It was the first time that there has EVER been Burlesque in Bosnia, never mind Sarajevo. So I was a tad nervous about the reception we were going to get, especially as I was the first strip-teaser on the bill…
The event was organised by the Burlesquer and Sarajevo native Lada Redstar, chanteuse and host Lady Flo and her agency Neo Retro, along with AG&CY who are based in Sarajevo and made sure everything ran super smooth for us.
Day 1: Hello Sarajevo!
After a long flight I arrived on Saturday 15th August about 10pm a little bleary eyed. I was met there by Lalla Morte from belle Paris and agency rep Jamilla. Lalla and I have lots of mutual friends so it was great to meet in person, and we hit it off a treat. After a lovely catch up Campari with the other girls at a bar called Goldfish (they gave us free grapes and have a 1970s mini TV in the toilet) we headed back to our apartment in the old town for some much needed beauty sleep.
Day 2: Say Cheese!
In the morning we caught a taxi to a restaurant called ‘The Four Rooms of Madame Sophia’ for the ‘Burlesque Voyage’ Press conference. It had a kind of boudoir ‘Hollywood Hills’ sort of feel. It was pretty nerve wracking as we saw all the press arrive and we kept on sneaking peaks of them from the balcony.
With all the press assembled we were ushered down and the conference began in Bosnian not English! Lada was of course fluent but the rest of us had to rely on our lovely translator Maja. She was great, but after a while I gave up trying to keep track of what was being said and tried to look as unselfconsciously glamorous on the sofa as I could. They had also put out lots of delicious cake as it was a press ‘brunch’ but sadly I think we were all too nervous to eat them. I hate letting good cake go to waste. Grrr.
Later we had some thankfully English language interviews. Some of the questions were for teenage magazines such as:‘What do you think of Bosnian men?’
Us: ‘Not sure but all the girls are hot!’ ( it’s true all high cheekbones and graceful jaws- check out Idda our Pin-Up below!)
The best question was: ‘Would you go back and time and live in the past if you could?’ Interestingly, for most of us the answer was ‘no’. I love what the 1960s brought to us culturally, I romanticise it. However while the 60s was a decade of social and sexual revolution, I am thankful to live in the society I live in today. I know in terms of equality, I have opportunities open to me that I would not have back then. Also on a stylistic note if I lived in the 60s, everyone would be dressing 60s and I would just be another ‘dollybird’, and I’m not sure I could carve a career out of that!
After the press conference and photocall we went to the Coloseum Casino to rehearse and for one final photoshoot. Poor Lada and Flo had their work cut out with numerous sound and light checks. My shows were fairly straight forward technically however, so Lalla Morte and I slipped out to use our festival passes to go and see a wonderful documentary called ‘Cash and Marry’. The documentary told the tale of a Macedonian guy and his Serbian friend and their quest to find a cash bride for a European passport. Hilariously when Atanas’s mum bemoans his lack of employment she even suggests he works in the Macedonian porn industry and ‘work his way up.’ Giving an insight into the world of illegal immigration and marriages this is a story of friendship and also love. The film also really made me appreciate how lucky I am to have a UK passport, something I have always taken for granted. Check it out: www.cashandmarry.com
Day 3: Curtain call!
The big show! After rehearsals and siesta we arrived to get ready. After the usual panic of ‘I can’t find my gloves!’ (me) and ‘My bra is broken’ (Lada) we were all ready. After Lady Flo’s introduction and first musical number, I was the first strip-teaser on. I was unsure about how the crowd would react…luckily they ooh and ahhed at my fire magic tricks (I imagine under some pre-coaching from Lady Flo) and as soon as The Kinks ‘All of the day and all of the night’ burst out they joined in a reassuring claps and cheers as I fired my gun, pouted and wriggled out of my catsuit. Next up was Lalla Morte who was wheeled onto the stage in her suitcase (her signature move). But, there was some confusion with the soundtrack and poor Lala was trapped in the suitcase on stage for minutes before she could pop out of it. But ever the professional it did not show as she performed her French routine with a jaunty baguette and some je ne sais quoi!
Lada’s ‘Hawaii’ act was lovely, her glitter bath in her clam shell looked very glamorous, although the glycerine in the water made back stage a slippery and glittery death trap!
Lady Flo took to the stage as her character ‘Lady Elvis’ with her co-host Mr Royal and the Elvis numbers went down a treat (Lalla and I even took to the stage as impromptu backing dancers for ‘Viva Las Vegas!). Together they did a great job of holding the show all-together. Bravo!
My second act, a Russian twist on my classic Barbarella show went down well, I’m not sure if it was the communist flag or the new lighting in my helmet.
Lala’s ‘In the mood for love’ act was silhouetted behind a screen and I have never seen any other dancer make going en-pointe for minutes at a time look so effortless!
Them for the finale it was Lada’s ‘Balkan Tease’. Lada, dressed in traditional Bosnian attire went from pained widow to a brilliant gypsy-style dance finish. It was a touching end for the first ever night of Burlesque in Bosnia. We all whooped backstage, peeking trough the curtain and the crowed clapped along and cheered to the familiar Bosnian music. As our agency rep Jamilla would say ‘Oooh YES!’ Lada even inspired me to get my own traditional Bosnian hat as a memento of my trip.
Day 4: Holiday
The next day we went to brunch and gorged ourselves on traditional Sarajevo meats and watermelon. We then went to see a short film about a deaf boy with a seriously cute 70s style haircut, who enters a public speaking competition. Needless to say Lalla and I were weeping be the end while Flo had fallen asleep and whose head was rolling perilously close to the man on her right.
That night we were the also ‘special guests’ of the Sarajevo film festival for Mickey Rourke. Surreal and pretty hilarious to say the least. We assumed it was going to be a party with Mickey in a roped off area, and us mere mortals in the crowd. However, we taken to a tiny Moroccan style room at the back of the club and there he was sitting with his stylist. Alone. I was too embarrassed to even shake his hand when were introduced and all my small talk went out the window. He did however take quite a shine to Lalla Morte, but let’s face it who can blame him!
Day 5: Bon Voyage
I kissed the girls goodbye and headed to the airport. Strangely before you check-in at Sarajevo airport you have to walk through at metal detector and put your luggage through X-ray.
Now, I always have to take a lot of strange objects away when I travel for work. My chain mail costume which is so heavy I have to carry it as hand luggage, always gets turned out at Gate Security. However I always pack my stage gun (an Olympic blank firing pistol, if you must know) in my hold luggage. While the gun itself is totally legal, and harmless apart from the very loud bangs it makes, I figure they probably don’t want me packing a piece in my hand luggage on Easyjet.
As my hold luggage went through the X-ray, sure enough I was pulled aside, and asked to open up my suitcase on a very public table at the entrance of the airport.
Now where did I pack that gun??? Que minutes of union jack knickers, bras, and space suits flying to ground as I scrambled around in a slight nervous frenzy trying to find the bloody thing.
‘It’s for the stage, it’s not real!’ I smiled sweetly to the gruff looking guard. Well, at least my suitcase backed up my story. While I pride myself on looking like a 1960s fictional spy, I imagine I look like a pretty unlikely terrorist. Gun finally retrieved I handed it over. The guard examined it, spinning the barrel. (I think he was enjoying it) then to my horror he pointed the gun down to the floor and pulled the trigger! My stomach lurched – it was loaded with blanks! Thankfully the gun just made a quiet ‘click’. Phew! The guard then smiled, handed me back the gun and took my Agent Lynch business card to show his fellow guard. Security infiltrated by the Lynch yet again! Ah-ha!
So, that was my ‘could-be-construed-as-dramatic’ finale to my trip to Sarajevo which thankfully ended we me boarding a connecting flight to London and not in a Bosnian Police station. Result.
To see more pictures from the trip click here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/41818386@N08/sets/72157621994423345/
Also thank you for all the messages from all the people who came to watch our Burlesque Voyage show and a big thank you to Lada and Flo. Hopefully I will be invited back next year for an even bigger and better show. I think we have given Bosnia the Burlesque bug!
Agent L. x