Tassels, teasing and rib-tickling impersonations combine in the glitterball of entertainment that is the Golden Garter night.
Held quarterly by Sunderland-based Coquette Collective, the nights are a fabulous feast of burlesque, singing, cabaret, drag and comedy.
After starting life at The Borough in Vine Place, the event has grown into a modern-day variety night, held at North Shore in St Peter’s.
Its most recent show celebrated seven years in the business – and what a birthday bash it was.
One of the biggest draws was Katrina Darling. The 25-year-old from Fulwell began her burlesque career with the collective seven years ago and has gone on to perform internationally. Her royal connections – Kate is the second cousin of Kate Middleton – also saw her appear on the front cover of Playboy magazine.
There were no bunny ears on Saturday though, as the performer channelled more of a traditional style of tease. It isn’t a party without balloons. But whereas most people would look ridiculous dressed in the party essentials, she managed to make the costume look like a couture gown as she slinked through the crowd, encouraging the audience to pop the heart balloons to reveal a shower of glitter.
Later in the show, she brought a touch of Vegas showgirl to the proceedings when she emerged from behind the curtain in a plumage of pink feathers, which she elegantly proceeded to shed.
This was my friend’s first burlesque show and she wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Though it’s certainly not a show for the easily-offended and those not a fan of blue humour, the emphasis is tease not sleaze and it’s all tastefully done.
Class in a glass – quite literally – was provided by Carrie Ann, a tribute to one of the world’s leading burlesque artists, Dita Von Teese. Endorsed by the lady herself, Carrie is a glamorous Amazonian presence on stage who oozed confidence as she artfully shed her bejewelled garments. A highlight of the night was when she descended into a 5ft Martini glass, complete with water, in which she swished and swirled with graceful ease.
Interlinking the acts was compere Duke DeMilo. He’s a seasoned host, and it shows as he engaged with the audience and managed to keep them in the palm of his hand. Resplendent in a Cabaret-esque top hat, tails and military boots, complete with a dash of red sparkley lipstick, he looked the part too.
But he had more than one trick up his sleeve, he also performed as one half of singing duet Vintage Voices with Sunderland singer Kayleigh Lindstedt as the pair put a swing era twist on classics such as Jungle Book’s I Wanna Be Like You.
Meanwhile, life was a drag for performer Anna Morphic, winner of the national Drag Idol contest in 2013. She was every inch the diva as she performed I Can’t Do This Alone from hit musical, Chicago, in a red fringe dress that was made for sassy shimmying.
Special mention must also go to the exceptional lungs of Mimi La Fach who belted out opera at full pelt including the notoriously difficult Nessun Dorma.
From Pavarotti with panache to a regal Playboy bunny, this show had the lot.