Seriously?

Dear Constant Reader,

We’re presenting a fabulous show on New Year’s Eve. But you knew that.

The wonderful folks at Fernet Branca agreed to sponsor the show and Scratch blithely applied for a beer & wine license for the night. It’s not a big deal; we’ve done it for other shows, even ones in vacant buildings. Our co-producers (the guys who run the theatre) do it all the time for their shows and we were told we had the backing of the mayor’s office. Just some paperwork and formality, right?

Yesterday the City of Medford denied our beer and wine license because of the “prurient nature of the material being presented”.

So, no bar at the shows, no sponsor (and hopefully our relationship with them isn’t damaged), annoyed patrons who thought they could get a drink, financial loss, and of course, the general feeling that what we do is immoral and unworthy.

Way to support the arts, Medford.

M2

Published in: on 18 December 2014 at 10:51 am  Leave a Comment  

New Books

Dear Constant Reader,

Some folks I know have some new(ish) books out and seeing as it’s getting on toward Winter Gift-Giving Holiday, this seemed like an ideal time to share.

  • Gallows Hill by Rory O’Brien: A murder mystery set in modern day Salem.
  • Witches’ Waves by Teresa Noelle Roberts: paranormal erotica, the 4th book in the Duals and Donovans series (Previous books were Lions' Pride, Foxes' Den, Fox's Folly, and Cougar's Courage.)
  • The Shelf on the Elf: Holiday Leftovers by Andrew Shaffer: five off-beat, humorous holiday essays and short stories from the author of Fifty Shames of Earl Grey, and How to Survive a Sharknado and Other Unnatural Disasters.
  • And although it’s not new, I continue to recommend Lightsurfing: Living Life in the Front of My Mouth by Marrus because everyone should read it.

    Enjoy!

    M2

    Published in: on 15 December 2014 at 12:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    Friday Tip!

    Dear Constant Reader,

    Happy Friday! Here’s your tip!

    Fake it ’til you make it.

    M2

    Published in: on 12 December 2014 at 3:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    A Little Peek into the Rehearsal Process

    Dear Constant Reader,

    We’re currently rehearsing for our New Year’s Eve Spectacular and I’ve been sporadically documenting things with crummy cellphone photos that I post to FaceBook. Hopefully the photos will become more numerous, somewhat better, and more interesting in the coming weeks.

    Here’s a teaser: What could possibly be inside that oyster, guarded by such charming nymphs in tailcoats by Vixens Ahoy?

    If you’d like to see more, check out my FB album here.

    And if you’d like to see the finished product in action, we have two shows on New Year’s Eve!

    M2

    Published in: on 11 December 2014 at 11:07 am  Leave a Comment  
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    What Do You Want?

    Dear Constant Reader,

    I know you’ll read whatever I write, you’re Constant Reader, after all, but I’d prefer to write what you want to read. So here’s my occasional request for input. What do you want from me?

    Costuming? Adventures with vintage recipes? Book reviews? Give aways? Back stage peeks? Rehearsal reports? Something I’ve never written about before?

    Give me some ideas and I’ll do my best to satisfy you, because without my Constant Reader, I’m just sending missives into the void.

    M2

    Published in: on 10 December 2014 at 10:53 am  Leave a Comment  

    Friday Tip!

    Dear Constant Reader,

    Happy Friday!

    Here’s your tip!

    To keep the cut ends of ribbon from fraying, cut on a diagonal or seal with clear nail polish, FrayChek, or (my favorite) glitter paint.

    M2

    Published in: on 5 December 2014 at 4:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    Los Angeles: Monday, 11/24/14

    Dear Constant Reader,

    What to do with our last, beautiful, sunny day in L.A.? We decided to be total tourists and head for the Santa Monica Pier. I’ll admit it — I didn’t know that it was the end of Route 66. It took a while for us to get the snapshot because a bunch of models were having a shoot in front of the sign. Just another day in Southern California.

    Despite my horrible fear of heights, I insisted on riding the Ferris wheel (that would be the solar-powered Pacific Wheel). The ocean view was amazing — when I could look around.

    Then we went hunting for the carousel. I love vintage carousels. One of my favorite moments was riding the Flying Horses Carousel on Martha’s Vineyard for the first time and getting the brass ring. Pure magic. At this one I was torn on choosing a mount. Most of the horses were original and normally, I’d make sure to get one of the originals. However, the two replacements, which were not horses, were made by Big Daddy Roth. Guess which one I picked?

    Later we went to Venice Beach and took a stroll. Had we planned things better, we might have seen the Freak Show, instead of just visiting the building (they’re currently only open on weekends).

    In the evening we headed out to Monday Night Tease: Erotic Titty. Monday Night Tease was basically the whole reason we came to L.A.. Of course, we were hoping to perform, but with a Prince-themed show, there was just no way to shoehorn any of our acts in. Next time.

    We were on our way to dinner, just one minute late for our reservation and about to turn onto Vine when On Vine (that’s the restaurant — see how close we were) called to say they had a sewer pipe rupture and were closing down. Glad it happened before we got there! They helpfully directed these out-of-towners to one of their near-by sister restaurants and we had a pleasant meal.

    The 3 Clubs (home of MNT) has a fabulous lounge, very Old Hollywood, where we ran into Vikki Fahrenheit, who I thought lived in Las Vegas, but is now a CA resident. We didn’t have to hang out in the lounge for long because Lili set us up at our table while the last bit of sound check was going on. The performance room is pretty small, less than 100 people, and it was *packed*. I was not surprised, given the quality of the show.

    I’ve got to say that the house cocktail, the Erotic Titty, was delicious, but I knew I’d fall asleep if I had one, so I opted for my usual Captain & Coke, but it was made with a spiced rum called Coffee & Cigarettes, with a fascinating coffee finish.

    The show had a loose connecting story, delivered by Morris Day (Mad Dog Delaney) and Baby (Heather Henderson) with the occasional assistance of Jerome (Mr. Snapper). Side note, I learned after the show that Heather is the vocalist for Penn Jillette’s NoGodBand (her “Ardent Atheist” tattoo had been noted).

    Let’s see if I can remember all the acts in any sort of order:

    • Glama Sutra, living Sheila E.’s “Glamourous Life”
    • Egypt Blaque Knyle as Prince’s cat (her moves were *incredible*)
    • Glama Sutra and Jessabelle Thunder dancing it off as Apollonia and Vanity, backed up by Red Snapper, Nikita Bitch Project, Sheila Starr Siani, and someone I forget. Of course, it devolved into a catfight…
    • Caramel Knowledge as “The Purple One”.
    • Jessabelle Thunder, sexy as all get out
    • Sheila Starr Siani with her award-winning harem girl act. I saw it at The Expo last year, but this time I was at the right angle to see all her sensual floorwork. Oh yum.
    • Lux LaCroix, or course, brought the house down as Prince himself. I’ve seen her do the act on video, but that was nothing compared to the real thing. And so close she could sweat on us.

    The energy in the room was amazing. Everyone was just having the best time, audience and performers, as well they should. I’m so glad we got the chance to see this show.

    And afterward Lili invited us to join some of the cast at The House of Pies for their usual post-show breakfast. Scratch & I looked at one another and knew there would be no sleep for us. There was cherry pie and a chance to really talk with Lili until the chairs went up on the tables around us.

    It was a fantastic trip. We’ll be back and sooner rather than later.

    We did manage to get two hours or so of sleep before heading to the airport to return to cold, damp Boston and one really annoyed cat.

    M2

    Published in: on 4 December 2014 at 4:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

    Los Angeles: Sunday, 11/23/14

    Dear Constant Reader,

    Sunday we had a date in the Fashion District. We met up with Sheila Starr Siani and her offspring, Mowgli and Mogwai, Jessabelle Thunder, and Lili VonSchtupp & Funny Eddie to explore the myriad of shops. It was utterly overwhelming and I’m glad we had some native guides.

    I thought NYC had fabulous costume shopping, but LA beats it all to hell. I can’t even begin to count the number of fabric shops we visited — mostly little storefront things crammed with bolts & bolts of fabric. And there were also the trimmings stores, the rhinestone places (loose & in jewelry), and I think there was even ready-to-wear, but we didn’t get to any of those. There is no excuse to be a poorly costumed burlesque dancer in Los Angeles.

    I was fairly restrained in my personal shopping, but we have a passel of backup dancers to clothe for the New Year’s Eve Spectacular. Scratch picked up so much stuff that we were concerned about getting it home. Most of it is now in the capable hands of Marion at Vixens Ahoy. Betty had requested some show-stopping fabric for a new dress and boy, did she get it. It’s not in the above photo, so you’ll just have to wait and see it in person on (and off) Betty.

    That night we had another show to perform in, a stand-up comedy showcase which occasionally had burlesque. We were invited by someone who had been slated to perform at The Teaseday Club and was repaying the favor.

    Let me digress for a moment and talk about payment. There’s been a *lot* of talk lately in the burlesque community about not performing for free. (Yes, there are exceptions, but for the most part, don’t give it away). Scratch pointed out that there are 2 ways to pay your performers: with cash or with love & respect. Friday night at Peepshow Menagerie we got both: a guaranteed minimum (and they did well at the door so we got more than that), comps, drink tickets, good communication, and overall a pleasant experience.

    This gig had none of that. I knew it was a freebie and we were mostly doing it for fun. Except it wasn’t fun. There was a distinct lack of communication and stage management. In fact, there wasn’t a set list posted or any performer amenities, not even freakin’ bottles of water in the green room. However, most of the other performers were perfectly nice and as confused as we were about what was going on. Some of them were also funny on stage.

    I went on early (after having my slot moved around more than once. And one of those times I learned I had been moved in the line-up was when I was waiting to go on and the host announced someone else). Scratch went on late, but we couldn’t even leave after his act because he had to leave his table full of magic equipment on stage. There was nowhere to move it to and he can’t break it down in view of the audience. So we stuck it out to the bitter end.

    I did a fan dance, mostly because it’s a no-brainer for me. And I realized it was good that I didn’t need any pick up. I guess Scratch could have done it for me because the venue certainly didn’t have anyone. Before I started I had already noticed that the stage was carpeted. I could deal. Once I got on stage I realized the ceiling was only about 7 feet high. Okay, I’ll need to be careful with the overhead moves. And then I saw that the walls were mirrored. Yeah, that kind of kills the tease. Oh well. I did the best I could with what I had. The audience didn’t seem too into it until I finally revealed all at the end. However, I got a lot of compliments later and one of the comics mentioned me in his set (in a good way).

    The show was interminable (I think it ran about 2 & a half hours without an intermission). Just as the last comic was finishing up her set, she wandered over to the table Scratch had left at the far side of the stage, picked up one of the pieces from his trick and flashed the gimmick at the audience. WHO DOES THAT?

    Afterwards she complimented me on my act and I just said “thank you” because if I said anything else I was going to find myself with my hands around her throat, screaming “Kindergarten rules! If it’s not yours, don’t touch it!”

    The only good part of the evening was that Joe K., our stage manager from the first run of Madame Burlesque, had just moved to L.A. Like, he arrived the day before, after having driven cross-country most of the month. Scratch got him comped into the show (we weren’t offered comps; Scratch just steamrollered the door girl) and afterwards we went to Mel’s Drive-In for sliders & fries & pie and to catch up.

    Next up, our last day…

    M2

    Published in: on 3 December 2014 at 2:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

    Los Angeles: Saturday 11/22/14

    Dear Constant Reader,

    It was a late night on Friday, so we got a late start on Saturday. On a tip from a friend we went to the Farmer’s Market and ended up having breakfast at Du-Par’s. I gotta say the pancakes were pretty fabulous. I suspect the pitcher of melted butter had a lot to do with that…

    Having eaten and strolled, it was time for a more serious visit and we headed to Westwood Memorial Park. It’s hidden deep in the heart of the city, surrounded by tall buildings — there’s a sign which seems to be pointing to a parking garage, but once you come around the corner and there’s a lovely bucolic park.

    We were there to pay our respects to Dixie Evans, The Marilyn Monroe of Burlesque. I wrote a bit about her last year, you might recall. Many of us across the country planned to raise money for her care, but ended up using the funds for her final resting place. We went to the office to ask for directions and learned that her mausoleum was locked. Fortunately, someone was available to escort us and unlock the gates.

    It’s lovely. Her ashes are in a glittery, rhinestone-decked urn in a glass-sided niche just behind the wrought iron gates. There are tiny framed photos on 2 sides and a miniature of her star. It was done with such love and care that I was quite choked up. She’s right near Marilyn Monroe and it’s a straight line to see Bettie Page. Lili VonSchtupp told me Dixie didn’t want to be in the dark, so the sun shines on her last home.

    I’m glad we were able to visit. With Dixie Evans we wouldn’t be doing what we do.

    Back to being tourists, we headed to LACMA and the La Brea Tar Pits. The theme for the day seemed to be unlikely things in the middle of a city, like bubbling tar pits and millions of Ice Age bones. My friend in the photo is a Columbian mammoth. I was particularly struck by the wall of hundreds of dire wolf skulls, which gives some idea of the enormity of the discoveries.

    At last, it was about time to meet Lili VonSchtupp at The Magic Castle. I first heard about it when I was a kid (maybe through Games Magazine) and assumed, not being a magician, that I would never get to see it. I was wrong. It’s good to have generous friends with connections.

    First though, an amusing interlude. We packed our evening wear, so as not to have to make the trek to the hotel & back. I ended up on a dark side street, changing in the front seat of the car with some entertaining contortions and putting on my makeup in the rear view mirror. I planned to make final adjustments, like hooking my garters and, oh, pulling my dress down over my rump, in the parking lot. This was also Scratch’s plan for putting on his dress shirt & tie (The Magic Castle has a dress code — yay!). Then we arrived and discovered it was valet parking. That was a tad awkward. Especially when I climbed out of the car. Don’t worry — we were all well & decently dressed once we said “Open Sesame” and the hidden door opened, allowing us into to the Castle.

    I’m not sure I can do the experience justice. The building is huge and fabulous and quirky. Lili was a wonderful hostess and without her guidance I don’t think I could have found my way around the utterly disorienting warren of rooms. Everywhere you turned there was some wonderful piece of magic memorabilia or a movie set piece or just odd things. What was my favorite? The prototype of the Ballroom at the Haunted Mansion? Invisible Irma (who played “Bohemian Rhapsody” for us)? The library that I could only sigh at from the threshold? W.C. Field’s trick billiards table? Houdini’s hands? I can’t even begin to choose.

    We saw 4 different magic shows in 4 locations, all terrific in their own way. Sometimes I was impressed with the spin the magician put on a trick I knew, sometimes I was awed by slight-of-hand skill, and frequently I was just baffled and delighted.

    No photos because that sort of thing isn’t allowed and I’d rather remember it as a quasi-dreamlike experience. Exhausted and giddy, we finally left around midnight.

    Tomorrow, we hit the Fashion District!

    M2

    Published in: on 2 December 2014 at 3:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    Los Angeles: Friday 11/21/14

    Dear Constant Reader,

    Way too early Friday morning we headed off for Los Angeles. I won’t bore you with details of the travel. Once we finally arrived, Scratch went off to visit an old friend while I rehearsed, took a bath, and napped. Not necessarily in that order.

    That night we were performing in Peepshow Menagerie‘s Spacetease: Dimensions of Time & Tease, their Dr. Who tribute show. When Scratch first told me the theme, I was stumped. You know that I’m a classic burlesque kind of gal. What on earth could I do that was appropriate? He reminded me of an old act that I’d done only once many years ago. Change the focus and a little costume revamp… Excellent.

    Before we got to the venue, I had to try an In & Out Burger. Yes, for the first time. I haven’t become a total convert, but I would do that again.

    Fais Do Do, the venue, is a big club with a nice dressing room. Well, I’m told it was a pit the month before and it had just been improved. I guess we got lucky on timing. It was really nice to just be able to relax and focus on the single act I was performing. We had a late start because of some technical/production issues. There was a band to open, so burlesque portion of the show started much later than I’m used to, but it didn’t particularly bother me –I was a guest at this party.

    Not long before he was to go on, Scratch unpacked his magic trick to set it up and discovered that a key component had shattered in transit, probably from the cold of the baggage hold, since everything else was fine. That was exciting. There was quite a bit of running around and some cursing. So if you had seen the act before and wondered why his lowball glass was a plastic cup, that’s why. And remember — always check your equipment well before you go on stage…

    The show itself had a script tying all the acts together with several actors advancing the plot. Scratch started hosting the show and performing “Martini Time” (demonstrating the principle of “bigger on the inside”). He was interrupted in his hosting duties by the appearance of a villain, the TARDIS (yes, really, right on stage), the Third Doctor (played by Wolfgang Wolfwhistle) plus a number of companions.

    I’m not going to recreate the whole story for you, but here’s a bullet point list of performers and acts (I might have things a little out of order). I’m not exquisitely well-versed in things Dr. Who, having only seen the first 3 seasons of the new show, so some of the references & characters were lost on me and I had to ask Scratch.

  • Caramel Knowledge: Madame Vastra
  • Mae Lust: an 18th clockwork automaton (“The Girl in the Fireplace”)
  • Mercury Troy: a Cat Nun from New Earth
  • Me: I’ll tell you about that later
  • Lemi Atom: The Souffle Girl
  • Mr. Snapper: Capt. Jack Harkness (this was one of my favorites)
  • Holly Go Darkly with tally marks all over her body (“The Silence”)
  • Georgia O’Queef: Queen of the Daleks
  • Glama Sutra: “Hello Sweetie!”
  • Gretna Grenade: The Girl Who Waited
  • Jessabelle Thunder: Cyberwoman
  • Scarlett Letter: Missy
  • My act was to “Howlin'”, a rockabilly song by The Spectres (some of whom have gone on to become The Wages of Sin). I had made a big pink circle skirt for the original act and worn it with a letter jacket. Change out the jacket, make a sequined pink top, add pink shoes, and voila, Rose Tyler in “The Idiot’s Lantern”. I am so sad I didn’t take a picture of the ensemble, since I was pretty proud of it all. You can see a rehearsal shot here. Hopefully there will be pictures from the show someday.

    One of the things I think is important about fandom-based acts (or pop culture acts or “nerdlesque”) is that it be a good act, even if you don’t know the fandom, so that was my goal here. I hope I succeeded, but I can’t tell because the majority of the audience were Dr. Who fans. And my big reveal was especially for them — let’s just say that the song is about a big Bad Wolf… But right before I got to that point, a guy in the audience yelled “I ship you, Rose Tyler!” High praise indeed.

    After it all was over and the cast had their curtain call, there was a special guest sort of tacked on at the end. She was a German burlesque performer making her L.A. debut and bring filmed for reality TV. It was a pretty standard, no surprises, glamour strip with fans and a big champagne glass. Kind of anticlimactic after all the silly fun we’d just had.

    Big thanks to Scarlett Letter and Chris Beyond for letting us play in their show and the entire cast for being so welcoming to a couple of East Coasters. It was a huge amount of fun and a great start to our little trip.

    It was very late by the time we got back to our hotel, foreshadowing the rest of our trip…

    M2

    Published in: on 1 December 2014 at 3:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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