Free Fringe – Hanging with Edgar Allan and the Strippers
Sunday, 4th August
‘But you’ll miss all the titties if you leave now!’ exclaimed the girl with her frightfully nice Home Counties accent as quite a few of us headed towards the exit after about half an hour of the Silhouette Burlesque cabaret at the Tron Kirk Free Fringe venue. Well, to be fair the women among us could just as well get home and look at our own. I shouldn’t be churlish as it was for free but as I witness the inexorable rise of burlesque at the Fringe – and in general, I guess – I’m reminded of a David Mitchell quote describing Cafe Rouge: ‘Giving shit a veneer of middle class respectability’. So it goes now with burlesque that the middle classes can see a strip-show without feeling bad about it. Nobody gets exploited, right? Hmmm… Obviously there are major differences – seedy, geared-towards-men clubs and pubs versus church halls and a practically family friendly atmosphere. However, it’s like – ‘what are you bringing to the party, girls?’ ‘Well, my tits, I suppose’. Case in point there was a Ms Whiplash character last night who could do quite impressive things with a whip. But what got the biggest cheer? When she ‘got them out’ and shook them about a bit. So there you go girls, you don’t need to bother learning a trade when you know how to jiggle ’em. In the real world I’m thinking that the dividing lines between burlesque and regular stripping must be pretty blurred – I hope so for the girls performing in these free venues as the pubs pour out and trust that their skills were learned in a strip-joint rather than the local-council-funded-female-empowerment-evening-class. Honestly though, if you like that kind of thing, it is free.
Lovin’ the Free Fringe generally though. As I predicted it’s a marvellous egalitarian free-wheeling democratic big bundle of fun which is destined to change the face of the Fringe forever. Sampled Dead Famous at the Dragonfly bar on West Port. Hosted by Edgar Allan Poe and Marie Antoinette it was totally bonkers but great fun. We as an audience managed to outnumber the cast by 2.5 to 1 which I imagine is pretty much a result considering the sheer number of shows on. Still, plenty of opportunity to participate if you wanted to. If you’re a Poe fan you must go as the guy Paul Wady is basically his reincarnation. And if you have any Poe party-pieces – get them ready as you could be called upon to take the floor!