BURLESQUE REVIEW – THE SLIPPERY BELLE – BOOKBINDERS, MINSHULL STREET, MANCHESTER 19th SEPTEMBER 2008. 

Several firsts for this show, most notably the new venue, Bookbinders, a well set out bar and seating area around a well lit stage area. The best thing about it was the introduction of draught beers in real glass. The bar service was excellent, and there was also food available, though I’d grabbed some grub on the way in,  so I wasn’t hungry enough to try it this time.

It took me a while to realize that the BB initials on logos and boards around the venue represented Bookbinders, and not Bella Besame (hostess and choreographer to the cast who provided the entertainments to follow).

If there was a flaw it was the confusion over advance bookings. Many people were clearly paying on the ay in, and the staff seemed to have no idea how to deal with those of us who had paid in advance (with the additional cost of booking fees). In the end they took my word for it that I had pre-booked online.

There was lots of cool jazz music, and 1950’s Rock & Roll playing before showtime. Pre-dance entertainment also came from two excellent table top conjurers, one of who, MAGIC AL, sporting a Tommy Cooper fez, had me pick a card, and even sign it without letting him see it first. After deliberately picking a few wrong cards, he put the deck in his mouth and took it out again, but seemed to be choking on a card left behind, which when he safely removed it, proved to be mine. The other conjurer, was MISTER MAGIC who was also very impressive.

Now the show started in earnest. Bella Besame introduced the new compere, DOLLY DELISH. Who, in keeping with the Movie star theme, dressed as Marolyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch. She sang Monroe’s Diamonds are A Girl’s Best Friend (from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes), and  after telling several funny jokes, introduced the first act IVY WILDE.

I haven’t seen Ivy Wilde before, but she made a great first impression, slipping out of a flimsy nightie quickly to do a very sexy routine involving getting dressed, - a complete reversal of the usual tease expectations.

Swedish bombshell EVE D’EMERALD dressed as the French Maid to clear the stage of discard clothes, and props between acts, and managed to engage Dolly in some lovely, sharp banter as she worked.

POPPY M CHERRY is a performer I have seen before, and always enjoy. Here she was dressed as a 1960’s go-go dancer, in blue and orange, stripping down to black plastic shorts.

MISS DIVA HOLLYWOOD, another new performer for me, was introduced as the love child of Mata Hari and Houdini, though she had the air of Marlene Dietrich, as she danced and stripped.

EMM BRULEE was the evening’s main singer, presenting very soulful takes on Nice Work If You Can Get It, Sweet Embraceable You, and Summertime.  Here was a lady who can really sing the blues.

MISS SCARLET FEVER is actually well known as the non-burlesque performer who was able to do such a brilliant routine in a TV show, Faking It, that she beat several seasoned performers in a national competition. The routine she performed now showed why she was able to do so spectacularly well, - a spoof on Alan Sugar (as a surrogate sugar daddy?) in a dance with lots of feathers and sequins.

MILLIE DOLLAR closed the first half in a dress, fur stole, and lots of corsetry that she eased herself free of as she danced.

Part two saw IVY WILDE return with a black flamenco dress with strategically designed transparencies, ribbons and corsetry.

POPPY M CHERRY did a Marolyn Monroe routine, dressing in a similar fashion to the compere, and indeed to at least one lady in the audience. As to who wore the MM look best, I won’t say, but If the actress herself had been present, and alive, she might have been relegated to fourth place.  Poppy sang to a tailor’s dummy dressed in a makeshift JFK mask.

MILLIE DOLLAR danced to the theme from Top Cat, revealing a very sexy tutu.

DOLLY DELISH, making the best use of her own Marolyn Monroe outfit,  now sang happy birthday to Bella and Doctor Sid, as it was the anniversary of the Slippery Belle events.

More songs followed with a second set from EMM BRULEE, offering Cry Me A River, What Lola wants Lola Gets, and Diamonds are Forever.

SCARLET FEVER now returned to perform the very routine that had earned her victory in Faking It, with a very neat routine involving corsetry, a parosal and very cheeky use of a hip flask.

DIVA HOLLYWOOD closed the stage acts with large blue and red fans, starting out slowly to Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite but switching to a raunchier jazz number in mid strip.

A terrific show and a great launch for the new venue and the second season of Slippery Belle shows, of which I hope to attend many.

Arthur Chappell

For more info on the Slippery Belle see www.myspace.com/theslipperybelleburlesque  

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