The first time I saw the Burletology line-up of performers, several familiar names jumped out at me; I knew this would be a show to remember.
I was curious to see how the performance would work in the chapel setting of St Mark’s; what would Cult Cabaret look like? Once we had grabbed a beer from the bar and been ushered into the venue by Piotr (Fergus Aitken), the very talented host from Uzbekoslavia, I was pleased to see that the petite venue made for a wonderfully intimate setting.
Our host approached the stage and announced that he had a goal for that night… to touch EVERYONE in the room. Piotr’s ability to connect with you as if he was your best friend really stood out as something special. In fact, you could almost say it was… touching.
Shortie Georgia and Tacky Annie were first to take to the stage; kicking things off with an energetic swing dance. They created an atmosphere that almost compelled me to get out of my seat and join in, but I thought I’d best not embarrass myself.
Next up was Jasmine Tease, who Piotr befittingly described as a ‘sexual comedian’. I thoroughly enjoyed her cheeky burlesque routine, and her brilliant facial expressions really drew me in to the performance.
Ruby Ruin (one of the founders of Tease & Trouble Productions) deserves a special mention. Cult Cabaret was her final burlesque performance, retiring for health reasons; and just days later, she was awarded the Golden Garter for Contribution to NZ Burlesque. It would be impossible to fully explain the impact she has had on performers and audiences over the years. Ruby is someone I have had the joy of performing with many times over the years, and to witness her incredible achievements and relentless dedication has been something very special to me .
Kicking off her first act with style, not only did Ruby interrupt Piotr early, but much to the audiences amusement, she also began grinding against him as he spoke; it appeared mildly awkward and yet oddly fitting. For her first performance, she skillfully created a balloon animal, to the 1969 Muppets classic ‘Mahna Mahna’. Ruby’s second act was an entirely different flavour, which showed her diversity as a performer. Adorned in a black dress and a sizeable hat, she was a dark and sultry mistress. She exuded elegance, and had the whole audience captivated.
The stunningly beautiful Nellie Noble, who is 2017 new, serenaded us with her incredible voice. She began dressed in a white fur coat and pale pink dress, and finished in a blue corset. As soon as she stepped onto the stage, I knew that I was about to be impressed, but she blew me away; what I would have given to have been seated in the front row.
Next on stage, was the one and only Bonita Danger Doll. Another of the founding members of Tease and Trouble Productions, she’s made a name for herself both here and overseas, performing internationally on several occasions, including the renowned Las Vegas Burlesque Festival. During her first act, Bonita’s skillful manipulation of a stunning set of blue and black fans sent shivers down my spine. She changed the tone for her second act, and I felt as though I had been transported into the hottest 007 movie so far; and finally, transitioning into a scintillating performance to “Welcome to The Jungle”, she was fittingly donned in a leopard print dress and feather boa, over an under-bust corset and sequins.
Skye Broberg took to the stage next. If you haven’t heard of Skye, you’ve clearly been living under a rock. The five time world record holder contortionist, and graduate of Circo-Arts, never fails to astonish me with her inconceivable flexibly and stage presence. Skye’s silver bikini and orange hair perfectly complemented the spacey electronic music, and her seamless isolations gave the hypnotising illusion that her hoops were floating in mid-air.
For her second act, dressed in an R2D2 swimsuit style costume, the mind blowing contortionist left me speechless when she folded her entire body into a small glass box. I can honestly say it was one of the most impressive things I have seen in my life, and I’m quite convinced that she is some kind of alien goddess.
Last, but in no way least, we had the pleasure of seeing Mr Fungus (Fergus Aitkin). His style is best described as “modern mime”. Dressed in the classic black suit, red tie and white shirt, Mr Fungus had the audience enthralled from beginning to end. He fought with his disobedient briefcase, showcased his incredible balloon skills, and repeatedly removed his sunglasses, only to reveal another pair underneath. With flawless comedic timing, his inventiveness and originality had me engrossed, and by the end of the act, his toy cat-swinging antics had me in fits of laughter.
In conclusion, Burletology: Cult Cabaret was a show I’ll never forget. The intimacy of the night was praiseworthy; from the immediate rapport that Piotr built with the audience, to Bonita’s MC stint, where she involved us all in a game called “Porn or Polish”. A friend of mine happened to win (he says his win was based on his knowledge of nail polish) and took home his very own pair of nipple tassels which he demonstrated for the audience. I walked out of the chapel feeling inspired, energised and still wondering how on earth Skye fit into that glass box.
Burletology 4th/5th May 2018