The curious creatures of Auckland burlesque …
Mumpty loves a bit of fiction – she also loves a bit of burlesque. So here’s a wee combination of these two loves – and who better on which to base some light-hearted stories, than four of Auckland’s curious creatures of burlesque: Duchess deBerry; Lilly Loca; Heidi Heart and Leda Petit.
The Duchess was French of course. She owned a small, 17th century chateau named La Roche-Sur-Yon, but she refused to live in it because it didn’t have a private theatre – and what use was a chateau if it didn’t have a private theatre? Of course she could have applied to her local “consiel” for consent to add one, but that seemed tiresome, and the Duchess didn’t do tiresome.
So instead she spent her time wandering gaily around the world with just her credit card, a hat box and a battered Louis Vuitton suitcase. She attended the opera in Versaille and the bull-running in Spain but found neither to her taste.
So she took up singing in smoky jazz lounges; the seedier the better – the money was poor, but it was good for her soul. And anyway – she’d had the forethought a couple of years earlier to marry a very wealthy art collector. He had lovely manners, and was therefore happy to share his fortune with his young and beautiful wife, while not requiring her to share much of anything with him.
The Duchess smiled happily as she ordered a champagne cocktail – her set had gone well and now she was back in the bar of her favourite hotel in Naples chatting to an alarmingly handsome stranger – she really did love her life these days.
Lilly Loca was a time traveller. She’d travelled from 1920’s New York – where she’d been a luminary of stage and screen, performing to packed audiences and leaving a trail of broken hearts everywhere she went – to Auckland, New Zealand, 2016.
One evening in 1924, after a lot of very expensive champagne, she’d taken a wrong turn down a long, dimly lit hallway of the New York Baltimore Hotel, and had found herself in a musty room that smelt like it had been locked for centuries. Just as she turned to find her way out, she had spotted a glorious-looking red door with a gilt frame which practically begged her to turn the handle. And Lilly, being both adventurous and tipsy, did exactly that.
After falling for what felt like ten minutes, she jolted to a stop and found herself in a very strange, yet familiar-feeling place. Blue, tube-like things proclaimed her destination in twirling writing as “Privé” – it looked very much like the Baltimore’s “Kiss Bar,” but there was lots of stuff called “technology” that Lilly wasn’t used to. Still, everyone at Privé looked and behaved in pretty much the same manner as her 20’s theatre family had, so she decided to stay.
Being an adaptable soul, Lilly soon adjusted to her new environment – she got herself an iPhone, a FitBit and even one of those new-fangled Spotify playlists where she played Bowie’s “Lazarus” on endless repeat.
She just had a niggling worry that she might have left her diary on the hotel bed in 1924, and there were things in there she’d kinda wanted to keep secret …
Heidi Heart had a very dark secret. It was something she’d tried hard to resist and she’d certainly never planned to tell anyone – it was HER dark secret. The problem had arisen when Valentine, her husband, had come home to their New York apartment early one day from an interstate trip and found her. The look of sheer horror on his face – before he turned and headed wordlessly for the door – haunted her even now, three years later.
Shaking, she’d packed it all away when he walked out and prepared herself for the inevitable fallout when he told their friends. She knew her social position, if not her entire life, would be ruined – but she’d known there was that possibility right from the start – and she had been prepared to take the risk.
Valentine never told their friends – he was probably too embarrassed – and they’d never discussed it; not once. Their marriage was now just a marriage in name though.
In her darkest, most self-destructive moments since Valentine’s discovery, she occasionally thought bitterly that it had been in the privacy of her own bedroom hadn’t it? It hadn’t actually hurt anyone. It wasn’t fair that he had rejected her so completely since that fateful day. Although, in her more lucid moments, she’d had to admit to herself that it wasn’t just that one time. She’d done it before – why she’d even performed a seductive striptease wearing men’s clothes as part of the fantasy. But there were worse things than that weren’t there?
Yes, Heidi – there are – but not many. Can you guess Heidi’s secret? Well, I’ll tell you – she’s a bloody Justin Bieber fan.
Leda Petit was an assassin. Only two people in the world knew this – which, when you’re an assassin – is a very good thing.
She hadn’t meant to become an assassin, it’s just that she’d had a boyfriend once who had proved very, very hard to shake once she’d got sick of him and in the end, she’d had to just “make him disappear.” A few months after that, she got a call from a mysterious gentleman who offered her $200K to make another gentleman disappear – he’d been good for the money and Leda rather liked her new $195K Mercedes (she’d spent the rest at Louboutin) so the next time he called, she was happy to “talk turkey,” so to speak.
The lifestyle wasn’t all bad actually – she seemed to spend a lot of time in bars drinking champagne out of shoes, smoking and looking authoritative, while she kept an eye on her “mark.” She loved the feel on her skin of the cold blade under her garter belt, and had grown fond of it’s reassuring weight. She also rather enjoyed the seduction, particularly if her mark was good-looking, but in the end there was a job to be done, and Leda was a consummate professional in that regard.
Leda always bought herself a little something special after each hit; a big solitaire here, a Birkin handbag there – she did it out respect for her mark really. She was nothing if not respectful, our Leda.
Yours in fictional and curious creatures …