At the Metro on Saturday night, I was greeted by heavy security and A TON of ID checks. I had heard this show would be big, and this definitely confirmed it. Live, LOUD music thrust its way through the lobby and entrance way. The line “Open up my eager eyes, ‘cause I’m Mr. Brightside!” was decipherable from the front doors, and I knew I was in for a great show!
Early on, I was able to sneak off into the green room pre-show with an All-Access pass, and take a peek around. Hair stylists and Photographers abounded, Stage managers ran rampant, and miss Angela Eve was prepping to introduce their late, late show. Top hats, stockings, plaid, lace and pearls filled the entire green room.
Two other groups had spearheaded the benefit show For Katie’s Kids this evening: DJ Arkitek and McLovin (the rock band playing prior). To learn more about Katie’s Kids rehabilitation facility, please go online to www.ktskids.com. This truly is an excellent program, designed to “serve the needs of children and teenagers with physical or developmental disabilities.” And “helps [them] have fun and see themselves as strong, competent, active people who can and should participate fully in life.” If you could not attend the show, definitely take a moment to check out the site and see the wonderful things they do to improve the lives of these children.
And so, the show had started at 9pm, and now the crowd was supremely warmed up for the 11:30pm set of Big Top Cabaret, featuring Eve’s Parlor and Cash O’Riley! Drinks were served all night, and a heavily intoxicated crowd milled about the floor. It was standing room only, and the enthusiastic hubbub of the audience rivaled the volume of the rock band that had just left the stage.
The smoky, ornate stage, topped with dim lights and the bar atmosphere gave you the feeling of stepping back in time, right to the vaudevillian style of Eve’s Parlor and Big Top Cabaret. As Chriss Lane took the crowd for a whirl, yelling “There’s and emergency! An emergency here tonight!” Everyone stopped and looked slightly bewildered. He finished:
“There’s not enough people near the stage!” Miraculously all the gaps filled in and people laughed and cheered. And capping the Big Top Cabaret intro off, he coaxed the audience towards making plenty of noise: “Remember, the more love you show the ladies, the more they show you!”
Now here’s where I fell in love with this performance. It’s quite a novelty as a burlesque dancer to have a live band rockin’ it as your DJ. And Eve’s Parlor had the guts— and made it glorious— with the Rockabilly band Cash O’Riley and the Downright Daddies supplying their music for the evening. I’m telling you right now, they were absolutely swoon-worthy. Cash, with his devilishly good looks and sideburns, crooned endlessly into the mic with the classy, sassy style of all that is punk and rock. There was even an upright bass! Timeless.
I swear, I wish I had the time to tell you about every single sexy act that graced the stage, but there was so much lust packed into that hour and a half that I’d positively have to write a novel to all of you about it. And so, I’ll just give you some glittery glimpses that should get you all giddy inside. By performer, I’ll tantalize you with tidbits from each of their numbers.
Holly Peño- A Transplant from Shameless Burlesque. Started us off with a classic top hat and tails, and some pearls that made every shimmy even sweeter. Her second act comprised of a dainty parasol, an alarm clock, and some swanky Victorian era costuming. Lovely.
Ali Arnold- A Bellydancer, straight from N’Orleans. With a sinewy, golden snakelike number, she drew some apparently hammered fellows in the audience to attempt waving their own snake arms in pure desire. In the second act, she wowed us with a more tribal dance. Making us ooh and ahh with each snap of her expertly trained belly muscles.
Angie Z- From Miami, a demure and fiery vocalist. First, sings for us “Walking After Midnight” by Patsy Kline, and welcomed the audience to slow dance as she teased us with an elegant red boa. For her next song, she and Cash belted out “Oh Darling” by the Beatles. And again, she held complete command over the audience, singing through teeth clamped down on her glove for an exceptionally skillful clothing removal.
Trixie Minx- The International Sensation, a well-travelled and well-loved lady of the tease. Stunning us with a brilliantly pink formal gown, and the superb use of a cape, we were all surprised to see her strip down to a little devil tail! The song? “Hellbound,” sang by the dapper Cash O’Riley, naturally. But the highlight of the evening was Trixie’s Marie Antoinette number. That 16th century French-inspired dress is SPECTACULAR. All I could remember thinking was, however will she get that off? And piece by frilly piece, she exposed bits of Marie’s bad side to the song “Birthday Cake” by Rhianna. With each mention of the word ‘cake,’ believe it or not, a piece of cake unearthed itself from somewhere in her frills. And subsequently, was fed to audience members. Truly a treat!
Miss Pussykatt-From America’s Got Talent and the Daredevil Circus Company, she has toured with Motley Crue and Motorhead! As Chriss Lane aptly put it, “This woman could make the devil purr!” She stunned us in her first act with professional acrobatic moves over a chair, ending in the splits. Next, a voluptuous boa number, complete with a beautiful flowing nightgown. The Pièce de résistance, a darling little bathtub, where she drenched herself in cascading soapy water! Pleasing the crowd once again.
The One and Only Angela Eve- A remarkable choreographer, and orchestrator of the Big Top Cabaret. First, amazing us with her sparkling green Mardi Gras-inspired look, complete with a great gown and a huge train. And then in her famous fashion, shimmied our eyes right out of their sockets! Boy, you could not get enough of those tassels! Then, a surprise to everyone, Angela debuts a BRAND NEW ACT! It begins with a sultry Louis Armstrong melody, and then amps it up with peppier song to include some dramatically snazzy choreography. At one point, shoving an audience member’s face right into her bosom! Of her dance moves, there were splits, shimmies, and even ended in a fabulous backbend.
Stage Kittens, Bonnie Blue and Lorraine Rose- entertained us with a mini duet before the intermission, just giving us a taste of what they were capable of!
Donna Touch- the ferociously independent performer. Shocked us all with an explosively high-energy fan dance. In a full nude body suit, with just the tiniest bits of well-placed glitter, the fans kept you always wondering just enough. This number was traditional in nature, but wild with her lively and animated moves!
Viva La Meurte- The perfect Powerhouse! In a delicate oriental outfit, completed by a darling parasol, this gal shook and shimmied herself out of her clothes in a brilliant use of choreographed props. It reminded me of a Chinese Dragon festival. Great orange and purple color combinations made this number pure eye candy. Even confetti happened. Believe it!
And after all these perfectly executed and innovative vaudeville acts, I was so let down by the audience’s lack of enthusiasm. This crowd had obviously been new to burlesque, and it was tragic that they weren’t able to fully appreciate the genuine stage presence and pure effort that these ladies brought to the stage that night. Though, I do believe they made quite a few new converts to the scene.
Even so, this was a remarkably memorable milestone for the big BurlyQ community in Chicago. Ten years ago, the last burlesque act on the stage of the Metro was the shock-value oriented Suicide Girls. They had torn the stage to all hell, and disregarded the city rules on nudity and alcohol consumption at a venue. The Metro was heavily fined and penalized. Since then, the Metro (which had been erected many years ago as a fine vaudeville theatre) had banned burlesque, in its entirety, from being performed on their property ever again. But lo and behold, Eve’s Parlor burlesque, with their flair, style and professionalism, was able to make it happen here again that Saturday night. Now this historically important stage can regain its roots, and with a little help from Big Top Cabaret’s tempting teases, re-christen it for all that is vaudeville and burlesque!
This excellent benefit night ended with the sensational Cash O’Riley and the Downright Daddies (all the way from Detroit, ladies and gentlemen!) closing us out. Those left in the audience by 1:15am were swing-dancing their hearts out on the floor to their epic sound. This was not a show to be missed!
Eve’s Parlor does not run the burlesque circuit, and so each show is completely unique! Stay up-to-date with their upcoming events at angelaeve.com!
Eve’s Parlor and Big Top Cabaret
- Angela Eve
- Holly Peño
- Ali Arnold
- Angie Z
- Trixie Minx
- Miss Pussykatt
- Donna Touch
- Viva La Meurte
- Cash O’Riley and the Downright Daddies
With Panty Wranglers:
- Bonnie Blue
- and Lorraine Rose
Recap by: Henrietta Heartbreak