Glitz, Glamour and Girls, Girls, Girls: The Southern-Fried Experience

As tickets go on sale for next year’s Southern Fried Burlesque Festival, Atlanta burlesque maven Talloolah Love looks back on an absolutely fabulous first year…

I have to give my eyes a rest, as I may develop rhinestone cataracts after seeing such an array of magnificent, world class acts as graced the stage March 10-13 for the first-ever Atlanta burlesque convention: The Southern Fried Burlesque Festival. Plenty of articles have been put out there about the two gals behind the event. Masterminds and inner puppeteers, Ursula Undress and Katherine Lashe, were certainly exercised to the extreme as they worked their little tail feathers off to put this show on, and boy, didn’t it show! The vendors room alone could have struck you blind for all the fabulous glitter, rhinestones and color. As someone who has been to many festivals all over the country, ATLRetro asked me to share my experience as a spectator with a sweet nod and smooch to everyone behind the event who volunteered and assisted in their own ways to make it all happen.

Lydia DeCarllo

I arrived Friday night, just before doors. The moment I came in, the fabulous Lydia DeCarllo, the international sensation from Vancouver, swept me up. Now that’s my kind of welcome wagon! We chatted about her trip in and about how she’s been since we last saw each other at the Texas Burlesque Festival. Derek Jackson, Atlanta photographer and avid burlesque advocate, arrived soon after along with world-famous Rick DeLaup, founder of the New Orleans Burlesque Festival. I took a quick jog over to the bar, as I am quite familiar with the Decatur Holiday Inn and Convention Center, which has been newly renovated and also is the home of TribalCon, a national bellydance convention I try to attend every year. The bar was literally dripping with burlesque stars, but the most fabulous in attendance at that moment as Ms. Torchy Taboo, Atlanta’s own burlesque Godfather. She held court there as only she can, a moment I so sorely missed out on because there was so little time to commiserate before the first big show began.

Talloolah Love and Derek Jackson

I took my seat in the VIP section with Rick and Derek and used my commemorative Jo Boobs pen to take notes on the festival’s first all-star show. My only disappointment was that when Derek invited me to sit VIP, my vision of it would be some kind of small gift bag or at the very least drink tickets for the conveniently located hotel bars in the ballroom. But not this year. Happily the bar’s prices were so reasonable it wasn’t as big of a deal as it could have been had the event been held in Atlanta. Still, if I were to critique the VIP experience for its price, a small gift of appreciation would have been nice and usually expected at most festivals.  All of this, though, was again mitigated by the national celebrities who came to chew the fat with us, like Atlanta’s own Mike Geier, the evening’s emcee, and Margaret Cho, along with the cast of DROP DEAD DIVA.

The show opened with Atlanta’s own Dames Aflame and Mike Geier dressed for an old-fashioned gospel revival. Of course, the gowns had to come off to reveal sequins and spangles, and Geier went from gospel, to glum as he transformed into Puddles [the clown lead singer of Greasepaint], but there was no pity party here, folks! How could even Puddles be sad when performers like Jonny Porkpie, Jo Boobs, and even the festival’s producers get in on this star-spangled night. Besides the headliners and the local professionals, I have to mention a few of my personal faves. Always have to make sure a girl tells someone when they leave her breathless.  Two sides of the delightful coin were Dolly Derringer with her beautifully classic but heart-breakingly beautiful, black silk fan dance, and Seattle’s Iva Handful who certainly takes the classic fan dance, chews it up and spits it out in a heart-pumping color riot of flame-colored glory!

Gyna Rose Jewell performs at Southern Fried Burlesque Fest. Photo credit: Derek Jackson.

The many varied and creative performances provided quite a glittering spectacle in and of themselves, then seeing the lovely and incredibly awe-inspiring Gyna Rose Jewel, with her graceful strides across the dance floor, and Tiffany Carter who certainly put the royal in her royal blue ensemble. Having them present was such a nice touch and real treat to the entire festival.  As a side note, having legends as a part of a burlesque festival – handing their knowledge to fledgling starlets and being part of the living art form that is burlesque –  really is something that I would like to see more of. It’s a trend that absolutely gets the Talloolah Love seal of approval! I believe that not only should a burlesque performer know their history, but that they should strive to glean knowledge from the women who were there and will tell you their story.

The show went out with a bang as Dirty Martini took the stage in a crazy fun Batman number that I had heard about, but in all of my time passing the SS Martini in the night, my little tugboat had never had the pleasure of seeing it. It was a lot of fun, and as usual, she filled the room with her presence and kicked much burlesque booty!

Current burlesque diva Dirty Martini (center) with legends Gyna Rose Jewel and Tiffany Carter. Photo Credit: Derek Jackson.

The late show was the Student Showcase. The format was that of the Syrens of the South’s usual Student Showcase in which the students of the ABC’s and 123’s of Burlesque come and perform what they have been working on in class but with a little cinnamon attached. Salome Cabaret’s students came and performed too. The short, sweet, and fun show was emceed by Syrens of the South producer Katherine Lashe, and it’s aways a fun way to birth new burlesque fledgelings into the world and on an international stage. I can’t wait to see where all of these lovely ladies go from here. I am sure it must have been nerve-wracking, but if it was, it did not show on these girls. They took it all in stride!

Saturday, I did a lot of recovering. My face was sore from all of the laughter, and my voice was cracked from all of the hooting. Since it was a beautiful sunny day in downtown Decatur, I spent a long brunch with the fabulous Chameleon Queen and Fonda Lingue, two local burlesque colleagues. We had mimosas, muffins and quiche along with lovely conversation about the scene here and where we’d like to see Atlanta burlesque progress, all while I applied peach-colored crystals to my evening wear. Just another day in the life of me and my fellow “Glamouratti” of Atlanta!

Southern Fried Burlesque Queen Siren Santina. Photo credit: Derek Jackson.

That evening was the competition night, and one of the things I love about competition evenings is that they always bring out the best performances. This evening was hosted by the illustrious Jonny Porkpie, “the Burlesque Mayor of New York.”  His clever wit, delightfully fun numbers, and gracious banter to my inevitable heckling were just too much fun!  Here is when I note the fantastic David Bishop; it seems that a burlesque event simply isn’t really a burlesque event without having him as stage manager.  His contribution to burlesque on a national scale is absolutely phenomenal. I know how hard he works, and how much of himself he puts in to each festival both on stage, back stage and during. Anyone with that much dedication to the art form warms me to the bottom of my heart.  And the results!?! Drumroll please:

Southern Fried Burlesque Queen – Siren Santina (Knoxville, TN)
First Runner Up – Vivian MirAnn (Albuquerque, NM)
Second Runner Up and Best Costume – Lola le Soleil (Atlanta, GA)
Best Duet and Audience Choice – Queertini Time (Austin, TX)
Best Variety and Most Humorous – Bourgeois Betty (Augusta, GA)
Most Classic – Honey Cocoa Bordeauxx (Dallas, TX)

The competition closed with performances by Dirty Martini and Torchy Taboo. Talk about your ONE-TWO PUNCH!!! Dirty Martini did a glittering spectacle of amazing that I simply can’t possibly describe.  All I can say is, that is why she is the world’s best burlesque performer two years running. Torchy headlined and was utterly majestic. Her tribute to GONE WITH THE WIND also featured Stormy Knight scurrying behind her to assist on a number where everything goes wrong for a burlesque diva who takes it out on her assistant. It was a little Carol Burnett, mixed with a dose of Bette Midler twisted in to something that is simply Torchy, and it was just fabulous. Torchy’s dress was positively stunning, and I laughed so hard, I cried. I adored the concept thoroughly and could have honestly watched these antics for a half an hour.

Between shows, I was visited by a real treat. The fabulous Barbalicious of Blast-Off Burlesque was at the hotel bar. I slinked in, pulled up a chair, and had a fantastic chat with her about future endeavors and how the festival was going and so forth. Sometimes unexpected gifts make for the best kind especially when they are in the shape of a Barbalicious! Then we headed back to the convention center and took our seats again.

Torchy Taboo. Photo Credit: Derek Jackson

The last show of the evening was the Dirty South Showcase spotlighting some of the best regional performers and hosted by Cousin Larry, from The Imperial Opa.  At this point I have to say that a show, especially a burlesque show, depends on its emcee, not just the performers. A lousy emcee can make even the finest of performances dull after a few flat openings. One of the things about the Southern Fried Burlesque Festival REALLY got right was the emcees. Every one of them was funny, gracious and prepared. Their numbers and shtick were just fantastic and really made all of the shows go off with quite a zing. Dirty South was headlined again by the marvelous Torchy Taboo, in her fabulous wildcat number. MEYOW!!! Speaking of Meyow, the beautiful stage kitten Kittie Katrina entertained us with her kitty cat number, and Fonda Lingue stole our breath away with one of the most beautifully classic numbers I have ever seen to a rendition of “Cry Me a River.”  I think that there were many rivers crying for how beautiful it was, earning him the title of “King of Burlesque” 2011 at Southern Exposure this year. If you missed this final installment of the festival, you really missed quite a great show!

The evening was topped off by one last farewell cocktail and a fun little impromptu peepshow that I won’t describe in detail. You just had to be there to enjoy its majesty.  (Love to leave you wanting more – *wink*)

Margaret Cho and Dirty Martini. Photo credit: Derek Jackson.

Sunday was yet another beautiful day in Decatur. Honestly, the weather couldn’t have been more perfect for this weekend’s activities, as if Ursula and Katherine ordered the weather in with the stars!  I actually got to walk the streets of downtown Decatur and spent the morning with local burlesque beauties Pinky Shear and The Chameleon Queen, as well as Knoxville’s own Kisa Von Teasa. Then later, I passed some time with Jo Boobs, Jonny Porkpie and Lydia DeCarllo, as she waited on her cab to take her to the airport.

We all took a moment to enjoy the beautiful buildings and partake in the lovely restaurants and architecture of the surrounding town. Decatur is a artistic community filled with independent shops, restaurants and coffee spots all within walking distance. I prefer this sweet suburb, a mere 20 minutes from downtown. Though I heard many times, why Decatur, why not Atlanta?  My response was always, the food’s better here and at half the price of everything downtown. Plus, how can you beat $0-2 parking? I say you can’t!  I do have to say the caliber of performances and heart put out there this year would have made almost any venue weep to measure up. I know that they have signed to keep it at The Holiday Inn in Decatur for 2012, and that tickets are on sale for half price now at www.southernfriedburlesquefest.com. I hope that soon, Southern Fried can graduate into something more grand, a sentiment I heard many times over the weekend, and am inclined to agree with.  However, to that same point I like to keep in mind that even The Burlesque Hall of Fame started out on a goat farm, and look at where it is today!

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7 Responses to “Glitz, Glamour and Girls, Girls, Girls: The Southern-Fried Experience”


  1. Jennifer Perry
    on Apr 14th, 2011
    @ 9:18 am

    Well, Mz Love just took me away from my desk in a twinkle and transported me to a world of glamour, goddesses, excitement and delirious joy! Not ready to come back to the mundane, so I will now re-read.


  2. Talloolah Love
    on Apr 14th, 2011
    @ 10:56 am

    awww, that means a lot coming from you Ms. Perry!!! Thank you so much! 🙂


  3. Talloolah Love
    on Apr 14th, 2011
    @ 9:46 am

    For more fun and 4-1-1 on what’s going on in the world of Ms. Love, please be sure to visit http://www.talloolah.com

    Hopefully this is the beginning of more articles to come, so keep an eye out, duckies!

    -Talloolah


  4. Gyna Rose Jewel
    on Apr 14th, 2011
    @ 10:09 pm

    Great article talloolah!
    You make us all very proud that there are fab gals like you in the Burlesque World of today!!!
    Love You!!!!!
    “Gyna Rose Jewel”
    “The Sparkling Diamond of Burlesque”


  5. Katherine Lashe
    on Apr 18th, 2011
    @ 12:35 am

    There actually were gift bags for all the VIPs and weekend pass holders, unfortunately we were very short on volunteers and when people got their tickets, our impromptu volunteers didn’t get the whole run down as far as who to give what so only the performers and weekend pass holder got their bags, unfortunately we were not able to do drink tickets. This is all something that we’re hoping to have fixed for next year.


  6. Katherine Lashe
    on Apr 18th, 2011
    @ 12:40 am

    Sorry it got cut off, these were all reasons the VIP seating was only $12.50 per seat more then general admission, we choose to keep the price lower rather then add more perks.

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