It rocked, it rolled, it was riotous, raunchy and, indeed, raucous. Bernie Dieter and her travelling gang of outlaws are back in SE London to show us all what we’ve been missing. In The Little Death Club you can be who you want and this crew do just that, writes Michael Holland.

As the band jammed blues and rock on the stage, the performers stalked the stalls, strutting their stuff and staring down potential victims. Ms Dieter appeared amongst us and made four men her boys, giving her commands in between verses of the song she was belting out. After being made to paw and stroke her as she sung, they had to carry their Queen back to the spotlight where they knelt in adoration while doing jazz hands. Now that’s what I call an opening number.

What followed was acts that must have had venues closed down in the past, but here had found a spiritual home for ‘misfits and miscreants’. At The Little Death Club what could easily be mundane turns are taken to the next level, to a strata that makes them stand out.

We’ve all seen fire-eaters doing their normal thing – they’re never going to win X Factor. But when Kitty Bang Bang strips down to her nipple tassels, sets fire to them and spins them around with a shimmy and a shake, you know that Britain’s got talent.

And Fancy Chance who flew around above us like an angel in her flowing white robe looked just like, well, an angel! It was a beautiful sight and hard to believe that she was held on to a hook by her hair! Her hair was taking the weight of the rest of her as she spun, and turned and twisted in the heavens above. When the robes fell away to reveal she was wearing only tattoos, I was hoping her hair didn’t give way as she flew over me. It was soon after these acts that a man in the crowd had to feign orgasm for us all.

‘I pity those who are here with their parents!’ smirked our Mistress of Ceremonies as she strode around her stage.

The setting is decadent Berlin, so cue mock accents. There was Beau Sargent, a contortionist putting his foot round his neck so he could bite his toenails, plus some extraordinary moves in a spinning hoop that got him the biggest applause; a mime who hated his job and Myra DuBois who got us to sing her song for her while she had a sit down.  Each performer had that something different; the little extra that gets you in to the Club. 

If you think you’ve seen it all before, go and be surprised. We were. We were also surprised that the nudity was unfairly biased towards only the women getting naked. Are the rules different for men’s nudity? If they are then Bernie got round it by showing unwanted pictures she had been sent by email…

We loved it. There was not a single moment where the audience was not reacting with either laughter or amazement.

Spiegletent, Underbelly Festival, South Bank, SE1 7NA until 23rd June. Times: Tues – Fri: 7.45pm; Sat: 7.15pm & 9.15pm; Sun: 7.15pm. Admission: £21.50 – £26.50.

http://www.underbellyfestival.com