Thursday night was the first night at the Berlin Burlesque Festival, and we managed to get a couple of tickets to check it out. The night was amazing – the burlesque performances I’ve seen around the city are always wonderful for their gumption and joie de vivre but the professionalism can get a bit patchy. Not so here. Possibly burlesque in Berlin has grown up and found itself (moved out, got a job, started buying its own shandies).
Organisers Marlene von Steenvag and Else Edelstahl are now not only consummate performers but also well practised event organisers. Not a hiccup in sight.
With a hint of charm and the odd smutty joke.
The MCs for the night – Ferkel Johnson and Eva Champagne – did a brilliant job. Elegantly scurrilous, I suppose. With a hint of charm and the odd smutty joke. Of course the MC finally disrobing herself as if on a whim (I think they were waiting for an act behind the curtain to be ready) – without for a moment dropping the blather – before casually handing the mantle on to the next performer, was a great moment.
It was a glorious night in all ways – glamorous, seedy, professional, ebullient, triumphant, with the hint of a swagger
Thursday night was in the Heimathafen Neukollen and this particular moveable feast moved to the Winergarten for the following two nights. What can I say? It was a glorious night in all ways – glamorous, seedy, professional, ebullient, triumphant, with the hint of a swagger: Suffice to say that I had an enormously enjoyable night.
Joe Black: self-proclaimed gin-drinking cabaret darling, musical comedy misfit, drag clown and acid tongued ringmaster
As I say the MCs for the night were Ferkel Johnson and Eva Champagne; for the next two nights the job would fall to the masterful Joe Black: self-proclaimed gin-drinking cabaret darling, musical comedy misfit, drag clown and acid tongued ringmaster, Joe is a cabaret and burlesque legend, having toured extensively across the UK, Europe, Australia and America, with Johnathon Ross calling him “Amazing”, Amanda Palmer saying “Stunning” and Devolution Magazine probably summing the Joe Black experience up best by declaring, “”He is as at ease rubbing alabaster shoulders with Dita Von Teese as he is singing about anal sex. ditty scribbler, consummate poser, vaudevillian Disney filth – he is Joe Black.”
We ran into Joe Black in the lobby and aimed a few questions at him:
Interview with Joe Black
indieberlin: Joe Black, hallo. So tell me: what’s the difference between London and Berlin?
Joe Black: Well to be honest I don’t really like London. Berlin’s very diverse, very unpretentious. I live in England but I love coming here.
indieberlin: You’re also diverse in your peformance styles – is there a particular Joe Black character that comes naturally, or is it something you put on, or…?
I get the make-up on, I get the microphone, and suddenly something takes over …
Joe Black: No, it just sort of happens…I get the make-up on, I get the microphone, and suddenly something takes over …
<h4>sort of mildly aggressive, but, you know, kind of warming at the same time</h4>
indieberlin: And how do you find the characters that you do?
Joe Black: I do a couple of impersonations, and that’s different, but as Joe Black, it’s sort of mildly aggressive, but, you know, kind of warming at the same time…
indieberlin: Well you look gorgeous anyway.
Joe Black: Oh thankyou…
indieberlin: And – do you rather perform or rather MC?
Joe Black: Both – when I MC I perform as well, and my acts are a bit spread out through the night, so I mix the two – it’s nice becuase it fits in-between everybody.
indieberlin: And do you do burlesque, or freak show, or…
Joe Black: Oh, I sing mainly.
indieberlin: But in a very particular style.
Joe Black: In a very caba … You’’ll see way.
<h4>I like people who are prepared to do something just really fucking weird</h4>
indieberlin: I look forward to it! And…Burlesque heroes?
Joe Black: I really love Fancy Chance…um…now I’ve been asked my mind’s gone blank (laughs) – I like people who are prepared to do something just really fucking weird…Fancy Chance I love. I really like Vicky Butterfly – she’s not weird to be honest but she’s just so beautiful…and Modesty Blaise – but that’s kind hyper glamour. So I kind of like really out there, or really hyper glamour, ridiculous production.
indieberlin: Joe Black, thank you for taking the time.
Review by Noel Maurice, interview by Mia Morris.
Noel Maurice is one of the founders of indieberlin. Originally from the UK via a childhood in Johannesburg, he has been resident in Berlin since 1991. Describing himself as a ‘recovering musician’, he is the author of The Berlin Diaires, a trilogy detailing the East Berlin art and squat scene of the early 90s, available on Amazon and through this site.