Archive for April, 2012

Eeyores Birthday Celebration – Naturally Austin

April 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Austin adds another chapter to its iconic history every last Saturday in April when folks celebrate the birthday of Eeyores – the magical donkey of Winnie The Pooh.

Launched by the University of Texas English Department community 49-years-ago, the Celebration has grown from Eastwoods Park just north of UT to Pease Park that nestles Shoal Creek as its (hopeful) rainwater wends south into Lady Bird Lake.

Eeyores is a special place where all types of folks come together to enjoy the scene and each other. The celebration has much to infuse you. Whether it is dogs, snakes or iguanas, imaginative costumes in varying degrees of skimpiness, and thundering drum circles to food variety and Central Texas beer, child-full playgrounds and friends hanging out together on blankets – Eeyores is uniquely Austin.

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 All Bob Kinney Photos

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Texas Burlesque Festival 2012 – Elegantly Artful & Fun

April 16, 2012 2 comments

After reading about and seeing Classic Burlesque photos and films for decades, I finally experienced the elegance of the performance art in person at the recent Texas Burlesque Festival here in Austin for not one – but two evenings in mid-April.

Mona Mie and Mira Miranda – two friends of mine – had asked me to photograph them beforehand for their festival application photos. See the photos on Mona and Mira’s facebook pages. Each performed on the festival’s opening night – Mona on the festival stage (where I could not photograph) and Mira at an after show party where I could shoot.

Mona Mie - Bob Kinney Photo

Slow dancing to Texas blues legend Lightnin’ Hopkins’ “Black and Evil” song, black-clad Mona transported the audience to a black & white, 19th Century Parisian Burlesque club with delightful moves, winks and assorted other teases. I am certain Leonard Cohen would covet Mona’s Fedora – as well as Mona.

Mona Mie - Bob Kinney Photo

Performing for the first time professionally in Classic Burlesque, Mira Miranda enhanced the stage with nimbly flowing motion, classic poses and exuberantly satisfied smiles. It was so apparent how happy and proud she was. Read the stage bios of both Mira and Mona at the end of this blog.

Mira Miranda - Bob Kinney Photo

Thursday’s 3.5-hour show featured 26 artists from Texas and throughout the United States. Cora Vette, a veteran performer from Denver, emceed wonderfully during each of the festival’s three evenings with raunchy jokes as the set was changed around her for the next performer. I was deeply honored when she called me out as “A Dirty Old Man” as I sat below her in a front row center seat.

Mira Miranda - Bob Kinney Photo

While I did not take too many notes as I was totally being infused for the first time with the wonders of Classic Burlesque, here are some Highlights of the Thursday show –

Skip ‘n Flip (Austin) featured a sailor seated with his dog in a large rubber raft. He was fishing, snagged a mermaid and pulled her into the raft where the fun began.

Meka La Crème (Wake Forest, NC) glided large white ostrich feather fans around her very white skin with grace and coy tease.

Playing on the term Carnal Knowledge, the tall and lightly dark-skinned Caramel Knowledge (LA) moved with assured elegance.

Jasper St. James (San Antonio) was chosen as Thursday’s best newcomer performer with a comically over-dramatic performance to what is easily the most-schmaltzy-icky song from the Sixties – “McArthur Park.” Highlight for me was when Jasper pushed his face into the white/green icing and then tossed rose petals into the audience as he left the stage. I told him later that’s the only time I have enjoyed “McArthur Park.”

Jasper St. James with Thursday Best Performer trophy at After-Show

Ray Gunn (St. Louis), a top candidate for Best Male Burlesque performer in 2012, finished the night with a punk-rock-like show that included shaking up a PBR tall boy beer can and then spraying it over the stage and on we folks in the front row. One of the six rowdy After Dark Revue artists from Corpus Christi who were seated to my left stood up, took a step toward the stage, opened her mouth and Ray poured the rest of the beer can over her face. To the right next to me sat Dan, the head librarian at the University of Nebraska, who came down to Austin for the festival. I later thanked Ray for beer spraying me. The last time that happened was in the mid-70’s when another Ray – Ray Davies – soaked me during a Kinks concert.

On to Saturday’s show that included 40 performers – many of whom are among the best Classic Burlesque artists in America.

Best of Show to me has to be Maria Bella (Baltimore) aka The Strippin’ Granny. Winner of the best new performer of Friday’s show, the feisty 78-year-old Maria introduced herself to the audience of performers and other aficionados by saying “I Am Your Future.” The two-year performance veteran noted that “the only thing old men want is sleep. They are happy when I pour warm soup on their stomachs.” Since my teen years I have always had the fantasy of an older woman seducing me. At age 65, I figured that would go unfulfilled in this life … until I experienced Maria Bella. She was later awarded the festival’s Best Original Performance trophy.

Sarah Sparkle (Austin) hung above stage on a huge hoop while artfully curving herself around and around the hoop with great acrobatic moves.

Pearl Lux (member of Austin’s GiggleWatts troupe) ended her classic can-can show with an unbelievable cartwheel that ended with a leg split on the floor. Wow.

Emcee Cora Vette sang the soul-full “Blues in the Night” with a great voice that would make Billie Holiday smile.

The six-member Bat City Bombshells (Austin) performed an elegantly playful S&M routine.

Lula Houp Garou (Dallas) spun one and then two large hula-hoops that continually circled her body as clothes came off.

Kristina Nekyia (Hollywood) performed atop a circular table doing handstands, back-flips and other stunning acrobatics.

Ray Gunn returned to the stage Saturday night and straddled a high, curvy, metal chair that he wound his trimly muscular body around to screams of “Come to my Hotel Room, Ray” from the audience.

Indigo Blue (Seattle) – acknowledged as the Best Woman Burlesque performer these days finished the show with a stupendous performance with six feather fans. I was drawn to about ten artists who had gathered off stage right to watch her perform. Each face was intently focused admiringly on Indigio every time I looked.

I will certainly be front row center (hopefully) for the 2013 Texas Burlesque Festival next spring in Austin. Until then I will experience shows by the many Austin Classic Burlesque artists and – hopefully – be able to photograph them.

Readers around the country should support their local performers and attend regional festivals. Classic Burlesque truly is Great Art.

Festival director is Lynn Raridon, owner of Austin’s iconic and very popular Forbidden Fruit erotic boutiques.

Check the festival’s website for more.

Following are the stage bios of my wonderfully artistic friends Mona and Mira –

Mona Mie

Mona Mie is more than a friend – she’s your fantasy. This witty, pretty lady is mistress of the art of stealing hearts. Nobody can look away when her astounding assets begin their seductive sway. Tonight, it’s her pleasure to please you with a tantalizing tease sung by Texas blues legend, Lightnin’ Hopkins. If you already thought the show was smoldering, then get ready to burn! Fire it up for Ms. Mona Mie!

Mira Miranda

Our next performer will mesmerize you with her magnetic presence. She’s a riveting vision and must be admired. Tonight she works her lovely magic to a Squirrel Nut Zippers melody about that nagging little hook that keeps pulling you back in. Ladies and gentleman: Mira Miranda!


More About Classic Burlesque —

“And yet, although completely naked, still I keep my innocent soul … and I am still me in every way … Here in my Birthday Suit.”

From the early 1960s French film “Strip-Tease” directed by Jacques Poitrenayd and starring Super-Model Nico before her days singing in the Velvet Underground.

Something Weird Video Burlesque Films B&W

in Austin’s north Vulcan Video Cult Film Shelves

Dream Follies – Disc 1A

Good Dancing but Too Much Schmaltzy Vaudeville “Comedy”

Dreamland Capers – Disc 1B

Great Performances thru the film

Justa Dream is a Delight to Watch.

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