Still milking the Scotsman review that described her as “somewhere between a crack addict and a blow-up doll”, Vendetta Vain was not afraid of jinxing her one-night-only Fringe revue. Billed as “Scotland’s best schlock horror cabaret burlesque sideshow”, Triskaidekaphilia (a fetish or obsession with the number 13) went easy on the gore, but included many grisly delights not for the easily offended in its hour-long programme.
As if her jokes weren’t controversial enough, comic provocateur Abigoliah Schamaun reached for new heights of weirdness with a light-bulb-chewing stunt and an acupuncture demonstration that must still bring nightmares to the poor volunteered who had to prick the comedian’s hand. Further groans and cackles followed Ria Lina’s taboo-busting ukulele ditties in a short set crowned, ironically enough, by The Coming Song, a vengeful musical parody about premature orgasm.
Italian acrobalancer Alessio Motta proved a sorry sight with a convoluted chair-dance and lacklustre crystal ball juggling, in addition to a botched box-balancing act. On the burlesque front, New York performer Cherry Pitz touched the evening’s theme tangentially with a hurried singing striptease developed around a Vincent Price voiceover acting exercise. Vendetta Vain herself headlined the event, performing a sprightly rockabilly-tinted bump-and-grind dance in atomic horror tribute number Creature from the Black Lagoon.
A horror revue can do no wrong with The Late Night Shop Cabaret, and Triskaidekaphilia got a double dose of the creepy-crawly rabble-rousers. The endearing clown figure of Dot Cotton makes a perfect counterpart for the London quartet’s eeriest routines, whether surrounded by a skull-faced voodoo chorus line or having her heart devoured by vicious coquette Alotta Bounce. Blurring the lines between burlesque and performance art, their prodigious dumbshows are an unparalleled joy in British variety.
While based in Glasgow, Vaine regularly performs all over the country for household names like Torture Garden, Dr. Sketchy and Sheffield’s Burly-Q. Her more assiduous projects, though, like sleazy club night Trash and Burn, don’t come this far south. That’s about the only unlucky thing in Triskaidekaphilia: even if it happens again, you’ll need to be up north to catch it.
Triskaidekaphilia. Hosted by Vendetta Vain. The Bongo Club, Edinburgh EH8 8BA (Venue 143). 13 August, 22:00. £10. www.thebongoclub.co.uk