Video by Mitchel Worley
Every seat in the house was packed opening night of the first ever Florida Burlesque Festival at Fort Lauderdale's Cinema Paradiso. Attendees scrambled to save seats for friends who were on their way. It was even a risk to use the restroom, as your coveted seat might be stolen. Popcorn was sold in traditional movie theater bags as well as bottles of wine. Preshow, attendees were able to purchase boas, Pure Romance items like lube, pasties, and books with titles such as Tickle His Pickle, Ride em', Cowgirl!, and The Complete Guide to Sexual Positions.
But back to the whole seat situation, or lack thereof. There wasn't an empty spot in sight.
Awaiting the show, audience members humorously applauded every time a stage manager walked by. Finally, at 8:30, a slideshow began with a video of comedian Tubby Boots and pictures of magazine covers of burlesque performers including the late famous local photographer Bunny Yeager. The burlesque fest was dedicated to the late pinup queen.
After the brief slideshow ended, Bambi LaFleur, executive producer of the affair, walked onstage. "Oh my gosh, I can't believe this is actually happening!" the busty dancer gushed. After speaking about her dream of doing a burlesque festival in Florida and Bunny Yeager, LeFleur honestly admitted, "I have no idea what I'm doing, but I see you all here and it's good!" When audience cheers subsided, LeFleur continued, "I hope you enjoy this live, and we don't keep watching the Kardashian people or whatever." What followed were even more cheers and Blanche DeBris, the MC of the night hitting the stage.
DeBris was adorned in a tight gold, glittery dress. Atop her short blonde hair was a rubber duckie hat and on her arms was gold shimmer. Considering the fact that she is a Las Vegas personality, the gaudiness was fitting.
"Is this anybody's first show?" she inquired in a squeaky voice. "Oh my cherries!" she exclaimed with a huge grin. You couldn't help but laugh -- she was adorable even with vulgarities spewing from her mouth. It's a rarity that someone can talk about boobies and wet panties without sounding perverted or repulsive.
And then, the show began. It was a blur of corsets, bright costumes, glitter, pasties, and, of course, titties of all shapes and sizes. While some performers made us laugh and others just captivated us, there were some that were just, well, awkward.
But, then again, it was all a matter of preference. Some maybe found the space dancer the finest while others may have found a futuristic theme weird. Is 15th century style burlesque your favorite? Good for you, but it may not be someone else's cup of tit, we mean, tea. That being said, there were a few acts that danced and stripped their way into our hearts and loins.
We laughed our asses of at the woman who came onstage yodeling and pretending to drink out of a flask. Just a reminder, funny and sexy always wins. The five ladies of Diva and Dolls Burlesque captivated us with their sensual strip tease and chair dance while Rose Rainbow, a German burlesque dancer, had a beautiful 15th century themed dance and costume, complete with a masquerade mask.
Bazooka Joe, who was introduced with the line, "If you like his crouching tiger, wait until you see his hidden dragon," impressed us with his comedic routine of removing towel after towel around his waist to finally reveal a hand towel on his, um, hidden dragon. Dixie Dynamite, another dancer from Germany, had a killer body we envied and a fantastic flapper routine.
After the intermission, we found more impressive acts. Ophelia Flame proved she earned the title of runner up queen runner-up for Queen of Burlesque at the Burlesque Hall of Fame with her intricate feather costume, flexible routine, and sculpted physique. Pretty Boy Rock had us crying with laughter after his comedy routine while he made fun of almost every type of person possible -- no one was safe from his jokes! His song "I'll Be a Ho for Christmas," parodying "I'll be Home for Christmas," may just be our new favorite holiday song.
There were a couple of memorable acts, such as a sexy cooking routine, a lady duo from Colorado who had a weed themed act, 2013's King of Burlesque Ray Gunn's sensual snakelike dance, a "choose your own burlesque" bit, and more. Yes, although some made us cringe or some we just found awkward, we had to admit that it takes a lot of guts (and balls) to come onstage with a routine. We can only admire from our seats instead of doing it ourselves as we laughed and watched these impressive performers.