Back for its fifth year, London Burlesque Week (26-30 April) is bringing sexy back to London with a tornado of tassel-twirling talent. The week kicks off with the Around The World In 80 Minutes opening gala night next Tuesday on the HMS President War Boat; other evenings will focus on British burlesque talent, 'boylesk', cabaret and the best newcomers.
The week-long festival is the brainchild of the self-styled King of Burlesque Chaz Royal (Mark Henderson to his mum). An outspoken Canadian impresario and London resident, he has spent a decade putting on more than 500 shows in North America, UK and Europe. We caught up with him in one of his favourite haunts.
What's the big idea behind London Burlesque Week?
To bring the world's greatest showcase of international burlesque and variety talent to London once a year!
Boylesk is one of the latest trends in burlesque. Is it a fad or here to stay?
Boylesk is a fairly new concept in the London scene but I would imagine it will continue to grow as it gains awareness in the gay scene.
There is a growing trend in London for mixed dinner and cabaret/burlesque events. What do you think about dinner cabaret in general?
The majority of the venues who are putting on dinner cabaret are only concerned about making money off of the food, the staff and the patrons. They have little regard for the performances that often come second to their meals. I am finding this form of event disrespectful to the arts. There is no reason why these venues can't serve food, clear tables then put on the live show afterwards, but I just don't see that happening.
If you could have a burlesque show anywhere in London, where would you have it and why?
Maybe it would be cool to stick performers in each booth in the London Eye and as it rotates those on ground level will be treated to a different show every turn!
What's your favourite place in London to hang out?
My favourite place to hang out is Madame Jojo's in Soho or in the comfort of my Camden flat.
Finally, are you going to go on a long holiday after London Burlesque Week is over?
Actually, no! I'm planning an encore night for June 4 called Sexy Circus Sideshow. It'll be at the Garage and will be hosted by Miss Behave (of La Soiree fame).
We wish Chaz all the best with next week's events. Keep it tuned to Londonist for coverage of the opening gala.