Brrrlesque This Saturday!

Dear Constant Reader,

This Saturday, December 15 The Boston BeauTease present our winter holiday show at Deacon Giles Speakeasy Lab in Salem, MA! You can get a little taste of last year right here:

We’ll be presenting some of your favorite seasonal stripteases. As a special treat for good girls and boys everyone is bringing at least one brand-new act. Be the first to see them! I’m very excited to show you mine!

For an added bonus, we’re bringing The Boston BeauTease Burlesque Boutique! Browse our hand-rhinestoned ties, pasties, and other goodies to find the perfect gift for someone special, or yourself! I’ll have copies of both my Little Books too!

Get your tickets right here! There are only a few tickets left for the early show. The venue is very intimate and we tend to sell out, so don’t wait!

Entertaining burlesque plus creative cocktails — treat yourself!

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

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Published in: on 12 December 2018 at 10:23 am  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Here’s your tip!

You don’t have to move at the exact same tempo as your music.

Try moving at half time for drama or double time for excitement. Just make sure you’re still using the beat.

M2Like this tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Better Burlesque.

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 7 December 2018 at 2:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Review: Feuding Fan Dancers

Dear Constant Reader,

I know it’s been a long time (a year!) since I gave you a new book review. Here’s one for a brand-new, hot-off-the-presses book.

Zemeckis, Leslie. Feuding Fan Dancers: Faith Bacon, Sally Rand, and the Golden Age of the Showgirl by Leslie Zemeckis (2018).

I’ve enjoyed Leslie’s previous books (Behind the Burly-Q and Goddess of Love Incarnate) and this one is just as good. Her writing is very accessible and she brings these long departed people to life. The history of burlesque, at best a niche art, could be so easily lost and I’m glad these engaging books are capturing precious bits of information and bringing them to a wider audience.

We all know Sally Rand as the most famous fan dancer of all time. But was she the first? Faith Bacon, a beautiful, but fragile showgirl, seems to have originated the feathered tease. Zemeckis follows the lives and careers of both women through triumph and catastrophe. In a simple summation one could say that Faith had a tragic life, overshadowed by the successful Sally, but there is more to the story.

Faith Bacon was considered one of the most beautiful women of her time and her daring suggestion that she use fans to cover her nude body should have cemented her place as a star on stage. Sadly, drug addiction, poor choices, and plain bad luck dragged her into obscurity and a short life. Sally Rand, less attractive but more vivacious, by determination and ambition, made the fan dance synonymous with her name.

You can see to the right a souvenir lamp from the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair from our collection. It’s just labeled “The Fan Dancer”, but is always identified as Sally Rand, despite the fact that both women performed at that event. One could say Sally had the success story, as she had a long life, performed for most of it, and is remembered today, but she had her share of hardships. She was constantly performing because she was chronically running out of money.

Although the fan dance has become a staple on the burlesque stage, neither woman would have considered herself a burlesque performer. They didn’t strip, but used the fans to conceal and tease. Faith was a showgirl, performing for Ziegfeld and Carroll, while Sally, after struggling in Hollywood, found her place performing at World Fairs and Expositions.

Telling two stories in alternating chapters is a challenge for a writer and sometimes feels forced (I’m looking at you, Thunderstruck) but these two women did have lives that ran in parallel, met, intertwined, and ultimately diverged. Since more than century has passed since the birth of the feuding fan dancers there were fewer eyewitness accounts that in the author’s other two books, but she fleshed out the stories with many other sources. If you love the fan dance or burlesque history in general, this is a must read.

Just for fun, here I am with the author at her book event in Cambridge.

Leopard-print forever!

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 5 December 2018 at 3:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Last Friday I was in New York and visited The Museum at FIT to see the costume exhibit Pink: The History of a Punk, Pretty, Powerful Color. I’m always impressed with the striking items on display at the museum. One of them inspired this tip.

Varying the amount of embellishment can have great impact.

The photo is from a Dior gown and I was really struck by how the varied embellishments on those petals add interest and depth without completely obscuring the base fabric. They are thickly decorated around the outside, but taper off toward the center. We may not be Dior, but we can still try the technique. I think it’s more interesting and creative than encrusting with rhinestones.

M2Like this tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Better Burlesque.

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 30 November 2018 at 3:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

Winnipeg International Burlesque Festival 2018

Dear Constant Reader,

I’m sorry this has taken so long to write, but several crises interrupted my life after I returned from Manitoba, Canada to perform at the 3rd annual Winnipeg International Burlesque Festival. It was a great time.

First of all, I love to travel to perform. I especially love to go places I’ve never been before and Winnipeg was definitely on that list. I’m delighted to be able to say I’ve now performed in three Canadian provinces (and visited a fourth).

I realized this was going to be a bit of a whirlwind trip, just under 48 hours, so I decided I could do the whole thing with a carry-on. It was only one costume, albeit a very full gown and a fur wrap, and no props. And bonus, I didn’t have to pay to check a bag.

I arrived Friday morning after a disgustingly early flight and was really grateful that the hotel not only let me get into a room before check-in time, but they upgraded us to a suite to do so. My roommate for the weekend was the delightful Ruby Mechant, who also played tour guide a bit, as she had been to the festival before.

My performance slot was Friday night. It was early in the first act, so I didn’t have too much time to fret as I waited to go on. The venue is very nice — raked seating, real dressing rooms with lots of mirrors, huge stage, great lighting. It’s called Gas Station Arts Centre, so I assume it was once a gas station, but you couldn’t tell.

My performance (Mina in Furs) drew lots of cheers during and lots of praise afterwards. The audience was so great and I was so into performing, that I completely forgot the moment early in the routine when I scoop up my fur stole (I enter with it dragging behind me) until the moment that I was supposed to fling it off myself again. I was really kicking myself and I can’t bear to watch the video. However, I do love this action shot from Dano Tanaka.

After intermission I slipped into the theatre to see the second half. My favorite act of the night was Delilah’s Le Morte de Corbeau. It’s a simply stunning performance and circumstances have prevented me from seeing it from the audience until now.

I know it’s a cliche to say that Canadians are nice people, but everyone I met at the festival was SO nice and welcoming. We got these cute handmade swag bags with useful little items, like a notebook and glitter. Oh, and a performer badge! I love those. There’s something about having that round my neck and flashing it to the ushers or security that makes feel like a rock star.

Saturday afternoon were the workshops. I’m really grateful to Dixie Cups for rearranging things so that I could teach “Who’s Who in Classic Burlesque”. She went out of her way to get me on the schedule and to make sure I had a projector. Communicating about these arrangements was hampered by the fact that apparently my email no longer likes to talk to Gmail, so I doubly commend her patience with me when it seemed like I was ignoring her emails.

We had a great turn out and I was so thrilled that my slide show worked perfectly. I mention this because I agonized over it. I had upgraded my slideshow to include video clips of the performers, which worked great on my computer at home. However, I run the presentation off my tablet when traveling and no matter what I tried, I could not get the videos to play. Thanks to a suggestion from Scratch, I saved all my slides as images and dropped them and the videos into a photo album resident on the tablet. Not only did it work, but I was having data issues, so I wouldn’t have been able to reach anything cloud-based anyway. Oh, technology!

Saturday night I got to relax and just enjoy the show. Best of all, I got to catch up with Delilah, whose company I always enjoy. The show was, as usual for festivals, a mixed bag. There were acts I liked very much and some that were not to my taste at all. I’m always happy to see the different styles and get some inspiration. I was a little surprised that several of the performers, particularly the invited guests, did the same acts on Friday as on Saturday. It seems like an odd production choice when encouraging the audience to buy tickets for both nights. The audience did get their money’s worth, however. The shows were good and long with, as I said, many different styles of performance.

I reluctantly skipped the after-party, since Ruby and I had to get up pretty early the next day for our flights back to the States. And before I knew it, I was home.

I’m glad I went. Not only was it a lovely experience, I can’t think of any reason I might have otherwise ended up in Winnipeg. It’s great to experience new places. I’m hoping to continue traveling in the year to come. (Hint, hint — book me…)

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 27 November 2018 at 3:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! For those of you who celebrated, I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving and had some quiet time to reflect on the things for which you are grateful. If yesterday wasn’t a holiday for you, I hope you had a pleasant Thursday and you also had some quiet time to reflect on the things for which you are grateful. It’s just something we should do more often. Here’s your tip!

Give your costume a holiday makeover.

It’s a busy time of year for many performers and holiday-themed acts are much in demand. However, it doesn’t always make financial sense to have a costume you only pull out for a few weeks a year. Instead, if you can, give an existing costume a temporary make-over with appropriate trimmings and accessories to fit the bill. Craft stores are full of shiny sparkly things that just scream “winter gift giving occasion and other celebrations” and many of them even clip on or can easily be temporarily attached.

M2Like this tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Better Burlesque.

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 23 November 2018 at 11:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! We got our first snow here on the East Coast! And then it poured rain, so no Winter Wonderland for us. Here’s your tip!

Learn the basics of audio and video editing.

It will make your life so much easier if you can make simple edits yourself, like trimming a video clip or joining two tracks.

M2Like this tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Better Burlesque.

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 16 November 2018 at 2:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Well, it’s Friday and I was supposed to be sending you this tip from BurlyCon. Instead, I’m at home. Why? That’s today’s tip.

Sometimes heroic measures are not called for.

In the performing arts we talk a lot about the heroic measures that performers take when they are sick or injured to make sure the show goes on. Sometimes it’s necessary, as anyone who’s ever pushed through on stage with a sore throat or a pulled muscle knows.

Sometimes it’s not heroism, it’s foolishness. Continuing to perform when you are very sick or severely injured can making things worse for you. You’re lengthening your recovery time and, in the case of illness, exposing others. Taking the time to rest and recover is important. And you know what is heroic? Finding a replacement if you have to drop out of a gig.

This is why I’m not at BurlyCon. On Halloween I developed a cough that rapidly got worse. I was determined to fulfill my obligations and go to BurlyCon to teach my classes and distribute my books. We worked so hard to get the new book ready in time.

About 5 hours before I was going to leave for the airport, I realized this was dumb and also selfish. Exposing my already weakened immune system to the stresses of two flights and a hotel full of people was probably going to make me sicker. Not to mention that I just wouldn’t be able to enjoy the event or get much value from it. I can barely go 5 minutes without coughing — how was I supposed to take classes, let alone teach? And despite any precautions I might take, I’d probably pass this charming virus along to some of my fellow burlesquers. Not cool.

So I’m home. I’m not happy about it, but I’ll be spending my “vacation” continuing to try get healthy. And just a reminder, get travel insurance.

M2Like this tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Better Burlesque.

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 9 November 2018 at 11:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Here’s your tip!

Structure your experience! When creating a new routine, set small deadlines for completion of elements of the process.

Instead of just one big end deadline (everything completed and stage-ready!), set smaller goals along the way. When are you gong to have a minute of the choreography completed? When is the main costume item going to be wearable? When do you show the act for feedback? Taking smaller bites makes the project more manageable and avoids last minute panic.

If you want to be coached through this process, join me at Burlesque Your Way at The Boston Academy of Burlesque Education, starting this Tuesday.

M2Like this tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Better Burlesque.

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 2 November 2018 at 2:08 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! I want to thank everyone who pledged to support my new little book. We’re finishing up the layout and getting it ready for the printer now! It’s been an incredibly stressful couple of weeks and I really appreciate all the support.

Now for your tip!

Miss MIna WriterKeep a costume inventory.

We all have tons of costumes and few of us can dedicate an entire room to storing them. How many time have you been unable to find a garment you know you have or turned up an item you had forgotten all about while searching for something else.

Keeping track is much easier when you have a list of everything. This can be as simple as a list in a notebook or a database with photographs, locations, and cross-references. You can even make it part of a check-in system, so you know after a show that everything is back where it’s supposed to be.

It’s a big job, so I suggest doing it a bit at a time. One day inventory just your gloves or everything you keep in that box (and then label the box). Before you know it, you’ll have an inventory of all your costumes. And maybe you’ve culled some unwanted items or filled in some gaps along the way .

M2Like this tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Better Burlesque.

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 26 October 2018 at 3:32 pm  Leave a Comment