Showgirl Adventure: Montreal Burlesque Fest 2011, pt. 1

Posted by RubyJoule On December - 24 - 20114,954 views

I got off the plane in Montreal and breezed through customs and immigration with ease, but I was already late for the press conference that started at 5:30.  I found my fair cohort, MissCoco Lectric, at the luggage carousel and we headed to the ladies’ room for a quick change, Wonder Woman style.

Scarlett James’ darling husband, David, was waiting outside to whisk us to the venue.  As we waltzed out with our glittery cocktail dresses and suitcases, a couple of bystanders snapped photos.  I guess no one wears cocktail dresses to the airport anymore!

With a name like Club Soda, I was imagining the venue to be a sleek, multi-level night club with neon lights and a clever 1950s twist. As the car pulled up in front, I knew I was in for something quite different.  The old fashioned marquee above the entrance blazed “Burlesque” and the panel of glass doors had the feel of a grand old movie palace.  A short hallway opened into a gallery where a few artist vendors had set up. The surreal and decadently macabre paintings by local favorite, Zema, adorned one corner, while the enchanting works by French artist Eric Scala filled the other. He had created portraits of several of the festival performers, including Cherry Typhoon, Amber Ray, Scarlett James, and me.

A portrait of Ruby Joule, by Eric Scala

A portrait of Ruby Joule, by Eric Scala

The adjoining main hall was long, with a grand, red velvet curtained stage at one end, a cocktail bar at the other, and balconies along each side hung with regal burgundy velvet and gold fringe pennants.

The fashion show, featuring exquisite underpinnings by Lise Charmel of Paris was in full swing, and there was just enough time to get a glass of champagne and settle in before the main event began.  A highlight of the first act was the stunning and sensuous tango performed by Mylene Pelletier and Alexander Richardson in ethereal, all white costumes.

Mylene Pelletier and Alexander Richardson @Dan Lannegrace

The line up for all three nights of the festival included world-class variety acts in addition to burlesque striptease.  There was magic, comedy, live music, aerial arts, tap dance, group production numbers, and even a bit of opera!

At intermission, legends of burlesque, Tiffany CarterApril March, and Satan’s Angel held court (and cocktails) at the bar.  There’s no other group of ladies I would rather party with!  At the show’s close, Scarlett James ascended into a giant structural glass, more fine art than stemware, splashing gleefully and elegantly about with a red heart sponge.

Scarlett James (@Melody Mudd for

The after party led us to L’Assommoir, a chic bistro bar on rue Notre Dame. We took up a goodly part of the late night bistro, laughing and carousing until the chef sated our crowing with a couple of enormous platters of, well… meat. It was like a feast at Valhalla; sausages, small legs of poultry and other carnivorous delights.  With that and even more champagne, my French got a lot better!

On Friday, my dear friend Coco Lectric was to teach a workshop near Old Montreal, the historical district.  Finding our way through the gridlocked traffic, someone remarked, “Montreal has two seasons: winter and construction.” But we got her to class and I got to my tech rehearsal shortly thereafter.  Fortunately, the tech team was at that moment ready for a break, because I hadn’t had my coffee yet!  The team’s charming and able leader, Domenic Castelli, kindly walked me around the corner to a nearby café for cappuccino and pastry. He made me order in French too!  We returned with coffees for the crew, and newly caffeinated, they continued their rockstar efforts coordinating the flawless execution of bubbles, snow, wetworks, lighting cues to match music, wrangling giant props, and aerial rigging.  What a team!

The delightful Cherry Typhoon, newly moved to Montreal from Japan, had arrived with her friend Mayu, maker of fine corsets and kimonos.  I walked through my number, not wanting to jinx it by performing the rehearsal full out. Show business is full of personal superstitions.  David had also arrived with the lovely Michelle L’amour in tow, who wisely advocates having a good pre-show “foundation” (dinner). So we noshed on some gnocchi at Roberto’s, just around the corner from our lodgings at Scarlett and David’s adorable townhome.

Coco Lectric and Tiffany Carter backstage. @Please do not use without permission.

The excitement was palpable as we prepared for the show, fussing over hair and makeup and zipping up our gowns for this grand night.  Since Coco and I weren’t on until the second half, we got to watch some of the first act, including Cherry Typhoon’s whimsical geisha act.  She has a certain magic on stage that instantly makes people happy.  I sat with Michelle and we discussed the finer points of, well, pointing one’s toes.

When I went backstage to get ready, the atmosphere was wonderful and calm, with Peekaboo Pointe, Harvest Moon, Tiffany Carter, and Coco Lectric all in various stages of preparation.

Then… it was showtime!  The brilliant MC, Benjamin Marquis, had been announcing the acts in both English and French all night, transporting us to another era of glamour and spectacle on a grand scale.  To hear myself introduced “en francais” was a dream I didn’t know I had.  The deep red curtains parted, the opening notes of my song scorched the air, and I turned to face the beautiful audience.  Afterwards my glass of champagne was waiting and my cheeks hurt from smiling so much!

Tiffany Carter (left) and Ruby Joule (right) - @Dan Lannegrace

I got back out into the audience in time to see legend Tiffany Carter (Miss Nude Universe 1975!) gliding on stage in a glittering midnight blue gown and regal billowing duster…

Please stay tuned for Parte Deux, coming up tomorrow!

xoxo, Ruby Joule

photo by Hope Parrish

Ruby Joule is an international burlesque sensation, go-go dancer, pin-up model and bonne vivante based in Austin, TX. She is a founding member of The Jigglewatts Burlesque and strives to seek out new adventures in Showgirlhood!

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