The Bad Bunny Ball features ten first-time dancers as well as some more seasoned graduates from The Cheek of It burlesque school. The show is appropriately Easter-themed and held together by a vague and improbable narrative of mafia violence and bunny bloodshed acted out by our virgin starlets. The evening is hosted by Harold and Unice of the Ukelele Evangelists who strut, pose and sing in a deadpan stiff-upper-lip British style to songs like Independent Women by Destiny’s Child and give the proceedings a suitably ridiculous air.
Burlesque is very much like stand-up comedy: a fair number of gigs are required to find your feet and stand confident on stage either in front of the microphone or, in this case, with nipple tassels windmilling. It’s all a matter of learning how to engage your audience. Still, from this ball’s evidence, it appears that The Cheek of It have done a fine job in preparing their students to fearlessly de-robe. Funny, irreverent, naughty and, well, cheeky, the emphasis is predominantly more on playfulness than out-and-out seduction, something of a wise route to take.
All of the performances are strongly character driven by scenarios ranging from mad scientists and spring break seducers to uptight teachers. A particular highlight is a 50s lovestruck girl dreaming of her poster boy, featuring some tantalising vocals and a sensual dressing gown strip.
There is an absolute plethora of performances. On Madame Jojo’s very small stage, there are set pieces from a large number of individual dancers as well as two group routines featuring ten girls. Twenty tasselled tits in such a concentrated space is a lot to take in all of a sudden and provides a beautiful kaleidoscope of the female form. The sheer range of female underwear on display seems so much so that it is doubtful whether even a modern Casanova would ever be able to say confidently: “I have seen it all!”
As mission statements go, the Cheek of It’s “to delight in themselves as powerful, proud and fully self-expressed women” is a commendable one. All of the ball’s dancers manage to fearlessly display their talents, uninhibited by nerves or self-consciousness. A laudable ambition then, and one that seems to be working for the burlesque school as they go from strength to strength.
If you haven’t been to one of The Cheek of It’s revues before then it’s well worth a look to see some bright young talent readying themselves to go out into the cabaret world. It’s also a damn good bit of fun in a venue that is synonymous with burlesque and an historic place to start off a career in this artform.
Expect an enthusiastic and supportive crowd there; on the evening, the audience seemed peppered with wine-sodden friends and family pepped up and ready to cheer loudly for anyone even remotely approaching the stage. I’m sure the sound man had never felt so appreciated in his life before.
The Bad Bunny Ball. Produced by The Cheek Of It. Madame Jojo’s, London, W1F 0SE. 31st March 2013. www.cheekofit.co.uk
All photos: Zaki Charles