BurlyCon: Thursday, 10/9/14

Dear Constant Reader,

Thursday morning came way too early and Scratch went above & beyond by driving me to the airport before dawn. I was shocked when I went through security that I could keep my coat & shoes *on*. I was sure I was in the wrong line…

Before I knew it, I was in Seattle (that’s a total lie — it’s a 6 hour flight and I didn’t sleep very well during it) and off to the hotel. To my utter horror, my room wasn’t ready. Big thanks to the hotel people who managed to get me a room only an hour later. I hear other folks had to wait much, much longer.

Hearing Your Choreography: Dance Making for Beginners (Jeez Loueez): I admit it — I’m a terribly choreographer, so any guidance helps. We did a useful group exercise in creating a short combination with certain parameters — we started with 4 poses and had to connect them while including a reversal, a level change, and a turn. Then we we had to present the combination with an assigned emotion. My group got “really pissed off”. That was fun.

Bump and Grind (Kitten DeVille): I know this sounds like a super basic class, but I was not going to turn down the opportunity to refine my moves with The Queen of the Quake! And my advanced students are studying hip work this month, so it seemed fortuitous. Kitten’s idea of a warm-up would count as a workout for most! Our glutes got quite a lot of attention…

Then it was time for the Vintage Meet & Greet and Birds of a Feather Caucuses.
This is my ’40’s-style dress worn with seamed stockings and Fluevogs. I made it myself, so I was quite flattered when someone asked if it was vintage. I attempted victory rolls which turned out okay considering my hair was very clean and I had forgotten to pack either hair spray or Betty Blaize.

The first set of caucuses were for length of time in the biz. I went to the “Seasoned” group (8+ years) where The One The Only Inga served us all chamomile tea (because we’re old ladies) and presented us with badges of honor. We all knew one another and probably could have sat chatting for a long, long time, but before we managed to get all the way around the circle with “how I got started” stories, it was time to move along.

Next up was “Eastern Seaboard” where Cherie Sweetbottom & Anja Keister made us play college RA games, silly fun. I discovered I was the sole representative of New England (who showed up — I know there were a couple more at the event).

No one showed up for “Gardening & Glamour” except Whisper de Corvo and myself, so we went to “LTRs”, mostly because I was wondering what it stood for. Answer: Long Term Relationships. And then “Crafters/DIY” which I left before it ended. It was a large group and the introductions kind of devolved into “my life story via crafting” and I was too tired to keep sitting.

There were peer reviews after that, but I’d gotten up 18 hours before and my enormous bed was calling me. Lots more tomorrow!


Published in: on 20 October 2014 at 3:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

Friday Tip!

Dear Constant Reader,

Tonight is Out For Blood in Brattleboro, VT and at this moment I’m hauling lights and other gear into the theatre, but I would not forget your Friday tip.

Swarovski is not the be-all & end-all

Can’t break the bank on rhinestones? It’s okay. Use a variety of stone quality and you’ll actually make a more interesting visual. The crystals will stand out like a showgirl against a chorus line and really sparkle.


Published in: on 17 October 2014 at 11:00 am  Leave a Comment  

A Brief Appeal

Dear Constant Reader,

I know you are desperate to hear about my glitter-drenched weekend at BurlyCon, but first I have some serious stuff to tell you about.

You all know about my deep and true love of Atomic Cosmetics in Seattle, healthy, non-toxic skin care and cosmetics, aimed at the burlesque & drag community, but with serious science behind everything. I went on a little shopping spree at BurlyCon — you’ll hear all about that later.

I was devastated to get home and learn that the business was in financial peril!

Dr. Jen is smart (Ph.D. in Biochemistry/Biophysics!) and talented and the business is expanding. However, they were counting on a business loan to fund that growth and it fell through. Without that money, the store can’t stay open. This would be a tragic loss!

There’s a donation site set up, but it’s not just a hand out. In exchange for your donation, you’ll get a gift certificate for the same amount.

These are really great products made by great people and I want to see the business grow and thrive. So, please, give them a try. I’m happy to recommend my favorite products. You can feel good about supporting an independent, woman-owned business *and* do something nice for your skin.


Published in: on 15 October 2014 at 12:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

Friday Tip!

Dear Constant Reader,

I’m at BurlyCon right now, but not so busy as to forget your Friday Tip!

No act is every completely finished.

Even if you’ve been doing it for years, there’s always room for improvement. Add a flourish to the choreography. Upgrade the costume. You can tweak it in small ways to make it even better.


Published in: on 10 October 2014 at 11:00 am  Leave a Comment  

New York Burlesque Festival, Friday

Dear Constant Reader,

After the excitement of Thursday, I was ready for a more relaxed Friday. After a delightful breakfast in Brooklyn, some gaping at the fabulous view (see photo), and Scratch fielding a number of business calls (I won’t complain when it’s people who want to hire us), we headed into Manhattan to meet the lovely Mimi Mischief and go shopping.

It was mostly window shopping, but we did get some items to bling up our demon costumes. Eventually we were joined by Mimi’s very handsome swain, but too soon, it was time to return to get ready for the Friday night show. Brooklyn not being Manhattan when it comes to parking, we elected to drive, which was the right choice.

We got to Brooklyn Bowl while the opening band was playing and it was too loud for me in the main room. Happily, Delilah and her friend had a table out front and invited us to join them where it was fractionally quieter. The food was better than expected and the smoked trout salad was a real winner (thanks for the recommendation!).

The main room was *packed*, no great surprise. Thank goodness they were projecting everything on big screens or I wouldn’t have been able to see the performers from about the thighs down. We found a good spot was in the back, up a level where it was easy to see the stage and a couple of screens.

Amongst the acts that stood out for me:

  • Raquel Reed: beautiful costume and a great surprise. I thought she was wearing a full-skirted coat, but it was really wings, belted.
  • Tansy: an etherial tease in a elegant gown
  • Ivory Fox: beautiful pole work
  • Evelyn Vinyl: it was a striking act with all the electronics, but that was just icing on a really good cake.
  • Sydni Deveraux: just stunning. The embodiment of The Golden Glamazon.
  • Aero Trapeze: It was Harvest Moon and a name I didn’t catch. I was awestruck. They obviously had an agreement with gravity — they wouldn’t bother it and it didn’t bother them. So much strength & grace.
  • Apathy Angel: she blew me away with her asselling. Best I’ve ever seen.
  • Trixie Minx: a very cute first song and quite the stocking remove for the second
  • Ellie Dorado: it’s pretty obvious why she’s now the Queen of New Orleans burlesque
  • Jonny Porkpie: I really liked this number. Being a Raiders fan, how could I not love the premise. And the music was a great choice.
  • Dangrrr Doll: breakin’ the rules again…

I’m sorry we missed the Saturday & Sunday shows, but family and troupe obligations came first.


Published in: on 7 October 2014 at 4:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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New York Burlesque Festival, Thursday

Dear Constant Reader,

I was delighted to be accepted to perform at the New York Burlesque Festival this year, in The Teaser Party on Thursday night at The Bell House in Brooklyn. This is the same show I played 2 years ago, so I was familiar with the venue.

Thursday morning Scratch & I packed up Super Screen and the backlight and headed for NYC. Super Screen was supposed to ride of the roof, but due to one thing and another, it went into the Babydollmobile. Not ideal, as it just barely fits, but at least I didn’t have to worry about it up top.

Before going to the venue, we dropped in at Minnie Tonka’s place. Minnie had kindly opened her home to out of town performers for a little hospitality. It was a lovely gesture. She had found herself welcomed with open arms when traveling oversees and wanted to do similar. A little fresh fruit crisp, a little conversation, and it was time for my tech rehearsal.

I was pretty nervous about this act. It relies so much on other people (setting the screen, and the light, and then hitting the lighting cues). I shouldn’t have worried. I was in excellent hands with the tech crew. It even turned out that Scratch could do the lighting cues. I left the venue a lot more secure than went I arrived.

Because Scratch has excellent restaurant sense (it’s one of his superpowers), he found a barbecue place within walking distance of our parking space. I picked at a couple of lamb ribs, having returned to nervous, until we went back to the hotel for me to get ready.

With one thing and another, like the GPS having no idea how to deal with Brooklyn, we missed the first few acts and arrived near the climax of Legs Malone’s number. I honestly can’t do much of a recap of the other numbers as I was anxiously waiting for my time to go backstage.

But first, I participated in the Great Tassel Twirl Off. As many people as possible were going to get on the stage and twirl to “Bad Reputation”, led by who else — Jo Boobs.

(Filip Wolak Photography)

A few seconds in, my left tassel simply exploded. The pasties stayed on, but the tassel turned back into its component strands and fell to the stage. Still, I twirled away for the full 3 minutes with the sole remaining tassel. I know that doesn’t sound like very long, but trust me, it is. If you look very careful in the above photo, you can just see my leopard dress in the second row, between Cheeky Cheetah and Ruby Solitaire.

Before I knew it, it was time for my number. Everything went very well! The set up was fast. Super Screen worked perfectly. Scratch hit the lighting cues perfectly. And most importantly, the audience seemed to enjoy it.

(Filip Wolak Photography)

Besides being the debut of Super Screen, this was also the first appearance of what I was calling Baby’s First Merkin. For my non-burlesque readers, a merkin is a g-string without the string. I wanted to present a naked silhouette at the end of the act, without being actually naked (because one can’t be). The waistband of a thong tends to leave a little indent around the hips which is magnified in the shadow. So, I made & wore a merkin for the first time. It stayed on — I’ll call that a success!

After leaving the stage, I got a flying hug from international supermodel Sarah Hartshorne, who I was completely stunned to see. In fact it took me a moment to even realize it was her! That whole out-of-context plus dim lights plus post-performance daze. I was delighted she came out!

The rest of the show was kind of a pleasant blur as I enjoyed the acts on stage and the compliments from people off-stage, had a well-deserved drink and checked out the Scan-A-Rama.

And here’s the curtain call:

I bet you’re all dying to see my act and I won’t keep teasing you too badly. First I really need to thank a bunch of people:
Angie Pontani & Jen Gapay for inviting me to the party.
The Bishop of Burlesque & Scary Ben for making sure my set up went smoothly.
Steven Speliotis for the wonderful video.
And Scratch, for everything.


Published in: on 6 October 2014 at 4:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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One of those Glamourous Days

Dear Constant Reader,

This very weekend I was living the Glamourous Life. The Boston Babydolls are taking their show on the road again. We are putting on our Halloween revue, Out for Blood in Turner’s Falls, MA this weekend and Brattleboro, VT the following.

Everyone’s least favorite part of any show is promoting it, but it’s vital to get those proverbial butts in proverbial seats. And unfortunately, sometimes you’ve just got to pound the pavement. And always, the buck stops with the producer.

Scratch & I made plans to take the lovely show posters and scatter them liberally around the towns of Shelburne Falls, Turner’s Falls, and Brattleboro. And on a warm, but overcast autumnal Saturday, we headed west.

It started raining. And the further we went, the harder it rained. But promo waits for no weather. We slogged through the downpour, posters carefully wrapped in oh-so-attractive plastic grocery bags, asking at every open business if we could put a poster in the window. I have to say that the folks of Shelburne Falls are universally friendly and almost everyone agreed to let us put up a poster. And it was so hard not to browse the shops, partially because they were all nifty, but mostly because they were dry, but we were working.

It wasn’t all soggy drudgery. While there was no leaf peeping or sightseeing, there was a lovely respite at Lindsay’s Emerald Store and Confections for mini cream puffs and hot cocoa. As it’s the most wonderful time of the year, mine was a Frankenstein (mint cream & chocolate sauce) and Scratch had a Vampire’s Kiss (vanilla cream & strawberry jam). Also, they have *chocolate* whipped cream for the cocoa and a variety of flavored marshmallows from Sweet Lydia’s in Lowell. And if the weather is less icky, they’re a short walk from the glacial potholes (which I’ll have to see another day).

After Shelburne Falls, we went to Turner’s Falls to see the theatre. I’m pretty jealous. Not that I’m sorry I’m going to BurlyCon, but it’s a pretty awesome theatre and the ladies that are performing are going really enjoy that stage. And then on to Brattleboro, where besides putting up more posters, we crashed a lingerie shop’s anniversary party and snuck out when the fire department arrived.

And it’s nice to know the work pays off! While we were visiting the Shea Theatre, there was a call from someone who had just seen one of the posters and wanted to buy tickets.

I think I’ve finally dried out and managed to salvage my boots. It’s a glamourous life I lead!


Published in: on 6 October 2014 at 12:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Friday Tip!

Dear Constant Reader,

Before I get to your tip, I bet you all want to know what the finished Super Screen looks like! Well, you’re going to see it anyway.

You can see one of the old screens looking on enviously from behind.

And here’s your tip!

Know the story behind your act.

Why are you taking your clothes off? If you know your motivation, it makes for a more interesting number. No need to explicitly act out a skit, just understand how and why you get from the beginning of the number to the end. If you know, the audience will see your clarity of purpose.


Published in: on 3 October 2014 at 11:05 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Birth of Super Screen, Part 2

Dear Constant Reader,

When last we left our heroes, there had been a lot of cursing down in the workshop at Stately Babydoll Manor. Armed with more plywood and a better plan, we began again.

Here’s one wing, marked for cutting. Those holes are so we can cut out the center, leaving a frame. Well, Scratch did all the cutting with the somewhat-scary jigsaw. My job was holding the plywood steady, which mostly meant draping myself across the sheet of wood, pressing down with all my weight and clinging to the opposite side of the sawhorse. That was kind of exciting.

Tada! A cut-out wing! I love the graceful curve at the top. It mirrors the curve at the top of the front frame. Almost like we planned it that way. You can see how it will eventually attach to the front.

Once everything was cut, it was time for painting. I think the color is “Champagne Gold”. Seems appropriate, no? After a couple of coats of paint, it was sealed with some clear polyurethane.

Here’s the nifty part. Instead of using fragile rice paper, we’re filling in the frames with Tyvek. It’s strong and waterproof. While it was probably overkill, the Tykev is both glued & stapled in place. After the glue had a little time to set, we trimmed away the excess Tyvek.

And after the Tykev went on the main frame, we added some lovely oak trim to jazz it all up.

When everything was more or less set, we took all 3 pieces upstairs to attach the hinges. That was when we realized that the screws that came with the hinges were slightly longer than the plywood was thick. That was actually a good thing for the front screen because it further secured the trim to the frame, but it was going to cause quite a problem on the wings. Can’t have nasty sharp bits of metal poking out of my Super Screen!

Fortunately we found just enough screws left over from a previous project which were slightly shorter and added a tiny washer to make them shorter still. All was well!

And what did this magnificent creation look like when it was completed? Next time, my patient reader…


Published in: on 1 October 2014 at 10:35 am  Leave a Comment  

The Birth of Super Screen, Part 1

Dear Constant Reader,

For several years now I’ve been using a silhouette screen in some of my acts. It’s one of those lattice-work rice paper tri-fold screens you can easily get in a college town like Boston. But it’s far from perfect. The panels are a little narrow. The screen is a little short. The paper is delicate. It doesn’t travel well. Sight lines are often an issue. I’ve been dreaming of a custom-built screen for a long time.

At last, it’s time for Super Screen.

We started with a sheet of nice plywood, 1/2″ thick, that the lovely folks at the Home Depot cut down to 6′ by 3′. It’s not light. Carrying it down the basement stairs to the workshop by myself proved impossible.
First step, Scratch drew the outer frame. We’re going to use the wood in the middle for the side pieces (wings). Waste not, want not!

Then he drew the lines for the wing frames. We’ve been using a T-square that is conveniently the same width as the frame.

The top of the screen is going to be curved. The T-square is useless for that, so Scratch made a compass out of a piece of scrap wood.

Voila! Curves!

Once everything is drawn, it’s time for the scary part — cutting. That’s when we realized that despite careful preparations, we needed some new saw blades. It’s not a project until you have to run out to the Home Depot in the middle!

With fresh blades in the jigsaw (a vintage one Scratch inherited from his grandfather), the cutting began.

Look! A curve!

This is where I stopped taking pictures because things began to go awry. A clever plan designed to make our lives easier did not. And then… you know the saying “measure twice, cut once”*? Well, it has a corollary: “measure once, curse twice”. Let’s just say that despite a lot of measuring, there was a lot of cursing and there will need to be a trip back to the Home Depot for some more plywood.

However, the main frame of the screen is done!

More to come…

*You do, because you read my Friday Tip.

Published in: on 29 September 2014 at 11:10 am  Leave a Comment  

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