No Words

Dear Constant Reader,

I’m not even sure how to start this. Our beloved Albert A. Cat died a week ago after three grueling weeks of illness. We kept hoping he would recover and did everything we could. In the end, he was in his favorite place, on Scratch’s chest, as they lay on the daybed in his room. He went to sleep and never woke up.

For ten years he brought so much joy into our lives. His sweet nature and rakishly handsome looks made friends and fans all over the world. He was a very special cat and loved Scratch more than anyone in the universe. There’s a big Albert-shaped hole in my life and my heart.
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I am so grateful to my friends for their support and sympathy during this very difficult time. And it’s been longer than I care to think. Please be gentle with me for a while.
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So I hope you forgive me that burlesque, or really much of any of my usual interests, have not been on my mind much lately.

We are fortunate that we could give Albert the very best veterinary care. However, it was very expensive care. I do not begrudge a single penny, but The Manor’s coffers are depleted. I feel a bit vulgar bringing up finances, but if you wanted to buy a book or arrange for private lessons or join my Patreon or shop my closet or bookshelves, it would be appreciated. Scratch reminds me that the Go Fund Me he set up for Albert’s thyroid treatment (was that really less than a year ago?) is still open.

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I miss our handsome boy so much.

M2

Published in: on 20 May 2022 at 4:11 pm  Comments (1)  

Brief Update

Dear Constant Reader,

I’m sorry for the lack of missives, but my heart just hasn’t been in it. Our beloved Albert A. Cat is declining rapidly. We’re holding out hope for a recovery, but it’s emotionally and physically exhausting nursing him and worrying.

On top of that, both Scratch and I were sick, one right after the other. He had something minor that cleared up in a couple of days. I had Covid. Although it’s now been long enough that it’s safe for me to be around others, I’m still recovering and get tired very easily.

I’m not okay and probably won’t be for a while.

M2

Published in: on 13 May 2022 at 1:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

It’s been a really rough week. Thank you to everyone who reached out in one way or another. I appreciate all your good thoughts and well wishes.

I’ve probably given you this tip in one form or another, but it’s worth saying again.

You don’t have to do everything yourself. Ask for help. Even if it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard.

Be kind to each other.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 16 Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 29 April 2022 at 5:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Things are not so great right now and I wasn’t sure I could come up with a Friday tip. As usual Scratch came to my rescue with this one.

Hope for the best; prepare for the worst.

Although this is what I’m doing in my personal life, it also translates to performers and producers. What could go wrong? You forget a costume piece. A performer no-shows. The audience isn’t what you expected. &c. And then what do you do about it?

Hopefully everything will go smoothly, but you’ve got a plan in place in case they don’t.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 16 Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 22 April 2022 at 9:33 am  Leave a Comment  
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RVA Burlesque Festival 2022

Dear Constant Reader,

At the end of March I attended the first ever RVA Burlesque Festival in Richmond, VA. I was so thrilled to be accepted — I’m hardly ever accepted to festivals, I knew four of the producers, and I’d never performed in VA before. However, the festival was originally scheduled for the end of March 2020. Needless to say, that didn’t happen. Two years later and it was finally time!

CaligulaI was performing in the Friday night showcase and flying down Friday morning. I was a little nervous as it was my first time flying in over a year and I had heard horror stories of long security lines and canceled flights. But everything went smoothly and I arrived on time. Which meant I had time to kill before I could check into my accommodations. Fortunately, I was staying a mere couple of blocks away from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and you know I can never resist a museum.

I had enough time to relax, have some lunch, and unpack before heading to the Dogtown Dance Theatre for my tech rehearsal. The venue is a real theatre — professional lighting, wings with multiple legs, backstage cross, marley floor. After so often performing in makeshift spaces, this was exciting! We also got a really nice swag bag.

QZJR3190With plenty of time before the show, I hung out in the dressing room, which was well stocked with snacks and drinks. One of my favorite parts of festivals is seeing colleagues from around the country and meeting new folks. I spent a good deal of time chatting with Lady Fingers, from New York who was set up next to me. It was great to see Ember Sky, recently moved to Boston from Seattle, and Murphy Lawless, who I met at the NOLA Burlesque Retreat.

BackstageThe venue required masks, except on-stage, so I made one to go with my costume. Because I was on second after intermission I was able to watch the first half of the show and saw the above-mentioned three performers before deciding I needed to give my feet a break before it was my turn to hit the stage.

It was a thrill to perform in front of an audience in new city. I’ve been performing this number a lot recently, so between that and the great introduction from Ego Von Hubris, I felt completely confident. The audience was terrific, lots of cheering! Unbeknownst to me, there was a photographer there from the Richmond Times-Dispatch and two pictures of me ended up in their piece.

624479d6ae707.imageHere’s one of them, by Eva Russo from Richmond.com

DSC03989This one is from Milotic D Photography, the festival photographer.

It was a late night, made later when the occupants above my room came home very loudly at 2am, but I was still up bright and early to get a fried chicken biscuit and some tea from Early Bird Biscuit Co. before heading out for the Playing with Panels class with Lottie Ellington.

It was so good to see Lottie again! The class was a lot of fun and gave me some ideas to up my panel skirt game. It was even better to spend a little time with her afterwards, catching up and hearing the  latest about Miss Toni Elling.

One of my least favorite parts of festivals is that I’m usually traveling solo and I sometimes get a little lonely. There was no central place where everyone was staying, like some festivals, so it wasn’t easy to just hang out. In 2020, before the festival was postponed I had made arrangements to share a hotel room with three other women, but I was on my own this time. So I was pleased to join Ember Sky and her traveling companions and local friends for lunch.

PoeAfter that we went our separate ways because I had a very specific sightseeing destination — The Poe Museum. He lived a long time in Richmond, so they like to claim him, but so do New York and Baltimore. And let’s not forget that he was born in Boston and did his military service at Fort Independence, just a short ways from me. It’s a neat museum, spread out through several small buildings around a lovely courtyard. They have a number of great artifacts (and some filler and reproductions). I think my favorite was the candelabra under which Poe wrote “The Bells”. I wish it had been warmer, so I could sit in the garden for a bit. I was hoping to spot the resident black cats.

In the evening I returned for the second night show. Lottie Ellington had recommended Croaker’s Spot where I sat at the bar with a book and enjoyed a crab cake sandwich that was perfection. As thrilling as it is to be on stage, it was nice to sit in the audience and enjoy the entire show. It was a great mix of styles and some really creative performances. There were several that I couldn’t wait to tell the troupe about. I was particularly delighted to see Jaqueline Boxx’s headlining act. She’ll be completing for Queen with it at BHoF, but I’m not going (as usual) so it was a treat to see it live.

I lingered long enough to say my goodbyes, and have an unexpected and excellent conversation with Ellie Quinn, before returning to my lodgings to get a few hours of sleep before heading to the airport for a 6:30am flight.

Yes, you heard that correctly. I had to be in Boston in time to teach a 12:30 Introduction to Burlesque class and that was the only flight that would work. Happily, Scratch picked me up at the airport and took me out to breakfast before returning to The Manor so I could get a couple of hours of sleep before teaching.

Another rhinestone for my travel map!
Travel map VA

The festival was fun and ran smoothly (at least from my perspective). It was also very organized. I got my share of the tips within days and photos shortly thereafter. Video arrived only a couple of weeks after the festival. The only downside, as I mentioned above, was not staying in the same place as other performers and spending a ton on carfare. However, overall, a pretty great experience.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 16 Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 20 April 2022 at 5:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

It’s Friday! To some of you I wish a peaceful Good Friday and a joyous Easter. To others, Chag Sameach and a zisn Pesach! For everyone else, happy Friday!

It’s also traditionally tax day, so here’s a tip in honor of that:

If you are getting paid for your gigs as an independent contractor, set aside some of the money against taxes.

If you make over $600 for a particular employer, they have to file a 1099 and you will owe taxes on the income. I like to put part of every payment into a saving account, since I don’t know how much I’m going to make from whom over the course of the year. If I exceed the $600 in any case, I’ve got the money for the taxes. If not, I’ve got the money for me and it’s racked up an infinitesimal amount of interest.

(Note: I am not a tax professional)

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 16 Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 15 April 2022 at 3:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

It’s Friday again! Since I’m teaching a series of boa classes this month (Beautiful Boas, starts this Sunday!), I thought I’d give you a boa tip:

Want a big, fluffy boa without breaking the bank? Braid three thinner boas together.

Secure the ends with some hair elastics and you’re good to go! If the boa starts getting skimpy from feather loss (an inevitability), just thread another one through the existing braid.

Remember that the resulting boa is going to be shorter because of the braiding, so you might want to add some sort of extension on each end, like a big tassel made of coordinating marabou mini-boas.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 17 Patrons. Thank you so much! Welcome to my newest Patrons, Tammi and Althea! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 8 April 2022 at 3:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

It’s been busy! I had a couple of days to recover from the RVA Burlesque Festival last weekend, then last night was Burlesque with a Band. Tonight is Monster Truck Burlesque at Deacon Giles (it’s our April Fool’s Day show – there aren’t actually monster trucks, but there will be burlesque). Tomorrow I’m hosting a bachelorette party in a charming seaside town. Eventually I’ll have some down time…

Here’s your tip, courtesy of Mr. Scratch:

If you need a better grip with your slippery shoes, paint or spray the sole with a liquid rubber or silicone.

He recommends bathroom caulk, Shoe GOO, tool dip, or a leak seal spray. You can get any of these at the hardware store. Unlike scuffing or sanding or scoring the soles, you are adding a layer instead of taking away, which will help the shoe last longer.

If they are very expensive shoes, you should probably take them to a cobbler to have a rubber half-sole added instead.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 16 Patrons. Thank you so much! Welcome to Tammi and Althea! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 1 April 2022 at 11:52 am  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! This is coming to you from Richmond, Virginia where I will be performing in the first show of the inaugural RVA Burlesque Festival tonight. If you’re in the area, check it out!

This tip comes from Devastasia:

To make your shoes easy to put on, store them with a tennis ball in the heel.

If you’re going to take off your stockings (something Devastasia does beautifully), you need to take your shoes off first. That’s the easy part. Putting the shoes back on gracefully can be a challenge. And it’s always the heel that gives one grief, as it has somehow shrunk since the shoes came off a minute ago. The tennis ball trick helps the heels stay wide so you can slip them on with ease!

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 14 Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 25 March 2022 at 11:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Review: The Burlesque Posing Guide

Dear Constant Reader,

I met Stephanie May of La Photographie Boudoir at Michelle L’amour’s Stripper’s Holiday a few years ago. Since then I was fortunate to have a virtual photoshoot with her. As a photographer, she wants you to look good, so she created this resource to help.

Poing Guide coverThe Burlesque Posing Guide by Stephanie May Saujion of La Photographie, 2022.

The posing guide is available in print, as a PDF, and as an app. I only have the print edition, so I can’t speak to the other versions. It’s a full-color glossy magazine with  45 images of burlesque performers in various poses. They’re grouped by category, like standing, kneeling, crawling, &c.

Each page is dominated by a large color photo of a model with notes pointing out all the little factors that  make their pose great, like “toes pointed”, “hip popped”, “tiny smile”, &c. There’s also a small version of the photo without any of the text so you can see the pose without any distractions. Posing Guide page

Since all 45 photos were shot by the same photographer, there is a certain continuity in the photos, but they are far from identical. Some are coy, some are bold. There are varying levels of undress, but no nudity.

There isn’t a “how to use this guide” or even an introduction; it just dives right into the poses. Every page credits the models and lists their Instagram handle. The last three pages include a biography of the photographer and  thumbnails of all the photos with the models’ names.

If you’re planning a sexy photoshoot, this guide can give you some inspiration for your own poses. Major burlesque fans might want it just for the photos, but it’s really set up to be a resource for models.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 14 Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 23 March 2022 at 10:16 am  Leave a Comment  
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