Photo Crew — such a pleasure to meet such a great burlesque photographer. And the absolute biggest thank you to Melody and JD for this fabulous opportunity to cover the festival!
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.
Check out Photolena’s reviews and photos of the first two nights of the 2013 Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend: