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THE MARTINI LOUNGE: BURLESQUE & VARIETY SHOW @ ST GEORGES HALL, LIVERPOOL 09/04/11 – REVIEW BY MEL

Apart from visiting the famous Moulin Rouge in gay Paree a few years ago, a burlesque show is something I’ve been meaning to explore and review but never quite gotten around to it. So, when the opportunity presented itself, it was an offer I couldn’t refuse. The monthly Burlesque and variety shows are held in Liverpool, and tonight’s venue is the small theatre of the historical, grandiose St Georges Hall.
 
Suitably attired in the finest for the occasion we amble across the road from Lime Street train station to the architectural enormity of the Hall. Patrons outside having a quick smoke break before the show revealed it was going to be a colourful and unconventional evening. The venue opened at 7.30pm allowing us time to grab a drink and take a peek around the variety of stalls which were laid out around the entrance area. With stalls ranging from 20th Century Foxy.com, Quirky Boutique, Petticoats~A~Plenty, and Purlesque we had a veritable feast of alluring gear to purchase.

We were a little disappointed to discover our allocated seats were on the back row of the circle and my companion couldn’t see the stage, but now seated, albeit separately we basked in the glorious atmosphere, the spectacle of this room really does need seeing to be believed. The perfect venue for this kind of experience, musical hall rococo styling, with lashing of gold brocade, huge Grecian statues taking the weight of the pillars, a mirrored stage, central chandelier, with multi coloured lights wafting all around this circular theatre. The stage is all set, the audience are arriving dressed in thrilling authentic garb, vibrant tattoos, and played in to rockabilly music in the background; soon it was on with the show.

Just after 8.30pm, enter stage right the bizarre, and downright outrageous Compère for the evening’s entertainment the infamous Miss Alix Fox (Alix Fox is the current face of Bizarre Magazine’s Weird World section and is an established presenter) introducing herself  all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed with a multitude of double entendres up her electric blue pvc, nurse’s sleeve. After Alix’s chatter and introduction she presented the first divine act of the night.

Velma Von Bon Bon. There was a buzzing bee sound to be heard as Miss Velma began her cheeky little comic bees sketch, dressed in a variety of Victoriana, white frilly attire, and her corset, shoes and petticoat adorned with corsage. Sweet Velma proceeded to shed her clothes at a slow seductive pace; leaving the audience anticipating and thoroughly de flowered.

Back to Alix, and after another little chat with the audience she offered us the double act (Charleston performers and dance teachers) The Bee's Knees. Two young ladies, with bobbed hair, one dark, one fair, dressed in identical sequinned, fringed dresses, flinging and kicking their slender limbs wildly around the stage in 1920’s flapper fashion. Very Charlestonesque, proper ladies to boot, having fun and wacky frolics in a seduction of frantic paced invigorating sequential moves.

Snappy O Shea a flame haired lady, slinked onto the stage next, dressed in a wisp of dark veils, a touch of Salome magic, pale white skin and tattoos. She began her erotic dance, with raunchy bump and grind, shimmy actions, known as The Sideshow Strut, entrancing the audience throughout, revealing a tasselled thong bikini, very much in the vein of the old school Burlesque performers of the 20’s and 30’s.

Just as we were recovering from this sensual array we were led down another path by a buxom young songstress, dubbed Em Brulee, swathed in a black & red costume. Setting the stage alight with her rendition of songs made famous by Dinah Washington ‘Mad about the Boy’, and Nina Simone ‘I Put A Spell On You’. What a sensational powerhorse of a voice emitting from those vocal chords, just when you thought it was going to be all dancing, we had the singing too.

Receiving a big Liverpudlian welcome, flying in from Zurich, it was the turn of the Swiss blonde bombshell, and classically trained ballerina, Roxy Diamond to seduce us next, with her Big Spender number. Slinking onstage draped in a floor length black lacy, sheath dress, she slowly teased and eased her way out of it to reveal a tiny black tasselled bikini. Awesome black feathered fans completed the dance with glitter strewn from them, she flaunted and mesmerized us behind them, with more than a twinkle in her sparkling, smoky eyes and dazzling whiter than white smile.

 

Act Two: Em Brulee – After the obligatory break (which was too long for my liking, too excited to wait) we were transported back once more to a past era by the divine Em, when life was all about being laid back and mellow. Em certainly wet our whistle with the great track from Etta James At Last, and finally Nina Simone’s It Don't Mean A Thing. It was just the ticket to get us back on track, and this Lady can certainly jazz it up with the best of them, conveying her heart and soul in the performance. http://www.embrulee.co.uk

Suitably refreshed again we gaze at Snappy O’Shea in awe as she returns in a teenie weeny black sequinned bikini, to the soundtrack of  'Kiss Me, Honey, Honey' and with her Strip polka/1940s strut performance, tantalising and taunting the audience, with more than a shake, rattle and roll towards the American ‘Miss Gypsy Rose Lee’- one of the original and most famous Burlesque/striptease artists. http://www.myspace.com/naughtysnappy

After having recovered from her attack of the bees performance, the diminutive Velma Von Bon Bon transports herself into a frothy, glamorous snow maiden, beguiling us like the Queen of Sheba. Holding aloft two gigantic silvery fans she proceeded to entertain us with a fan dance called Blue Moon, resulting in clothes being cast off, leaving Velma wearing only silvery sequinned Burlesque pasties (for those of you who don’t know what they are they are nipple covers), front half of a pair of knickers, lace topped stockings and silver shoes, then departs by the side door with another one of her cheeky antics– a white painted bottom! Now that is what I call a great exit!

The Bees Knee’s are back with a vengeance with their version of a dazzling flapper number, demonstrating an energetic, high quality performance, which is worthy of any musical hall theatre production. Living up to their name ‘of the highest quality’. Sporting colourful costumes, with black hold ups, bee striped shorts, aquamarine jackets with red and tasselled epaulettes. Transporting us to another place in time, with their sweet, wholesome, and totally refreshing act, most certainly entrancing to behold. Its interesting how the  young flapper was described in the 1920’s - “new breed of young women who wore short skirts, bobbed their hair, listened to jazz, and flaunted their disdain for what was then considered acceptable behaviour”.  http://www.londonsfinestflappers.com

Millie Dollar - Miss Dollar appeared tonight as a lascivious corset clad temptress, sporting rhinestones, tattoos, tottering heels, a huge train of emerald green feathers, and matching feather boa. Unquestionably the most experienced local Siren, introduced onto the ornate stage to raucous applause, to the track ‘Night Train’ with her set called Jealousy which is a sultry, jaw dropping, show stopping, rock ‘n’ rolling performance. Leaving the stage in just her green pasties, a kiss for the coterie and colossal feathered train, its sure to give the green eyed monsters something to talk about. Millie is known as the Queen of Liverpool’s Burlesque and founder of The Martini Lounge. http://www.milliedollar.com

Roxy Diamond the Swiss Starlet bewitched us further in her second set named Absinthe (Gals Love) to a slow, dark ballad by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds 'Red Right Hand'. Bundled up in a Victorian emerald and black satin ensemble, feathered tiny top hat, in time to the music she slowly revealed a corset and black lacy undergarments. Naughtily smiling and teasing, casually sipping a cocktail and doing the classic stocking teasing on a stool, finally revealing suspenders and pasties. And with that the show sadly came to a close. http://www.roxydiamond.com

Finale: Each of the performers were paraded in front of the gathering, one by one to rapturous applaud. (“Miss Em was missed as she had to catch the last train home”).

To sum up the evening, it’s a cheeky parade of decadence in luxurious surroundings, positively sizzling with beautiful specimens flaunting their sexuality, in a mixture of peacock display, all the tease you could wish for, exquisite costumes, humorous sketches and witty repartee thrown in for good measure. Without doubt a glittering, glamorous, magnificent night out and not to be missed, humongous kudos to all at The Martini Lounge!

Each monthly show features a new, unique programme, which is announced on their website. www.martinilounge.co.uk

St George’s Hall Opened in 1856 and is a Grade 1 listed part of Liverpool’s World Heritage Site. The re-opening on Monday 23rd April, 2007, marked the end of ten years of planning and five years of restoration. The £23m restoration of St. George’s Hall was led by the architects Purcell, Miller and Tritton.

Photos by Ina Glo
Review by Mel (Finale parade/hall photos by Mel)
Videos from youtube
Many thanks to Bill Elms