Since Rebel Bingo launched several years ago, the Femme Ferale girls have single-handedly rehabilitated the bingo hall from being the habitat of pen-waving pensioners to a place much-loved by hipsters– well, their version of the game, anyway.
The London Word catches up with the duo ahead of the latest dates of their underground entertainment sensation.
Are you native Londoners and where do you live at the moment?
Luki: ‘Yes, I am a Londoner, born and bred… and very glad of that! At the moment I live in Kensington.’
Anita: ‘Yes, Ladbroke Grove girl, that’s me! Right now I’m living in Notting Hill again after a stint Hackney-side.’
What are your best and worst bits of the city?
L: ‘Probably around the South Bank, they made it look so cool for the Olympics; lasers EVERYWHERE! Least favourite bit is Park Royal, it’s just gross… I don’t care if they have a Pizza Hut and a bowling alley in the same compound!’
A: ‘It’s difficult to pick a favourite but I love the east for the parties and west for its beauty – Holland Park can feel like you’re not in the city sometimes! I hate anywhere that seems mundane and suburban.’
Where did you get the idea for Rebel Bingo?
L: ‘When we found an old bingo set in the basement of a church hall. We started mucking around with it and then thought, “hold up, why should grannies have all the fun?!” and it just developed from there.’
What do you do you do in between the bingos?
L: ‘In between bingo shows Anita and I do burlesque under the name Femme Ferale, and I have also started a clothing and accessories company called Yah Totes which is all tie dye, studs, Harry Potter and inverted crosses!’
What makes a good burlesque show?
L: ’I think the key to a good burlesque night is variety, no one wants to see six almost- identical fan dances in a row. Sleaze in Camden has a great mix of performers.’
A: ‘Originality, I want to see something I haven’t seen before! A great sense of showmanship doesn’t go amiss either. The audience is there to be entertained whether it be a shimmy or a grind, you better put your heart and soul into it gurl!’
How do you rate the burlesque scene in London?
L: ‘There are lots of great acts out there, but it can be very cliquey; I think people need to relax a bit more and remember that it’s meant to be fun, not a Mexican stand-off of whose outfit is the most authentically vintage!’
A: ‘Since it became quite faddish, London became saturated with burlesque hopefuls and you saw a lot of very similar “vintage housewife” routines but there is a core group of incredibly talented performers who do the city proud. And they’re the ones I admire and take notice of.’
Rebel Bingo takes place on Friday 14 and Saturday 15 September at:
54 Holywell Lane
Tickets are sold out online but the first 100 can buy on the door for £15
Image by Mary-Alice Thompson