Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday (and long weekend for many)! Here’s another travel tip:

When traveling, bring your own makeup towel. The hotel/your hosts will thank you.

I bough a bunch of inexpensive and cheerfully-colored washcloths at Ikea and it’s no trouble to toss a couple into my suitcase.

Hat tip to those who reminded me of this tip: Iva Handfull, the staff at BurlyCon, and Rae Bradbury-Enslin, who hosts dozens of haunt actors every October and is tired of having her guest towels ruined.

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

Published in: on 27 May 2016 at 2:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

Spring SPECTACULAR Showcase 5/21/16

Dear Constant Reader,

This weekend was the spring B.A.B.E. student showcase. We ended up calling it “Spectacular” instead of “Student” because we had a couple of instructors on stage too. We hold these recitals twice a year so our Burlesque Your Way students can show off their new creations, but also to give our alumnae a performance opportunity.

Scratch hosted the first part of the show — distinguish alums and instructors.

First up was Sadie Hunter, bringing back her first Burlesque Your Way creation, a fierce chair dance to Beyoncé’s version of “Fever”.

Kitty Levesque brought a touch of glamour with her Marilyn-style “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”.

Elsa Riot reprised the fire-themed act she had debuted at The Teaseday Club. And despite her fears, her merkin stayed on again!

I was sorry I couldn’t see Alice Azul‘s new number since I was fussing backstage. The bit I saw in rehearsal looked super-sultry and she had a lovely feather-trimmed robe (that she made herself).

Lucie Luxe, our alumna-turned-instructor has been away from the stage earning another Master’s degree. Her return was heralded by a re-work of one of her Teaseday Club favorites, to “Toxic” from Melanie Martinez.

Devora Darling demonstrated her boundless energy and dance skills to The Puppini Sister’s “It Don’t Mean a Thing”. It was a great advertisement for her class next month where she’ll teach a complete burlesque routine of her own creation.

Mina Murray: That’s me! I presented my revamped version of The Faerie Queene. This is the third iteration, and I hope it’s finally the one! The evolution deserves a post of its very own.

The second half, which I hosted, was devoted Burlesque Your Way students.

This is Honey Bee‘s third creation with a B.A.B.E. program (she took Burlesque Your Way once before and the Mystery Box class). She stripped out of a peacock-feathered costume to Amy Winehouse’s “Love is Blind” and ended by pulling off a scarf that was draped atop her corset and wrapping it around her eyes like a blindfold in her final pose.

Lucky Penny presented her very first burlesque routine! She was a jewel thief who distracted a hapless guard by taking off her clothes. Her friend playing the guard really hammed it up and made a great foil to her naughtiness. The song was, appropriately, “Wikked Lil’ Grrrls” by Esthero.

Pearl Buttons has been working really hard! She created two numbers for her debut at The Teaseday Club plus her class assignment. This was a high-energy dance-intensive striptease to Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s “The Boogie Bumper”.

Devastacia, who made her debut last fall in the Mystery Box class, went classic with Frank Sinatra singing “Mack the Knife”. She played it up as a hit-woman who removes concealed weapons as well as her clothes and packed them all neatly into a suitcase. Then she put on a totally different outfit and got out of town.

We closed the show with Jeannie Martini, also a Mystery Box veteran. She brought down the house with her fan dance to Doris Day’s “I Only Have Eyes for You.” I don’t want to give away the punchline, but it was hilarious and clever!

And here’s almost everyone! From L to R: Lucky Penny, Mina Murray, Lolita the Stage Kitten, Pearl Buttons, Devora Darling, Devastacia, Jeannie Martini, Kitty Levesque, Alice Azul, Sadie Hunter, and Elsa Riot. (missing: Honey Bee, Lucie Luxe and Scratch). Photo courtesy of Elsa Riot.

Big thanks to Allison in the tech booth and Lolita the Stage Kitten! And of course, Scratch who produced the show and handled the box office, as well as hosting.

B.A.B.E. students will be back in the Fall for the next showcase!


Published in: on 25 May 2016 at 4:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday!

I hope to see you tomorrow at the B.A.B.E. Spring SPECTACULAR Showcase! I’ll be performing my revamped Faerie Queene act, but you should really come to see the B.A.B.E. students.

We’ll have performances from notable alumnae Alice Azul, Elsa Riot, Kitty Levesque, and Sadie Hunter, as well as alumna-turned-instructor Lucie Luxe and instructor Devora Darling (you do not want to miss her Putting It All Together class in June!). The Burlesque Your Way students will be premiering their original creations! See, for the first time on any stage, what Devastacia, Honey Bee, Jeannie Martini, Lucky Penny, and Pearl Buttons have cooked up for you!

And now your tip! I’m currently teaching chair dance at B.A.B.E., so that’s the topic du semaine.

Your stage chair is not a seat. Don’t let anyone treat it like a chair.

When you bring your special dancing chair to a gig, it’s essential to your act and deserves to be treated the same as any other prop or set piece. That means no one should sit in it or put their stuff on it. Not that they would, of course

So there’s no confusion, make it clear that this isn’t actually a chair. Lux LaCroix tapes a sign to the seat of her chair. When The BeauTease were sharing the theatre during our run of The Wrathskellar, we would put Stefan (our faithful chair — pictured with Brigitte here) upside down on a table and Scratch wrote on the underside of the seat “DO NOT USE”.

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

Published in: on 20 May 2016 at 11:56 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Here’s a tip for you travelers!

When staying in a hotel for burlesque reasons, tip housekeeping generously.

Despite our best effort, we make a mess, just by the nature of our business — glitter, sequins, hairspray, lipstick, &c. Even when we’re tidy we still leave more residue than your average guest.

This goes for costumers & cosplayers too!

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

Published in: on 13 May 2016 at 10:55 am  Leave a Comment  

Review: Plain Jane to Pinup Queen

Dear Constant Reader,

I know it’s been forever since I reviewed a book! The Boston BeauTease just had a photoshoot and in preparation, I pulled out this book.

Plain Jane to Pinup Queen: Pinup Modeling Workshop in a Book by Bombshell Betty (2008).

This is one of Bombshell Betty’s famed pinup workshops, recast as a book. She give the readers all the basics of how to have a successful photoshoot, illustrated with unretouched photos from her own shoots.

Part one is all about posing and it’s rightly the bulk of the book. Good posing is key to a successful shoot. She covers how to pose in the most flattering way for your figure and how to use props and clothing items so they enhance your pose, rather than hiding you and taking over. She explains why certain poses work better in the medium of photography and how to think of yourself in 2-D. I found the section on facial expressions to be particularly useful, but I’m almost never happy with my expressions.

In the second part, she covers styling, but it’s just a brief overview. After some basic tips for makeup, she covers makeup styles by decade for 1920’s through 1950’s. The section on hair is similar — basic tips on curling and then iconic styles by decade. There’s a very brief section on costume styling by decade. There’s a URL for further resources, but it doesn’t seem to be currently active. If you’re looking for more in-depth help in creating vintage looks, I’d recommend Retro Makeup and Vintage Hairstyling.

The third part is about photoshoots, with sections on how to work with a photographer, what to expect from a shoot, &c. There’s important information on safety at shoots and the does & don’ts of modeling releases. I like the timeline of preparing for a shoot and (or course) the check list of what to bring.

The book wraps up with an cheat sheet of key points for posing and a URL of further resources which sadly seems to be dead. Sic transit gloria Internet…

Obviously a book isn’t going to replace a workshop where the participants are coached and can see the results of their poses on camera, but it’s still a fine resource. It’s directed at the novice model looking for guidance, but it’s also useful for the more experienced pin-up looking to improve her posing skills. It’s out of print, but I’m sure my clever readers can find a copy out there.


Published in: on 12 May 2016 at 1:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

Friday Tip!

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Today’s tip comes from the wisdom of Mr. Scratch.

If you apply to that festival or reach out to that producer, you may not be accepted or hired, but if you don’t, you surely won’t.

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

Published in: on 6 May 2016 at 12:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! You’ll be pleased to know that your Faithful Correspondent is almost back to normal health, although still coughing most annoyingly.

But that’s not important. What is important is your Friday Tip. And here it is!

A cotton pillowcase makes a great storage bag for a boa.

It allows the feathers to breathe while protecting them from dust and sunlight. You could sew a loop of ribbon to the top of the case and hang it up. Also, to quickly fluff the boa, tie the end of the pillowcase shut and throw the whole thing in the dryer on air dry (no heat!) and tumble it for just a couple of minutes.

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

Published in: on 29 April 2016 at 10:54 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday Tip!

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! It’s a glorious warm day here in Boston and one can finally believe that spring is here. The sour cherry tree at Stately Babydoll Manor has begun to blossom and in a few months I’ll be hard at work picking and cooking!

Here’s your tip!

Carry a foldable bag with you. You never know when it will come in handy.

I’m very fond of the sort of string bag that Russians call avoska (“perhaps-bag”, as in “perhaps there will be something at the store to buy”). They’re great for holding produce from the farmers’ market and of course I like best the one that my mother knit.

However, I always carry this nylon bag which folds in on itself until it’s about the size of my fist. It was from the swag bag at the Improper Bostonian “Best of 2012” party, hence the Patrón logo. I particularly like this one because it’s waterproof and every now and then I’ve forgotten to pack a plastic bag for wet costume items after one of my water acts.

Also, if you shop in Cambridge, where they’ve just started charging for bags, you’ll always be covered.

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

Published in: on 22 April 2016 at 3:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Challenge

Dear Constant Reader,

All throughout my Nose to the Rhinestone posts I mentioned a challenge that the BeauTease were undertaking. What was it?

It started because Evie is moving away (for real this time). She has a great duet, A Harlequin Romance, with Devora. We didn’t want to lose the act, so Evie began training our apprentice Pearl Buttons to learn her part. Pearl has the ballet background to make a lovely Columbine to D.D.’s Harlequin, but she can’t do splits. One of the showstopping moments in the number the dancers slide gracefully into simultaneous splits. It would be a shame to lose that bit.

I mentioned that Kristina Nekyia has a great video for circus-style flexibility. I had done her backbend exercises and had finally been able to do one (I thought I had a picture around here, but I guess not…). I suggested Pearl try the splits prep stretches. I think it was Brigitte who has the brilliant idea that we all should do them for a month.

And so I did. I started on March 10th and faithfully did the stretching routine until April 10th. I’m proud to say I never skipped a day, not even when I was on a Caribbean cruise or when I started coming down with bronchitis. Once I bought leggings and a t-shirt on my way to the theatre for the Teaseday Club so I could stretch before the show because I realized I wan’t going to get home until really late. I did the stretches at the D.C. airport when I was trapped by snow-caused flight delays.

What was the result?

My flexibility and strength definitely increased over the month. When I started I needed yoga blocks to support me for some of the stretches and then I was using them less and less. I know I was able to go deeper into some of the stretches as time went on, but honestly, they never stopped sucking. I went from being unable to touch my toes to the floor in the plow pose during the cool down section to being able to hold it comfortably. And the one-minute plank certainly became easier as we went along.

And how about those splits? I would have loved to have shown you a picture of Brigitte and Pearl and I all in splits, but we’re not there yet. And having been sick and basically immobile for a week has probably undone all the good work I did over the past month. Onward, upward.

I need to thank Scratch for supporting me in this challenge (emotionally, not physically), especially in the early days when I tried to weasel out because I was tired or some other lame excuse.


Published in: on 19 April 2016 at 1:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! I hope you don’t think I’m ignoring you. There are so many things I want to tell you, like an amazing accomplishment by a troupemate, revealing The Challenge, a couple of book reviews, and an exciting announcement.

However, after returning from a perfectly lovely Caribbean cruise, I was struck down by a nasty bug which has me coughing most unpleasantly and a bonus eye infection, just for fun. The result being that I’ve been more often found reclining on the daybed than I am sitting at my writing desk. But I wouldn’t forget your tip.

Today’s tip comes from the combined wisdom of my mother and Alice Azul.

To soothe a sore throat, drink hot lemonade with honey and grated fresh ginger.

If you’re having trouble sleeping, add a splash of your favorite spirit, purely for medicinal purposes, of course!

Yes, that is a fake plastic lemon. I only thought to take a picture after the real lemons were all squeezed out.

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

Published in: on 15 April 2016 at 9:07 am  Comments (1)  

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