Through my wonderful time with Tempest Rose, the House of Burlesque and Madame Jojo's I am familiar with classic style 'burlesque', but nothing could have prepared me for what awaited me at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern on a warm Wednesday evening in the beginning of British summer. The Save Rubyyy Jones Revue - Drag Queens of London edition would feature 'the Tranny with a Fanny' Holestar as well as The Familyyy Fierce with Bourgeoisie, Meth, Lolo Brow, Lady Tena, Ruby Wednesday, Miss Cairo and hosted by the Family Matriarch Rubyyy Jones.
My seat was right in front of the stage - a perfect spot to see the performances up close and the ideal shooting location, enabling me to get some lovely close up shots, as well as the wide sweeping shots I am more used to taking of staged shows.
The show was a shocking, brash, political, tender, over the top, understated, thrilling, uncomfortable, revealing, funny, sad, meaningful, frivolous, gender-bending rollercoaster of a show that I was engrossed in from start to finish.
Rubyyy has a wonderful way with the crowd; yelling, berating, mothering and guiding the audience member through the show, highlighting topics she felt were important from each act, which was a lovely way of making sense of an art form that is, by its abstract nature, hard to decipher without knowing the performer and their motivation or meaning. Some acts, like the middle-finger toting, perpetually naked Miss Cairo
were more about thrilling the audience with her ability to remain en-point for the majority of her act whilst seeing how close she can thrust her crotch into the audience's faces.
who dressed as a ringmaster complete with a chest hair, stapled onto her chest, and a moustache, on a stick hammered up her nose. Holestar sang and spoke frankly about her depression, describing her past experiences and describing her struggle to come to terms with it, bringing to the fore the fact that depression is not spoken about as much as it should be, a point I agree with and feel rather strongly about.
The act that left an impression on me, however, was Ruby Wednesday's Flossing Performance. At first it was humorous, flossing on stage is generally reserved for comedy more than anything else. Ruby WednesdayRuby Wednesday
Then the flossing carried on. It was when his legs started shaking that I realised he was flossing in time to the music and I started to feel uncomfortable about what I was watching. However, it was when his mouth started bleeding I realised he was in tears, intentionally maiming himself on stage in order to tell an unspoken story.
When the song finished and he pulled the now worn floss from between his teeth and blood dripped from his mouth to his chest, he looked mentally and physically drained.
As an interval was called I approached him before he headed to the dressing room and gave him a hug out of both sympathy, empathy and thanks.
Never before have I been compelled to express my emotions in such a way to a performer at any show I have been at, which just goes to show the atmosphere and environment that Rubyyy has crafted and honed at with her Familyyy. A wonderful show, thought provoking and at times difficult but always entertaining. I can't wait till I go back next month...