What do you do?
Bernadette Byrne (salacious Communist chanteuse) and Victor Victoria (half-man, half-woman multi-instrumentalist) are a cabaret duo. We write our own original songs, and our characters perform them to educate and entertain the masses.
What is cabaret?
There are so many interpretations of what 'cabaret' can be - but we see ourselves as part of the neo-cabaret scene, which can include anything from performance art to burlesque, drag queens and musical comedy. Our own take is that cabaret is defined by the honesty and self-awareness that performers demonstrate whilst onstage. It's intimate, even with an audience of a hundred people or more, and humour is integral - it allows you to say things that would otherwise be taboo.
Was this a silly bet that snowballed – how did you get into cabaret?
It was a drunken idea, in a little bar around the corner from where we both live in east London. We were playing around with our alter egos and singing dirty songs - it all escalated from there.
What talented drunkards you are – but can you make money from it?
If you work hard, you can make a good living from performance. This is what we love about London - when we began, we knew nothing (and nobody) on the cabaret scene, and a year later, we are performing in both variety nights and our own full-length shows all over the city. We took our show to new venues, and events that were not previously associated with cabaret, introducing the genre to audiences that had not been exposed to it before. It isn't about waiting for the right audition or opportunity to come to you - it's creating the work for yourself.
What can punters expect from your show?
Bernadette and Victor Victoria perform stories and songs of a very intimate nature, revealing sordid details of Bernadette's conquests and Victy's perversions. They are aided by the erudite Mr. Little Red Book (a puppet of Chairman Mao's book of quotations with googly eyes) who, with his 'Guide to Good Sex' brings communism to the masses through sexual education. Our shows are based on truth, which the audience can relate to on an immediate and relevant basis. There are puppets, an accordion, a musical saw and several kazoos - we explore the funnier side of sex through song, allowing people to give in to the sordid tendencies that they may not have otherwise acknowledged, and then laugh about it.
Tell us about your Melbourne University days - they always seem to produce drama queens – did studying prepare you for today?
Vicky and Jenny both took the Creative Arts course (which apparently no longer exists), and it covered an incredible range of ideas and disciplines. In our theatre studies class, we experimented with Theatre of the Absurd, which has influenced the way we approach cabaret. Creative Arts also taught us how to philosophise - and how to drink.
What do you miss most about Melbourne?
Dim sims. They cost £20 ($31.90) for a bag of 10 in London - outrageous!
What’s the first thing you’re going to do when you land?
Lie in the sun, probably in the Botanical Gardens. And get a decent flat white! Also check that the Miss Sickle and Mr Hammer puppets haven't been broken in transit, and that the accordion is still in one piece!