Back to the Bathhouse: Wet on Wellington
Mzzz Erin Tasmania is a stalwart of the Melbourne cabaret circuit and her new show, Back to the Bathhouse delivers in all its trashy high camp glory. The show is based on Bette Midler’s early career as an entertainer in New York’s Continental Baths, a gay sauna. Tasmania tells the story of Midler’s early days, and her transition from singing what was essentially background music to her creation of the Divine Miss M and her subsequent success. Tasmania, along with her accompanist Tom Williams and the backup Dancing Fagettes (Anthony Cleave and Brent Fox), recounts these stories along with her own recent forays into the casual sex scene.
Madame Brussels is the main venue for the show, but one show a week is performed in an operational bath house, Wet on Wellington. Unfortunately because this venue is still running during the show, and despite Tasmania’s best efforts, these particular nights of the run are male-only affairs. This does make you feel like you are missing out on an extra colouring to the show, but no matter, Madame Brussels with its opulent salon room and camply-dressed bar staff make up for the lack of a hark back to the original venue of Midler’s bathhouse shows.
There is a handmade quality to Tasmania’s show that belies the enormous talent of not only herself but her supporting team. Hannah Cuthbertson has created a fun and diverse costume for Tasmania and the dancing Fagettes, who relish their role as the camp supporting dancers. Williams seems to be slightly shy of his half dressed state while accompanying the group, but is still a talented and personable player. Mzzz Tasmania’s voice has incredible and surprising range, allowing her to cover many of Midler’s songs and moods with ease. The emotional range of the material is diverse, from the cute The Tale of an Oyster by Cole Porter, to the double entendre filled Hot Wet Tight Bald Pussy, and the surprisingly moving Midler cover of Beast of Burden.
Back to the Bathhouse is a chatty, informal evening of song and dance that leaves the audience feeling lively and involved. Mzzz Erin Tasmania has produced another soiree that showcases the many talents of Melbourne’s queer scene.
Back to the Bathhouse
Shows at Wet on Wellington, 162 Wellington St Collingwood.
Thurs 10, 17, 24 Sept at 8:30pm Tickets $18 at the door.
(MEN ONLY. Clothing optional.)
at Madame Brussels (up the rear), lvl 3, 59-63 Bourke St.
Fri 11, 18, 25 Sat 12, 19, 26, Sun 13, 20, 27 Sept at 6.30pm. Tickets $20/$15
(ALL SEXES welcome. Clothing encouraged.)