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Burlesque Leamington Sparkles

May 14, 2012

Last month the Garter Lounge rolled back into our sometimes sleepy Spa town, with Darkteaser bringing together a troupe of  the loveliest and liveliest burlesque ladies to perform at The Assembly.

And as it was just a shimmy-shake away from my studio, not only would it have been a missed opportunity to decline the offer to photograph the action, it would have been downright rude.

Darkteaser UK burlesque star

The lady of the house – Darkteaser

It was the Garter Lounge’s third appearance In Leamington, though the first time it had been helmed by new ringmistress, Ophelia Bitz, who was just outstanding. Slick, soulful, funny and outrageous in all the right ways, I’m sure there’d be more shots of her in focus had she not had me laughing so much.

Burlesque compere Ophelia Bitz

The compere beyond compare – Ophelia Bitz

It’d been nearly a year since I had been out and covered a live show, so it was nice to be back scurrying about at the edge of the stage clicking away. The Garter Lounge is always a professionally orchestrated affair and whoever was operating the dry ice machine that night had certainly had his Weetabix.

Though what made for some instant atmosphere for the audience made my job of shooting through coloured fog that little bit harder. It was so thick during the first handful of acts it was actually quite hard to keep things sharp, though I’m actually really pleased with the saturated colours and all round moodiness of some of the resulting shots.

Raven Six and Bruise Violet on stae at Garter Lounge

Raven Six and her friends with glitter for brains |  Bruise Violet in red

Italian burlesque starlet Scarlett Martini

Scarlett Martini – bare faced Italian cheek

Darkteaser bathed in beautiful blue light

Suitably dark and suitably teasing

As a bit of a dressmaker myself I’m always in awe of the girls’ bespoke costumes. This delicate little fairy number was one of my favourites and I’m glad the dry ice had calmed down a bit by this point so I could capture some of the detail.

Burlesque fairy Emmanuelle Claire

Emmanuelle Claire – every inch the pre-Raphaelite Titania

Emmanuelle Claire fairy striptease

Magically making her clothes disappear in a cloud of fairy dust

With a couple of exceptions, I’d not seen any of these ladies perform before and sometimes I think it’d be nice to sit in the audience and just enjoy the show. These were proper quality acts.

Burlesque stars Gemma Sheree and Frankie Lynn

More eastern promise from Gemma Sheree | The doll-like Frankie Lynn

Burly Q gal Frankie Lynn

Frankie Lynn – all topped off with a bow

It wasn’t all elegant and etherial either. Mama Jenufa was one of my favourite performers at the last Garter Lounge and I’d heard tell of her Pat Butcher act but never seen it. Every sexy circus needs a clown and Mama really is a scream, ‘Pat’ was every bit as funny as I’d been led to believe and the ‘improvised’ earring tassel twirling a genius little touch. Her second turn as the clumsy, wannabe fan dancer proved another showcase for her physical comedy and quite rightly the loudest applause of the night were reserved for her.

Burlesque comedienne Mama Jenufa

The always brilliant, Mama Jenufa

The Assembly always looks the part with its art deco trappings, though it is a big place to fill. While the event drew a crowd of dedicated and vocal burlesque fans who knew they were in for a treat, I cant help but think that if this ace show had been transplanted into the middle of a city, it’d be packed to the rafters.

Burly Q lass Gemma Sheree

Her name was Gemma, Sheree was a showgirl…

Bruise Violet performs striptease

Bruise Violet, who treated the audience to a show tune, as well as all this…

Burlesque performer photographed by Raquel Rouge

Just, wow!

Scarlett Martini striptease act

One of the biggest draws of the night was Italian pin-up, Scarlett Martini

Scarlett Martin hit by the spotlight

Scarlett the starlet

Big congratulations go out again to my old mucker Darkteaser for putting together a wonderful show. The lady herself was on fine form and looked as good as I’ve ever seen her – those dark cascading locks styled by Pin Curls and Pompadours really suit her.

Darkteaser looks at camera

Darkteaser looks down the lens

I personally think it was the best I’ve been to and I’ll be releasing more pics closer to my exhibition in July. I had a great time and it was lovely to catch up with a few familiar faces, though I’m not going to gloss over the fact that I did feel a bit sad that Vanessa wasn’t at my side. I’m sure she was there in spirit.

These pics are for her.

RS x

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