Review: Lolo Brow Attention Seeker, at Underbelly Festival
Back in 2013, I celebrated a decade of blogging with an awards ceremony. One of the winners of those awards – voted for by this blog’s readers and my social media followers – was the incomparable Lolo Brow. In the five years since then, Lolo has: produced Cabaret Derangium; terrified audiences with her toxic masculinity in several Family Fierce pantos; formed a female performers’ collective called L.A.D.S with Lilly SnatchDragon and Scarlett O’Hora; performed at Lucha Britannia and Eve pro-wrestling events; hosted Adore Delano’s Birthday Tour at The Powder Room in Brighton; performed with House of Burlesque; was on a Drag World UK panel discussing ‘drag beyond gender‘, and is perhaps the most alluring freak show performer you will ever meet. I’m exhausted just from listing her achievements.
And, as if that wasn’t enough, Lolo has now developed a rather aptly titled drag/freakshow/neo-burlesque solo performance called Attention Seeker. First showcased at Vault Festival earlier this year, the show also forms part of House of Burlesque’s return to Underbelly Festival on the South Bank this summer. Their site describes the show as, well, something a bit different!
Awarding Winning Drag Queen, Neo-Burlesque artist and Lizard Lady, Lolo Brow invites you to hang shame at the door and indulge in your inner attention seeker. A new show derived from her Infamous Burlesque Shuffle playing with the concepts of audience voyeurism, quick thinking and plain dumb luck, Lolo “Bonkers” Brow is a multi skilled international feminist clown who loves nothing more than to lower the tone of any evening. Expect prizes, swearing and nudity – choose to spin the wheel or keep your cards close to your chest, for tonight will be unlike any other night.
Having seen Lolo perform before – most recently, as part of the House of Burlesque Revue – I knew that we’d be in for a wild ride, and right from the start she didn’t disappoint. In addition to the classic Burlesque Shuffle (where the audience is in charge of an extremely eclectic playlist), a freakshow that leaves you wondering how she’s still in one piece, and some dazzling lipsync performances, Lolo also got members of the audience to join her on stage and select the next act from a strategically placed bucket. There was no shortage of volunteers for that part, even though some weren’t entirely sure what they were letting themselves in for!
Although the show featured many of Lolo’s popular long-running cabaret acts and some fantastic monologues, which showcased her hosting skills, this was far more than just a ‘greatest hits tour’. After the entirely relatable and raucously hungover opening number, she didn’t leave the stage for the rest of the show and so all costume changes took place in full view of the audience. Some of these were more challenging than others, but Lolo styled it out every time (even when a rather important zip broke early on in the show!). How do you get the glue on your undead pirate latex mask to set in place whilst putting on your sparkly skeleton body suit in front of a live audience? Bury your face in your wardrobe assistant’s bosom whilst she continues the lipsync, of course.
Due to the audience selecting what they’d like to see next – either from the aforementioned bucket or by yelling/show of hands – means that the show I saw was probably not quite like any of the ones before, and ours perhaps ended up a little more political than most. Whichever acts you choose though, Lolo Brow will give you 110% of her tequila-fuelled drag energy. A word of warning though… don’t go along expecting to just sit in your seat and cheer, as this green-haired goddess believes that boundaries are meant to be straddled and then smashed, so you may not be safe from being sat on or leered at. This was exactly what the audience wanted though, as this is a show by an attention seeker performed for attention seekers.
From the newbies at the front who really didn’t know what they were about to see, through to the die-hard fans screaming at the back with their gin glasses held aloft in solidarity, Lolo carried us all to the bitter(sweet) end and left us all wondering “I don’t know what the hell just happened, but I loved it!” Sadly there are no more performances of Attention Seeker left at Underbelly, but I’d definitely recommend keeping an eye out for wherever this show is going to pop up next.
DISCLOSURE: I was given free tickets to Attention Seeker by House of Burlesque, but the opinions in this review are entirely my own. All images by Ali Wright Photography.