She's voluptuous, bursting out of a skintight leopard print dress, as her tiara jiggles in a nest of bleach blonde hair, bigger than Dolly Parton's. She scrunches her ruby red lips, shooting audience members furtive glances. She has impressive nipple dexterity, twirling the tassels on her bosom in choreographed time to the Duelling Banjos. Her raunchy sense of humour keeps the audience in stitches. She's also endearingly down-to-earth, kicking off her four-inch rhinestone heels when her feet get sore. You can't help but love Rouge Fatale, this week's Coast cover model and one of the masterminds of The Velvet Rope, a brand new "boylesque" troupe in town.
We're at the Menz Bar on Gottingen Street, enjoying the troupe's first show on the opening night of Halifax Pride. The Velvet Rope is the new "little brother" to the Pink Velvet Burlesque Group. "I'm over the moon," says Fatale in her dressing room, recounting the large crowd that extended out of the bar's door.
Boylesque shows are unpredictable. We're treated to power ballads, magic tricks, comedy, interactive games and even trivia. (Who knew pigs had penises shaped like cork screws?) The only thing you can really expect is extravagant costumes. "I like to take my inspirations from all over the place, from pop to old Broadway to Vaudeville to punk rock," says Bunni Lapin. She's jiggling about in lingerie that showcases her shapely legs, her best "ass-et." Her hair, which was blonde a second ago, is now spiky and dark brown.
The Velvet Rope got off to a rough start, with an audition that no one showed up to, but things turned around quickly as interest grew. Sunday's show doubled as an audition for Ginger Bear, a burly man in red suspenders. Ginger Bear treated the audience to a strip tease while saucily opening and closing an umbrella indoors. "He passed with flying colours!" exclaims Fatale. "I was so impressed."
Blurring lines seems to come as second nature to Fatale, who is Jason Rose-Spurrel by day, working as a nurse. Fatale recalls one of her favourite acts of all time: lip-syncing "Do Your Thing" by Basement Jaxx on a cruise ship down south. "I got a standing ovation from about 200 blue-haired Republican women," she laughs. "I love the high you get when the audience really gets into your number. That's probably the best thing in the world."