My friends and I attended Saturday’s performance by Richmond Varietease, a new monthly burlesque review that takes place at the Canal Club in Shockoe Bottom. Having seen, and been impressed by, the show last month, I enticed my group into coming out by saying things like “pasties!” and “beer!” Naturally, they were down.
My friends and I attended Saturday’s performance by Richmond Varietease, a new monthly burlesque review that takes place at the Canal Club (1545 E. Cary St.) in Shockoe Bottom. Having seen — and been impressed by — the show last month, I enticed my group into coming out by saying things like “pasties!” and “beer!” Naturally, they were down.
We arrived early and took seats in front, so as not to miss anything. Jazzy music pumped out of the speakers, as we waited for the show to begin and discussed the odds of a wardrobe malfunction, leading to an accidental nipple. “Can that really happen?” asked one of our group, awed and hopeful.
This month’s theme was Burlesque Beach Party, and the show began with the host, Miss Magnolia Jackson Pickett Burnside, a gorgeous, sparkling Southern belle, who hinted she was hiding a secret under her bathing suit. Let’s just say she might officially be an “outie” instead of “innie”, but she works the stage flawlessly, like a modern day Lucille Ball.
The first performer was one of the Varietease’s founders, Boo Boo Darlin’, doing an adorable, Esther Williams-esque routine, complete with a gingham print one piece suit, BeDazzled mask and snorkel, and swim fins. Boo Boo shook it to a Bollywood musical number, as she peeled off layer after layer of clothing (layering is, apparently, the key to the striptease), until she was left in a bikini bottom, and two glittery pasties. The crowd went wild. I looked at my companions, who had big smiles. Now they got it!
The next act was a special guest from Washington, DC, who is on her way to NYC (to take the city the big apple by storm, no doubt), named Miss Bambi Galore. This blonde, tattooed goddess was working more curves than a San Francisco street, and proud of it! She danced and undressed, using an inflatable beach ball for cover. I heard from someone connected with the show that Bambi has been helpful, encouraging, and inspirational to our Varietease girls. Thank you, Miss Galore!
The next performer was the other founder of Varietease, Dolli Holliday, a platinum blonde bombshell who bears a striking resemblance to the “Seven Year Itch”-era Marilyn Monroe. She did a fiery little number with a wink and a pout that made it clear that undressing in front of an appreciative audience is a grand way to get your kicks. By the time she got down to a fringed bottom and barely-covered naughty bits, the crowd was going wild, including an unmarried man at my table who quipped, “I want to have a family, just so I can leave them for her.”
The beauty of Varietease is that they incorporate other, less-nude acts into their show. That’s the “variety” part. This month was Hoop DeVille, a Hula Hooping siren. How can Hula Hooping be sexy? Heck if I know but this girl was talented AND hot. Instead of the manic, frantic, motion I make just to try to get it to stay around my waist (unsuccessfully), she did a slow, sultry, completely mesmerizing number. It was a huge hit. The second act featured a comedy duo called “Flirting With Death” who briefly converted audience noise from hooting into guffaws and really added a vaudeville-like feel to the show.
The last act before intermission was the Sinclaire Sisters, a pair of dark-haired beauties who “splashed’ around in a kiddie pool full of glittery confetti, disrobing in unison and shaking their remaining fringe, much to the delight of the crowd.
The second half of the show was just as delightful and titillating as the first, and we got to see each performer in a second number. By the time it all ended, my companions and I were hoarse from having cheered so enthusiastically.
Between the girls, who are extremely adept at toeing the line between sultry and sweet, and Miss Magnolia Jackson Pickett Burnside, who was fantastic at keeping the audience entertained with jokes and stories between performers, it’s obvious that Richmond Varietease has put a lot of thought into what people want. The formula is bound to attract and retain a core audience and rightly so. I know my friends are already buzzing about it on twitter. And for the price of a movie, sans snacks, it’s an entertainment bargain that is easily worth twice the price.
If you missed out, join them for the Funky Soul show on August 29. It will guest star the fabulous Reverend Valentine from Washington, DC, along with the Richmond Varietease girls and other special guests. Also, they are hosting a monthly Sunday burlesque dinner at Nations (2729 W. Broad St.), starting August 2. For more info, see their Myspace page or look them up on Facebook and become a fan.
Picture courtesy of Twilight Images.