A Raunchy Evening with Hundred Watt Club
Burlesque to me fills my head with beautiful vintage style, classic beauty of a time gone by and just the right amount of cheeky sexiness. Hundred Watt Club, with its vintage posters, painted a picture of good old fashioned fun, and having been to a burlesque show before, I thought I knew what I was in for.
However, there was much more of a variety feel to the night, with not only stripping and singing, but comedy and short sketches. A tantalising evening of tease and temptation was expected, but I was so pleasantly surprised by the inclusion and quality of the comedy, something that made the show stand out as an exciting combination of varied talent.
Our hostess for the evening was Liberashe (Dawn Gracie), a glamorous glitterball of a woman with no fucks to give. Self-styled as a fusion of Zsa Zsa Gabour, Barbara Cartland and Liberace, and dressed in a white sequined split leg dress,complete with oyster like fanning around her neck, this risque raconteur took no prisoners, particularly those on the front row.
Liberashe was outrageous, sipping from the audience’s drinks, straddling those brave/foolish enough to come up onto the stage and locking lips with any audience member that she particularly fancied (men and women alike). A night for an audience of shrinking violets this was not.
The night opened and closed with Bettsie Bon Bon, the evenings darling poster girl and the kind of good old fashioned starlet your sailor granddad would’ve had a picture of in his wallet. A classic burlesque beauty, Bettsie tantalised the audience with her elegant vintage outfits and playful striptease.
A Gatsby-esque quality to her performance, Bettsie oozed sex appeal but retained her charming style, keeping the audience on tenterhooks with every slip of a stocking and each tug of her silk gloves with her teeth. From the performance culminating in a giant powder puff as the only thing covering her modesty to fully-clothed, she was dipped in jazz-age glittering gowns – I’m sure Bettsie would have stolen several hearts that night.
Joe Black was audacious, combining an original mix of drag, observational comedy and music. His dark humour in the songs of what he’d do any man who’d ever leave him had the audience creasing. A dramatic drag clown, Black’s filthy, flirty act featuring his sharp, witty tongue and a look that was a mix of The Devil Wears Prada’s Miranda Priestly meets Glen Close, was a winning combination for the droll, delectable dandy.
A delight visually and audibly, Black returned later in the show to pair with Arran Shurvington for a slapstick sister act of a Wicked musical tribute, green face and all. A fresh, original talent, Black is one to watch. He is also playing the Brighton Fringe, so be sure to catch him in the Spiegel tent in May if this sarcastic, ukulele toting gem sounds up your street.
Shurvington also featured on his own in a terrifying sketch on the eerie vampire Nosferatu. A comical twist to a classic horror character, he was alone on stage with a vintage rotary dial phone, repeatedly calling and pining after his ex to the tune of Adele's 'Hello.'
Shurvington's presence on stage was a bizarre combination of genuine terror that made me feel uncomfortable watching for more than a moment, yet I simply couldn't look away. It’s a rare talent to make each individual audience member feel watched, disturbed yet unable to do anything but laugh! Those piercing eyes and cheekbones make for a face hard to forget.
Finally, Lena Mae performed two themed dances. Firstly the tongue in cheek ‘dinos are a girl’s best friend.’ On paper, the combination of a dinosaur outfit and a strip tease seem incompatible, but somehow it worked, tail and all. Lena’s comic ability is incredibly strong, yet she still made the act enticing and seductive.
Lena’s second act was a high octane, Rocky themed boxing montage. Eternally seductive, Lena appeared in her gym shorts and nipple tassels, emptying a water bottle all over her body. Lena was waiting in the foyer to greet us after, and was stunning in her finale sequined vintage dress, a true multifaceted beauty.
The Hundred Watt Club brought a unique approach to the burlesque shows in Brighton by incorporating elements such as sketch and comedy, which resulted in a delightfully refreshing show. The audience were incredibly responsive; rarely have I seen an entire audience on its feet with such enthusiasm! Original, exciting acts mixed with classic burlesque performances made for an endlessly entertaining night.