Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

It’s Friday again! For this week’s tip, I’m drawing on something Betty taught us during Wednesday’s rehearsal.

Have a go-to move or combination you can draw upon if you get lost in the music or forget your choreography.

Confidently go forward with that bit of dance which you know so well while you figure out where you are and then jump back on track again. The audience will never know anything was amiss.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 15 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 21 January 2022 at 1:51 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Practicing Improvisation

Dear Constant Reader,

Tonight we have our first show with a jazz quartet at Flying Embers!

When working with live music, you have to be prepared for anything to happen and may need to improvise. Betty happens to be a master of improvisational dance. But being able to improvise takes practice. I know that sounds a little contradictory, but it’s true. I was part of a commedia dell’arte troupe and we improvised entire plays from a mere tissue of an outline. We also rehearsed a lot. So that when we really needed to create an entire play out of nothing on no notice (someday I’ll tell you my September 11th story — it’s long, but worth it) we could do it and it would be one of the best thing we ever did. But back to the burlesque.

Last night Betty gave us a lesson on improvisation in burlesque. She discussed some of the situations one might end up in, like finding your place in the music when the arrangement isn’t exactly what you expected. She ran some exercises and we all contributed some ideas. The key, of course, is that the audience should never know anything is amiss. I think three out of the four of us at rehearsal last night have some experience with live music, but the practice was welcome, especially right before a show.

Want to see how we do? Join Betty and me tonight! Can’t make it? We’ll be livestreaming through FaceBook.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 15 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 January 2022 at 11:46 am  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

It’s Friday again! How does this keep happening? Here’s your tip!

Clean your iron.

The sole plate can get caked with starch and other residues and the steam vents might be clogged with mineral deposits. A dirty iron can transfer schmutz to your beautiful fabric or garments.

First clean the tank by filling it and then turning the iron on. Hit the steam until all the water is gone.  Ironing an old towel helps catch any deposits that are flushed out. Turn the iron off, let it cool, and empty any remaining water. If there’s any crud in the steam vents, use a cotton swab to get it out.

Then clean the sole plate. I recommend checking the manufacturer’s directions here.  You might need to  use a commercial iron cleaner — just follow the directions. Otherwise, dampen a soft cloth with distilled white vinegar and wipe off the sole plate. Rub with a clean cloth. More persistent stains can be removed by gently rubbing with a paste of baking soda and water. Wipe off with a damp cloth and then rub with a clean one. The important thing is never to use anything that might scratch the sole plate.

I’ve always been told that you should clean your iron once a month. Like that’s going to happen…

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 14 January 2022 at 4:08 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Burlesque with a Band

Dear Constant Reader,

As you might recall, last month we performed at Flying Embers Taproom and Social Club. (If you don’t recall, here’s a reminder).

We’re coming back, every other Thursday, starting next week, and we’re going to have live music!

It’s going to be a relaxed evening. Listen to the fabulous jazz quartet, have some delicious beverages (how about some hard kombucha?), and watch a couple of burlesque acts over the course of the night. And it’s free! (tipping is always welcome!) Don’t forget to bring proof of vaccination! This is per the City of Boston, so please don’t give the staff a hard time about it.

The first night, January 20, will feature Betty Blaize and me! We’ll be mixing it up every show, so you’ll get a different pair of dancers each time.

This past Monday we got to rehearse in the space with the band for the first time. Big thanks to Ashley who gave up her night off to let us do so! The chance to work with a band for a series of shows is wonderful. We can play off one another, especially when we get to know each other’s style a bit more.

Betty is the best of us for this. She’s a skilled improvisational dancer and, as a musician herself, knows how to communicate what she wants to the band. It’s a joy to watch her. As it turned out, she brought two costumes (we’ll each be doing two acts per night), but the band had three songs ready. This did not perplex her at all and she did a costume mash-up for the last song.

We’re also performing in the center of the floor, so there’s potential audience all around the room. We’ve got to make sure everyone gets a good view. It was so helpful that Ashley and her friends sat at some of the tables to give us some practice.

I’m really excited for these shows! Please join us on the 20th and every other week thereafter!

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 12 January 2022 at 12:51 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! It’s snowing like crazy here in Boston! I hope you’re snug and warm where ever you are today. Here’s your tip!

There are no mistakes, only happy accidents. — Bob Ross

Sometimes something we think is a bug turns out to be a feature.

For example, the other day Betty was rehearsing a new number. She mentioned she had forgotten her gloves and would pantomime removing them. However, she got so wrapped up in her dance that she completely forgot about the gloves until she realized had extra music at the end. So, she threw in the glove remove at the end.

It looked really good and Scratch told her to keep it in. She reworked the number to have the gloves come off last and it’s a stronger act now.

Don’t discount mistakes — they may be opportunities for creativity and improvement!

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 7 January 2022 at 2:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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New Project!

Dear Constant Reader,

I’ve embarked on a new crazy project for 2022! Last summer Scratch gave me a complete set of daily menu cards from 1914. I’ve set up a new site, 365 Kitchen Cabinet, where I’m posting a menu a day. But it’s not just what’s printed on the card! I’m also posting every recipe that I have been able to find in one of Fannie Farmer’s cookbooks from the same era plus some commentary.

It’s a huge task, but I’m having so much fun and learning a lot. I hope to have the time and resources to do some supplemental essays about some of the cooking techniques, products, and equipment of the time. I’m also hoping to acquire some of the more unusual ingredients and cooking implements for even more historically accuracy. I’m sure beating egg whites with a Dover egg beater is an entirely different experience than using my hand mixer.

The first entry has a video of me making Pineapple Cream — the featured recipe for that day. My plan is to cook and film at least one recipe a month. Wish me luck!

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 5 January 2022 at 11:55 am  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

At last we have reached the end of the year! Today I have more of a wish than a tip for you.

May 2022 be a better year for us all.

Happy New Year to each and everyone of you. Thank you for continuing to be here!

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 31 December 2021 at 4:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Also happy Christmas Eve to those who celebrate!

Here’s your tip!

It’s a dark time of year; provide a little light.

Feel free to interpret as you will.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 13 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 24 December 2021 at 1:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

Brrrlesque for the Holidays 12/16/21

Dear Constant Reader,

We had a lot of fun presenting our holiday show at Flying Embers. I’m especially glad we had the chance since who knows what is going to happen with live entertainment in the coming weeks. Big thanks to Jo Oltman for connecting us with the venue in the first place!

As performance spaces that aren’t really theatres go, it’s a good one. There’s a large open space in front of a projection screen, so we had video backdrops for the acts. A private back hall was turned into a dressing room for us. There were even multiple mirrors! And it wasn’t freezing, like so many winter dressing rooms I’ve been in. We set up a curtain by the side of the stage so we could have a little place to stash our props and robes (and masks).

There was a photographer there, and I even saw a little video of the end of my fan dance on Instagram, so maybe there will be pictures someday.

Here’s a brief recap of the show:

Act I

Alyssa Joy, Ava Fox, Odette Good: Booty Swing
Alyssa and Odette are two of our apprentices (the third, Lopez La Lopez, was manning the box office) and this was their first “real” show. They have performed with us before, as Expositionettes at this year’s Expo and in Vamps After Midnite, but that was like being thrown in the deep end. This was a more typical show and more relaxed. Everyone was adorable in their sparkly silver shrugs and red velvet skirts.

Betty Blaize: Winter Wonderland
A reverse strip! After a wild night, Betty gathers her scattered clothing and re-dresses in her evening finery, ready for her walk of shame(lessness).

Devastasia: Santa Baby
A song, no striptease. After getting to the venue, we discovered no one had the right cable to connect the microphone to the sound system, so Devastasia sang unamplified. And did a fine job — I could hear her in the dressing room.

Mina Murray: Mina in Furs
A classic gloves & gown strip in wintery colors with a luxurious fur stole.

Scratch: Magic
Something impossible involving gift boxes and some high-end presents.

Ava Fox: Gift-Wrapped Boy
This is a fun, high-energy tap dance and strip with a gift-wrap costume. Ava’s pasties even have jingle bells on them.

Mina Murray: Sugar Rum Cherry
Possibly my favorite fan dance. Only doing it once a year makes it that much more special. I was going to wear my new Manuge et Toi Eugie (like a g-string without a string), but chickened out at the last minute in favor of my trusty thong.

Intermission (during which I made a quick video for my Patrons and ate pizza. Not at the same time.)

ACT II

Betty Blaize: Blue Christmas
Mrs. Claus, as portrayed by Betty, has a secret! It’s not naughty though… she just prefers eight glowing lights to eight tiny reindeer.

Devastasia: Warm in December
A rare costume with color for Devastasia as she strips from chilly blue to hot flames. And her panel skirt is just magical. Trust me on that.

Scratch: Magic
A minor miracle involving cards.

Ava Fox: Riviera Life
It may be winter now, but Ava is a ray of summer sun on the beach.

Devastasia: Real Gone
A classic bump & grind act.

Mina Murray: What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?
I get to break out my champagne gown and best ostrich boa for this one! An exquisitely slow tease and a champagne toast.

We had a good time and so did the audience. Our only real issue was with the sound system. There seemed to be a problem with the bluetooth connection, so the song would cut out for a second or two. Fortunately, we know our music well enough to just keep going. And it shouldn’t be an issue next time, since we’ll have live music. Keep your fingers crossed that we can go ahead with our first show with the band on January 20!

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 13 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 December 2021 at 4:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! We had a great time performing at Flying Embers last night and can’t wait to be back next month. Thanks to those of you who came out!

Here’s your tip!

When sending out holiday cards, include the producers who booked you this year.

It’s a nice gesture that not only says that you appreciate them, but also reminds them that you are interested in their shows.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 13 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 17 December 2021 at 3:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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