Today we’d like to introduce you to Miss Spent Youth and Cathouse Red.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Before Cliff earned the name Cathouse Red he had made a name for himself as the go-to Silent Movie Accompanist is Los Angeles. He performed lived scores to silent films all over LA from the rarest finds to everyone’s favorites. He and his wife Marie had a love for vintage style entertainment. Cliff soon puts together a group of singing and dancing girls to perform at events and fundraisers. Cliff is a composer and songwriter and soon had an arsenal of 1920’s style tunes ready to perform. To put together a full-length cabaret show we both felt like we needed a classic burlesque dancer and so Miss Spent Youth was born. Miss Spent trained under Los Angeles Burlesque legend Lili Von Schtupp and after performing around LA for about a year we felt like we were ready to launch Babylon Cabaret.
The first iteration of Babylon Cabaret was a pre-show for the infamous Monday Night Tease run by Lili Von Schtupp herself. After seeing Miss Spent Youth and Cathouse Red do a duet together she was willing to take a chance on us. The hour-long show featured a troop of 8 performers and a rotating cast of guest stars singing, dancing and teasing.
After a year at Monday Night Tease, we were ready to move to a larger venue and expand to a full-length two-hour show. With Lili’s blessing, we moved to The Rockwell table and stage in Los Feliz. A bigger stage and longer show meant writing a lot more music but it also gave us the opportunity to try different things like larger group numbers and add more instruments. In January of this year, we started out residency at the gorgeous and historic El Cid which allows us to add variety acts like aerialist and contortionist. Our show is the First Sunday of every month at 8:00 pm.
We’ve worked really hard to craft a vintage show that is truly a trip back in time. Guests are encouraged to dress up and enjoy an old fashion “dinner and a show” night out. That has always been our vision for the show. We watch a lot of old movies and going to a dinner show was an occasion. The ladies wore gowns the men were in suits and you got entertainment with your food.
We try to provide that classic, upscale night out that old Hollywood was known for to our audience. We come up with new themes for each show and Cathouse Red is constantly writing new music inspired by all the talented performers we have the pleasure of working with!
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
There are always struggles. Not everyone really understands what burlesque and cabaret consist of. There are some misconceptions about what we are doing so we are constantly educating the public. Our audience is 50-75% women and we get a lot of couples because we really strive to provide a classy, fun environment where everyone can feel at ease. There are a lot of Burlesque shows in LA and they are all different and no one else is doing quite what we are doing but it can be challenging to get that across in an Instagram post.
It’s an incredibly time-consuming show to produce every month. Cathouse Red writes 10-12 numbers for every show. The live music means every piece has to be rehearsed multiple times with each performer and the band. Being a married couple and working together can definitely be a huge challenge, dinner often turns in to a production meeting and a tense deadline can turn in to a war of the roses really quick, but we are both incredibly creative people and being able to create something together brings us closer and more and more in love.
Please tell us about Babylon Cabaret.
The biggest thing we have that no other show in town has is Original Music. The numbers we do you can’t see anywhere else, on any other stage, in any other show. For us having live music was really important when burlesque started as an art form live music was the only option and the interplay between the musician and the performers was an art all, it’s own. We wanted to preserve that aspect of classic burlesque and the music is really good!
Our audience leaves the venue hmming the new tunes and we are often asked where they can buy the music. In the golden era of burlesque performers often had special numbers written just for them and Cathouse Red writes a lot of the music with a specific performer in mind so it plays to their strengths. It also lets us really craft the flow of the show in a really unique way, I can say I need a sultry, seductive fan dance here and a Ginger Rogers/Fred Astaire duet here and Cathouse Red gets to work! We really strive to give our audience a taste of the class and glamour of Old Hollywood.
When you come to Babylon Cabaret you are taking a trip back to a New Orleans Speakeasy or a floor show at the Brown Derby. We strive to create a memorable night that you can’t get anywhere else and from the audience feedback we get it sounds like we are doing it! We have created a family of top-notch performers of all shapes, sizes and colors who each have their own unique style while keeping it in the classic realm. We have set a really high bar for ourselves so nothing goes on the stage that we are not incredibly proud of.
Our audiences really appreciate the way we bring a variety of looks, feels and styles to a classic cabaret show where you never know what’s coming next.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
We’ve been really lucky. When Lili offered us the pre-show slot we already had our dream cast in mind and miraculously everyone said yes! We’ve had the honor to work with so many talented performers that really understand what we are trying to achieve and have believed in us from the very beginning.
It’s been an incredible journey and neither of us can really imagine doing it any differently because we have learned so much along the way that brought us to where we are today. I will say we had the best classic cabaret host in Los Angeles Patrick The Bank Robber as our resident host for the first year until he moved to Georgia, so if we could do anything different it’d be kidnapping him before he moved so we could keep him forever!
We’ve really lucked out with some great hosts since then but we’ll always miss him.
- Front Row Seats $30
- General Admission Seat $20
- Website: www.BabylonCabaret.com
- Email: info@BabylonCabaret.com
- Instagram: @babylonCabaret
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/babyloncabaret/
- Other: Tickets: www.BabylonCabaret.com/tickets
Daniel Sliwa, Jesse Koester, Brian C. Janes