This was an anniversary of sorts for me. I spent Valentine's Day with Missy Malone and her troupe last year, popping my burlesque cherry at the Cornerstone Arts Centre in Didcot. So this year I grabbed the opportunity to spend Valentine's Eve with Ms Malone and her friends yet again.
This time we were treated to an entirely different line-up to last year's delightful posse. Our compère for the evening was the brilliant and personable Desmond O'Connor (not that one) and he had no problem warming the cold February evening up with his banter and quick wit. The audience were a mix of groups of friends and couples; all (adult) ages seemed to be covered. O'Connor got us all cheering, whooping and applauding, and during the interval there was a good vibe throughout the venue, so I'm pretty sure everyone was having a fun evening.
The acts themselves gave us the general sexy striptease one might expect from a burlesque show, combined with each performer's own individual style. We witnessed some terrifying whip action from the stunning Ayesha H that left some innocent red roses without their heads, and a big smile on my partner's face. We were later treated to Ayesha H performing with a live python around her neck, possibly the one time the audience were slightly quieter with their whooping and cheering. I, for one, was holding my breath for her. I don't know why I was worried, she had us all hypnotised with those piercing eyes so I'm sure the snake was under the same spell.
Lou on the Rocks gave us a taste of the Orient with her fan-play, Cherry Shakewell showed us why she is so-called (boy can that girl shake well…phew!) as she strutted her stuff. Her second appearance on stage was particularly jaw-dropping, dazzling in a glitterball-style ball gown and Metropolis-style head-dress; she stripped down and shook her glowing neon nipple tassels for all she was worth. And the audience loved it.
As brilliant as they all were, I think Scarlett Daggers was my favourite, purely for the rip-roaring outfit she wore when she came back out on stage for a second time; leather-look pencil skirt and a red gingham-style checked cropped shirt. And her cheeky use of an old-fashioned oilcan to 'loosen' up the buttons on the side of her skirt. Unbelievably sexy without being lewd.
As with last year's show, Missy Malone herself started and ended the show, first of all donning a curly blonde wig, several balloons and a cheeky grin. She blew bubbles from a champagne glass, and used a corkscrew to pop her balloons, the little temptress!
All in all it was a fun-packed evening. To give us a break from the tassels and glitter, Desmond O'Connor intermittently treated us to his personal brand of comedic songs – I particularly enjoyed 'Festival Dad'. I'm hoping the troupe returns next year – it's becoming a traditional Valentine's Day gift to myself!