Bourbon & Burlesque 2012

When summer rolls around in New Orleans–you know, after that day we call spring–our fair city slows down more than my ninety-year-old grandma counting her pennies in a checkout line. Sweat is dripping into cracks you weren’t sure you had, and nobody wants to leave the comfort of their living room air conditioning. Several troupes take a hiatus in the summer and no one can blame them really, but there is still some quality entertainment to be had.

Saturday night, the Contemporary Arts Center turned up the heat for Bourbon and Burlesque, an annual fundraiser celebrating two of my most beloved pastimes. This year’s event featured six dance troupes, including our faves Fleur de Tease and Slow Burn, some great food, cool cocktails, and a burlesque photo booth hosted by Seven Men’s Magazine.

Cuisine was provided by Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House including the wildly popular bourbon BBQ shrimp, delicious pulled pork with cornbread and creole coleslaw, two different duck preparations and for those of us lucky enough to have VIP tickets, a raw oyster bar. I parked my butt there for a while, chasing oyster after oyster with a well made sazerac.

Speaking of drinks, the bourbon-based cocktails featured Blanton’s, Buffalo Trace, Jack Daniel’s & Wild Turkey–not a bad line up even if Jack is technically not bourbon, and fear not you purists out there, my Sazerac was made with rye.

Enough about the edibles, I know for many of our readers, the visionary feast is way more important. The format for this year’s performances consisted of three thirty(ish) minute sets each hosted by a different emcee–Chris Lane, Michael Brian Miller & Ben Wisdom–but otherwise the same show. The troupes performing were a great representation of what NOLA burlesque is all about. The aforementioned Fleur de Tease gave us a mesmerising Bollywood number and Slow Burn performed a very classy dance with elaborate feathered headdresses and 1920’s flapper gowns.

The Storyville Starlettes got the crowd going with a hilariously campy with a space disco, and the Reverend Spooky & Her Billion Dollar Babydolls wowed us as naughty majorettes. I particularly enjoyed the the Southern Jezebelles featuring members of the original Shim-Shamettes, who shimmied to a genuinely classic burlesque strip.

One of the more intriguing act of the evening was that of Queerlesque, Ace Falcor’s company of queer burlesque performers. Their provocative version of Alice in Wonderland acted out to “Heads Will Roll” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs was sensational.

As if the main show was not enough, Angela Eve, in a collaboration with trumpeter James Andrews, performed in Storyville Bordello: Basin Street Parlor-House Jive in the main lobby, and Niki Frisky and Sarah the Bobcat from the Mystic Pony Aerial Troupe captivated onlookers with their acrobatics on the trapeze.

If you missed this year’s event, mark your calendars for next summer–you won’t be disappointed.