It might have been re-badged in honour of the Olympics but the sixth London Burlesque Week was no less of a spectacle.
Partly due to the success of local performer Beatrix Von Bourbon on Britain’s Got Talent, the artform lovingly described by the Guardian as “stripping for posh people” has rarely been in greater demand.
This year’s festival comprised of seven individual UK and international contests plus opening and closing ceremonies spread over seven days.
Amidst the tornado of tassels (or pasties to the initiated) and Swarovski-encrusted corsets, there was a huge variety of performers and performances. While there is still a strong predominance of classic (or “cheesecake”) burlesque, occasionally backed by perenial favourites “Feelin’ Good” or “I’m Too Sexy”, three nights were dedicated to alternative performers.
The Triple Crown saw Anna The Hulagan undress while shimmying within a blazing hula hoop and Kiki Lovechild show off his unique brand of furlesque. The next night, Ireland’s Big Chief Random Chaos walked away with the Twisted Crown for an act which saw him running around in a tutu, sitting on tacks and setting his mohican on fire. Last but not least, an evening dedicated to boylesque saw circus tricks, showtunes and a strange collection of props including a banana skirt, a gramophone and a strategically placed sock.
Every event we attended was packed with roughly equal numbers of men and women with the audience often dressing up for the occasion in corsets and other vintage garb. Organiser Chaz Royal has taken note of the growing popularity of the scene and announced that next year’s London Burlesque Festival will be over ten days. Roll on 2013…
All pictures (c) Jose Farinha