THEY are provocative and perverse.
They are sharp, yet smutty.
They have just won the title of ‘Best Cabaret Act’ at the Adelaide Fringe Festival.
They are, drum roll please, the captivating and titillating musical comedy duo EastEnd Cabaret. Cue screaming crowd with several wolf whistles.
Deviant diva Bernadette Byrne, who describes herself as “the love child of Frank N Furter and Marlene Dietrich”, and Victor Victoria – the half man, half woman multi-instrumentalist who likens herself to “the old circus freaks from Coney Island and Tom Selleck” — are the brilliant women behind this multi-award winning performance duo.
“We have known each other since we were little, but I have been trying to get rid of Victor for the past 25 years,” Bernadette tells Australian Times.
“After travelling around the world on separate adventures we reunited over a crate full of gin and began writing songs into the night about our real life experiences.”
Many, many, many gins later Bernadette and Victor started to perform their songs at the infamous George Tavern, and their cabaret act was born.
While Bernadette serenades the audience and charms them with her mystique, hermaphrodite Victor Victoria — dressed in half a dapper suit and half a corset and tutu — dazzles the crowds with her extremely diverse musical abilities. Her skills extend to playing the accordion, violin, piano, kazoo, and musical saw.
‘Danger Wank’, ‘Is it in yet?’ and ‘Ping Pong’ are just some of the titles of EastEnd Cabaret’s hit songs. Bernadette says: “We write about real life experiences, mainly my life experiences. Things that everyone can relate to but not everyone talks about.”
The lyrics will make you laugh, they will make you ponder and best of all, they will really get stuck in your head. Be warned, singing the lyrics ‘danger wank’ at work will lead to some very unusual looks coming your way.
When asked if there are any songs that they have written but don’t perform Bernadette says “we wrote a song about Camel Toe which we don’t perform.”
“That song might be just a little too confronting.”
And on that note one is led to wonder if EastEnd Cabaret have ever had an audience who feel too confronted by the thrill of playing with one’s self in public, or don’t enjoy the story of what people do with ping pong balls in Thailand.
“We were once booked for a charity dinner which was quite lovely,” they say.
“However, moments before we were due to perform, the organiser pointed out that the front table was made up of a bishop, priests, nuns and the editor of the Parish newsletter.”
Victor adds: “But they all still stayed to the end.”
Australia, on the other hand, just couldn’t get enough of EastEnd Cabaret during their recent trip Down Under.
“We performed in Perth, at the Adelaide Fringe Festival and at the world famous Spiegeltent in Melbourne.”
With highlights including the warm weather, good people and delicious coffee, both Victor and Bernadette agreed that Australia is a great place to visit.
“We don’t like Vegemite at all but we absolutely love Bundy and Cola in a can. We drank a lot of that while we were in Australia.”
Being awarded ‘Best Cabaret Act’ at the Adelaide Fringe Festival proved EastEnd Cabaret is a hit with Australian audiences. It even led to the creation of an unusual tribute from their fan base.
“Our Australian audiences really got into our shows,” says Bernadette.
“They started drawing half moustaches on their faces to resemble Victor Victoria. They were the Half Moustache Australian Army.”
Now back in London fighting the jetlag from their trip, Bernadette and Victor are about to kick off a run of shows at Soho Theatre as well as starting work on their new show for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
So Aussies, grab yourself a Bundy and Cola, draw on half a moustache and get yourself along to one of EastEnd Cabaret’s upcoming show and join the Half Moustache Australian Army.
EastEnd Cabaret is performing Notoriously Kinky at Soho Theatre from 27 April — 4 May. See Sohotheatre.com for details.