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Photos by Jen Bernard/Apt613

Casino Fatale: An evening of high stakes burlesque—04.06.19 at Café Nostalgica

By Jennifer Bernard on March 29, 2019

The talented production team, Vermouth & Sane are back at it again with Casino Fatale: an Evening of High Roller Burlesque on April 6th at Café Nostalgica. This is a show that you don’t want to miss, with local and out of town performers taking the stage.

Performances by Danielle Saint Velvet from New York, Viola Volta from Toronto, Miss Enchanté from Montreal, Saffron St. James and Victoria Vermouth from Ottawa, will transport you to Vegas in the 1960s. There will be games and a costume contest. The show is hosted by the talented Ian Sane. Tickets are now on sale and I will be sure to be there after the last show I was fortunate enough to photograph.

Miami Minx performing at the latest Vermouth & Sane show. Photo: Jen Bernard/Apt613.

On January 26th, Vermouth & Sane put on a burlesque show that was one of a kind. Bring On The Boys was a show that celebrated masculinity in all it’s various, beautiful forms. Victoria and Ian were striving to challenge the typical burlesque show by doing something outside of the box, and it was absolutely an unforgettable experience.

Café Nostalgica was full of people from all walks of life, gathered together to enjoy the show, and did they ever have a fun time. All of the performers brought something unique and entertaining to the stage that had the audience laughing and singing along.

Marcus Territory in his performance at Café Nostalgica. Photo: Jen Bernard/Apt613.

I had a chance to with down with Victoria and Ian to discuss their inspiration for this show, and to ask why it was so important for them to produce a show of this kind. They both have been involved in the Ottawa burlesque scene, from producing shows to performing.

With Bring On The Boys they knew they wanted to create something that challenged the typical ideals of masculinity, and moved burlesque in a different direction.

“This show is very important to me, I have never identified with most traditional masculinity even though I am a cis heterosexual man,” says Ian Sane. “I have never felt at place with typical men doing ‘man things’. I am not a ‘go into the woods, cut down a tree and widdle it into a toothpick kind’ of guy.”

“I think it is very important to tell men that they can be shiny and fabulous and live how they want to without feeling less than. What we are really trying to present with this show is masculine people performing as themselves or in character, representing a masculinity that is outside of the norm. We intentionally avoided a macho type boylesque vibe. We did not want to sell the typical ‘manly man’.”

Burlesque artist Willy Seaman. Photo: Jen Bernard/Apt613.

“The average person does not think that boys perform burlesque.”

Victoria Vermouth adds: “It was one of the first burlesque shows in Ottawa to challenge our views of masculinity and how those concepts are viewed in society. It’s not masculinity, it’s masculinities, celebrating all different kinds.

“It is important to expand the audience’s ideas of what burlesque is,” says Victoria. “The average person does not think that boys perform burlesque, and often people don’t know that drag kings exist. So this show is a visibility and an awareness thing as well.”

When we discussed what they hoped the audience took away from this show, both expressed how they wanted to inspire others. A person from the audience might see something that they’ve never experienced before and leave more open minded. Victoria and Ian feel strongly about breaking down the stereotypes of burlesque and making the art a more inclusive culture.

Oliver Eszy and Cameron Eric Leon look on from side stage. Photo: Jen Bernard/Apt613.

“We want our audience to know that literally anyone can do burlesque.”

“Burlesque, historically, has usually been by women for women, with a typical thin body type. We are trying to be actively conscious of including people of multiple genders, ethnicities, body shapes and type in our shows,” says Ian.

“We want our audience to know that literally anyone can do burlesque. No matter who you are and what you look like. Whether it is coming out on stage, doing it at home, or taking lesson because it makes you feel good, I want everyone to know that they can do this and they can be beautiful.”

“I would love to see more diversity on stages on Ottawa,” says Victoria. “We really hope to showcase that and move burlesque away from the masculine gaze and make it for everyone.”

Photo: Jen Bernard/Apt613

This show will definitely not be the last of its kind, as Victoria and Ian have big plans to keep pushing the envelope, and influencing the burlesque culture in Ottawa. Bring On The Boys was a wildly successful show with such positive energy! I’d suggest keeping these guys on your radar. Make sure to get tickets to the next show Casino Fatale: an Evening of High Roller Burlesque at Café Nostalgica starring Danielle Saint Velvet from New York.

“We are going to keep bringing out all different kinds of people to perform in our shows and we promise you will see something that you did not expect to see at Vermouth & Sane from here on out,” says Ian. “I hope we surprise a few people!”

“Oh, I am sure we will,” chimes Victoria.


Casino Fatale: an Evening of High Roller Burlesque is happening at Café Nostalgica (601 Cumberland St) at 8pm on April 6, 2019. Tickets cost $20 online. The venue is barrier-free for complete access to the restaurant and washrooms.