This past weekend Talloolah Love and I were lucky enough to go to Windy City Burlesque Festival in Chicago, IL. You can check out all of my photos on Flickr. I took over 1200 photos through out the weekend and there are pictures of the performers I mention here, as well as many other amazing performers, there were just too many to mention all of them in this post.
We arrived on Thursday, took two trains a bus an a cab to where we were staying and got ready for the opening gala. There was a red carpet and a jam packed audience. My only complaint about that evening was it was really crowded and there for really hot, but that rise in temperature could have just been because of the amazing performers! They strutted down the bar to a platform on the end of the stage to take it off for all of us. It was high energy and full of laughs! There was a nice variety of acts, including: balloons, an Indian Princess (feathers, not dots), rockabilly bad girls, puppets and a lot of food references. Honestly, after the performances I did wonder if I shouldn't have brought the French Chef routine seeing as there was a salad number, a grape number, a Carmen Miranda number with a banana in the pants etc...perhaps I should have sat on a cake, lol. The night was a lot of fun and we got to catch up with a lot of friends from all over that had come in for the festival and meet some of the performers that we'll get to see again at Texas Burlesque Fest this coming weekend and at Vancouver International Burlesque Fest next month.
On the second day, as I was to perform at the 10pm Main Stage show, I had a quick and dirty well organized and easy peasy tech. No really, I was in and out of tech in under 10 minutes, it was amazing! Afterwards, Talloolah Love and I went back and began the process of getting ready. I was able to watch the 8pm Main Stage Show with Talloolah Love and Gia Nova. It was wonderful! Foxy Tann did a the best routine to "I'll Keep Sittin' on It (If I Can't Sell It)" that I have ever seen. Penny Starr Jr did a routine that I think speaks to all performers who have had to screw on their smile before they go on stage and, of course Ray Gunn...OMG, he was amazing and I still don't know how he kept his gesture of a half a thong on. He told me it was magic and I kind of believe him. He did a pole dance routine to an amazing version Kaa's song "Trust in Me (The Python's Song)" from the Jungle Book. Had I been Eve, I would have happily taken the apple from him and asked for more. Kellita closed out the first show with an amazingly high energy inspired performance! I'm not just saying I liked her number because she was wearing leopard print, I promise! As per usual she shimmied her way into the audience's hearts and was a great choice for a finale!
I was not able to watch all of the 10pm Main Stage show since I was back stage getting ready to perform. The second half of the show was amazing. I had my camera out and was taking pictures as fast as I could. I was most sad that I missed the Stage Door Johnnies (which included Ray Gunn) as they went on right after I did. When they came of stage they had merkins with things like "POW", "BANG" and "KABLOOIE" written on them in comic book font. I was really, really sad to miss that. My favorite act from the second show was Anna Fur Laxis doing her Good vs Bad Bettie Page Tribute. Not that the other performers weren't also amazing, but this was so insanely clever and well executed that I was just blown away. Her movements and facial expressions were flawless. Madame X singing about her friendly little cat and Hot Tamale doing her routine to Not An Addict was a big fun mess of chocolate syrup! I still have the song stuck in my head, lol.
On Saturday Talloolah Love and I took Kitten DeVille's Bump and Grind Class. It was an amazing class. It wasn't that we didn't know how to shimmy, but her transitions are amazing and some of her pointers were so simple but things we hadn't thought of, but when she mentioned them a bell went off in our heads. The warm up was great and the drills we're really helpful! Afterwards I had tech and heard the Satanic version of my Betty Crocker number but we were able to fix it by my bringing in my laptop, or so we thought... Then I taught my Business of Burlesque Class, which I was told was the highest attended class at the Festival. I guess everyone's sick of not making money! Honestly with some of the big names in my class I was a smidge nervous, but got over it really quickly. The students listened, took notes and had some really great questions for me. As per usually I was taking just as many notes in an attempt to make the class better for next time. I always know its been a good class when at the end everyone is handing info back and forth to help each other and I feel like I've learned a few things as well.
Saturday night, myself, Talloolah Love and Gia Nova performed at 10:30pm on two separate stages. We we noticed we were all in blue with aprons and our acts all mentioned food so apparently we're perpetuating the myth that all Southern women need to be in the kitchen baking a pie, lol. There were a few minor technical difficulties, such as I performed with out my music...like no music at all. The sound system died about 30 seconds into my Betty Crocker routine so I just kept going. The same thing happened on the other stage to Gia Nova so we decided that music is for sissies and we're going to start Mime Burlesque! Honestly it wasn't the festival's fault. After we did tech the plays running on the stages had to make some adjustments for their shows and the festival staff weren't told so there was no way to know it was going to happen. I still feel that my number was still well received even with out music and I got some compliments for being so professional which was really sweet and made me feel really good about my choice to keep going.
I only got to see the acts after me that were on my stage. Iva Handful did an amazing Snake Act to NIN, Closer and Ray Gunn did an amazing chair work routine. I swear that he maybe the hardest working man in boylesque! Hot Tamale was our MC until she ended up covered in shaving cream and did a routine of stripping the cream off her body with knives. Yup, Talloolah and I are a little in love with her and had a great time having pizza with her after we were done packing up everything after the show.
Sunday, Talloolah and I were sad to leave Chicago but glad to be going home. We had an amazing time and were so delirious from lack of sleep that we were pretty punch drunk. We said goodbye to our amazing hosts, the world's coolest cat and set off for home. The only thing I didn't like about the whole weekend was on Saturday there were multiple shows going on at the same time so we didn't get to see everyone's acts. I would have really liked to have seen Kitten DeVille perform, but as she was at 10pm on Saturday on a different stage that wasn't possible. The shows I did get to see were well put together and had a great flow and mass amounts of talent. I would say that over all, especially for a first year festival, it was amazing and we had a great time. I would definitely recommend this festival to other performers. Hopefully next year there will be a way to see all of the amazing performers that they bring in as I am sure it's just going to grow in popularity.