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Review: Bombshell Burlesque: Heatwave!


Review: Bombshell Burlesque: Heatwave!

The Bombshell Academy has clearly built a devoted following as part of Brisbane’s Wonderland Festival; a run of three virtually sold-out years continuing, as the Friday and Saturday evenings of this year’s run are already sold out. Clearly, audiences know what they like. My three recommendations are: (1) if you want to see many of the Wonderland Festival events, don’t delay: book now; (2) put the 2019 Festival in your diary so you get to see your favourites next year. Oh, and (3) going out on a Thursday night means you get to see shows that otherwise are sold out!

Bombshell Burlesque: Heatwave is a selection of burlesque acts, themed around… heat (unsurprising really, with that title). A great end-of-year showcase for the Bombshells, and the students and tutors of the Bombshell Academy.

Ella Fontaine is a well-chosen MC, keeping the evening on track, as a quick-change host, raconteur and chanteuse (memorably with Hotline Bling and Heat Wave). The talented Lila Luxx (Las Vegas Burlesque Hall of Fame 2016 & 2017) directs the show and was one of our highlight acts of the evening as a devilish ‘tease. Jacqueline Furey showed why she has been recognised as International Sideshow Showgirl (although no sword-swallowing or fire-eating on display this time), with some flowing dance and also making sparks fly. And I believe it was Cello Bordello (Miss Burlesque Queensland 2016) who rocked Highway to Hell with a hoop, attitude and an altitude ‘tease.

Pictured  :  Jacqueline Furey  (R) in conversation with Kelly Higgins-Devine (Turbine Platform, live ABC Radio 612 Broadcast). Pictures Credit:  Creative Futures Photography .

Pictured : Jacqueline Furey (R) in conversation with Kelly Higgins-Devine (Turbine Platform, live ABC Radio 612 Broadcast). Pictures Credit: Creative Futures Photography.

The music was well-chosen, the show fast-paced (Fontaine commenting on the chaos of behind-the-scenes quick change), the tassels spun, the flesh was revealed, and the audience had a ball. My two highlights were the dance class routine (complete with leg-warmers, to what else but a version of Olivia Newton-John’s Physical), and of course the ‘Bev-in-Accounts’ Hot Summer Nights fun.

The traditional definition of burlesque is an exaggerated parody, or variety show that includes striptease. But it has come to refer to the sequins, strip-tease, and showgirls, as seen at Bombshell Burlesque: Heatwave. If you like contemporary burlesque, are looking to sample a burlesque show, or want to see more of the students and tutors of the Bombshell Academy, them this is for you.

Verdict: If you are a fan of Bombshell Burlesque, and the Bombshell Academy, I’m sure you’ve got tickets already. If you’ve not seen a burlesque show before, this might be a good place to start.

 Audience tip: 60 minutes, Brisbane Powerhouse Visy Theatre (coarse language, implied nudity, sexual references, strobe effects, adult themes, and light smoke/haze effects. Drinks purchased at the bar can be taken into the show). There are only three performances Bombshell Burlesque: Heatwave in the 2018 Wonderland Festival program (22-24 November, 2018, all 9pm), and it appears that the remaining shows are already sold out. Tickets may still be available or try the box office for returns? $35 ($30 for groups over 10+ concession), plus $5.95 transaction fee. Why not keep an eye on the website, and see what else might tempt you at the 2018 Wonderland Festival.

Catherine Lawrence

The reviewer attended the Thursday 22nd November 2018 performance (9pm).

Pictures Credit:  Creative Futures Photography.










Review: The Poor Slob and The Good Fairy

Pictured  : Lola the Vamp, in   The Poor Slob & The Good Fairy ,    May 2015. Picture Credit:  Geoff Lawrence .

Pictured: Lola the Vamp, in The Poor Slob & The Good Fairy, May 2015. Picture Credit: Geoff Lawrence.

The Anywhere Festival is a great opportunity to see new work, and visit fresh venues around the city. The Sip Café has a great location, and it looks like it serves a good breakfast: just across the road from the river at 54 Vernon Terrace, Teneriffe. I shall certainly look to pop along again and sample the menu. However, I did wonder what passers-by thought was going on as a dozen or so of us sat in a semi-circle, on Sunday evening, watching what might have appeared to be striptease. Memo to self: re-read the description of an event booked a few weeks earlier before you go.

I was part of the audience on the final night of the short Anywhere Festival Brisbane run of The Poor Slob & The Good Fairy, staring Lola the Vamp. Dr Lola Montgomery is a graduate of Griffith University’s School of Humanities, with a PhD in burlesque—and was film director, film and burlesque performer, and show producer. The show was a combination of silent film (with appropriate background music), interspersed with burlesque performances by one of the film characters ‘in the flesh,’ and concluding with a performance of ‘Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien.'

Le Pauvre Bougre et le bon génie, the 1899 Parisian cabaret script by Alphonse Allais is a witty, 600-word, short story about the encounter between a poor chap, absinthe, and what I thought of as the spirit in a bottle (a genie—or in this performance, a fairy). Directed by Lola Montgomery, and starring Lola The Vamp,  Eric Meredith, and Mina Von Lustern, the re-imagining of the story as The Poor Slob & The Good Fairy was first shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007. The audience on 17th May seemed to find some of the earlier lines of the film amusing, but there was less laughter as the story unfolded. I quite enjoyed the film: Mina Von Lustern (William Ferguson) played the character of the waiter with style, Lola The Vamp was a coquettish and alluring 'Good Fairy,' and the sepia tones and typeface for the script were well-chosen.

I also liked the idea of the fairy interrupting the film: bringing it to life, and perhaps also a reference to intervals projectionists needed when changing show reels for early films. I had anticipated that the live performances might link in more closely with the story told in the film (I am guessing that perhaps these were representations of some of the Parisian dancers and performers that the “poor slob” was to spend his last francs on?). But I would suggest that the interjections would be better achieved if there was a corresponding shift in lighting and sound. A fellow Anywhere Festival reviewer commented on lighting and technical problems on the opening night. At the end of the run we experienced fewer technical issues, but I struggled a little with the sound and lighting. For example, I missed most of the short introductory speech. I also felt that the lighting needs to be addressed (even if just with investment in a couple of lamps). I am all for creating an atmosphere, but there is a balance to be had between low light and being able to see (and hear) a performer. Rather than heralding the change in pace with music and lighting, Lola the Vamp had to tell the audience that “this is the burlesque bit.” But perhaps that’s all part of the new burlesque, or retro-burlesque, which I now discover is part of Australian Absinthe Culture (see

I am sure that show will continue to evolve and develop. As Lola the Vamp noted, in the concluding speech, events such as the Anywhere Festival allow performers to test their work out and to experience ‘self-producing.’ Perhaps with a bigger budget, better lighting, and more robust technical equipment, the show will be more successful. For future publicity, I’d suggest that the producers consider adding in a more accurate estimate of running time, and perhaps also make the age guide part of the show description (there was an MA15+ reference, but only next to the running time, under the address). Paying audiences might expect that shows will approximately to the time advertised (17th May was the final night of the short run, when the show ran for half of its advertised time). Of course, if they had noticed the show was advertised as 90min then potential audiences would have also seen the MA15+ guide. And, after all, perhaps few under-16s would be out in Teneriffe at 830pm on a Sunday; they’d be getting an early night before calling in for their Sip Café chia and coconut pud in the morning. 

Catherine Lawrence  

Main Picture: Lola the Vamp, in The Poor Slob & The Good Fairy, May 2015. Picture Credit: Geoff Lawrence.