BurlyCon: Shopping

Dear Constant Reader,

My last BurlyCon missive is all about the shopping! This year vending started on Thursday and ended on Saturday (that being a one day shift from previous years). So, I had to adjust my strategy slightly, but still making sure to snap up what I couldn’t live without right away and then troll for bargains near the end.

And here’s my haul:

Roughly counterclockwise:

  • A photo of Bic Carrol
  • Rhinestone pasties from Delilah: She has such a beautiful eye for color. This pair of pasties had been jumping out at me all weekend. You can’t tell from the photo how *little* the stones are. The photo above is of her gorgeous table.
  • Quite a bit from Atomic Cosmetics: eye cream & eye makeup remover because I had run out. Lemongrass sugar scrub as a gift for Scratch. BB Cream because Dr. Jen sold me on it. This is my annual chance to try out colors in person, so I got the Atomic Fireball eye shadow pallette, and Sex Kitten lipstick. I wanted to match my on-stage lip shade and this was the closest one. Now I’ll think of Kitten DeVille when I’m getting ready to perform and that’s a good thing.
  • A bow tie from Haute Under the Collar: Scratch has a lot of ties from Iva & co. and he doesn’t usually wear bow ties, well, *tied* ones. He’s frequently seen wearing one untied, like a Rat Packer. This Tiffany blue one caught my eye and refused to let go all weekend. I’m not sure if Scratch ends up wearing it or I do.
  • A necklace & earring set from C.O.C.A: I have a lack of red jewelry and a lot of red costumes. If you look closely, it’s a firebird. It’s also quite hefty.
  • Grip Strips from Beauty Butler: This is the new accessory — strips to wrap around brushes, pencils, and other round things, rather than sticking on a patch of velcro. I made some elastic holders for all my pencils, but I’ll be using these on my lipsticks.
  • A bunch of hair flowers from Gothfox: these were gifts for the Babydolls. I also got to thank the owner for her beautiful work (and quick shipping) on the demonic pasties the Babydolls were wearing that very weekend.
  • Foam latex pasties from BodyFX: how cool and unusual are these seashells? I plan on wearing them with my mermaid tail in at the pool party at The Expo.
  • A g-string from Juliet: Most of the time when you see me on stage, I’m wearing one of her g-strings under everything else (and if all goes well, you’ll never see it). They make a perfect Thong of Last Resort.
  • A hair flower from Amber Ray: This time I got a *big* one. Most of my hair ornaments are small and dainty (like me), but sometimes you don’t want to be subtle and this flower is not subtle. It also has a big-ass clip which I hope means it will stay in my fine hair.
  • I had the idea of taking a silly picture of me wearing all of this stuff, but it didn’t come out so well. Just use your imagination.

    This year BurlyCon also had a library of books, papers, posters, and other ephemera. I have to give a lot of credit to Indigo Blue and Jo Weldon for sharing books from their collections to the public (well, the con-goers, anyway). I’m not sure I could be so generous with the contents of my library!

    And now I save my pennies to shop at The Expo in just a couple of months!


    Published in: on 28 October 2014 at 12:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    Friday Tip!

    Dear Constant Reader,

    One of the great things about events like BurlyCon and The Expo is that my stock of tips gets replenished!

    This week’s tip comes via Siren Santina and her class on merch.

    Take credit/debit cards at your merch table.

    Now I’m a cold hard cash sort of gal, but so many people rely on the magic plastic these days. You don’t want to miss out on a sale!

    It’s gotten very easy to accept cards these days, you just need a card reader and a smart phone. Lots of places offer CC services (Square, PayPal, Amazon, &c. I just heard Etsy got in on the racket). Do your research and find one whose terms & fees work for you. At B.A.B.E. we use Square, which Brigitte just loves*.

    Set a minimum price for using cards, because the processors do take their cut. That way you don’t lose all your profit to fees on a small item and if the patron really wants that item which is under your minimum, they’ll end up buying more.

    M2* She loves the selling part. I don’t think she cares what happens after she swipes that card.

    Published in: on 24 October 2014 at 12:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    BurlyCon: Sunday 10/12/14

    Dear Constant Reader,

    (You can ready about the rest of the weekend here, here, and here).

    Sunday I was actually going to sleep in, but completely failed. And there were no early workout classes, so I packed & puttered, checked out & checked my bag, and had a lovely relaxed breakfast in my favorite spot by the fireplace. Cherry almond scones are so good. Why have I never thought of making them at home?

    Pattern Making: Triangle Bras, Shimmy Belts, Panel Skirts (La Rose Muerta): I was really looking forward to this class. I’m a self-taught seamstress and as such rely heavily on commercial patterns. I’m a terrible draper and a poor drafter. The material was excellent, but the class was a little frustrating. There were a lot of people who didn’t seem to understand that this was a pattern making class, not a costume construction class, and that it was an intermediate level class. So, we got bogged down in questions from students who were in over their heads. We did manage to get through all 3 garments in the time allotted and I have *pages* of notes, especially on the bra. I can’t wait to give it a shot. And the instructor promised to email some info out to us.

    Then I got in line to sit for a while. Registration for next year opened promptly at 1pm and I was not going to miss out on those low-priced tickets. I had a book and lunch, so it was not an onerous wait. I was 3rd in line and easily got Scratch & myself all registered for next year. (Thanks, Red!)

    The Art of Hosiery (Kisa von Teasa): I was torn between this class and the one on wigs, but I was 20 minutes late and I picked the classroom with the open door. There were some really good tips about working with hosiery, including one that could make my life so much easier. And a very nicely produced handout.

    Merch and Promotional Items: Expanding Your Brand with Stuff (Siren Santina): This was easily one of the most valuable classes I attended all weekend. I am *not* a marketing person, but I got so many good ideas from this class. And she made her presentation available so I could share it with Scratch. Who *is* a marketing guy.

    I went to closing ceremonies just long enough to watch the music video being filmed and find out if I won any raffle goodies (that would be no*) and instead stepped out to help with load out. I had oodles of time to kill before my red eye flight, so why not.

    I’m an old hand at toting and carrying, after working on strike at the Expo for many years. Okay, so BurlyCon has a full-sized fridge, but at least there’s no black iron lighting supports. What’s the worst thing I had to carry? I thought it was going to be the dance room mirror, but I think it was the bread. Hospitality had so, so much bread left over. We *filled* someone’s car with baguettes, ciabatta, rolls, &c.

    And when that was all done, I still had hours & hours before I needed to be at the airport. Fortunately, there were a few people around to chat with until it was time to head out.

    The Jet Blue people do try to make overnight flights as comfortable as possible, but I only slept fitfully, even with my spiffy sleep mask. Not long after dawn broke, we touched down and thanks to the MBTA’s efficient system (in the case of traveling to & from the airport I’m not being sarcastic), I was home in no time.

    Where I was met by this handsome, but cranky gentleman
    who wanted his breakfast NOW thankyouverymuch.

    And that was my BurlyCon 2014. I’ve got one more missive — all about the shopping!

    * And too bad; the big winner got the contents of the VIP goodie bag and it had a cookbook in it. I love cookbooks.

    Published in: on 23 October 2014 at 3:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    BurlyCon: Saturday 10/11/14

    Dear Constant Reader,

    (Read about Thursday and Friday)

    Again I awoke early on Saturday to take an 8AM exercise class.

    Pilates (Peekaboo Pointe): Despite the 90-minute time slot, this was a traditional 45-minute mat class. Perfect! Exactly what I needed to wake up and get started. I love Pilates and really ought to find a regular class here in Boston. And Peekaboo is a wonderful teacher.

    Then a little breakfast with the Las Vegas Burlesque Studio. Thanks, ladies!

    Easy Tips for Burlesque Costuming (Bic Carrol): To be honest, I wasn’t going to go to this class. There was a chair dance class at the same time and I *love* chair. Plus, I’m a pretty experienced costumer. However, a conversation with Kitten DeVille reminded me what an important resource our Legends are and we should consider our time with them precious (last year’s Legendary Guest Wild Cherry passed away this year). I’m so glad I went! The class was really called “Stupid Tricks for Burlesque Costuming” and I learned so many short cuts and good ideas. I’ll never toss out coat hangers or empty spools again. And after the energetic classes of the previous day, it was nice to sit for a while.

    Grace & Poise: Body Mechanics for the Stage (Kristina Nekyia): We focused on different muscles and how we move differently when they are engaged. I was glad to have the opportunity to tell Kristina that working with her DVD had measurably increased my flexibility. I still can’t do a split (yet!), but I can do a backbend now (up from the floor; I’m still working on the standing thing…)

    The Mystery of Power, Stage Presence and Beauty in Gesture (Willy Barrett): I never miss an opportunity to take a class with Willy Barrett (aka Delsarte Master Joe Williams). This one was on the principals of a body in balance. I love watching people’s heads explode as they *get it*.

    Burlesque and the Mob (Bic Carrol): This was a fascinating and uncomfortable talk about burlesque back in the day and how it was controlled by the Mafia. Bic kept repeating “They owned you.” It was chilling and made me feel so lucky that I perform today.

    Then I had dinner with some old friends from school, A. & J. (I was a graduate student when they were undergrad) who were good enough to come all the way out to SeaTec. Well, they were headed for the airport anyway. After dinner, they went to the airport and I dropped in on the peer reviews. At least, I saw Ruby Lamb’s act plus feedback and Sam Antic’s act, but then A. texted me that she was back from the airport. We had coffee in the lobby for a while until I could see people in their jammies heading for the movie.

    This was my outfit for the movie: silk slip, Catherine D’Lish ostrich-trimmed robe, and marabou mules. And no makeup. Then I realized there was no way I was going to make it through the entire movie. So I put my elegant self to bed. I guess the cold I had the week before had taken a lot out of me.

    Only one more day!


    Published in: on 22 October 2014 at 3:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

    BurlyCon: Friday 10/10/14

    Dear Constant Reader,

    (My adventure started on Thursday)

    I woke nice and early on Friday to start with an 8AM class. One of the smartest things I did was bring some instant oatmeal packets so I could use the coffee maker in my room to have a hot breakfast.

    Morning Ballet Warm Up (Paris Original): I’m not an experienced ballet dancer by any stretch of the imagination, but I can follow along. I was a little daunted at the thought of a 90-minute class, but I’m tough. As it turned out, I lasted for half of it. It wasn’t that it was too hard for me (although it was challenging), but I was near the back of the room and I couldn’t see the instructor’s feet most of the time, thus making it difficult to properly follow what he was doing. Also, Paris has a tiny little voice and it was difficult to hear him from where I was. Maybe next year there could be a platform like in the ballrooms and a microphone. I’ll be back.

    Seeing as I had a free 45 minutes before the next class, I went to hospitality and allowed the Boise Bombshells to ply me with a chocolate muffin and mini-mimosa, thus spoiling all the virtue of my early morning ballet.

    Intermediate Modern Dance for the Burlesque Performer (Cherdonna Shinatra): I’m not familiar with modern dance, but the Babydolls asked that I take the class and report back. We did a lot of movement work, not surprisingly. The one that sticks in my mind right now was the “baby zombie walk”. We ended with a really interested movement exercise. I’m not going to give any details because I want to spring it on the Babydolls when we have a little down time (whatever *that* is).

    After this were the keynote speeches. It’s always so crowded in there that I decided to take advantage of the quiet and have lunch by a fireplace. BurlyCon had to scale back their outrageously lavish hospitality (not surprising — I’m surprised that the hotel let them get away with it for so long), but the hotel stepped in with a lunch buffet, so we could get something quick & hot.

    Massage: This year saw the first BurlySpa and I was going to take advantage of it! They were offering manicures, hair styling, massages, and sugaring, and maybe some other services I’ve forgotten. I had hoped to get my brows done, but at the time I made my appointment (soon after I arrived) they were only offering underarms and brazilians (later they added brows). So, I got a massage. I can count the number of massages I’ve had in my life on both hands and still have fingers left over. Sad, no? So I had my shoulders pummeled for 20 minutes and it did a *lot* of good.

    Burlesque Floorwork (Peekaboo Pointe): I love floorwork and Peekaboo is so good at it! I took a class with her at BurlyCon many years ago and could hardly walk the next day. This class covered different material from the previous one, so I learned new stuff. Yay! I brought a pair of kneepads this year and it made a huge difference. We did the same combination several times to different music and it was a really useful exercise.

    Basic Fan Dancing Using Marabou Hand Fans (The One The Only Inga): I use big fans and have for a long time. My intermediate students have started asking for a fan dance class and I don’t want anyone to have to invest in big fans for their first class. The technique is very different, so I sat in on this class to see if I could pick up some pointers for using the little ones.

    Then I dropped in on the end of the music video class and discovered not only was it going to be much harder than I could handle, but that session only taught half of it. I thought it was that you took whichever session was convenient for you, but it was actually a weekend commitment. Okay, cross that off the list.

    Can Can Kick It (Ariel Helvetica): This was so much fun! And so exhausting. We learned the basic moves of the can can: entrances, kicks, turns, and the importance of screaming. I’m glad it was the last class of the day because it’s unlikely I could do anything after that. And here we all are!

    So I went back to my room, took a hot bath, and then passed out for a while. I missed the class photos. Oh well.

    The theme of the dance this year was “Lust in Space” and I couldn’t come up with anything really spacy to wear. Brigitte suggested the Spaaaaace Apron (a strange costume piece we picked up somewhere). In the end I went with this evening gown because silver = space, right?

    There were a lot of really creative costumes from a variety of fandoms and original concepts. I felt quite under-dressed, but at least I could move around easily & dance. There may also have been a Princess Farhana cocktail (pineapple rum, coconut water, and pineapple juice).

    And tomorrow is yet another full day!


    Published in: on 21 October 2014 at 3:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    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  
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    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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