Girlesque 2015: The Saturday Early Show
Saturday, January 24, 2015
The Virgin Mobile MOD Club, Toronto
There are two burlesque seasons in Toronto: the sizzling sweaty hot summer season of the Toronto Burlesque Festival and the winter wonderland season of Girlesque. Don’t get me wrong, getting to watch some sexy striptease is appreciated at any time of the year, but three full days of it in the middle of one of the most miserable months just makes all the slush, sleet, snow, and never-ending grey of Toronto’s winter so much more bearable.
Produced by one of Toronto’s best, Mysterion—also a contributing author at Burlesque Beat—the festival this year seemed to take a cue from the Toronto Burlesque Festival with two shows on the Saturday night, making it a must for this gal to go for comfort over style when it came to footwear in order to get through the extremely long evening. (We’re looking at roughly 6ish hours from doors open to final goodbyes!) But, talk about a great lineup of performers and headliners. I’m never disappointed with this festival; that Mysterion knows how to pull it off to the max!
Some highlights of the early show…
I love watching a good aerial act and there’s been so much cross-over the past couple of years with hoop, silks, rope, and even chains being incorporated not only into cabaret shows but also into burlesque festivals and themed shows. The blending of circus and burlesque seems like a natural progression and Miranda Tempest and Faye Tal are prime examples of how these two can work seamlessly together. The way this duo worked their one hoop, it was like watching a romantic story unfold before our eyes. They way they supported each other and moved as one to create poses that seemed to defy gravity was mesmerizing. They have practiced their craft to perfection and it showed through the silent story they told. There was no striptease here, but there didn’t need to be—it was all about the movement and the emotion.
The best set award goes to Sam Antics, Lux Aeterna and Sly Maria. They created a stage-sized fold out pretty damn accurate Ouija board for their performance. Massively awesome! A great storyline too—I mean, who didn’t get together with their best friend in high school and use a Ouija board to contact the other side only to have the devil show up and command them to do a sexy striptease and get down to sexy time with the lot of them? Oh, must just be some “friends” I heard it from…yeah. Loved the part where the palette on the big Ouija board spelled out SEX and freaked the girls out, then started moving all on its own all over the place— nice touch.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a great group of can-can dancers on stage. I don’t think I’ve actually seen any since the Montreal Burlesque Festival years and years ago. Coincidentally, that group included Toronto’s St. Stella, who’s also the founder of the Knicker Kickers, a troupe that also includes Beaver Galore, Bianca Boom Boom, Lacia Majora, Svetlana Konswallow and Emerald Bouvier. It’s always fun to see a large group on stage, wearing those big traditional can-can skirts, high kicking and looking like they’re having the time of their lives. When you see the can-can, hear the ‘whoops’ and hollers of the girls as they twirl around, lift up their skirts and do their splits there’s this infectious joie de vivre that permeates the room. And the Knicker Kickers know how to keep that energy going and going—fully dressed or in pasties.
Although somewhat obscured by the haze of the never-ending smoke machine (more on that later), it was a real hoot to see Bella Canto’s version of the famous pottery scene from Ghost. I mean, Demi Moore has nothing on this creative gal! There aren’t too many people I know who can bring a (very) large flaccid clay penis to full erection while performing a seductive striptease to the beautiful romance of Unchained Melody. I took pottery in high school—it isn’t as easy as it looks. That was impressive.
Since the first time I saw Cherry Typhoon perform, I’ve been in love with her quirky comedic style and the infectious abundance of sheer joy she exudes from the stage. Now that she’s living permanently in Montreal, I’m always so happy when she pops into Toronto to do a show now and then. This time around, her act included a kimono, a big fish, and sushi. Yep—she’s got a wicked sense of humor, that one. As she took her slow and calculated steps across the stage in her gorgeous kimono, she whipped out this big stuffed fish (stuffed, like stuffed animal, not like a raw dead stuffed fish. Ew!) and proceeded to use it as a very naughty prop throughout her striptease. And the best part of the set—she had 3-D sushi pasties! They were sparkly shrimp sushi which she picked at with her chopsticks at the end of the set. Fabulous.
Last year, Holly von Sinn performed at Girlesque and wowed me with her fiery red act (and matching red hair). This year, she wowed me again with the performance called The Fool. It reminded me 100% to a T of a sad clown I used to watch on TV growing up in Montreal. For the life of me I can’t remember his name—anyone know who I’m talking about?—but he was just like her character—a sad black and white face, soulful eyes, and raggedy hobo outfit. The performance was truly endearing and brought me back to my childhood watching that French hobo clown. And under that unassuming hobo attire, ill-fitting and plain undershirt and men’s underpants—but the act wasn’t about the reveal or about the clothes. It was about the character and the story, the clothes just brought that character to life.
Heading into the “throwing my two cents in” category, I want to address two things that are super important in making any and every act a huge success on the stage and ensuring that the performance that you spent months (or more?) preparing is shown at its best to your paying and rapt-with-attention audience. In photography they say that light is everything and I think that is true in stage arts as well. If the light isn’t right, you’re really not being shown at your best. You could have the most amazing new piece you’ve been killing yourself over to perfect and a great new costume, but if it’s poorly or improperly lit and the audience can’t see it, then all that work is for naught. As with your photographers, stage managers, costume designers, and other creatives, the same goes for lighting—there’s going to be those creatives who are just really great at making you look your best. A good lighting person will always try to make you look absolutely fabulous on stage. And smoke machines—sure, they’re fun, but too much of that coupled with not the most optimum light and visibility truly becomes an issue. Some things to keep in mind.
I’d love to write about all the acts, but I’m out of space. Kudos to all the other performers from the evening: Aviva, Bianca Boom Boom, Chaos Divine, Kage Wolf, Karen the Swan, Kitty Litteur, Laika Fox, Loretta Jean, Nerdgirl Burlesque, Sadie Mae Glutz, Zilly Lilly and to the lovely stage kittens and volunteers.