July's BURLY Q
Abbey Bar, Abbeydale Rd, Sheffield.
03 Jul 2010 by Sarah
Debased is in need of a good holiday. There's nothing like the heatwave of early July, to make us realise this. But daydreams of foreign climates are the last thing on our minds because tonight Ladies and Gentleman, Burly Q brings us its theme of the British seaside. In the first rush of attendees alone, we see men in snorkels, girls in summer dresses and sailor hats - one girl even wears a knitted ice cream cone in her hair. In this sea of nautical attire, it could be said that Burly Q followers are an art form in themselves, rivalled only by the décor of circular tables adorned in black satin, and flickering candles.
After a rousing warm up, led by our compère, Penny Dreadful, of shouting the ultimate carry-on one liners (Debased was very pleased to be on the “Ooooh Matron!” side of the audience), resident Burly Q vocalist Ginger Hayworth begins the night with a little ditty dedicated to the seaside. She strides through the seated crowd and flirts innocently with random folk, setting the carefree atmosphere for the rest of the evening.
If, like me, you wonder how Carol Vorderman coped leaving Countdown, then perhaps Audacity Chitzpah can enlighten us. She strolls onto the stage, face sullen and dressed in a suit. Emotive music plays in the background, as she wanders to the familiar Countdown letters board and pulls out a lonely consonant. "Y" it reads! This is followed by a question mark and sad eyes. Suddenly the music stops. There's only one thing left for her to do – turn herself into the new countdown presenter of course!. Laughter ensues as Europe's “Final Countdown” kicks in, and the tease begins. There's a distinct character to Audacity, as she playfully spanks herself in front of an excitable audience, her face picture perfect. Further laughter occurs as she dejectedly pulls off her wig and disappears behind her board, reappearing in a pink dress and fresh blonde wig, a dumb blonde smile across her face to reveal the “final” countdown conundrum: I'LL BE BACK! Audacity's 2nd performance is another sharply witty ensemble, this time a guided lesson in feminism, taking us from the long coated suffrage years through to sixties free love and nakedness, her revealing of nipple tassels underneath a starched 19th century shirt being the night’s highlight. Clever and hilarious, Audacity Chitzpah is an undoubted genius at her craft, fusing classic tease with modern humour.
FrayedKnot are something of an innovation, an eclectic mixture of suspense and creativity. Both are blonde-haired and easy on the eyes, one is toned and muscular, the other dainty yet voluptuous. I'll leave it to you to decipher which is which. Amelie Soleil is our lonesome heroine, a vision in a striped corset dress, executing perfect, bored poses. But fear not, her hero, or rather anti-hero has arrived! Edd Muir, in striped trousers, and black bowler hat tries to woo the fair maiden, who sadly, is far more interested in her newspaper. So, what to do? How about slicing through the paper, with a whip? Sound scary? Well, that's what this pair do best. The whip cuts through the newspaper, to our delight causing no harm , building a nervous tension, as the newspaper is replaced by a solitary flower. A truly dedicated group, their inspired hard work pays off. If these two had occurred a century ago, then they would surely be the King and Queen of the era they so beautifully pay homage to.
Not content with being a talented duo, FrayedKnot are extraordinary individual performers. Half porcelain doll of delicacy, half frisky sex-kitten, Amelie Soleil softly glides onto stage, a transparent, gold rimmed Candy Jar stands beside her. The comical effect of New Edition's “Candy girl” is not lost. Amazingly, this diminutive beauty, stripping off to reveal adorable yet provocative heart shaped tassels, fits perfectly inside the jar. Sweet but deadly, and wildly impressive, this is bona fide burlesque.
Unsurprisingly, Edd Muir's “Diet Coke man” receives tonight’s loudest cheers. The fact that Debased saw several females filming the erstwhile Muir reattaching the pole in the middle of the stage after a glitch, can only be testimony to the quality of the act. Oh wait, did I give it away too soon?! The premise is simple; Edd is a traditional “labourer”, kitted in jeans, white t-shirt and hard hat. After whirling effortlessly around the pole he has worked so hard, that not only does he need to remove his shirt, but he is also in desperate need of that caffeine boosted sugar free successful soft drink which we shan't mention. Monseuir Muir must be given credit for his acrobatic skills as he displays such impressive strength and endurance, you almost forget the man has no shirt covering his physique. Almost.
Debased is somewhat in awe of Gypsy Charms, and rightly so. Tonight’s performance is a tribute to Marlene Dietrich, and she requests an audience member to assist on stage, holding a box. As “Ich hab' noche einen koffer in Berlin” plays, Gypsy struts on in a 1930s black dress. Entrancing us with a sexy finesse impossible to teach, she opens the box and pulls out a top hat and white scarf. Another male is lead onto the stage and ordered to kneel, so the lady can rest, an action carried out with an irresistible camp cool. The audience cheers as the man retakes his seat, and Gypsy strips down to a classic black Basque with black stockings. The moves are full of sultry sexiness that Fraulein Dietrich herself would be proud of. In her second act she appears in red gloves and ruby red cape, her long hair worn down to perform a traditional fan dance, revealing to us why she is the perfect headline act. Both truly majestic and badass with it, Gypsy Charm incorporates all that Burly Q has come to be - an authentic, inspired, contemporary classic.