Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Fabulous Vuarnettes—end for the season or forever?

Foursome gal pals have entertained valley for 30 years

Express Staff Writer

The Fabulous Vuarnettes get ready for their Thursday evening show at the Sun Valley Resort Boiler Room. Express photo by Roland Lane

For 30 years, the Fabulous Vuarnettes have been performing their high-camp and high-heeled no-holds-barred brand of entertainment in the Wood River Valley. Linda Badell "Fern Fein d'Buck," Cheri Kessler "Kitty Litter," Callie Galpin "Cheetah Velveetah" and Heidi Bates "Ruby Rose Hips" are professionals at bringing their sassy comedy to center stage where no subject or person is safe from ridicule.

The Fabulous Vuarnettes have created a special sisterhood throughout their three decades of performing. This year, former Vuarnette Karen Sue Hale, "Lola Motorola" succumbed to cancer, but not before her sisters had a chance to say goodbye. The Fabulous Vuarnettes paid Hale a visit at her Iowa home with tapes, photos and a collage of her Sun Valley life.

The Fabulous Vuarnettes show has been an ongoing tradition in Sun Valley. Part vaudeville, part musical comedy and slightly burlesque, the Fabulous Vuarnettes began their high-anxiety entertaining in 1981 at the now defunct Silver Creek Saloon on Main Street in Ketchum.

But after 30 years of producing the live stage show, the Fabulous Vuarenettes are considering closing down the show for good. The work involved and the time commitment may have caught up with them.

"We can't decide if we should end or not," Badell said.

On and off the stage, the Fabulous Vuarnettes have always found humor in life's sometimes unfortunate situations. The group performed at Creekside, the Saloon at Elkhorn, Whiskey Jacques', the Roosevelt and countless private and corporate parties everywhere, including Hawaii, the Bahamas and Florida. The group also participated in Warren Miller ski films.

The ladies have embraced every style of each decade in which they performed, from hair crimping and tube tops to platforms and sequins. They do it all, creating costumes, backdrops, and original material for the show.

"We absolutely love doing it," Kessler said. "We are the best of friends. We love writing the songs even though half of them we never use."


Each October the ladies gather to rewrite their show.

"It takes a lot," Galpin said. "We still have issues and we're still whining about them."

More than 30 years of scrapbooks, photos, some video and other keepsakes have been collected by the troupe, which still keeps them laughing.

"1981 was the first Vuarnettes show," Galpin said. "We made up four songs. We did our show at the Silver Creek Saloon, and it was an event that became a cult following."

It went viral, Kessler said.

"There was nothing going on back then," she said. "We rehearsed and rehearsed. At the show, people were watching from the rafters."

The Fabulous Vuarnettes have heard it all, too, with audience members telling them they should be in Vegas, they are better than anything in New York City and take off your clothes.

A classic Vuarnette number, "Stand on Your Man" is one of the show's highlights.

"A guy actually stood up with me on his neck," Badell said. "It was scary."

Other routines include "Achy Breaky Part," an homage to Lorena Bobbitt. The Fabulous Vuarnettes also have other poignant songs about life, including "Lots of Guys," "Monster Tits" and "The Cougar Song."

"We've performed at a lot of expensive private parties that all bombed," Kessler said. "Sometimes we cross the line, and the audience lets us know."

Kessler said she still cannot believe so many people have not seen the show after so many years.

The Vaurenettes have two more shows for the season—Thursday, March 31, and Thursday, April 7, which may be the final show ever.

"I think we should leave them gasping," Badell said.

Tickets are $10 at the door.

Sabina Dana Plasse:

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