Showgirl Adventure: Viva Las Vegas 15

Posted by RubyJoule On December - 24 - 20127,836 views

I had heard that the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend was the mecca of rockabilly culture in the world.  This wasn’t much of an exaggeration, as I found out.  There was a massive car show, live music on several stages almost around the clock, a vibrant marketplace, pin-up contests, swing and jive dancing, a fashion show, and of course, burlesque.  The Orleans Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada became the center of the rockabilly universe for a long, 4-day weekend in April with attendees coming from all over the world.

Official VLV Poster, art by Vince Ray

Official VLV Poster, art by Vince Ray

I arrived Thursday morning after an insanely early flight from Texas and dearly wished I could go back to sleep! More pressing, however, was that afternoon’s rehearsal and fitting for the Secrets in Lace fashion show.  I hadn’t seen what I’d be wearing yet, but I’m a huge fan of the high-quality, retro-chic brand, so I was very excited.  Off to the showroom I went, back to the dressing rooms where other gorgeous burly-Q girls were already trying on their glamorous underpinnings.  LouLou D’Vil ofFinland looked fierce in violet and leopard print from the Bettie Page collection, and Medianoche of Spain was divine in pink.  The ever-charming Dan Whitsett, CEO and mastermind behind Secrets in Lace presented me with the ensemble I was to wear, and I fell in love instantly.  It was the dreamiest, most delicious shade of mint green, and included silky undies, garter belt, a delicate brassiere and robe.  The shoes and stockings would be fit separately.  “! thought this would go nicely with your hair,” Dan said.  How wonderful of him to consider a redhead’s particular color scheme! But then, he is in the business of making ladies look even more luscious.  Several pairs of stockings were tried until I found just the right fit. The all-nylon fabric of these coveted silkies has no give, so a perfect fit is essential.

Ruby Joule, Stormy Gayle, LouLou D'Vil

Ruby Joule, Stormy Gayle, LouLou D’Vil

The shoes were provided by the Bettie Page branch of Ellie shoes, and the dashing designer, Jose Palos, was even in attendance.  The shoes were “emerald slippers;” glittering platform heels with a wickedly high heel and adorably rounded toe. We walked through our paces, sashaying across the stage in pairs, each getting a solo turn around the U-shaped central runway.  She stage was a bit slippery, which was better to find out now!

There was only time for a quick lunch before my second rehearsal in the showroom, this time for the burlesque competition!  The beautiful familiar faces of Sydni Devereaux and Lydia DeCarllo greeted me as I returned.  Fellow Jigglewatt Jolie Goodnight was rehearsing on stage in a costume of iridescent pink sequins, and the lighting technician expertly tried different lighting combinations to find the best effect. The man in charge of coordinating all the magic, Bobbie Burlesque, kept us all in line and the rehearsal ran smoothly.  I could tell the other performers had stunning and dramatic routines, but I didn’t want to encourage my nerves by watching too much, so I called it an early night.

Jolie Ampere Goodnight, photo: Don Spiro

Jolie Goodnight, photo: Don Spiro

The next day’s fashion show was at 1:00PM, which might seem early, but in Las Vegas one hardly notices the time of day.  The glamour girls reconvened in the dressing room and we got trussed up in our silky finery.  One model, who also works in a salon, helped us glamorize ourselves even more.  She teased my hair at the crown to give it some extra sex-kitten volume.  She winked and said, “we call this ‘French lacing’ at the salon.”

The fashion show included many retro-glamorous labels, pin-up couture, and even a latex line.  The dressing rooms were abuzz with girls in cat-eye eyeliner, victory roll hairdos and crimson lips.  A step-and-repeat backdrop occupied the common area between rooms where a bank of photographers had set up to capture models in their fantastic glory.


Secrets in Lace models, with devoted fans of Bettie Page.

Secrets in Lace models, with devoted fans of Bettie Page.

It seemed like ages before our turn, but we were the finale after all.  We were lined up on either side of the stage, hidden in the wings until time to make our appearance.  The lights softened, the music rose, and we began to step out in twos.  I was paired with the bombshell Ginger Valentine, who looked luscious in the pink version of my ensemble.  We walked toward each other to the center of the stage, and I had to avoid meeting her eyes as I knew I would giggle.  We both turned to face the audience, waited a beat, and strutted forward to the edge of the stage. She crossed in front to make her solo loop on the runway, and the crowd went wild. I did the same, to an eruption of more cheers (maybe it was the lingerie?) and caught a glimpse of Java (Bachelor Pad Magazine) gazing up at the runway and waving his room key in the air. What a guy! Never one to let a girl feel under-appreciated.  I rounded the U-shaped runway and realized with a jolt that it was about a 4 foot drop into blackness off the edge of the narrow catwalk! I felt myself wobble in the skyscraper heels– I had already committed to doing a twirl and was halfway around when I wobbled again. Instinct took over and I swept my arm around the outside, swooshing my robe in an arc that rebalanced the situation.  Half the time I think this must be what my dancing looks like; losing my balance and catching myself as gracefully as I can.  Whew! Crisis averted, I sauntered over to join the other models in the onstage line-up.  We made a pretty picture in our confections of silk and lace, and the audience approved heartily!

Secrets in Lace Models, by Cherry Club, Inc.

Secrets in Lace Models, by Cherry Club, Inc.

The next order of the day was the premiere of the long-awaited documentary, Bettie Page Reveals All, The Authorized Biography.  Conveniently, the Orleans Hotel & Casino also boasts a movie theatre!  Fellow Jigglewatt and partner-in-crime Coco Lectric and I traded in our fancy underpinnings for red carpet worthy gowns and headed to the cinema where there awaited another step-and-repeat backdrop behind a red carpet and another bank of photographers. (A girl could get used to this!)  Bettie Page’s frequent co-star and legendary redhead Tempest Storm was in attendance, as were Robin Leach (Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous), and Claire Sinclair (Playboy Playmate of the Year 2011).

A moment with Tempest Storm and Ruby Joule. Smokin' Aces Photography.

A moment with Tempest Storm and Ruby Joule. Smokin’ Aces Photography.

Bettina May, Coco Lectric, Secrets in Lace CEO Dan Whitsett, film producer/director Mark Mori, Lou Lou D'Vil, Ms. Redd, and Ruby Joule

Bettina May, Coco Lectric, Secrets in Lace CEO Dan Whitsett, filmmaker Mark Mori, LouLou D’Vil, Miss Redd, and Ruby Joule. Smokin’ Aces Photography

I sat with fellow flame-haired glamour girls Miss Redd and Bettina May, and absorbed the story told in this beautiful documentary.  Filmmaker Mark Mori not only recounted Bettie Page’s history and illumined that part of her life when she moved out of the public eye, but captured the sharp poignancy of a bright, vivacious, sometimes troubled and very complex woman.  The film is narrated by Bettie herself, her story told frankly and in her own words via a collection of audiotaped interviews.  If you have the chance to see this film, I recommend it highly! More information and the theatrical trailer can be found at

Apres film, I felt the only proper way to wrap up the day would be with a big, fancy burlesque show. I wasn’t performing– no, not  yet.  For this show I would be completely spoiled, sipping Kir Royales in a private box seat whilst watching world class (and classy) strippin’ done to the smoldering live jazz of the Bustout Burlesque band.  Rick Delaup, producer of the monthly Bustout Burlesque show and the New Orleans Burlesque Festival, had the task of producing this fabulous showcase.  He put the show together with his signature eye for beauty and talent, and reverance for the traditions of classic burlesque– namely having the dancers perform with a live band; an element which adds wonderful energy and excitement to any show.  One of the first performers, Medianoche, enchanted the audience with an expert fan dance that earned her a standing ovation.  The performers who followed, including burlesque queens Perle Noire and Ginger Valentine, brought the audience to a frenzy and made us all hoarse from cheering.

Perle Noire, by Nola Fleur

Perle Noire, by Nola Fleur

In another corner of the casino, the innovative and delightfully naughty “Burlesque Bingo” was taking place.  As the burlesque dancer peels, she discards her garments atop a large bingo board. Wherever the “stripper droppings” fall, those are the numbers called out by the hostess.  My dear cohort Coco Lectric  was a featured performer at this bawdy amusement, and the intimate teasing setting suited her strengths to a “T” (and “A”!).  I found a spot by the bar to lounge and watch the excitement.  A dapper fellow sidled up to me and we struck up a conversation.  He turned out to be Jonathan Joffe, the director of the much anticipated film, Burlesque Assassins!  The film stars burlesque queens Roxi D’Lite, Koko La Douce, Renea’ Le Roux, Kitten DeVille and many others, and is a take on cold-war espionage and intrigue set in the 1950s (Psst! Jonathan, my headshot and resume are on their way to you for the sequel!).  I had sweet dreams that  night as I looked forward to performing in the Miss Viva Las Vegas competition the next day.

Coco Lectric, by Cherry Club, Inc.

Coco Lectric, by Cherry Club, Inc.

On Saturday I took some time out from Viva las Vegas to wander down Fremont Street and bask in the nostalgia of Old Las Vegas.  There was also some roulette and a few bloody marys involved…  Later, I arrived at the showroom in plenty of time to get ready at a leisurely pace.  The “Texas trio” (Jolie Goodnight, Eva Strangelove and myself) shared a dressing room with the beautiful Mosh from LA.  We were all in good spirits and excited to be performing on such a big beautiful stage.  Jolie opened the show and set the bar pretty high with her sultry classic act in pink sequins.  I danced somewhere in the middle, and did my “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” routine.  I entered the stage in a platinum blonde wig which later provides one of my favorite reveals.  Normally I perform this act with an ornate swiveling chair.  I wasn’t able to bring it with me to Las Vegas, so in lieu of a big prop, I decided to add some fancy floor work at the end.  Wearing only the bare minimum, I began to slide into the splits.  All was well until my shoe slipped on the stage and I pitched forward onto the floor.  Before I face-planted, I swung my front leg around behind me and twirled where I sat, giving a massive hair flip like I’d “totally meant to do that, y’all.” Then I twirled my tassels with all I had.  Taking my bow and exiting the stage, I was tip-toeing on Cloud 9.

Ruby Joule, by Derek Jackson

Ruby Joule, by Derek Jackson

Win or not, I knew I’d done my best and was ready to celebrate with a glass of champagne!  Nerves prevented me from watching the other girls perform, but the cheering crowd told me it was a spectacular show.  After we were all lined up on stage and judged with the Applause-O-Meter (Gack! This part was slightly more fun than a root canal), I was delighted to congratulate Jeez Loueez and Lydia De Carllo on 1st and 2nd place wins, and our own Jolie Goodnight for placing as 2nd Runner Up!

Changing into a post-show gown, I was ready to dance the night away and perhaps sip on a few more cocktails.  Upstairs in one of the huge darkened ballrooms, a band played pulse-racing swing as couples catapulted across the floor.  My strappy bejeweled heels were not the kind that like to stay on when put to that kind of test, so I posed at the sidelines and wiggled to the beat.

Sunday was meant for some of the most glamorous poolside lounging on record, as Java and Mary (Vintage Suits by Mary) had put together the annual vintage swimsuit competition.  I was in the enviable position of acting as one of the judges for the female category!  We evaluated the vintage maillots on such points as uniqueness, condition, and fit.  The parade of bathing beauties wearing the suits was an added perk.

All of the bathing beauties! by Cherry Club, Inc.

All of the bathing beauties! by Cherry Club, Inc.

The rest of the day was spent lounging in a poolside cabana, sipping Mai Tais and trying to avoid thoughts of returning home.  It’s hard to believe that Viva Las Vegas 16 is right around the corner! I hope to see some of the world famous car show next time– I do love that shiny chrome!  Till the next adventure, Happy Holidays to all!

xoxo, Ruby Joule

Ruby Joule

Ruby Joule


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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