Building on the success of last year’s “CREAM!” show, Bella Blue Entertainment returns with another variety show in time for Mardi Gras with “Touché” on Jan. 28 at the Joy Theater. Drag queen BenDeLaCreme, the former “RuPaul’s Drag Race” contestant who emceed last year’s show (held at One Eyed Jacks), returns as the emcee for this show that promises performers from the over-lapping worlds of burlesque, cabaret and drag.
“In true New Orleans fashion, ‘Touché’ ́promises a night to remember with an eclectic mix of performances ranging from classic Bourbon Street style burlesque to drag, boylesque, neo performance art, and more,” Bella Blue said in a press release Monday. “… We will also be revealing the latest project from Bella Blue Entertainment … you’ll have to come to the show and see it for yourself!”
The lineup: Chicago’s Ray Gunn, 2013 King of Boylesque; New York City’s Gal Friday, “The 5 Alarm Fire of Burlesque”; New York City’s Madame Rosebud, “The David Bowie of Burlesque” (watch video below); Nona Narcisse, co-founder of New Orleans’ Slow Burn Burlesque; and Bella Blue. The “CREAM!” show, held during Southern Decadence, was co-produced by the burlesque team Kitten ‘N Lou (with former New Orleans burlesque performer Kitten LaRue) and featured BenDeLaCreme as emcee with performances by New York City’s Chris Harder and New Orleans entertainers Vinsantos, Eros Sea and Lady Satine.
The nightclub seemed to have a rocky time while trying to blend drag and burlesque shows during its brief time on the Bourbon Street strip. Hawkers outside the club constantly encouraged locals and tourists to come inside and witness a shows such as “The Real Drag Queens of New Orleans” in the main bar and “Drag Cabaret” in the patio bar inside a courtyard.
The burlesque programming was a little rockier. Popular burlesque performer Bella Blue established her “Blue Book Cabaret” show at the club for several months before one of the performers in her lineup, Ruby Rage, was forced out by management in February in which she said was because of her weight. Following a public-relations nightmare that played out on the club’s Facebook page (with messages defending the move being posted and pulled as commenters erupted in anger), Bella Blue ended her relationship with the club and eventually moved the show down the street to Bourbon Pub and Parade. On Thursday, Bella Blue expressed disappointment about the club’s closing.
“I’m very sorry to hear that Lucky Pierre’s is closing. It’s bittersweet. There are a lot of good people who continued to work there after The Blue Book was pulled and no one deserves to lose their income; no matter what the reasons,” Blue wrote. “I don’t know why it’s closing. It doesn’t matter at this point. It was fun while it lasted. We had some of our best shows there and made so many wonderful friends in the process. What happened earlier this year was truly one of the most difficult things I personally had experienced and it affected a lot of people. But now there are a lot of talented drag queens who need spots in shows. So, let’s support them and hire them as they figure out what’s next.”
“Little Miss Sunshine of the Bywater“ operates on the principle that, well, Bywater’s got talent. This we already know thanks to the Marigny/Bywater scene that plays hosts to drag, burlesque, comedy and music shows from Elysian Fields to Poland and St. Claude avenues.
You can’t walk inside Bar Redux and not fall in love with co-owners Janya and Russ Mercado and son Damian (at the bar), rock ‘n’ rollers from New York who work feverishly to bring a slide of the Lower East Side to the back of Bywater. On any given night of the month you can check rockabilly, goth and burlesque theme nights, with Russ working out of the kitchen to produce pub grub and his own ‘Yankee gumbo.’
Given some of the answers, Lana turned out to be a great pick; her alter-ego pens the very cool Blame Mame: A Classic Film Blog. Here’s what Lana had to say:
“Some Like It Hot” — “If you haven’t seen this film, you need to have your head checked! You’ve got Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon cross dressing in an all girls band to hide out from the mob and you’ve got Marilyn Monroe! What else could you want or need?! The scene that has always stuck out in my head is the train scene where we are first introduced to Daphne and Josephine (Tony and Jack). They are trying to walk in heels and look feminine, but they just can’t get it. And than it cuts to the voluptuous blonde bombshells herself … Marilyn Monroe, who struts passed the fellas and shows them how it’s done. Daphne’s quote puts it all into perspective: ‘Will you look at that! Look how she moves! It’s like Jell-O on springs. Must have some sort of built-in motor or something. I tell you, it’s a whole different sex!’ How’s that sound? Now this is what I’m talkin’ bout. It sounds perfect.”
“To Wong Fu, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar” — “This one is pretty obvious. A film about drag queens in the 1990s was taboo. Throw in top film stars Patrick Swayze and Wesley Snipes and you’ve got a recipe for fun. The opening scene to this film is one of my favorites of all the films I’ve ever seen. It starts with Salt-N-Peppa asking, ‘Where is the body?’ Than the beats drops and It cuts to Vita and Noxema getting ready for a night on the town. There’s eyelashes, huge powder puffs, girdles, stockings, wigs, gowns … oh my! I was hooked from the first time I saw this … in elementary school! And of course Noxema schooled us on what exactly a drag queen is: ‘When a straight man puts on a dress and gets his sexual kicks, he is a transvestite. When a man is a woman trapped in a man’s body and has a little operation he is a transsexual. When a gay man has way too much fashion sense for one gender, he is a drag queen. And when a tired little Latin boy puts on a dress, he is simply a boy in a dress!”
“The Little Mermaid” — Yes, even Disney has its fair share of connections with the cross dressing community. After all, the best villain and my favorite sea witch Ursula was modeled after the one and only Divine! From her high, arched eyebrows to her large red lips, Ursula just screams QUEEN! She is vicious and knows what she wants! She will step on anyone who gets in the way … even the skinny pretty girl. Sounds like a queen to me! ‘And don’t forget the importance of body language!’”
“Victor/Victoria” — Words can not express how much I love this film! You’ve Mary Poppins … yes, Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews) playing a woman who can’t get a job as an entertainer dressing as a man who entertains as a cross dresser. Mind blown, right? It’s like cross-dressing inception! The story line deals with men questioning their sexuality, equal rights for women, and a whole lot of amazing music numbers. Everyone has seen the ‘Le Jazz Hot’ scene right? No? Than why are you reading this? It’s so good even ‘Glee’ had to remake it … that means you’ve made it!”
Jayne Mansfield — Ok, so technically, Jayne Mansfield isn’t a movie, but she is the definition of camp, glamor and drag. To put it simply, Jayne Mansfield was Vera Jayne Palmer’s drag persona. Jayne learned early on what she needed to do to be successful and get attention. Jayne Mansfield was over the top, gaudy, and a caricature of a glamorous woman. She wore revealing gown, big hair, big lashes, and even had a pink house. Like the entire house was pink and furry. If that isn’t a drag queen’s doing I don’t know what is. Jayne talents shine best in her two most popular films: ‘The Girl Can’t Help It’ and ‘Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?’ Many stars in Old Hollywood created personas that they would play on screen and in public. Jayne Mansfield’s persona just happened to be that of a drag queen.