Article & Photos: Ginger Valentine
It’s been a few weeks since my trip to New Orleans for the First Annual New Orleans Burlesque Festival and I am already missing the city. I can’t help it; those who’ve been there will understand. However, my objective is not to get too sentimental but instead share with you dear reader, the details of my latest adventure.
When I first arrived at the Westin, I had to dash across the street to the theater at the Harrah’s Casino for a tech rehearsal. I walked the stage while they tested my music. After 20 minutes and pausing to give fellow performer and Texan Ruby Joule a quick kiss on the cheek, I was free for a couple of hours before I had to get ready for the Mondo Showcase later that evening.
It was pouring rain (as it did off and on for the entire weekend), but luckily we had access to a car so Rose Darling and I (plus our gentlemen) took off to a fabulous spot on Magazine Street called Joey K’s. I ravished my roast beef po’boy in a most savage manner but no one seemed to mind too much. After lunch it was time to go back to get gussied up for the New Orleans Rum Party at the Westin Bar. At this point, my mind was already focused on that evening: The Mondo Showcase. Soon it was back to the room to gather my things and off to the theater.
I was so honored to have been selected to perform in this showcase, especially with so many performers that I admire and love. I don’t remember much from my show except waiting in the wings and listening to my intro. I couldn’t believe how much love was out there in the house, and I couldn’t believe that I was there about to do my number. After that I don’t remember much until after I’d finished my act. They had a really nice flat-screen monitor backstage so we were able to watch the show. Michelle L’amour blew everyone away with her heart number. That was the highlight for me.
After the show, Rose and I met up with Mia Vixen from San Diego and the Chicago crew (Michelle and her Starlets) at Coop’s on Decatur where I had a well-deserved Abita beer and fried shrimp po’boy. It was late when we got there, and nobody else was in the tiny restaurant, but in less than a minute we filled it with hungry strippers and friends.
And then finally, sleep.
Saturday I jumped out of bed early considering how late I fell asleep. We walked around the Quarter for a bit and had some breakfast (I use this term loosely) at The Napoleon House. We wandered a bit after lunch and window shopped at Trashy Diva and Fifi Mahoney’s and then we stumbled into the Daiquiri bar. Daiquiris are really popular in New Orleans and there are bars everywhere dedicated only to daiquiris. We each tried the Tiger Teaser (named after the LSU Tigers) which seemed to consist of Everclear and some kind of citrus. Saturday afternoon included more fun with beignets and coffee with Michelle and the Starlets at Café du Monde and then drinks at Tujaque’s.
After we stumbled back to the hotel room, I only had a couple of hours to sober up with coffee and a shower, get dressed and help Rose Darling with her hair. I must be super woman, because I got all of it done, Miss Darling’s hair looked fabulous and we took our seats for the Queens of Burlesque Show just as the house band was starting up.
The Queens of Burlesque Show was the best show I’ve ever seen. All of the ladies were so polished and beautiful. Each act was a little mini production all on its own. I strongly encourage any aspiring burlesque starlets to see as many top-notch performers live as much as possible, you learn so much. I was cheering for my Minneapolis sweetie, Ophelia Flame, but I was very excited to see everyone else too. Perle Noire was crowned the winner and deservedly so. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much energy and power in a striptease act. Catherine D’lish received 1st Runner Up and Lola Van Ella from St. Louis was the 2nd Runner up for her campy and naughty cake and frosting number.
After the Queens show, we dashed off to the House of Blues for the Late Night Burlesque Bash to cheer on fellow Dallasites: La Divina, Scarlette Switches and Rose Darling; Vivienne Vermuth looked dazzling as a stage kitten. Coco Lectric from Austin also performed as well as my friend from Denver, Fannie Spankings. The House of Blues was packed with fans and the girls gave them their all. Catherine D’lish capped off the show by setting the Guinness Book of World Records for the world’s largest feather fan dance. It was certainly a sight to see.
There was one more show on Sunday, but we had to pack up and head back to Dallas. It was such an amazing journey and I’m so glad that my first national burlesque festival was in a city that I love so much. I can’t wait for next year, whether I’m going as a fan or performer, I am certainly going back and I can’t wait.