Fringe World 2013: Chronicles of Burlesque review

Many, many moons ago, my sister and I were  introduced to Sugar Blue Burlesque when we held a stall at their monthly Retro Markets. It was as if we had stumbled into an opulent and indulgent world, where everything was beautiful. As we chomped down on many a delicious baked good made by the illustrious Clara Cupcakes, we vowed to ourselves that we needed to see a Sugar Blue show, stat.

And while we have seen plenty of burlesque shows in the last few years (and more boobs than you could shake a stick at), for some reason we never made it to a Sugar Blue show until a few weeks ago.

All I can say is, we have been missing out. The costumes, the routines, the comedy, and the amazing MC – these girls (and guys – more on that later) really know how to put on a show. Truth be told, they have set a lofty standard for all future burly shows we attend.

The Chronicles of Burlesque is, as its name suggests, a journey through the ages of burly styles and characters. Paying homage to the greatest icons of burlesque history, the show was a mix of cabaret, comedy, spectacular dance and, of course, sexy ladies.

The slap you in the face gorgeous MC Fanny La Rue told us the story of each act, establishing the performers place in history. Coupled with beautiful black and white photos and historical videos, we were privy to the real story of burlesque, from the women who were arrested for public nudity through to the infamous Betty Paige and perhaps today’s most well-known burly star, Dita Von Teese.

The opening act by Clara Cupcakes was a definite stand out – the first spoken word burlesque act I have seen, her tribute to the Barrison sisters had the audience laughing out loud: the perfect way to get rid of any pre-show jitters the audience may have had. I would never have guessed that this was Clara Cupcakes’ first comedy act, and in fact her first spoken word performance since high school!

Other standout performances included the side-splittingly hammy tribute to Josephine Baker, the cutesy, flirty Betty Paige performance, the Follie Girls fan dance and the seductive nod to Sally Rand.

The show ended how all great burlesque shows should end – with some boylesque! After cheering on all the women, celebrating beauty and glamour in all its shapes, sizes and facets, The Astonishing Johnny Domino’s strongman show was just what the feminist ordered.

One of my favourite things about this show was that it had a theme – all of the performances were linked together, rather than it just being a parade of one semi-naked woman after another.

A’dora Derriere, Agatha Frisky, Coco Poppin, Clara Cupcakes, Cecile Mimieux, Johnny Domino, Kitty Litteur, Lulu Liqueur, Ruby DeLure, Ruby Slippers and Scarlet O’Harlot – you did good.

Featured image courtesy of John Leonard and Sugar Blue Burlesque.

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