Thursday, March 27, 2014

New Zealand Burlesque Festival 2013

I had a few days in NYC after the Festival concluded, most of which time was spent in Central Park eating the yummiest food I could find (mainly gluten free cookies from Shmackary's and milkshakes from the Shake Shack)

My last evening in NYC- Chelsea
About 27 hours after boarding my plane in New York City I disembarked in New Zealand ready to perform, I had to be, I arrived at 2pm and was scheduled to perform in 7 hours at the Promenade Ball!
Thankfully for my frazzled plane brain, the Festival co- producer, Kerry Rodda was waiting at the airport with a sleepy Jett Adore in tow.

My first impression of New Zealand had come from the air. As we started to descend and the plane started banking to the left, the many islands could be seen below us, deep valleys and high ridges, green foliage, aqua blue water and looking to the distant North I could see snow capped mountains.
My hotel was on one of the main streets of Wellington, Cuba Street, about 5 minutes from the Theatre. Once I got my bearings it was easy to navigate the town.

The Paramount Theatre was on a main street near the wharf, you ascended some stairs to an old foyer and then headed back down into an amphitheatre style stage.
Backstage was roomy with mirrors passed between us. I set up in a corner near the door with my huge suitcase, overnight bag and costume which I had posted to Kerry rather than drag to New York City- it weighed 4kg and would have slowed down my shopping binges substantially...

Backstage before the show starts with Dolores Daiquiri
The room was predominantly filled with headliners from the US and fellow Aussies, Dolores Daiquiri who was relaxed and sat back waiting for her turn on stage, Silla Black who was in NZ for one quick night, Ginger Leah Rye the Melbourne red head and Deb Delicioius an Irish ex pat with a devilish sidekick.
The US contingent was in force, the Stage Door Johnnies, Frenchie Kiss, Lola Van Ella, Sammy the Tramp, Surlie J Temple, and our emcee Lucky Deluxe who I remember meeting in 2011 when I kittened at the New Orleans Burlesque Festival.

Performing Sirenes at a new venue is always a bit daunting as I require the kittens to do a bit of choreography at the end.

But the two kitty's were able to pick up the simple yet time sensitive choreo with ease!
They were brilliant girls who made the night so much easier, especially when my crown fell off early!

 Video shot and edited by Sam Wheeler

After performing I joined the rest of the cast and crew standing in the wings watching as the Stage Door Johnnies performed the final act of the night.
The audience went nuts as the boys disrobed in a soft shoe shuffle, go go dancing act, 'The Bomb', ran backstage and waited for the curtain call.
As names were called I waited to join the line forming on stage... the performer before me was called... The performer after me was called, in fact all the performers but me were called, the Johnnies being the last! They could see my predicament (do I just run on?!) and pulled me on with them to take a bow.

Taking a bow at The New Zealand Burlesque Festival
Backstage we all took advantage of their muscles and their manners for some happy snaps, the girls were hoisted up one by one, high into the air to strike a pose.
Stage Door Johnnies, Ray Gunn, Bazuka Joe and Jett Adore
The following morning I met Dolores and Aussie performer Ginger Leah Rye in Cuba street for a late brekkie. Ginger and I had first met at the 2012 Perth International Burlesque Festival where we were treated to a free drink while waiting to board our delayed flights home, the bartender had been at the show the night before!

Ginger and I indulging in some post breakfast posing in front of the NZBF billboard!
We walked the cobbled, busy streets to Jervois Quay to check out the burlesque fair and the nearby underground market which stocks a range of local arts and craft. I purchased a ceramic hanging heart with a word imprinted into the centre and to my shame asked "what does it mean?" The seller looked at me with some pity, "love." Yet I'm glad I asked and didn't perpetuate my initial thought that 'aroha' must be like the hawaiin 'aloha!'

posing at the Burlesque Fair with Dolores Daiquiri

Hmmm... 'LSD' in lights?
I dropped into Rachel Rouge's flat on Cuba street where she let me borrow her wifi- Wellington has free wifi but it isn't reliable- Rachel's huge flat is three floors up above a shop, a roomy area that she and her housemates have transformed.
In its present form, it was a performer's hostel, although at that moment it was performer free, only Ruby Ruination was there affixing rhinestones on her glove in anticipation of the Saturday Spectacular.

Hanging in the foyer with Rachel Rouge at the Saturday Spectacular!
The Saturday Spectacular was a Queen and King's competition, the winner to receive a scholarship and the chance to perform at the Show-me Burlesque festival in St Louis, Missouri.

Ruby, the winner, emerged in a black costume and curly blonde wig and danced to lyrics sung by Bonita Danger Doll- 'Violence is a Girl's best friend' to the tune of 'Diamond's are a girl's best friend.'

The final day came too soon, I met up with Dolores for breakfast, a spot of shopping and a long walk to the Wellington cable car which took us up the hill to the botanical gardens- my navigation was a bit off but the trusting Dolores followed me, even when I heedlessly took her up a long, steep flight of steps.
The view from the gardens was incredible, we could see straight across the city to the other hills and after a few happy snaps of Dolores's phone we slowly made our way through the gardens to the other side of the hill which has a street of antique shops. Finally after a few stops to browse we made our way around the hill, back to the main city.
Tired and ready for a nap we set off to our respective hotels to change before meeting back up at the Sunday mixer.
Mixing with Bonita Danger Doll and Ruby Ruination at the Sunday mixer

Aussie trifecta with Dolores and Danica Lee
I didn't mix for long, heading back up to my hotel, stopping to get some kumara fries, which are a bit like sweet potato, on my way.
After scoffing down my bounty of fried food I settled down to pack and set my alarm for an early wake up of 4am.
Shoes, pyjamas and a towel were sacrificed to make room for souvenirs, including new pasties I had picked up at the burlesque market and the end result was cabin luggage of seven kg with a couple of jackets hanging over my arms and my suitcase packed to bursting but just making it in at 20kg.

Group shot! The fabulous Danny and Kerry front and centre
Applications are now open for the 2014 New Zealand Burlesque Festival and if you're looking for an excuse to fall down the hobbit hole (and trying some kumara fries) you have until June 10 to submit... If you have the extra time I would advise applying for the tour and seeing more of what New Zealand has to offer.

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