THE money laden streets of London’s Knightsbridge, awash with designer shops and pastry-strewn cafes, may not be an obvious home for ‘intimate’ cabaret.
But Privee Knightsbridge, located in the shadow of the mighty spending emporium that is Harrods, is making a mighty fist of it.
Every Thursday night, while hookahs are being dreamily smoked upstairs, this basement club springs into life with an offering of burlesque, mime and rather saucy banter. Luscious Privee.
It is all rather outrageous – and clean – fun although you need to understand that customer participation may be required, especially if your eye catches that of Mercury, the wicked master of ceremonies for the evening. A cross between Julian Clary and Boy George – and heels that most women would die for.
A cocktail or two beforehand is a mighty good idea – the prosecco with mint and elderflower goes down rather well – as is a spot of food. The Lebanese mezze comes highly recommended, especially the Tabbouleh and Calamari, and the Lebanese chardonnay slips down rather nicely.
The cabaret is compact in terms of content but it is good. Very good in fact. Cabaret mezze. A sensual Vesper Fontaine, all curves and black feathers, gets the night’s entertainment off to a rousing start with a provocative version of Sinkin’ Soon.
Next on stage is Kiki Lovechild, self-proclaimed professional idiot. But his minutes in the spotlight are far from idiotic. In fact his mime act, employing nothing more than a circular piece of white cloth and momentarily a pair of sunglasses, is quite brilliant.
He folds his felt cloth in a multitude of ways to reinforce the character he is portraying as music bangs away in the background. Lady Gaga, Napoleon (accompanied by Abba’s Waterloo) and Stevie Wonder (I Just Called To Say I Love You). All very clever. The art of chapeaugraphy – a modern version of an art form that was popular in French music halls at the end of the 19th Century.
The first set is then completed with the thrilling and magnificent Felicity Furore, ranked 15th in the ‘Burlesque Top 50’ list. Provocatively seductive. Blink and you might think you are watching Rita Hayworth. The way she takes her white gloves off is probably the most erotic moment of the night.
Mercury, the glue that holds the cabaret together, finishes the first set with a rendition of Frank Sinatra’s That’s Life.
After a short break – and time for another cocktail – Mercury returns with a rousing version of Cab Calloway’s Minnie The Moocher that has the audience singing in their seats.
There is more of Fontaine (performing to Disney’s Let Me Be Good To You) and then Lovechild flooding the stage with his paper butterflies. Quite beautiful and exquisite. Furore then returns, removing those gloves again and more besides – all against the backdrop of Hernando’s Hideaway.
Mercury wraps up proceedings by inviting a couple of audience members to join him on stage and wriggle away like amateur burlesque performers.
All great fun and all inoffensive. A great night out. Entertainment that should be part of a vibrant and diverse arts scene.
Privee Knightsbridge has some grand plans, including weekly jazz nights from next month. Worth a visit.