Hebden bridge Burlesque Festival

Girls on Tour: Naked Girls Reading at Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival and Beyond

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The London chapter of Naked Girls Reading, the literary salon where less is more, is going on tour this summer, starting with an appearance this Saturday at the Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival. The theme is ‘Yorkshire: God’s Own Country!’ and pays homage to the region and draws together the talents of Tricity Vogue, Rubyyy Jones, festival producer Heidi Bang Tidy, and show producer Glory Pearl.

Below, Glory Pearl inducts us into the mysteries and marvels of Naked Girls Reading.


If you haven’t been to a Naked Girl Reading event, the premise is simple; a panel of women read aloud a selection of texts linked by a common theme. And they do it naked. The rules of the chapter allow us to wear shoes, accessories, jewellery, make up but no clothes, and the themes range widely, from “Fairy Tales” to “Erotica”, and from ‘The Demon Drink” to “Phenomenal Woman” – any genre goes, fiction or non-fiction, and past readings have included classics such as The Iliad, Kerouac’s On the Road, poetry by Baudelaire, Joan Collins’ memoirs, and even Winnie The Pooh. The selection is eclectic, but I’m always keen to include at least one poem from independent poetry publisher, The Emma Press and at Hebden Bridge, I’ll be reading from their Slow Things collection.

Naked Girls Reading is special; a live, nude, literary salon, where beautiful women read beautiful words and a grown-up bedtime story that is intimate, playful and sincere. Its roots are in performance art, the conceit of the female nude as object in art, to be looked upon, assigned meaning, turned on its head by the simple act of choosing what to read and reading it aloud.

When we read our texts, (chosen by each reader and preceded by a short introduction where we explain our choice), our subjectivity cannot be ignored, just as our nudity, (no pasties or merkins here), cannot be hidden – we ask you to look, to listen, to open yourself as the stories unfold.

There is no doubt that Naked Girls Reading is provocative and transgressive, but it is also gentle, inviting the audience into the soft warmth of its bosom as it challenges preconceptions and steps lightly over the boundaries of what is expected of women. In that feminine softness, there is great power, and it is no surprise to me that the shows attract a very broad audience. I thought it was high time people outside of London got a chance to experience that.

As well as the Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival, you can catch us at the following places:

Brighton Fringe Festival

Theme: Phenomenal Woman!

Readers: Mysti Vine, Jeu Jeu La Foille, Glory Pearl

Venue: The Marlborough Theatre

When:10.30pm on Saturday 7th May

Tickets only £10 and available here:  http://www.marlboroughtheatre.org.uk/event/naked-girls-reading/

 

Guildford Fringe Festival

Readers: Luna Rosa, Lena Mae, Glory Pearl

Venue: The Keep Pub

When: 8pm on Friday 8th July

Tickets only £10 and available online at http://www.guildfordfringefestival.com/sessions/naked-girl-reading/

 

Edinburgh Fringe Festival

14 & 21 August at a secret location (email us at nakedgirlsreadingldn@gmail.com for more  details)

More information on all thinks Naked Girls London related can be found on their website.


Why You Should Head North To See The World’s Best Burlesque

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We all know London is the centre of the known universe, right? If one wants to see the finest international burlesque talent to step foot on this hallowed isle, one just has to be in the capital, right? That’s how it goes, right?

Wrong. Oh, how so wrong.

Take a look at 21st Century Burlesque’s latest Top 50, a global industry poll where every fan has an equal voice, then take a look at this list: Kitten & Lou, Perle Noire, Dirty Martini, Jo “Boobs” Weldon, Vicky Butterfly, Havana Hurricane and Cleo Viper. If you want to see all those aforementioned dancers, we highly recommend a trip up the M1 to these events.


Perle Noire will be appearing at the Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival this Sunday.
Perle Noire will be appearing at the Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival this Saturday.

Shake a leg if you want to see Perle Noire (above). She was the first runner-up at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend in Las Vegas last year and ranked #2 in the 21CB Top 50 2015. On Saturday 30 April, she’ll be heading an all-star line-up at the Festival Gala which takes place on 30 April at Todmorden Town Hall (part of this weekend’s award-winning Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival). Hosted by Scotty The Blue Bunny, the show also features Kiki Lovechild, Kitty Bang Bang, Lady Wildflower and Velma Von Bon.

The Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival Gala takes place on 30 April at Todmorden Town Hall. The festival runs from 28 April-1 May. More information on this show and other festival events can be found on the official website.


Italian siren Cleo Viper is the European #1 burlesque performer according to the 21CB 2015 Top 50 and who are we to disagree? She and the epic Vicky Butterfly (21CB 2015 #10) will be appearing at the Ugly Bug and Butterfly Ball, an event produced by acclaimed industry photographer Neil Kendall. Alongside them will be a roster of top-end vaudeville talent including Abigail Collins, The Boy With Tape On His Face, Sir Leopold Aleksandr and Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer.

The Ugly Bug And Butterfly Ball takes place at Morecambe Winter Gardens, 209 Marine Road Central, LA4 4BU Morecambe on 30 April. Tickets and more information can be found here.


Possibly the hottest couple in world cabaret, burlesque star Kitten LaRue and her drag king hubby Lou Henry Hoover are better known as Kitten N’ Lou. They topped this year’s 21CB Top 50 and are coming to Leeds’ Velvet Curtain Cabaret on 27 May, a month after they headline what is possibly the final ever Sleaze in London on 28 April. Up North, they’ll be sharing the stage with another Top 50 dancer, Havana Hurricane, as well as Kiki DeVille (The Voice) and Double R Club favourite Em Brulee.

Velvet Curtain Cabaret takes place on 27 May 2016 at City Varieties Music Hall, Swan Street, Leeds, LS1 6LW. Tickets and more information can be found here.


Dirty Martini hit #1 in 21CB’s 2012 poll and is a perennial crowd favourite wherever she goes. This July, she’ll be going to both Leeds and Manchester as part of Burlesque, An Audience With Dirty Martini And Guests and she’ll be taking the likes of Millie Dollar, Rusty Von Chrome, Cece Sinclair and Heidi Bitz with her. She’ll only be spending a single night in each city so hop on the good foot and get to it if you want to see one of the world’s finest strippers working today do her thing.

You can see Dirty Martini and company on 8 July 2016 at Leeds’ Live Art Bistro (ticket information here) and 9 July 2016 at Manchester’s Lowry Theatre (ticket information here).


And if all that wasn’t enough, the Sheffield-born Raven Noir is bringing New York’s Jo “Boobs” Weldon (headmistress of the New York School Of Burlesque and #2 on the 21CB 2012 poll) to the UK in October. Weldon will be headlining at Burlesque Noir held at the Blackpool Tower and hosted by Cafe de Paris’ Reuben Kaye (21CB 2015 #50).

Burlesque Noir takes place on 8 October 2016 at Blackpool Tower. Tickets and more information can be found here.

Exclusive: UK Burlesque Festival Wins Arts Council Funding

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The Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival (HBBF) have announced that they have been successful in a bid to secure funding from Arts Council England. Believed to be the first time that ACE has contributed to an event of this kind, the grant will be used to fund this year’s festival which will be held over the weekend of 28 April – 1 May 2016 in venues throughout the Calder Valley.

The Festival was launched in 2013 by burlesque performers and producers Heidi Bang Tidy (above left) and Lady Wildflower (above right). Acclaimed by the industry media, it has become the burlesque festival to see and be seen at in the UK. This year’s event sees a number of British and international stars including Perle Noire, Scotty The Blue Bunny, Kitty Bang Bang, Abi Collins, Velma Von Bon Bon, Kiki Lovechild and Rubyyy Jones.

The Arts Council funding comes on the back of a trio of successful HBBF festivals. “We spent the first three years of the Festival working hard to establish our reputation,” said Heidi Bang Tidy, “but it was always our plan to use that as a platform to do more innovative programming, particularly in terms of highlighting and showcasing diversity within burlesque. One of the main reasons we launched the Festival was because we wanted to reach new audiences and promote the fact that burlesque is a progressive and inclusive art form.”

Lady Wildflower added that “getting this funding is a massive deal for us, because it has allowed us to fund 4 new shows this year and fly in international headliner Perle Noire. To our knowledge, we are the first festival dedicated exclusively to burlesque to receive Arts Council support and we are delighted that we are leading the field in that regard. It’s like a stamp of approval for the whole industry. It is also one in the eye for the vocal objectors in the town who have spent the last three years attacking burlesque, saying that it is ‘demeaning to women’.”

Heidi Bang Tidy continued, “We had come to a place with the Festival where we had grown it as much as we were able by self-funding the activity and relying on sponsors and sell out shows in order to break even. This funding has basically secured the future of the Festival by enabling us to stage this year’s event with less concern for commercial success and a greater focus on artistic quality. Basically, it meant we could take a few more risks with our programming – without it the Festival couldn’t continue to grow.”

Lady Wildflower has spoken about the problems faced by this year’s Festival. “This year’s budget was already stretched to the max when all four of our venues were flooded on Boxing Day. We were faced not only with having to secure new homes for several events but also a fairly sizeable hole in our budget due to the increased costs and reduced capacity in our replacement venues. We knew our programme was strong and we knew that we could make a case for artistic excellence and supporting artists in the development of new work. We also knew that this year’s event was doing something new in programming a show specifically showcasing the work of artists who define as LGBTQ, non-white or disabled.”

Heidi Bang Tidy added that “I don’t think a lot of people fully understand what it takes to stage an event like ours. They see full houses and do a bit of rudimentary mental arithmetic and they make the assumption that somewhere someone is raking it in. The truth is that for the first two years we didn’t even break even. Our tiny team do this for love of our art form, not because it makes any of us rich and every single person on the Festival team goes above and beyond to make sure the event is a success. Our volunteers especially, we would be lost without them.”

“When we started the Festival in 2013,” Lady Wildflower said, “we were really clear that we would pay decent artists fees and our budget has always been spent on our talent before anything else. We save like mad throughout the year, banking profit from our other events to fund the Festival but we always knew that, as the Festival grew, that wouldn’t be sustainable in the long-term. We are ambitious in that we want Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival to raise the profile of burlesque and alternative cabaret, whilst showcasing artistic excellence and celebrating diversity, and that’s why we applied for Arts Council funding.”

Applying for Arts Council funding was an intense process according to Heidi Bang Tidy. “It was a very steep learning curve for us. We spent a week in a darkened room crunching numbers and writing and re-writing our application, a week when we weren’t able to focus on selling tickets. We are really glad we did, though, if only because without it we know that we couldn’t continue to grow. We would definitely recommend other festivals consider doing the same. If it means that more festivals can use Arts Council Funding to support innovative programming, that can only be a good thing for the UK burlesque scene.”

More information can be found on the Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival website.

Image: James Lynch Photography

The Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival Is Back!

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The Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival 2015 opens its doors next Thursday for four packed days of shows, workshops and more. We look into what this shining jewel of the UK burlesque scene has to offer.

Fans of the art of burlesque may remember the frankly and rather hilariously misinformed Hebden Burlesque Festival brouhaha of 2013. In a nutshell, an elected official who apparently didn’t know the first thing about burlesque decided to deny the festival the opportunity to take place in a council-managed building, saying that she considered that the art form “arouses strong feelings, and many people feel it is demeaning to women, and raises issues of gender equality”. Which is odd, considering that this just isn’t true and, moreover, Hebden Bridge has a reputation for being really rather liberal, at least when it comes to women.

Heidi Bang Tidy, who co-produces the festival with fellow performer Lady Wildflower, insisted at the time that burlesque was a “legal and legitimate art form” and that “we object to being told that the people of Hebden Bridge are not capable of deciding for themselves whether they wish to purchase a ticket for a burlesque show and that our show is not an ‘appropriate’ use of a public building”.

Unperturbed by all that, this year Tidy and Wildflower return with the UK’s most “inappropriate” festival, or for the grown-ups among us, Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival, and the line-up is blinding. Rosie Lugusi, Khandie Khisses, Vicky Butterfly, Andromeda Circus, The Boy With Tape On His Face, Lili La Scala and Tricity Vogue will all be there, along with the renowned “Anti-Art School” Dr Sketchy’s. The festival, which runs from Thursday 30th April – Sunday 3rd May 2015, looks set to be a long weekend of fun, frolicking, fabulousness and potentially a glittery middle finger to those locals of a more sensitive disposition.

Boy with Tape
The Boy With Tape on His Face.

 

The festival features a plethora of live shows spread over four venues in two towns, Mytholmroyd and Hebden Bridge. The party is kicked off next Thursday by a charity fundraiser and Burlesque Bazaar hosted by The Voice’s Kiki Deville. Rosie Lugosi helms the Late Night Cabaret the next evening and Heidi Bang Tidy reveals the stars of tomorrow at the Legend In The Making Newcomers Competition. The winner of that contest joins an all-star cast at the following day’s Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival Gala featuring Vicky Butterfly, Russell Bruner, The Boy With Tape on His Face and Violet Blaze.

There will also be plenty to do during the day with twelve different workshops providing an education in a number of areas. Attendees can learn to bump’n’grind with Khandie Khisses, get lessons on the art of the fan-dance or dive into “Burlesque for Beginners” classes. And then there’s the whip cracking workshops, vintage hair tutorials, aerial taster sessions and lessons on how to play a ukelele with Tricity Vogue, who is also bringing her swing band along to perform at the festival.

All in all, the weekend will be packed with scintillating burlesque acts, amazing circus performances and engaging workshops. Get there and show the town just why burlesque is something worth celebrating for everyone.

For information and to book tickets check out the Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival website.