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All the Racy Action from Cheltenham

April 18, 2011

After my recent collaborations in the studio with Missy Malone, I was flattered to be asked to cover her own live burlesque revue last Saturday night.

Held in the charming Playhouse Theatre in Cheltenham, it was cool to be back in the town where I first trained as a photographer. I have lots of happy memories of the place and – after hanging out with Missy and her cast for the night – I now have a couple more.

Burlesque star Missy Malone on stage at her eponymous revue

Champagne girl and the toast of the evening – Missy Malone

The ‘Missy Malone and Friends Burlesque Revue’ took place over two performances and I was there to capture the matinée. Playing to a packed house, everyone was out for a good time, with many members of the audience dressed for the occasion and entering into the burlesque spirit with gusto.

Fan dancer, Cherry Shakewell, coyly looks back at the audience

Cherry Shakewell – the very definition of blonde bombshell

A tight cast of five girls – along with the excellent compere Desmond O’Connor – (un)covered all the bases, from classic balloon pops and fan dances to exotic and ethereal things with veils that were so mesmerising I almost forgot to press the shutter.

Betty Page look-a-like Leyla Rose rocks the audience in Cheltenham

Seductive and rocking in equal measure – the gorgeous curves of Leyla Rose

Cheeky songs on the ukelele courtesy of Desmond O'Connor

Desmond O'Connor, whose 'ooh-er missus' songs were a hit with the crowd

With such a mix of acts the evening was really well-paced and hung together brilliantly, with the audience whooping with delight in all the right places. You could tell the show had been carefully thought about and it’s easy to see why the regional press have fallen for their local burlesque heroine in a big way.

And what’s not to love?

Mesmerising veil act performed by Vicky Butterfly

Vicky Butterfly spreads her wings

Enigmatic image of burlesque artist Millie Dollar

Millie Dollar – if I ever get round to doing a book, this has to be a contender for the cover shot

While I was up the lighting gantry for the first half, then lurking in the wings for the second, it was also a pleasure to get backstage and take some candid snaps too. The atmosphere was so upbeat with everyone being so supportive of each other – as far away from the ‘bitchy showgirls’ image that you could get.

Cherry Shakewell checks her cupcake fascinator

The doll-like Cherry Shakewell checks that her cupcake fascinator is exactly at the right angle

Hi-jinx backstage at a burly show

Cherry checking that other things are in place / Magic Dave and Missy share a moment

I enjoyed capturing Missy ‘in her natural habitat’ again and it was good to see and photograph Vicky Butterfly, who I had previously had the honour of shooting at the last Garter Lounge, but it is always a thrill to meet and shoot guys and dolls I have not met before.

Here’s hoping they approve of these shots, because I’m dead pleased with them.

(And I’ll be putting more on my Flickr site once I have processed them all. Follow me on Twitter and I’ll let you know when.)

Famous performer Vicky Butterfly has a unique and high class take on burlesque

Beautiful, elegant and delicate – Vicky Butterfly lives up to her name

Burlesquers Missy and Millie on stage

Millie Dollar plays 'angel' to Missy's 'devil'

April has been full of burly goodness for me. I was at ‘An Evening of Burlesque’ at the Spa Centre when it rolled into Leamington last week, and of course next Monday I will be photographing Missy and Vicky Butterfly again, along with the fabulous Darkteaser at the Raquel Rouge sponsored Grand Garter Lounge at the Assembly in Leamington Spa. Can’t wait.

Tickets are still available here and it’ll be a great way to squeeze every last drop out of the upcoming long bank holiday weekend!

Hope to see some of you there.

And if I don’t, be sure to check back here on the blog for pics of and musings on the night.

RS x

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