The Double R Club’s First Anniversary
Wild at heart and weird all over, The Double R Club celebrated its first anniversary last Thursday with a breathtaking array of oddities. Organized by burlesque performerMiss Rose Thorne and hosted by aberrant, so-fuckin’-suave compère Benjamin Louche, the monthly event’s birthday bash served its usual recipe of “Lynchian cabaret and burlesque from another place” with a verve and ferocity rarely matched in the variety arena.
You know what you’re in for the minute you enter the premises: discreetly lit in low-key reds and yellows, some two dozen small round tables lie scattered randomly in an intimate wood-panelled room, all basking in the vaudevillian charm of a small raised stage where the mandatory red curtains are framed by a giant heart with a string of light bulbs. The tangible atmosphere of kitsch Americana and seamy decadence is utterly engrossing. This is as close as you’ll ever get to entering a David Lynch film without messing with serious stuff you’d regret later.
The evening’s more carnivalesque acts wouldn’t be out of place in a seedy Coney Island sideshow. Opening the proceedings with the eerie fire-eating routine that won her theMiss Twin Peaks 2010 pageant last June, multi-talented showgirl Lydia Darlingperformed a sensuous choreography with torches attached Freddy Krueger-style to her fingers, in addition to the odd blood-curdling shriek. As if her flame-extinguishing and fire-breathing stunts weren’t spectacular enough, the belle’s trick of dragging a torch along her thigh and setting her skin ablaze with small flames that linger for brief seconds was nothing short of spine-chilling.
Continuing the circus theme, contortionist Reuben Kuan spun impressively over four canes in his gracious bug-like “Metamorphosis” hand-balancing act. Trixie Malicious and Rod Lightning, of course, took the piss out of it all with their caricatural “Bad Magic” act, a messy, raving comedy-magic hybrid.
Some of the most ambitious acts in the RR birthday bill illustrate the post-modern extremes accommodated by the term “Lynchian”. Better known for his rapid-fire impressions, Anil Desai stormed the stage in a body bag before shedding it cocoon-like and re-emerging as a drag Laura Palmer, later shifting into her assassin Killer Bob. If you think comedians can’t be scary, think again. The weirdness undoubtedly peaked with “pachyderm wrangler” Jon Hicks. Heightened by his impeccable deadpan, the artist’s hilariously clumsy exploits with toy elephants fully embrace their threadbare special effects in a brilliant, unapologetic number of anti-magic. With so many unsettling oddities parading in a single show, you can rest assured that Hicks’s bit is just smoke and mirrors.
Room temperature may have risen a degree or two at the start of the second act with the “Lucifer’s Table Dance” burlesque routine by Luna Rosa. Clad in translucent veils and sporting horns, the exotic tattooed seductress strutted and swirled in a hypnotic extravaganza of sinuous exuberance. Graceful and suggestive, Ms. Rosa owned the stage, exchanging devilish glances in a brief dance with host Louche, yielding one of the evening’s unarguable highlights.
What a fitting climax for a Lynchian evening it was to have the iconic Mat Fraser belt out a demented, moaning rendition of Matt Monro’s “Born Free” before atrociously assaulting the modesty of the dainty Emerald Fontaine (effortlessly channelling Isabella Rossellini’s guiltiest smiles from Blue Velvet, the dame clearly enjoyed every minute of it). It would be a crime to rob you of one of the most shocking experiences available to theatregoers if you’re unfamiliar with Mr. Fraser’s nightmarish output, so let’s skip the spoilers and just warn you to expect blood, prosthetic limbs and more than a little nudity.
Clever and provocative, The Double R Club is a unique gem in London’s cabaret scene. A lavish evening of finely curated performances, it is guaranteed to thrill and entertain you, regardless of your Twin Peaks trivia scores. Wait with bated breath for this regular serving of uncanny mysteries on the third Thursday of every month. I know I will.
The Double R Club. Organized by Miss Rose Thorne. Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club, London. 21 October, 21:00. £10.www.myspace.com/thedoublerclub