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.

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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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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