London Cabaret Awards 2012 results

And the winner is... Ben Walters reports on the first ever London Cabaret Awards

Dusty Limits and Kiki Kaboom celebrate their wins Dusty Limits and Kiki Kaboom celebrate their wins - © Claire Bilyard

Bafta, schmafta, Grammy, schrammy. The only place to be seen at last week was the very first London Cabaret Awards, held at the Battersea Barge on Thursday February 16. The event had been the source of considerable anticipation and some controversy on the cabaret circuit – as I wrote in my last column (in my capacity as one of the five judges), they were never going to please everyone – but the night went with a bang.

The turn-out was great, with a good majority of nominees and other scene luminaries on board. (The river was choppy enough to prompt thoughts that, should the Barge go down, it would be the equivalent of that plane crash that took out the whole Polish cabinet.) After a champagne reception and a good bit of pap-snapping and hack-mingling, Paul L Martin, who created and produced the awards through his company, Excess All Areas, hailed cabaret for being friendly and cheap (I paraphrase but hear hear!) and we were off.

Fancy Chance, nominated for Best burlesque performer award Fancy Chance, nominated for Best burlesque performer award

Host Jamie Anderson kept the ceremony moving along at a good lick. An early highlight was the burlesque award, which saw nominee Fancy Chance painting tear-streak-effect mascara down winner Kiki Kaboom’s face as she made her acceptance speech – possibly the first such peroration to include the line ‘I also want to thank my tits’. Mat Ricardo took home best speciality act on a night that also marked 20 years since meeting his wife and their tenth wedding anniversary. (He’d just filmed a spot on Jonathan Ross as well.)

Even absentees were part of the fun. The first winner, Jonny Woo, was in Mexico but John Sizzle accepted on his behalf (‘Jonny, if you’ve got dysentery, this is for you’). The Double R Club were performing across town but sent thanks for their award, saying ‘if we have caused one solitary nightmare, our work has not been in vain’. And Time Out Audience Award winner Alp Haydar was also on stage, but just up Nine Elms Lane at the RVT (another winner in itself) – he managed to peg it down to pick up his trophy, still in his stage turban, before returning to the audience that voted for it.

Myra Dubois stood out among the presenters, with a nicely judged blend of sour grapes, affection and snark (‘and the award goes to… Adele!’), and there were fine performances from Mr B, Femmes on the Thames and Josephine Shaker, whose self-awarded gong for most Australian tap-dancer on the scene was hard to argue with.

The judges: Catia Ciarico, Lisa Lee, Ben Walters, Jayne Hardy and Alexander Parsonage The judges: Catia Ciarico, Lisa Lee, Ben Walters, Jayne Hardy and Alexander Parsonage - © Claire Bilyard

We on the judges’ table were relieved to see that the results seemed to meet with the approval of the room – those who got the biggest cheers when nominations were read out often turned out to be the winners, and our selection of Duckie for the outstanding achievement award met with celebratory roars all round. And while those present perhaps had a vested interest in the night, the quibbles and complaints that I heard of tended to be about choice of nominees or category definitions, rather than challenging the concept or credibility of the awards as a whole; and the mood was undoubtedly one of overall celebration of the scene rather than individual competition. A fine debut, then – here’s to next year!