Lady Wildflower

Who Are The UK’s Top 20 Burlesque Performers?

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Industry website 21st Century Burlesque has revealed the results of its latest annual opinion poll sponsored by Sublime Boudoir and announced the top 50 burlesque performers in the world as voted for by their peers and members of the public.

While the final results reflect the site’s largely American readership, extra lists have been produced which reflect how the international artistes fared in their own country. As identified by the site, below are the top twenty  performers from or based in the UK.

1. Betsy Rose (global #12, last year UK #8, above)

2. Vicky Butterfly (global #14, last year UK #2)

3. Velma Von Bon Bon (global #24, last year UK #9)

4. Reuben Kaye (global #32, last year UK #10)

5. Rubyyy Jones (global #35, last year UK #4)

6. Kitty Bang Bang (global # 40, last year UK #3)

7. Lolo Brow (global #42, last year UK #13)

8. Lou Safire (global #43, last year UK #7)

9. Havana Hurricane (global #46, last year UK #5)

10. Cece Sinclair (last year UK #14)

11. Bettsie Bon Bon (last year UK #19)

12. Polly Rae (last year UK #6)

13. Lady Wildflower (last year UK #15)

14. Lilly Snatchdragon (last year UK #11)

15. Felicity Furore (N/A)

16. Aurora Galore (last year UK #1)

17. Tom Harlow (N/A)

18. Eliza DeLite (last year UK #16)

19. Amber Topaz (N/A)

20. Raven Noir (N/A)

Congratulations to Betsy Rose, one-third of the Gin House Burlesque troupe alongside Missy Fatale and Jolie Papillon. Ranking twelfth overall in the 2016 global rankings, she takes over the UK top spot from Aurora Galore who has fallen to #16; the latter may have been affected by her online meltdown to our review of her show Glamorous Weirdo.

Lolo Brow, winner of the top prize at the inaugural Burlesque Awards is joined in the latest poll by her Family Fierce comrade Lilly Snatchdragon. Miss Brow, who delivered our annual Alternative Christmas Message, is one of the fastest climbers up the poll alongside singer and compere Reuben Kaye (who can be seen from this week hosting Seven Sins at Cafe de Paris), his Seven Sins co-star Bettsie Bon Bon, Between The Sheets performer and producer Polly Rae and acrobatic clown Velma Von Bon Bon.

New faces for 2016 include Felicity Furore (part of the House of Q who return with a new show on 18 January), Scottish boylesquer Tom Harlow, Northern songbird Amber Topaz and performer and Burlesque Noir producer Raven Noir.

Image: Franco Milazzo

 

 


Roll Up For The Sheffield Burlesque And Cabaret Extravaganza

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This August Bank Holiday, Sheffield will have its first cabaret and burlesque festival featuring a fantastic cast of performers. 

Next week, the Sheffield Burlesque and Cabaret Extravaganza will present a veritable cavalcade of local, national and international talent. Over four evenings, a riotous variety of vaudevillians – from dancers and singers to contortionists and mime artists – will take to the Library Theatre stage. Each night will be hosted by top notch comperes: Abigail Collins (Thursday), Joe Black (Friday), Amber Topaz (Saturday) and Reuben Kaye (Sunday).

Produced by Lara Gothique and her Velvet Burlesque company, the festival in the self-proclaimed “largest village in England” will be part of a landmark year for the Northern burlesque and cabaret scene. This April’s Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival became the first ever such event to receive Arts Council funding. The Velvet Curtain Cabaret in May began a new era of vaudeville in Leeds’ historic City Varieties Music HallInternational burlesquer extraordinaire Dirty Martini appeared in not one but two shows, visiting Leeds and Manchester last month while in October another American icon, the headmistress of the New York School Of Burlesque Jo “Boobs” Weldon, will be headlining Burlesque Noir at the Blackpool Tower.

The Sheffield festival’s shows will be complemented by daytime workshops on Saturday and Sunday with some of the festival’s most experienced performers passing on inside tips. The classes cover a range of subjects including dance, make-up, hair-styling and circus skills. The classes are held at the HYPE Dance Studio and The Showroom Workstation.

In addition, renowned photographer Neil “Nez” Kendall will also be bringing his Burlesque & Striptease Museum to the main foyer of Sheffield Central Library on Friday 26 and Saturday 27 August.

Here’s the full rundown of all those appearing at the Sheffield Burlesque and Cabaret Extravaganza shows and workshops.


Thursday 25 August

Host:
Abigail Collins


Performers:

Raymond & Mr. Timpkins
Talulah Blue
Lady Francescca
Raven Noir
Lady Wildflower
Dominic Mattos
Trixie Blue
Kitty Ribbons

More information

 

Friday 26 August

Host:
Joe Black

Performers:
Jeanie Wishes
Arran Shurvinton
Whisky Falls
Cece Sinclair
Miss Knockout Noire
The Flapper Tappers
Oh! Carolina
Diva Hollywood
The Magic Ball Man
Ana Kiss
Pinky DeVille
Carrie Couture

More information

 

Saturday 27 August

Host:
Amber Topaz

Performers:
Josephine Shaker
Tricity Vogue
Aurora Galore
Terms of Unnervement
Pixie Le Knot & Yasmine Florentine
Lady May Den-Voyage
Steve Faulkner
Molly Moonstone
Rock Hart

More information

 

Sunday 28 August

Host:
Reuben Kaye

Performers:
Duo Bogof
Scarlett Daggers
Verity Grey
Didi Derriere
Angelica Cardone
Betty Blue Eyes
Micky Bimble
Hells Belle

More information

 

Workshops & Classes

Whip cracking for Stage & Fun – Diva Hollywood
Pin-Up Hair Styles – Gypsy Rose Salon
Charleston & Jazz Steps – Josephine Shaker
Stage Make-Up – Joe Black & Arran Shurvinton
Burl-Ecstasy – Amber Topaz
Fan Dancing – Aurora Galore
Circus Skills for Children – Emily Rose Greenwood

More information on all workshops


The Sheffield Burlesque and Cabaret Extravaganza runs from Thursday 25 to Sunday 28 August at the Library Theatre, Sheffield. For full information on each show and the workshops, check out the official website.

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.