Burlesque Comes of Age - Cocktails, Cole Porter and Classic Curves
Everyone knows that Liverpool is a city of great music, beautiful people and amazing energy. Where, however, do people go for that bit of extra style, sophistication, and perhaps a chance to dress up?
Where can they be entertained by old-school glamour, glitter and gowns, music from romantic to raunchy, and a floorshow that brings prettiness, cheek and elegance together with an impish sense of humour?
At 6.30 on March 22nd, they can go to the downstairs bar of Liverpool's Royal Court, for the opening evening of what promises to bring an extra dimension to Liverpool's night life.
Scan the pages of any entertainment listings and it becomes apparent that the burlesque movement is here to stay. London now has a dazzling variety of upmarket nights in the more fashionable hotels, clubs and cocktail bars.
The audience is older, more inclined to dress up in the finery displayed by anyone from Edwardian dandies to 1950's pin-up girls. The movers and shakers of the fashion scene, the arts and theatre world, and the more discerning entrepreneur, are all beating a path to the velvet-covered door of the Burlesque Show
Dita Von Teese and Immodesty Blaize are two of the goddesses of Classic Burlesque.
Here in Liverpool, needless to say, we have our own rising stars in the comely persons of Miss Hedy Heights and Miss Kitty Bang Bang, with a Liverpolitan angle on the Burlesque Scene.
We also have, in the Art Deco bar of the Royal Court, a stylish setting to rival any in London.
The launch of "Retro Burlesque" will herald the beginning of a more graceful way to spend an evening. A mixture of music, 20s and 30s inspired singers, fancy costumes, alluring dancers, and an atmosphere in which, in the most civilized way, as the song says... "Anything Goes..."
TICKETS £15.00 at the Royal Court Box Office 0870 787 1866
Ticket price includes drink on arrival, and five delicious canapés per person.
Retrosexual Burlesque Review
Downstairs at the Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool was the place to be last Thursday (the 22nd March). Especially if you liked glamour, beautiful surroundings, sequin-studded hilarity, and lashings of camp old nonsense.
The sumptuous Art Deco Bar provided a comfortable array of sofas, softly-lit tables and just the right air of intimate sophistication for this unusual event. The audience started to sashay in, some dressed in Victorian finery, others in garb ordinaire…
The International Society of Flaneurs (Liverpool Branch) made a fine showing, with striking headgear and emphatic trousering. The ladies boasted corsetry to rival that of the Burlesque Performers and rasied the glamour quotient considerably.
There was also a delectable Louise Brooks lookalike, and some fascinating flappers. Zoot suited wide boys, spivs, playboys, and one faintly puzzled biochemist made up the rest of the men.
Canapés and wine were served on this opening night and the atmosphere was one of tingling anticipation. If this was what the audience looked like, what on earth would the performers have to show us?
As the suitably Art Deco period house music faded and the lights went up the stage was seized amongst a hail of scarlet glitter by our Something of Ceremonies, Jonathan Mayor.
Jonathan looked like Liz Hurley's upstaging Bollywood Bridesmaid and proceeded to gleefully rampage around the audience in the Julian Clary/Dame Edna style which had them wriggling with a mixture of terror and delight. This kind of thing is a lot harder than it looks. Insouciant, fearless as to taste and very light on his feet, Jonathan's intelligent wit scattered over the punters like the extra glitter that was sent out for at the interval.
For a rampagingly egotistical drag queen he was also a generous, professional compere and introduced the acts in such a way that they all got a big warm hand on their entrances…
First up was Miss Hedy Heights, a kittenish brunette whose gorgeous curves and cheeky 50s' pastiche burlesque dancing left the audience breathless, for all sorts of reasons, and clearly wanting more…
To general surprise, we were then treated to one of the very few male burlesque performers, Warren Speed, whose Chaplin-meets-50 Cent number was clever, funny and all too brief.
Then came Lady Bond, a relative newcomer, who performed a witty little escapology routine which whisked us into the Interval.
A few snifters later Jonathan hurtled into the second half, introducing a bravura performance from Miss Kitty Bang Bang. She demonstrated her skill, grace and ability to make balloons look like perfectly acceptable items of clothing. Temporarily.
Another number from Warren as "Carrington" who demonstrated both an impressive physique and a fondness for corsetry, which elicited delighted giggles and a few hot flushes from the crowd.
Then we were happily at the mercy of Jonathan, who has none. He tore through a series of anecdotes and one-liners, had the audience at his eight-inch platformed feet, and kept the show as tight as a very tight thing indeed.
Hedy and Kitty rounded off the evening, and yes I do mean rounded, with a vivacious couple of numbers showing off their dancing skills, ingenious costumes and pretty bodies appealing to everyone present. No Size Zero Tolerance here. Interestingly there were as many, if not more, women there than men. In fact, only the Dirty Old Man Community was underrepresented.
At the end, the audience were properly appreciative, not least because they still had two hours drinking time ahead of them in a very nice bar surrounded by attractive people of all ages, persuasions and permutations.
Afterwards a line of lovely undergraduates were queuing up to ask the performers how they could escape their dreary lives in law, finance and medicine to become part of the wonderfully cheering world of the Burlesque Show.
The atmosphere was congenial and chatty, everyone mixed, minced and mingled, and the question on everyone's lipgloss was "When is the next one?"
The answer is: On the 17th May, Downstairs at Royal Court Liverpool.
Tickets £15.00 through the Box Office 0870 787 1866. Price includes bubbly and nibbles.
Dear Sir or Madam,
Regarding the review of the Retrosexual Burlesque evening on 22nd March.
I was there and can I categorically deny that I “sashayed” into the cocktail bar. I have no idea how one would ‘sashay’; it is not in any of my several dictionaries and I an a staunch devotee of the saunter and on very special occasions, the strut.
Hereward Clamp (Prof.)
Retrosexual Burlesque Cabaret
17th May 2007
With Miss Millie Dollars, Miss Bella Besame, Mr.Jonathan
Downstairs at the Royal Court and Retrosexual Present;
As a result of relentless pestering from the more discerning elements of Liverpool Society, the Royal Court Downstairs has succumbed to decadence once more, and on Thursday 6th September, Retrosexual is back!
This heady mixture of glamour, slinkiness, overflowing jollity and oldfangled folly hits Liverpool, Capital of Camp, for a third time.
Expect to be dazzled by glorious examples of untrammelled femininity in the shapely persons of our Burlesque performers, the enchantingly feathered Millie Dollars, and the fabulously glittering Diva Hollywood. Other gorgeous examples of naughtiness will also appear on the night, but will remain surprises for now..
Also performing …the sophisticated , debonair Mr Tayo Aluko, who will ravish the ears of a thrilled audience with his elegant repertoire of melodies from a more graceful era.
Firmly holding this show together, and willing to bite off far more than she can chew, our Mistress of Ceremonies, the unforgiveable Rosie Lugosi. Lock up your daughters, and blindfold your male relatives if of a nervous disposition, as the gently-reared Vampire Lesbian Dominatrix Queen tramples all over the place with a mixture of perverse poetry and whip-smart one-liners
Bubbly and nibbles served by the luscious Royal Court Minxes in the sumptuous décor of the Art Deco bar.
Doors open at 7pm
Dress Code; Extraordinary, yet relaxed.
Tickets £15.00 from Royal Court Box Office 0870 787 1866
Retrosexual Sells Out!
The third Retrosexual Vintage Cabaret held sway at Liverpool's sumptuous Royal Court Theatre Bar last Thursday evening. Tickets had sold out earlier, leaving disappointed would-be decadents without their bi-monthly shot of disgraceful glamour and comedy.
For those punters who had prudently bought in advance, a treat of great stickiness awaited.
Our Mistress of Darkness for the evening erupted ion to the stage, equipped with tremendous fishnetted legs, perilously spiky shoes; and a forked tongue. Rosie Lugosi, fresh from her triumph as the winner of an Erotic Oscar (?) , was a breath of foul air. She dominated the proceedings, with a cracking set of scurrilous songs, delivered in a voice as deep and rich as the loam from her native Carpathians. The whip was handy, too.
First to delight an already over - stimulated audience was delectable Diva Hollywood, wittily illustrating that dilemma which so often befell the heroine of early movies,: how to pay the rent arrears and still retain one's dignity?" The Widow's Plight" touchéd all hearts, and several other organs too .
Following a bracing interlude from Rosie was Millie Dollar, a kitten playing with balloons. Millie is a charming performer, and has the face and grace of a 20's Cabaret star, but she was death to those poor balloons.
Lola Pops came next, a performer new to the Royal Court , demonstrating a hitherto little known fact; which is that when a tired cocktail waitress gets home after a hard evenings cocktailing, she wants to listen to Courtney Love and take her clothes off.
Two very suave gentlemen indeed made a graceful appearance, the esteemed crooner Mr Tayo Aluko, straight back from his own five-starred Edinburgh show illuminating the life of Mr Paul Robeson, and his accomplished accompanist, Ken. Tayo's velvety voice and his mischievous delivery of "Ain't Misbehaving" gave the distinct impression that he was, in fact, no stranger to misbehaviour of every possible kind.
Unforgettably the first half closed with Millie Dollar, giving us her Peacock Dance. Dreamily charming, this number wafted the audience in to a well-deserved interval. What with the flurry of emotions, and the effort of bellowing "Yes Mistress" loud enough to satisfy a very exacting Rosie, the poor things were wrung out.
Fortunately the beautiful Royal Court Art Deco Bar, and the sprightly basque-clad Royal Court Minxes, worked wonders on any flagging ladies and gentlemen, who returned to their tables for a fabulous second half.
Rosie by this time had unbent sufficiently to share a few of her more intimate predilections with the room, and soon had a loosened crowd gaily singing about eating babies. Incidentally, no babies were eaten AT ANY TIME in the making of this show.
The very cool duo of Tayo and Ken returned to rapturous applause, and rippled through "The Way You Look Tonight", and "Blues in The Night" Tayo finished his set with the divinely decadent "Miss Otis Regrets", which made some of the ladies look very thoughtful indeed.
Then we welcomed back our Lola, this time equipped with enough feathers to start a pillow fight in a girl's boarding school. Her slinky fan dance was all too brief an enchantment.
Mistress Rosie was ever unrelenting, and drove the audience into paroxysms of giggly pleasure, before introducing the Divine Miss D, whose James Bond pastiche was stirring, and did indeed involve some shaking.
Finally, Millie Dollar performed the beautiful balloon dance made famous by Miss Sally Rand, the star of 1930's Chicago, in a graceful tribute to that lady, and to that period. The evening's stage performances were concluded, but an elegantly -dressed audience took full advantage of their surroundings, and proceeded to drink, chat, and eye each other until their carriages arrived.
Thanks to all the wonderful performers and to the Royal Court, Minxes and Management alike. Special thanks to Saucy Jack, who stage-managed with almost excessive aplomb, and the marvellous Ami, who fulfilled the vital role of "Dressing Room Bitch" with youthful brio...
Retrosexual at Homotopia
The most glamorous and peculiar evening out to be had in Liverpool has joined forces with Homotopia to present the 4th in a series of well-orchestrated outrages.
Compered by Jonathan Mayor and starring the legendary David Hoyle, Lavinia Co-op, Kandi Kane and Ryan Styles, Retrosexual at Homotopia presents an array of burlesque, variety, comedy, and unclassifiable camp nonsense for your delight.
In the wonderful Art Deco Bar of the Royal Court Theatre. Bar until Midnight.
Tickets include bubbly, frivolity and nibbles but they sell out quickly so call the Royal Court Box Office on 0870 787 1866
The Fourth Retrosexual Burlesque, in conjunction with Homotopia on 1st November, was a fantastic evening - hilarious drag acts, really near-the-knuckle comedy, and a welcome reminder of the political importance of gay liberation too. Unfortunately, some of this was a bit lost on one or two members of the audience, who complained it wasn't proper burlesque, and evidently a bit much for the Royal Court itself! Your loss, darlings!