The outrageous Rubyyy Jones is here to share some of the fun, fabulosity and festivity details from Finland’s Turku Burlesque Weekend.
Over the weekend of 4-6 October, Finland welcomed neo-burlesque superstars from across the globe to join highly talented locals at the Turku Burlesque Festival. One of the performers there, Rubyyy Jones, gives us the lowdown on what went on.
What a blast! I was joined in my Finnish adventures with The Supermodel of Norfolk, Miss Cairo, and we took two champagne- and caffeine-fuelled flights to get to this kooky and obviously kinky city. The weekend was founded in 2008 and has been a sold out, wildly popular event from the beginning; a heavily neo, witty, quirky collective of performers and fans keep it running and growing more fantastic with each year.
I didn’t arrive until Saturday but Friday by all accounts was a glorious newcomers’ night featuring the upcoming Starlettes and the enthusiastic hobbyists of the Turku and Finnish scene; many of them coached by the weekend’s founder, the formidable and incredible, Kiki Hawaiji and also Helsinki Burlesque Festival organizer, the scrumptious and saucy Bettie Blackheart. In addition to electric shows, the weekend included workshops with Bettie Blackheart, Hedo Luxe, Dr Sketchy’s Anti-Art School and a glittering Burlesque Flea Market run by Sophie le Sucre.
Cairo and I flew into Helsinki and then boarded a tiny plane with six other people to the Turku Airport where we greeted by the beautiful boss lady, Kiki Hawaiji. Saturday was the Neon Light Safari show, a sparkling and sensational showcase of local and international burlesque artistes. The evening was my first experience of a show presented entirely in another language. Hosted by Bettie Blackheart’s hilarious alter ego Leila Halkaema, she employed a flurry of neon light dancing, a series of dazzling head pieces and some snappy Finnish one-liners as she proved a glorious and captivating compere.
The show exploded in a club venue called Klubi, on a wide, open stage decorated with tropical foliage and fruit, a coiffed and cheery audience was packed in on all sides; it had a heaving-rock-concert meets glamorous-cocktail-party vibe. I had the pleasure of sharing a dressing room with the Candy Carousel Company (a local troupe of cabaret and burlesque performers), Miss Cairo and several bottles of champagne; we had a crows nest view of the stage and crowd, which was so much fun!
A four act extravaganza, the roster of international artists included Germany’s Hedo Luxe and The Luminous Parish from the USA, the latter recently seen spoofing Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines together with his Mod Carousel buddies. Joining them were an incredible cast of Finnish cabaret royalty: Kiki Hawaiji, Frank Doggenstein, Bent van der Bleu, Valentino Sisters, Femme Furiosos, Mia li Moon, Olivia Rouge, Miss Charming Daisy, Randy of Finland, Mimi de FrouFrou, Lafayette Lestrange, Albine A Dorable. And then there were the troupes like Candy Carousel Company and the all-male Hell Monty.
The show was eclectic, unique, queer, mostly neo with some lovely classic moments. And you know what? I saw more ass tassels than I have ever seen in a single night. In fact, it was one of the most naked, body positive, inclusive and enthusiastic shows I have ever had the pleasure of participating in.
This memorable weekend had many personal highlights. There was Hedo Luxe as Carlo Amore and his giant, blue Hippopotamus love affair as well as Bent van der Bleu and his butt-tasseling Frankenfurter. Miss Cairo’s Finnish go-go marathon ended with many audience members almost losing an eye while The Luminous Pariah’s polished poise and poses, the hot and cool swagger of Frank Doggenstein and the joy of Candy Carousel Company all left their impression. On top of all that, I found out that the saucy and funny Leila Halkeama, Kiki Hawaiji and I have matching bush merkins and nipple pasties! There were so many wonderful moments and performances, we were welcomed and boosted by an incredible cast, crew and crowd and I am so inspired by the freedom and fabulosity of the Finnish burlesque scene.
Everything you wanted to know about Rubyyy Jones can be found on her official website.
All photos: Tuomas Lairila