Thursday, 28 April 2011

London Burlesque Week: Juicy Couture

Photo by Sharon Cooper

The London Burlesque Week opening night gala was a Diving Dolphin short of a Soho sex shop. If it wasn’t a pair of rosy cheeks staring at you from above crotchless tights designed by the sponsor Secrets in Lace, it was pleather corsets and tit tassels singing Funny Honey, to the gentle sush-sush of the war boat floating on the Thames.
After the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it fashion show that boasted pink and leopard print padded glory with matching girdles, on came the talented ladies of the main event that could easily be titled World Stripping for Dummies. While Marianne Cheesecake stripped to a Far East theme, Betty Delight evoked her inner Marie Antoinette, and the Folly Dollies danced a cheery Charleston.
The show stealer was Ivy Paige, hostess extraordinaire for the night, replete with corset and Long John Silver’s parrot perched on her fascinator, to go with the nautical theme of the evening. She informed the audience that she had been aboard all the big ones in her time, and gone down on a few – ships, of course, what else? While Captain Jack Sparrow had given her pieces of eight, she’d given him Chlamydia in return – some would say, a fair exchange. To seal the deal with her adoring audience, she crowd surfed down to the back of the room, while giving running commentary on her mike on what it felt like to sit on a man’s head.
While the opening night captured the United States version of burlesque that billed striptease at the top of the genre back between the two world wars, it watered down the original intent of burlesque to poke raucous fun at dramatic and literary works, or to simply create caricatures and bawdy sketches that brought together enticing female flesh with a bellyful of laughs.

Review published at London Festival Fringe.
London Burlesque Week
The HMS President’s War Boat

Monday, 18 April 2011

Enchanted Palace

As the £12million makeover of Kensington Palace gets underway, the state apartments have been transformed into a treasure hunt for the seven princesses that lived there from the seventeenth century all the way to Princess Diana. If your favourite dream is to fall down a rabbit hole and make eyes at the Mad Hatter, or you keep your visions realistic and a tour of a Tim Burton set will do for you, or, as a final resort, you are just a garden-variety voyeur, then the Enchanted Palace quest may be just the right medicine.
Queen Victoria’s boudoir houses a Princess and the Pea style bed (minus Sky Broadband), a cast of enormous string puppets and a William Tempest dress to tell the story of Victoria’s youth in which she penned stories and dabbled with watercolour. A Vivienne Westwood frothy confection catapulting down a staircase could be Cinderella leaving the ball, but it tells the story of Princess Charlotte, who defied her father, rejected the suit of the Prince of Orange (aka The Young Frog), and married dashing Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg. The displays, underlined with the princesses’ often tragic and melodramatic lives, are studded with arty fashion, spooky wolf howls, and historical artefacts like satin slippers that belonged to Victoria’a children, and Princess Margaret’s wedding tiara. Flitting amongst these are “tour guides” in gray jumpsuits and head torches who ad lib about the building works.
The interactive, multi-media display is a great excuse to learn about the history of the palace, and get a quick summary of the monarchy, at a time when there is renewed interest in the romance of royal princesses. While the exhibition would make a great day out for children, as an adult, I could have done with more history and biography.
The Enchanted Palace,
Kensington Palace.
Till Feb 28, 2012