• Bernie Dieter's Little Death Club

Bernie Dieter steps onto the stage. She opens her arms wide, palms up, and looks left to right. This action says “applaud me” and everyone instinctively screams and claps in excitement.

We’re seated under the coloured windows of the historic tent. Just before her grand entrance the band is playing, and the characters of Bernie Dieter’s Little Death emerge among the audience in dazzlingly elaborate costumes. From a woman clad like a burlesque star, we get a “I know I’m sexy, I don’t give a damn what you think” look, while a man in sparkling drag  gives a “I challenge you not to laugh” display while climbing over vacant seats in 15-inch stilettos.

Bernie is a singer, songwriter, seductress and tonight she is scintillating in her sequined body suit with feathered shoulder pads attached. As an expert manipulator of humans’ amusement, she is soon straddling the man seated behind us, he is bright-eyed with nerves, the rest of us are bright-eyed from tears of laughter.

All of this is done while she talks and sings her own compositions with a German accent. Most of what she says is about sex. Most of what she says is also hilarious.

Bernie Dieter knew the circus was her calling when she discovered her Grandmother escaped from East Germany under a circus canvas.  Bernie now travels the world, surrounding herself by a suite of talented performers who she calls her ‘Little Death Club’.

After Bernie’s enticing opening act, our voices are warmed up from cheering and our hearts are open for humour.

Bernie leaves, Beau Sargent is next. We were ready for a fun act of singing. Instead we are shocked by an incredible contortionist who moves as gracefully as a ballerina while his shoulders know no limits. A very hard act to follow, but it is followed, and again we are in awe.

Jacqueline Furey. This is the woman from whom I need classes on how to be sexy. We were mesmerised and then shocked with the finale of her piece.

Reuben Helfenbaum then sets up in front of his spinning disks, whiskey and a cigar the casual props to his act, as are two random audience members who he unwittingly involves in his three-person climactic finale.

What followed was more amusing songs from Bernie, an appearance from the bearded woman Kitty Bang Bang (who wowed us later in the show), and compelling singing from Art Simone who would have to be the most hilarious and most glamourous drag queen I have ever seen.

Instead of giving away the rest of the show, I will just tell you to go and see it. The talent and entertainment is phenomenal.  If you love burlesque, if you love circus, if you love comedy, sex, caberet, witty improvisations, music and life - then go and see this show. Even if you don't, please just go and see it.

Bernie Dieter’s Little Death Club brings a calibre akin to the world stage, unexpected at the intimate Wonderland Spiegeltent at the back of Melbourne’s Federation Square. Watch out for Beau's emotive and exceptional lyra piece in the second act, and for Kitty setting hearts on fire. It is a treasure to be able to see these performers this close.

Bernie Dieter’s Little Death Club is at the Wonderland Spiegeltent until Sunday 19 October 2019. 

Bernie Dieter's Little Death Club
Wonderland Spiegeltent
Federation Square
10 to 19 October 2019
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