Kitty Cointreau is late for our meeting in the Frog & Bucket by approximately 120 seconds.Advertisement
I’ve barely had time to get out my notebook before she bounds in, profusely apologetic whilst ordering up a vodka and coke from the bar. Dressed in an unexpectedly casual ensemble of hoodie with jeans and trainers, she’s tiny but bursting with energy, all big smiles and dazzling eyes.
When I point out I’ve been here for barely five minutes, she relaxes into her chair and we begin to talk.
Amongst other things, Kitty is a writer and a producer of radio drama, but we’re here to discuss her forthcoming burlesque show, Kitty Cointreau’s BraHaHa. ‘I’m trying to take the show to different places. The best burlesque, the best comedy and the best circus act. It’s a really old-fashioned style show, sort of old music hall entertainment.’
Starting out initially on the comedy circuit before decided it wasn’t for her, Kitty began practising a burlesque act two and a half years ago, before properly performing with it since early last year. As we talk, she cites the Edinburgh Fringe as a major turning point. ‘
‘You meet all of the best acts that you could possibly ever meet. It’s so rare that everyone is in the same place at the same time. People do three or four gigs a day and you meet everyone at parties, you meet the best magicians, fire-eaters and the best comedians.’
The BraHaHa is essentially a variety show featuring comedians, performance art, and the more publicised side of burlesque, striptease. I ask whether people turn up to Kitty’s shows expecting a Dita Von Teese-style act.
‘Dita Von Teese! Everyone always talks about Dita Von Teese!’
Whoops. I rephrase the question and ask how her show differs from more mainstream burlesque acts. ‘What I’ve found is that it’s quite refreshing to just have well placed great burlesque amongst really good comedy. People like watching unusual and glamourous acts but also having the reassurance that knowing there’s a joke coming.’
Kitty is quite clearly someone who has great respect for old-fashioned Victorian entertainment. Speaking about her act, it brings to mind end-of-pier style naughtiness, as well as innovative touches like her 80s night, which features a giant Rubik’s cube.
With nostalgia seemingly popping up all over the place, (popularisation of vintage clothes, the success of Mad Men on television) does she see her shows as a form of escapism for the audience?
‘I think there is an escapist element, I think everyone needs that. I think we all need a bit of glamour and something just a bit different, even if it’s just one night a month, everyone needs a bit of a release once in a while. It’s a bit of spoiling yourself. Also there’s such a great community, everyone from vintage photographers to the acts to the people that tend to run the venues. The amount of people that dress up to come to the shows is absolutely phenomenal.’
Sounds a bit like Rocky Horror, people following the show and interacting like that?
‘Oh yes, I love Rocky Horror! It’s great to see that people have invested their time and put in the effort to dress up, so a participatory element to it. Burlesque was dead until four or five years ago so it’s lovely to see audiences that almost want to be a part of the act.’
On top of curating the BraHaHa show, Kitty is also in talks with a London theatre, sorting out venues for the tour in Leicester and Glasgow as well as helping organise a few shows for the Manchester Comedy Festival. She has a boundless energy that effectively fuses an old-school entertainer mindset with a clearly pragmatic and level-headed approach to organisation.
‘I am very busy which is slightly terrifying sometimes. Are the flyers printed on time, have I booked everyone, do they all know when they’re supposed to turn up? Sometimes it’s a nightmare and you just have to get on with it. For example, I did 22 different shows in Edinburgh, and you have to get on and do it, and not worry about whether it’s going be 100% perfect or not.’
So what can the audience at the Frog & Bucket expect?
‘Some unusual and glamourous acts but also the reassurance that there’s some great jokes on the way. Like I said, the show has a heavy comedy element, so whether you turn up more interested in the burlesque side of things or the comedic side, there’s definitely something for everyone. I generally get a really good mix of people at my shows, so I’m looking forward to it!’
Kitty Cointreau’s BraHaHa plays the Frog & Bucket on 30th September. You can buy tickets here, and find out more about Kitty at her website here.