Six Quick Chicks
Benito Di Fonzo
Sydney Morning Herald. June 19, 2008
Six Quick Chicks go where conventional cabaret fears to tread.
Lucy Suze Taylor (left) and Annabel Lines of Six Quick Chicks.
Corner Church and Market Streets, Parramatta
4 July 2008 to 25 July 2008
(02) 8839 3399
"We call it comedy cabaret," says Vashti Hughes of the eclectic mix of onion-enhanced burlesque, satire, song and vaudevillian comedy produced by the collective Six Quick Chicks.
Hughes created Six Quick Chicks after years hosting cabaret nights she felt needed more quality control. After touring her own show to Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai, Hughes returned to Australia and put together a line-up she knew could come up with the goods.
After 18 months of performances, including a successful season at Adelaide Fringe Festival, Six Quick Chicks are heading for a return season at Parramatta's Riverside Theatres.
Hughes's character and long-time MC of Six Quick Chicks, the "repressed secretary extraordinaire" Mavis Brown, hopes to break her seven-year drought of sex and get lucky out west.
"When we started off it was as if it was [Mavis Brown's] living room and they were having a girls' night in, entertaining each other. [For this show] Mavis has decided she's going out west to find someone out there because here [in the inner city] she only finds gay guys and married men."
Among the melange of strange sisters keeping Mavis company will be her sibling Christa Hughes, formerly of Machine Gun Fellatio (MGF) and Circus Oz, and fellow comic-chanteuse Jackie Loeb. Other regulars of underground performance nights also appear, including Celia Curtis, who plays burnt-out Las Vegas showgirl Anita Douche, Liesel Badorrek as German vamp Iva Sveetvun, and Lucy Suze Taylor as Carmen.Taylor describes Carmen as "a fabulously bosomy opera singer" with a 10-minute, over-the-top operatic tale of "woe, tragedy and, finalmente, death". No doubt with tongue firmly in corset.
One reviewer particularly praised the bizarre Vladimira, played by Annabel Lines. The character is an Eastern European sensualist whose 10-minute act consists of doing strange things with the onions she fries on stage, the skins of which mirror the layers of leopard print she strips off to Japanese sexploitation soundtracks.
Lines, who worked as an aerialist, contortionist, razor-blade swallower and burlesque dancer with MGF as well as circuses including famed new-circus pioneers?Archaos, fears that burlesque is becoming too safe and predictable for performers such as herself.
"When it first got popular in Sydney you could do different things," she says. "Now it's very much like, the last burlesque I did at [club] 34B, six out of the eight acts used feather fans!"
Lines turned to the strange world of leopard-skin onion-stripping in an attempt to give her act a darker edge.
"It's all about layers. I wanted to cry, that's why I came up with onions, but I could never actually cry."
Will she be getting her produce locally? "Well, I'm actually very particular with my onions," Lines says.
"Do you have to connect with them?" Hughes asks.
"Yes," Lines admits, "they have to be exactly the right looseness of the outer skin."
Spanish or white? "I only use the brown onions. I did use a white one once but I didn't like that."
Surely the Spanish onion would be more burlesque? "Yes, but they don't have that good, loose skin."
Vegetables aside, the women admit they were at first wary of taking their bizarre show Parramatta way but felt the urge for new audiences.
"The thing is we are misfits because you can't slot us into anything that already exists," Hughes says.
"But anyone who comes to see us generally really likes us. It's interesting out at Parramatta because they weren't our mates. We don't have any of our normal support groups out there."
For one thing, audiences "weren't the people that go to those nights that are underground comedy-cabaret-burlesque nights that do happen [in the city]. We thought we might not get anyone."
However, their boldness - and the Riverside's - was rewarded with a return season. "I was sitting behind three little grey-haired old ladies and they were loving it, giggling the whole way through," says Hughes before breaking into an old-lady giggle. "I was so excited. I thought, 'If the old ladies like it, we're doing great.'"