Arthur Chappell

Create Your Badge



There was a big surprise in store on arriving at Bookbinders for the monthly Burlesque show – it wasn’t Bookbinders any more, but The Voodoo Lounge, though bar a few neat African and Haitian tribal masks and magic artefacts in the décor, it was the same lovable bar as ever.


Four friends came along with me for the evening, one right away, with three others joining us later.


With the theme being based around hostess / choreographer Bella Besame’s birthday, and for many in Manchester, the attendance was higher than ever. For many, myself included this was also the first chance to see guest compeer DESMOND O’CONNOR, (not to be confused with the Des O’Connor so often picked on by Morecambe & Wise), who has built up huge respect from the burlesque community – it would soon be very apparent why. 


The 40’s & 50’s cool jazz music played from admission to Showtime when Bella, introduced Des who had a wicked sense of humour and quickly had the audience in his power. Asking how many of us were married he found only three people willing to admit to it, which he found an unlikely statistic given the audience size. He launched into a cleverly rhymed and very raunchy song about a newlywed couple with some torturously clever rhymes and a hint of Gilbert & Sullivan to the lyrics. This wasn’t so much double entrende as eight to ten times the entrende. Hilarious.


Des introduced the first dancer, SELINA LIX who had cleavage filled with rose petals, and some intriguing face-paint on, as she stripped quickly to Fujyama Mama. 


EVE D’EMERALDE was the maid for the evening, in a lovely red maid’s outfit.  Des teased her and the audience mercilessly, noting with tongue firmly in cheek that while it was safer for her to bend down straight to pick up garments in keeping with health & safety regulations, having her bend down arched over to wave her panties off towards the audience was more appealing to us though it would probably induce back ache for the poor lady.


MISS LADY GARDEN followed, a tall lady doing a Ska music routine in an outfit mixing black & white patterns – a stunning debut performance.


MISS ISOBELLA LASH was next, dancing to Personal Jesus as a naughty nun, peeling to stunning corsetry and beyond with suitable irreverence.


MISS BETTIE D’BARBARELLA opened her cowboy routine with one of my favourite pieces of music, Leonard Skynard’s Freebird,  though this was quickly replaced by ACDC’s Shook Me All Night Long (also a great number) as the clothes came away, with her chaps coming off in portions to steadily reveal her red panties below.


GINGER LA ROUGE prepared to present a conjuring routine, with a magician’s top hat and a rabbit (stuffed toy) which she was to produce as if by magic, only to find the critter had vanished into her clothes so she took them all off in the hope of finding it again, though she never did.


MISS CHERRY SHAKEWELL performed in a flapper-girl routine with a touch of tap dancing thrown in for good measure


MILES AWAY was the last dancer to perform in part one with a terrific boylesque fan dance, with green fans and lots of fans among the audience.


DES O CONNOR closed the first half with a funny though also rather sad song, Little Miss Dismorphia, about a girl who has had so much plastic surgery that virtually nothing original left of her.


After a drinks break, Bella invited EVE D’EMERALDE to introduce Des back on, which the maid did entirely in Swedish. 


DESMOND O’CONNOR bounded back and quickly launched into a very rude and funny number about Little Hans, the Dutch Boy who saved Holland, though here he seemed to like putting his hands in other holes too. 


LADY GARDEN’s routine was that of a hitch-hiker trying to get to San Hose and discarding clothes to try to gain attention from passing traffic. 


MISS ISABELLA LASH danced to Fever, it a dark corset with crimson edges, 



MISS BETTIE D’BARBARELLA reminded us not sit under the apple tree with anyone else but her  as she started out in a summery dress but peeled down sunbathing suitable attire (aka her panties) and used her picnic basket for her discarded garments.


GINGER LA ROUGE performed a fan dance with long black & white feathered fans, white ruffed panties, matching bra, white silk stockings with darker stays.


MILES AWAY returned introduced as a Hotmail hot-male, to perform a James Dean rebellion piece in which he soaked his discarded racing driver clothes (and even the car steering wheel) clothes in lighter fuel and stood on the brink of setting them alight, though he didn’t for obvious genuine safety reasons.


CHERRY SHAKEWELL was the last dancer of the evening, and performed in a big flamboyant expensive looking red dress, with a parasol, peeling down to white corsetry, allowing  white confetti to spill from the Summer-brolly as she opened it out, and stripped away a costume that consisted of lots of small portions that would not be easy to takeoff while dancing unless you were really accomplished and confident as a performer, as Cherry undoubtedly is.


DESMOND O’CONNOR drew the cabaret half of the evening to a close with a few songs,  starting with one about the kind of people who take cheap plonk to parties and then drink the more expensive wines and spirits provided by the hosts. Given an encore, 9having teased us that he obviously would get one), Des asked us if we wanted a sweet love song or filth – it was obvious to all which one we would get and Des rounded off the set with a daring celebration of necrophilia.


Even that wasn’t the end, as the dancers were invited out to take a bow  and everyone involved in the show received due thanks, including the bar staff and DJ MIKEY WONG. Finally, it was time to thank BELLA BESAME for making the night possible, and as she came out, in frilly panties, cheerfully and cheekily pinching Des’s own drinks, Des paid tribute to her with a song in which he wished she was his mother so that he could make love to her too.


Bella added her own thanks to everyone who had made the show go so well, and the night was now MIKEY WONG’s for some great drinking, dancing and partying until gone 2 AM.  We are a very lucky audience. We’d had it all this time, dancing, burlesque, singing comedy, blasphemy (the naughty nun routine from Isabella), with incest, and necrophilia in Des’s songs. I went home feeling gloriously and shamelessly debauched just for being there to see it all.  I can’t wait to see the next show already.


Thanks to all at Voodoo Lounge (I have to get out of the habit of calling it Bookbinders now) the performers, and many friends in the audience and my friends who came along to see the show too.





SLIPPERY BELLE - Manchester, Leeds & Huddersfield burlesque performance and training.


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