Before London Burlesque Week kicks off tomorrow night, we inveigled our way behind the scenes of The Folly Mixtures Revue at Madame Jojo's, one of the capital's best-known institutions of tassel-twirlers.
Located slap bang in the middle of London's red light district, the venue's interior has a velvety darkness (great for atmosphere, not so great for photos). The main room is not overly big but it is cleverly designed so that the audience can sit or stand at different heights and still get a good view and easy access to the bar.
Which is just as well as we took the opportunity while there to see the world premiere of Spencer Maybe's music video for his latest single, the funky Flesh. Spencer is perhaps unique in being a singer who turned to boylesk. In 2007, he won the first ever Male Tournament of Tease at The Whoopee Club but has now returned to his first love.
The evening was hosted by Laurie Hagen and featured Spencer performing alongside the Folly Mixtures and EastEnd Cabaret.
The video itself has an interesting history which will strike a chord with many Londoners. Spencer and his team wanted to set the world record for the largest burlesque striptease. The venue was booked, the camera crew were ready and about two hundred burlesque artists agreed to take part. On the day, catastrophic London transport problems meant that only about twenty artists turned up.
Attempting to make a silk purse from TfL's sow's ear, the artists who had made it used the circumstances to film the video for Flesh. In the words of the award-winning director Alex Sufit: "Given we were there with Spencer, all the crew and equipment, myself and the director of photography Gabi Norland said 'f*ck it, let's shoot a video!' and this is how Flesh came about. We may have failed to break the burlesque strip record but we made a tasty video instead." The video can be seen online here.
All photos (c) Lisa Thomson.
The next Folly Mixtures Revue is on 25 May with those crazy cats Frisky and Mannish plus Craig The Incredible Hula Boy.
We spoke to the man behind London Burlesque Week 2011, Burlesque King Chaz Royal.
Burlesque dancer Agent Lynch will be doing some royal shedding next week: she has her own Kate Middleton routine and a good idea what William should be seeing on wedding night. Check out our interview with her here.
For the top tips in upcoming cabaret, check out our weekly Zingers.
If you need more than cabaret to float your boat, have a gander at our weekly arts roundup.