Bending and bonding over cabaret
By Myron My
It’s always a risky move when a performer takes an unsuspecting audience member on stage and makes him get down on all fours so she can sit on him. But when that audience member is your reviewer, you better damn well hope you have a great show to move on with!
Fortunately, burlesque performer Jessamae St James does have just that, and in the context of her show my participation was quite – er – tame… As part of this year’s Melbourne Cabaret Festival, Tied Up looks at fetishes and BDSM, including ‘forniphilia’ – a form of bondage and sexual objectification in which a person’s body (namely mine) is incorporated into a piece of furniture.
Wearing a black, body-hugging corset, St James easily captures the audience’s attention as she talks and sings her way through some more lesser-known but just as intriguing fetishes. Once the sometimes lengthy monologue describing each fetish is completed St James breaks into a song and this is where she truly does shine.
Her voice is sultry and seductive, and appropriately, she nails each and every number she sings. Moreover, St James is joined on stage by an amazing four-piece jazz band whose skill and talent take the musical aspect of this show to a whole new level.
St James does create a highly intimate and sensual environment overall, but considering the obvious impact of the music and her vocal ability, I feel less talking and more songs would have kept the enjoyment level of this show at a maximum.
I must als0 admit I would have liked to have been confronted even more with Tied Up. St James is discussing some highly sexual and often taboo themes and it would have been great to see her push some of those boundaries herself on stage, which I am sure she would be capable of doing, given her exciting performance history.
Having said that, Tied Up is still a highly entertaining show, I made a particularly fine stage seat, and I’m certainly keen to see where St James dares to go from here…
Venue: The Butterfly Club, 256 Collins St (entry via Carson Place), Melbourne
Season: Until 7 July | Sat 7:00pm, Sun 6:00pm.
Tickets: $28 Full | $25 Conc