Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Here’s your tip!

Save your performance shoes for the stage.

They’ll last longer and stay cleaner if you only wear your dance shoes in rehearsal and performance. I know sometimes they’re so fabulous you want to wear them out, but pavement is no good for delicate soles. Also, you don’t want to be tracking outside dirt (and other things…ick) onto a stage where you may be placing your bare bum.

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.

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Published in: on 19 January 2018 at 3:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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2017 in Review

Dear Constant Reader,

twentyseventeaseLooking back on 2017, it was a mixed year. We had some extreme lows, but some great moments as well.

January
B.A.B.E. officially moves out of our dedicated studio and into The Thalia. While I’m grateful to no longer be responsible for so much (especially that much rent), I do miss having my own space.

Also this month we make a poor choice in marketing our February show. The backlash reignited the ire of the Boston burlesque scene against us and a number of former allies disavowed us. It was very ugly. I can barely even talk about it now, but at the time I was a complete wreck and strongly considered giving up burlesque completely.

February
The Expo, of course, is bracketed by snowstorms and attendance is way down.

We present The Road to Striptopia, a rather clever show, if I do say so myself, with a witty script and some fine performances by our apprentices. The audience is tiny, which is terribly disheartening.

Also, we see Dita when she passes through Boston. It’s an inspiring show, as you will see later.

March
I go to New Mexico for the first time. In short, it was beautiful. I performed in a new state, saw old friends (and met some new ones), ate great food, and had a hell of a time getting home thanks to an ill-time East Coast snowstorm.

April
Devora goes back to school and cuts back on time with us. We understand but miss her.

May
Inspired by Dita’s big props, we base a whole show on big props with all the cast members learning to build their own props. We work with wood, plastic, metal, papier mache, electrical, &c. The Big Time is a lot of work, but the results are impressive. The audience is tiny.

I launch my Patreon account.

June
Scratch goes to BHoF; most of the rest of us work RiverFest.

July
Now things get busy!

We go to Maine for a private show. Road trips are usually fun and something of an adventure and this is no exception.

The Mini-Expo was a chance to have some fun when it wasn’t snowing (although we kept the snowblower on the porch at Stately Babydoll Manor just in case. It’s wonderful to spend some time with Egypt Blaque Knyle.

August
The troupe goes to the Pennsylvania Burlesque Festival. Originally I’d applied solo and found out I was accepted before the deadline, so we also submitted as a group. I’m also invited to teach. 9 days before the festival one of the performers is too sick to continue. Betty & Brigitte rechoreograph our five person number for four and we all work like hell. We’re very pleased with the results.

I go to ABurlyQ. I’m very excited about this because it was my first festival acceptance in years. Also, it’s great to have an excuse to go back to NM. I see friends, teach, learn, watch terrific performances, and have amazing BBQ.

While I’m gone the troupe performs Cover Girls, acts to songs by artists who didn’t make them famous, at two new venues, Deacon Giles Speakeasy Lab and The Strand Ballroom.

September
We invite Devastasia to officially join the troupe.

We present Cover Girls at The Thalia and I finally get to perform “Bohemian Rhapsody in Blue”.

October
We perform in Salem on Friday, October 13th. The show is called Bad Luck Burlesque, but it’s good luck for us because we sell out both shows.

We are all too exhausted to produce The Wrathskellar this year, so instead Scratch writes Panties Inferno, a light-hearted romp through hell. It is very good and quite clever. And it completely sells out.

November
We return to The Strand Ballroom for another iteration of Bad Luck Burlesque.

We are invited to perform at RuffleCon for the third year, the best audience yet.

We invite Artemisia to officially join the troupe.

December
We aren’t planning on doing a winter holiday show, but Brigitte really wants to do her Christmas numbers. Brrrlesque sells out at both The Thalia and at Deacon Giles. I debut a new number and am quite pleased with it. (Yes, the photo is from The Expo, by George Ross. I didn’t get one in December)

We go to The Strand Ballroom for New Year’s Tease. It’s really cold and the audience is relatively small, but very appreciative. My troupe mates demonstrate once again that they’re pretty terrific people who work very hard.

In short, some good, some bad. I think things got better as the year went on.

Here’s hoping things get better and better in 2018!

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 17 January 2018 at 12:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! I’m still unpacking from The Expo, which reminded me of this week’s tip:

Wash your underthings as soon as you get home from a show.

I find the easiest way to do this is in the shower. I always take a shower after a show because I don’t like getting glitter in my bed. You can multitask and wash away the show residue from both body and costume bits. Hang your dainties to dry and in the morning they’ll be ready to go again.

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 12 January 2018 at 2:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! It’s Expo time! Of course, yesterday when everything was coming to the hotel for loading and many of the participants were traveling, New England got socked with a monster snowstorm — more than a foot of snow, high winds, tidal flooding, and of course the inevitable canceled flights. And The Expo had been moved* from February to early January to try to get ahead of the snow. (We haven’t had any major storms at this time for a couple of years, even the Snowpocalypse of 2015 didn’t start until the very end of January.)

That brings me to this week’s tip:

Mann Tracht und Gott Lacht (Man plans and God laughs)

I’m a big fan of advanced planning. Make checklists and contingency plans. Research and prepare. And then, sometimes you just have to throw up your hands and realize that circumstances have gone beyond your control. That doesn’t mean give up, just adjust your plans as much as possible. Be willing to be flexible and creative. And maybe laugh a little.

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.

*If you’re wondering why The Expo is in the winter, it all has to do with hotel prices. Trust me, we’d all love to do this in the spring again, but the hotel charges way too much for rooms then.

Published in: on 5 January 2018 at 11:21 am  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

As the year draws to a close, I’d like to thank you for being my Constant Reader. Without you, I’m just shouting into the void.

For your tip today I’d like to echo something I’d heard recently and which has stuck with me.

Be kind.

I hope you all have a wonderful, beautiful, peaceful, and very kind 2018.

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 29 December 2017 at 11:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! And a merry Christmas to those who celebrate it. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy your Chinese food and movie! Here’s your tip!

You don’t have to do it all. It’s okay to get help.

In burlesque, as in other fringe arts, there’s this DIY thing. There’s an expectation that the performer should also be a choreographer, costumer, producer, promoter, teacher, graphic artist, prop fabricator, music and video editor, roadie, &c.

Most of us aren’t good at everything. You can hire other people or trade your skills. It doesn’t mean you are less of a performer; it means that you know how to delegate and how to prevent burn out and frustration.

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 22 December 2017 at 12:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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In the Kitchen: Zuppa Inglese

Dear Constant Reader,

Last month we celebrated both Scratch’s & Devora’s birthdays and I made zuppa inglese for our little party. What?, you may ask.

True Italian zuppa inglese (“English soup”) is sponge cake soaked in alkermes and layered with pastry cream. There’s great debate as to the age and origins of the dish. One theory is that it’s an Italian take on English trifle, hence the name. As much as I want to, I’m not going to take you down a rabbit hole of culinary history. Not now, any way.

Alkermes (also spelled “alchermes”), since I know you’re going to ask, is a liqueur flavored with spices and colored a gorgeous red with dried cochineal insects (also known as kermes, hence the name of the liqueur). Do not be repulsed by the inclusion of bugs. They’re totally harmless and frequently used to color food and cosmetics as “carmine”. I’ve made alkermes and it’s such a beautiful color. That, however, is a story for another time.

Now, the zuppa inglese I made is not the authentic Italian version, but more of an American adaptation. I got the recipe from Angie Pontani via her Go-Go-Robics II DVD (yes, she provides recipes on a exercise video).

This zuppa inglese is the style of dessert known as “icebox cake”, since, after layering cake or cookies, pudding or whipped cream, and perhaps fruit, you chill it in your fancy new-fangled icebox. During the 1920s it was also known as “flapper pudding” because it was so quick and easy even a flighty modern gal could throw it together. Icebox cakes of many different styles have been popular throughout the 20th century. You might remember one made of chocolate wafer cookies layers with whipped cream.

For this recipe start with sponge cake or lady fingers. Some say you can use pound cake, but I think it’s too heavy. If you don’t have time to make cake, you can certainly buy it. I baked a sponge cake of the sort the Brits call a “fatless sponge”. It has no butter and is lightened with well-beaten eggs.


You’ll need flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, hot water, vinegar, and eggs.

Separate the eggs. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.

Beat the egg whites until stiff. Beat the yolks until thick and lemon-colored. Gradually beat in sugar.

Add flour mixture, hot water, and vinegar to egg yolks. Fold in egg whites.

Bake in a greased and floured pan and let cool completely. You can make this a day ahead.

When you’re ready to make your zuppa inglese, you’ll need the cake, a big can of crushed pineapple, a jar of maraschino cherries, amaretto, a box of French vanilla pudding, milk, heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract.

Cut the sponge cake into 1/2″ thick slices. Drain pineapple and reserve the juice. Drain maraschino cherries and reserve the juice. Make the pudding, but use one cup less milk, so it’s thick & spreadable, and chill it.

Lay half of the sponge cake slices side by side in a large dish. I was transporting this to rehearsal, so I used a 13″x9″ baking dish, which was perfect.

Drizzle half the pineapple juice over the cake. Do the same for the cherry juice. Then repeat with some amaretto (or rum).

Spread the pineapple over the cake. Get it right to the edge!

Cover the pineapple with another layer of cake slices. Sprinkle with the remaining pineapple juice, cherry juice, and amaretto.

Spread the pudding on top of the cake.

Make whipped cream with heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla. Spread over the top of the cake. Decorate with the cherries and chill for a couple of hours in the fridge.


Isn’t it pretty!


You can sort of see the layers and attractive colors here.

You want to serve this the same day you make it or the cake gets very soggy. It’s still delicious, just wet and easier to scoop than slice.

If you want the actual recipe, you’ll need to get a copy of Go-Go-Robics II or perhaps Angie will post it on her new blog.

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 20 December 2017 at 2:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Brrrlesque

Dear Constant Reader,

It had been years since we presented a winter holiday show and we weren’t really planning on doing so. We were hired for a New Year’s Eve show at The Strand Ballroom and that was enough. And yet, somehow, we found ourselves booked at Deacon Giles (hint: it was Brigitte’s doing) and as long as we were doing that show, why not put it on at The Thalia as well.

All three shows (we do two at Deacon Giles) sold out completely and people were pleading for tickets. That was really nice, since, to be completely honest, Dear Reader, our shows did not do so well earlier the year.

Since timing is tight and the stage is small at Deacon Giles, the show is pretty streamlined. Since we had more space and a more flexible schedule, The Thalia show had a larger cast and a couple more acts.

It went a little something like this:

Betty Blaize: Betty, It’s Cold Outside
A classic. One of Betty’s signature numbers, with her puppet-partner, Dino Martini.

Mina Murray: Three for the Show
This is a brand-new number than I debuted on Friday. I wanted something winter-inspired, rather than something so strongly themed that I could only do it at the holidays. An ice-blue gown and white fur wrap did the trick. It’s very classic in style and a bit raunchier than my usual.

Brigitte Bisoux: The Nutrocker
Brigitte is a talented tap dancer and she loves the stages at both venues because they show off the sound really well. With her sparkling costume and feathered headdress, you’d never know she was too short for The Rockettes.

Devora Darling: Snowfall
D.D. dances en pointe in this beautiful striptease. She also throws around some tissue paper snow, which is beautiful. It’s also gets everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Someday I should tell you about the first time we used fake snow. Please enjoy this photo of Devora and Devastasia, who also used some of the snow in her act, cleaning up after the show.

Devastasia: Warm in December
Also a new number for Devastasia. She has professed a strong dislike of Christmas, so it was winter-themed for her. She made a lovely blue and silver dress which was over a flame panel skirt and bra.

Scratch: Magic
I think it was a card trick, but I’m not sure of the details. At Deacon Giles it’s very hard to hear what’s happening on stage from the backstage area (the actual distillery and warehouse).

Betty Blaize: Blue Christmas
Betty is a disillusioned Mrs. Claus, who once she’s alone, prefers to celebrate Hanukkah.

Brigitte Bisoux: Perfect Christmas
Brigitte starts out nice, dancing to “Perfect Christmas Night”, a sweet jazzy tune, and then gets naughty to a version of “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”. You’ll look at Christmas decorations in a new way…

Devora Darling: Christmas Elf
This is a super-adorable dance with Devora as a cute little elf handing out candy canes. And when she runs out of candy, she has clothing to give out.

Mina Murray: Sugar Rum Cherry
This my holiday fan dance and one of my favorites. At Deacon Giles I performed it solo, but at The Thalia I had Ingride and Gin-ni to open it with a graceful dance with snow-white fans to the traditional Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy music.

At The Thalia we also had Devastasia, Gin-ni, and Ingride performing “Booty Swing” with oversized peppermint sticks and Gin-ni sang.

All the shows went well and we had great time, for the most part. And there were delicious cocktails at both venues. The early show at Deacon Giles had one rude audience member sitting right up front who was talking with his seat mate through most of the show. It kind of brought the audience’s energy down. However, the second show was just fantastic. The audience was terrific and I think our performances were excellent.

As is my custom, I made a backstage video only for my Patrons. You however can get a brief taste of the show in these video clips Scratch took during the show.

Next up we’ll be at The Strand Ballroom on New Year’s Eve and then The Great Burlesque Expo!

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 19 December 2017 at 4:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Tonight The Boston BeauTease are presenting Brrrlesque at The Thalia and it’s sold out! We’re bringing the show to Salem tomorrow and the early show is also sold out! Last I heard there were still some tickets available for the 9:30pm show, but I don’t expect they’re going to last very long.

And now, your tip!

When performing on a particularly small or unusually-shaped stage, mark the same size or shape on your rehearsal space floor.

By having a clear delineation of the performance area, you can see if your act needs to be modified (“if I do that, I’m going to smash into a wall”) and you get used to performing within the constraints of the space.

We have a wooden dance floor in our studio, so we use painter’s tape to mark the area. Make sure it’s tape that can be peeled up without damaging the floor. If tape isn’t an option, you could use string or perhaps chalk.

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 15 December 2017 at 11:27 am  Leave a Comment  
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Being Patronized, Again

Dear Constant Reader,

I just spent a few relaxing (and unplugged) days in Florida and returned to Boston to discover snow and that Patreon has changed their fee structure.

For those of you who haven’t noticed the little note I put at the end of every missive, people who like my writings can support me for a few dollars a month through Patreon. It’s not a life-changing amount of money, but it lets me know that people care. I recycle some of that money back into being a patron myself for a couple of other artists.

Until now Patreon took a bite out of the pledges, as you might expect — they are a business, after all — so creators, like me, got a little less than the total pledged. I knew that when I signed on and I’m okay with that. The new system is still going to take a bite out of creators’ funding, but they’ve shifted part of the fees onto the patrons. So if you pledge me $1 a month, you’ll actually get charged $1.38.

I’m not okay with this and as far as I can tell no creator is.

BREAKING NEWS:
While I was writing this I learned that Patreon apologized and won’t be changing anything right now, presumably due to overwhelmingly negative response from just about everyone. There will be changes coming, but they plan to work with Creators to solve the issues.

More news as I get it.

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 13 December 2017 at 2:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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