Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Friday again. I’ve been wracking my brains for a tip. My only advice for you today is: 

Sometimes you’re not feeling it. Try again later.

Brought to you as the result of a not-so-great day.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 12 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 30 July 2021 at 4:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Video Vixen

Dear Constant Reader,

I have perhaps been writing you fewer missives than I have in the past. Part of that is that I haven’t been doing as much burlesque-related stuff in the past year and a half, but also I’ve been embroiled in some new projects for my supporters on Patreon. 

Long ago I made a video where I cooked chocolate pudding. I had no idea what I was doing — in terms of video making; I know how to cook chocolate pudding… I have a better idea now how to shoot and edit videos, but I’m still learning. Well, the best way to learn something is to do. About once a month I’ve been making a video for Patreon. Mostly I’ve been cooking a historic recipe that I’ve never made before and seeing how it comes out, including an on-camera tasting and reaction. However, I’ve also done some burlesque costume tutorials and craft projects. I’m also documenting the (slow) improvements and redecorating I’ve been doing in my sewing room/office.

There’s a list of all the videos on Patreon here. The list is public, but the videos are only available to Patrons.

I’m mostly filming and editing myself, although, when he’s got time, Scratch gives me some help and advice. I’m hoping to upgrade my equipment and maybe take some classes to improve my skills.

If you’d like to see what I’ve been up to, please join me on Patreon. Otherwise you can see my progress when I occasionally upload videos to my YouTube channel.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 12 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 27 July 2021 at 3:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

I hope you’re enjoying your Friday! Here’s your tip!

When applying skin care and cosmetics, consider your neck to be an extension of your face 

When you are applying moisturizer or sunblock or foundation, don’t stop at your chin! Your neck needs love too. Bonus points if you also include your ears and décolletage.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 12 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 July 2021 at 3:30 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Review: In Intimate Detail

Dear Constant Reader,

Another book review! I need to work my way through this pile with more alacrity as I would really like more space on my desk.

My love of lingerie began as a teen. I hated wearing pantyhose. As a short girl with long legs, I could never find a pair that fit me properly. If the waistband was in the right place, my toes were always poking through the fabric. The other option was to have the crotch at mid-thigh. I begged my mother to let me wear stockings. Despite rolling her eyes at my quaint request, she gifted me with my very first garter belt and I’ve never looked back! So, I was delighted to page through this book by the founder of The Lingerie Addict.

In Intimate Detail: How to Choose, Wear and Love Lingerie by Cora Harrington (2018)

This book covers all the main categories of underthings: bras, undies, shapewear, hosiery, and loungewear. The first several chapters introduce you to the lingerie by type. Have you ever wondered the difference between a balconette and a demi-bra? How about what exactly is a tanga? Each chapter has helpful hints (my favorites!) in the margins and lovely watercolor illustrations. Each one also starts with a brief history of the subject — you know how much I love history!

Each chapter has lots of information to help you make the best choices for the lingerie that’s right for you. Practicality for a situation as well as beauty is a key factor. The chapter on bras has extensive information on breast shape and how to choose a well-fitting bra. The shapewear chapter touches only briefly on corsetry, but that’s fine. Corsets are such a complex garment, they could be, and should be, a book unto themselves. 

Then there’s a chapter about shopping for lingerie. She gives advice for shopping in person and on-line, but also specialty items, like vintage lingerie and how to buy gifts for others. The main take-away in all categories is if you don’t absolutely love the item or the experience, walk away. Shopping for lingerie should be as enjoyable as wearing it.

The last chapter is on one of my favorite topics — care and storage. There’s how to wash your lingerie and how to keep it so it stays beautiful and wearable for a long time as well as how to organize you lingerie wardrobe. She also broaches the important topic of getting rid of lingerie that’s no longer in good condition or doesn’t suit you any more. If it’s beautiful, but you don’t wear it, it’s not doing you any good.

It’s an all-around good compendium, touching on many topics. There are is a lot of ground covered, so by necessity each section is brief. If you need a direct burlesque tie-in, the foreword is by Dita Von Teese.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 12 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 July 2021 at 9:51 am  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday!

Tomorrow I’m teaching a beading class at the summer virtual BurlyCon at 10AM (Eastern)/7AM (Pacific) (yeah, I know, but there are participants from all over the world). You can sign up a la carte or buy a weekend pass.

Here’s your tip!

Make a list of all your projects in progress and then prioritize them. 

Most creative people I know have several projects in progress. New projects are more exciting. Maybe you have a pressing deadline so that project jumps to the head of the list. Perhaps you don’t have the materials for the next phase, so you turn to something else in the meantime.

And the next thing you know, your project space is in chaos and you’ve got more unfinished projects than you realized. So, make your list and rank everything. Things with hard deadlines go first, but after that it’s your choice. Maybe you want to put the items closest to completion at the top, or the ones that will be most fun to work on, or the ones you’ve been putting off the longest.

Then dig in to your number one project and drag it over the finish line!

(Was this Tip inspired by actual events? Well, maybe…)

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 12 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 16 July 2021 at 2:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Red Hot & Blue 7/3/21

Dear Constant Reader,

Our first live show in front of an actual audience! Although it was a long, hard process to make that happen.

If you’ve been following these chronicles, you know we often perform in lovely spaces which aren’t really theatres. And this was no different. The hall upstairs from the American Burlesque Collection is spacious with a proscenium stage, but it’s not actually a theatre. Scratch and Hunter put in long hours making sure we had decent lighting (and thank goodness they had the luxury to do that instead of scrambling day of).

Still, there was a lot to do. We had to hang curtains in all the (huge) windows, set up the audio equipment (kindly lent by our good friends at Deacon Giles), set up the dressing room, set out chairs, assemble goody bags for the VIP guests, make a sign or two, and of course, rehearse, checking lights and sound as we went.

Our faithful stage manager Marek was working at his farmers’ market in NH (visit if you’re in the area!), so he wasn’t available and we missed him! However, we did have Sarah, the museum’s intern, and Gabe, a cast member for this show, to be the stage crew. And all the performers did their best to help them out with their first show, with Betty acting as a stage manager during the second act when she had a fair bit of down time.

By they way, those lovely signs on the easel that someone had to switch every act, were done by Devastasia.

Of course, it was pouring rain. Despite that we had a good turn out and even some walk-ins. And they were definitely enthusiastic! VIPs got a tour of the new exhibit at the museum — which I haven’t seen yet! — Lights! Camera! Burlesque!, showcasing burlesque as portrayed in movies, burlesque performers who made the jump to Hollywood, and filmed burlesque shows.

The show was a celebration of things summery and patriotic, which a little USO flavor. Alas, there are no photos, so you’ll just have to make do with my commentary.

Gabe & Sarah: Candy Butcher
This is a classic burlesque bit, where a fast-talking con man sells boxes of candy by promising ridiculous prizes in some of the boxes. This particular night, being “Bank Night” (sign by Devastasia), there is an additional promise of cash prizes. It’s all a lie. Gabe took the original script and ran with it. In true burlesque fashion, he improvised bits and added some physical comedy. Poor Sarah could barely keep up with the orders and plaintively asked backstage if there were any more boxes of candy. We were stunned that we’d sold all we had in no time flat. Gabe was a more successful pitchman than we expected!
A peek behind the curtain: The Uncle Sam’s Whiz-Bangs (with that All-American Flavor) were actually boxes of Starbursts with a paper wrapper Scratch designed (and your humble correspondent did most of the wrapping. Such a glamourous life!)

Betty Blaize & Mina Murray: The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Such a silly number. We created it in less than a week as kind of a throw-away act. Who would have imagined we’d still be performing it over a decade later *and* teaching it so others can perform it. It’s a bit unusual in that we do a spoken word intro. Also, many of those ridiculous hand-gestures are authentic 16th century mudras from classical Indian dance (of which Betty is an expert practitioner).

Devastasia: Cape Cod
One of the surprises of the Pandemic was learning that Devastasia has a beautiful singing voice. She sang in two of our recorded shows, but this was her first outing before a live audience. She did a wonderful job singing of the pleasures of a trip to the Cape.
A peek behind the curtain: Devastasia did all the audio editing to make the backtrack exactly what she wanted, including adding in the sea gulls and distant harbor bells.

Ava Fox: In The Mood
This was a great stage for tapping, so Ava let loose with this joyful striptease with a 1940s feel.

Betty Blaize & Scratch: Baseballs
A brief comedy bit that leads into the next act. We like to throw some comedy bits into a show in homage to the original burlesque shows, which were not all striptease.
A peek behind the curtain: Although we try to base our comedic interludes on actually comedy sketches from the Gold Age of burlesque, we have to substantially rewrite many of them as they are often too sexist, racist, or violent for modern sensibilities.

Betty Blaize: Stuff Like That There
Keeping with our summer theme, Betty appeared as a devoted Red Sox fan who gets so excited that her clothes come flying off. Betty made the entire costume, including the baseball bra and infield undies.

Scratch: Martini Time
Bottles keep mysteriously multiplying to the bafflement of Scratch and the audience.
A peek behind the curtain: this magic trick is choreographed to the song “Martini Time” by Rev. Horton Heat. However, in tech rehearsal, there was something wrong with the track — this is why you have tech rehearsals! — so Scratch used a different song in performance. Nobody was the wiser; he’s just that good!

Mina Murray: French Champagne
I love this act, despite its complicated set up. I felt badly about inflicting it on our novice stage crew, but they did great! What does it have to do with our theme? I’m cooling down with some ice!

INTERMISSION

Devastasia: Summertime
This is one of Devastasia’s most beautiful costumes — and has a lot of creativity in the construction! 

Gabe: It’s Been a Long, Long Time
We were fortunate that Gabe is a talented pianist, and the venue had a piano we could use, and it was in tune! Marvel fans might recognize this melancholy song from several moments during Captain America’s story.

Mina Murray: Too Darn Hot
I couldn’t do a show without including a fan dance. This one had been appropriate for the weather, until Saturday, of course. It’s always fun to include a little striptease while fan dancing. I used to do this act on a boat for Harborlesque, with Stella Diamond singing, and while I miss Stella, it was nice to perform it on a stage that doesn’t move.
A peek behind the curtain: the “magic” bra is a innovation designed by Manuge et Toi and constructed by me.

Ava Fox & Devastasia: Don’t Sit Under the Appletree
This act was created for L.D.R.: Love in the Time of Coronavirus, but this was its first outing in front of a live audience. Ava and Devastasia are military cuties, with a friendly rivalry.
A peek behind the curtain: Ava made those beautiful fans completely from scratch. She cut the acrylic staves, sewed the fabric feathers, assembled the fans, and decorated them.

Gabe & Scratch: Deductions
Another vintage comedy bit. They laid the groundwork for Scratch as the overbearing boss and Gabe as the put-upon employee during the opening of Gabe’s song above.

Betty Blaize: 1812 Overdrive
Despite the 1812 overture not being about the War of 1812, it has become an Independence Day staple. Don’t ask me why. Betty goes all out with a gambling-themed act including a huge stack of dice that she can climb up on.
A peek behind the curtain: Betty built and decorated those dice herself. She’s also the one who assembles them — if you need to trust the security of a set piece, you need to trust those who set them up. If this sounds like a Friday Tip, it’s because it is.

Ava Fox, Devastasia, Mina Murray & Scratch: Date Night
Another classic comedy bit. We did this one in The BeauTease Holiday Special where Devastasia actually got to say her scandalous last time, since Scratch could bleep it instead of having to interrupt.

Ava Fox, Devastasia & Mina Murray: Stompin’ at the Savoy
This is one of our standard adorable trios. Now that I’m thinking about it I believe we debuted this on the Harbourlesque boat at our tenth anniversary party. We switched up the look a bit so we were in red and in white and in blue.
A peek behind the curtain: Usually I’m in the center position, but I also had a red costume, so I moved to the appropriate end. The choreography is just different enough for the three positions that I had a heck of a time adjusting at first.

And that was the show! And then we had to strike everything and load out, so there wasn’t much time for more than briefly greeting our beloved audience.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 12 Patrons. Thank you! I appreciate you all 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 July 2021 at 11:20 am  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Tropical Storm Elsa is pouring down as I write this. I hope everyone in the storm’s path is staying safe and dry.

Here’s your tip!

If you’re going to throw something into the audience, lob it underhand. 

Whatever treat you’re giving out, whether it be candy, condoms, or what have you, you don’t want anyone to get hit in the face. A gentle toss is best. Also, make sure aim some goodies toward the back rows so the cheap seats have a chance to catch some too.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 12 Patrons. Thank you! I appreciate you all so much. To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 9 July 2021 at 3:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! It’s particularly happy today as the heat as broken and it’s pouring rain here in Boston. And tomorrow we have our first live show in 16 months!

Here’s your tip!

If you use a table in your act, bring a tablecloth.

If we need a table, most of us are going to be bringing a folding table or using something that the venue has. In either case, they are unlikely to be lovely. A tablecloth can disguise a myriad of sins and help set the scene for your act. A long cloth will also make under the table a fine storage space for something you need later in the act or want to hide after use.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 12 Patrons. Thank you! I appreciate you all so much. To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 2 July 2021 at 3:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Performing Live Again

Dear Constant Reader,

The BeauTease have our first live show* on Saturday! We’ve been performing throughout the Long Intermission — five recorded shows (and I’m pretty proud of how much better they got as time went on), but it’s not the same thing. Performing for a camera is not like performing for people. Live means no reshoots and no clever editing — what you see is what you get. Nobody is going to be watching the recording later; the audience that shows up that night is the total audience we have.

We went back to rehearsing twice a week. Besides dusting off our acts, we are also refreshing the rhythms of a show. Although we’ve kept practicing our dance moves and routines, that’s only part of what makes up a show. We have to remember how to set up the backstage, the most efficient way to change costumes between acts, how to engage the audience and react to their reactions, how to support one another before and during the performances, what equipment to bring.

It’s a brand new venue for us — upstairs from the American Burlesque Collection. So exciting! Scratch and Hunter have been working in the theatre to improve the lighting (and possibly other things that I don’t know about). We’ve left plenty of time in the schedule to try out the stage and figure out the quirks and advantages, but still there are likely to be some surprises (not necessarily a bad thing). 

It’s the magic of live theatre! I hope you will join us on Saturday! (VIP tickets get you a tour of the new museum exhibit before the show!)

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.

*Full disclosure, there were two live performances in early spring this year — one just me and one with the troupe. Both were small, private birthday parties, with safety precautions, but it was still very stressful and only served to remind me what I was missing so badly.

Published in: on 30 June 2021 at 11:44 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! It’s hard to believe June is almost over and July is right around the corner. I’m excited because the BeauTease have their first live show since Valentine’s Day 2020! Join us for Red Hot & Blue on July 3rd in Salem, MA! 

Here’s your tip!

The world feels like it’s starting to go back to normal, but doesn’t have to be the same as it was. Take some time to revisit your relationships — with your venues, fellow performers, producers, but especially yourself. This is a great time to re-examine and make changes. You’re not the same person; you don’t need to fall back into the same patterns.

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 June 2021 at 3:21 pm  Leave a Comment