Sydney Burlesque Gala 2017
Aight, let’s tick off the basics and history lesson first: As per definitionem, “burlesque”, derived from Italian “burlesco”, is a work of art meant to elicit a joyful atmosphere by either mocking the inherent ideas behind more serious works or treating their sujets and protagonists in a similar manner.
Eventually the format morphed into what became known as a “variety show”. Burlesque shows lost their allure in England as the nineteenth century came to an end, yet the American equivalent carried the torch forward with the emphasis being put more and more on female nudity – a transition gradual in nature, with the focus being less and less on artistic merits and more on elaborate outfits, appearance and shenanigans performed on stage.
At the beginning of the 1940s, the stripper vs. artists ratio had been turned upside down with the former driving the show and being the main selling point, and the fact that the era of Prohibition was yet to commence, was aptly fueled by alcohol.
Fast-forward to our age and burlesque is en vogue again with both Europe and the US seeing resurgence. The brains and organisers behind Sydney’s Burlesque Gala live and breathe the essence of burlesque, coquettish disrobing, slinking and swinging between aerial routines, erotic shadow projection and downright saucy striptease in intimate live music and burlesque venues hosting outstanding performers of Australian burlesque and their second Annual Sydney Burlesque Gala presented the biggest Sydney Burlesque Events over ten massive nights.
Produced by three of Sydney's Favourite Burlesque entertainers i.e. Kelly Ann Doll (Red Light Confidential) , Memphis Mae (Mr Falcons) and Michael Wheatley (The Boys Light Up), the Gala’s tenet is to celebrate all things burlesque: Comedy, Spectaculars, Boylesque, Burlesque, Circus, Cabaret, Live Music – the lot. Pocket rocket, anchorette and Dominatrix of Ceremonies extraordinaire Memphis Mae is a well known Sydney Producer who is the founder of Mr Falcons Burlesque; one of Sydney's longest running monthly burlesque shows with a host of prestigious performers from all across the world.
Memphis prides herself on her quality over quantity morals that are very clear to all that attend her events. With her well calibrated delivery, she manages to steer the audience’s exhilaration through the curated evenings with pizzazz, keeping the event flowing, expertly navigating the thin line between saucy allusions, engaging banter and matter of factly framing of what the recipients are to experience, bridging between the varied segments of the evenings. Her conspirator, Kelly Ann Doll, has headlined almost every major burlesque event in Australia since she crashed her way onto the Australian scene almost ten years ago and has also held court away in Europe, USA, Asia and Indonesia.
A pedigree that manifests in her performances. Completing the triumvirate with a family history in burlesque that goes all the way back to the 19th Century, Michael Wheatley, co-producer of the infamous Red Light Confidential, has been tearing it up in the world of burlesque since 2010. After the success of their debut earlier this year, The Martini Lounge returned with all the class of the original Burlesque Shows. The Rock’s venue The Basement was transformed into a vessel that served as a stage for live music, dance and a gastronomic journey, reminiscent of New York Jazz clubs.
Hosted by aforementioned Sydney MC Memphis Mae, The Martini Lounge is in essence a modern twist on old school burlesque and variety performance, accompanied by leading Sydney blues and jazz band, The Hanged Men, an amazing cast of six musicians, spouting blues and jazz classics with veracious style.
Dancers and thematic events on the evening - as described by the organisors - were:
Sheena Miss Demeanour, Bella Louche, Lillian Starr, Noemi Nikolett and International burlesque star fresh from her tour with Dita Von Teese’s show “The Art of the Teese”, Australia’s dynamic Zelia Rose. An immersive and intimate experience, with a hint of cheek, a giant Martini Glass and a stunning smorgasbord of live music that penetrated aural senses.
Another of the flagship events of the Gala, i.e. The Saffron Club, provided the perfect evening for those whole like a bit of sophistication to their sin: The Saffron Club brings the underworld of Kings Cross back to life as you step into the devilry of the 1950's when local standover Abe Saffron ruled and the Showgirls were fierce. The Saffron Club introduced Newtown’s venue Leadbelly deviously to the thrilling and lascivious world of Burlesque and Vaudeville with showgirls / -boys, pole dancing, comedy and singing and culminating in #MyAwards are the not so serious community burlesque awards that happened after the entertainment section of the Saffron club. Summa summarum: 2017’s incarnation of the Sydney’s Burlesque Gala was a refined affair that whets one’s appetite for the 2018 incarnation.
Photo by KAVV