2011 Second Time Around
By Alyssa Kitt
The resplendent images of Miss Burlesque Australia 2010, Rita Fontaine, sitting regally semi-clad appeared on the cover of U on Sunday and before the dust had settled on Miss Burlesque Australia’s inaugural year, applications were open to compete once more. 2011 rolled around and crown fever had truly set in.
Miss Burlesque Queensland was held at the New Globe Theatre, where Coppelia Jane was crowned Miss Burlesque Queensland. One of the most loved photographs in the Miss Burlesque Australia archives is Ellashaye D’More and Coppelia Jane backstage playing crown snatch, shot by Brisbane photographer Kahlia Litzow, who was on the judging panel for 2011. Amelie Lulu took out the Miss Burlesque Brisbane title for a second year in a row and 1st runner up was Monique Le Minx. State competitors included Alyssa Kitt, Foxxy Karen, Blaike Starlet, Paige La’Belle, Lady Viviane Mae, Maisy Ray and Sarada Satori.
Winner Coppelia Jane says that one of her special memories from 2011 was all the contestants sitting on the floor of the Globe Theatre all getting ready together. “Even though everyone was nervous, we were all willing to help one another. I remember helping Monique Le Minx into her evening gown, helping another contestant work on her gown parade walk, and someone was lovely enough to lend me a set of pasties after I had a major costume malfunction.”
In the second year, the producers had to established rules around whether or not winners could compete in their own state in their reigning year. For those serious serial crown chasers it was decided that they would be allowed to compete but not in the state they had won the preceding year. Miss Burlesque Gold Coast was established as an alternative Final for these competitors keen to enter in back to back years. This year saw The Strawberry Siren – then in her reigning year as Miss Burlesque Victoria – enter in the Gold Coast competition. Why Gold Coast was chosen could have been due to Queensland’s influx of entrants and the Gold Coast being a location close enough for the bulk of entrants to travel to. MBGC was held at the Coolangatta Hotel.
Competitors included Victoria Bloom, Bella De Jac, Rosie Peaches, Dolly Monroe, Julz DiVine, Dia Monte, Truly Scrumptious, Lola The Vamp, Strawberry Siren and Miss tickles. Winner Miss Burlesque Gold Coast was Bella de Jac, Miss Burlesque Surfer’s Paradise was The Strawberry Siren (who famously burnt her tit the day before going on stage) and 2nd runner up (who began the Miss Burlesque Mermaid Beach tradition) was Lola the Vamp.
“There’s a sweet sort of kitch & nostalgia to the Gold Coast for me and for many people who grew up in Brisbane. The contestants joked that the runner up would be Miss Coolangatta, which is about the most ‘straya title you could possibly have. We got a fair amount of media attention in the first year. It was also my first ever year competing, and I was just happy to be taking part. It had been so much fun to have guidelines to create acts around and I was even allowed an assistant backstage, Archie Arsenic helped me with the quick changes as I was so nervous I wouldn’t get ready in time for each section! I was a little intimidated because Lola the Vamp was competing too and I had known about her since I lived in the UK. I had seen some of the beautiful short videos she had on her website and thought she was the most beautiful creature I’d ever laid eyes on.”
Miss Burlesque Gold Coast became the breeding ground for the serial crown chasers and two competitors who went on to compete over four years met for the very first time that night. Bella de Jac describes meeting The Strawberry Siren for the first time. “She was getting sewn into her evening gown because it was vintage and the zip busted on the night. We didn’t know each other from a bar of soap at the time, and we laugh about it now because while she was fuming at taking 1st runner up to me and I was looking like a stunned mullet with the crown on, standing side by side on that stage we couldn’t have predicted that we’d become such close friends. five years later we even lived together!”
Many great friendships grew out of Miss Burlesque Australia and many of the early competitors were not only introduced to other performers but also producers and fans from all over the country.
Miss Burlesque South Australia competitors included Amity Nightingale, Lyra La Belle, Mema Sifa, Karneydoll, Scarlet Femme, Cherrie Noire, Luna Eclipse, Snuzge Snuzge Fluffy Knickers, Miss Moon De La Mer, Sapphire Snow. It was held at Nexus Multicultural Arts Centre. 2011 was Mema Sifa’s first year competing in Miss Burlesque South Australia and had a memorable debut experience:
“That was also my first ever solo burlesque performance too. I basically accidentally set myself on fire, wound up completely topless, and gave one member of the audience a black eye with lolly snakes. That was also the birth of my Super Mario routine.”
Miss Burlesque Tasmania was Ruby Right and Miss Burlesque Hobart was Le Fey. Other state contestants for Tasmania included Rosie Revel, Kitty K, Johnny Cigar, Fleur De La Frost, Billie D’Lite, Ju Ju L’Amour, Layla Krazy.
Miss Burlesque Western Australia contestants were Kitty Littéur, Lola Cherry Cola, Miss Mixi Mitosis, Agatha Frisky, Bella Bowtie, Layla Brulee, Lesya Lenoir, Lady Lace, Roxie Sparkles, Odile Devine. Kitty Litteur took out the title of Miss Burlesque Western Australia 2011 with her kooky take on a game of strip twister and Miss Burlesque Perth went to the graceful Odile Devine, who’s Jessica Rabbit routine saw some wicked extensions of her oh so Devine long legs.
Miss Burlesque Victoria was held at majestic The Thornbury Theatre, built in the 1920s and renovated in 1965, this became the Melbourne home of the competition for the next few years. Competitors included Scarlett, Freckles Blue, Little Miss Ruby DeVil, Jessamae St. James, Jessabella, Ruby Sunday, Vivianne Von kitty, Pixie Elixir. Miss Burlesque Victorian title went to Kelly Ann Doll and Miss Burlesque Melbourne went to Sina King – who was later awarded a wild card entry to the Grand Final and took out the 2011 title of Miss Burlesque Australia.
Kelly Ann Doll was already well established in the Australian burlesque scene and known for her high octane mix of swing dance and striptease when she took a chance and entered the 2011 competition. “I wanted my style represented in burlesque. I didn’t feel the petites had much going on and fusion burlesque was just starting to become a thing in Melbourne, so I took a chance and boom!”
Miss Burlesque New South Wales competitors included Betty Grumble, Lucille Spielfuchs, Ember Flame, Hedy Bell Nova, Maygen La Fey, Danica Lee, Arianna Starr, Lara Love, Antoinette La’Noir, Tootsie Caloola. Miss Burlesque New South Wales was Danica Lee, Miss Burlesque Sydney was Lucille Spielfuchs, 2nd runner up was Lara Love. Held at The Factory Theatre – Lara Love says that the change of venue added to the prestige of the competition.
The outlyers and standout acts of the competition – Betty Grumble, who’s character was in it’s burlesque infancy, but entered as a parody of the competition itself.
“I entered the comp as a kind of gag. I had been developing this avatar plaything under the characterisation of a ‘beauty pageant queen’ and I thought entering the comp would be a tongue in cheek kind of performance art experiment and also a way to celebrate the burlesque platform that had given me so much air time for experimentation.” Betty Grumble.
Betty performed her classic act to music within the era and dates required, whilst quite outside the style – she performed in a bump skirt and bra made of Australian flags and toting two as props, she performed to Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries (just inside the cut-off date, this piece was first performed in 1921 and definitely not for the world of burlesque).
“I thought about what Betty Grumble would consider to be ‘classic’ and at this time Betty was still in this strange mold of reflecting back a white conservative, puritanical, meat eating world that worshiped borders/boundaries. Betty followed the rules set out by the comp but was still told she ‘didn’t understand classic’. Well, technically she DID understand, it ticked all the boxes, within the world of Grumble.” Betty Grumble.
In 2011, several entrants had competed in the unique section with an x-pole as an apparatus, and with the rising popularity of Miss Pole Dance Australia, it was decided that poles would no longer be allowed in the competition. It can be argued that the competition was trying to distance itself from the strip-club style of feature dancing and further distance itself from the style of stripping performance seen in Miss Nude Australia. 2012 saw the first year of this restricted prop, but it just prompted performers to start thinking about bigger, grander stage pieces that would be worthy of the big stages that MBA was presenting the competitors on.
With finalists flying in to Sydney from around the country, the stage was set for the second Miss Burlesque Australia Grand Final, which was held on June 25th at Sydney’s decadent Enmore Theatre. With the opportunity to meet, network and build friendships with interstaters, the MBA Grand Finalists once again, built close bonds over late night last minute rhinestone, flyering in Pitt Street Mall and the official Grand Finalist photoshoot.
This year the Grand Final had three special guests invited to perform as standout acts of the competition. These included Betty Grumble, Hedy Bella Nova and Alyssa Kitt.
This was the second year in which competitors could choose between performing any two of their three routines and of the finalists, only Danica Lee and Ruby Right decided to perform their classics. To the great commotion, both artists were dancing to the same version of “Black and Tan Fantasy.” While Danica’s fiersome bumps and red lace costume saw her awarded the title of Miss Classic MBA 2011, this music double up prompted the competition to introduce measures so as not to have any performers using the same song in future years. Ever since, it’s been a mad fight to get your song first onto the music list, however, this has pushed artists to look further afield for blarring sax and syncopated beats.
Rita Fontaine performed a sublime handover routine complete with falling petals and resplendently plush red velvet colour tones. Sitting in the audience for this routine – it was true theatrical drama, built for the big stage.
For a second year in a row, the Wild Card entrant won the overall title. While she’s known now as “The Royal Captivator” and the “Queen of Cheeky Glamour” Sina King, but the competition was one of her first burlesque stage experiences. “My experience was unique, in that it was the very beginning of my career. That’s right, entering MBA was my first step onto a burlesque stage. No one knew who I was including the competition creators. After being awarded a wild card spot to the grand final, Sina was thrown deep into the large stage of The Enmore Theatre, Sina rose to the challenge, entertained the audience with rollicking laughter and brought actual magic to the stage with her quick-change maid routine.
The first two years solidified that performers could represent their own unique styles of performing. While ticking boxes seemed to be what judges were looking for, it was evident that performers could represent their own unique style of performance. Kelly Ann Doll mopped the stage with her iconic acro-swing “Lion Tamer” duo act, Strawberry Siren brought her knicker-clad acro-balance with Tarantino-finesse and Coppelia Jane brought a sublime lyrical ballet routine inspired by Pan’s Labyrinth.
We asked some of the Grand Finalists from 2011 for some words of advice for future competitors:
“I think [competing in MBA] definitely gave me the confidence to voice my opinion for neo styles to be accepted into classic only society – I never changed my style and stayed true to who I was, and I’m glad I didn’t change just to fit into a box.” – Kelly Ann Doll.
Through competing in Miss Burlesque Australia “I learnt to believe in myself and that i would always be my own worst critic. After the classic round at the QLD show I came off stage and cried – I felt so out of my depth and thought I didn’t deserve to be there. I had the realisation that anything is possible if you back yourself – I will always take that away from competing.” Coppelia Jane.
“I had been away from Australia, living in England for many years which is where I’d started performing, I was relatively unknown in Australia. Suddenly I was introduced to performers, producers and fans from all over the country. While I didn’t win the crown that year, being spotted performing the fan dance that earnt me the Miss Fantastic sash was the reason I was chosen for the Burlesque Ball 2011 tour with Catherine D’Lish & Tigger. I felt my eyes had been opened to a sense of boundless possibility, and I saw that if I had as much determination and put in as much work as the other finalists I could lift my performances to new heights both in the competition and outside of it. It was a career shaping realisation.” Bella de Jac
After 2011 due to less than favourable extenuating circumstances that were never publicly acknowledged, The Bijou Group filed for bankruptcy and Jac Bowie was no longer affiliated with the competition. The Burlesque Ball had its last year and the founding production duo of Miss Burlesque Australia ceased to produce shows. Cassandra Jane took on the mammoth task of producing the competition nationally under Cassandra Jane Presents and the competition went in to its third year.
Stay tuned for the 2012 and more features on past winners and prominent members of the MBA family.
Miss Burlesque Victoria – Kelly Ann Doll
Miss Burlesque Melbourne – Sina King
Miss Burlesque New South Wales – Danica Lee
Miss Burlesque Sydney – Lucille Spielfuchs
Miss Burlesque NSW 2nd runner up – Lara Love
Miss Burlesque Gold Coast – Bella de Jac
Miss Burlesque Surfer’s Paradise – The Strawberry Siren
Miss Burlesque Gold Coast 2nd runner up – Lola the Vamp
Miss Burlesque Queensland – Coppelia Jane
Miss Burlesque Brisbane – Amelie Lulu
Miss Burlesque QLD 2nd runner up – Monique le Minx
Miss Burlesque Western Australia – Kitty Litteur
Miss Burlesque Perth Odile Devine
Miss Burlesque South Australia – Sapphire Snow
Miss Burlesque Tasmania – Ruby Right
Miss Burlesque Hobart – Le Fey
Wild Card entries –
Odile Devine (WA)
Sina King (VIC)
Lucille Speilfuchs (NSW)
Grand Final Titles
Miss Burlesque Australia – Sina King
Miss Burlesque Australia 1st runner up – The Strawberry Siren
Miss Burlesque Australia 2nd runner up – Kelly Ann Doll
Entertainer of the Year – Danica Lee
Miss Classic – Danica Lee
Miss Revival – Sina King
Miss Elegance – Sapphire Snow/ Bella de Jac
Miss Tassel Twirl – Kitty Littéur
Miss Showgirl Couture – Ruby Right
Miss Fantastic – Bella de Jac
Miss Pinup – Coppelia Jane
Miss Bunnylicious – Odile DeVine