The Pin Up Parlor is more than just a burlesque show or a cabaret – it’s an all-encompassing experience, taking in all manner of performance and visual art, mixing it all together and serving it up like a big, decadent cocktail.
The next one of these lush and lavish events, in early December, draws on the women of the 1920s for inspiration. As organiser and co-founder Gigi Vine explains, putting these Pin Up Parlor events on is a true labour of love. “I do the events with my sister Betty Belle,” she explains. “We grew up together with a mutual interest in vintage fashion, which is really where this whole thing started. Betty is a visual artist and designer, whereas I’m a performer and choreographer. I entered and won the Miss Classic Pin Up Australia competition few years ago, and Betty has an interest in vintage tattoo art – she’s a living artwork, that girl. This show is all our interests coming together.”
The next Pin Up Parlor is all about the roaring ‘20s, and how the women of the era created a liberating movement through their beauty and risqué performances. “There’s something about the women of that era that really appeals to me,” Vine explains. “Women were different shapes and sizes back then and didn’t necessarily have to show a lot of skin to be sexy. I mean, you could if you wanted to, but back then it was all about the tease, versus now, when it’s all about the body. A lot of the women who performed in vaudeville were making strong political statements, but doing so in a funny way. They were being naughty and mostly getting away with it, but the key part is that they were having fun while doing it. I just think that ultimately, it’s all about that – if you’re not doing that, then why are you doing it?”
The show itself features a series of cabaret and burlesque performances, in a venue specially decorated by Gigi and Betty, overflowing with art of all kinds. “This year, the room is broken into the four seasons,” Vine explains. “You’ll be sitting in an area that looks like spring, say, or one that looks like winter, decorated with Betty’s props and dressings. We also have living statues – we’re working with a group of women by the name of The Sirens, and they’ll be adding to this magical garden type atmosphere. We wondered how we could take this idea into the 21st century, so we commissioned a series of skateboard decks, which will be hanging on the walls at the show – the design on each one draws on the art deco style.”
Each of the artists and dancers involves brings their own interpretation of 1920s style, Vine continues. “We have a really broad range of people contributing,” she says, “from street artists to tattoo artists and typographers, all putting their own spin on the ’20s and art deco. Each one of the live performers has picked a season with its own colour to go along with it. The girls are drawing on period figures like Zelda Fitzgerald. One of our dancers, Bunni Lambada is drawing on Sally Rand, who was one of the first burlesque performers, and was famous for her massive ostrich feather fan. We have two performers, Cody Cabana and Dolly Rocket, who are doing an ode to the Dolly Sisters, flapper dancers from the ’20s, but we’re bridging the old and the new by using a remixed version of an old swing song. It all sounds pretty wild,” she says, “but when all these elements come together on the night, it’s spectacular.”
BY ALASDAIR DUNCAN