Sabra slowly peels off one silky white glove and then the other, and the increasingly vocal audience cheers as more pieces of her vintage style lingerie fall to the floor, revealing her petite yet curvy figure and smooth, ivory skin. After more teasing, dancing, and wicked looks, stripped to only a tiny double string thong and sparkly pasties, Sabra stands beneath the giant rainbow on stage, and shimmies and shakes as it begins to rain, water cascading over her near naked body and her fiery red curls. This was the elaborate finale for Sabra johnsin’s Back to Burlesque show at Haven, an event put on to not only entertain but also to help raise money for Q Austin, a nonprofit organization that strives to help prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS.
I met Sabra a few years back when I modeled a bikini in her Visions of Virgos fashion show, and ever since I’ve been a big fan of her modeling. I noticed early on that she definitely isn’t your typical mainstream model, and one of the images that initially attracted me to her work was a bloody horror image of her “dead” in a bathtub. Since I’m a big fan of Austin burlesque, I’ve been meaning to catch one of her shows, and I’m glad I braved the rain last Friday night to go see her acts for the first time.
The show started later than expected (as do most burlesque shows it seems) and opened with a performance by the up and coming drag sensation Phearia johnSin, who was also the emcee for the night. In my opinion the definition of a true performer is one who can overcome an occasional slip up graciously, and Phearia proved she is here to stay when she tripped on her heel during a dance move and turned what could have been a disastrous and disruptive fall into a seductive floor roll. The audience yelled with extra enthusiasm as she then threw off her heels, embracing the situation and finishing her playful and sexy routine.
Next up was Goldie Candela, who brought the storm from outside into the club as she shivered under an umbrella and began dancing to “Pennies from Heaven” with her classic pin up expressions and fluid, gypsy like signature hip and arm movements. Goldie is always striking with her ornate outfits and glamorous look, but what makes her one of my favorite performers is her aurora and stage personality; it’s obvious that she’s really enjoying the show, and her adorable smile and enthusiasm make me want to get up on stage and dance with her.
After Goldie’s act, Sabra entered the stage in glittering black lingerie and heels, dancing to classic burlesque music as she effortlessly unlaced her corset and threw the rest of her costume to the floor. After she climbed into her 6 foot, rhinestoned Absinthe glass, Sabra splashed and teased and spun around the in the water with skill that would have made Dita Von Teese proud. My favorite moments in her performance were the subtly suggestive ones, like when she licked her wet finger and when she thrusted her hips towards the ceiling as she balanced on the edges of the sparkling glass.
The show also featured diverse acts from former Queen of Burlesque Coco Lectric, Gemmi Galactic from Head Over Heels Burlesque, and Kierstin johnSin, Sabra’s younger sister. Coco stunned the audience as always with her luscious curves as she feverishly danced to Lady Gaga’s Marry the Night. While many burlesque performers have that cute, cheesecake vibe, Coco has a fierce, dominant, unapologetic seduction, and her raw sex appeal combined with her pro choreography and execution make it no surprise why she is so popular. Gemmi Galactic, a petite brunette with a playful smile, performed a classic and captivating boa routine, and even though her music messed up and paused for a minute, she kept moving and teasing. Kierstin premiered her balloon act, and she looked confident, polished, and absolutely ravishing as she teased us with each “pop.” After the show, there was a raffle for paintings, a piercing, and tattoos from Austin Dermagrahix, and I won the free piercing!
Sabra’s Back to Burlesque Event had everything I expect from a good burlesque show: a variety of acts, elaborate theatrics, intricate costumes, and of course gorgeous, talented performers. Every detail of the event was alluring, from the acts themselves to the sexy panty wrangler to the impromptu spanking of an audience member by Phearia. The only thing I wasn’t in love with was the setup at the venue; it wasn’t ideal for a burlesque performance since the girls were at the same level as the audience, which made it hard for everyone to get a good view, and the lighting was a little off at times. I prefer the setup at other venues with raised stages like Antone’s or the ND, but it was still an amazing show regardless.
Photos courtesy of Steve DeMent Photography