Review: Hotel Tryst: Rendez-vous (Toronto Burlesque Festival)

The Toronto Burlesque Festival dazzles audiences with new performances this weekend at The Mod Club

Last night was my first time watching the annual Toronto Burlesque Festival. After watching their opening show Hotel Tryst: Rendez-vous, I am disappointed that I missed the event for the past six years. This festival will be marked in my calendar from now on in bright red ink and surrounded in a border of glitter.

Armitage Shanks leads the show as the concierge of Hotel Tryst dressed like a carnival ringmaster. Shanks blows a whistle and his hotel staff swagger to the stage. A sassy assistant, three maids, a janitor, and a bell-hop in drag line up for their roll call. At first, I thought the staff was all we were waiting to see. How naive of me — a hotel can’t run without guests. The guests strut down the aisle, suitcases in tow. The eccentric group includes a fortune teller, three drunk brothers, and a deceptively boring couple who dole out coupons as tips. The fanny-pack wearing Midwesterners were Dew Lily and Coco Framboise, who is a star and Executive Director of the festival.

The guests and staff disperse, waiting one (or two or three) at a time to strip to their skivvies on stage. There is a tease for every taste: sexy ladies, handsome gents, drag queens and kings, dance numbers, and acrobatics. There is even a ghost of Hotel Tryst, if you’re into that kind of thing. Act after amazing act brings out the catcalls. Poisonne is haunting on the aerial hoop, while Suki Tsunami stuns on the aerial silks. Albert Cadabra shocks with his new and naked way of starting a fire. Dr. Lucky as the great fortune teller finds the naughtiest way to guess someone’s card that I have ever seen.

Unfortunately, this show will not be playing again. But fear not, the festival goes on with different performances, each more exciting than the last. Toronto’s Burlesque Festival continues July 25th and 26th with four more major shows. Tonight Wanderlust: Tour du Monde and The Dangerous Liaison will up the ante at the Virgin Mobile Mod Club. Saturday will go out in style with Shaken and Stirred: With A Twist and The Glam-A-Ganza.

Finally, if you are tired of sitting a few feet away from the performers with your jaw dropped, you can always sit beside them at The Pin-Up Pool Party on Sunday. The pool party is a closing event to the festival and a fundraiser for Rethink Breast Cancer. Attendees get to enjoy rum punch and a buffet lunch at the  rooftop pooldeck of the Hyatt Regency Hotel. The festival is a fantastic way to showcase Toronto’s best burlesque and bring in talent from around the globe. If you want to find a reason to clap, to blush and to cheer, then get a ticket as fast as you can.


  • Upcoming shows for the Toronto Burlesque Festival are taking place July 25th and July 26th at the Virgin Mobile Mod Club (722 College street).
  • Wanderlust: Tour du Monde is playing on Friday July 25th at 7:00pm
  • The Dangerous Liason is playing on Friday July 25th at 10:30pm.
  • Shaken and Stirred: With a Twist is playing on Saturday July 26th at 7:00pm.
  • The Glam-A-Ganza is playing on Saturday July 26th at 10:30 pm.
  • For all shows advanced tickets range from $30 for general admission to $70 for VIP. Tickets at the door are $40. Advanced tickets can be purchased online, check website for more details.
  • The Re-think Pool Party at the Hyatt Regency Hotel (rooftop, 370 King Street West) takes place on Sunday the 27th at noon. Purchase advanced tickets for $60 online. Tickets are limited.


Photo of Suki Tsunami by Jenn Xu.