Hannah the Hatchet started doing burlesque four years ago in central New York. But unlike most burlesque performers, her name wasn't chosen by her. Instead, it was chosen by her mother, Erin the Axe (cute, right?), who she performed with in Ithaca's Whiskey Tango Sideshow troupe.
"I like to think of it the way the drag queens do it — like, your drag mom gives you your name usually," Hannah says. "But instead of my drag mom, it was my real mom — not only did she name me, but she also gave me my burlesque name."
Suffice it to say, Ms. Hatchet lives for burlesque: She quickly established herself in Detroit's burlesque community, which includes regular events at Cliff Bell's, the Tangent Gallery, Deluxx Fluxx, and Willis Show Bar, where she performs most Fridays.
Last year, after moving to Detroit, Ms. Hatchet heard through the grapevine that the owners of Sid Gold's Request Room, a piano karaoke bar founded four years ago in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, was plotting to expand to Detroit. That's when she reached out to owner Paul DeVitt — who previously found success with his Beauty Bar chain of salons-turned-nightclubs — with the idea to pitch a monthly burlesque event, similar to what the original Sid's has. The two hit it off, and now Golden Hour Glamour will launch Wednesday, Aug. 7 at the Detroit Sid Gold's.
The Detroit Sid Gold's Request Room opened its doors in June at the former 1515 Broadway, now the Siren Hotel, and has already made a name for itself thanks to its live piano karaoke. That's despite the fact that it's got a little bit of a secret speakeasy feel. The address isn't technically 1515 Broadway; you actually enter through the alley behind the Wurlitzer Building, though a large gold sign directs people to the entrance.
But anyway, back to the point: Piano karaoke. At the back of Sid's front room, which has a large horseshoe-shaped bar, is a curtain. Through that is a back room with a starry night mural painted on the ceiling, a zigzag Twin Peaks-ian floor, red leather seats, and a piano bar — literally a piano surrounded by a bartop. DeVitt says for now, he's been flying in one of Sid Gold's partners — Joe McGinty, formerly of the Psychedelic Furs — to play on the weekends, but he says he's hoping to find local players who can do it.
"I was just looking to do something new and I felt like doing a hip piano bar," DeVitt says of the first Sid Gold's (named after the father of one of the bar's New York-based investors; yep, that's his face superimposed on Liberace's body on the back of the menu). "It was just such a big success. People just go bananas. You get enough drinks in them, they all lose their shit, everyone singing along."
Piano karaoke is similar to regular karaoke in that guests pick a song from the catalog, in this case of some 500 or 600 songs. The difference is the piano player performs the tracks live; there's an iPad with lyrics for the guest, and an iPad for player with the song's chords. Though Sid Gold's has a decidedly retro feel, the catalog includes hits from the '50s through today from just about any genre you can imagine.
"It's not a typical piano bar; they mostly do showtunes," DeVitt says. "I mean we do get, you know, a lot of girls who want to do The Little Mermaid and things like that, but it's not like only old Broadway standards and stuff."
Hannah the Hatchet says the plan for Golden Hour Glamour is to hype the crowd up before karaoke starts with a one-hour show. Since the stage is small, she expects it to be a floor show with lots of audience interaction. The first event features burlesque performances from her, Caffeyne Luv, and Ada Vice, and performers like Margaux Royale, Lushes LaMoan, Lilith Von Tal, and Eartha Kitten are on the books for the coming months. Eventually, Ms. Hatchet says she even wants to work some piano-accompanied singing performances into her strip-tease routine. (Once upon a time she previously fronted an all-women rock band.)
Ms. Hatchet says she plans on booking classic-styled burlesque acts, but wants to incorporate newer songs to reflect the eclectic atmosphere at Sid Gold's. "I feel like the live piano karaoke is that awesome amalgamation of taking the classics and then mixing them with a lot of modern tunes," she says. "So we're definitely going to mix in that element to kind of be hip and kind of fit the environment that Sid Gold's is creating."
DeVitt says the Detroit Sid Gold's has already drawn a lot of interest downtown. For now, karaoke starts at 8 p.m. on Tuesdays, from 6 p.m.-1 a.m. on Wednesdays-Fridays, and 9 p.m.-1 a.m. on Saturdays. He says he expects the bar to be a hit for private events like corporate team-building outings and holiday parties.
The venue sports a pretty typical craft cocktail menu, along with some reasonably priced beers and wines. "We're not driven by cocktails," DeVitt says. "Some of these other spots, all they do is cocktails."
Instead, he says, Sid Gold's is driven by the experience.
"The novelty here is, you know, the customer has become the entertainment," he says. "You get to be the star for three minutes. Like Andy Warhol said, everybody gets their 15 minutes of fame. Here, you get it three minutes at a time."
Golden Hour Glamour starts at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 7 at Sid Gold's Request Room, 1509 Broadway St., Detroit; sidgolds.com; Tickets are $8.
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