Lady Alex goes back to the future and takes her fabulous Wam Bam Belles and Boys with her. It’s “bad” but only in the Eighties’ sense.
One of the most famous supperclubs in London is moving on and branching out. The Wam Bam Club has been holding down Café De Paris’ Saturday night slot for a number of years. That show – as well as its founder and host Lady Alex – is on the verge of leaving the Café and starting a new life next year at the Bloomsbury Ballroom.
Meanwhile, Lady Alex continues an offshoot she started earlier in 2013 which sees her fronting Wam Bam Electric, an Eighties-themed Friday night soiree at Rise Superclub in Leicester Square. The venue is well-chosen as its spectacular electric colour lends a very futuristic vibe to proceedings in stark contrast to the more classical style that patrons enjoy at both the Ballroom and the Café.
But this is what Wam Bam Electric is all about. It is both memorial and premonition, an ironic celebration of the bold and glittery Eighties fused with a glimpse into the future of this crazy, funny, mixed-up world we call cabaret. The show takes place on Rise’s ultra-modern third floor with its funky, multi-coloured lights enlightening an otherwise gloomy venue.
As at the Ballroom, the action here is spread over two stages with a main stage at one end and a platform in the middle of the room. The glorious eyecandy that are the Wam Bam Buff Boys and Belles have followed Lady Alex from the Cafe but this time she is accompanied by co-host, actor, singer, MC and (in his own words) “rampant dipsomaniac” Reuben Kaye. Over the course of the evening, the Australian delivers a series of irreverent and outrageous performances of his own. Wearing elaborate tuxedos lined with feathers, big, dramatic eyelashes, white foundation and red sparkling lips, Kaye is cuts a dramatic figure with one set-piece seeing the powerful tenor effortlessly belting out David Bowie’s Space Oddity whilst suspended in the air.
The apparently very cultured Kaye is more than a marvellous melange of make-up and musical talent, though. He has a natural predisposition to involve the audience in his brilliantly sharp humour, dragging on stage audience members who, to all appearances, are not always reluctant to join in. As Lady Alex says, if she had a child with Julian Clary, Kaye would be the result.
Wam Bam Electric features a salacious and seductive blend of what London has to offer. The stunning burlesque dancer Ooh la Lou parodies the classic 1980s flick Flashdance, coming on stage with an angle grinder and goes on to strip down to a gold leotard with aplomb and humour. Aerial artist Jo Foley and hula performer Craig Reid The Incredible Hula Boy collaborate on an experimental and elaborate circus number that shows off both their talents. Meanwhile, bouffant singer Tina Turner Tea Lady is a chucklesome take on the rock’n’roll queen herself, revisiting an old standard of hers in an apron and oven gloves.
Lady Alex whirls her way through a series of costume changes, wigs and performances and even producing at one stage a magic act from up her sleeves. Her Belles and Buffs make sure there’s always something going on, as does DJ Earl of Ealing, who mixes a wonderful, high energy set that includes 1980s soundtracks, pop songs and techno music.
Closing the evening is the energetic double act Rayguns Look Real Enough. With a crescendo of insanely funny mix of rock and roll live music and cabaret moves, they deliver a superb medley of the best of Eighties and Nineties hits. They are memorable not only for their vocals and guitar talent but also for the lead singer’s unusually skimpy costume; its not often performers expose their hairy bellies while wearing a tight-fitting tiger suit. In this case, less is certainly more.
The show certainly lives up to its title with no shortage of electrifying entertainment. Kaye’s contributions lift the evening but much of the praise for the Wam Bam Club’s continuing success in its various forms must go to Lady Alex, one of the rare compere/producers in cabaretland as skilled on stage as she is off. Her latest creation is an explosive buzz of Eighties pop music, live rock ‘n’ roll, circus cabaret and sparkling burlesque reminiscent of an era where everything was unashamedly big and brash, not least the hair, mobile phones and shoulderpads. Whether at the Bloomsbury Ballroom or at Rise, this cultured Club is as “bad” as it gets.
Wam Bam Electric. Hosted by Lady Alex and Reuben Kaye. Rise Superclub, London WC2H 7BL. Fridays, 19:00. £12-£77. www.wambamclub.com