photo by Dan Hendricks, swiped from Vanity Flair's MySpace site
Vanity has one of those smiles that instantly transports you from the doldrums to good cheer. She has a buoyant, effervescent personality that bubbles off of the stage and into your heart. She has a Christmas cookie quality, a sweetness that is warming and joyful. Her numbers are inviting; strangely intimate in a way. You really get a sense that she's performing just for you. Perhaps it's her incredible stage presence or her well-polished chops as a performer, but she makes it look easy, and she makes you feel at home.
Have you ever seen The Sound of Music? I've seen bits and pieces. One part that stands out to me (for obvious reasons, if you've read this blog much) is the sequence wherein the von Trapp kids perform "The Lonely Goatherd" as a marionette show for their dad. That same spirit of joy, of playful creativity can be found in Vanity's burlesque work.
Take for instance Vanity's "Fan vs. Boa" number. She brings to the stage the classic struggle -- which prop should a dancer use, a fan or a boa? -- with excellent musicality. Burlesque musicality is like the old Warner Brothers cartoons, where matching the music is played up for comedic effect. She plays on this musicality like a virtuoso. Her asides are priceless, such as her reaction when she realizes she just hit an audience member with a discarded glove.
She also sings! Her rendition of "Good Morning Baltimore" caught me completely off-guard. Since I'm married to a burlesquer (the diabolically cute Red Snapper) I sometimes arrive at a venue with the dancers, and hang around until the show starts. The night I first heard Vanity sing was such a night, and I was able to sit in on her sound check. In civilian clothes and a picture of perfect professionalism, she ran through the number. That was incredible. A bit later when she took the stage in full costume, with an audience, it was more so.
And she acts! She's a legit actress under her "real name" (or as Red refers to it, her "slave name") but we burlesque fans get to see this talent at play when she -- excuse me -- when her mom, Eileen Flairowitz, hosts at the Monday Night Tease. Eileen is one half of a sister act, The Flairowitz Sisters (with Belle-Mort Baudelaire as Irene) and they recently posted their pilot webisode online:
Vanity Flair will be performing at Shimmy & Shake on July 13th, and in the "Burlesque Tribute to Quentin Tarantino" at the Monday Night Tease on July 14th. You can also keep up with her at her MySpace page, or through Burlesque411.com.