Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Today’s tip was suggested by Scratch. After doing this for 3+ years (the first Friday Tip was 2 September 2011), occasionally I could use some inspiration. If you have a suggestion for a Friday Tip, just let me know.

Without further ado, here’s your Tip!

Create a list of goals. How will you know what you’ve achieved if you don’t know what you’re aiming for?

  • Your goals should be concrete: “Rhinestone that blue corset” is better than “Improve my wardrobe”.
  • You should be able to meet the goals without depending on other people: “Apply to three festivals”, not “Perform in three festivals”, since the selection of performers is out of your hands.
  • Pick a mix of short term and long term goals: a one month goal, a one year goal, a five year goal.
  • M2

    Published in: on 24 April 2015 at 12:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

    Friday Tip!

    Dear Constant Reader,

    Happy Friday! Here’s your tip!

    When an Adoring Fan gives you flowers, there are a number of simple things you can do to ensure that they last.

  • Trim the ends of the stems and then immediately put them in water. Do it on a diagonal so that there’s more surface area to get water. Use kitchen shears or a knife to prevent crushing.
  • Remove any leaves that are going to be below the water line. They’ll just rot and shorten the life of the flowers.
  • Use warm water for most flowers. However, bulb flowers, like tulips, should get cold water.
  • Flowers need food, acidity, and an antibacterial agent in the water. Use the packet that comes with the flowers or make your own from 1 tsp. sugar, 1 tsp. bleach, 2 tsp lemon juice to 1 qt warm water.
  • Completely change the water every couple of days.
  • Don’t crowd the flowers. Put them in a vase that gives them a little breathing room.
  • Keep your flowers away from fruit. The ethylene gas from the ripening fruit will shorten the life of your flowers.
  • Enjoy your flowers!

    M2

    Published in: on 17 April 2015 at 2:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

    A Wonderful Weekend

    Dear Constant Reader,

    This weekend was just what I needed! I believe we have finally left winter behind and entered spring. The crocuses around Stately Babydoll Manor have bloomed and the tiny lawn tulips shouldn’t be far behind.

    Scratch & I drove down to New York on Saturday to take a Delsarte Intensive with Joe Williams (Willy Barrett), and it was amazing. I’m not going to try to explain the Delsarte system (philosophy, teachings, &c.) because it would take a while and I probably wouldn’t do it so well. Thus I’ll just say the principles apply to any form of communication (and what is performance other than communication with an audience?) and I recommend Joe’s teachings to any performer. You can read more here. Some of my Gentle Readers were clever enough to have taken classes with him at The Expo and had their minds blown.

    I’ve taken many classes with Joe over the years, mostly an hour long, maybe two, but this was *nine* hours over two days. There was finally enough time to really delve into each topic and explore. Scratch and I were continually having “ah ha!” moments and having little whispered conferences as ideas came to light or the “why” of things suddenly made sense. It was a wonderful mix of students — about equal parts burlesque and bellydance, some other styles of performance, and at least one non-performer, and the differing perspectives really added to the class. There is so much I want to use and share, on stage and with my students. I can’t wait.

    (Photo by Kaeshi Chai)

    If you ever have the opportunity to learn from Joe, take it. You will grow as a performer. Really. I promise.

    The rest of weekend was awful nice too. We got to spend some time with Scratch’s family and also have breakfast with International Superstar Model Sarah Hartshorne. We got to hear abut her latest modeling adventures, stand-up gigs, and the non-profit project she’s working for before she had to go convince someone to loan her a cocktail-dispensing vending machine. I cannot make this stuff up.

    On our way back home we went via Brooklyn (which you keen observers of New York City geography will realize is not actually on the way from the Upper West Side to Boston) to meet up with The Italian Stallionette herself, Angie Pontani. I am the proud owner of Angie’s bath tub (the performance prop, not her actual bath tub; that would be weird and kind of creepy), which she delivered at The Expo.

    However, there’s a snazzy shipping crate for the tub, which Angie wanted the heck out of her storage unit, but was way too big for her to transport.

    It *just* fit in the back of the Babydoll-mobile. And that car can carry 3 dancers, an MC, and all the gear needed for a full-length show. For a little while it seemed like this would be a very squished ride back home until Scratch figured out how to adjust everything so that the crate fit, the back hatch stayed closed, and he didn’t have to drive smashed up against the steering wheel.

    Now, it resides in our storage unit, awaiting the day my bath tub act is desired internationally.

    And then there was the ritual placation of a large white cat who was quite cranky at our absence.

    M2

    Published in: on 14 April 2015 at 4:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    Friday Tip!

    Dear Constant Reader,

    I’m sorry for my lack of missives this week. I just wasn’t feeling like sitting at my writing desk. Fortunately I have this custom of Friday Tips and I wouldn’t want to deprive you. Soon I hope to get back to my reporting on The Expo — there’s only a little more to go.

    And here is your tip!

    Get a good pair of fabric scissors and use them to cut fabric only.

    Your fabric scissors should be sacrosanct. Don’t use them to cut paper, sequins, buckram, plastic, metallic threads, &c. Anything but fabric will dull the blades. And do get them professionally sharpened from time to time.

    I tie ribbons to the handles of my junky scissors so that in the clutter of my sharp-things drawer, I can easily find the ones to use on the forbidden materials.

    M2

    Published in: on 10 April 2015 at 2:27 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    Friday Tip

    Dear Constant Reader,

    Happy Friday!

    Here’s your tip:

    Help others when you can.

    My gentle readers, Whisper de Corvo, who won Most Beautiful at the 2014 Expo, and her family have suffered devastating losses recently. Dr. Jen of Atomic Cosmetics wants to help them out. In her own words (with real names redacted):

    Sometimes bad things happen to really good people. Sparkle tribe, something bad has happened to one of our own. Our beloved Whisper de Corvo and her partner need our help-they have experienced a loss in the family, followed by losing their housing (A giant F**K YOU to Capitol Hill Housing Authority). Their situation breaks my heart, and I simply can’t sit by and do nothing. That said, I am asking all of you to please come to Atomic on Saturday, April 4. We will be donating every single dollar we make that day to Whisper and family. If you can’t get to the store, please shop online at colorsthatgoboom.com. We will be donating every dollar made online as well. You guys, PLEASE help however you can. I know no one has a lot of money, but this is our sparkle family, and they need us. When I was down and out, the community came out in force to help me. Now it’s time to help them.

    and

    Glitter folk, I want to put this out there: if you saw my earlier post about Whisper, you know we’re donating every dime we make on Saturday to them. Well, I don’t want to stop there. If we can hit $3,000 in sales that day, I will personally donate another $1000 to them. Please share Saturday’s event with everyone you can. Let’s make this happen!

    You’ll not only be helping out some lovely people who have had a heart-breaking tragedy, you’ll be treating yourself to some great cosmetics and skin care products too. As Scratch said “It’s good for your skin and good for your soul.”

    M2

    Published in: on 3 April 2015 at 11:27 am  Leave a Comment  
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    Expo 2015: The Costume Exhibit

    Dear Constant Reader,

    (Read about The Rhinestone Revue, The Bordello, The Conference, and The Main Event.)

    The Costume Exhibit is near & dear to my heart, because, well, costumes! BettySioux Tailor and Blizen von Schtupp do a fabulous job every year setting up a lovely display.


    I love the panorama function!

    Here were have, from left to right:

    • “Krampus” by Blizten von Schtupp with handmade mask by Rick Sardinha and faux fur coat by BettySioux Tailor
    • “Round Midnight” by Betty Blaize, from fabric hand-selected in Bangalore, India.
    • “Taki Rari Burly” by Dot Mitzvah, seen in The Rhinestone Revue 2013
    • “The Fly” by BettySioux Tailor. This picture doesn’t show the headdress with rhinestones eyes.

    Here are 3 costumes courtesy of Angie Pontani: two vintage showgirl costumes (which were for sale and both of them were snapped up) and her “Madame Pompadour” costume. Next to them is a showgirl costume from maybe the 1970’s worn at the Primadonna Casino & Cabaret in Reno, NV, from Scratch’s collection.

    And here we have:

    • “Pink Passion” by Blaze, The Red Rose of Texas / Red Rose Regalia for Ginger Valentine to wear in the 2014 Burlesque Hall of Fame Queen Competition.
    • “The Faerie Queene” by me, headress by Whisper de Corvo, fan by Cassandra Annati
    • “Ringmistress” by Vivienne LaFlamme, with a 1930s Knights Templar jacket.

    I know there are better pictures out there, but until they surface, you’ll just have to suffer with my phone snaps.

    Next year will be the tenth anniversary of The Expo, please consider making a contribution to make it super-amazing. And if you have a fabulous costume, modern or vintage, consider submitting it for the exhibit. If all goes according to plan, we should have a great on-line submission process for next year.

    M2

    Published in: on 2 April 2015 at 1:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    Expo 2015: The Main Event

    Dear Constant Reader,

    (Read about The Rhinestone Revue, The Bordello, and The Conference.)

    This is the big deal — the competition. Once again, I had the honor of being a judge and sitting right up front, along with the previous Howard Award winners: Scarlet Starlet, Red Velvet, Blaze, Whisper de Corvo, and Nina La Voix.

    It’s so hard to choose the winners. There were so many good acts, but we only have a few prizes. I’d like to recognize a couple of acts I really liked that didn’t receive awards or honors:

    • Dahlia Fatale: She gets better every time I see her! As Rachel from Blade Runner, she did some impossibly bendy things on a chair.
    • Matt Finish: A hot take on the classic gorilla suit strip.
    • Dot Mitzvah: It’s always a pleasure to hear Dot sing. In a change from her signature opera, she did a Broadway showtune. While stripping, of course.
    • Hard Corey: I’m delighted by his complete commitment to whatever ridiculous concept he’s chosen.

    (Photos by John Bilotti)

    Just before the big announcement:

    The Honorees this year were:

    Bella Blue’s choice: Mika Romantic

    Angie Pontani’s choice: Zoe Ziegfeld

    Kitten Natividad’s choice: Jolie Stripes

    And the Howard Award winners:

    Best Hybrid: Kiki Allure

    Most Humorous: Chérie Nuit

    Most Classic: Mika Romantic

    Most Beautiful: Gala Delicious

    Best Solo: Sailor St. Claire

    And then we all went to the pool party!

    If you want next year to be even more amazing as this year, please consider making a contribution. M2

    Published in: on 1 April 2015 at 10:51 am  Leave a Comment  
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    Expo 2015: The Conference

    Dear Constant Reader,

    (My slowly on-going reporting on The Great Burlesque Exposition. Read the previous entries here and here.)

    One of the great things about The Expo is The Conference. Attendees get two days with multiple tracks of classes on so many different topics — dance, stage craft, business, costuming, &c. — taught by amazing instructors from all over. I try to take as many as I possible can. It’s such a valuable experience for improving all facets of our art.

    Saturday
    Get Tight: A Guide to Corsetry (me): I was surprised to have students at such an early hour! I educated them on this history of corsetry (with examples), different types, what to look for when you buy, tips for making, and of course, how to wear and remove. I’ve proposed it for BurlyCon, but with some changes so I don’t have to bring a shopping bag full of examples and tools.

    #whatdatbootydo (Nina La Voix): This class was all about the butt. We started with a warm up of squats (mercifully she didn’t make us do lunges too). Then we learned the finer points of cheek isolations, twerking, and ass clapping. We wrapped up the class with a short routine. I’m rather booty challenged, as it turns out. I see you looking completely unsurprised, O Gentle Reader.

    Floorwork (Bella Blue): I’m not sure what I was thinking, taking another intensely physical class right after Nina’s, but I was not going to pass up the opportunity to learn from one of our special guests! Someday I will master the stripper pushup, but not that day…

    Big Hair, Don’t Care (Maggie McMuffin): We learned how to get enormous volume through fillers and through teasing plus the secret ingredients. I probably won’t even try it on my thin, fine hair, but The Wortown Bombshells took the lessons to heart for the Pool Party that night. (Photo by Beau Blush)

    What Do I Do With These? Boa and Glove Strip Technique (Bella Blue): Two of my favorite accessories! (I say that, but my boas don’t actually come out & play much. I should change that.) I was particularly delighted to see some of my advanced students in the class. I think one of them added something she learned in this class to her performance the next night. I learned a few new tricks, was reminded of some that I haven’t taken out in a while, and found some inspiration. In other words, a good class.

    Sunday
    Introduction to Fan Dance (me): I didn’t actually expect anyone this early on Sunday. And that was indeed the case.

    Stalking the Stocking (me): But I was surprised not to get anyone here either. Had I known, I would have taken Angie Pontani’s Master Class instead.

    The Body of Work: Longevity in Burlesque (panel): I was supposed to be on this panel, but Scratch took my place to give me a break in the midst of what we thought was going to be 4 hours of solid teaching. It was fun listening to long-time performers talk about leaving a legacy and how to stay in burlesque for the long haul. Honestly, Scratch was probably a better speaker on the topic than I would have been.

    Your Way Student Session (me, Scratch): This was a final review session to give the students in the Burlesque Your Way class some last-minute feedback before they performed that night. We don’t normally do this, but two regular classes *and* two make-up classes were canceled because of all the freaking blizzards we’ve had.

    The Hands and Arms of a Dancer (Willy Barrett): I think I’ve taken this class 4 times now and every time I learn something new. I love Willy’s classes — there’s always a huge “ah-ha” moment for me. And it’s so much fun watching people’s minds get blown. I’m really excited that in a couple of weeks I get to take *nine hours* of class with him!

    Go-Go Robics (Angie Pontani): This class is so much fun! Angie’s enthusiasm and the goofy moves almost makes one forget what a workout this all is. Those pony steps are killers! This time the song was Nancy Sinatra’s “The Last of the Secret Agents”, so we got to start in our favorite spy pose.

    And just a reminder that this year was pretty terrible for The Expo’s coffers. You can help make next year amazing!

    M2

    Published in: on 31 March 2015 at 2:13 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    Not Unexpected

    Dear Constant Reader,

    The notifications for performing at the Burlesque Hall of Fame weekend* (aka BHoF) went out yesterday. I applied this year because Legs Malone, a performer I like and respect a lot, saw my act at the New York Burlesque Festival and challenged me to submit it.

    I was not accepted.

    I’m in excellent company. A lot of performers who I think are amazing also didn’t make it in this year.

    Am I disappointed? Well, a little. Rejections always suck. However, I knew it was a long shot — there were something like 500 applications this year. And I knew it would be a challenge to get that act to Las Vegas — I can’t exactly put Super Screen in my suitcase — so I’m a tiny bit relieved too.

    Who knows? Maybe I’ll try again next year. Or maybe I won’t. There are always possibilities.

    M2*It used to be known as the Miss Exotic World pageant and is basically the World Series of Burlesque. Some of the finest performers in burlesque have taken home the crown. On the other hand, some of the finest performers in burlesque have never performed there.

    Published in: on 30 March 2015 at 2:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    Friday Tip!

    Dear Constant Reader,

    Happy Friday! Here’s your tip!

    Test your hairstyle in rehearsal.

    Repeatedly pushing your hair out of your eyes is not a good thing. It makes you look nervous, sloppy, and unprepared. Deliberately moving your hair away from your face, like after a head roll or hair tease, is sexy. Either way, make sure you hair stays or goes where you want it to by rehearsing your act with your hair done the way you plan to have it on stage. And wigs count as hairstyles.

    M2

    Published in: on 27 March 2015 at 1:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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