34b Burlesque

34b Burlesque

"Sydney's home of burlesque"


34B Oxford Street
Darlinghurst, Sydney


34b Burlesque MySpace.com



Review - 1st December 2006

"34b Burlesque is amoughts the hottest and most fun burlesque that Australia has to offer. Jac Bowie and Lou Lou Whelan were right again in their spotting of Australia's top burlesque troups", Media Man Australia.



Love Letters from Paris, by licia Wood- November 18, 2005
(Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald)

Burlesque strip is more about the journey than the final destination. Sydney gets to take the trip every Friday night.

"This is not pornography, it's anti-pornography. It's a reaction to the exposure that we're getting to the crass kind of side of sexuality. It's bringing it back into the realm of modesty and what you can do with modesty to still cause that desire in the person who is watching," says Benjamin Gilmour, aka burlesque star Mr Mai Tai.

Gilmour, Kaspia Warner (aka Kaspia Violetta) and Russall Beattie (aka Kent Kansas) organise Sugartime, the themed monthly variety show starting tonight at new Sydney burlesque club 34b.

Framed by candy stripes, the doors of 34b opened last month to provide a venue to titillate burlesque connoisseurs and neophytes alike every Friday night.

Club entertainment manager Pip Branson says 34b is a response to Sydney clubbing losing its performance element: "People have been starved for it."

Gilmour: "Even though there was a strong and growing burlesque scene, it was kind of underground, whereas now it's more accessible."

Beattie, Sugartime's stage manager, says burlesque is a satire of legitimate theatre: "People who could not work for the legitimate theatre created these cheek acts, often quite piss-taking, being the kind of bastard stepchild of vaudeville."

This bastard stepchild, usually performed in venues awash with sexiness and sartorial indulgence, was made up of singing, bawdy humour and a whole lot of dancing. Oh, and a narrative-driven striptease laden with gimmicks such as nipple pasties, tassels, fans and strategically placed balloons.

Mention of the word "strip" may send many blokes off to mark the date in their calendar under the title "boobs", but be warned - stripping and strip teasing are two different things.

"For us, if you could just say tease we'd be so happy," says Warner, a founding member of London burlesque troupe Lady Grey Tease who counts sword swallowing as one of her skills.

Beattie says the difference between stripping and burlesque comes down to what is in your face.

In burlesque, it's more about text than tits.

"I do know a lot of strippers who will say they have a narrative, as well, but burlesque is actually a lot more, the text right in your face," he says.

Christa Hughes, 34b's resident MC, agrees there is little similarity between burlesque and strip clubs. She says performances at the latter resemble a "gyno examination" eyed by "the dirty old man brigade".

Sugartime's first event at 34b is more about romance. Love Letters from Paris, set in the 1920s French capital, has nine performances, including some from Melbourne burlesque duo the Town Bikes.

There will also be other high jinks you might catch from the corner of your eye.

"There might be a painter in this corner," Warner says. "There might be somebody doing something crazy in the bathrooms, we're going to have a professional photographer."

Gilmour: "There's a lot of secrets, we won't give any more away. That's the whole idea of burlesque, isn't it? The element of surprise."

To add to the 1920s' feel is something record nerds may love more than the can-can: early 20th-century 78-rpm records. Resident DJ Jack Shit will spin the discs, made of beetle secretion shellac, on a turntable set he built.

Beattie hopes the audience will get in on the act, too. After all, how potent can the illusion of 1920s Paris be when its peppered with Tsubi?

"Look around at everyone else as well; see what other people are wearing," he says. "And be around other people who feel the same way and are against the whole casual movement at the moment. Not against it but ..."

Warner: "We are against it. Definitely against it."

Having worked with London's Whoopee Club, a venue at the forefront of the European burlesque revival, the three Sugartime promoters have seen the result when everyone tries hard.

"What you're dealing with is a situation where the whole place during the event feels like you are in that time," Gilmour says. "Just like a little pinch of salt can improve a soup, a tiny bit of burlesque on your body will help."

This could be as simple as a boa, a beauty spot or a suit.

For the sartorially splendid Gilmour, Warner and Beattie, looking the part is the least of their worries. They were drawn to burlesque through the belief they were born in the wrong era.

"Maybe we've been sent from that era into the future," Gilmour says.

Warner bats her eyelids: "My mum always said that."

Love Letters from Paris
Tonight at 9, 34b, 34b
Oxford Street, Darlinghurt, $25/$20 if you dress up.
34b operates every Friday night. Male burlesque show Man Jam runs from November 25 to December 9. Sugartime returns on December 16, followed by Gurlesque.


Anything you can do, I have to do better, by Samantha Selinger-Morris - 8th October 2005
(Credit - The Sydney Morning Herald)

Think of breast cancer research, and pole dancing isn't the first thing that comes to mind - but by arching on their poles and tossing their honeyed locks around like extras in a Britney Spears video, Stephanie Kite and Samantha Sudbury are getting behind the cause.

October is breast cancer month and the duo, who run classes at Polestars Australia, are holding a charity night at the Oxford Street nightclub 34B Burlesque on October 26, to raise funds for the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

The night will have all the ingredients "for the ultimate, girly, naughty time", says Kite, including demonstrations and lingerie. All proceeds will go to the foundation.

It's a far cry from cake stalls and Red Cross volunteers jangling metal cups for gold coin donations - but according to Sue-Anne Wallace of the Fundraising Institute of Australia, Kite and Sudbury are a prime example of the new face of fund-raising in a country saturated with 700,000 non-profit organisations, all of them seeking donations.

"Charities are working in a very competitive world," Ms Wallace says. "There's a lot of feeling that to run a successful event, you've got to go one better than anybody else."

In this context, it's easy to understand why Comic Relief Australia launched its appeal in Melbourne last Tuesday with a celebrity game of tug-of-war with the world's biggest pair of underpants, and why the Sydney Children's Hospital Foundation has turned its annual Gold Dinner from a posh do into an all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza worthy of Las Vegas.

The first dinner was held eight years ago in a private home in Bellevue Hill. It raised $245,000. This year's dinner, in June, was held at Star City. The host of Dancing with the Stars, Todd McKenney, was among the entertainers. It raised $1.55 million.

The hospital foundation's chief executive, Elizabeth Crundall, said the extravagance was necessary to inspire a sometimes apathetic public.

"I don't think there is a lot of altruism or philanthropy across the board in Australia," she says.

"The challenge for organisations like ours is to nurture it where it exists."

But what of the smaller charities that lack the funds, contacts and staff to stage blockbusters? The chief executive of Epilepsy Action, Keith Roberts, says: "A wacky event may raise a lot of revenue but .. sometimes quite simple things can in fact raise a far better return."



Media Man Australia is delighted to be of new media assistance to 34b Burlesque