On the evening of the anniversary of Alfred Hitchcock’s birthday, the moon was full and if you weren’t at the Masquerade for Mon Cherie Presents “Burlesque with a Hitch,” then you truly missed out on a suspenseful evening full of tease and mystery. The stage was set with spooky black-and-white style movies in mind – a gray brick wall on each side of the stage, a white shower curtain in the center, and Hitchcock’s famous silhouette on the right hand side. The Emcee of Mystery and Suspense Miss Mason welcomed the crowd with a dark “Good Evening!” as Alabaster Juju became Alfred Hitchcock incarnate, profiling behind the famous silhouette. (I was surprised at just how close his profile was to that of Hitchcock’s!) Of course, Hitchcock’s creepy, curious theme music played during this entire intro (it still gives me chills just thinking about it!) and we weren’t even allowed to see Juju’s best Hitchcock face yet. Each act that we were about to watch was based on one of Hitchcock’s icon films. People were so intrigued to see this Mon Cherie Presents event that they had driven in from all over the southeast, including quite a few from Alabama, Tennessee, and North Carolina. Several well-known local performers also came to witness the burlesque homage to Hitchcock’s work as well.
The opening number started with the chilling music from Psycho as the lovely Katarina Laveaux (special guest from Birmingham, AL), wearing an evening gown with a blue boa, glided across the stage to perform her interpretation of the infamous shower scene. The tension and suspense were high as she teased the audience behind the shower curtain, dauntily dancing her way to certain doom when the music came to a close and Norman Bates walked across the stage with a knife.
The shower scene removed and staged clean once again, it was time to lighten the mood with showgirl glamour provided by Fonda Lingue’s interpretation of Hitchcock’s The Pleasure Garden. Juju as Hitchcock incarnate made a brief voyeuristic appearance on stage, giving the audience pause to wonder what exactly was going to happen to the graceful Fonda. Dazzling in jewels, Fonda did a glamorous feather fan dance, where – like a coy bird – she lured the audience into her own flower garden. Luckily, she survived her encounter with the ghoulish Hitchcock.
The bird of flight motif continued as Nicolette Tesla (special guest from The Bluestocking Revue in Charlotte, NC) graced the stage to perform her rendition of Hitchcock’s Birds. The pretty bird Tesla, in her retro skirt suit topped off with a fancy black hat and matching black gloves, moved elegantly as she danced. She even had a few well-concealed tricks up her sleeves as surprise feathers flew out during her glove tease. The audience was completely dazzled by this lady in blue.
Next up, a bold, sparkly Asian queen sauntered on stage. The queen Stormy Knight commanded attention as she executed a fierce oriental burlesque dance inspired by Hitchcock’s East of Shanghai (original movie title was Rich and Strange). Wearing a long dark Asian silk dress with an elaborate queen headpiece and matching gloves, she gyrated in a snake-like manner, using a chair prop to help with her bump and grind tease.
Last act before the break was based on the movie To Catch a Thief with Peachz de Vine and Stage Slave Gavin (special guests from Purrrlesque in Greensboro, NC) putting on the ritz on stage. Peachz and Gavin looked like a couple of socialites out on the town – her in a sparkly black ball gown with matching black gloves and him in a tuxedo with top hat. The audience was kept in anticipation as they wondered who was the thief. Turns out Peachz stole a lot from Gavin, but ended up a little stripped herself.
And then there was pause for intermission, drinks, chatting with friends and the entertainers, buying merchandise from vendors, purchasing (hopefully) winning raffle tickets, and of course, dancing! DJ 313 and Jennocide provided the evening’s booty shaking tunes. When it was time to start the show again, Miss Mason took it away with a fun game of Alfred Hitchcock trivia. The right answer earned you a raffle ticket. (This is where I learned that the blood from the original Psycho movie shower scene was Hershey’s chocolate syrup.) Jacqueline Trade was there to help provide comic relief with Miss Mason and she also helped with the set design and set up. Ruby Le Chatte played the part of the stage maid picking up items after each performance.
As soon as Miss Mason’s trivia was done, she directed us to look towards the back of the room as The Chameleon Queen appeared for her version of Monkey Paw, The Re-Telling. As the music started, The Chameleon Queen – looking every bit like a voodoo priestess – emerged from the back of the crowd. She then began dancing her way through the crowd to the stage. Once on stage, The Chameleon Queen performed a hypnotic tribal dance with a box, a small coffin, and a monkey paw. She clearly placed an enchanting spell on the audience as she “shocked the monkey” paw. On the night of the full moon, even Hitchcock should beware of this voodoo goddess!
Keeping with the chilling Hitchcock theme and continuing on to another of his favorite themes –voyeurism – a large window was brought out onto the middle of the stage. Enter a ghoulish, but very accomplished violinist, Paul Mercer, and one Evil Sarah and you have a wicked version of The Rear Window. Between the way he played that fiddle – hitting those hair-raising notes – and the anticipation of what Evil Sarah may do or what may happen to her, this was one of the spookiest acts of the show. She teased her way into something more comfortable and for the really imaginative, something that could be twisted and sinister (especially if you are a horror movie fan!).
Now that the audience’s nerves and interests were piqued, the debonair magician Chad Sanborn accompanied by his sexy assistant, Catatonic Raucous, interpreted the The Lady Vanishes through magic. First, the lady in a red satin dress appeared while Sanborn took a seated break to admire his vision brought to life. Intrigued by the beauty, they danced and teased until he made Catatonic and her red dress vanish. Obviously missing his muse, he made her reappear, but with a little less on than first time the audience saw her. The two filled the room with a sexy, breathtaking magic.
Speaking of breathtaking, the final act had every bit of suspense and wonder that came to be associated with this special evening. Again the audience was directed to the back of the room as graceful aerialist Sadie Hawkins (from Blast-Off Burlesque) displayed marvelous feats of acrobatics in tribute to Hitchcock’s Rope. Sadie kept in look with Hitchcock’s famous black and white films, wearing black and performing her tricks on a white rope. All this can be described as is simply – shock and awe, which was the perfect way to end the event! I think Hitchcock would’ve been pleased with all the entertainers’ tributes to his films.
Not only was this the anniversary of Hitchcock’s birthday, but it was a very special 18th birthday for Amanda Stewart, daughter to Shannon and Dave Byers. Amanda was excited to see her first burlesque show and was even given the royal treatment from Mon Cherie Presents and the Byers, who are longtime friends of the burlesque community. There were only three tables in the front of the house and Amanda’s was the one in the dead center. At the end of the evening, everyone sang “Happy Birthday” to Amanda and Sugar Dolls provided delectable chocolate cupcakes topped with strawberries for the occasion!
Lastly, before the curtain call and final “Good Evening!” was said, Mon Cherie Presents held a raffle drawing for prizes. Prizes included gift certificates for Sacred Heart Tattoo in Little 5 Points, Village Smoke, The Sugar Dolls (confectionary treats), Re-Vamp by Darbella (makeup services), and also hand carved boxes by Cory Frison, Hitchcock-inspired necklaces by Fat Girl Art, Massage Wicks candles, and a Lux De Ville handbag. This lucky writer’s date, burlesque emcee and dapper crooner, New Orleans Jon won her the Hitchcock-inspired necklaces. If you weren’t one of the lucky winners, there was still time at the end of the evening to purchase merchandise from the raffle sponsors as well as from vendors Damon Mace of Aries Chainmail and Deidre Reece of Jezebel Blue.
If you missed this amazing event, all I can say is – be sure not to miss the next Mon Cherie Presents event!
(photo by Shawn Doughtie)