I offered to go along to see Emilie after the original reviewer at the Nottingham Post pulled out. I’d done some research on her prior to the gig, but nothing had prepared me for what I was about to witness…
Venue: Rock City
Date: August 24, 2013
Pitched somewhere between a gig and a musical, Emilie Autumn’s artistic show draws from an obsession with Victorian seduction and entrapment and burlesque. Emilie and her cohorts, the Bloody Crumpets – a petite red head and voluptuous brunette – use a cage as the gig/show’s central theme in which they merrily use as a constant prop.
They cavort in burlesque outfits, leaving little to the imagination. Picture, if you can, ‘Lady Gaga: The Musical’, and it’s even weirder than that promises!
Emilie herself is a Californian girl, raised in Malibu, but with a healthy obsession with British perversion during the era of Queen Victoria’s reign. She’s an elegant, tall blonde figure who commands her devout fanbase –The Plague Rats as they’re known – and they adore her. In fact most of the audience – even the blokes – have adorned themselves in attire fitting for such dark, Victorian frivolity.
It starts off like a proper gig, with her ‘hit’, ‘Fight Like A Girl’. But from that point on, as the backing track plays throughout (no actual musicians are present), it turns into a creepy, freakish mixture of Sappho-erotic story telling and theatrical numbers, like a warped version of Les Miserables or Alice in Wonderland directed by Tim Burton and produced by Noel Fielding.
During such erotica, read aloud by the red head, Emilie and her dark-haired ‘friend’ act out the love scene which the book so graphically describes. After much tantalising, a touch of comedy and a lot of panting(!), breasts are groped, lips are locked, and men in the audience have become a little fidgety, if you know what I mean.
And this sexual intensity doesn’t end there. The brunette, clearly turned on from her recent girl-on-girl encounter, becomes a dominatrix, plucking a girl from the audience and teasing her with sweet nothings before passionately kissing her to the delight of the crowd who are, by now, high on the fumes of provocative energy which exist in the room. Rock City has never seen anything like this before.
At this point, the mind wanders. Whatever next? What kind of flirtatious enticement are we about to witness? Then, it all goes a little crepuscular, as the cute red head in the skimpy hotpants has transformed herself into a demonic, Death-like figure who haunts Emilie as she belts out another dramatic number. But by this point, it’s no surprise.
Niether is it a shock when, now back in her little hotpants, the flamed-haired temptress along with her very close friends start to throw cupcakes into the crowd. They’d been stacked up there since the show started. It was only a matter of time before they were either smeared over each other’s bodies or used in some sort of audience gimmick. Sadly it was the latter.
It remains a mystery as to whether or not there was a story unravelling throughout the show, or whether it was simply a selection of dark cabaret and sensual erotica cobbled together. But despite its perplexing content, this caliginous, mysterious, sexy and very, very odd display was utterly compelling.