[UPDATED] Night 1: Friday, September 17
The amazing thing about burlesque is that anyone can do it. The opening night of the New Orleans Burlesque Festival had more 40 performers, women and men, of all ages, sizes, ethnicities and so on. And the weekend has only just started.
The night began at Harrah’s Casino with “Mondo Burlesque,” the first show of the festival. It opened with the beautiful Hammond troupe Dames D’Lish performing with the hilarious mistress of ceremonies Cora Vette. Ms. Vette in all her enthusiasm kept the energy up in between numbers, and also made the audience wonder how one brain can contain so many dirty jokes.
The dance numbers themselves were spectacular. Vicky Sin wound up with icing on her behind, the legendary Ophelia Flame looked fiery and glamorous, and the twin sister act of Mina Mechante and Deirdre Doll gave the audience the tantalizing task of trying to watch them both at the same time.
Angi B. Lovely made the audience gasp a few times with her daring routine on the aerialist silk. The gasping and hollering didn’t stop as burlesque royalty Jo Boobs danced in a fringed gold dress because there was not a moment when all the fringes on her costume weren’t moving.
“Mondo Burlesque” ended with two burlesque icons. Kitten De Ville gave the audience a few tips on how to get into the movies with a beautiful Marylin Monroe-style act. Finally, the beautiful Michelle L’amour, who performed on America’s Got Talent, received a standing ovation for her feline performance as a stunning panther in a cage.
The entertainment then jumped over to House of Blues for the Risque Soiree, where the talented Cadillac Kolstad and the Flats revved the crowd up with unbelievable piano numbers and crazy hair. Pearl Lux then took the stage with high energy and higher kicks as she danced to “Sing, Sing, Sing.”
Local favorite Madame Mystere toned things down with a classy fan dance to “Stardust,” and then Virginia D’Vine gave a few laughs with “Satan’s Dance.” The laughs kept coming with Sammich the Tramp, a clown/mime with modern appeal.
A few performers stood out because they were the only male dancers. The Stage Door Johnnies, Chicago’s premiere “boylesque” troupe, gave the ladies something to hoot and holler at as well. Jett Adore was a handsome, dashing Zorro; Bazuka Joe’s towels kept getting smaller and smaller; and Ray Gunn did an elaborate and acrobatic number straight out of The Matrix.
A few legends also graced the House of Blues stage. Wild Cherry danced on Bourbon Street in the 1950s, and tonight she showed the audience that sexy never ages. And Satan’s Angel, who turns 66 on Saturday, enthralled the audience by setting her tassels on fire.
The last performer was Catherine D’Lish, a woman who oozes glamour and sex appeal. This member of the Burlesque Hall of Fame donned a costume as a radiant peacock for a few moments, and then danced with some of the world’s largest feather fans. She gave an outstanding performance to close out the opening night.
Night 2: Saturday, September 18
The weekend of tassels, feathers, and beautiful ladies continued on Saturday with classes, competition, and corsets. At the Westin New Orleans, several stars gave workshops on everything from developing confidence to working your behind. Icons like Michelle L’amour and Satan’s Angel shared their secrets to flourishing in the burlesque world.
The highlight of the evening was the Queen of Burlesque competition at Harrah’s Casino. Eight of the best performers in the country strutted and tantalized, trying to win over the judges. Mistress of ceremonies Kitten on the Keys kept the laughter up with jokes and funny songs. Also performing were a live jazz band led by Matt Bell, Athena from Bustout Burlesque, and Dante the Magician.
The performers themselves were nothing short of stunning. Ruby Joule – Joule being a unit of heat in chemistry – won the crowd with fleur de lis pasties while Amber Ray twirled her tassels like it was second nature. And the beautiful Catherine D’Lish took her time and let her tease take forever.
The second runner up Renea’ Le Roux, the “Southern Belle from Hell,” worked the crowd and had a feisty attitude. Meanwhile, first runner up Lola Van Ella had a little bit of everything: singing, dancing, and even a few acrobatic tricks on a swing.
The winner and new Queen of Burlesque Coco Lectric gave a performance that caused goosebumps. She strutted across the stage in a gorgeous red gown like she owned Harrah’s, and treated her feather boa like a lover. Having performed with Dita Von Teese, this woman knows her body and knows how to be as sexy as imaginable.
After being crowned, Coco said, “It was an honor just to be among the cast, to perform with Catherine D’Lish and two of my best friends. I want to continue to make a living doing what I love, and continue teaching women not to fear the beauty in other women or themselves.” Last year’s queen Perle Noire said, “I’m very happy I didn’t have to compete this year! [Coco] is smoking hot! She’s beautiful, classy, and electric just like her name!”
The fun and feathers continued at the Parish at House of Blues for “Ready, Set, Strip,” where Chad Sanborn hosted the evening. Local favorites Kitty Twist, Spooky Le Strange, and Trixie Minx delighted New Orleanians and visitors alike. Lula Houp-Garou showed everyone how much her name fits, Hottie McNaughty was a delicious housewife, and Lady Jack danced like a hip, techno robot. The final performer, Dinah Might from London, made the audience purr as a sexy pussycat with a provocative and hilarious song.
All of these performers know how to leave the audience wanting more. Luckily, there is likely next year.
Update 11:55 a.m.
Coco Lectric’s quote was revised for accuracy.
Update 2:05 p.m.
The spelling of Perle Noire and Lula Houp-Garou were corrected.