Just ahead of Valentine’s Day, love was in the air on February 13 as the London Cabaret Awards returned for their second outing. Organised by Paul L. Martin through his company, Excess All Areas, the LCAs debuted last year at the Battersea Barge as something of a family affair for those directly involved in the scene.
This year’s event featured slightly different categories, adjudicated by new judges – there’s a different panel each year – and took place at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern (last year’s Best Venue winner) before a bigger and broader if equally drunken audience. In the spirit of the event, here are our own LCA-related awards…
Best red-carpet look
Plenty of contenders, from the classical elegance of Audacity Chutzpah to Dame Richardette’s stubbly-glam noir ensemble, but Jonny Woo’s bridal get-up took the cake.
As host, the Divine Miss Em was on point, while the Folly Mixtures and Alp Haydar delivered great samples of their work. But Best Musical Variety Act winner Sarah-Louise Young brought the house down as La Poule Plombée, accompanied by the always-terrific musician Michael Roulston, to whom she dedicated half of her award. (Well, a third – her wigs got a share too.)
Best speech (accepting an award)
David Hoyle’s beautiful speech after winning Best Alternative Performer was perhaps the highlight of the evening, combining a sincere appeal to the importance of love with a pointed recognition of the social and political value of cabaret in troubled times. An honourable mention too to Best Drag Act Myra DuBois, who was predictably funny and surprisingly touching.
Best speech (other)
Plenty of good ’uns. Paul L. Martin kicked things off with a principled dig at the ongoing abuse of ‘cabaret’ as a term (see our take on the subject here). And after the first few awards made it look like we might be in for a less-than-riveting night of names being read from the back of envelopes, Myra DuBois kicked things up a notch presenting the Best Burlesque gong (‘You know what I look for in burlesque acts? Tampon strings’) and clinches the win. Next year’s host…?
Best WTF moment
Sasha Sélavie – aka Sasha de Suinn – was supposed to be presenting the Best Vocal Act award. It wasn’t entirely clear what she did actually do, but it combined plugging her own show, being very excited about something, baffling the audience and announcing the winner before reading out the nominees. Comprehensible? No. Memorable? Yes.
Best excuse to pat ourselves on the back
Penny Arcade’s ‘Bitch! Dyke! Faghag! Whore!’ was one of last year’s outstanding shows and Time Out Live was its co-producer. So its win in the Best One-Off Production category was nice.
The double-fister award for winning the same category two years running
Three inaugural winners in this category: Dusty Limits (Best Host or Compere), Alp Haydar (Audience Award) and the Double R Club (Best Ongoing Production).
Best decision by judges
Although there were plenty of deserving losers, it was hard to think of an underserving winner, thanks to good solid decisions from the judges. Their choice for the Outstanding Achievement Award was a surprise but a worthy one: Torture Garden, the fetish club night that opened in 1990 and whose events have featured performers from Dita von Teese and Empress Stah to Franko B and Ron Athey. As the club’s David Wood noted on accepting the award, Torture Garden was among first to recognise artists who now enjoy mainstream success.
A couple of suggestions
Not an award this time, just a couple of thoughts. As noted, this year’s event attracted many unfamiliar with the cabaret scene – a good thing in itself but there’s room for improvement in making more of the night's content accessible to newbies (ensuring all presenters know how to pronounce the nominees' names would be a plus). And the award ceremony would be a natural time to announce the members of the following year’s judging panel.
Meanwhile, congrats to all the winners and roll on 2013!
The London Cabaret Awards 2013 results in full
Best Vocal Act
Best Musical Variety Act
Best Drag Act
Best Burlesque Act
Best Speciality Act
Craig the Incredible Hula Boy
Best Alternative Performer
The Spiegeltent season at the London Wonderground
Best One-Off Production
Bitch! Dyke! Faghag! Whore!
Best Ongoing Production
The Double R Club
Best Cabaret Venue
Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club
Unsung Hero Award
Sharon Calcutt (stage manager, Finger in the Pie)
Outstanding Achievement Award