One of the measurable aspects of establishing the integrity of a franchise (which can also aid in reasonable prognostication as to the level of future success or failure for the organization) can be summed up with how well the collective does when original or key members are taken out of the equation. In the case of The Lost Girls Burlesque who were without one-third of their usual powerhouse troupe Saturday night, they look like a franchise poised for success.
With both Bunny and founder Veronica Vex contributing behind the scenes Saturday night, it opened the stage up and the altered the dynamics for the LGB to try new things.
For starters, Saturday night’s show had something rare for a local LGB show, dialogue. So captivating is the average LGB performance that it’s strange to think back and realize that very often the art goes the night with little to no speech involved.
The coven of performers does well to communicate through their expansive and creative dance routines, as well as through their fitting and often esoteric music selections.
Having a moderator armed with humour and a microphone is conventionally a scenario that occurs on tour for the tribe, typically when visiting a community where there is an uncertainty of how accustomed the audience is to burlesque protocol.
When that rare decision for an emcee is agreed upon, the chosen candidate is almost invariably the quick witted and sharp tongued Bunny. However, with Vex wrangling and Bunny filling the invaluable role of stage manager during the performance dubbed A Wicked Winter’s Eve, The Lost Girls Burlesque still had an embarrassment of riches in the arsenal that had no shortage of mesmerizing talent.
Stepping into the vacant role of host was 2017’s first headmistress, the Machiavellian Lost Girls Burlesque heartbreaker Nite Mare. A farm girl through and through, Nite Mare appeared comfortable in her cowgirl attire complete with rather incomplete back pockets. Nite Mare’s vermilion coloured jeans exposed her rather noteworthy hind side in with their chaps design model. With a thong draped with chains and a light faded blue jean vest over top of a black lacy bralette, Nite Mare delivered her spoken word monologue and introductions of the rest of the cast in a spaghetti western type voice; the likes of would make Sergio Leone proud.
In a night full of surprises, one of the more openly communicated aspects of the show was the involvement of Calgary’s own Miss Randi Lee.
To forever be dubbed as an ‘honorary Lost Girl’ Miss Randi cemented the title after her kitty-like prance through the crowd included having each buckle of her pleather zipper underbust corset unclipped by a different member of the audience. In a routine that climaxed with Miss Randi climbing the bar and removing her circular zipper leg pants, as well as putting her pleather halter top in her mouth it was clear that this was no regular cat.
With promo leading up to a Wicked Winter’s Eve displaying Miss Randi in a Michelle Pfeiffer inspired Catwoman costume, it was little surprise to see the performer don tight glossy layers of black pleather similar to the attire of the one-time Julie Newmar character.
Proving that there is more than one way to get down to the skin of a cat, Miss Randi Lee owned the character in a convincing fashion completely dissimilar to how Riannaconda most recently paid her respects to Selina Kyle; in the Geekenders burlesque production dedicated to the Bat.
Of the several impressive qualities about Miss Randi’s portrayal of Catwoman was her confident handling of the character’s trademark whip. Not only did Miss Randi show experience with the black bullwhip in its conventional application, but also creatively using it as a makeshift kitten’s tail and on occasion would coil the tool around her own neck.
Assuming that due to recognition the LGB brass chose to market Miss Randi Lee’s Catwoman pictures as promo leading up to a Wicked Winter’s Eve, however, it was the soft sensuality that the Calgary beauty would put into her second act that was packed with considerable emotional conveyance. Though it is impossible to gauge something as subjective as ‘performance of the night’ (as every performer affiliated with the LGB is masterful at whisking the audience away to their respective dimension), the second set by Miss Randi Lee as performed to the song “My Angel Rocks Back and Forth” by Four Tet showed the dichotomy and range of the guest of the night.
On the subject of soft and sensual, Justine Sane wowed the audience by toning down the usual aggression she is so deservedly loved for; at least she did for her first performance. During her first act while wearing a burgundy chiffon cape draped and tucked into the front of her neckline Justine Sane was a marvel to behold. Wearing a shoulder mantle over black and burgundy lace lingerie layers, Sane literally made the audience ‘ooooh’ with a quick flip of the wrist to release the cape. Show in and show out Sane finds ways to make the crowd react audibly, this time during her first performance with what turned out to be a preview of her routine from the upcoming one night only showing of Lunarium, at the Wise Hall.
For her second tilt of the evening, Sane reverted back to the above mentioned attractive quality that she wears so genuinely, aggression. With Marilyn Manson’s “The Beautiful People” as her audio backdrop while wearing a white wig, a ruff collar (made famous in the 1500’s), and a cage crinoline worn over top of white layers of lingerie Justine Sane was ferocious. In case something was lost in her message Sane spelled it out for us with white strips of fabric tacked to the front of the crinoline that in red paint read ‘fuck the patriarchy’. Whether through playing too rough, or the body’s reaction to having to tame it down, Sane woke up Sunday morning with an uncooperative neck. Here’s hoping the coven has something for Justine Sane to cure what ails her prior to her performance Saturday for Lunarium.
One of the greater regrets this reviewer will experience is being at the back of the venue rather than in the available front row seat during Jungle Kat’s routine to Morris Day and The Time. Effortlessly gliding across the stage in a stretchy heat-pressed rainbow knit fabric that effectively provided a look of the garment having been covered in sequins, Jungle Kat’s grace shines brightest through the fluidity of her dancing. Wearing a bodysuit with removable flounce sleeves, and button down tights with flounce fullness at the knees had most in the audience quoting “Jungle Love” as Morris Day sang ‘I think I want to know ya, know ya”. For her second act, Jungle Kat had a great carousel theme in which she was the anthropomorphization of the physical amusement park apparatus itself. Complete with an oversized candy cane as a means to steer, the set was appropriately backed with the song “Carousel”, by Melanie Martinez.
In a more contemporary display of traditional striptease and burlesque, Calamity Kate was, in fact, anything but the catastrophe that her moniker would suggest. Kate was well put together with a methodical duo of routines and 1950’s inspired hairdo with large curls. Doing well to round out the multiple genres present in alternative dance today, Calamity Kate sensually danced to “Big Bad Handsome Man”, by Imelda May in her first performance, and “Pepper” by The Butthole Surfers for her second.