Cabaret and burlesque

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Time Out takes the temperature of the cabaret and burlesque scene – and finds it's hot out there

  • Cabaret and burlesque

    Fischerspooner pic: Stephanie Pistel

  • We really shouldn’t be surprised. From just the occasional performer at out-there club nights, cabaret and burlesque has exploded in an every-night-of-the-week riot of feathers, sequins and sharp vintage tuxedoes, and our autumn calendar is chockablock full of A-lister talent dropping by for a London show or two. But even our jaws dropped at the news that tickets to Dita Von Teese's debut London at Koko this Sunday show sold out in less than 24 hours.

    ‘We’ve had more calls about her than any other we’ve done, even when Madonna played,’ says Marc Smith, Koko’s head of promotions, who admits to being more than a little surprised at the overwhelming response. ‘We knew she was a star and that there would be a hardcore set of fans, but we were taken by surprise by the normal people in the street intrigued by what she does. We could have sold out four nights and then some.’

    Dita Von Teese is the world’s most recognisable burlesque star, and while being married to Marilyn Mason was never going to hurt her propulsion to celebrity, her fetish DVDs and lingerie collection regularly sport ‘sold out’ banners in her online superstore and it costs a pretty penny to access her members’ pages (home to hundreds of risqué photographs). Her previous appearances in the capital have been strictly private affairs, and the Koko phones haven’t stopped clanging with fans desperate to get a ticket.

    ‘We’ve been getting thousands of emails, too,’ says Marc, ‘I’ve had men and women doing anything that they can do to get a ticket, even sending in pictures of themselves. You can see that some are Marilyn Manson fans by his name tattooed on places you shouldn’t have to see. But most are hardcore burlesque fans.’

    The UK’s queen of burlesque, Immodesty Blaize, will be making a rare two-date appearance in November, performing and programming the bill of ‘international burlesque legends’ in a benefit for California’s Exotic World Burlesque Museum, and that’s also well on the way to selling out already.

    Smirnoff have jumped on the cabaret bandwagon with Smirnoff & the Electric Cabaret, also at Koko this week. This sold out pretty damn quick too. Fischerspooner headline the night with their new stage show, and you only have to look at their latest batch of photographs to see why. ‘Doing the show seemed an obvious fit,’ says Casey Spooner, the flamboyant half of the New York electro duo. ‘It’s something showy, extravagant, something fun. It’s the new second cycle of the show, we’ve only done it a couple of times. It’s with a band, and we kinda rewrote the whole thing. It’s like a combination of the first show but with a band, some awesome costumes and great choreography.’ As for the rest of the line-up, expect a man inside a giant balloon, a dancing girl troupe and Annie Mac as MC.

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