If you enjoy contests where the audience has the ultimate vote, then this is the perfect show. Burlesque Idol is where newcomers compete while showcasing their talent, convincing the crowd, and three judges, of their deserving place in the final, held in November 2014.
Madame Jojo's, legendary cabaret in the heart of Soho, enjoys a full house tonight; you can even spot the enthusiasts, showing off their retro or burlesque outfits.
The resident host and compère, Barnaby Slater, has an air of nonchalance as he arrives on stage. His calm disposition soon reveals his witty humour, as he interacts with the audience. His young look, untamed hair and braces remind me of a university student come comedian.
The panel of judges comprises burlesque internationally acclaimed performer, Tempest Rose, creator and producer of House of Burlesque; Delores Deluxe, resident judge, a founder and leader of 'The Kitten Club Burlesque Cabaret', London's longest running troupe. And finally, guest judge, Dolly Rose, international burlesque artist, teacher, and costume and vintage dance expert, who offers her invaluable contribution to tonight's show.
Personally, I am anticipating these acts with curiosity, wondering how these still-amateur performers can entertain a full crowd with success, and keep the vigorous and exciting momentum going.
The first contestant is Bollywood meets Burlesque, Hermione Lydne. Gracing the stage with a beautiful green sari, Hermione performs a seductive dance, barefoot. Using her beautiful 'butterfly' wings from her costume, she smiles all the way through, to the great cheer of the spectators.
Hermione hypnotises the room with a slow-paced, artistic and graceful act.
As the next contestant, Signorina Fabialosa, enters the stage, the spectators welcome her with fervent acclamation. Wearing a black corseted outfit and a riding crop, Fabialosa's confidence on stage is no indicator that she only qualified the previous month. Teasing the crowd second by second, this Diva promises a grand finale to her act. And to the pleasure of the audience, Fabiolasa reveals her Italian-flagged tassels, provoking a wave of loud applause.
Great start to the first contest of 2014. Burlesque Idol, in its 5th season, is a very popular event in the world of Burlesque. Its format might remind us of the many television contests with a panel of judges, and contestants providing entertainment for the audience, but Burlesque Idol reveals to be attracting big crowd incessantly.
Next on stage, Aurora Blu sways in with elegance in her blue, long feathered train and corset. A performance in two acts gives a more professional feel to her production. However, it would have been nice for her fast paced movements to have been slowed down, in order to appreciate her sensual grace. This doesn't deter the audience who applauds her performance with energy.
The first act after the interval comes from a far away place, Canada, with Susie Vavoom, whose confidence on stage takes the whole audience by storm. Her 1950s performance, with her unique Marilyn Monroe revival, reveals a success with the spectators. Although not all judges appreciate her lip sync performance, her sassiness enchants the crowd.
Last but not least, Whisky Falls enters the stage with great poise and salacious manner. Her grand stage presence wows the audience as she interacts with the spectators. Her second act, with a rock'n roll beat, brings her a grand ovation from the whole crowd. You can almost hear all those hearts racing in the room, including the host's…! I am not convinced she is an amateur!
Although a newcomers contest, Burlesque Idol is not just about the contestants. The three judges delighted the crowd with a piece of their own repertoire. Easy to spot the pros, each one of them gave an outstanding performance. It is not just about the acts but the complicity they have with the audience. These three performers have a unique way of enticing the spectators.
This is what makes Burlesque Idol a great event. Not only the audience gets to vote for their favourite performance, but we also have the massive pleasure of enjoying three acts from eminent burlesque legends.
And tonight, the three judges certainly enthralled the spectators.
And so the time to reveal the winner arrived… As these gorgeous ladies entered the stage, waiting for the verdict, the energy in the room was one of excitement. Everybody anticipated the results while shouting the name of their favourite performer.
But as always, only one can leave with the trophy, and tonight the winner was….. Whisky Falls…!!
Well deserved, as far as I am concerned, although I always admire the brilliance of all performers.
It was a great night, and judging by the participation of the crowd, it is one of the best events in London!
A must-see show, all the way till the end!
For more information, visit the House of Burlesque web site: www.houseofburlesque.co.uk
All House of Burlesque events are listed in: www.burlesquemap.co.uk
For full profiles of tonight's judges, some of the contestants and many more shows and events, order copies of Burlesque Map London at: http://www.burlesquemap.co.uk/buy_burlesque_map.asp
Photography by: JAMES DRURY
Dolly Rose - Tempest Rose - Delores Deluxe
Winner: Whisky Falls