Why Vaudeville?

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By Roy Maloy

When I was 14 my mother took me to the YWCA in Elizabeth St, Melbourne. It was a Monday night and it was raining.
When we arrived at the building we were sent to the 4th floor via an elevator that was very small. I was excited, but also nervous. We were going to our first meeting of the ‘Magic Circle Club’ and I was a mad keen magician. When we arrived at level four we walked along a long corridor and then came to a room that was lit with neon’s. There was a small, skinny old man greeting people. He was pleased to see us. Not many new members came to the Magic Circle Club. We sat down and the meeting began. It was my first meeting at the Circle and I continued to attend for about three years.

In the time I was a member of the Magic Circle Club I learned a lot of amazing magic tricks. I learned to force a card, palm a coin and tie a balloon animal. But that wasn’t what planted a seed in my mind that has been germinating ever since. What struck me at the Magic Circle was the very old men and women who were its members; the magicians who had performed in the 1930’s and 40’s. The pre-television performers who truly knew a real Australian vaudeville culture in the normal suburban life and landscape, which seemed to have been incapacitated by the advent of movies but then put into coma by TV.

One of the first amazing people I met was man whose professional stage name was Le Roy. Good name in my opinion. He was raised in regional Victoria to parents who owned a farm. As a child a vaudeville troupe hired his local community hall, to put on a show, that he said had a magician, a ballet dancer, whip cracker, a sharp shooter, a gum leaf player and a poetry recitalist. As the son of a farmer he was mechanically minded so he worked out how to do several of the tricks that the magician did for him that day and built replica tricks to perform himself. Then, a year later, he was able to get a spot at the local agricultural show, performing on their main stage between a sheep presentation and the presentation of trophies for the best knitted wares in the textile pavilion. In his opinion he needed something huge that none of the other locals had seen before and all the tricks he’d practiced were tricks that the rest of the town saw when he saw them a year earlier. So, he went home to his farm and began looking about for something amazing to perform. What Le Roy found was a saw. It was, by his description, a huge disk with teeth that was supported by an axel, and two wooden arms. A leather belt turned the blade so that it cut logs into planks. It hadn’t been used since his grandfather’s time and was in the old shed on the property. So, he and his brother took it down. They attached it to a new structure that was a collapsible A-frame and kidded their 17 year old, female cousin into being the assistant.

What happened next is the stuff of legend, but also the illustration to my point. Le Roy and his brother set up the A-frame so that their attractive cousin was lying at its bottom. They would pull a pi and release the spinning blade on its swinging arm and it would swing down, through the A-frame, Appearing to cut their cousin in half. However their cousin was wearing a paper machete girdle and a hole was dug under the A-frame before the show. When the cousin would lay under the A-frame the blade would swing down, but her body had actually fallen into the hole in the ground, leaving the paper machete body in the blade’s path.

All that sounds amazing, however, what happened at the actual show that day wasn’t a moment that should be remembered in circus history forever. Le Roy and his brother catered for their cousin’s body to fall into the hole under the blade’s lowest point when it swung through the A-Frame, slicing into the body cast of their cousin’s torso. However, their calculations were wrong. They’d only calculated for the length of the saw from the top of the A-frame to the bottom of the blade when it was hanging loosely. When it was in full swing and gravity had the better of it and it was extended by about an inch more than it was when sitting still because of the emerita and gravity. So, on show day, their cousin was laying in the dirt ditch they’d dug and covered with a mat, and when the blade swung down it cut her stomach across where navel is. The cut was only enough to need several stitches, according to Le Roy but it was a moment that had a surprise twist. When the blade dropped and hit her, she let out a scream that can’t be faked. The kind of shriek that the audience bought, but to their eyes they’d seen the blade go through her whole body, cutting her in two! When she got up and was gushing with blood the audience assumed it was also a special effect and they cheered for what Le Roy said felt like forever.

As an artist I’ve often considered the question, ‘why vaudeville?’ The answer for me is best given in Le Roy’s mishap. Vaudeville is the place where the truest, most diverse and extreme action, entertainment, skill and brilliance happens. When we pay $18 to see a movie what we’re seeing is sterile. It’s more often than not a display of computer animation, cut and re-cut over and over to appear flawless, and appear effortless. But the trade-off is the lack of any kind of possibility that you may be about to see the real human interaction of skill and brilliance as the true artist moves and moulds their one off, amazing skills to meet that audience that day.

As we prepare for one of our most dynamic Speakeasy line-ups ever I will be joining a huge audience of people who will see real magic happen that night – the kind of magic that will never be repeated. That’s why vaudeville.

Speakeasy Nuevo will be presenting Valentine’s Vaudeville on Sat. Feb 15th. Visit out website for tickets www.Speakeasy-HQ.com

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The face of Nuevo Sarah Jones

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Speakeasy HQ are so thrilled to have such a uniquely skilled entertainer join our Speakeasy stage. For the launch of Speakeasy Nuevo we needed something unique, someone who is quirky, bright, bubbly and most importantly of all one of only a handful (pun intended!) in the world with the ability to perform this rare art form! We hand over to the MC of the evening, skilled ventriloquist, the beautiful Sarah Jones.

To help you get to know her before the night, we asked her the famous 5 questions;

Where are you from?

I was born in Japan to an English father and Australian mother. I have lived in Australia most of my life but have spent a little time in the U.K too making use of my dual citizenship.

How long have you been performing?

I’ve been performing for over a decade but only started ventriloquism about four years ago.

Where did you get your training?

Ventriloquism used to be a secret that was handed down through generations of performs. These days though the skill is so rare, especially in Australia, that unfortunately there are few left to teach it. Luckily there are still resources available. The State Library of Victoria has an amazing collection of resources called the Alma collection which used to be the personal library of magician. Amongst his treasures are some incredible books on ventriloquism dating back to the vaudeville era. I taught myself ventriloquism through these books and have continued my education by attending the International Ventriloquist convention and making connections with ventriloquists around the world.

What’s your inspiration as an artist?

I love watching old ventriloquists videos. My favourite ventriloquist Ray Alan, passed away a few years ago. I see a lot of live comedy too. I feel really lucky to live in Melbourne where there such a great comedy scene and a generally artistic culture. It’s aways inspiring to go along to variety nights like Speakeasy and see such a wide variety of talents.

What will you be performing at Speakeasy Nuevo?

I will be MCing the night, making sure everything flows smoothly and we all have a lovely time. I’ll also be bringing a long a couple of puppetty friends for some ventriloquism and performing a hand shadow piece.

Seats are strictly limited so get online to avoid disappointment. www.Speakeasy-HQ.com

Headline act… Lacrima

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For the launch of Speakeasy Nuevo on January 18th we were sure we needed our headline act to be something that our audiences would NEVER forget! And WOW, have we found it!!!

After gracing the lofty stages at Speakeasy HQ, Lacrima almost brought the house down! As a duo few words can describe their style because, well, in this humble opinion it is a style of performance unique only to them! Comprising of the petite and doll like Elena, and one of showbiz’s leading strongmen, the enigmatic Caesar, Lacrima perform in a way that seems to slather layers of different genres one over the next without any effort whatsoever. Though enough to be said about the beauty and elegance of the petite Elena, her beauty is equally met by the unthinkable comedy of Caesar to the point that one of our notable audience at Speakeasy HQ is quoted as saying, ‘their act was so brilliant that there was a stunning, scantily clad woman on stage but I couldn’t take my eyes off a man with a beard because he was so funny!’

So, with such hype and excitement around the headline act for the launch of Speakeasy Nuevo on January 18th we took the amazingly highly talented Lacrima aside to ask them the famous five questions!

Where are you from?

We are both from Melbourne born and bred.

How long have you been performing?

Caesar: I have been performing for 8 years as an actor, circus artist, Butoh performer and in many other genres/roles.

Elena: I have always been an entertainer….all through in my childhood I would have my mum and sisters in hysterics with my impressions of my dad and my impromptu dance routines. Throughout my childhood I was an avid student of drama and singing. After a hiatus during which I completed a Bachelor of International Relations (not sure what I was thinking haha) I discovered circus. I have now been performing in contortion, aerial hoop and adagio for 3 years.

Where did you get your training?

Caesar: I have studied everywhere! Ive undertaken internships in Brisbane with Zen Zen Zo, studied butoh in Japan and spent 2 years in Paris and Barcelona studying at the acclaimed school Lecoq as well as years of strength training, circus training amongst so many others. I love to learn and am always looking to learn more.

Elena: I first studied contortion in public classes at circus oz and then after I discovered I had some natural talent I undertook private tuition from amazing Melbourne contortionist Jacinta Rohan. Aerial hoop was first started just for fun and exercise but quickly became an addiction. I have been priveliged to have had private aerial lessons from former cirque du soleil performer Rachel Kmetko. Caesar was actually the one who taught me adagio. I believe though that we never stop learning and training so I think of it as a work in progress 😊

What’s your inspiration as an artist?

We are inspired by so many things it is nearly impossible to name them here so we will both list a few.

Elena: I love the Ross sisters (singing contortionist sisters), Freaks (the film from 1930s), Federico Fellini….basically I love anything quirky and unusual. As a performer I hope to always be interesting, different and engaging. I recently saw Leonard Cohen perform live (for the third time) and I found him an incredibly inspiring performer. The way he held the attention of every person in the crowd and made me feel as if he was performing solely for me was electric. He inspires me to be an engaging performer who has the ability to connect emotionally with the audience.

Caesar: I am inspired by movement and helping people to see different perspectives.

What will you be performing at the launch of Speakeasy Nuevo?

We will be performing a disco inspired adagio routine to Rasputin by Boney M. We like to refer to our new genre as discodagio.

We can’t wait to see the amazing Lacrima in action. Seats are strictly limited so get online to avoid disappointment. www.Speakeasy-HQ.com

The Boylesque Superstar Timothy Christopher Ryan aka TCR

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One of the most popular and talked about artists to hit our boards at Speakeasy HQ was none other than Timothy Christopher Ryan, who hammered out an unthinkably brilliant Boylesque performance, bringing it down to next to nothing, to the roars and cheers of our audience.

When given the request to perform something more subtle that wouldn’t literally bring the house down, he came our way once again with something equally brilliant! Tipped as one of the fastest rising stars on the Speakeasy traps TCR is a do not miss artist. So we took him aside to ask him the famous five questions as he polishes his shoes, glues on his pasties and beats off his adoring fans.

Where are you from?

The beautiful beachside village of Frankston where it’s always hot – even when it’s cold 😉

How long have you been performing?

Ever since I got bored of being self conscious and shy.

Where did you get your training?

I did my time at University of Ballarat acting course with an honours in immersive theatre.

What’s your inspiration as an artist?

I think I get my main inspiration from Physicality and western societies’ separation of vocal and physical. I also have a lot of time for the theatre company Punchdrunk and the Melbourne based finucane and smith. (Seriously go check them out!!!)

What will you be performing at the launch of Speakeasy Nuevo?

A moulin rouge favourite of mine; the Elephant Love Medley duet as a solo.

Mr Ryan… TCR – we bow down to your superiority, theatrical brilliant and creativity at all levels!! We cannot wait to see you perform at the launch of Speakeasy Nuevo on January 18th. Get booking now at www.Speakeasy-HQ.com as tickets are strictly limited.

The Deadliest Flare at Speakeasy Nuevo

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Just about any descriptive that highlights skill and presentation can be thrown in the direction of The Deadly Flare; but chances are they will catch it, set it on fire and send it straight back at you! This dynamic duo are readying to set the stage on fire as they flare, juggle and blow our audiences minds at the launch of Speakeasy Nuevo on January 18th.

So we took them aside and asked them the famous five questions:

Where are you from?

I grew up on a farm just outside of Canberra, studied acting and circus at Wollongong university where I also learned to surf, performed overseas in india, Asia and Europe for 2 years when I came back I started a performing business in melbourne where I met my wife and now have a 2 year old girl. I currently live in Greensborough and work all over the state, nation and the world.

How long have you been performing?

I learnt to juggle when I was 12 years old and showing my family skits and stunts at our weekly Sunday night family concerts ever since. I started professional performing when I finished year 12 when I worked for a club med resort to perform on the entertainment team. I ran my first business called the crazy critters throughout the 4 years at university.

Where did you get your training?

When I was 15 I joined a youth circus called the wharehouse circus. We trained every week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This kept me alive and interested in high school. I have visited heaps of festivals every year for the past 10 years and aim to learn something new from everyone I meet.

What’s your inspiration as an artist?

Cirque du sole always expresses a profound level of skill and mastery of their tool. This quality of mastery is truly inspiring.

What will you be performing at the launch of Speakeasy Nuevo?

Our newest cocktail bar flaring circus acro act called ‘The deadly flare’.

Don’t miss out on one of the only legitimate flaring routines touring the country at present! Seating is strictly limited so don’t miss out!! www.Speakeasy-HQ.com

Va va va voom it’s Miss Bettie Bombshell

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Harking back to a time of glamour and beauty is one thing, but when you can actually boast that you’ve got it in the flesh; well that’s another! On January 18th Speakeasy Nuevo will be launching with a va-va-va-voom as the beautiful Bettie Bombshell explodes on stage for our audience!

With much anticipation, and steam coming out of the collars of so many of our anticipating audiences, we took the stunning young thing aside to ask her the famous five questions:

Where are you from?

This little lady is from Melbourne, born and raised, though more specifically I grew up in the now very trendy Collingwood. Having said that I do believe I was originally born in New York sometime during the 1930’s backstage during interval, I think I got a tad lost and ended up here!

How long have you been performing?

I always say I have been performing ever since I could. My family live and breath dance and performance so I really had no say in the matter. I began my training at the young age of just two years old, as I got older I studied everything from Gymnastics, Ballet, Tap, Contemporary and pretty much everything I could get my mother to pay for. The training, the costumes, the stages and the passion grew greater and greater each year from such a young age, and I have been performing now for around 20 years

Where did you get your training?

I have received most of my training from my family who also have an enormous dance based background, though I have studied at a few smaller dance schools/companies around Melbourne for many years. I do believe that every great performer teaches themselves as well, gather bits and pieces from various sources and inspirations, and this is what I always try to do.

What’s your inspiration as an artist?

My main inspiration isn’t so much a person or a particular performer, its to constantly push myself to create as many new and exiting things as possible. I don’t necessarily try to create the hardest or the most technical acts all the time, but my real driving force is to create performances that capture audiences undivided attention for that moment in time to evoke emotion and to purely entertain them.

What will you be performing at the launch of Speakeasy Nuevo?

I will be performing my favourite act so far, a cheeky, quirky bump and grind style act straight from the golden era. This act is a cocktail of classic burlesque, comedy, and all round glamour.

Don’t miss your chance to see the dynamite dancer herself as she wows our audience at Speakeasy Nuevo on January 18th. Seats are extremely limited to book Online to avoid disappointment. www.Speakeasy-HQ.com

Be mesmerised by the hypnotic moves of Ronicka

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This month with the launch of Speakeasy Nuevo on January 18th we will be handing our stage over to a beautiful temptress, whose fluid and serpentine movements will blow you all away! I speak of none of other than the enigmatic and gypsyesque Ronicka, whose belly dance with Tribal fusion will be a heart stopper for all.

We took Ronicka aside and asked her the famous five questions as we get up close and oh so steamy with her!

Where are you from?

I leave in Melbourne but was born in Romania- the land of the Gypsies.

How long have you been performing?

I’ve been performing for about 10 years on and off. Though this is only my fifth performance in Australia.

Where did you get your training?

It is part of my culture. I learnt my first bellydanceing moves from my grandmother who was a dancer.

What’s your inspiration as an artist?

My inspiration is the desert. When I dance I get into a zone where I can feel the sand on my feet and the warm desert wind on my skin.

What will you be performing at the launch of Speakeasy Nuevo?

I’ll be performing a slow and serpentine tribal fusion bellydance choreography.

Don’t miss your chance to see a truly unique and eye popping artist in action at the launch of Speakeasy Nuevo on January 18th. Seats are strictly limited so log onto www.speakeasy-hq.com/ avoid disappointment.