Friday Tip!

Dear Constant Reader,

Never fear, my multi-part Expo report is coming. I’m just waiting for the photos to start coming back from our official photographers.

Here’s your Friday tip!

Live entertainment should be enjoyed live. No pictures please!

This is a special tip for audience members. Stop taking photos and video at shows. Just stop it. You’re annoying the performers and producers, getting crappy pictures, and missing the actual show.

Many shows arrange for their own photographers and/or videographers. Their job is to get the best shots that showcase the performers in the most flattering way. They are professionals with professional equipment who are often allowed special access to get those good shots. The producers, venues, and performers can then control what goes out into the wide world. Wouldn’t you rather see a clean, crisp, attractive shot of your favorite performer than your dim, blurry cellphone picture?

The Boston Babydolls are happy to pose for pictures after the show and we’ve started letting the audience take pictures of our final lineup at curtain call. But not during the show. As Scratch often says, we don’t come to your job and take pictures of you making fries, please don’t take pictures of us while we’re working.

We promise, we’ll make good photos and videos available to our fans, but they’re going to be ones we are happy with and have control over where they’re posted. We have actively gone after folks who post unauthorized video and the results weren’t pretty.

Assume that no photos are allowed at any burlesque show, even if the MC doesn’t specifically make an announcement forbidding it. I forgot to make that announcement when I was hosting on Sunday at The Expo and Security had to tell a lot of people to put their damn phones away. Even on nights when the announcement was made, some audience members ignored it. There were even signs posted at the Reg Desk/Box Office reminding people of the no photo/video rule. It’s just rude to think you’re so special that the rules don’t apply.

Besides, don’t you want to enjoy the show while it’s happening?

Next week, a related tip for performers.


Published in: on 27 February 2015 at 2:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Expo 2015: Prologue

Dear Constant Reader,

This was without a doubt the most challenging Expo since the first one.

Even if you’re not from the Northeast, you’ve probably heard of the crippling snowstorms that have hit Boston. As of today I think we’ve gotten about a hundred inches of snow and almost no thaw. There have been parking bans, collapsed roofs, total shutdown of public transit, giant icicles destroying cars, nowhere to put the snow — it’s a mess.

Trying to get tech gear from the various storage units to the hotel in the snow and bitter cold was a nightmare. No fewer than 2 dozen performers canceled. Some of our mainstay staff members, like Linda B., Mr. Wrong, and Marek, couldn’t make it for various reasons (and none of them were happy about it). Volunteers were scarce. Ticket sales were down. The hotel was not always so helpful and sprung some surprise charges.

And yet, we pulled it off again. And people seemed to have a really good time, despite the weather.

As predicted, the event lost quite a bit of money, but Scratch is doing it again next year, for the 10th time. He’s got all sorts of ideas to make it even more special. If you had a good time this year, if you want to come next year, please consider donating a little to the Expo fundraising efforts. Just a few bucks can add up, but if you’re a high-roller, there’s a special one-of-a-kind reward from Blaze & Red Rose Regalia.

Thanks for your indulgence and I’ll start my blow by blow report soon!


Published in: on 25 February 2015 at 11:40 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

The Great Burlesque Exposition of 2015

Dear Constant Reader,

Just in case you missed me saying so forty thousand times, this past weekend was The Great Burlesque Exposition of 2015. I’m exhausted, sore, and generally brain-dead, so I’m afraid if I start thanking people now, I’ll forget someone vital and feel terrible. As I report on the weekend in my next several missives, you’ll see me call out a lot of fabulous people who made The Expo the wonderful event that it is. But there are a few who I personally owe a debt of gratitude above and beyond:

Diamond DeVille for doing absolutely anything and everything from working backstage to teaching to cutting my hair. And doing it so cheerfully and eagerly.

Betty Blaize for making the website happen. You guys have no idea how hard Betty has been working for the past year. Pretty much as soon as last year’s Expo ended, she and her team began creating a brand new site, through which *everything* can be done. During that year she’s had major crises in both her professional and personal life, but she never stopped coding. And then when The Expo came around, she spent most of it trapped behind the Registration Desk because we were short on volunteers.

Chef Robert Daugherty at the Hyatt for creating the wonderful treats at my Tea Party and all the other catered events.

And of course, Scratch, without whom none of this would be possible.


Published in: on 24 February 2015 at 11:35 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday Tip!

Dear Constant Reader,

The Great Burlesque Exposition of 2015 is here! I hope I see you this weekend.

Here’s your tip:

Volunteering is sexy.

Events like The Expo run on volunteer labor and you can be part of what makes the event great. Just donate a few hours of your time and you can make a big difference. As they say, many hands make light work. You can put your skills to use, learn new ones, see behind the scenes, meet new people, and generally get that sense of satisfaction from having done a good thing. Sometimes you get a reward, like a t-shirt or a free ticket, but the real reward is a successful event, thanks to you!


Published in: on 20 February 2015 at 11:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Snow. What else is there?

Dear Constant Reader,

Since you last heard from me, Bumps upon a Grind had its last show on Valentine’s Day, as planned, but The Mardi Gras Ball was postponed until March. As for the current state of Boston, go watch this video and add two more feet of snow to those images. It’s beyond horrible.

Fortunately, this weekend is The Great Burlesque Exposition. Hopefully enough people will be willing to venture out of their snug home and come on out for some fabulous burlesque, classes, and shopping. I hope so, because I want there to be an Expo next year too… You can help make that happen!

While I am eagerly anticipating all the shows, The Newcomers’ Showcase on Sunday has a special place in my heart. Many of my students are making their Expo debut and I can’t wait to see them strut their stuff!


Published in: on 18 February 2015 at 3:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Friday Tip!

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! We’re currently bracing for *more* snow this weekend. I’ve got my fingers crossed as we’ve got two shows on Saturday: Bumps Upon a Grind immediately followed by our annual appearance at The Mardi Gras Ball. I’m particularly concerned about Sunday. Our Burlesque Your Way students missed their last two classes, plus a make-up class because of the snow. We’re trying to hold yet another class on Sunday, but I fear for it.

Anyway, enough fretting, on with your Friday Tip!

A plastic cup makes a tiny trash can for your make-up station.

During a show, there are lots of showgirl droppings — the backing from pastie tape, cosmetic pencil shavings, spilt glitter, snack wrappers, broken hair pins, &c. I like to keep my space clean & tidy. Rather than make a trip to the trash can (if there even is one in the dressing room) with every little bit, I just sweep the detritus into a cup as I go and toss everything before I leave for the night.


Published in: on 13 February 2015 at 12:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

Support the Great Burlesque Exposition

Dear Constant Reader,

This has been a brutal winter in the Boston area. We’ve gotten more snow than I am tall with no end in sight. People are staying in, mostly because they can’t get out! And that’s really hurting The Great Burlesque Exposition. The event is going to be running in the red this year — and next year is supposed to be a super-special, extra-glorious, 10th anniversary event. But it can’t happen if the coffers are totally empty.

For the first time in its nine-year history, The Expo is running a fund-raiser.

Watch the clever video.

Read all about it.

Then, please donate. It doesn’t have to be much. Little gifts add up. If you can’t give something, please spread the word.

Thank you. This is a fabulous event and the burlesque world would be much diminished without it.


Published in: on 11 February 2015 at 9:38 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday Tip!

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Here in Boston it’s sub-Arctic outside, but I don’t care. I’ve got woolly leopard-print mitts to keep my hands toasty while I write to you. And tonight is the first performance of Bumps Upon a Grind, where I know our loving audience will cheer for us warmly.

Here’s your tip!

Use the right needle for the job.

When you’re sewing, make sure the needle you’re using is appropriate to the material. The wrong size or shape needle can really screw up your project. Today I’m going to talk about machine needles. Maybe another time I’ll hold forth about hand-sewing needles.

This is a really crummy picture I yanked off the Internets, but at least it shows some of the different kinds of machine needles.

They’re color-coded*! Isn’t that great? Orange bands are for delicate fabrics, blue bands are for medium-weight, and purple are for heavy-weight. You can also get super-light-weight (green) for those really fine sheers and super-heavy-weight (grey).

Red-topped needles are sharps for woven fabrics; yellow-topped needles are ballpoints for knits. There are also special needles for denim & canvas and for leather.

Lay in a good supply of the kind you use most because there is nothing more frustrating than breaking your last needle and seeing the project come to a grinding halt. You might be tempted to use one of the other types or sizes you have, but resist!

* This is the Singer color-code. Other brands of needles have different coding. I have a vintage Singer machine, so those are the needles I use. Singer surely doesn’t pay me to endorse their brand…

Published in: on 6 February 2015 at 12:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

In the Kitchen with Mina

Dear Constant Reader,

Saturday night I made a dessert I’ve been dying to try for awhile, sort of a baked Alaska with grapefruit. It was originally published in the New York Times on January 12, 1941. The recipe as it was printed is below my signature, if you’re interested. A modernized version was published a few years ago, which is what caught my eye.

We had a couple of lovely grapefruit at Stately Babydoll Manor, sent by my doting mother from Florida. I don’t care for grapefruit, but I really wanted to try this recipe. The sacrifices I make for my art.

Take grapefruit — use the pink or ruby red because it’s sweeter — and cut in half. Cut out the sections without slitting through the skin and supreme them (That’s a shorter way of saying to cut away the membrane between the sections). This is a lot easier with a grapefruit knife, which I don’t have.

Put the sections in a bowl and pour some brandy over them. Cover and chill for at least an hour. Keep the shells; you’ll need them later.

When ready to serve, turn on the broiler.

Make meringue by beating egg whites with a pinch of salt. When they’re foamy, add some sugar and beat until smooth & glossy. It should make soft peaks. You definitely want a mixer for this. Only crazy people make meringue by hand.

Dump some ice cubes into a small baking pan. Put the grapefruit shells on top of the ice, which helps keep the contents cold and stabilizes the shells. Spoon the grapefruit sections into the shells, leaving behind the brandy/juice mixture.

Put a scoop of ice cream on top of the fruit. The original recipe called for vanilla, but I used caramel swirl, for interest. Cover the ice cream and the whole top of the grapefruit shell with the meringue.

Stick under the broiler for about a minute. Really, only a minute. Keep a close eye on the desserts. As soon as the meringue browns like a marshmallow, it’s ready.

Put into fancy dishes (in the heat of the moment, I forgot about our lovely stemmed sundae glasses and just used ramekins) and serve immediately.

It was fabulous, and I’m saying that as grapefruit hater who’s not super-fond of brandy either.

I used a “churn-style” ice cream which has a lot of air whipped into it and it was pretty melty by the time I hit that layer. I might try a denser sort next time. I also might pre-scoop the ice cream and let the scoops harden up in the freezer until it’s time to assemble everything.

The brandy & juice that’s left in the bowl makes a pretty good cocktail, I’m told by one of my taste-testers.

A Dessert in Search of a Name

1 pink grapefruit
2 Tablespoons brandy
1 egg white
1/4 cup sugar
1 pinch salt
2 scoops ice cream
Ice cubes

Cut grapefruit it in half. Cut out the fruit sections and supreme them, reserving the shells.

Put the sections in a bowl and pour brandy over them. Cover and chill for at least an hour.

When ready to serve, make meringue. Beat egg white with a pinch of salt, until foamy. Add sugar and beat until smooth & glossy, with soft peaks.

Cover the bottom of small baking pan with ice cubes. Put the grapefruit shells on top of the ice. Spoon the grapefruit sections into the shells.

Put a scoop of ice cream on top of the fruit. Cover the ice cream and the whole top of the grapefruit shell with the meringue.

Stick under the broiler for about a minute, until meringue is browned.

Put grapefruit halves into shallow dishes and serve immediately.

Serves 2. Can easily be scaled up.


From Mr. Gonneau [Maurice Gonneau, executive chef of the Park Lane and the Chatham], too, comes a recipe of his own that’s a perfect party dessert. All of the fruit is carefully removed from half of a grapefruit. Seven or eight of the neat segments are soaked for an hour or more in brandy or in kirsch, then arranged in the bottom of the grapefruit shell. Over them goes a big spoonful of vanilla ice-cream, to be hidden under a fluffy meringue. The grapefruit, keeping cool in a pan of cracked ice, goes into a hot oven for two minutes so that the meringue may take on color. When it is as brown as a sun bather such a dessert is as impressive as that haughty bit, a baked Alaska.

Published in: on 2 February 2015 at 10:09 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday Tip!

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Here’s your New Year, New Habit tip:


Do you really need all that stuff in your act? Is every prop essential? Is every garment used to its full potential?

Paraphrasing the great Coco Chanel, take a good look at your act and take one thing out. You may find that you have more time for a skirt tease when you eliminated the glove remove that was kind of perfunctory. Or that you don’t need to have a full vintage bar cart on stage when all you really use is that one shot glass.


Published in: on 30 January 2015 at 2:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.