Festival of Voices: Jane Badler at Voicebox

The below piece was written for and published by Aphra Magazine:

Jane Badler could have been wearing a body-less pant suit, no make-up and a paper bag over her head and she still would have caught the eye of every single person attending Diamond Crimson Blood at Voicebox as part of Festival of Voices.  Instead, sauntering onto stage uniformly dressed in black, the lights reflecting off her leather attire, Jane not only catches every eye in the room, but guarantees our undivided attention for the entire duration of her performance.

What ensues is a seductive, sensual performance that affirms that at 60 years of age Badler most definitely still has ‘it’.  The audience is swept into her performance which included six new songs from her upcoming album Opus.  The second song of the night is Jane’s new single Losing You which she performs under a blue light, with a black veil pulled high above her head.  This is the first of many props that Jane uses throughout her show to give each of her numbers more character.

I lean back into my seat and watch the silhouettes of other seated members of the audience as they sway from side to side.  Crossed legs tap to the beat whilst free hands raise glasses of champagne, a fitting accompaniment to Badler’s voice which carries through the pop-up cabaret lounge with a message: Diamonds Are Forever.

Badler herself describes her music as “dark-electro pop”, traditionally incorporating instruments into her live performances, it is quite a new venture for Jane to be working with electronica as heavily as she does in Diamond Crimson Blood.  As the bass solidifies, the lights refracting off the chandelier above the performance stage emulsify the room as if inside a diamond.  Blue and purple shimmering lights dancing on the roof; dark-electro pop and Jane Badler were made for each other.

Hips jut out in one direction, while long black hair flies through the air in the opposite.  The microphone is removed from the stand and Jane moves her body to the electronic beat that fills the hall.  Jane amps up the room and feeds off their energy, her face covered by black sunglasses she transitions from this beat to a slow, sultry cover of Kylie Minogue’s Can’t Get You Out of My Head.  As Jane lowers her outstretched hand at the end of the rendition the audience applauds, a number of shouts and a whistle or two can be heard from the male contingency.

No stranger to fame, Jane tells stories of her life in 1970s New York City; dancing until dawn at Studio 54. Stories of her involvement in the sci-fi cult classic of the 1980’s where she played, in her words, “a sexually voracious rodent-eating alien”, Badler, now donning a golden headband, shrugs it all off.  Standing now in the spotlight, after a life in the spotlight, I get the sense that she thinks it is all a bit ridiculous.  “Such highs, such lows, such despondency”, she exclaims.  The fame, the notoriety, the attention – that was of a past life and now is far removed from her life now and marriage of 23 years.

Regardless of this, Jane is a born performer and that is what she is here to do.  “You are my muse”, she sings to the audience.  After reflections from Jane’s life in New York, of the parties, clubs and lifestyle I sat wondering how many times Jane herself was a muse to artists of song, paint or word.  It would not surprise me at all if there was more than one love song about a broken heart dedicated to one Jane Badler.

The final song for the evening is an up-tempo foreign number for which Badler pulls on a long black leather jacket and smokes a cigarette throughout.  This little faux pas may not have been forgiven if it was someone else on stage.  Whilst we may not view cigarettes as aspirational or sexy in popular culture today, Badler is a sexual icon from another era and the image of her dressed head to toe in leather, puffing on a cigarette is one that has not been lost in translation.


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