La Femme

Things to do
Four burlesque performers pose in black and white costumes with broad brimmed hats.
Photograph: Supplied/La Femme

Time Out says

Sydney gets a premium burlesque revue in the Parisian tradition

Drawing on Parisian traditions like the famous Crazy Horse cabaret (think the racier big sister to the Moulin Rouge) this homegrown cabaret experience is infused with subtle Aussie influences.

La Femme is the brainchild of Sydney’s reigning queen of burlesque, Porcelain Alice, and the “glamorous and horrifying” performer Bella Louche. Aside from big budget travelling productions that tend to roll through during Sydney Festival or Mardi Gras, Sydney doesn’t see much in the way of big productions with a cast serving choreographed group routines. This is something Alice and Bella are seeking to change.

Rather than a collective of performers bringing in their own acts, which is the kind of burlesque show you’d normally see on the Sydney scene, La Femme is a full production with a troupe of four performers joined by a guest star each month. The show endeavours to portray a diversity of ways to be feminine and express femininity. The core performers are Porcelain Alice (with travel restrictions sadly currently keeping Bella Louche over in Melbourne); singing siren Ava Torch; vogue star Karlee Luna; and bearded pole-dancing drag queen Lady Fur. 

Time Out joined the physically distanced crowd at the show's post-iso grand debut in July, and we liked what we saw. From the life-sized actualisation of one of those fringed lamps with a sexy high-heeled leg (you know the ones!), to a bathtub routine (with real bathwater) that is the personification of erotic art, all the performances are delightful and creative.

The Australiana references are subtle: there's whip cracking, a tribute to the old Kings Cross Coke sign (we suspect this stunning solo routine solidified Lady Fur's switch from guest performer to permanent cast member), a homage to the ladies of King Cross with three large neon-lit 'X's, and sultry live covers of the music of the Divynls (you don't even realise how much Chrissy Amphlett's raw eroticism is watered down on the radio before Ava Torch sings Pleasure and Pain).

There's more to this show than the beautiful and the camp. In between acts, a soundscape engineered by the talented BitchCRAFT features commentary gifted by anonymous real life 'femmes'. This inclusive and unfiltered commentary on everything from gender expression to sex work gives agency to the art and also really reaffirms that you are in Newtown, Sydney's alt-epicentre. The luxurious costumes are created by local demi-couture label Nicol & Ford, with the lighting design by Terrence Maxwell elevating the experience.

La Femme definitely falls under the 'experience' category rather than a clean-cut show, and  is best experienced as such by partaking in the full dinner and show experience, complete with table service, a bottle of bubbly, and/or cocktails from the skilled bar team. 

This strictly 18+ event takes over Newtown’s vaudevillian-vibed live music and cabaret venue, the Vanguard, with physically distanced cabaret seating. The early sitting runs from 6-9pm, and for the night owls, the later sitting runs from 9.30pm-midnight. You can enjoy a two-course dinner with the show for $96.80, or enjoy the show only for $50.75. 

So rouge your knees and pull your stockings down (and buy your tickets), we know a whoopee spot where the gin is cold but the performance is hot. 

Sydney's burlesque scene is about more than getting your kit off, we spoke to Porcelain Alice and up-and-comer Lottie Lamont about the local community


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