Burlesque Hall of Fame 2015 Hangover Highlights:
Titans of Tease Reunion Showcase
Your Hair of the Dog for Saturday morning
[Full show coverage and photos by Photolena to come—Ed.]
Friday, June 5, 2015
Orleans Showroom, Las Vegas
It is only by honoring the past that we can create the future of anything.” —World Famous *BOB*
Of the many things wonderful about the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend, one of my faves is watching newbie’s faces melt off. They may come for the pageant, but the sheer power of the weekend knocks them over with Gail Winns force. Speaking of things, the thing that really blows newbies out of their newbieness is the Titans of Tease Reunion Showcase—or in the vernacular, Legend Night. I still vividly recall at my first BHOF Tigger firmly admonishing me that the Legends are “why the f*ck we’re here” (that might not be an exact quote, but probably is), and a whole new crowd now knows that, too, considering how many first-timers were there last night. As always, a stunning, mind-blowing, and tear-jerking evening, with inspiring moments from all the performers. Here are just a few highlights from last night’s granny-chaser’s fantasia.
April March opened the show in a grande act designed, styled, and choreographed by Grant Philipo. The first tableau gave us a smiling April—our Legend of the Year—in a giant stunning zebra coat. She was flanked throughout by four gorgeous men wearing very little, as befits her. Eartha Quake, who comes from a “long line of hussies,” turned in a spacey set to Led Zeppelin’s “You Shook Me” with a serious sultry grind. She unzipped her eggshell dress and waggled her ass, removed a panel and proceeded to bite it and stroke it, pulled it up and made it stand erect, and let it droop. Cruel, suggestive hotness. During the “Aaaaalll” climax of the song, she spun her bra and teased us before opening up and giving us a hopping tassel twirl. Ecstatic to finally see her perform.
Another first—I believe—for the BHOF stage was Isis Star—who serendipitously got on the stage at Thursday night’s afterparty and gogo-ed to the live band—wowed with an easy smile and nimble footwork, spinning in a cape, showing off her dancer’s legs and stellar derriere. The final reveal was a delectable Jesus pose with her skirt draped over her arms like a shawl, tassels on display.
Ellion Ness once again showed us what is up with floor work. First, she showed us how to gracefully and blithely deal with a wardrobe malfunction. Then she split onto a chair, backbended over it—to audience screams—and did a classic stocking stretch, stroke, and bite. On the floor, she “fucked the air,” as *BOB* put it, and ground the floor, from pelvic thrust to backbend—again, as *BOB* put it, “These women are redefining what it means to age as a woman in our society.”
The gorgeous Val Valentine wowed in her butterfly costume, posing upstage to the opening of Michael Buble’s version of “Feeling Good,” and when the beat dropped, strode downstage with a wiggle and had the audience in her cocoon. She slipped out of her wings near the wings of the stage, pulling one arm out and raising it high, eliciting soaring whoops from the crowd.
In an amazing audio tease, we were given an empty stage and the sweeping opening passage of “Harlem Nocturne.” As the sax was cued, the music cut out, and then a blustering solo sax filled the room—it was Viva la Fever, playing the tenor sax, live and unaccompanied, and she nailed it, the full melody, with a little shimmy on the second verse. And THEN she did a burlesque number. And Toni Elling, who gave *BOB* permission to tell us that she’s 87, proved she can still “parade, pose, and peel,” parading in a purple boa, posing in her purple wig, peeling her purple dress—and flashing us her pasties in the last moments of the act with hysterical charm.
Julie Atlas Muz and Peekaboo Pointe turned in a lovely tribute to Loie Fuller, a dancer who also—and more compellingly, as Mat Fraser suggested—pioneered the use of colored lighting in theater in the 1890s and held several patents. To Laibach’s dreamy cover of “Across the Universe,” the two dancers entered as giant whirling dervishes, bearing giant white wings that filled the proscenium, spinning like a dream while berated and dashed by pulsating colored lights. The figures spun and reduced, shedding fabric, a simple exercise in color and form, finally revealing two nude women in flickering relief, face to face like a mirror.
The Legend Lovey Goldmine danced and lip-synched to her own recorded vocals on the apron of the stage, and when the curtain rose it was set for the greatest reunion of the night—Lovey and Shannon Doah, performing together again for the first time in over 40 years. Tearing up the stage like it was a scratching post, Lovey, Shannon, and whippersnapper Kitten LaRue danced a classic chair routine, attended to by the eager Lou Henry Hoover, a perfect stand in for the audience. We were eating it up. My notes on this one are illegible—the three of them walking downstage elicited deafening hollers from the crowd. And as the three of them left the stage, I remembered that one of those three asses was decades younger than the other two, but we could never pick which one out of the lineup. Fucking gorgeous, ladies. Amazeballs.
The night also featured Camille 2000, who dedicated her act to today’s neo burlesque performers, bowing down to the audience to “Wind Beneath My Wings,” and absolutely brilliant singing from the saucy Holly Carol—I didn’t know she sang on Kojak!
The ever-charming Gail Winns still has the pipes, and told a delicious joke about “there are men out there that eat pussy.” And Dee Milo—love that red dress story—positively glowed, giving us that girly shy face that she pulls, and blew us kisses. And Judith Stein—so great to have her back—was in a girly blue dress that revealed a bright red one beneath it, but no matter how innocent she looked, when she removed a black glove (to reveal a red one), she just had to lick it.
The Grand Avenue Follies featured two soloists this year—one of whom knocked it out of the park, having started out in the 1940s. The Grant Avenue Follies soloists were Coby Yee (BHOF debut) and Ivy Tam. [Thank you for the info, Shangahi Pearl—ED]
We also got Dusty Summers in a gorgeous white gown with a white fur jacket—a great look for her—a duet from Gabriela Maze and Madame E., an electrifying tribute to Wild Cherry from Indigo Blue and Coco Lectric, and a fierce act from Marinka, who may have given the most agonizing tease of the entire weekend at Tigger’s talk show, Let’s Have a Kiki. If you were there, you know what I’m talking about.
Positively dashing in a natty suit, Mat Fraser’s luxe baritone was the perfect soundtrack to the Walk of Fame. In order of appearance: Penny Starr Sr., Julie Mist, Lola Foxx, Lottie the Body, Big Fannie Annie, Tess LaRue, Holiday O’Hara (as a mermaid, with jellyfish!), Rubberlegs, Suzette Fontaine, Liza Jourdan, Gina Bon Bon, Delilah Jones, Velvet Ice, Joy Dale, Tammy True, Tai Ping, Di Alba, Kim Summers, Daisy Delight, Bic Carroll (tearing it up with the grind!), and Tempest Storm.
Remember, talk to the Legends, spend time with the Legends, drop by the bazaar and get pix of the Legends, because we lose people every year and you may not be around that much longer, neither. As Miss Astrid said, “any chance to watch and listen to the legends will be the highlight of your mecca to Las Vegas for the Burlesque Hall of Fame weekender.”
I myself am honored to have hung out and talked smack with Joan Arline, Candy “Baby” Caramelo, and Dixie Evans. Don’t get too wasted tonight—tomorrow’s Legend Panel is at its new groanier time of ELEVEN AM. See you there.
Were you lucky enough to be there last night? Leave your comment below.
Photo ©Melody Mudd for Burlesque Beat. In general, performers may use shots for promotional purposes, but please credit properly with photographer’s name and a link to this piece. All other requests please contact us to acquire permission.