Those tempted to go down to Brighton this weekend are in for a treat. Known best for its vibrant gay scene, variety shows have been relatively rare in this seaside town but, going by examples like Veronica Blacklace’s Cabaret Boheme and Cherry Shakewell’s Double-Oh Heaven, are definitely of a very high calibre.

A relatively new entrant is Betty Nails and her Sassy Cabaret who hold their first Lipstick & Moustache Convention this Friday. Previously found at the the Nightingale Rooms, this show has upped sticks and moved to the Rialto Theatre on Dyke Road. This weekend it will be laying on a blend of entertainment from burlesque to circus to sideshow to…who knows? Rounding out the show will be some interval magic, walkabout acts and their own Sparkly Sassy Cocktails.

We spoke to Betty to get the lowdown on the convention and herself.

What attracted you to Brighton in the first place? Why have a show here?

Brighton; beautifully buoyant, fabulously flirtatious, deliciously devilish and, above all, salaciously sassy! The place where people can be who they want to be – and proud!

In this setting many a burlesque debut on quavering legs has been made. Hearts have been won and dreams have been broken. It’s all to play for, if you know how to play the game.

The Quirk performing at Sassy Cabaret, The Nightingale Theatre, Brighton. Image: David Smith

The Quirk performing at Sassy Cabaret, The Nightingale Theatre, Brighton. Image: David Smith


Take us back to the beginning of Betty Nails. How did you come up with that character?

Five years ago my alter ego, Betty Nails, entered the scene and dallied around doing solo performances, which gradually became more serious and less “just for fun”. Having a background in performing arts and theatre, I’d always felt that ending up in a 9-5 job was lacking a bit of imagination and therefore wanted a piece of the proverbial glittery action for myself!

Through being “Betty”, I’ve had a rather eclectic and colourful five years and met along the way many wonderfully talented and fabulous people; and some not so much. C’est la vie! Through these acquaintances, be it event organisers, fellow performers, photographers and indeed close personal friends, I decided it was time to exercise my more “normal” OCD side and see about creating a new cabaret night with a performer family feel to it.


Scarlett Butterfly performing at Sassy Cabaret, The Nightingale Theatre, Brighton. Image: David Smith

Scarlett Butterfly performing at Sassy Cabaret, The Nightingale Theatre, Brighton. Image: David Smith

So is that how Sassy Cabaret came about?

The name Sassy Cabaret was coined in my bedroom with a close friend when trying to find a suitable word to describe the idiosyncrasies of what was good about burlesque. Sassiness! All performers have it, in one sense or another, and this is what gets us through the most daunting of performances. Channel the sass!

We started off above the decadent Nightingale Rooms and were proud to sell out our first three shows. Every event has a different theme and our audience have been very forthcoming in joining in with shenanigans, which is lovely to see.

We are now heading to slightly bigger ventures with our official move to The Rialto Theatre for our upcoming Lipstick & Moustache Convention this Friday. This show promises to be our most lavish yet, with cabaret seating, white table cloths, rose petals and a whole array of some of my most favourite Brighton talent.


What would you say makes Sassy Cabaret different?

What possibly makes Sassy different is that I choose to have a variety of styles of performance for each show; there will be a mixture of classical burlesque, neo-burlesque, fire, contortion, hoop, belly dance, magic, song, theatre, all within one show.

I take my queue from my roots “maiding” for the most excellent Club Smooch. Those of you on the Brighton scene ten years ago will know what I am talking about! Lovely vibes, great atmosphere, attentive and enthusiastic performers; a true cabaret variety show! I strive to honour this format with everything I do regarding Sassy Cabaret.


How has the show grown?

I now have a little band of Sassy performers who have been there from the beginning, along with a growing number of newbies who I’m having back for future shows because they’ve appreciated the whole experience. There is a lot of positive energy at our shows and I think it reflects in the enjoyment of our audiences.

If you are a Sassy virgin, do please come along to our next show and see for yourselves! You will always receive a warm welcome! Glitter is not officially provided but you will not leave without a trail of it…

Which, frankly, is how it should be.

More information on Sassy Cabaret’s Lipstick & Moustache Convention can be found on the Rialto Theatre website.

Cover image: Betty Nails (c) David Smith.