Miss Burlesque Australia 2019 Grand Final Review
By Kitty Littéur
Perth, glittering capital city of Western Australia, home to 2 million people and one of the most bustling burlesque scenes in Australia. The Miss Burlesque and Mr Boylesque competitions have long been a staple of the Australian burlesque calendar and have attracted the country’s most dazzling performers since 2010. Perth played an enthusiastic host for the Miss Burlesque Australia gala Grand Final for a second year in a row.
Perth’s Grand Final correspondent Kitty Littéur was there to capture the spectacle, the marvel, the grace and the face of the evening.
It was a chilly August Perth evening, and we felt the tingling atmosphere growing as we made our way towards the Astor theatre. An evening-gown and tuxedo crowd snaked outside the Astor Theatre doors and up the block.
We took our seats amongst fur-clad throng of gussied up guests that filled the Art Deco Astor Theatre with hungry audience eyes. Our mouths were gaping for what we knew would be a real treat.
The crowd were welcomed by the delicate comedy and dulcet tones of Lizzy Quizzy, aka Melbourne’s notorious chanteuse Aurora Kurth, who proved to be the perfect host for the evening.
Opening the red carpet was the killer queen Bettie Bombshell, who stalked out like a slinky feline in a leopard print extravaganza complete with matching eye-cover. There was no denying the ferocious power that Bettie hit the stage with. Moisty Magic exploded energetically onto the stage in a sheer green flower inspired gown. Moisty’s outfit proved to be the petal-perfect embodiment for her bright persona, but something told us to watch out for those sharp thorns!
The sultry supermodel Porcelain Alice revealed a cheeky surprise after strutting on the stage like she was walking the runway in Paris!
There should be a new Broadway musical for the next performer – Rainbow! And her technicolour dreamcoat! There was no denying the name, the outfit or the personality that Rainbow graced the audience with. She took the audience on a glimmering trip all the way to a pot of goal reveal as she dropped her outer layer to reveal a shimmering gold gown.
Oozing a rock’n’roll attitude, Ferri Maya brought that Mick Jagger style star power to the Astor as she swaggered on stage in a flared, tiger print jumpsuit and flowing two toned locks.
Sammy Sparkles brought the silver screen to her hometown audience. She was a vision with perfect blonde waves, a white gown sashed to her waist and a slow walk worthy of the starlets of the MGM era. Shaan Valentine charmed with cheesecake cheek wearing a flower embellished 50’s swing frock and decorative parasol to match.
The internationally renowned Natalya Alessi spun onstage in a swirling sequence of turns and a pastel blue frou-frou ruffle dress frothing with crystals.
Lucy Luxe followed in pink and purple extravaganza! A surprising quick change treat set us up for the clever costuming that would become her stylistic signature for the night. And what could I say but – THAT BOA!!! Divine! The Red Carpet section closed with Perth’s own Dee Dee Luscious. Popping with energy and goofy glamour – DD quite literally brought a bursting bubble bath, one could almost say that DD stood for ‘double duckies’.
After a vocal medley from Lizzy Quizzy, our guest act for the evening was welcomed to the stage. Miss Alyssa Kitt made the audience swoon with her silken licks and soft fur sheets. This multi award winner and MBA legend showed the crowd what they were in for tonight with a soft and sensual peek inside her lilac boudoir. As the zipper lowered on her crystalled corset, the crowd revved up. This classic queen left them perfectly primed for the beginning of the Traditional section.
Bettie Bombshell opened the Traditional section with an homage to the grog-soaked streets and whiskey bars of New Orleans. Through a smoky haze, stage lights backlit a silhouette of what could only be described as the devil herself. The first sweeping notes of St James Infirmary were like an easy swig of a triple whiskey sour. The audience were immediately transported straight into a jazz bar in the Big Easy. In deep black velvet, with red accents and a huge boa, Bettie treated the crowd to saucy routine showcasing insane musicality and tenacious choreography.
Moisty Magic tantalised the crowd with her slyly innocent Pink Pussy act. You’d be forgiven for thinking that butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, with a coquette kitten whip, her fuchsia pink gown was gone and she finished her routine atop a giant purple fur boa.
The lights came up on the statuesque figure of Porcelain Alice, who brought the beauty, fragility and strength of the great dancers of the past to the MBA stage. Porcelain cut a towering figure high atop her plinth. All eyes were on those incredible legs, she stepped down in a Follies inspired costume and headdress. As Porcelain Alice unfurled her silken wings the audience went mad!
Rainbow was introduced and before she even stepped foot onto the stage everyone knew they were in for a hell of a good time. The Can-Can music swelled to a symphonic climax and Rainbow hurled her confection of blue velvet and pink ruffles in an explosion of high kicks and swirling skirts! This lady truly brought the hedonistic dancehalls of the Belle Epoque to life.
And from the Moulin Rouge, we were transported straight to the 1960s. Never losing her rock’n’roll swagger, Ferri Maya brought a fresh voice to a classic burlesque track. She shimmied and swayed her blue fringed costume off with reckless abandon and the crowd really exercised their vocal cords with her explosive removals and badass drops!
Sammy Sparkles lived up to her name as she delighted the audience in decadent showgirl finery reminiscent of the Ziegfeld Follies. The tiniest articulation of her wrist had the audience in the palm of her hand. She slipped her way out of her costume and marked her spot as one of the queens of floor-work in this competition with her act culminating in a flawless boa drop.
You could feel the temperature of the room rise with Shaan Valentine’s rendition of Fever. Under a scorching red light, Shaan brought a sexy smoulder and stunning tassel tricks to the stage.
Natalya Alessi embodied the legendary Follies female dancers with a tribute to the work of the Ziegfeld Follies director, Albertina Rush. Bathing in a soft silver light, Natalya performed perfectly en pointe. The crowd loved her series of pirouettes as layer by layer of diaphanous costume came off.
Lucy Luxe shone in a shameless showgirl tribute to L.O.V.E. in layers upon layers of of ombre pink. Lucy had hands down the best glove peels of the night. Her routine was a traditional treat full of clever costuming and surprise reveals! Every detail down to the dot was well thought out and executed.
Dee Dee Luscious closed out the first half of the night with somewhat of a different flavour to the traditional section. Taking us back to the Lydia Thompson era of tease, DD performed a routine inspired by the late Victorian era of burlesque. With comedy and wit, she showcased her cheeky personality to the tunes of a twinkling honky-tonk piano track, which was mixed with cheers and giggles from the crowd – but we knew when to laugh! DD continued to showcase strong display of comedy that the burlesque queens of WA are known for.
After a quick break, the Unique section opened with the charismatic Bettie Bombshell. Her high energy, comedy routine made you feel like you got a sneak peek into Bettie’s past as she performed in a Toddlers & Tiaras style talent show. The crowd roared with laughter after one particularly tantrum infused lob of a ballet slipper at her stage mum! Riding that momentum, Bettie moved straight into a killer tutu removal, proving again why she’s one performers at the top of her game.
Moisty Magic emerged in a stunning velvet gown. Cutting a mermaid silhouette with green appliques that were cleverly designed to create a map of the earth. Moisty performed to a powerful track by Muse as Gaia, Mother earth. Her number truly had a powerful message and promoted ethical environmentalism through strip!
Porcelain Alice took us on a star-studded gothic trip, performing her act Dreamweaver. Her black and strappy costume hugged her slender frame as the act built up to a sensual moment with a staple gun.
The technicolour queen of the competition, Rainbow brought Alice in Wonderland’s Mad Hatter to life with an upbeat electro-swing track. Amidst huge cheers, I literally felt the audience stomping and tapping their feet as she exploded into a high energy Charleston. With a high energy shimmy pants removal to a tumultuous drum beat, Rainbow took the cake for making those pants work as hard as possible. She celebrated with a series of pantless high kicks just for fun!
Next up – the Black Widow spun her web. Ferri Maya brought the feel of a live rock band to the stage. Whipping her plait, Ferri executed a series of thoroughly fluid floor-work that was quite frankly – just insane. The audience truly were stunned and loved every single jaw grinding moment it!
It was the tiny beep of a horn and child sized headlights that announced Sammy Sparkles return to stage as she parked her pink Barbie jeep in the spotlight. Sammy gave this the iconic doll a feminist facelift and took the audience on a Barbie adventure that unpacked the damaging social influences that this pretty plastic figurine has had.
Embodying both masculinity and femininity energy, Shaan Valentine performed a sexy and strong striptease with an excellent briefcase reveal.
Natalya Alessi brought the silver screen to life with a downright flawless routine. Incredibly technical lighting and projection cast a shadowplay silhouette, as King Kong’s massive fists were projected across the back of the stage and the shadowy beast ripped away her clothing. It was the perfect combination of a classic act performed with a high tech execution. Truly breath-taking, the audience watched in silence enjoying the spectacle until the very end when they erupted in a massive applause. The audience fell deeply and madly in love with Natalya Alessi.
I was massively excited to see this next act – the aptly named Chiptease by Lucy Luxe! Expertly chosen music set the mood and drove the narrative for what was an absolutely mouth-watering act. Each layer that came off sent the audience up another notch cheering. The colour changing sauce pour was a moment of pure delicious genius!
Dee Dee Luscious brought down the house with her romantic yet tragic rendition of… Swanlakesque. Her dancing, drama and comic timing were all en pointe until she met a cruel fate by the hands of the hunter. The audience erupted and sprung to their feet for a standing ovation as her lifeless, feathery white form was dragged off stage, closing the competition portion of the Grand Final.
It was time for the reigning Miss Burlesque Australia to hand over her crown. The multi-talented performing heavyweight Scarlet Adams took to the stage for an enigmatic and moving performance. A collective cast of goosebumps rippled over the audience as an other-worldly silhouette shone through floating nylon. The creature ripped through the material and revealed an eerie, alien Mugler inspired costume. I won’t lie – it was at this point that I was so transfixed that I stopped taking notes. Scarlet is the most glamorous creature that I have had the pleasure of watching and we all thank her so much for it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crliyw2v8lI
The judges sure did have their work cut out for them with such a varied display of acts and performances of stellar showmanship. The audience waited with excitement as every point was counted. Miss Alyssa Kitt came out with envelopes in hand. She delivered an eloquently spoken Oscar speech and then began to announce the winners. Rainbow took out the title of Miss Classic 2019 and Ferri Maya the new Miss Innovative 2019. Natalya Alessi gracefully glided across the stage taking out the title of Entertainer of the Year. 2nd Runner Up was hometown hero Dee Dee Luscious and crowd favourite Lucy Luxe took princess of Miss Burlesque Australia as 1st Runner Up.
And our new Miss Burlesque Australia was announced for 2019 – Bettie Bombshell. The audience heard her yell, “What a wild ride! Time for champagne!” This lady is a true powerhouse of the Australian burlesque scene and a gorgeous human being. You could feel the love she had for performing that night. Her strength, humour and personality shone through every time she hit the stage. There was so much love and excitement amongst the performers and the audience that night, with the crowd rushing forward to congratulate and thank everyone for an amazing evening. To our new Miss Burlesque Australia, and to all the performers – congratulations and thank you!
What I loved about this night was seeing the absolute best of the best putting their favourite and most polished acts, which was an absolute treat from start to finish with clever costuming, well thought out reveals and acts that brought to life so many unique voices and viewpoints in this art form. From the seasoned punter to the first time viewer, everyone in the audience were treated to an evening of top quality entertainment.
We look forward to seeing what Miss Burlesque Australia 2020 has in store!