Friday, September 11, 2009

French Burlesque

Last night Amanda and I attended the Gentry de Paris Revue at the Casino de Paris on Rue de Clichy. Translated from the site:

"The glamorous Paris is finally back on stage at the legendary Casino de Paris - The Gentry de Paris Revue with Dita Von Teese revived the lost tradition of opulent extravagance theatrical song and dance of the 1900s. "

"This production in the traditional style of the Ziegfeld Follies production this time is modernized by the presence of volcanic and petulant finest vintage Burlesque strippers of the world."

The following, translated from the website, is an accurate description of the 2-hour show, which started at 8:30p:

18 original paintings [Poor translation. I think it should be "preformances"] in two acts or mix songs and dances through special effects, exquisite decor and extravagant costumes. In this fantastical world, you will travel through a ballet a ballet danced in heaven on the clouds with twinkling stars, the sound of languorous tangos, music, jazz, tap and happy Burlesque stripping. In addition, a static trapeze performance will take you in a lush dream.

The show is not ongoing (like the more famous Moulin Rouge or Crazy Horse or Lido) but is only performing Sep 7-17. Tickets were 99.50 EUR each so it was not cheap, although not expensive compared to other Parisian extravaganzas.

The venue was very intimate with the floor arranged in rows (we were row "O") of small cocktail tables with two chairs behind (for one couple) and two chairs on each side (for another couple).

The clear star of the show was Dita Von Teese (see also here), who I had never heard of before but is apparently referred to in the press as the "Queen of Burlesque" which would probably explain why I have never heard of her before!

For pictures from both of her performance several days before -- which I must admit were quite amazing -- click here. You will see, as is the case with the other "strippers," that while the clothing does get pretty skimpy, she does not actually reveal anything, so compared to what you might see at one of the other Paris Shows (or Vegas for that matter), this was quite tame.

By the way, Teese (her real name is Heather Renée Sweet) admits "extra-strong glue to assure her crystal-decorated breast accessories don't slip out of place and expose too much flesh." Well, that explains that.

The first thing Amanda and I noticed was her bizarrely thin waist. She is a small woman to start with (5'6", 105 lbs) but, "through the wearing of a corset for many years, she had reduced her natural waistline to 22 inches (56 cm), and can be laced down as far as 16.5 inches (42 cm)." Yikes!

Perhaps even more oddly, she was married to goth rocker Marilyn Manson for a few years, which is almost impossible to conceive.

Ok, enough about Ms. Teese. What about the rest of the show?

Actually, it was quite fun also. The list of acts was summarized nicely above and the performances and music were entertaining. While some of songs were in English, others were in French, and the emcee spoke in French so we probably missed out on some of the explanation that tied some of the acts together. But music and dance and skits are universal.

Of act of particular note was the imitation of the Josephine Baker "Banana Dance" by a man.

This is a picture of Josephine Baker in her famous banana skirt and I must admit that the man looked quite a bit like her.

I didn't make the connection with Josephine Baker because I am an expert on Josephine Baker. In fact, I didn't realize until today, as we were walking around Montmartre, that the dance was not original to this performance but was, in fact, a classic originated by Josephine. This next picture in a street-side shop clued us in:

Then when I got home and did a little Googling, I realized the dance was original because it was done by a man, but it was clearly a tribute to Baker.

Would we do it again for the money? Probably not. But for a one time experience, it was worth it.

Here are a few other pictures from the night. No pictures from the show itself, but you can see the theater, although the lighting was not conducive to a quick pic.


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