International Burlesque Life diary – Show Me Burlesque and Vaudeville Festival 2014.
I was fortunate enough to return to the USA this year to perform at the Show Me Burlesque and Vaudeville Festival 2014. After having to pull out in 2013, I wasn’t going to let this opportunity slip me by again. Especially as fellow Kiwi and recipient of the first Burlesque Exchange Scholarship Ruby Ruin was heading over as part of her prize. As one half of the kiwi side orchestrating the scholarship, I felt at least one of us had to be there to provide her with some home country support.
The first full day I arrived, I was quickly made familiar with the Saint Louis Bus system. Steel Starling, one of my housing hosts, had kindly googled the location of the nearest T-mobile store so I could get connected with the world, and then provided the instructions to get me there. It would have been a long walk otherwise! Upon returning, I got to go with him to the Casa Loco Ballroom to check out the tech rehearsal for the Beggars Carnivale to be held on Saturday. This place is phenomenal. It’s a 1920’s ballroom, which unfortunately burnt down a few years later but was rebuilt to its former splendour. It’s huge, filled with art deco accents, a beautiful balcony that extends right around the top, and the most sizeable of stages.
I got to sneak up on Sammy Tramp and embrace her as we watched Lola Van Ella rehearse one of her new original songs. The anticipation for the few days ahead certainly was building hearing her sing. When Lola got off the stage, she let out a girly scream and welcomed me telling me how excited she was I was there. She’s excited? I felt like a donkey at a Unicorn party!
After tech, Lola invited me to join them for her birthday drinks at the house (where she introduced me to Fireball, Cinnamon Whisky) then on to Yaquis, a fairly new bar on Cherokee Street where the one and only Foxy La Feelion was working. To be honest they had me at “half price margarita”s. This place was stunning. A corner building, with amazing atmosphere and fabulous people. Erected on the wall behind the bar was the most magnificent picture of Josephine Baker. Here I got to meet anstunning personality which created an almost immediate and strong connection, the amazing performer and ass kicker, Red Bone. This girl is a fierce performer, and has no time for my bullshit doubts. As I found out that night I was running 3rd to last for my show, right behind two headliners, a slapping by Red Bone was everything I needed on such a daunting trip. She was happy to oblige.
By the time I got home on day one, I had already been made to feel like I was home by both my hosts Steel and Horchata Dentana, and by Lola and the Show Me family. It hadn’t even really started yet!
Thursday, Steele was kind enough to take me on a little tour. I got to check out the Glass blowing studio where Horchata worked which was an amazing space of creative flow, as well as visit the City Park where sculptures were littered around the place making the walk a pleasant art experience. We also went to the Union station where I got to stand in the Whispering Arch. Creepy but very cool. If you get to go to Saint Louis you will discover how much of a beautiful artistic city it is.
The Thursday night was the Opening Night bash of the Festival. Starting with the pre-show meet’n’greet at Lola Van Ella studios, it was a tad nerve wracking. I was starting to feel the jet lag and I was feeling shy and introverted. Once I walked in though I got to see Ruby Ruin and typically us Kiwis and a lone-Australian huddled together. As it was time to leave to head to the venue, I found Eartha Delights from Kansas City to walk the red carpet with. Her act later that evening was an amazing homage to the beauty of air guitar and the 60’s. It made me feel like taking off my bra and swinging it around my head till I burnt it! That may or may not have happened. You will never know 😉
The opening night show itself was broken into three sets, each MC’d by a different person. The opening number was a song sung by Lola and the insatiably beautiful drag queen, Victoria DeVille as her day-alter-ego. It was a stunning performance. Really for me though, there were two highlights of the evening. The first was the hiphop dancing loofer, that was Femme Brulee from Boston, who had me in stitches as she twerked and werked her way out of an impossible amount of tulle. The second was the final act – Red Bone. She had so much attitude and the moves to match. When she got rid of the wig and her earrings, you knew shit just got serious. My lungs couldn’t produce enough air to scream as much as she deserved, which was lucky as my throat was already horse and voice fading as I rose to my feet at the end of Red Bones act.
I didn’t stay for the after party shenanigans. I was already tired beyond belief and had workshops to do the following day. I headed back to the house and discovered my hosts loved cheese as much as I did. This was the first of many post festival show cheese eating nights. Stay tuned for Part two – workshops, my performance and the aftermath.