Caluzzi Bar & Cabaret
461 Karangahape Road, Auckland
A Drag Queen Cabaret is not how you’d usually celebrate a 21st birthday in New Zealand. My cousin is anything but ordinary, so when I told hubby we were off to the drags one Saturday night, he was in for a shock.
Our birthday party of 20ish guests shared the K’ Road venue with three (yes three) hens parties – who were all in fine form.
Our waitresses (cocks in frocks) for the evening were the gorgeous Kola Gin, Miss Elibra Fleur and Zoe Extravaganza, while our MC was the fabulous Miss Ribena.
Having experienced several ‘dinner and shows’ before, I was pleasantly impressed with the quality of food on offer at Caluzzi. Garlic bread and tomato soup to start, with a choice of six main meals. My vegetarian option was Danish feta, capsicum and potato filled filo with salad. Usually it’s a soggy, cooked from frozen, filo parcel that ends up on your plate, but it wasn’t the case in this instance. The husband enjoyed a porterhouse steak with garlic creamed potatoes, beans and mushroom sauce – cooked rare (rear – with a wink).
As the ‘hens’ were introduced by Miss Ribena, we learnt that the size of your rock (engagement ring) correlates to the size of the groom’s certain part of his anatomy that rhymes with rock.
The venue is quite small, probably fitting 45-50 max. The ‘girls’ have a small performance area inside (but get a solid 6 foot drag queen twirling in a frilly tutu, and there is not much room for anything else). The performance spills out onto the footpath and purpose built seat outside, where the full length windows frame the performance for the guests inside. It must be a bit of a surprise (or delight?) for any pedestrians who have to navigate the pavement to avoid three dancing drag queens, but for a free show, be sure to get a good seat outside around 9:00pm on a Saturday night.
The costumes were spectacular, and the shoes … outrageous. However, after experiencing the delightful personalities of our waitresses and Miss Ribena’s banter during dinner, I was a little disappointed by the lip synched performance that concluded the night’s festivities. The song choices lacked the glamour and pizazz that I was expecting. My cousin had also been serenaded earlier in the night, by a friend with an amazing voice, so perhaps that had set the bar too high before the queens performed.
The funniest theme joke of the evening was with a 79 year old mother of one of the brides (who Miss Ribena and guests nicknamed ‘Nana’) and a very young blonde hunk from our 21st party (dubbed ‘Toy Boy’). Miss Ribena decided the ‘Toy Boy’ was a present for ‘Nana’, making Nana sit on the Toy Boy’s knee for a segment of the show, and when the dance floor was opened at the end of the evening, the ‘Toy Boy’ had his shirt removed and was once again gifted to ‘Nana’ for a boogie. The sweetest thing was that the Toy Boy played along, making sure Nana thoroughly enjoyed her evening.
Although certainly not a traditional Kiwi 21st by any stretch of the imagination, the evening was lots of fun, with plenty of laughter had by all.
PS – sorry for the bad photos, had a few camera issues on the night.