BURLESQUE REVIEW – THE SLIPPERY BELLE – FRIDAY 20TH MARCH 2009 BOOKBINDERS MINSHALL STREET. MANCHESTER.
I saw a unique, brave and beautiful experiment work perfectly at what was to be a very different kind of burlesque show in giving equal stage time to ladies and gentlemen performers, staged as a battle of the sexes, and a boys V girls event.
Having at least one Boylesque performer at Slippery Belle shows is not unusual and the male dancers have always been just as entertaining as the girls.
The show was well publicized with an excellent near full page feature on the event going out in the Manchester Evening News on the day of the event. Admission was smoothly handled, and the mellow sounds of 30’s & 40’s jazz poured from Dr. Sid’s DJ booth.
Initially, it looked as if the attendance was going to be low, despite the publicity but Bookbinders soon began to fill up nicely.
Hostess, vampire queen, ROSIE LUGOSI introduced the acts and kept the audience obedient to her every whim as ever. She described herself as shy, modest and retiring, but few would have believed that. At about 975, she is growing old disgracefully, We remembered to shout Yes Mistress as much as we could. She was quite upset that we were not calling her a ‘lesbian bitch’ often enough, so naturally we did.
The first dancer was one of the ladies, SENTOSA SPARKLE, dancing to Bettie Hutton’s Oh, So Quiet, (the song later covered by Bjork). She wore a lovely small hat, a very sexy corset, and danced down to her tassles in perfect time to the changing pace set by the song.
Rosie began tormenteing a fresh Maid now, having mysteriously disposed of each of the preceeding ones in turn. The new one was a charming, ever smiling lady who seemed utterly unphased by the vampire’s advances towards her – she was clearly enjoying her fate a great deal. Her secondary role, after that of being Rosie’s latest victim, was to gather up discarded clothes and props between dances. She did a great job.
Sentosa was a dificult act to follow for any performer, and given the competitive feel to proceedings all the more so. The first Boylesque performer rose to the challenge, and he was the cleverly named DUKE WAYWARD, starting out as a hoodie, and stripping through several tee-shirts to turn into Superman, complete with cape, for his final bow. (Clark Kent usually used a phone box to be discreet about such things, surely – lol!).
BETTY BUTTERSCOTCH appeared next for the girls, armed with a beach ball, and performing to the song, What A Day For A Daydream. She started her performancein a red coat, and carrying a parosal brolly, being discarded to reveal white stocking, panties and tassels as the music changed to Jerry Lee Lewis’s Great Balls Of Fire.
In a break from the battle, we were entertained with a display of conjuring magic from the aptly named MR. MAGIC, a familier face at Slippery Belle, and he performd similar tricks to those he had done a few weeks before at the Green Room’s IDA BUCKET Cabaret event, (in which I had also appeared). Three volunteers, (all of who he christened Dave) were told to think of their star signs, year of birth and an imaginary pet (cat, rabbit or dog), and Mr. Magic was able to accurately identify the items chosen. He completed his set with a complex card trick, which he had partly set up with lady from the audience (clearly not in on what he had in mind) before the show had begun, and correctly identified a card she had seen and previously concealed away. Impressive.
The boys now retaliated in the burlesque /boylesque war with a display by MR MISTRESS, a London performer making his first appearance in Manchester, and hopefully, more will follow. He arrived in a dark cloak, with hair blonded on one side and darkened on the other, and stripped down, waving his twin ties like martial arts nunchucks, stripping to a black skirt, and a white bra, which he took off to reveal his pasties.
PLUM & THE TARTLETTES provided music now, with lead singer, Frankie Lee singing as a 1960’s crooner, singing Tom Jones’s It’s Not Unusual, while three lovely ladies stripped behind him.
COCO MALONE provided a more serious set of closing songs for the conclusion to part one of the show, with her haunting heart-felt soulful renditions of Night & Day, The Boy From Ipenema, and At Last.
After a chance to get more beer, Mistress Rosie let the girls open the second half with Betty Butterscotch returning to the stage. Again she wore a red coat, but this time, underneath it she wore a dark dress with white spots on it, and prepared herself a picnic, suggestively eating chocolate eclairs, as she stripped to a grey corset, with red bra-cups, and white panties, before covering herself in whipped cream, to make herself into the picnic, rather than just enjoying one.
Rosie got a rapturous round of applause for her very impressive heels, which were imports from Vegas, and very glitttery.
Duke Wayward’s second routine saw him coming on as a spy, sent to infiltrate Slippery Belle. He wore a dark coat, sunglasses, and a black hat, but left the stage without these or his pants.
The war was being fought closely. Sentosa Sparkles came on in an appropriately diamond effect sparkling, studded corset, with a feather boa, stripping to Mark Bolan’s Get It On.
The final salvo of the main burlesque contest went to the boys, with Mr. Mistress going for an all out assault with Hollywood glamour, and a lot of glitter, (scattering it round himself like pixie dust, and giving the Maid her toughest tidy up operation of the night, as he stripped from an elegant dark evening dress to the Cabaret song Money Makes The World Go Around. He swirled in diamonds, pearls, necklaces and bracelets, stripping down to much audience appreciation.
Coco Malone presented some more beautiful songs, including Georgia On My Mind & That’s Why The Lady Is A Tramp.
When Rosie told the audience that the final act was group of Hungarian folk dancers, we all laughed, thinking it was a great gag, and then the lead singer of the combo came out, talking in a heavy Hungarian accent. The fake moustache revealed that it was Plum & The Tartlettes again, and the girls danced what may have been a traditional folk song, but with very modern striptease activity going on at the same time. It was a great finish to a great night, and when asked by Rosie at the conclusion, who had won the war, the audience were clearly divided, - many felt that the boys were better (that being predominantly the male half of the audience),and many girls watching felt that the girls won – In truth, both sides were fantastic, - it was virtually a draw and it seems inevitable that the war will start again, as soon as the dancers can reload (ie, get dressed).
The final applaause of the evening went rightly to Bella Besame, who created the event and worked tirelessly made the magic happen – not just the magic of Mr. Magic, but the magic of all the performers. Unlike other kinds of war, this was one I am happy to see being fought in perpetuity.
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