And by "Top 5" I mean a yet to be determined number less than 10 and i keep adding and subtracting from it...
2014 saw a major change for me and a journey of calculated risk to broaden my performance horizons.
There came a point where YouTube wasn’t cutting it and I wanted to experience new and inspiring
performances LIVE as much as possible. Being located in the wonderful, but ass-end, of the world made
that very difficult. So moving to Toronto was essentially a matter of exposure and geography!
The education since the move has been prolific in all facets of the performance genre and the lifestyle
associated with it. However one of the most positive aspects has been having the privilege of being in
the audience for some truly game-changing performances. Some were awe-inspiring, others we
revelatory. All helped to redefine what I thought burlesque was and shake me out of a complacency or
desensitization from seeing boobs over and over and over and over and over…. These moments further
convinced me of the fact that burlesque isn’t just about boobs. It’s about absolutely everything else.
So I’ve attempted to compile a list of the performances I’ve seen over the past year that have truly
made an impact on me. Where possible I’ve tried to find photos or footage to illustrate my point but…
alas that is not always possible! Think of it as motivation to come and witness them for yourself.
Frisky’s Top 5-ish of 2014
(In no order of importance)
SEXY MARK BROWN & HONEY B. HIND @ Toronto Burlesque Festival 2014
There are no words to describe how hard I laughcried during this performance. Seriously, my makeup
was severely compromised. Without giving the game away, Honey B. Hind satiates her hunger by eating
Sexy Mark Brown’s ‘Gingerbread Man’. That’s not a euphemism. The genius lies in the perfect pairing of
Sexy Mark Brown’s incredibly funny voice-over that enhances rather than overshadows Honey B Hind’s
stage presence. This was such a great example of Gestalt burlesque. The whole was greater than the
sum of its parts, even if its parts were fucking amazing in their own right.
SURLIE TEMPLE @ Back End Burlesque
This one was a game-changer for me. As someone that has oft been accused of trying to be ‘the
sparkliest bitch out’ it’s so important to remember burlesque is SO MUCH MORE than who can dance
the best or wear the most crystals. Yes, the element of a spectacular is quintessential to what we do but
that doesn’t mean it has to be an empty orgiastic riot of feathers. Surlie Temple’s act to ‘Undone’ by
Weezer is so far from the ‘pretty but meaningless’ end of the spectrum it is dazzling. The video link here
shows her performance on a large stage but I was lucky enough to see this on a very small stage, up
close and personal. Surlie took the stage in a bright but understated knitted costume and as she slowly
pulled a piece of yarn to unravel the knitted dress…. Egads. And when she does those socks too…. the
audience rose in a colossal roar at the beautiful simplicity and cleverness of this act. I died.
SANDRIA DORE’ @ Montreal Burlesque Festival
Every day is Woman Crush Wednesday after you’ve met Sandria Dore. Seriously. This woman’s charisma
and raw magnetism filled up the Soda Club and smacked me right in the face even though I was standing
right at the very back, almost in the lobby. Her classic striptease is PRECISELY what classic should be.
From now on every time someone smarmily tells me that classic is ‘boring’ and ‘crap’, I’m going to shove
this right in their face. Pfft.
MARIA JUANA @ Canadian Pin-Up Show
Maria Juana is a motherlovin’ rock star. I’ve been saying it since the first time I saw her perform and
seeing her performance of Black Magic Woman at the Canadian Pin Up Show solidified a respect and
fandom that will last my lifetime. How many other performers do you know that have cleared a bar top
in a deconsecrated church, skulled a bottle of gin and then seal-slid on the bar on their stomach with the
most joyous look of child-like glee on their face? Yeah, didn’t think so.
But you know what? At Girlesque in January of 2015 she trumped herself. Performing this act again,
Maria’s dress got stuck. Happens to the best of us and we just laugh it off right? Well… Maria Juana is
not defeated that easily. Instead she gestures for scissors and an audience member CUTS THE DRESS
OFF HER. That’s right. That dress is gone. It’s dead. But Maria’s legend lives on.
My next tattoo (lucky 13) is going to be WWMJD. What Would Maria Juana Do.
Now if you walk into a bar in Toronto playing Black Magic Woman, look around and you’ll probably see a
burlesque performer or enthusiast standing there, arm stretched up to the heavens making a scissor
sign with their fingers.
NINA LA VOIX @ New Orleans Burlesque Festival
Or as Red Herring calls her Nina-la-fucking-Voix. The expletive is essential to communicate the raw
UNPHFF of this woman. Her act at the Bad Girls show of the New Orleans Burlesque Festival made the
night for me for reasons that simply do not translate on video. Standing to the side of the main audience
area, I witnessed some local gentlemen passively enjoying the feast of flesh throughout the night. And
then Nina’s song played and… Shit. Got. Real. Nina’s act seemed to speak to them in a way that no other
act that night did and it was powerful to watch. Her energy and the atmosphere she generated
reminded me that the most important relationship in burlesque performance is with the audience.
PERLE NOIR @ Toronto Burlesque Festival
I don’t really need to say anything here. Seeing Perle at TBF 2014 is just the latest in a long love affair
with this ferocious performer. There are no words sufficient to describe her or her 11minute opus. She is
I love you.