Planes, trains and automobiles might be standard travel for the rest of us, but not for Bernadette Byrne. “I start the show riding in on the back of a ‘man beast’ – two strong, beautiful men that I select from the audience and turn into a sort of man chariot to carry me to the stage. It’s the only way to travel,” she says.
Self-confessed “deviant diva”, Byrne is one half of the salacious and audacious musical comedy double act EastEnd Cabaret. Her partner in brine – they’re a salty pair – is the moustachioed half-man, half-woman musician Victor Victoria. Originally from Australia, the pair met as children in a “tiny” town (“that is a secret darling, one if those ‘if we told you we would have to kill you’ type scenarios,” says Byrne) but moved to East London about four years ago and since then have been performing mainly around Europe and the UK, racking up the five star reviews.
When they chat with Beat, they are making their way back from the Adelaide Fringe Festival. “We had a wonderful time in Adelaide, darling! On the first day we sampled all the local delicacies: ‘Bundy and coke’, ‘Jaeger bombs’ and ‘goon bags’ … and then, once we had recovered, we played lots of sold-out shows in a beautiful Spiegeltent at The Garden of Unearthly Delights,” says Byrne.
Adelaide holds a special place in the hearts of these two ladies, as they won the Best Cabaret award at Adelaide Fringe in 2012. “It was our first time at the Adelaide Fringe – and our first month-long season in Australia – and winning the award meant that Australia has had a firm place in our hearts ever since,” says Victor Victoria, adding, “plus, skipping the winter in London by coming over here is always a bonus”.
They’re performing for the first time as part of the 2014 Melbourne International Comedy Festival with their show Dirty Talk, in the Spiegeltent at Federation Square. “It’s musical comedy, but it is positively filthy. Luckily we have learnt that Australians love the filth!” says Byrne. “Indeed they do,” adds Victoria. “In fact, Aussies may be able to teach the Brits a thing or two about a good ‘dangerwank’,” she says.
The show, which performed at Edinburgh Fringe last year, features character comedy, an array of instruments from the accordion to the musical saw, and original comic songs including an ‘80s-inspired sex fantasy about David Bowie. “I have always had a thing for Bowie, and in my dream he appeared in all his forms: “Goblin King” Bowie, “Major Tom” Bowie and “Ziggy Stardust” Bowie. There was even a bit of Bowie on Bowie action,” says Byrne.
There’s also an ode to the joy of Bavarian karma sutra. “That song is about a night I spent in Germany with a very bendy man,” explains Byrne. “It was so incredible until an unexpected flan incident resulted in a late night visit to the emergency room,” she says. “I swear it was not my fault! How was I supposed to know how volatile a newly-baked flan could be?” says Victoria.
Dirty Talk, says Victoria, is for just about anybody who likes to have a giggle at something a little salacious. “We’ve had people from 18 to 84 come along to the show, and get involved! In fact, it’s the pensioners that are usually the dirtiest,” she says. For Byrne, she believes everyone has either done, or has a friend who has done, something on the risqué side. “We just like to bring it out in the open! Come and play, darlings. You won’t regret it”.
BY JOANNE BROOKFIELD