The Mo’Club, located on a side street in an industrial area of Southampton, is rather difficult to find, especially on foot. When I finally made my way to the Mo’ Club for Roxy’s Rendezvous, I was a good half hour late, quite grumpy about it, and had missed most of the burlesque acts. However, cabaret headliner Mister Joe Black was scheduled to perform last and Frank Sanazi was about to go on, so there was still hope for my mood to improve.
Frank Sanazi’s act might be labeled by some as controversial. Made up as Adolf Hitler, he sports a tux, sings, and tells jokes in a very convincing impression of Frank Sinatra with a great baritone voice. His Hitler jokes and his shtick, a punctuation of his patter with sudden “sieg heil’s” and eruptions into frantic German, is a little grating if you are sensitive about anti-Semitism. However, if you can appreciate the absurdity, his talent and self-mocking warmth will win you over. His American accent was so unusually good that I, an American, was almost fooled. I came up after his performance to talk to him about it, and he laughed delightedly. He informed me that his real name is Peter, with an accent that proved him to be a native Londoner. Out of his stage makeup, Peter is quite handsome, with nothing of the infamous Nazi’s menacing awkwardness.
The burlesque acts seemed to be composed mostly of local amateurs who had little to no training in dance. The most entertaining burlesque performer was Miss Lotte Bon Bon, a buxom blonde who paid tribute to the Queen. She paraded around the stage, doing the “royal wave” and dragging a paper corgi on wheels behind her while dressed in a fur stole, crown and white girdle. She then launched into a more revealing display of her assets, stripping down to pasties and shaking them furiously at the audience.
In between acts, the host, Mister Peter Vert, would come on and harangue the fellow charged with the task of picking up the discarded clothing left behind after all the stripteasing. The man kept changing his underwear during every act, coming out alternately in a gold thong, pink-edged boy shorts, and so on. This particular fact seemed to give Mister Vert, a small and mouthy man in a top hat, the most trouble. Mister Vert seemed genuinely a little creeped out by the nearly nude, smiling, silent man with the endless array of underpants, and frankly I couldn’t blame him. I was a little creeped out by him, too.
At one point drag queen Sally Monella came on and held a bawdy “contest” for audience members. She picked two young couples to come onstage. The girls were given Twix bars to hold, while their male partners were to kneel before them and suck the chocolate off; the first man to get it all off won a prize that was never made entirely clear. The audience favourite was a young man with green hair who worked at “a store” which turned out to be ASDA upon further questioning by the sharp-tongued Monella. His enthusiasm won the audience over and caused Sally to pepper him with questions about his sexual orientation.
The star of the night was Mister Joe Black. His act is a set of original, sharp little songs played on electric piano, ukelele and accordion, all sung with furious manic energy and passion by Mister Black. His songs are about sex, loneliness, gin, and his odd and fascinating world. At one point he grabbed the green-haired ASDA employee and dry-humped him across the stage while the fellow simply grinned; the ability to get audience members to willingly participate in their own degradation is one of the hallmarks of a brilliant artist. I informed Mister Black after the show that he should be world famous; he was as modest as a mouse and graciously thanked me. His performance made my irritating sojourn through the bowels of Southampton’s industrial sector worth the effort. Mister Black is a native of Portsmouth, a city which he loves, I might add. Joe and Frank encourage you to find them on Facebook.