Kirstin Innes discovers why the Glasgow Cabaret Festival is a shot in the arm for the neo-burlesque scene

What is it about burlesque just now? There’s a new club or class popping up every day, hundreds of dancers queuing up for slots at nights like Club Noir and Rockaburley, and now here comes the Glasgow Cabaret Festival, a week-long festival all over the city. More burlesque, right?

Wrong, as co-organiser Frodo McDaniel, who also runs the very successful Glasgow branch of Dr Sketchy’s Anti-Art School, explains.

‘My partner Louise Oliver came up with the idea, because she feels that cabaret and variety have been somewhat usurped by this neo-burlesque movement that’s going on at the moment. Suddenly, burlesque cabaret has become synonymous with relatively untrained, amateur goth girls taking their underwear off. Now, don’t get me wrong: I’ve nothing against goth girls taking their clothes off. But we felt that we needed to educate audiences in the sheer eclectism and variety that cabaret, and burlesque in the true, original sense of the word, can involve.’

And they mean that. McDaniel and Oliver’s festival takes in everything from visual art (an exhibition, The Art of the Temptress, at Art de Caf), cabaret aimed at children, including an open mic slot, at the Rio Café, a tribute to Scottish music hall legend Ivor Cutler featuring some excellent local bands, and a variety performance night, The Missy and Leyla Show.

‘It’s that sort of old-school, Play Your Cards Right kind of game show, hosted by Missy Malone and Leyla Rose, who are Scottish burlesque performers in the true sense of the word: they mix cabaret, humour and something darker into a burlesque routine.’

As well as a roster of excellent local talent across various art forms, Oliver and McDaniel are bringing international stars of the contemporary cabaret scene to Scotland for their own full-length shows. From San Francisco comes worldwide cult star Kitten on the Keys, a circus-trained, ukulele-playing, puppeteering pianist, with the European debut of her show Does This Piano Make My Ass Look Big?. From London comes Dusty Limits, a cabaret singer who McDaniel describes as ‘an absolute star in the Weimar, 1930s Berlin cabaret style’.

Weimar exotica aside, McDaniel’s own ideas of cabaret formed around the cosy familiarity of Saturday tea time television in the 1970s and 1980s.

‘I miss shows like Opportunity Knocks and New Faces, where all the acts were great, and you were really watching the stars of tomorrow. Those people who will dismiss the Glasgow Cabaret Festival as not for them are the very ones who sit in on a Saturday night, wading through bad performance on Britain’s Got Talent when they could be watching genuinely good stuff, live.’

Glasgow Cabaret Festival runs Sun 5-Sun 12 Jul, with proceeds going to the Britannica Panoptican Music Hall. See www.glasgowcabaretfestival.com for full listings.


Red hot rockabilly burlesque with Cat Aclysmic, Daiquiri Dusk, Viva Misadventure, Impressive Johnson, Miss Hell's Belle and compere Miss Lucille Burn, all backed by a classic soundtrack of All Tore Up's guide to the golden age of rock and roll. Special offer: £6 with a valid ticket for another event in the festival. 'Part…

The Missy and Leyla Show

Missy Malone and Leyla Rose present a variety night based around a kitsch game show format. With cabaret, circus, burlesque, music hall and an abundance of the beautiful people. 'Part of the Glasgow Cabaret Festival'

Glasgow Cabaret Festival Launch & VIP Press Party

A glitzy start to this new festival with cabaret performances. 'Part of the Glasgow Cabaret Festival'.

Art of the Temptress

Five Glasgow-based painters portray the sexiness of women, in the bedroom and on stage. 'Part of the Glasgow Cabaret Festival'.

The Picture of Dusty Limits

Beatrix von Bourbon presents a night of decadent cabaret with original songs by Dusty Limits and Michael Roulston as well as twisted takes on a number of cabaret classics. 'Part of the Glasgow Cabaret Festival'.

For the Love of Cutler!

The inspirational Cutler is paid tribute to by Duglas T Stewart (of BMX Bandits), The Bum-Clocks (with Tam Dean Burn on lead vocals), Kitchen Cynics, Dumb Instrument, Scunner, Glasgow Glam Bangers, The Creative Martyrs, The Martial Arts, San Fran & the Siscos and Mike & Soveig. 'Part of the Glasgow Cabaret Festival'.

And the Devil May Drag You Under

Desmond O'Connor, the host with the mostest panda-like make-up, presides over an evening of diabolical cabaret that traverses heaven and hell. 'Part of the Glasgow Cabaret Festival'.

Bumble Tree Children's Cabaret

Songs and stories and poems for all the family from an array of acts with kids taking to the stage to do a turn as well. 'Part of the Glasgow Cabaret Festival'.

Glasgow Cabaret Festival

Funny and flamboyant cabaret fest. Highlights from 2011 included Frisky and Mannish, Desmond O’Connor and Zoie Kennedy, The Creative Martyrs, Spangled Cabaret and the hugely popular Bumbletree Children’s Cabaret, London revue company Vive le Cabaret, comedy magician Piff the Magic Dragon and Tom Waits tribute act Frank’s…

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