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Tassels and titillation

PUBLISHED: 19:43 17 April 2011 | UPDATED: 19:12 20 February 2013

Tassels and titillation

Tassels and titillation

Marabous, Missy and mischief. Candia McKormack enjoys an evening of burlesque

Tassels and titillation

Marabous, Missy and mischief. Candia McKormack enjoys an evening of burlesque

Ladies and gentleman, prepare to be tantalised, teased and tempted

I think I may have fallen in love just a little with the dashing, talented and frightfully, charmingly, disarmingly camp Desmond OConnor. With his little ukulele in his hand and a repertoire of saucy songs, he was given a truly warm hand on his entrance by the good people of Cheltenham.

I had been to see the Missy Malone and Friends Revues Halloween show it the towns intimate Studio Theatre, within the Everyman, about six months ago and was thoroughly charmed by the performance then. Missy, a Cheltenham girl herself, brings together a group of first-class burlesque performers hand-plucked from across the country, with Desmond entertaining between acts and keeping the whole thing gliding along with the grace of a Golden Age of Hollywood movie starlet who has mastered the art of deportment. Ms Malone, with her 50s glamour-puss looks, stage costumes and dance moves, has the ability to take you back to the fabulously heady days of burlesque and, quite frankly, want to stay there.

For those who think there may be something seedy about watching burlesque, I would urge you to cast aside any preconceptions and go along to a quality performance such as that put on by Missy Malone et al. With a refreshingly mixed audience of all ages, sexes (yes, there are more than two) and backgrounds I took my mother-in-law for goodness sake! the night was one of fun, frivolity and feathers. Lots of feathers.

Im sure youre all familiar with the fan dance. The very beautiful Cherry Shakewell did indeed tantalise and tease with her white marabou props; Millie Dollar strutted with panache trailing her emerald feather train and boa; and Vicky Butterflys Gustav Klimt-inspired gown released an explosion of fine, downy black feathers as she moved. An asthmatics nightmare, perhaps, but seasoned burlesque fans with respiratory problems would know to sit up in the gods.

If you, like me, believe that women should look like women and that men are allowed to occasionally too then you would have joined the audience in the uproarious applause for Leyla Rose and her bewitchingly talented ample breasts. Wearing knickers and a couple of well-glued tasseled pasties (pay-steez if you please), Leyla who has a definite Betty Page air to her set first one tassel in motion, and then the other in the opposite direction. The mother-in-law was most impressed.

One of the gloriously uplifting things about burlesque is that it embraces and celebrates the female form in its myriad shapes and sizes. And so Id like to leave you with the wise words of Mr Desmond OConnor and his ukulele: Pretty little Miss Dysmorphia, youre gonna have to learn to love yourself.

www.missymaloneandfriends.com

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