Valentine’s Day with VaudeVillains
Virginia Scare, the founder of The VaudeVillain Revue, describes tonight’s Crimson Ball Valentine’s Day event as intended for adults, but also for “the kid in you.” The Raleigh-based troupe will present an evening of burlesque, live music, singing, and circus acts (including an aerialist and a juggler) during its 2nd Annual Color Ball at Motorco.
This year’s ball is dedicated to the color crimson (last year’s color was violet), and audience members are encouraged to dress in something crimson.
Scare started VaudeVillain Revue in 2011. The troupe has burlesque artists, musicians, comedians and other artists. Like the contestants in Durham’s annual Beaver Queen Pageant and the LUEWWD women’s arm-wrestling events, the performers have names rich in puns and double meaning: Kitschy De Coeur, Porcelain, Purrrl Van Dammit, Papyrus, and more.
Burlesque has experienced a revival in the last decade. Locally, Sirona von Sirius has presented “Apocalesque” and other shows featuring burlesque and cabaret performers at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro, and the Beaver Queen Pageant fundraiser for Ellerbe Creek also has burlesque overtones in its humor.
Performers almost always draw a distinction between burlesque and plain old stripping. Burlesque “is an artistic expression,” Scare said. “Usually it’s satirical. … It’s about the performer owning her body. Nothing you see is for sale,” Scare said, unlike in strip clubs where what happens is “purely an exchange of funds.” Burlesque also is for mixed audiences and does not seek just to tantalize the men but also to empower the women, Scare said.
Scare said she was “a big musical theater geek” and worked in community theater. In VaudeVillain she sings novelty songs and arrangements of songs from “every possible place you could think of,” she said.
She attributes the resurgence of interest in dance-hall style entertainment to audiences’ need for live entertainment. “I think it’s an answer to how much screen time people log in these days,” Scare said. “I think people really have a craving for live entertainment.” Her troupe tries to set itself apart by encouraging audience participation, such as dressing up, and participating in parts of the show, she said.
Scare recently enlisted juggler Warren Hammond (seen on David Letterman’s show) for today’s performance. Visitors should expect a “mixed bag” of music, song, burlesque and comedy, she said.
“We’re taking the spirit of what was done in the early 1900s in the Vaudeville circuit … and giving people something to look at that is in the flesh,” Scare said.
In that spirit, we’ll call them “Bawd-Villians.”
WANT TO GO?
WHAT: VaudeVillain Revue presents “The Crimson Ball,” a Valentine’s Day event
WHEN: Today, 10 p.m.
WHERE: Motorco Music Hall, 723 Rigsbee Ave., Durham
ADMISSION: Tickets are $10 in advance, $14 at the door. For information, visit motorcomusic.com.