Early Edition—Porkpie & DeBris Launch Weekender in High Style

Blanche Debris & Jonny Porkpie

Your Hair of the Dog: Burlesque Hall of Fame Movers, Shakers and Innovators, 2014

by J.D. Oxblood

[Full show coverage and photos by Photolena to come—Ed.]

Thursday, June 5

Orleans Showroom, Las Vegas

The Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekender kicked off in dazzling style last night, helmed by producer Jonny Porkpie, who delivered a finely-tuned evening of punch and delight that ran barely two and a half hours and felt even shorter. Porkpie hosted with the always-hysterical Branche DeBris, and together they were like peanut butter, after heartbreak and ice cream binges and bottoming out on eHarmony, finally finding chocolate. Porkpie turned in the hosting turn of his career, tag-teaming the stage with the presciently button-pushing DeBris, and when the two shared the Great Glittery Way, all was right in the Burlesqueverse.

Jonny opened with classic buffoonery to Deano’s “I Love Vegas,” drinking himself into a stupor and passing out cold. Per consummate commitment to a bit, Porkpie collapsed and stayed face down as the curtain closed over him, and DeBris faked his voice to introduce the show without him.

Key Sera elegantly kicked off the performances as Eve in the Garden routine, and despite her smoking-hot body with kick-ass biceps, it was her gaze and her smile that dictated the crowd’s response. Without a skipped beat, up next was the burlesque’s Minority Whip from NOLA, Bella Blue, who appeared in the dark in a sparkle-laden morph suit and proved that she knows who Martha Graham is. All modern, all spooky—to a Shiny Toy Guns track—and peeling off her mask last, a choice move, and hitting the last beat by raising her head an inch. Just an inch—the James Brown technique of “See how well-rehearsed I am?”

Swing Time’s Pink Lady and Russell Bruner both killed it, the latter’s cane work positively flawless, and he admitted to me that he wanted to piss people off by being so good at these techniques that others would almost hate him. Their piano player John Bennett worked burlesque in the ‘50s for $5 a show, and hasn’t had a raise since.

Darlinda Just Darlinda gave an onstage master class in what you can do with nothing but a chair and a passion. ONE costume item, folks, and she grinded into the music and into our pants with more abandon than three average burlesque acts served in a blender with spiced rum.

Sizzle Dizzle made everyone in the house suddenly remember that their manicures weren’t yet dry, as 500 people flickered their hands at their eyes, pretending they weren’t crying. To Katy Pary’s “Firework,” Sizzle danced with her IV drip pole, saying a tearful goodbye as she rolled it offstage. It was a lovely and celebrational piece, and then she popped her wig off to reveal a completely bald head, and, as Lola Frost said later, tears just flew out of everyone’s eyes. It was dedicated to Sizzle’s friend Martha, who bravely lost a fight with cancer, and—fuck, it is too early in the morning for me to start crying.

A slick show, from DeBris’s verdict on polyamory (too much talking about feelings and boundaries), to the double glove bite by Violet Tendencies, to the light-up costume fantabulousness by New York freshman Evelyn Vinyl, to Bobby Burlesque’s upside-down zipper pull, to Lola Martinet, who redefined the concept of “Balloon Act,” flipping the script Yeezus-like. Recipe: Reveal crinoline lined with pink flowers that match your outfit, then BLOW THEM UP, since they’re actually balloons, via some unseen pneumatic mechanism. Start popping, and give up halfway through, just drop the crinoline and walk off.

Then there was Ray Gunn. “Jabberwocky.” Weird word-salad video backdrop. A cloak-cum-straight jacket scribbled by a madman. And twisted, writhing choreo, shunning a top hat with inset birdcage and ditching a mask to reveal eyes covered by—IDK—gold glitter eye patches? Gunn went full downtown avant-garde to music by Amon Tobin, and I loved every minute of it. By turning in an act that might not be universally celebrated in competition, Gunn demonstrated that it is, indeed, good to be the King.

Tonight, Legends!!!

Kiss kiss,


Check out all our Burlesque Hall of Fame coverage.

Ray Gunn

Are you here in Vegas with us? What were your top five acts from the Thursday night show?

J.D. Oxblood is a contributing editor to BurlesqueBeat.com. His writing has also been seen in New York Magazine’s Bedford + Bowery, Burlesque Magazine, 21st Century Burlesque, and Zelda. His academic work appeared in Borrowers & Lenders. Follow J.D. Oxblood on twitter.

Melody Mudd is co-founder and Editor-in-Tease of BurlesqueBeat.com. All photos ©2014 Melody Mudd for Burlesque Beat. Please respect copyrights and request permission for usage. Performers may use shots for promotional purposes, but please credit properly with photographer’s full name and a link to this piece in all instances. Performers who would like hi-rez images, get in touch.

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  • Hi eveyone. Thanks for your comments—if you’re a new reader to Burlesque Beat, welcome! There are many reasons why a writer may or may not write about a particular number at a show, especially when the writer is charged with a very brief and quick on-the-spot recap of BHOF. Burlesque Beat has indeed spoken very fondly about Rubenesque Burlesque in the past, in fact the very number that they performed at BHOF. You can read that coverage here: http://burlesquebeat.com/2012/09/01/toronto-burlesque-festival-2012-5th-annual-burlesque-ball-part-2/

    We love to hear comments from our readers, and recognize that our readers aren’t always going to agree with a specific writer’s thoughts or what s/he chooses to cover. Let us know what you thought about the number, the show—That’s what this forum is for. More coverage of each night at BHOF 2014 with photo galleries coming very shortly, as promised.

  • Holiday O’Hara

    Burlesque Beat, your rhythm is outta whack by not mentioning Rubenesque Burlesque and BHoF14’s first standing ovation of the weekend.

    • Hi Holiday–

      It was lovely to see you at BHOF again this year. Forgive me if my memory serves me wrong, but I remember the first standing O being Sizzle Dizzle’s wonderful act in tribute to a dear friend who lost her battle with cancer. Am I wrong? It’s entirely possible.

      In any case, I wanted to make sure you saw our coverage of Rubenesque Burelsque’s cannibalism act that we have written about previously on Burlesque Beat: http://burlesquebeat.com/2012/09/01/toronto-burlesque-festival-2012-5th-annual-burlesque-ball-part-2/

      Its no easy task to be limited to writing a very short piece about a long and awesome night of burlesque, and to deliver it the morning after at BHOF. Certainly our readers will have something to say about what is written about and what isn’t, and we’re happy to hear about it here. Tell us what you loved about Rubenesque Burlesque’s act. Thanks for commenting, Holly, its great to hear from you here. We are about to put up our full coverage with photo galleries of every night of BHOF (what we have up is only the brief live coverage we did while we were there.)


  • Ruby Vixen

    Whoa, really? No mention at all of Rubenesque Burlesque? For Shame! I heard they brought the house DOWN!

  • GreatBigGirl

    Rubenesque Burlesque brought the house down and got the biggest standing ovation of the whole show. Why do they not even receive a mention in this piece, let alone a whole paragraph? This omission really ends up misrepresenting the showcase, and I can’t help noticing that it’s the fat girls who are specifically omitted.

    So let me add: Rubenesque Burlesque turned it out and brought the house down with a fierce cannibalism number.

    • Hi GreatBigGirl–thanks for your comments, and indeed the ladies of Rubenesque Burlesque brought the house down. Personally, I thought the Thursday night show was fantastic, and loved many of the acts from the evening.

      As for your comment about the fat girls being specifically omitted, I have to assume you are a new reader to Burlesque Beat (welcome!) because we have never had any issue with omitting an act because of body type. We have written very fondly about Rubenesque Burlesque before, and about this act specifically, here: http://burlesquebeat.com/2012/09/01/toronto-burlesque-festival-2012-5th-annual-burlesque-ball-part-2/

      We allow our contributors the freedom to write about and share photographs of whomever they please, which is often a very difficult choice to make, especially when one is providing almost–live coverage from BHOF. And our readers will sometimes disagree with those choices.

      Thank you for telling us what you thought about RB’s act. We aim to get people talking and writing about burlesque.

      • GreatBigGirl

        I’m not a new reader, but thank you for the welcome anyway. When writing about an evening of performance, I think the act that caused the biggest response of the night certainly deserves a mention, whether the act or troupe have been previously mentioned in burlesquebeat or not. The omission really seemed to misrepresent the evening, which is a cryin’ shame.

  • Tangerine Jones

    Seriously. Tell us about Rubensque Burlesque’s performance. Don’t leave out the fat girls out of the coverage. They did perform that night, didn’t they?

    • Hi Tangerine–thanks for commenting. I have left a reply in this comment thread but also wanted to respond to you directly as your comment suggest we have left out an act based on body type, which is not something we have ever done or will ever do. Burlesque Beat has spoken very fondly about Rubenesque Burlesque in the past, in fact the very number that they performed at BHOF. You can read that coverage here: http://burlesquebeat.com/2012/09/01/toronto-burlesque-festival-2012-5th-annual-burlesque-ball-part-2/

      There were a lot of great performances that night. If this was your favorite act of the evening, we’d love to hear about it here. thanks again for letting us know what you think.

  • Alotta

    No mention of Rubenesque Burlesque’s massive standing ovation?