We’ve begun with the Red Velvet Revue! I was in the audience on the first night of Fringe, Friday the 15th of January, but it took a few days to analyze the many performances in this variety line up. It’s tricky to begin the season with this much gusto but Lady Velvet Cabaret managed to perfectly set the tone. I do realise that I’ve accidentally picked a name for my evaluations that is somewhat similar, but it was completely on accident and we have no affiliation (other than obviously both loving a very luxurious fabric). Now let’s pick apart each individual performer and all the elements involved.
Let’s begin with the venue. As soon as I walked in it exuded class befitting the name. Outside was dead silent, but the inside was bustling with excited audience members in evening wear or polo shirts, with the odd jean short or ‘jort’ here and there – as Perth audience members often do. The bar had wonderfully presented waiters in classic bow tie. I ordered just a water but the bartender offered me a slice of lemon and lime to garnish with it. “Why not?” He exclaimed merrily, “It’s Fringe!” I’m already in love with this venue. The lights go down, the atmosphere becomes moody and seedy and sultry, and an absolute woman comes on stage with glitter galore.
Lucinda Panties – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
I’d never seen Lucinda Panties before but the name told me everything I needed to know, and she very much lives up to it. Fun, bubbly, just sexual enough without pushing too far and making anybody uncomfortable, which is refreshing. Lucinda was our glorious host tonight and was realistically perfect in every way. She checked all the boxes. She learned the name of a girl drinking in the audience to pick on often, and picked the right one too because that girl was loving the attention. Lightly played with a fine gentleman who was clearly not new to being a recurring victim of the host. Had all the running gags going, easily familiarised us with herself and her humour. She had seemingly infinite stall material, not that she needed it – thanks stage kittens! And best of all for me personally, she was confident – but also a little awkward. I adore hosts that have a little bit of relatable awkwardness on stage. When they babble on for a while and realise they don’t have a point, when something goes wrong and they acknowledge it and make it even bigger and you really don’t know if it was on purpose or not. The real standout thing to me about Lucinda Panties was how she would yell at us, and at the performers. Between accusing the magician of witchcraft and telling us to shut up while she talked to her audience members, that high energy shout was contagious. She is a contagious person in the best possible way, and that’s what makes a perfect host.
Candy Cheeks and Bambi LaBelle – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
From there we went through a number of various artists – burlesque, cabaret, magicians, circus, the regular lineup of a good variety show. Beginning with a cutesy drunk tennis striptease from Candy Cheeks and Bambi LaBelle, the audience was audibly very pleased. You could tell which audience members were brand new – they were either cheering somewhat inappropriate words or too unsure of what to do at all. I think the hallmark of a good performance is how you make the people who have never seen this genre before react, and goodness me did they get some reactions by dancing to a mashup of a politician saying we should drink more beer. A classic. Candy and Bambi were also speedy stage kittens and occasional backup dancers for some other performances.
Tory Kendrick – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Absolutely stellar. Tory Kendrick held the crowd completely captivated with her singing, particularly with the final belt. The audience was torn between clapping vigorously for her after each technical success or staying quiet to hear what note she’ll hit next. She picked a perfect song that really showcased her skills nicely, I especially appreciated how she didn’t show us everything right at the start. Each chorus grew in technicality and dynamics and range and skill. There were no boring parts, she just kept bringing the energy up a notch, and that rise is an integral part of entertainment that many singers often miss. Tory, however, had it all.
Malaika Moon – ⭐⭐⭐
Then we jumped to the gorgeous Malaika Moon. As Lucinda said – where on Earth does she keep all that audacity? Her dominating attitude held us captive from literally the first arm movements, just to open the curtains from offstage. She posed at the door for a good few moments to make sure we were ready (we were not). She sauntered onto stage, each movement snappy and on beat. Each turn of the ankle receiving a resounding cheer from an eager audience. There was a big dip in Malaika’s energy for the second half of the short show, perhaps nerves or just tiredness. But the first impression is the one that lasts, so I’ll remember her as a powerful and commanding woman with a stage presence that is the right kind of intimidating. I hope her other shows this season keep that intense energy up, because the crowd would eat out of the palm of her hand. I’d give a three and a half but I round down.
Madeleine Stuckey – ⭐⭐⭐
An amazing contortionist was also on stage tonight by the name of Madeleine Stuckey. Her body moved in some ways that a body should generally not move and it was very impressive. The only critique I have is that she probably could’ve cut her performance down a bit, the energy dipped in the middle and never came back up. The second half was largely repeats of things she did in the first half. Still impressive for sure, just losing the entertainment aspects a little.
Delza Skye – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The perfect Perth pinup. Her donut routine was the ideal mix of sex and humour. I’m a sucker for some props and she used hers in all the right places at all the right times. The costume was campy and teared off smoothly, the facial expressions were both confident and comedic, she really excelled in face. The choice in music was unexpected and worked better than I thought it would. The very end of the performance went full food porn and it was iconic! Delza Skye is a very creative and daring dancer who I am very excited to see again.
Kitty Litteur – ⭐⭐⭐
Here we had a very big concept with a strong vision, but Kitty Litteur didn’t quite execute it flawlessly. It was very entertaining and had all the right elements, but seemed a little bit too childish at times. If I had to pinpoint it, the rhyming was probably what made it feel a little awkward, like it was being performed to children. Considering how Kitty was clearly still trying to be hot and spicy as burlesque often is, all the different parts just didn’t quite join up. That said, Kitty herself was clearly very good at the craft, I can see the creativity and confidence and passion she harbours, this one number just didn’t quite get there for me.
Cameron the Magician – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
I’m not often excited by magicians but Cameron had so many different parts to his performance that all synced up perfectly, it was hard not to enjoy. He’s especially good at stalling, you could tell the audience members he brought up as assistants weren’t plants because of how often he had to stall for them. Cameron warmed us up with a very cute and easy trick that made me laugh hard than it should’ve, but by the time he’d done the big magic I was both laughing and very confused as to how he did it! And he was so incredibly fast as well, very smooth, not very clunky when the assistants actual managed to finish assisting. It was all very impressive and entertaining.
Flynn V – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
I really enjoyed Flynn’s performance. Beginning in the audience was a clever move that a lot of performers didn’t take advantage of, but if anything Flynn is daring. The attitude, the confidence, the strut! It was all there in this sharp-jawed package. Between pulling ‘moist’ bandanas out of his pleather underwear and putting them on the head of an unsuspecting man in the audience, I was well and truly entertained. And so was the man in the audience Flynn was toying with. The costume was perfect as far as I’m concerned and it was impossible to take eyes off of this colourful and bold character. A truly great performance.
Michael Fouche – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Michel Fouche was a real standout tonight. I was cheering hard for every other performer, but for Michel my jaw was dropped the whole time, unable to speak. It reminded me of every time I’ve seen Circus Carnis and was in true horror the whole time. Michel absolutely horrified me. His razor act had me simultaneously on the verge of gagging, clapping, and giving a truly terrified scream. It was gross. I absolutely loved it.
Chloe the Cocaine – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Our next piece was very elegant, in complete contrast. Mixing traditional Asian performance with modern burlesque, Chloe the Cocaine had us all in her fingers with beautifully styled hair, incredibly detailed clothes, and such control in taking it all off. I was awe-struck. Audience members who had been talking the whole time ceased. A spell was put over everybody watching as Chloe spun slowly, lifted her arms delicately, and then revealed her bare skin with both a classic playful burlesque energy and also keeping each limb used deliberate and soft. Such a unique performance, I hope I get to see it again.
Rhonda Civic – ⭐⭐⭐
I’ve seen Rhonda Civic perform many times before, and I’ve seen this specific act she wisely chose to do once before. It’s absolutely hilarious. Unfortunately that made my standards very high, and my expectations were not exceeded. Credit where it’s due, Rhonda had clearly made some decisions to try and up the ante, but each new embellishment to the routine was somewhat clunky and removed a bit of polish. I love to watch this routine and so does the audience (except for the two overly masculine straight guys in the corner who didn’t know where to look) but I really hope that Rhonda will continue to polish this number before improving it in other ways. She is undoubtedly filled with the potential to be a draglesque household name and I desperately hope she continues to pursue that, and seek guidance from peers with more experience until she develops her own. I am very excited to see what she pulls out in the other shows she’s booked this season, she’ll only keep getting better.
Liberty Genre – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Liberty Genre is a very multi-faceted performer. I never know what I’m about to see when she comes on stage, which is impressive considering I’ve seen her quite often. Tonight she did one of her most artsy pieces. It was mesmerising, strange, and very uncomfortable in a very good way. She was a tree. It was impossible to look away as she shed her leaves, moving creakily and with a stutter like she was breaking in the wind, but perfectly in time with the music. It was so interesting to watch and impossible to do justice by explaining via text. Definitely not appreciated by everyone, but I think she chose the right venue to put that performance on. It was stunning in every sense. Liberty Genre is a visionary who will bring Perth’s art scene into a new level, and we all need to catch up quick because she will not slow down for us.
Lotta L’amour – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Lotta L’amour is a spritely, sexy performer all around. You can see her French showgirl influences in each step. Her smile was so genuine and her kicks were high. What more could you want out of burlesque? So bendy! She was placed after a couple of drag queens, so the boys next to me were wanting to hoot and holler but were too worried about what was under the makeup to go all out, so I cheered extra hard. Lotta manages to keep a very casual glamour – each toe is pointed, each leg straight, each detail fully accounted for. But she does it with such an effortless aura that it looks like she’s just dancing for herself without a care. A truly five star showgirl. I can’t wait to see her on stage again.
Sugar Du Joure – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
I am so biased for Sugar so I have to judge her harder. She came on in the middle of her introduction just to fall asleep on the stage. She flopped around on audience members who did not know how to react. She was very good at acting like she just woke up, and I’m not convinced that she hadn’t been napping backstage until her call up. The meat of her number was sexy as always, with the frills being funny and flirty and frivolous. I adore this Sweet Dreams number she put on, and have yet to find a Sugar act that I don’t adore.
There’s a few reasons we’re missing the fifth star, but the main one was actually to do with the venue organisation. The show was sold out and packed to the brim with standing audience, but there were so many audience seats that were completely empty because the crowd was afraid of accidentally sitting at a reserved table. So even though it was almost uncomfortably full in the standing area, there were few up in the front to cheer for the performers. Really could’ve used an usher to pull people into the non-reserved tables and fix that break in the atmosphere.
All in all this opening night lineup was an exceptional way to set the tone for the rest of the fringe season. I booked a few more tickets after tasting some of these bite-sized performances and finding a few performers I hadn’t heard of before absolutely irresistible. If it’s anything like the Red Velvet Revue, this looks to be a very promising Fringe season.
The Velvet Card Critic