Somewhere between her last coffee for the day and her first gin of the evening, Bernie Dieter – leader of 'Little Death Club' – finds herself pondering the historical significance of cabaret in a world increasingly gripped by fear.
“That's the scary thing about history, it can repeat itself and I think at the moment we are definitely living in a time where a lot of right-wing, conservative views are coming back into fashion,” Bernie says.
“We didn't learn from the last time, I think. Cabaret, not only is it an amazing form of escapism – there's a lot of laughter and incredible circus and sexy sideshow – but also we can comment on what is happening.”
Bernie goes on to compare the socio-political climate of today with that of the Weimar Republic (1919-1933), where cabaret rose to prominence as the ultimate escape from the drudgery and turmoil of the inter-war period which wracked Germany's economy, culture and national morale.
“We can reach people through that laughter, through that sharing of gin with them and afterwards hopefully starting conversations about some of the issues we are facing right now,” she explains.
“Because I think in a lot of ways we are being told that difference, that people who are different to us, are something that we should be afraid of, which is very similar to what was going on in the Weimar days. Rather than embracing each other and supporting each other, there is a fear culture, which is scary. Cabaret is definitely vital in the world right now.”
'Little Death Club' is billed as 'the darkest, funniest and most debauched kabarett show east of Berlin' and so far has not disappointed, having given audiences all over the world a tender rub on the thigh, so to speak.
“We have full houses, amazing reviews, and it's just a lot of love because I think the show is such a beautiful celebration of difference, with the cast of punks, freaks and weirdos,” Bernie says.
Image © Theresa Harrison
“People are really connecting to that at the moment. Also a little bit of escapism from all the crazy sh.t that is happening in the world right now; I think it is in high demand.”
Bernie brings 'Little Death Club' to Fringe World in Perth, featuring new additions to her manic menagerie of sideshow spectacles.
“Well, we have – for the first time in Perth – our beautiful Weimar punk jazz band, a four-piece band who are absolutely rocking,” she says.
“So the music is an all-original soundtrack and it is really off the charts, so that's really exciting. We have new acts as well; we have hair-hanging for the first time, which I don't believe I've ever seen in Perth before.”
Whether it's titillation you seek or just a few hours reprieve from the woes of the world, Bernie says 'Little Death Club' can be whatever you need it to be.
“You can take away what you need to from it but we are really trying to embrace that diversity, that celebration of the little weirdo in all of us,” she says.
“We're all weird, wonderful people, wonderful creatures, so we should really celebrate that more. Band together rather than fragmenting.”
'Little Death Club' plays The West Australian Spiegeltent at The Woodside Pleasure Garden from 17 January-16 February.