“So it was just her in a beautiful red dress with red curtains behind her. She had a bathtub and her only mission was to get into the bathtub and it was just so graceful and beautiful,” Carmen gushes. “That just really sits in my memory. I just love it.”
While you might think this is a description of some sort of romantic painting or art film, it’s actually the most recent burlesque act by Reykjavík sensation Maria Callista, which was premiered at burlesque troupe Túttífrútturnar’s last Couch Cabaret online show. The Couch Cabaret is the troupe’s COVID-friendly solution to keeping entertainment alive during the pandemic. The virtual extravaganza is streamed online and features the best and brightest of local performers and some stars from abroad; the next occurring on November 21st.
A couch cabaret
Carmen—whose full artist name is Carmen Dea Untamed—also participated in the virtual showcase, both as a performer and organiser. The pole dancer/burlesque extraordinaire is known for her high-energy and sensual acts. But if you’ve missed her various shows over the past two years, you can catch her on the 21st, where she’ll present a new out-of-the-box routine.
“The Couch Cabaret is a virtual show. We have pre-recorded acts that performers make,” Carmen explains, when asked the basics of the performance. While it’s run by a burlesque group, Carmen emphasises, the show is far from only strip-tease. “It’s a variety show—a cabaret. Some acts will be burlesque, others circus, drag, pole dancing, acrobatics,” she trails off. “We could have jugglers if they apply! Or magicians, comedians, singers—it’s a true cabaret.”
The essence of Carmen
While many are lamenting the loss of in-person entertainment during these Gathering Bans, Carmen encourages people to think positively. There are, according to the dancer, some unusual benefits to performing only online.
“I see a lot of opportunities for us here in our tiny Iceland to expand. The positive thing about COVID—of course, it’s not positive and I’m very sad about COVID—but I’ve gotten to know a lot of artists around the world, artists that I don’t think I would have met [without the pandemic]. Virtually, we can expand our connections and work together without having to meet in person, without them having to come here and perform,” she explains. “We’ve even gotten a few application from artists who are not from Iceland for the Couch Cabaret. And that’s like—ok, this is an opportunity!”
Carmen stays mum on just what she plans for the 21st, but does reveal that it’ll be something you wouldn’t expect from the performer. She does say she filmed using a COVID-safe production team at local pole studio Erial Pole—which you can see in the pictures. “It’s a little bit different than my usual acts. I’m going out of my comfort zone,” she smiles. “It’ll be the essence of Carmen.”
Give ‘em the ol razzle-dazzle!
But how should one best view the cabaret? Carmen recommends giving your house a bit of the ole razzle-dazzle.
“I didn’t expect this but it gave me a bit of warmth in my heart when our lovely audience—last show—used it as an opportunity to dress up at home. They put on makeup, hair, beautiful dresses and were just in full Cabaret style at their house in a chair with a wine glass,” she explains. “So, of course you can watch the show anyway you want. You can be in your pyjamas in your bed with a laptop, but if you want to make the most of your ticket, dress up and make a night of it.”
She smiles. “Then you can bring the cabaret home.”
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