Last Friday I was transported back to 8th century BC when some of Montreal’s burlesque beauties took the stage as Ancient Rome’s most desirable (and devious) personas. Cirquantique, Montreal’s newest burlesque and circus company, presented its premiere show ARENA at the gorgeous Bain Mathieu. Combining both burlesque and circus acts in the spirit of Ancient Rome, ARENA was sexy, seductive and above all, a spectacular show.
The audience was greeted with lavish set design, including four large roman-looking statues that stood on each side of the stage, while the Montreal-based band Street Meat played in nothing but their togas as people filed in and mingled beforehand. Then, a few beautiful ladies in crisp white goddess dresses emerged from below carrying tray after tray of roman-inspired appetizers. Not a single table was left bare. I snacked on grapes, olives, brie, baguette, dates and nuts while watching (er, listening to) half naked men play music—and the show hadn’t even started yet! Off to a good start.
Lady Josephine opened the act with a sexy hilarious act in true Josephine style. No, the tall blonde beauty did not embody the spirit of a love goddess, a seductive siren, or even a sprightly river nymph; instead, she ambled on stage as a gangly centaur, in a costume that included hind legs and a robust rump. Lady Josephine is one of my favourite burlesque performers on the scene right now; she’s captivating to watch and her acts are always intelligent, hilarious, sexy and original.
Another performer whose creativity and wit result in sexy, hilarious acts is the drool-worthy dish, Sucre A La Crème. Gracing the stage as a sculpture of a beautiful roman goddess, she came to life on a rotating pedestal and chiseled off her pasties for some titillating humor.
Miss Bloody Mary Anne wasn’t the only one to get a little wet after she performed her erotic roman bath act. Playing a captured concubine who decides to embrace her captor’s lavish lifestyle, she splashed around and stripped off her toga beneath a steady stream of water, before completing her cleanse with an oil rub down.
Two of Montreal’s burlesque-scene vanguard, Miss Sugarpuss and Bon Bon Bombay, were part of the show’s stellar roster. In a hilariously dramatic act, Miss Sugarpuss played a she-wolf who fights off a hooded intruder, while Bon Bon Bombay closed the show in a soft and sensual act as Aphrodite.
From the circus side of things, Lili and Katoo were total show-stoppers. These two women showed off their incredible acrobatic strength, in a performance that appeared effortless and graceful. Dressed as gladiators, they used the trapeze and their own body strength to create a truly awe-inspiring performance. Aerial rope climbers Natalie and Jon performed a breathtakingly beautiful act in perfect unison, one of the most stunning acts of the evening.
The multitalented Esmeralda impressed everyone with the newest trick up her sleeve. I’ve seen the dark haired beauty perform hoops and burlesque, but she upped the ante Friday night with her sexy pyro act. Before seductively dragging a flaming wand across her bare arms and legs, she tilted her head back, opened her mouth, and wrapped her lips around a ball of fire.
Montreal has always had a hot burlesque scene, and it just keeps heating up; Cirquantique’s first show was smouldering—can’t wait to see what it produces next!
Photos: Chris Zacchia