Walking into the Waterfront Hotel on Sat 21 Nov, I was greeted by a beautiful girl in a corset and tutu selling programs and raffle tickets. Prizes on offer included lingerie, jewellery and tattoo vouchers. All around me I saw women in corsets, stockings and feather boas and enough sequins to sink the QM2. In the corner a pretty girl was getting pampered and preened, made up in true vintage burlesque style with victory rolls and plenty of red lipstick. I had entered the 2015 Brighton Burlesque Festival and the party was in full swing.
The room was filled with stalls offering everything from deliciously tempting cupcakes and old fashioned sweets, to sparkly jewellery, crystals, corsetry and lingerie. There was even a table selling condiments and chocolate laced with chilli, and a stall offering sequinned nipple tassels, some in the shape of birds, cupcakes and even fried eggs!
At 5pm the music stopped and charismatic compère Jack Kristiansen came onstage to sing a little song and announce the start of the professional performers show.
Wildvixen was the first to shimmy and sparkle for the audience. A classic seductive striptease out of a ridiculously sparkly black dress had the audience cheering and clapping. Then she sat on what appeared to be a bed of nails and made the audience gasp in unison as she lay down on the sharp points. Ouch.
There were so many dazzling performances and everyone had really pulled out all the stops to make this year’s festival one to remember. Amongst my favourites were Red Juliette, Sir Midnight Blues, Coco Deville, Chi Chi Revolver and Twisted Nymph.
Red Juliette came smouldering on dressed like an oriental fortune teller, complete with feathered turban and sparkly, dangly beaded belt. I loved the fairy lights in her green feather boa tail. The removal of her bra revealed gorgeous green glittery nipple tassels which she expertly twirled before finishing with a cloud of glitter thrown into the air. A brilliant performance.
Sir Midnight Blues provided the only boylesque offering of this year’s festival. He stunned the crowd with his costume of fine gossamer Isis wings covered in beautiful blue and green lights. He performed a stunning and skilful dance, swirling the wings as he twisted and twirled. Unfortunately half way through his lights went out which was a shame. He stripped off the wings and just wearing a pair of black hot pants he took to the pole and mesmerised the audience with his athletic inversions as his muscular body glided gracefully up and down the pole. Sir Midnight a Blues won best male performer at the festival.
Coco Deville looked stunning in floor length strapless red sparkly dress and matching platform heels. Performing a classic love themed striptease, her red dress shimmered to the floor revealing a heavily beaded and jewelled underwear set with tie side knickers. Underneath her underwear were red heart shaped pasties and merkin which she covered with similar heart shaped cushion before revealing all to the cheering crowd.
Chi Chi Revolver has been performing in the circus since the age of three. Her cheeky facial expressions complete the highly entertaining hula hoop routine. Starting with one hoop and gradually adding more, the hoops circling body and limbs simultaneously. She then grabbed a stack of about 20 hoops and set them rolling all at the same time. Stunning, scintillating and pure joy to watch.
Twisted Nymph emerged from a golden paper bag onstage and high kicked her way out. Extremely strong and flexible she wowed the audience with supple poses in her snake skin costume. My favourite part was when she climbed to the top of the pole and let herself fall, catching herself by tightening her thighs around the pole before she hit the floor. Her gymnastic moves were totally sensational.
Twisted Nymph won the award for best female at the festival. She is from Edinburgh and has been performing for around five years. “I was really surprised to win,” she said.”I was part of the festival last year and it’s always great fun, it’s so amazing to see how it’s taken off.”
Kitty Amore Hill has been running events for the last seven years called South Coast Swing, this was a new collaboration with Ticket Planner who founded the Brighton Burlesque Festival, organising and booking the performers for the event. Her company began with local live music nights and evolved over time to include cabaret and burlesque. “The reaction of the crowd echoes what I’m feeling when I watch these amazing performers,” Kitty told me. “I’m the first person they see when they come off stage, I’m like their mum, I’m so proud of all of them. It’s so joyful and empowering to be part of it.”
Organisation has already started for Brighton Burlesque Festival 2016 and it promises to be bigger and better than ever before.
Words by Natalie Heath
Images by photosbydavid.org