Moira Finucane, does it again

glory box la revolucion

The milk was good, but it was the tomato sauce that took the prize.

There on Collingwood’s Melba Spiegeltent catwalk, Moira Finucane in a white gown, tearing out her heart — only her heart was a family-size bottle of tomato sauce, dribbling and spurting in time with her anguish. Exit to Hollywood blonde Clare St Clare taking that dripping container while singing Blue Velvet.

Yes, it’s Finucane & Smith, strutting their art — some new, some old — in Glory Box La Revolucion (until 13 September 2015).

The troupe provide about 90 minutes of entertainment: another highlight, one of the best covers of Bowie’s Wild is the Wind you’ll ever hear, by Mama Alto accompanied by piano.

That same piano that keeps our table, only a row back from the catwalk, safe from flying milk as Finucane empties two 2l bottles over plastic-wrapped audience, self and stage in wild abandon.

Elsewhere, she’s nude under witchy fingernails and black diaphanous cape, and rockin’ it out to Garbage (if memory serves) in jeans and leather jacket with St Clare.

There’s acrobatics involving chairs, rope, trapeze, cork screw … this is 18+ wine drinking. A bewigged industrial thrash dance. A song about more than coffee in Paris, an ooh la la to equality and respect.

Boobs, chuckles, politics, art: always entertaining. All in the luscious surrounds of the Spiegeltent with its Innocent Bystander pinot noir at the bar.

The card on the table tells us that Finucane & Smith are heading off to Cuba and may be some time. NO, we say. For all that we’ve seen of Moira Finucane, we still haven’t seen enough.
Melba Spiegeltent at Collingwood


lamp at savanna ethiopian eritrean restaurantBefore the gig, we had dinner at Savanna, an Ethiopian and Eritrean restaurant. Check out this funky ceiling lamp! Check out the delicious menu — we shared a platter of various veg and meat with injera for $45, washed down with organic Ethiopian shiraz at $6 a glass, and walked out pleasantly stuffed. Highly recommended.

The Burlesque Hour in Melbourne: with added Meow Meow

moira finucane burlesque performer

Moira Finucane

Burlesque has come a long way from sequins, boas and corsets with an aim to tease. That’s certainly the understanding presented by The Burlesque Hour, a production playing at Melbourne’s delightful warehouse basement club fortyfivedownstairs.

The club plays a big part in the event’s success, boasting terrific atmosphere with cabaret seating around a central catwalk, Chinese lanterns, vintage timber floor and pressed metal ceiling, and some of the friendliest door and bar staff you could hope to exchange greetings with.

Created by Jackie Smith and Moira Finucane, the show — it goes longer than an hour, thankfully — shatters the stereotypical notions of striptease, burlesque, nudity and female sexuality.

In the show we saw, Finucane was the lynchpin, carrying the politics from the catwalk to the back row with balloon-bursting ease. Her bag lady ascending to heaven was a truly poignant display in a night of great variety.

The Angels’ ‘Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again’ was destroyed by having a woman in showgirl feathered bikini carrying the tune; same again with gender-inverting drag queen-lip synced opener The Divinyls’ ‘I Touch Myself’. Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ was put to art snob-bashing good use, with a tip of the hat to the water wall at NGV as well as Poe’s ‘The Raven’, and a Flashdance-esque saturation to boot. The front rows looked pensive when the pre-song umbrellas and plastic sheets were handed out, and again when the second act set a cracking start thanks to a whip-wielding Sosina Wogayehu in dominatrix mode.

Thing was, Finucane does not conform to magazine cover concepts of celebrity good looks — no facelift, no perky tits, no Brazilian. She was, if memory serves, the only performer to appear fully naked.

The staging was superb throughout, simple but striking: cigarette smoke through black cloth, streamers of green cloth, black blood splattering naked flesh.

Elsewhere, there were heavy metal dance routines from Holly Durant and Harriet Ritchie and sheer, strawberry-flavoured elegance from MC Maude Davey.

Davey added a fine note of sexual politics by appearing nude but for long gloves, headpiece and extensive necklace while singing ‘I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl’: such a crack-up to see a naked woman flirting over the removal by teeth of one of said gloves, even as the song’s metaphor was literally stripped.

meow meow cabaret performer

Meow Meow

And there was Meow Meow, cabaret star par excellence who dazzled with an amazing range and theatrical presence, adroit at audience interaction, humour and pathos. In one of her three numbers, she out-Palmered her friend Amanda with a rendition of Dresden Dolls’ ‘Missed Me’. She was the latest guest artist to appear in the show’s nine-week run, ending next month.

Meow Meow appears later this year at the Malthouse in Little Match Girl.

The Burlesque Hour shattered expectations, unleashed beauty and the beast in the one package, and provided food for thought to take home. Yes, burlesque sure looks different down in the basement. I hope the hour strikes again soon.