As a novel activity and excuse to explore hidden corners of our new town, my partner and I saw a burlesque show last night. We said “why not?” after I saw a poster advertising Miss Kitty’s Meow in a local shop window.
It was my first time,’wink wink’ (in the parlance of the host of the night, Tiger Lilly). I’d seen bawdy cabaret in a Spiegeltent and at the old Butterfly Club, but I hadn’t been witness to a live strip tease show. Let’s face it, there are various definitions of the word “burlesque” but these days it means loud music, sequins, feathers and nipple pasties. The acts performing at Plan B (upstairs at Syrup nightclub) last night showed the diversity that can be achieved within the apparently narrow art form that is “getting your gear off”.
There were dancing groups, comic-sketches, lip synchs and a mother-daughter duet, all resulting in a similar, disrobed… um… climax? pinnacle? You get the idea. The quality was varied too, and indeed I think that is to be expected from a group that declares itself to be a community effort, but the overall effect was entertaining and filled with good humour. In burlesque, as in life, the most successful were those who appeared confident, had a laugh and really owned it. It was only the occasional lack of “maintaining the mystery” that let it down for me, such as when performers went to great ends to conceal their ends until the end… but then wandered around with flesh still on display after their acts.
The crowd was supportive and gave appropriately raucous feedback, which created a great atmosphere in the room. It was a fun night and certainly fulfilled our hopes for a night out in Hobart with a twist. These gals are really putting the T & A into Tasmania.
(Meanwhile I have been reading this book about Josephine Baker by Phyllis Rose, and I didn’t put two and two together until this morning. When you consider how shocking Baker was to her audiences in the 1920s and 1930s, and all that has happened in the world since then, you begin to realise how hard a modern burlesque performer needs to work to dazzle and titillate these days).