So something a little different for you this evening. I was invited to review a burlesque show on Saturday night- so if you're under 18, avert your eyes and if it's not your kind of thing, look away now...
I’m not a Burlesque virgin, having been to a couple of performances a decade ago at university, but I’d never really “got” it. Approximately 5 minutes into Saturday’s show I had my eyes opened- I might not be burlesque virgin but I’d certainly not achieved the Burlesque Big “O” before! Well Saturday night’s show certainly sorted that out!
I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I was invited to attend Kinky & Quirky’s Burlesque, Ball and Boogie, other than the fact that I’d more than likely be witnessing some stripping and nipple tassles. Such was my limited knowledge and experience of this bewitching art form. I did find myself wondering how suitable the Riviera Centre would be as a venue for a burlesque event. For me, burlesque brings to mind sumptuous velvets, swathes of satin, feathers and moody lighting– and the Riviera Centre, although impressive in size is a very blank canvas. I needn’t have worried about the venue as the three key ingredients of the night succeeded in completely transforming the space.
The first of these was the almost 1000 strong audience that descended like a motley flock of burlesque butterflies. Suddenly my classic little-black-dress and scarily high silver heels paled in comparison to the eclectic mix of corsets, wartime uniforms, cartoon characters, sailor girls, sequins, frilly hot-pants, feathers and plastic fruit (yes, really!). Being a part of this crowd was an experience in itself– the support and love they showed for the performers and Kinky & Quirky themselves was cheerfully and very vocally demonstrated throughout the evening.
The Second key ingredient was the fluent, cheeky and irrevent compering by Sarah Bell aka Quirky herself. Her personality filled the space and provided the perfect segue between the routines - and with such a large and lively audience to deal with - showed real skill and was actually one of my favourite performances of the night.
The third and final ingredient was, of course, the performers themselves. Now, don’t go running away with the idea that they were just a bunch of beautiful women who knew how to drive a crowd wild. Sure- the women were very beautiful, each with their own strong stage personality and style, ranging from irreverent and side-splittingly funny in the case of Shirley Windmill and her inventive use of a giant marrow, to Vicky Butterfly’s delicate and ethereal performance with an 8 foot, mirror-tiled crescent moon. And yes, they did know how to drive the crowd wild. But– and this is a very important but – two highlights of the evening were provided by the men- Dave the Bear and Craig the Incredible Hula Boy. Dave the Bear had the crowd eating from his palm with his flamboyant acts, making good use of some giant water pistols while he was at it and Craig the Incredible Hula Boy does exactly what he says on the tin– his “Super Human Slinky” finale with 30 LED hoops had the crowd on their feet.
One final word must be said about the performers. Kinky & Quirky succeeded in bringing together the best of British burlesque, as well as international burlesque royalty in the form of Lada Redstar and current “Reigning Queen of Burlesque”, Loulou D’vil. In short- this was world-class event happening right here in Torquay.
As for me- I now know that it’s far more than stripping and nipple tassles. There’s the fine arts of tease, timing, comedy, beauty and don’t event get me started on the mouth-watering costumes
In short: Kinky & Quirky is bawdy and naughty, Kinky & Quirky is side-splittingly funny, Kinky & Quirky is delicately beautiful, Kinky & Quirky is simply unmissable.