ABSFest's 5th Birthday in Asheville, NC, The Paris of the South! The creation of Madame Onca, this yearly event celebrates the disciplines of burlesque and sideshow making it just as much about the variety as well as the striptease. With acts varying from jugglers, vocalists, magicians, pole performers, drag kings and queens, aerialists, belly dancers, and of course the ecdysiasts! The very first festival back in 2006 was headlined by the multi-talented Princess Farhana of Hollywood who reprised her role as headliner this year to celebrate five years of amazing performances. Princess Farhana is a world renowned belly dancer, burlesque performer and teacher of both disciplines. I was fortunate enough to perform at the second ABSFest and the event opened with a documentary about her that was amazingly fascinating. After seeing all she's accomplished in
both worlds it was truly an honor to be asked to share a stage with her this year.
As a performer let me just say how amazing everyone that was involved in the festival. We were given amazingly detailed emails as to what information was needed from us for the producers, for the sound engineers, for the lighting techs, and for the prop and panty wranglers. Everything was beautifully organized, professional, we were all given time on stage in an efficient manner so we could all do walk throughs, go over sound cues and prop placement. So before I go through the rest of the festival, let me say thank you to everyone that worked behind the scenes that may or may not ever get thanked or acknowledged.
The festival actually started with a red carpet gala on Friday night at The Bebe Theater. The infamous Purple Party Bus provided by La Zoom carried the performers on a quickie drunken tour of Asheville while being entertained by each other. The write up for this event went as follows, " I wasn't in town for it this year but having been on the bus for the 2nd and 3rd ABSFest I am well aware of what silliness goes on.
One of the things that I love about this festival is all the classes. Belly dance, burlesque, MC, Aerial, Ukulele, Hooping, Juggling, fire and even some private sessions with Armitage Shanks to have some one on one time polish up numbers. Many have been performing for years but you never quit learning. My theory is that if Dirty Martini and Jo Boobs are still going to pop in and take classes when they're out of time then no one's too good to take a class. So if you ever get a chance to take a class from people as amazing Armitage Shanks or Princess Farhanna please hop on it, you won't regret it!
The Orange Peel