#meettheartist – #artistontour – #shesback – #itstimetotalk

So thats month 1 down and i said i’d try to do this monthly from now on…

Here we go…

Firstly… Apparently today is #timetotalk day 2018… A day to raise awareness for people to talk about mental health issues and to reduce the stigma surrounding said issues…

I’ve spoken about mine before but there’s some updates and it never hurts to put it out there again, at least not so much as not talking about these things.

Here’s a little of my story…

My name is Tony… Artist, photographer, paracord craftsman (I make whips and stuffs), probably the biggest burlesque nerd on the planet, gamer, comic book and movie buff, Terry Pratchett fanatic, Martial Arts obsessive and general geek.. I’m generally well liked and respected (i think), I’m doing pretty well, my day jobs not bad, i’m clearing my debts, I have the bestest friends I love dearly, I have the most awesome random adventures with the most awesome of awesome people who I love dearly, I’m finally back training in an art I am obsessed with and well what i’m trying to say is things are ticking along nicely… but….

My name is Tony and i suffer from a number of mental health issues including depression and anxiety.

I’ve suffered from depression most of my life, and when I sink into my depression my anxiety comes up to meet me. I lose energy and motivation to do anything, I lose my appetite and i get torn between wanting to hide away not talking to anyone but feeling so anxious that i need to talk to people to ease the feeling that they don’t wish to speak to me….it becomes a confusing mess, my anxiety wants me to go out and see people to distract me but my depression leaves me with no energy or motivation to do just that….

I’m an introvert, being an introvert means I deal with issues, with stress and process things differently to my extrovert friends and colleagues. I’m quiet, introspective and occasionally need time to recharge (or destress) often by myself or in company with understanding and complimentary people… (ie someone who understands and can deal with this need)… this is where some of the problems come in, certain people in my life cannot understand the quietness, the need to centre myself and to recharge… I can’t make small talk, in fact i quite dislike it and any expectation of me to be involved in it. being in crowds, around people, especially extroverts, loud people, in your face, over bearing or intense people even if i really like them drains me like an old i phone battery.. When i’m in draining situations i need a focus, i need something to occupy my mind, to take my attention to conserve my energy and reduce the stress on my mind. This is preferably someone I love or are very close to, normally an introvert like me and someone i connect to very strongly, I feel far more comfortable having such a focus. When i don’t have that focus my stress and anxiety jumps, i can often feel very much alone (even in crowds or busy places) and loneliness and abandonment are 2 of the biggest triggers of my stress and anxiety…

It took me so long to figure out those causes, there are more, some i know, some i haven’t quite figured out yet but I’m trying to come to terms with them. Saying that it took me a long long time to even come to terms with the fact that i suffer from stress and anxiety, as a child i was accused of being the miserable one… a result of both my introvertness and sometimes of my depression itself which of course led to further dips and issues.

I think a huge part of it taking me so long to figure things out and to start to deal with these things is that I never spoke about them, I was never encouraged to be open about my mental health, the stigmas surrounding such issues can be so strong things get buried, physical issues (for the most part) don’t have this stigma, if someone tells you they suffer from heart problems and need to take medication nobody tells them to stop taking it and go for a walk, no one shares memes of heart tablets or medication next to forests and beaches saying one is shit and the other is a real cure, nobody tells you to man up and get over it, to grow a pair over asthma, epilepsy, diabetes or other physical or visible issues… people really need to talk about this stuff, they need to get rid of the stigma surrounding mental health issues and stop belittling people for their ways of dealing with their issues, whether this is with counselling and such therapies, exercies and physical coping mechanisms, mindfulness or yes even medication, people on anti depressants aren’t weak, there isn’t something wrong with them (other than the issues they are coping and attempting to deal with) they are simply making a decision for themselves on how they need to cope with and hopefully solve these issues, each decision is deeply personal to the person involved.

I avoided medication and other outside help for years and years, not because of having anything against medication or any judgements on people who take that route i have just always had a fear that I may come to rely on any such medication and the thought of talking therapies causes me anxiety. But i finally felt the need to seek help and I am now on sertraline, waiting on CBT and I have recently applied and been accepted for a 6 week Mindfulness course at my day job who are finally taking an interest in and at least trying to help with their employees mental health issues, this has been sorely lacking in and needed for years, a certain supervisor even sent me to my desk with orders to just get on with it mid panic attack. The medication has really helped, it had some crappy side effects for a while including dizzy spells,possibly a bit of sickness, jaw clenching and (apologies if TMI, I don’t like small talk but if people really want to talk about other things i can go a bit overboard!!) decreased sensitivity leading to difficulty in orgasming (that last one is really annoying although a certain someone found it amusing… :-D) but even though i’ve still had a few dips i’ve found they don’t drop as far and the anxiety isn’t nearly as acute… worth a few side effects i think, although i dont wish them to be a permanent part of my life. I’m looking forward to the Mindfulness course and interested to see how i take to CBT.

Anyways thats part of me. I almost made the decision not to publicly talk about these things any more, i’ve lost ‘friends’ and received negativity before but theres the big issue… the stigma around mental health issues is ridiculous.. I’ve also been told my talking about these issues has helped people, it has given them strength and hope in facing their own. This makes it worth it. So thats part of my story….

 

Now I know thats taken a lot but secondly i figured i’d sum up my month… I’ll try to be a bit more brief…

So January is a little quiet on the burlesque front. I’ve mostly had a month of rest and relaxing, I had an awesome weekend with a loved one having a belated christmas, had a day with the kittens, cat napped 🙂 and had a day of netflix before heading to Leeds and having the most awesome weekend of relaxing and eating all the meats at Fazenda. I couldn’t have asked for a better Christmas, it was exactly what i (and we) needed..

I’ve not picked up a pencil in at least 4 months now… and I’ve enjoyed the breather. I’ve given myself time to do other things, I’ve seen some of my favourite people and got all the cuddles, I’ve napped a lot, reread a lot of Discworld books, I’ve gamed even more and realised how much I’ve missed just nerding out sometimes (with Destiny 2 and Horizon Zero Dawn mostly) and I’ve returned to training in a Martial Art I am absolutely obsessed with. I finally got my tax return in and that led to a little thinking…

I think I’ve decided to cease trading as Tony Heath Art… After stressing over my tax return and worrying over it wrongly calculating I owe them more money than I actually made I’ve decided what is the point? I rarely make any money, overall I make a loss every year and I stress over pushing it in a business direction… so I believe it’s time to step back and say no.

I don’t see this as a negative or as bowing out I see it as something freeing, letting myself loose to have fun with my art again, my most fun drawings lately have been the ones I’ve done for the hell of it, to see performers smile (and sometimes cry… with joy I hope!) rather than meeting business obligations…

I do have stocks of prints and things like that I may bunch up and sell off as packs but after that nearly all my artwork will return to being complete one offs with no commercial aim (So if you’d like some of my postcards and stuff get in quick) I want to draw for fun and to see people smile again. I’ll likely still do certain projects for donations, although these may be slightly different in form… but everything will be considered in a “is it fun and interesting” light rather than a “will it make me money or push my business” light…

I’m a terrible businessman… I’m a pretty awesome artist (maybe… depends who you ask)

This doesn’t mean I will be this way forever or that if something interesting comes along I won’t consider it, but it does mean I won’t be forking out for stall fees, stock or equipment in the hope someone will buy a few postcards or actually go through with a commission…

I may still occasionally make a bullwhip or similar craft project, I find these fun and interesting to learn how to make, and I’ll likely still photograph shows occasionally but my interest will be more for who and what I’d like to photograph…

(this all doesn’t mean I’ll work for free!!! I’ll still put up with the awful tax returns if a job comes along worth doing!!)

And finally… I got along to my first show of the year… Me and the beautiful Allouetta La Zouch headed across to Hebden Bridge for Lady Wildflower’s Frou Frou Club. This is always one of my favourite shows, she really knows how to put on awesome events (she is one half of the #hbbf production team after all) and this one was something special, Amber Topaz, who may be one of the most hilarious people ever to come out of Yorkshire hosted, I was in absolute stitches, and she brought such a great line up to the stage, it was great to see Arabella Twist who is certainly showing a flair for story burlesque, Celeste Steel mixing aerial hoop and pole with burlesque, Lady Wildflower’s Kinky act (definitely a fave of mine), Missy Malone absolutely perfect as ever…

And finally one of the performers who stoked the burlesque nerd in me in the first place… ANNA FUR LAXIS is back!!! I got to see prehistoric Anna, I’d never seen this act before!! And Tourbillon with the snap bra that nearly knocked me out all those years ago, she rocked it and showed why she is still one of the greatest performers in the world!!

We had an amazing night and went back to our lovely Air BNB happy. The nights takeaway wasn’t so impressive being a greasy mess but well… I guess you can’t have everything!!!!

 

Coming Soon:

The next couple of months hold quite a lot of awesome adventures for me and sadly theres quite a few clashes meaning I’ll also be missing a lot of awesome. So here’s a selection of what I may be seeing and you really should see if you can!!

Feb 8th – LADS First Loves London – I can’t make it but it is so high up on my bucket list

Feb 9th – Bill Bailey Larks in Transit Sheffield – been waiting sooooo long for this!!! I’ve seen Bill Bailey live 4 or 5 times now and have been left in pain from laughing every time.. Can’t wait!!!

Feb 10th – Garden of Eden – Cabaret of Dreams Blackpool- Neil Kendall and Raven Noir’s second joint production, such an amazing line up. I get to see Michelle L’Amour in the UK!!!! I’m also doing what may be one of my last ever art stalls, buy my stuffs!!!

Feb 17th – The Wet Spot Leeds – Anna Fur Laxis will be rocking the Wet Spot stage for the first time in at least 5 years!!! It’s sold out though, sorry!!! The entire line up is just crazily awesome

Feb 17th – La De Da Derby – If i wasn’t at the Wet Spot i’d be here, i could cry at missing Fancy Chance!!!

 

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#meettheartist – #burlesquenerd – #newyear

New year, new start…..

So it’s been a long, long time since I last wrote a blog post about my burlesque travels and adventures. 2017 was a bit up and down, some of it was absolutely amazing, I got to go on some awesome adventures, spent time with people I love and saw such creative and innovative folk doing their thing from Glasgow to Portsmouth and so much inbetween, I met new people, I ticked things off my bucketlist and I added new things to my bucket list too. I drew lots of drawings and even met Roxi D’lite in person (again – I did meet her at BHoF) and was able to present my drawing to her. She was absolutely lovely and an absolute joy to watch on stage at Burlesque Noir.

The low’s I had some dark times when my depression and anxiety threatened to get the best of me, my day job weighed very heavily on me and I found myself feeling very lonely and downhearted, but I’ve worked on this too. I finally moved day jobs and am finding it much better, not without issues but a vast improvement on before and I finally went to seek medical help. I’m currently on medication for the first time and despite a few side effects I have found they are helping at the moment as well as being referred for some further help. I mention these because I feel there is far too much stigma still surrounded mental health, it is as important as physical health and yet is so taboo to bring up. I’ve lost family and friends to depression and other mental health issues, it needs talking about and bringing to peoples attentions without the stigma.

I’m not sure where the quote is from but it has helped my attitude and thinking a lot “your feelings are real but they are not reality”

I’m going to try and mention some performers and shows to see or as ‘Ones to watch’ from my highlights last year. I’ll try and stick to 5 and give sincere apologies for anyone I do not mention, you all know I’m a huge, huge fan and would list 99.9% of you and be front row to see you all if I could but here goes…

Shows to see (some may have been one offs but should they return definitely get to them. And I’m going to try and avoid my obvious favourite regular shows such as the Wet Spot, Gilded Merkin and Frou Frou Club as they really should go without saying by now…. I’m aware I have technically just mentioned them… take the hint J)

Ok…

1. The Illicit Thrill

Quite possibly my favourite show in the world. Gypsy Charms, Savannah Duval and the cast teach us all to perve responsibly.. Not for the easily shocked or offended but if you don’t mind a bit (a lot) of nudity and stripper talent in an awesome venue and brilliantly written show (which will be into its 5th year this year I believe) get along during the Fringe!

2. House of Burlesque 2.0

One of the greatest shows i’ve had the pleasure of seeing, heading to Halifax with the lovely Fifi La Roux to see Tempest Rose’s show it was so good to see Bettsie Bon Bon, Bonnie Knockers, Lolo Brow and the others doing their acts but bigger and all tied together in a stunning show.

3. Between The Sheets

Again such a stunning show!! Polly Rae’s Between the Sheets may have been my favourite event of the year with Polly herself, Lilly Snatchdragon, Beau Rocks, Kitty Bang Bang and more, i just can’t say how good this show was!!

4. Attrape Moi (Catch Me)

I went to see this show just on a whim as I had time to kill before Between the Sheets and i’m so happy i did, simply one of the best (i’m saying that quite a bit!) circus shows i’ve ever seen! Like the stomp version of Cirque, just pure raw talent!!

5. Hot Brown Honey

Ok I’ve seen this show twice now and still think its one of the most powerful and important shows touring at the moment, showing powerful, feminist, POC, anti colonial performers and messages in such a massively varied show, just amazing.

There are obviously so many more shows out there including the big annual events and festivals you really should get along to and hopefully I’ll see you all at some of them although financial restrictions mean I will be once again limiting myself…

Performers to see… This is even harder than the shows, there are so many performers out there you really should get along to see!! From our Queens such as Roxi D’Lite, Medianoche and Poison Ivory to our amazing newcomers coming up through shows such as Tawny Kay Presents.., Lady Wildflower’s Show Us Your Newbies and HBBF’s Legend in the Making (and there have been so many newbies who have impressed me this last year!)

But here are some folk I really think you should get along to see…

1. Anna Fur Laxis… I didn’t see her last year but I can’t stress how much you need to see her, shes back in the UK and is ready to rock the Frou Frou Club on 27th January (already sold out) and the Wet Spot Leeds on 17th Feb (not yet sold out but causing a huge stir so get in quick) and likely will be snapped up across the country once producers realise shes back…

Anna is one of 3 performers from my very early days in the glittery world who I attribute to getting me well and truly hooked… just go see her… or book her…

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2. Luna TikTok… Ok you could accuse me of bias here but I’ve got my judgey head on and in my professional judgement as the ultimate Burlesque Nerd Luna is on fire! She’s just going from strength to strength… Luna is one of my muses and for damn good reason. NOBODY on the UK scene can move like her and yet she’s a modest, lovely super nerd who feeds my face when i venture up North

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3. Pi The Mime

Pi made me cry… in a good way, like only Kiki Lovechild could.. Their duo show was the most wonderful, heart breaking and uplifting show i’ve ever seen!! Pi is funny, graceful, sad.. brilliant

I’ve not yet had the pleasure to photograph Pi!! Google him though!!

4. Lilly Snatchdragon

One of my favourite humans on the planet. Lilly is a powerhouse, another funny, powerful, moving and talented performer and i’ll always be grateful and in awe of Lilly’s compassion and empathy too. Watching her Ask Me Anything just made me even more fascinated with what Lilly is producing, just go see her!

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5. Kitty Bang Bang

I will sit in the car for hours and hours to see Kitty. She just makes me happy, she’s an absolute bad ass, especially if you let her near fire! (like anyone could stop her) watch her Alley Cat video, simply the most stunning burlesque video i’ve seen, i rewatch it over and over..

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There are hundreds and hundreds more performers who I would seriously recommend, if you want to know more get in touch, apparently this is my reset switch if I ever get tongue tied, there is so much talent out there I couldn’t possibly list everyone without missing out a performer I would kick myself for not including and I happily call so many of them friend. Although I am going to make an honourable mention for a certain performer in the hopes someone will bring her back to the UK – Peekaboo Pointe, if you haven’t seen her save up and please bring her over!!!

And this is purely UK based, if you’re in New York get along to any Wasabassco show, The Hellfire Club is highest on my bucketlist!! Get across to the BHoF weekender in Las Vegas or Theatre Bizarre in Detroit or go across to Europe and see all the awesome on the continent (or even closer to home go see what the Irish are upto, they are on fire lately bringing across huge huge talent)

But I’m rambling a bit now so I’ll leave it there… I believe I ended last years show count on around 63 shows quite a reduction for myself but

I have decided to include an upcoming portion to my blog, I am going to try and release a post each month..

So upcoming in January and February:

27th January – Frou Frou Club

I will be heading across to Hebden Bridge’s Little Theatre for my first show of the year. Featuring Anna Fur Laxis’ return to the UK!!! With… The Frou Frou Club produced by Lady Wildflower is always an amazing and warm show. Its sold out so if you haven’t got a ticket you’re missing out

27th January – Ashes to Ashes: A Cabaret Tribute to David Bowie

I’ll be at the Frou Frou but if I was North of the wall i’d be here at the Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh

All-star cast feature in Ashes to Ashes cabaret tribute to Bowie. All proceeds go to Cabaret vs Cancer.
With host Dusty Limits and performances from Benjamin Louche. Gypsy Charms. Becc Sanderson. Chris js Wilson. Snookie Mono. Hells Belle. Hustle. Margareeta Mascaponi & Irene Supreme. After party with DJ Frankie Sumatra.

10th February – The Garden of Eden The Cabaret of Dreams

I’ll be here celebrating double birthdays with the gorgeous Allouetta and selling some of my art before watching the amazing Reuben Kaye host, Michelle L’Amour, Romany Romany, Alekseï Von Wosylius, Vicky Butterfly and Lady Redstar as well as the rest of the entertainment Neil Kendall and Raven Noir are bringing to the Winter Gardens in Blackpool.

17th February – Dr Sketchy Nottingham

I’ve not been in so long and sadly will miss this one too but if you’re around get along to see Havana Hurricane, Chi Chi Revolver and Fleur Du Mal, its a show and a bit of doodling fun

17th February – The Wet Spot

We don’t know the line up just yet but Anna Fur Laxis will be there and i’ll be continuing celebrating my birthday.. (im allowed all month to celebrate right?)

 

There are so many more of course and hopefully i’ll be more comprehensive as i get back into the swing of things but there you go…

Happy New Year and hope to see you there

#artistontour – #burlesquenerd – #maythefourthbewithyou

On a personal note May has been a difficult month for this burlesque nerd, day job woes and MH issues have taken a bit of a toll, with mental health week this month providing a little irony or not, this nerd isn’t too well at defining irony much like that singer… but I did still managed to get some fun stuff in….

So Star Wars month started appropriately enough with a trip upto Glasgow for the Midweek Fling’s Nerdlesque special. Anyone that knows me knows that nerdlesque is my favourite of all the ‘lesques, seeing pop culture icons (or even obscurities) brought to life in burlesque form really makes the nerd in me very happy. I was looking forwards to this one even more as Luna was performing her Han Solo tribute. The drive up for once wasn’t so bad, no real traffic until I was just about outside casa de TikTok. Getting across to the venue a little later than planned meant I didn’t get time to set up a stall so no artwork sales but it did mean I could concentrate on the show more.

Roxy opened it in her traditional fashion with an attempt at playing shy to test the audiences cheering skills (if you didn’t know her like I do you would believe her… for at least 2 minutes!) a song and off into the show. There really isn’t enough (almost any) nerdlesque in the UK so getting a whole show of nerdy awesomeness really did make me happy with Luna bringing Han solo to gender bended life mooning over Chewey (I’d been waiting nearly a year to see that act and wasn’t disappointed), I finally got to see Nymph O’Maniac down from Aberdeen bringing her Silent Hill nurse and later returning as Padme Amidala, I really enjoyed both, her cosplay skills really blending well with burlesque, Dharma Gheddon brought a weeping angel to life with such amazing creativity, I’m not always the biggest fan of drag lip sync acts (I must be one of the few people in the sparkly world who just doesn’t love RPDR) but her take on it was stunning, Carman Havalook brought a mirror to Luna’s act with Chewey’s pining and mourning (sorry, spoilers) after Han until after the act when Luna’s Han was reunited with Carman’s Chewey, it was love on that stage!!

Tootsie Annie was stunning doing a vulcan balloon pop, made even more appropriate being pregnant (Vulcans needing to repopulate and all..) it was possibly the best I’ve seen her perform, she rocked it and there was a Catwoman for the newbie slot, with all apologies to her, for a first time she did great but my lousy memory for names has struck again! She is one of the fantastic crew behind the Illicit Thrill. (I will happily amend this if someone can let me know her performer name!)

The entire show was fun and even as nerdy as it was still accessible, I got to catch up with Jack Squat and the awesome Jonathan was over from NYC, after the show we headed across to the Riding Room and got a repeat of some of the acts for Roxy’s Round Up with a drink and lots of laughing and chatting to finish off the night.

The following week saw something different with Luna coming down we had decided to head across to Hull to see some Shakespeare. Matt Fraser was playing the title role in Richard III, we sadly arrived a little late under estimating the drive but we got to sneak into the back row for the first half (which still had a great view in the lovely Hull Truck Theatre) before moving down to our front row seats. The entire cast was quite diverse and simply brilliant, it was funny and so well done but Matt Fraser was the stand out star, I’d only managed to see him hosting the Legends walk on pageant at BHoF in 2015 (and in American Horror story of course) so it was great to see his talents live and up close. I hadn’t been to any theatre other than burlesque and cabaret in a long, long time but I’m so glad we made the trip for this one.

The next day we headed across to Manchester for the Slippery Belle’s 10th Birthday show featuring Bella Bessame hosting Luna herself, Rusty Von Chrome, Cece Sinclair, Maisie Martini, Eva Fox,

Crimson Skye and Mrs No Overall, it was a great show featuring some of my best friends and it was so good to see Bella and her show celebrate their 10th year in style with both established Slippery Belle performers such as Cece and Rusty et al as well as brand new performers to the show such as Luna. I absolutely loved finally seeing Luna’s What Kind of Woman act and it was beyond awesome to see Crimson to crack out the gimp for Supermassive black hole again, it had been years since I last saw her perform that number as well as getting to see Rusty’s brand new devil act, absolutely loved it!

Later on in the week I headed across to Liverpool as I was asked to judge the Spare Rib’s Superstar newbie show alongside Raven Noir and Suzie Sequin where we had the pleasure of watching and the difficult job of judging a host of new talent, some acts I’d managed to see before and others which were wholly new to me. In the end we chose Kiki Mellek to take the prize and the audience choice went to Arabella Twist, both highly deserving although the whole show and every performer who took to the stage were a lot of fun, I’ll be back to future Spare Rib shows when I can.

This month’s Wet Spot was next where I got to enjoy Joe Black hosting the talents of Millie Dollar, Arran Shurvinton, Chi Chi Revolver and Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer for the 10th birthday show. It was so good to see each of them, Joe was on top form hilarious as ever, Millie had performed on the very first Wet Spot show 10 years ago so it was only right to see her, she performed her new act and was simply stunning, Chi Chi was back for the first time after introducing Baby Revolver to the world and blew everyone away with her Bangarang act, Mr B had everyone raving in his chap hop style(e) and Arran was well Arran, somehow making vampires cute and loveable and leaving folk in tears.. it was a great way to celebrate 10 years of the Wet Spot in Leeds.

And finally for May I managed to be free for Leeds Burlesque’s Velvet Curtain, the second show of theirs to be held at the beautiful Leeds City Varieties, once again it was a different feeling show to the local Wet Spot giving more variety to the Leeds scene, this years featured Penny Sweet’s once again hosting with the likes of Coco Malone, Pico the Sponge, Carrie Ann, Fulcrum Circus and Rusty Von Chrome. It was great to see Rusty and Carrie Ann again, as well as getting to listen to Coco up north, it had been too long, I could listen to her sing all night, Pico and Fulcrum Circus were both new to me, Pico was extremely funny, reminding me a little of Jeff Dunham and Fulcrum Circus were brilliant, both in their acrobalance and light up flow arts. I ended my month hanging out with Lady Wildflower and Sidge before heading home…

#artistontour – #burlesquenerd – #hbbf – #year5

So the end of the month came and it was time for this year’s instalment of the Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival, now in its 5th year, this is the event the UK’s glitter scene waits for. I managed to get to 9 events this year and every single one of them could have stood alone and proud against any other single show in the country.

Legend In the Making
The weekend kicked off for me giving the lovely Bobby Pinn a lift over for the first show of the festival, the Legend in the Making newcomers competition, somehow each year the entrants seem to get bigger and better and really up their game and this year’s competition really showed this, with Heidi Bang Tidy presenting (absolutely hilariously) and featuring – Bobby Pinn, Bonnie Knockers, Fifi La Roux, Freida Nipples, Valerie Savage, Vanity Dare, Bonnie Boux and Demelza Fox with last years winner UmA Shadow returning and special guest performer and to hand over the title. As I said above this year the performers seemed to have really upped their games, the quality was consistently great across the board and they were all so different. In the end the title went to Bonnie Boux with her hip hop granny (which I will admit to having voted for, I don’t think she would have been out of place on ANY bill – as proven when she rocked the Gala show as part of her prize) and Bonnie Knockers took the Audience Choice again such a brilliant piece. Everyone should be so proud though, on any other day any one of those performers could have rightfully taken a title.
It was great to see UmA Shadow return to the stage too, last year he was really a stand out performer in the festival but this year he was something else, he is a showcase for what you can do when you win and run with a title he has upped his game so much, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him running for King at BHoF sometime soon and he is one of the loveliest guys around he deserves it.
Late Night Quickie
After Legend in the Making we left the theatre for the team to prepare for the next show of the night, the Late Night Quickie with Gypsy Charms hosting and featuring Lolo Brow, Tom Harlow, Scarlett Daggers and Lady Wildflower. Seeing everyone performing their raunchiest acts was a brilliant end to the night and having them able to let loose in an open minded theatre festival environment was perfect.
LWF brought her Kinky act, Tom his fet puppy and I was particularly happy to see Gypsy bringing out the Northern Lights south of the border, I really wasn’t expecting that (as I’m sure the whole crowd wasn’t) and Lolo Brow also seemed to especially enjoy the freedom to really go wild.
Lolo was one of my stand out picks of the entire festival, starting with the Late Night Quickie performing her lizard act. I got picked on quite a bit in this show with Lolo jumping on me to undo her corset with my teeth, Scarlett bending me over to flog me during her Queen of Pain act (which has come a long way since its debut, I loved it then but with the extra polish I think it’s now one of my favourites of hers) and Gypsy polishing my glasses in her signature style… I can’t see Gypsy without getting my glasses polished on her ass….
People may have seen more than they bargained for in the first Late Night Quickie but I and they loved every minute of it.
Laugh Your Knickers off Comedy Cabaret
Day 2 kicked off with the Laugh Your Knickers Off Comedy Cabaret, a show filled with comedy performances hosted by none other than Velma Von Bon Bon’s alter ego Natalia Kalashnikov. The line up featured – Pi The Mime, Kiki Lovechild, Titsalina Bumsquash, Josephine Shaker and Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer.
Titsalina kicked off the show, after winning the Legend in The Making competition a few years previously Titsalina has gone onto become one of the best loved and funniest performers in the UK and she really showed why. Natalia entered the stage next and I don’t think I’d ever tire of watching Velma in any guise, seeing her perform her Village People quick change unicycle act later in the show really cracked me up, I don’t think there’s a harder working performer than Velma. It was great to see Kiki again with his Chapeaugraphy, I absolutely adore Josephine, especially her first penguin act and I was so happy to see Mr B again, it had been far too long but I think the highlight had to be the new one for me. Seeing Pi at last made me so happy, he is just a wonderful performer!!
Diversitease
Quickly following on was Diversitease, a show featuring performers identifying as other than white CIS men and women. Sadie Sinner of the Cocoa Butter Club was on hand to host and she was joined by Lolo Brow, Lilly Snatchdragon, RiRi Caboose, Kheski Kobler and UmA Shadow.
Just a quick note on the Cocoa Butter Club, Sadie has created an amazing show to showcase performers of colour, I was so happy to see one of her shows earlier in the year and I really believe it is one of the most important shows in the country (and beyond expanding to Australia and soon a show in Berlin). Not only is the show there to go and see, which I believe all burlesque and cabaret (and wider audiences) should do if they are able, the CBC is able to assist with connecting producers and performers identifying as POC to help produce more diverse shows and get these amazing performers out there more.
Diversitease was like an extension of this (as well as its own amazing show in its own right, now in its second year) it was one of the most interesting shows of the weekend (and recently), showcasing POC and Queer performers. It was a hard hitting show in places but it needs to be. Sadie was uncompromising in putting the message across in the most articulate and charismatic way too (and really is the Songbird!! I could listen to her sing all night) and every one of the performers was amazing. It was great to see UmA again showing acts I’d not seen before, his costuming is simply stunning, Lolo again was a highlight, her mix tape act is entertaining as hell but her reverse strip really stood out, RiRi was a new one for me but she was fantastic, it was good to see Kheski again with her orgasmic leg lamp and strawberry acts (I really wanted strawberries then!!) but possibly my highlight of the night was Lilly, her first act was funny and cute as hell, Lilly plays on stereotypes so well but her second act, her in chains / Cho Chang letter to JK Rowling act showed a more serious, more hard hitting view on stereotyping. I was in tears by the end, that act is one my very favourite pieces.
That ended day 2 of the festival.
Tina T’Urner Tea Lady’s Solo Hour
Day 3 started early with Tina T’Urner Tea Lady, I’d seen her many times performing singular acts at shows but never for a full length solo show so I was really interested in how she would translate to this. The answer was hilariously. A full hour of Tina at her best serving tea, seducing Zeus, singing and getting her leg slapped had me in stitches, she also managed to get people feeling sorry for her in places too, I really hope I can get along to Tina and Audrey’s double later in the year.
Et Moi – Kiki and Pi
On to day 3 show 2 and what was probably my highlight of the entire weekend. Kiki Lovechild is one of the countries most beloved clowns and a firm favourite at HBBF, a festival without him just wouldn’t feel right, last year’s Sheets was one of my most memorable moments of HBBF history. This year he was joined by Pi The Mime, another clown with a great reputation who (at least until the night before) I had not yet had the pleasure of watching.
Describing the show and why it was so brilliant is difficult whilst avoiding spoilers, so I won’t dwell too much but it featured Kiki finishing up his last show in the UK before planning to travel to Paris, he gets bad news and then bumps into Pi the Mime, the show then follows their interactions and getting to know each other. It is hilarious, heart breaking and heart-warming. Kiki and Pi play off each other so well you can’t help but love them and feel for every bit of their journey in the hour long show. Needless to say go easy on the makeup (unless it’s extremely water proof) and take tissues when you go see it (when they run it again you MUST go see it, I’ll be there anyways). I wouldn’t just say it was my show of the festival I would go so far as to say it’s one of the greatest shows I’ve had the privilege to witness.
Gala
After recovering from the emotional mess Kiki and Pi left us in, getting photos taken with them and all the chatting that inevitably follows it was time to head across to Todmorden for the Gala show, the big one of the weekend. It was good to see it back in its traditional home at the Todmorden Hippodrome. This year the gala featured the likes of Kiki Deville hosting, Cece Sinclair, Rusty Von Chrome, Lady Wildflower, Edd Muir, Rubyyy Jones, Kitten De Ville Legend winner Bonnie Boux and Jett Adore, hanging out with Marielle and other shiny folk before the show was a good time to relax and catch up before taking to our seats, my now traditional front row seat besides Heidi Bang Tidy gained I settled in to enjoy the show. Opening with Lady Wildflower dancing to Kiki Deville’s singing was such an amazing start to the night they were stunning together and the show didn’t dip from there. The legend in the Making winner Bonnie Boux showed just why she had taken the title, Rusty was as amazing as ever with the crowd really getting into his acts – Henry and the cop,I was really glad to see Edd on the straps in his Top Gun act as well as his traditional Diet Coke act with Kiki singing along, Cece was on fire, she had produced a new act debuting at the Gala, it was a sing and fling, unfortunately she had mic issues but she owned it, it didn’t affect people’s enjoyment of her in the slightest and with Kiki Deville stepping in as her temporary mic stand led to some ridiculous comedy moments, Kiki herself was hilarious all the way through the show and inspired Tawny’s Tiny Kay with her lift and stairs impressions, Kitten De Ville the Queen of Burlesque 2002 brought the bump and grind, Rubyyy Jones brought the no fucks given attitude and energy getting a standing ovation for her Potty Mouth Princess and finally the headliner Jett Adore brought a stunning Peacock isis wings act and Tarzan rope act, everything Jett does seems just a bit bigger than anyone else, his acts are larger than life, it is easy to see why he is a King of Burlesque.
After the show the stars signed photos and mingled with the crowd with Dr Ellen Wright having a stand in the bar area detailing so much information and history of burlesque and DJ’s playing everyone into the night. Just saying my goodbyes towards the end must have taken around an hour!!
Bazaar
Sunday I was starting to flag, I had to be across to Hebden in the early morning (next year I swear I’m staying closer!!) to set up my stall for the Bazaar at Hebden Bridge Town Hall, I made it and a local traditional sweet shop provided me with some sugar to get me through. The hall was filled with clothing, jewellery, pasties and glitter strippers kit, cakes and the Pop-Up Vintage Beauty Parlour. I was selling my artwork and some new photos. It was lovely to see some close friends there trading with Scarlett Daggers and Mimi Libertine of Red Anchor and Mel and Steve Adams – Madams and Professor Pinups. The Bazaar for me has always been more of a relaxing social chatting about burlesque and showing my work a little but I managed to sell a few pieces and even turned a welcome profit whilst listening to the performers for the day hosted by Stage Door Johnny. Cece was on hand again and proving life can be really unfair in handing out the talent, Ruby Macintosh was great and Lili La Scala closed off the afternoon as only she can.
Just at the end of the afternnon I got to have a bit of fun with the Irish contingent as Fi, Sinead and I took to the courtyard to play with my bull whip (I can take commissions on paracord whips, floggers, cuffs and collars aswell as my art works!) before packing up and heading for the next show. On the way I bumped into Sadie Sinner, Freida Nipples, Kelly Jones and a handful of HBBF goers and joined them for a drink before the final show.
International Showcase
Finally the International Showcase arrived to close out the festival. Lili La Scala was hosting and introducing the line up of Shir Madness, Fifi La Roux, Carolina Ramirez, EmpeROAR Fabulous, Fifi Von Tassel, Gigi Praline, Giulia Nuit Blanche, La Petit Mort, Miss Knockout Noire and Suzanna Tease.
Lili also had her sausage pup Bismarck along with her and they almost managed to steal the entire show. Lili was brilliant as ever and the line up finished the weekend in style.
The Irish contingent I especially loved with La Petit Mort having a really nice unique pole routine on a suspended pole ‘umbrella’, Fifi La Roux being a last minute addition flying across the stage as her Ugly Duckling and Shir Madness having me in tears again with her White Queen routine. I was happy to see EmpeROAR’s BHOF entered No.9 routine in full (BHoF has strict time limits for competition acts) and Carolina Ramirez’s act to Rage Against the Machine I really loved. Then a final highlight for me was seeing Miss Knockout Noire, after customs messing up her Glasgow Festival plans I was happy to see her and she was worth the wait, she completely owned that stage and was absolutely amazing!!
After the thank you’s and congratulations, flower giving and all the cheers and tears it was out to the bar for the final set of DJ Krum. And it was a savage after party (thanks Sidge!!!) before sadly saying bye to folk and heading off, although I was very grateful to the Irish once again for their hospitality in delaying my drive home by another night (I will get over to see you soon!)

Thank you to everyone involved once again. Sophie, Keeley, Mary and the entire front of house team of workers and Bambi’s (except Poppy who is a bully, I just can’t say no to, my wallet doesn’t like you!), to Trixie Passions stage management and tech team, to the venues and staff and most especially to Lady Wildflower and Heidi Bang Tidy who over the past 5 years have created THE event be at and who work so hard to make sure it is the biggest and best festival it can possibly be.
I will be back next year camping out for my front row seat as ever

#artistontour – #burlesquenerd – #alongcatchup

March gone already, ended my break from drawing starting this year’s Burlesque Noir drawings with the stunning Roxy Delite. I have been lucky enough to see her perform at 2015’s BHoF weekender where she performed her Madame X routine, she was absolutely amazing and last year I got to meet her and found her to be so lovely too, I have my tickets and will be at Noir as ever, really looking forwards to seeing Roxy.

For those who have been following my personal life’s madness (possibly no one but oh well) the father is doing well, he’s settled back home and attempting to do everything you possibly can on Skyrim Remastered before the inevitable return to work. My own health issue is ongoing, apparently my blood is clotting when it shouldn’t so blood tests galore and now waiting for one more before a referral to a haematologist… fun times but even holding myself back I am seeing plenty of burlesque…

The first show of March was Tawny Kay Present’s Carnevil in Doncaster at the Glasshouse, I had the pleasure of accompanying Luna TikTok to assist the show in stage managing with …. The line up was great with Joe Black and Arran Shurvington as Terms of Unnervement, Fifi La Roux, Roxie Royale, Jewel Personality, Mortimer Moonbender, Kheski Kobler, Felicity Furore and Tawny Kay herself with Elsie Diamond hosting. The theme was a bit of a mad circus and including hooping, aerial and fire performances prior to the show outside the venue.

The entire show was just brilliant, so much fun and showed the passion that Tawny puts into everything she does. Fifi La Roux had to be my highlight, winner of the Tassel off I was curious to see her and I could see why she won, just so brilliant, anybody that performs to Ducktales and lays a chocolate egg on stage gets my vote!! I was also so happy to see Felicity Furore’s new Elvis act and Mortimer’s Aragorn (being a complete LOTR’s nerd!)

After the show it was great to hang out with everyone catching up and having a (soft) drink before heading home.

The next show along was of course the Wet Spot with Des O’Conner along once again to host and showcasing the talents of Abigail Collins, Brandy Montmatre (making her Wet Spot debut), Coco Malone, David Eriksson and Eliza Delite. I was excited to see Coco Malone again, she had not been North for some time and she was as amazing as ever, she is truly one of the greatest singers on the cabaret circuit. Brandy did great in her Wet Spot debut, Eliza brought two brand new acts, both so different from each other but both fantastic. A new one for me was David Eriksson, he wasn’t an act I knew but he was absolutely amazing, doing balancing acts on top of a spoon held in his mouth and ping pong ball mouth juggling he was ridiculously talented and extremely funny with it, after seeking out his details afterwards I realised he is from La Soiree and am definitely not surprised now. Abi was of course absolutely hilarious and brilliant as ever as was our host Des.

Heading down to the Gilded Merkin next I was really looking forward to this one with some of my favourites on the bill, especially my favourite nerd Coco Deville. Abigail Collins was hosting with the rest of the line up featuring Scarlett Daggers (of course) Joe Black and Arran Shurvinton as Terms of Unnervement, Jolie Papillon (who I hadn’t seen in so long!) and Havana Hurricane. The entire show was as stunning as ever, everyone was amazing, a couple of highlights were seeing Havana’s revamped Quake n Shake, that dress is hypnotic with Havana’s movements and I finally got to see Coco’s nerd, I couldn’t stop grinning especially as she entered the ‘Carlton Dance’ (if you don’t know what that is, for shame! And google it!!)

I got to say hi to everyone briefly afterwards before heading back up north.

Finally for March was Tawny Kay’s Star Search Doncaster.

I was privileged to have been asked to judge joining Lady Wildflower and Tawny herself to score the acts across 4 categories, Musicality, Costume, Concept and Stage Presence with a final 5th score by audience vote. The judging was fun but hard as I went through I was finding my overall scores were so close, it was difficult but great to see the quality of the acts was so high.

There was also a section for feedback, I tried to give a little thought on each or to suggest performers I thought the acts may be interested in watching, I think watching what’s out there can only help (and if I didn’t leave you any, performers please get in touch, I’ll be happy to try and recommend people to research or by all means ignore my suggestions and comments too it’s your art)

Anyways the show was hosted by none other than Heidi Bang Tidy, she is a natural on the mic, prone to go off on tangents occasionally (generally when there’s some filler needed) but absolutely hilarious with it, I was in pain laughing more than once through the show.

The performers competing were –

Lexie Fonteyn, Bonnie Borrelli, Miss Terri Murder, Bobby Pinn, Felicity Felicis, Crimson Lace, Dickie Dalliance, Peach Melba De Luxx, Lola Chocolat, Lady Blue Phoenix , Edie Peaches, Mercy Bites, Bonnie Knockers and Miss Shell Fire

They covered between them so many styles of burlesque from classic to neo, nerdlesque to more skill based pieces, slow and sensual to high energy rock outs, political to darker fantasy pieces and there was even a kinky unicorn, something for everyone I reckon.

I won’t go through each act but I would gladly watch them all on a bill again.

The winners in the end were

Bonnie Borrelli – the aforementioned kinky unicorn in 3rd place. She had such a great balance of unicorn mannerisms, innocence and filth, a great raunchy act and her costume was soooo sparkly. Fet can be glittery too!!

Bobby Pinn – a piece based on the caterpillar from Alice (Who are you?) I loved that it wasn’t a completely literal interpretation costume and act wise, her costuming was beautiful and the first half was lovely, but when she picked up her silk fans her energy was off the charts!!

And the winner Bonnie Knockers with hers based on that time of the month and the frankly ridiculous continuation of the luxury tax on tampons and other feminine hygiene products. Starting off so classical the twist was brilliantly executed, her attitude was fantastic, both funny and a great well deserved fuck you to the government over the tax. In the end it just had to be her.

Bobby Pinn and Bonnie Borelli will both be appearing in Paris Chantilly’s Burlesque Lounge shows as part of their prizes at future dates to be confirmed and Bonnie Knockers will be returning in a future Tawny Kay Presents: Show and as an extra surprise prize will also be appearing in the returning Bang Tidy Burlesque show later this year.

Saying that I wouldn’t be surprised to see any and all of the performers in shows around the area in future.

The next time I will be donning my judges cap will be the 18th May at the Spare Rib in Liverpool and before then I get (got) to see this year’s Legend in the Making. The future is looking bright for burlesque.

Into April I saw just two shows before Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival (which was so big I’ll write it up separately)

The Wet Spot of course with Des returning to host. I had been looking forward to this one with some of my favourite performers on that stage and I was joined by the awesome Tawny Kay and Ryan on my table as well as getting to chat to some burlesque virgins. My highlights had to be seeing Jesus L’Oreal on the Wet Spot stage at last, he was simply divine, his acts are ridiculously entertaining and make you feel happy. Getting to see Coco Deville again was great, although she was sadly quite ill and amazingly still rocked it, you couldn’t tell from watching her perform, Ruby Deshabille rocked a new act and of course Cece Sinclair showed exactly why she is one of the top performers in the country. Special mention to Felicity Felicis for debuting at the Wet Spot, quite a newcomer to performing but she was great.

The following week it was time for one of the big shows of the year, Neil Kendall and Raven Noir’s Exotica Grand Tiki Ball at the Blackpool Winter Gardens. Being joined by the gorgeous Allouetta La Zouch we headed across quite early to check into our luxurious Blackpool accommodation (and in all honesty it wasn’t so bad, definitely not as bad as last year’s Noir B&B!) we got ready and were joined by Luna TikTok and Innocence Bliss, down from Scotland to add some wildling glam to our party.

We headed across to the venue stopping for food on the way and spotting fellow burley goers in the local Wetherspoons and arrived to be photographed with a crowd of sparkly folk before getting drinks and finding our table. I managed to find a certain Cece Sinclair amongst so many glitter folk and got hugs and hellos before the show started.

The line up featured Lili La Scala as host, Bizarre n Blue, Domino Barbeau, Luna Rosa, The Death Do Us Part Danger show, and of course the headliners from across the pond Mr Gorgeous and Trixie Little.

The venue itself was beautiful and it was great to see so many industry folk there, my highlights for the show had to be the headliners, Mr Gorgeous is just so likeable, his acts are creative as hell, I loved the crab but most especially the bird, he made even the crude slightly horrible joke points cute and loveable, he really commands a stage then Trixie Little another performer who is ridiculously creative. Both her acts had such great twists, her mermaid discovering her legs and then that clam!! And her Queen of Burlesque winning banana act, every part of that costume so well thought out, just when you thought there couldn’t be any more surprises more just peeled away. Meeting them afterwards they were both so lovely too, it is easy to see why they are King and Queen of Burlesque winners.

Getting posters and a new Neil Kendall print and hanging around with folk afterwards finished off the night before heading back to our lovely hotel…

That’s my adventures all caught up on leading to HBBF!!

#artistontour – #burlesquenerd – #February – #mythirtythirdyear

Through a stroke of luck in the day job I was able to change a shift and get along to my first show of February, Lady Wildflower’s ‘Show Us Your Newbies’ featuring debuts from a number of her students. I was hoping I could get along as a good friend and Wet Spot stage manager was making her debut so I was happy to be able to get along in the end to support her. Barring one performer who sneaked her debut in pre-show the show featured the debuts of Autumn Hex, Bonnie Borrelli, Celeste Steel, Demon Wilde, Edie Peaches, Hot Milk, Jasmine Solo, Lexie Fonteyn, Miss Terri Murder (it took me far too long to get that pun!), Queenie Von Rene and Val Oh So Rapture.

The entire cast did brilliantly, for a newbie show I was so impressed by the sheer range of styles and talents showcased, everything was covered from classic burlesque to neo, nerdlesque, aerial and fire. There was some nerves showing and a few shakes, completely understandably but there wasn’t one performer I would say didn’t do amazingly well and entertained the audience superbly, the atmosphere was great and everyone loved it. Lady Wildflower should be so proud of her girls and every single performer should too.

I will say a little on Miss Terri Murder though, I wondered what she would come up with, knowing her for years now as part of the Wet Spot, I wasn’t prepared for what came out onto the stage, entering to the Adams Family theme a hilarious cousin It came bouncing on, bobbing along to the music before going into a more ‘classic’ strip discovering herself under the hair, she was just fantastic, I’m a sucker for nerdlesque anyway but it was so well realised, the work she’d put into that costume was ridiculous, more of that please!! Hanging around after the show it was lovely to see plenty of audience and performers mingling and chatting excitedly about what they had just done / watched.

A couple of weeks later I headed across to meet Luna TikTok booked in for a shoot with none other than Neil Kendall I got to both hang out with my friends and watch a true great work, it was a truly interesting and fun day hanging out with some of the best people I know, I got to finally meet Glo Mason of Ina Glo photography and to see Neil do his thing. Neil’s house is pretty much what I aspire to when I grow up and sort myself out, a treasure trove of random show memorabilia and oddities, there was a tentacle next to the bath!! He had put together a great little set for Luna with painted back drop and so many furs for her to lounge across and use. Luna herself was showcasing her newest costuming and headdress and she was absolutely stunning.

Once the shoot started I was in awe of the both of them, they both made it look so easy, and with Glo on hand spotting the little details and arranging tassels and falls the resulting photos even just peeked at on the camera were absolutely stunning. One has been released so far and is truly incredible, Luna and Neil are a perfect match. Models / performers – book Neil soon as you can!!! Photographers? Likewise book Luna!!! You wouldn’t be disappointed.

The following weekend it was time for the Wet Spot, February has historically been one of my favourites, not only is it the first Wet Spot of the year it is my birthday show so always ready for a party. Getting there early I helped with set up as usual, had food and greeted the performers. I was joined by my sister providing chibi art once again for each of the performers and as a raffle prize and by the beautiful Havana Hurricane, I couldn’t have asked for better company.

This month the line-up consisted of Missy Malone, Scarlett Daggers, Rusty Von Chrome, Missy Macabre and Audacity Chutzpah, all guided by the compering of Joe Black. Missy brought her Cupid and Jack Frost to the stage, I don’t think I really have to say much about her, she’s one of our most well respected well-loved performers for a reason. It was so nice to see the yearly outing of Cupid on the Wetspot stage, firing her arrows out to the audience. Scarlett brought her Tiki and Balloon pop acts, so much fun, her TIki changed slightly now Scarlett has retired from fire performances, the act really hasn’t suffered for the changes still so fun, colourful and well realised as per any act of Scarletts. Rusty brought the Cop and Henry, both absolute firm favourites of mine, Rusty never fails to get the crowd going with such massive stage presence and charisma and those damn earworm songs!! Missy Macabre performed fire and sideshow and kept me in awe of her skills, her fire work is so controlled and beautiful, she is mesmerising and her sideshow skills leave no less of an impact. It was so good to see Audacity back, I’d not seen her in years, she brought her Castaway act and Womens Lib act. Castaway was brilliantly funny, with audience members joyfully shouting WILSON!!!! When she revealed her friend.

Joe tied everything together and kept the show running beautifuly, guiding the audience in renditions of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and Sweet Transvestite amongst other songs. Everyone was on their game, there was such a great variety of acts and the atmosphere was loud and boisterous, if a little close but not so that I felt squashed or that it would spoil the experience. The Wet Spot once again proved why it is one of the biggest and best burlesque events in the country.

Having a spare Friday night free I decided to head down to Sheffield to see a show. It was at the Honey Bee Club in the Sheffield University union, a blues night, Vegas Six, 13 Ladies and Bessie’s Blues were playing accompanied by a number of burlesque performers – Tawny Kay, Baby Boo, Cerise Mae and Lola Chocolat… It was a very different night being blues bands playing with the dancers on the floor in front. It was a bit quiet but was fun to hang out with the performers and great to finally meet some of them. They were all great and really got into the spirit of it and after their final dance re-entered the dance floor to get the crowd dancing too. Then that weekend it was then time for the Gilded Merkin in Birmingham, I got to hang out with some of the nicest folk for pre show cocktails (lemonades for me, designated sober person) and front row as ever ready to watch Scarlett Daggers, Bettsie Bon Bon, Kiki Lovechild, Elliott Mason and Audacity Chutzpah all hosted by Dusty Limits. The show was as stunning as ever, the Gilded Merkin Birmingham edition is consistently putting on some of my very favourite shows, everyone was so good as ever, Dusty singing and compering, Audacity gave me a second chance to see her Castaway and WOmens Lib acts after the Wet Spot (and rocked them once again), Elliott Mason had me in pain laughing again, Kiki made me cry, and Scarlett’s new fireless Robin Hood really cracked me up, that was pure genius, I loved it!! Seeing Bettsie though was such a highlight, I love watching her do her thing and I got to give her my drawing afterwards (yes it was Bettsie Bon Bon folks, not Cece Sinclair!!) The entire night was the perfect end to my birthday celebrations, thank you to everyone!!

#BURLESQUENERD – #SHOWSTOSEE – #SEVENTOSEE

I’m already looking forwards to a number of shows this year, and there’s already some seriously annoying clashes, I’ll be missing some shows I feel a lot of loyalty towards which really makes me sad, but I hope the producers will understand..

But I thought I’d share a few shows I am looking forward to that I think you really should see..
I’m limiting myself to 7, basically because I like the number 7, it’s a nice number and means I have to be very selective, but it is by no means an exhaustive list, I am cutting down this year but I am still expecting to see roughly 10 times this number of shows…
So…
In March I am hoping to make it North to Glasgow for the Midweek Fling. Brought to you by the Glasgow Festival of Burlesque the fling is one of the few midweek shows North of London and Roxy Stardust somehow coaxes some of the best National and International talent into Glasgow to the beautiful venue that is Wild Cabaret. Roxy is an hilarious host and has a truly great eye for putting together varied, interesting shows (as a side cheating note the actual Glasgow Festival of Burlesque is obviously well worth getting along to, last years was one of the craziest most fun burlesque weekends I’ve had the pleasure to be a part of)
In April there’s a plethora of shows to choose from, I have at least one booked into each weekend, choosing a show from the list is hard but the Exotica Grand Tiki Ball presented by Raven Noir of Burlesque Noir and Neil Kendall of Goldust productions is coming to the Blackpool Winter Gardens, they are bringing together a huge international cast, most notably for me Mr Gorgeous and Trixie Little are hitting a UK stage, Mr Gorgeous bringing his Lobster, Parrot and Jolly Green Giant and Trixie bringing her Queen of Burlesque, Miss Exotic World winning Banana act… if theres an act to see this year it’s that one, watch the glove!!!!
In May Leeds Burlesque are bringing the next iteration of the Velvet Curtain to the Leeds City Varieties, it makes me so happy that burlesque and cabaret has been brought back to that stage. The Varieties saw some of the true greats back in the day but in recent times hadn’t seen any of the glittery world we love so much until last year when Havana and Penny of Leeds Burlesque brought an amazing show to the beautiful theatre with Kitten N Lou headlining. They will put together another ‘show to see’
I was going to stick to one a month but if there’s a month to catch the Wet Spot in this year I’d say it’s also May. The Wet Spot turns 10 years old!!! A decade of the biggest and best burlesque out there brought to Leeds to entertain us all. The show that dragged me into the glittery world with a naked man singing opera with bells tied to his penis, a woman playing with fire (I want to say in a bath but I was very drunk my first time – that’s how many first times are experienced right?) and my first introduction to Ryvita Von Cheese, the lady behind it all who consistently produces one of the best shows in the business and welcomed me into its family.
In August it just has to be the Illicit Thrill, I can’t bang on about this show enough, in its 4th iteration the Thrill is possibly my favourite show on the planet, slightly different to the rest on this list the Thrill is the only scripted show, telling a different story each year, last year saw Gypsy Charms, Savannah Duvall and their crew dragging us through the decades experiencing the evolution of stripping and striptease, and gave me one of my blush making highlights of the year when I was bent over on stage bare cheeks with a cigarette in my ass…
I can’t wait to see what Gypsy and Julie-Ann bring to the Voodoo Room’s this year… Warning – there’s no pasties or safety thongs to be seen in the Thrill…. #freethenipple #andtherest
October is another difficult month, especially around Halloween with every producer pulling out all the stops to create amazing shows and performers bringing out their spooky best. You wouldn’t go wrong finding out whichever show Jack Squat is at and choosing that one, there isn’t a performer like him and he really comes into his own at Halloween but I have to mention Burlesque Noir at the Blackpool Tower Ballroom, also entering its 4th year it has become an ‘event’ in itself. How can I not mention the show I spend all year stressing over artwork for? I’m not privy to the line up just yet but it will certainly be worth it when previous years have featured Immodesty Blaize, Tempest Storm, Jo ‘Boobs’ Weldon and Medianoche as headliners and special guests.
And again December is always a hard one to pick from, Christmas brings out the best in burlesque shows but one I hope to never miss is the Christmas Frou Frou Club in Ramsbottom, any Frou Frou is great to get to and I hate missing them (at the Little Theatre in Hebden throughout the year and recently opened a branch in Grimsby at the Yardbirds) but for Christmas Lady Wildflower and her gang just make it that bit more cheery..
As usual I’ll be all around the country at various points, there’s still so many shows to tick off my bucket list including the mighty Double R club, 7 Sins at Café de Paris and I’m hoping the New York City Burlesque Festival as well as getting along to my regular shows such as the Gilded Merkin and the Missy Malone & Friends Burlesque Revue so hope to see people around…