Vaudeville! Burlesque! Cabaret!




Classic burlesque is nothing new in Memphis. A revival of the saucy arts took root in the mid-90's after a series of variety shows that included comedy, fire breathing, singers, dancers, and plenty of rock-and-roll. But LaVinnia London's Nocturnal Cabaret is something else entirely. Although LLNC's "Babes in Toyland" features Lady Doo Burlesque and the Wind-Up Doll Dancers, it's really more of a Vaudeville show featuring magic, aerial acrobatics, and poi dancing.

During the heyday of Vaudeville (1880's-1930's) a patron of the form might be able to catch a song, a lecture by a prominent public speaker, some trained animals, furniture jugglers, clowns, comics, plate spinners, scenes from Shakespeare, and someone who farts popular songs all on the same ticket. Interest in Vaudeville and variety shows was revived in the 1990's with the success of freak shows like The Jim Rose Circus. While the Nocturnal Cabaret may not offer anything quite so varied and exotic, it's still a fun alternative for the nightclub set. And it's still plenty exotic.

Doors for Lavinia London's "Babes in Toyland" open at 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 17 at Nocturnal. Tickets are $15 and include admission to a rock-and-roll show with Wild Emotions, Ross Johnson, and Distemper.

Distemper, a short-lived Memphis punk band which reformed for a performance at the 2010 Antenna Club Reunion, played no more than a half-dozen shown in 1986, but the group's legacy lingers. Antenna Club owner Steve McGehee has credited the band with launching all-ages punk shows in Memphis.

Filmmaker and Distemper co-founder Mike McCarthy says he hopes to follow up recent reunion shows with the release of a CD the band recorded 24-years ago at Crosstown Records.

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