The capacity crowd formed a long line outside the gorgeous Spiegeltent. They were processed with efficiency and charm by costume clad ushers. Details such as these add to the buzz of the evening and they have been well handled by the Perth Fringe. Inside the velvet banquets and lacquer chairs were filled and Master of Ceremonies, Baron Frauhausen together with the blonde bombshell Fanny La Rue welcomed the crowd with much verve and gush.
The show was billed as Empress Stah, but also featured an assortment of acts from the Fringe season. The pace was cracking and all the acts were received with much gusto by the crowd. First up was Ginge La Minge who performed a clever comedy burlesque rap. Then Coco Poppin’ gave us a slick Brazillian pineapple samba. There were a lot of hot shakes and shimmies from this dance goddess. Fanny La Rue and Baron Frauhausen re-appeared together with Peggy Loose, a blow up sex doll. This was the cue for some outrageous audience participation. Volunteers were blindfolded with the Baron’s cummerbund and had a stick-on present bow pasted to their lips. They then attempted to navigate the path to Peggy Loose’s “sweet spot”. The audience reaction was huge; screams of laughter, cat calls, and encouraging applause especially when the second volunteer scored a bulls-eye.
Empress Stah appeared in a silver white body suit complete with full helmet headgear, looking like a space android. Stah performed peerless acrobatics on a swing above the ecstatic audience. Frauhausen and La Rue returned, their patter becoming more and more risqué as they introduced the amazing Space Cowboy. His bowler hat juggling from toe to head was not 100% successful but the crowd oohed and aahed, enthusiastically applauding whenever he succeeded.
The tattooed Cowboy carefully explained the technique of sword swallowing, a kind of full relaxation of internal organs (I think!). He certainly knows as he holds seven Guiness Book of Records entries for swordly efforts. In a mind-blowing finale he attached irons (the clothes pressing kind) on ropes with hooks which he attached to his eye sockets. The swinging iron effect was not for the squeamish but luckily there didn’t seem to be too many of those in the rollicking audience.
After interval a metal boat shaped rocking machine was assembled on stage. This held a slackwire across the centre. Bryn charmed the crowd as he worked the wire accompanied by a pretty accordion player. Tom Flannigan brought out a bunch of large plastic bowls which Bryn attempted to flick up onto his head in a pile. This while on a slackwire above a rocking frame! And he was ultimately successful!
Piff the Magic Dragon was a laid back performer compared to the rest of the acts. His deadpan dry patter was a nice counterpoint to some clever illusions. “Baby ghosts” from large white handkerchiefs, multiplying miniature hares (props not real), card tricks and a touch of flame breathing endeared him the crowd.
Perth audiences have embraced the Sugar Blue Burlesque phenomena, with its burlesque classes and shows in many venues. Adora Derriere is the Director of the company and a consummate mistress of the genre. Wearing a black curled wig and performing to a Prince number she delivered in the classic slow burn burlesque style. Tempting, teasing and ultimately revealing nothing more than a flash of red knickers and suspenders.
Tom Flannigan provided a complete change of pace. Clad in overalls and a rakish sailor hat he clowned his way through some brilliant balancing acts with a ladder, a bucket and a paint roller. It was accomplished slapstick.
Next up was Gale Force, hula hoop artiste extraordinare. She spun hoops up and down her lissom body. She twirled, tossed and juggled hoops to rousing songs including Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets. Fantastic fun.
Finally to the incredible Empress Stah. Closing the evening in an amazing costume composed of glittering golden fish scales she contorted her lithe figure into remarkable and suggestive positions onstage, wowing the crowd. Empress Stah finished her act by showering the front of her body with a small watering can which resulted in the loss of scales to truly remarkable effect! Her physical talent is amazing and her provocative, sexy presentation has earned her cult status.
All in all it was a fantastic night of cabaret/vaudeville/burlesque. A wonderful footnote is the news that Artrage now own the historic Pearl Spiegeltent and it will stay in Perth to delight audiences in the future.
Fringe World presents
THE SPIEGELTENT SPECTACULAR
featuring Empress Stah
Venue: Fringe World | The Spiegeltent, Urban Orchard, Perth Cultural Centre
Dates/Times: 24 - 26 February 2011
Bookings: www.fringeworld.com.au or Planet Video