Be Upstanding For Our Alternative Christmas Message From Lolo Brow

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Last Christmas, we gave you our heart*. This Christmas, we have something else in mind.

Put down that mince pie, switch off the TV for a few minutes and watch this. Yes, now. We’ll keep this short as you probably have oodles to do like Snapchatting your Christmas jumper, opening that cheeky red from the banks of Lake Aldi or wondering when the Bond film will start.

2016 was a desperately sad one on the musical icon front. And the film and TV icon front. As well as the EU referendum front. Plus the US Presidential elections front. Let’s be honest: by December, we pretty much ran out of fronts to be happy about.

The good news is that Lolo Brow, London’s favourite burlesque/drag superstar, has a special message for you. Earlier this year, she won the top prize at the inaugural Burlesque Awards and, between appearances in the sell-out Family Fierce panto, she found time to make us this exclusive video. In this most tumultuous of years, she has prepared something which comes straight from the heart, the head and the liver. So what does she have to say about it all? Roll VT to find out.

* We later found out that the very next day you gave it away. Looks like we’re not the only one that is heartless.

Check out our 2013 Alternative Christmas Message from Myra DuBois

Or our 2014 Alternative Christmas Message from Holestar

Or maybe even out 2015 Alternative Christmas Message from Virgin Xtravaganzah

The Perfect Tribute To Prince AND Victoria Wood

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Desmond O’Connor has created a spot-on send-off to the recently deceased stars.

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get this thing called death. Electric word, death. It means forever and that’s a mighty long time. But I’m here to tell you there is something else: a perfect tribute to comedian Victoria Wood and musician Prince who both died this week.

Wood and the Purple One inhabited very different worlds but were pioneers in their fields who displayed an extraordinary breadth of talent in terms of writing and performing. Cabaret often serves to challenge the boundaries of what society deems socially acceptable in the name of entertainment; in their distinct ways, these two brought the bulldozers and demolished the prevailing boundaries of their time, especially around gender and colour.

Neither were particularly inhibited when singing about the sexual side of life so it seems fitting that singer, songwriter and playwright Desmond O’Connor has written his Ballad of Prince and Victoria which imagines what would happen when these two set eyes on each other outside the Pearly Gates. Debuted at the Black Cat’s Rah Rah Revue, the version below was filmed at the Missy Malone and Friends Burlesque Revue in Cheltenham with Sarah Bodalbhai on the piano.

The video was filmed by Lisa Williams of Cherry Bomb Rock Photography and Tony Heath.

If you want more Desmond O’Connor in your life, check out his Youtube channel or stalk him on Twitter.

Video: Fancy Chance Takes To The Air At The Double R Club

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When The Double R Club goes to the London Wonderground, something quite special happens. The Lynchian-themed soiree is renowned for its particularly crepuscular take on cabaret. Everywhere, the commonplace is made creepy and the creepy commonplace. Sometimes, though, the acts begin rather macabre and then become even darker.

Away from their usual East London home, their show within the Paradiso Spiegeltent expands every which way. The greater height means that they can incorporate aerialists into the cast while the length and width of the stage allows for more ambitious set pieces. Moreover, the show’s artistic vision deepens and what emerges from the imagination of the performers and co-producers Benjamin Louche and Rose Thorne is a wonder and privilege to behold.

Picture this: an unnamed suited figure drags onto the stage a white body bag before walking off. A few tense moments later, the unbilled Fancy Chance emerges from the bag, a nude figure connected to the Spiegeltent roof by a single rope attached only to her dark locks. She is gently hoisted upwards, whereupon she flies and cavorts above the audience in a display of the spectacular and hazardous practice of hair-hanging.

This is what it looked like.

The Double R Club returns for its sixth anniversary bash on 17 September.

Image and video: Mr Von Hugo


Video: A Peak Inside The New Look Hoxton Hall

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After a £2 million National Lottery-funded restoration project, East London’s historic Hoxton Hall is due to open later this year with “contemporary variety” being its stated mantra.

The Grade II* listed Hoxton Hall is one of Britain’s few surviving music halls alongside neighbouring vaudeville joint Wilton’s which is also looking forward to a new lease of life after undergoing it’s own facelift. The purpose-built building’s roots date back to 1863 but was only fully active as a Victorian music hall for a few years; in 1871, proprietor James McDonald lost his performance licence after complaints from the police (plus ça change…). Despite spending much of its life as a Quaker meeting house, it remained for many years still largely in its original McDonald-era form. Perhaps as a mark of respect, Hoxton Hall was nominated for a London Cabaret Award last year despite only hosting one cabaret event during the qualifying year.

Londonist‘s Zoe Craig popped in recently for a look around. Here’s what she saw.

The programme lined up by Hoxton Hall’s new artistic director and chief executive Karena Johnson for its next full season is ambitious, extending beyond variety shows to cover theatre both traditional and immersive, spoken word, comedy and a Christmas panto.

The shows range from the traditional to the intriguing. Paul Daniels (who we spoke to last year) will pop in for three nights as part of his Intimate Magic Tour in November. Later that month, Alex Horne goes sans his Section for a pair of solo shows. In December, Piano Circus sees six pianists, each at their own instrument, present an array of work covering Aretha Franklin, prog-metal and an African celebratory parade.

Secret Cinema will partner with the venue to create a new series of events inspired by its series of recent blockbuster creations like Back To The Future and The Empire Strikes Back. Theatre company Outside Edge will explore the area’s connection with substance abuse in Rockston Stories. One can rock out with one’s frock on at the seasonal swing nights held at Halloween and Yuletide. And as for the panto? Snow White And The Seven Dwarves will be in front of you from 19-24 December.

More information on the upcoming programme can be found on the Hoxton Hall website.

The Best Drag Entrance Ever

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First impressions are everything. Within moments of meeting people, you decide all sorts of things about them, from status to intelligence to promiscuity. Princeton researchers found that people decide on trustworthiness in a tenth of a second. Another study suggested that people can read a man’s sexual orientation in a twentieth of a second — the minimum amount of time it takes to consciously recognize a face. The moment a performer makes an appearance is a critical moment in any performance.

Which is a roundabout way of saying: check this out.

Filmed at the 2001 Miss Gay Black America pageant, Tandi Iman Dupree’s jaw-dropping entrance won her much praise at the time and posthumously. Despite travelling from club to club across Texas, Florida, DC and Atlanta towards her dream of becoming Miss Gay Black America, Dupree died in 2005 from AID-related complications before she achieved her goal.

Watch The Whole Of Amanda Palmer’s London Show Here

Amanda Palmer (c) from the cover to recent album Theatre Is EvilRead more

Remember Amanda Palmer? Queen of dark cabaret? Writer of songs like the much-covered Coin-Operated Boy? Singer of this most brilliant version of Science Fiction Double Feature? Partner of famous-in-his-own-right-thank-you Neil Gaiman? Mother-to-be of their first progeny? The one who told Daily Mail in no uncertain terms where to go?

Yes, her.

She’s been kind enough to release a video of her recent Union Chapel show on Youtube so the least you can do is watch it and clap in the right places.

Ms Palmer is joined by steampunk stormtroopers Perhaps Contraption, drag superstar Le Gateau Chocolat and grand dame of Twitter Caitlin Moran.

You’re still reading this? Run VT, already.

See also

Still The Best Song To Sing On Budget Day

Photogenic fops Bourgeois & Maurice appeared both in 2D and 3D.Read more

When George Osborne gets up today to announce what fiscal measures he deems appropriate to deal with the current state of the economy, the message will not no doubt be depressingly familiar. Sorry, poor folk, the disabled, the arts, single parents, the unmarried, the unemployed and you young scallies: here’s another kick to the soft parts.

Fear not, though, for here are Bourgeois & Maurice with the brilliant Tax Me. It was released as a single in 2011 yet it is somehow still super-accurate. Strange, that.


The latest on Bourgeois & Maurice can be found on their official website.

Dear David Cameron: Thatcher’s Top Ten Tips For Being A Prime Minister

Soho Thatcher will be at the Leicester Square Theatre from 17-21 March.Read more

Poor David Cameron. When his MPs aren’t flocking to UKIP, being getting caught out by the media or promoting astrology as a way to treat patients, the Prime Minister is preparing for an election his party is unlikely to win outright.

Thankfully, help may be at hand. Ahead of her show next month at the Leicester Square Theatre, Soho Thatcher has compiled ten tips for Mr Cameron covering fashion, dental hygiene and why the Tories feel the same way about the NHS as teenage girls do about a bad boy.

Soho Thatcher can be seen at the Leicester Square Theatre from 17-21 March.

Is This The Rudest Christmas Song Ever?

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The Fascinating Aïda trio (Dillie Keane, Liza Pulman and Adele Anderson) are dashing around the country with their show Charm Offensive.
The Fascinating Aïda trio (Dillie Keane, Liza Pulman and Adele Anderson) are dashing around the country with their show Charm Offensive.

Shh. Tell no-one but it looks like Christmas is nearly here. Those sharp-eyed amongst you may have caught sight of the occasional clues on the High Street. And on TV. And on the internet. And all over fecking Facebook.

Yes, yes, we know that it is clichéd to be cynical at Christmas but we thank all that is holy and holey and wholely wonderful with this world that there are people like Fascinating Aïda around to add some levity to the proceedings.

Please note that the following video is not safe for work – but you probably guessed that. Roll VT.

The only two things you need to know about Fascinating Aïda right now are that (a) they are utterly brilliant and (b) that they are touring their Charm Offensive show all over England from London’s Southbank Centre (1-11 January) to Durham before popping over to Belfast. Tour information and tickets can be found here.

New Film Captures The #SaveJojos March Experience

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The closure of Madame Jojo’s this month has left something of a hole in Soho. That hole is not just physical – something has been ripped from the fabric of the London cabaret scene. The site will soon become offices, expensive flats and coffee shops. Hurrah – because, if there’s anything that London is dire need of right now, it is more offices, expensive flats and coffee shops.

Many of the current crop of performers have appeared at the Brewer Street venue at one time or another and more than a fair few of those appeared on the march yesterday to pay respects and wave farewell to the grand lady of Brewer Street.

A film by Gaz Twist takes footage from yesterday’s march and merges them with clips from Madame Jojo’s shows featuring (amongst others) Mat Ricardo, The Folly Mixtures and Des O’Connor. Roll VT.

Image: Franco Milazzo