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Glitter, nipple tassels and birthday cake at The Cheek of It's 5th Birthday Revue

Glitter, nipple tassels and birthday cake at The Cheek of It's 5th Birthday Revue 1Glitter, nipple tassels and birthday cake at The Cheek of It's 5th Birthday Revue 2

I have never been to a burlesque show before. The closest I have ever come was watching Cher mentor Christina Aguilera in sadly disappointing film, but I still thought I knew what to expect as I walked into the world-famous Madame Jojos in Soho. The lighting was low, the décor lavishly gold and crimson, and there was a small table by the door selling a wide variety of nipple tassels.

As we found our way into a cosy corner, the stage lit up and the crowded room fell silent, and it was clear to see that The Cheek of It's 5th birthday revue was going to be so much more than a theatrical strip tease.

Our host, Toni Galore, a faux alcoholic with an incorrigible imagination, enticed the audience to take part in her flights of fantasy, sending us all back to early 20th century Berlin, where champagne and gin rain from the sky to prepare us for the first act, Fanny Dent. Fanny, wearing an oversized jumper, sang a mournful ballad about how men don't fancy her, and then proceeded to remove her seven pairs of knickers to some rather epic classical music. We also learned that it is possible to strip in the style of Jarvis Cocker, that TeasyJet is certainly the best airline for inflight entertainment and that Santa's Ho Ho Ho's are terribly overworked.

Each of the women performing incorporated a captivating mix of  satire, pantomime and musical expression to keep you absorbed, while the celebratory atmosphere made you wish you were up on stage enjoying yourself as much as they were. At one point, the gentleman next to me said that he was surprised that most of the women in the audience were more excited than the men!

The evening was not only a celebration of The Cheek of It's 5th birthday revue, but also the graduation show for the current crop of Cheekettes taking classes with Lady Cheek. Many of the women on stage that night would never have performed before starting at The Cheek of It, but every single one of them exuded confidence and sexuality. Lady Cheek and her Cheekettes have now trained over 3000 women to love the bodies they are in and have fun in locations around the world as they spread glitter around the globe! I don’t know about you but to me that sounds like something more people should do; not to impress anyone else but to put a smile on their own faces.

At the end of the evening, all the performers came out for their applause and Lady Cheek, a.k.a Zoe Charles, gave a little speech about how wonderful it has been to move from teaching acting by day and burlesqueing by night, to giving up her day job and teaching burlesque by day instead! We all sang happy birthday and many happy returns were wished.

By Bex Winsdale-Floyd

Pictured: Lady Cheek with her fans

The Cheek of It! School of Burlesque runs courses and drop-in classes which anyone can attend. See a list of available options HERE.

Zoe Charles will be teaching body confidence and stage presence at Funny Women's weekend workshop in February. Book your place HERE.

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