For anyone who has been a guest of the Biltmore Cabaret on a Sunday night over the past decade, they are well aware of Kitty Nights. This past Sunday would see the tireless alternating cast as lead by Burgundy Brixx and the Purrrfessor Doug Thoms wrap up their seasonal Sunday staple with a live band/burlesque tribute to the unmistakable sound of The B-52’s.
The tribute night dedicated to the unusual quad out of Athens, Georgia was complete with a costume contest that inevitably encourages a costume party. It becomes very apparent to anyone loitering around the outside of The Biltmore Cabaret before the Sunday night institution that despite all of prep-work and cosplay the Kitty Nights West invests, the mash-up of troupes does not ‘play’ at all.
Often piecing together theme nights appearing to require much longer to organise than the (often) seven days that they are given, the 2015/16 ‘Best Burlesque Show’ (as appointed by The Georgia Straight’s annual ‘Best in the City’ awards) would commit wholeheartedly to the B-52’s tribute night; both in sound and aesthetic.
Boasting a ‘who’s-who’ in the alternative dance community, ‘Canada’s most popular burlesque show’ would see recent Vancouver International Burlesque Festival (VIBF) performer Sparkle Plenty come out with a hilarious number. With the beauty appearing more like The Addams Family’s Cousin It to begin her number set to the song “Hot Lava”, Sparkle Plenty’s silly antics had the packed venue in stitches with a ‘dance’ across the front of the stage that was more of a ridiculous walk than anything. Look for Sparkle Plenty to be appearing with both the Screaming Chicken Theatrical Society as well as the newly formed Virago Nation at the annual Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend held at The Orleans in Las Vegas, Nevada. Sparkle Plenty will be closer to home appearing alongside Vancouver’s longest running burlesque troupe (Screaming Chicken) May 27th at Taboo Revue- Blossoming Bosoms at the Wise Hall, as well as June 13 with the Gastown Cabaret at Guilt and Co. for June Thrills.
The Kitty Nights performance would go on to include a performance by the incomparable April O’Peel that would solicit a very vocal “way to shake it’ by a female member of the Biltmore staff. For a performer that (in this writer’s estimation) works as hard as any in the city, the never ceases to be side-splittingly funny April O’Peel once again put on display the several attributes that rank the stunner among the city’s best talents in the Vancouver burlesque community. Certainly a highlight of a show rich in praise-worthy routines, April O’Peel’s performance to “Private Idaho” stands out as one of the most memorable.
The packed Biltmore Cabaret saw more ‘shagadelic’ beehives and swinging mini-skirts that it has all season thanks to the Kitty Nights Tribute To The B-52’s. With a roster that includes CC Jam, Zazz Blammymatazz, Cookie Craven, Diva Fandango, Jack Starkness and Cleo Victory, it was once again the magnificent Burgundy Brixx and her established routine set to the one-of-a-kind B-52’s track “Rock Lobster” that brought the ‘house down’. For a track that often feels nine minutes in length due to its repetitive mention of the track’s title (“Rock Lobster”), the Burgundy Brixx presentation of the B-52’s hit from 1979 was perhaps the first time in the song’s history where a little under five minutes felt too short. With her New York City musical theatre career experience proudly on display, the former Rockette not only performed the song about one of ‘her favourite crustaceans’, but she also spent the night singing on the mic essaying the role of the very prominent B-52 member Kate Pierson with the Hot & Heavy Band.
Utilising the captivating Tylr Bourbon and Lolita Rush during the brief intermission as Go-go dancers, the two would join Burgundy Brixx’ School of Tease at the end of the night for an ensemble performance to none other than the B-52’s famous track “Love Shack”.
On a night where if one did not know any better they would swear a transportation to the birth of new-wave in Ohio or Athens, Georgia had occurred, the late 70’s/early 80’s was alive with The Kitty Nights B-52’s Live Band Burlesque.
Being that Sunday’s B-52’s tribute feels premature to be the season finale, look for an impressive return to the Burgundy Brixx lead Kitty Nights West performances to The Biltmore Cabaret, The Rio Theatre, and The Stage (Mission) in October (often around Thanksgiving).
Anyone who knows the combination of Burgundy Brixx and The Purrrfessor Doug Thoms is aware that there is not a snowballs’ chance of surviving the seawall in June of the pair waiting until October to bring their unique brand of entertainment back to our city. It is with that yearning desire to perform that we keep in mind the announcement of Kitty Nights Presents: The Glitterbox. The brand new fusion of neo-burlesque, boylesque, draglesque, and cabaret to be held at The Odyssey Bar & Nightclub will kick-off their inaugural performance on June 22nd. Already slated to perform on the intriguing bill is drag/contortionist Vixen Von Flex, Monday Blues, and a couple of group numbers by The School of Tease. The night headlined by Burgundy Brixx will also feature pre-show boylesque go-go dancers and promises to host a litany of ‘wacky craziness’.