Sunday, January 29, 2012

The New Orleans Burlesque Festival

Like many occupations, burlesque has a learning curve.
One does not generally get on stage and perform, rather, classes are taken, performances are attended and before clothes are removed, performers learn to delicately, coquettishly pick them up.

In Tasmania, we skipped a few steps, bringing burlesque to a corner of the world that is famous for it's apples, forests and fresh air rather than tassels, pasties and g-strings.
I was part of the group that introduced burlesque to Hobart in late 2007. We did often pick up after each other but not with the dedication of a stage kitten whose sole purpose on stage is to slink across and pick up every discarded glove, boa and skirt in mere seconds.
Not being above any facet of burlesque I attended two Festivals in the United States where I worked at picking it up rather than taking it off.

 Backstage at Harrah's with Cherry Bombshell and Stephanie Blake aka Cimmaron

The New Orleans Burlesque Festival was an intense, incredible experience.

I worked as one of two pick up girls over three nights and five shows at the New Orleans Burlesque Festival. I met all the performers, had a dedicated look at the way in which costumes were removed- with a flick, a pull or a zip- watching intently as each costume piece was removed and discarded so as to enable a quick clearance of the stage 

Photo by Andreas Koch

I had a chance to mingle with performers I never thought I'd meet, let alone talk to, including legends, Rita Alexandar, Bambi Jones and Tiffany Carter.
The Festival was devoid of divas. Backstage was relaxed, friendly and happy. Standing with performers back stage, I was struck by the nervous tension most of us display before hitting the stage.
Catherine D'Lish was a revelation- relaxed and easy going, she got ready then waited patiently in the darkened wings, stretching her shoulders, testing the ropes of her web at Harrah's, chatting to emcee, Armitage Shanks at The House of Blues no tension showed in her face or body.

From L- R, Rita Alexander the Champagne Girl, Tiffany Carter, Bambi Jones
Burlesque Legends panel.

The Festival was run smoothly by director Rick DeLaup, a quiet, generous individual who genuinely wants to preserve and showcase past and present burlesque performers.
As a Stage Kitten, I was afforded the opportunity to meet and mix with all the performers and to attend all the shows. There were no constraints upon my time, I arrived backstage approximately an hour before the show started to do my hair and make up with Cherry Bombshell in one of the dressing rooms backstage.
The backstage crew were amazing, producer Dave Bishop was a pleasure to work with. Clear instructions with a direct and upbeat attitude at all times.
Having worked with a live band as both a producer and performer, I understand the challenge that the Festival's jazz band faced, working with numerous scores and having to deal with tits and arse shaking in their faces for hours. Poor souls, they played on and by golly, I believe they managed to grin and bear it...

After the Queen of Burlesque Show at Harrah's Cherry and I hurried to the Republic for the Queen's Ball. After a quick sponsorship spot for Secrets in Lace Lingerie, one of the Festival's major sponsors, we were able to retire our girdles and bras, change into frocks and join the party with a bottle of champagne, shared with all and sundry. I have never had so many people comment on my outfit, or rather the amount of skin I was covering. "You're in a dress!" was an oft repeated comment through the night from people who had only seen me in a lingerie set over the past three nights.

L-R Evelyn DeVere, Lucy, Medianoche Bur Lesque, Rick De Laup, Lou Lou D'Vil, Bettina May. Photo by Jeff Biz Teachworth

Of the five nights I spent in New Orleans, four were dedicated to the Festival. I managed one tour of the French Quarter organised by the delicious Calamit. Y Chang and her partner. Along with Betsy Bottom Dollar and Peekaboo Pointe we walked the dark hot streets of the French Quarter trying to spot ghosts. Following some Southern fried cooking, overlooked on the preceding four nights when I had to wear a lingerie set, I scooted back to the Westin. My room mate had left in the early hours of the morning after the Queens Ball leaving my double room devoid of feathers, gems and friendly chat.

My mini break, a holiday within a holiday was over, but it was a highpoint, the Festival, the city, the French Quarter, the music, the people, the steamy nights. New Orleans, I'll be back.

Check out the acts from  The New Orleans Burlesque Festival on You Tube


  1. Sounds like so much fun! Hope to meet you at a festival soon!! <3 xo Red Hot Annie

  2. Hi Annie,

    it was a fantastic experience, the people, the Festival and the setting. I would go back in a heartbeat! Hope to meet you soon too! x