Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Here’s your tip:

To keep your lip makeup intact, drink with a straw.

Because I was a Girl Scout, I like to be prepared. Since I wouldn’t want to assume that any given venue would have straws for the showgirls, I carry this stainless steel straw in my gig bag. I even made a little cloth sleeve so the straw stays clean when I’m not using it (just visible in the lower left corner of the photo).

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 May 2017 at 11:12 am  Leave a Comment  
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Chocolate Pudding: The Video

Dear Constant Reader,

One of the things I want to do with Patreon support is make video expansions of my blog posts. I decided to make one so you can all see what I’m trying to do. This is me cooking the chocolate pudding from my previous missive:

My plan for future videos is to have a videographer with an actual camera to shoot and edit these videos, but for this deathless cinema, it was just me and my iPhone, cooking one-handed, occasionally frantically deleting stuff when my phone ran out of memory. Then I kinda edited it in iMovie, which I’m still learning how to use.

If you couldn’t tell, this is completely unscripted and there were no retakes. Just me rambling away as I cook. One-take Murray. That’s what old Jack Warner used to call me.

If you like this and want to see more (better filmed, better produced) videos, consider supporting me on Patreon.

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 25 May 2017 at 1:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
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In the Kitchen: Chocolate Pudding (1956)

Dear Constant Reader,

This recipe came from a Baker’s Chocolate recipe pamphlet from 1956. Baker’s Chocolate used to be made just down the road from The Manor, so I was delighted at the local connection.

Although there are all sorts of fun and interesting chocolate recipes, I was looking for something I could scale down and that I had everything already. I decided on Chocolate Pudding. Easy and simple.

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Start by combining sugar, cornstarch, and salt.

The original recipe called for flour to thicken the pudding, but I know from experience that it tends to have a “floury” taste and can be difficult to incorporate smoothly. I used cornstarch instead. Rice flour would probably also work as a thickener

Add milk and stir to combine. Obviously you’re supposed to use real milk, but almond milk works perfectly fine. If you’re using flour, mix really well to keep it from being lumpy. Add the unsweetened chocolate and place over boiling water.

Baker’s unsweetened chocolate used to come in individually wrapped one-ounce squares and many recipes call for squares of chocolate. Recently Baker’s switched to selling the chocolate as a bar with half-ounce squares. Just be aware.

Chopping the chocolate before adding it makes it melt faster and more evenly. It would have taken so much longer with the whole one-ounce squares. As it was I broke the squares into quarter-ounce pieces and they didn’t melt very evenly.

Cook the pudding over boiling water until it starts to thicken. Then cook 10 minutes more. Add the vanilla and chill.

Serve with cream poured over. There were variations that were topped with flavored whipped cream (like with orange marmalade folded into it), but the basic recipe used plain cream. This was a new one to me, but it worked.

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Here’s the recipe, scaled for 4 servings.
Baker’s Chocolate Pudding, Miss Mina’s Way
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon corn starch
pinch salt
2 cups milk
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Combine sugar, corn starch, and salt in a medium saucepan that works as a double boiler. Also start water boiling in the bottom pan of the double boiler.

Add milk and mix well. Add the chocolate and place pan over the boiling water. Stir frequently until mixture thickens. Cook 10 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add vanilla.

Pour into serving dish or individual bowls. Chill. Serve with cream poured over.

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 24 May 2017 at 2:30 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Big Time

Dear Constant Reader,

This past weekend we finally opened our show The Big Time. It feels like we had been working on it forever. Well, it has been several months and we were often working outside of our normal rehearsal times.

The theme of the show was big props, and everyone built their own with help from Scratch. he had been pretty adamant that he would help and teach, but not actually do the construction. After all, there were 7 props being built and he couldn’t do them all. We used power tools, we used hand tools, we cut, we drilled, we sanded, we painted. We worked with wood and with metal, with plastic and papier mache, even electronics.

Here’s the results, in brief. I wish I had photos, but we were a little too busy to arrange for that.

Act I

Betty Blaize and Ruby Foxx: Spiderweb
This was one of the two existing acts which used one of three existing props. Betty is an old hand at getting trapped in the web, but Ruby was new to the spider role and she did a great job.

Pearl Buttons: Steam Heat
There’s no simple word to describe Pearl’s prop. It was two sets of stairs with a platform in between them, kind of like a bridge. She merrily danced up and down the steps and sprawled fetchingly on the platform.

Ruby Foxx: Orange Colored Sky
Besides being a stripteaser, Ruby is also a singer and she belted out this entertaining piece.

Jeannie Martini
: Piggy Bank
Jennie was dressed in layers of money, which she stripped off and dropped into her adorable over-sized piggy bank. Piggy is cleverly made from two half whiskey barrels and many cute decorations.

Scratch and Devastacia: Wall of Death
You might have seen Scratch doing this whip act before, but never with such a scary looking Wall of Death. Credit to Devastacia’s new-found skill with a nail gun.

Cara Siobhan: Waterfall
Cara got off easy in the prop construction department as we already had a free-standing doorframe that she modified to be her waterfall, but she challenged herself nonetheless. A novice seamstress, she sewed a hooded cloak with a lengthy train that flowed like water.

Mina Murray: Heavenly Body
I got to ride a shooting star! In reality, it’s a steel frame with a very solid wooden top, draped with black velvet and a shooting star mounted to the downstage side. It’s festooned with color-changing LED lights. I even have glowing reins for riding it. I admit that Scratch did much of the work, although I did cut the pieces for the frame and attached them together. With much cursing.

I’m really, really happy with how it came out. And I just love my costume. It’s the corset I made for Costume-Con, plus matching bra, panties, and garter belt and a poofy swirly skirt (6 layers!). Still needs some more rhinestones…

ACT II

Betty Blaize: Getting Lucky
This is Betty’s new number and I think she did the most construction work by herself of any of us. She built a towering stack of dice that she can climb, making her the tallest thing around, as she prefers. She also gets credit because her prop breaks down rather compactly.

Ruby Foxx: Hard-Boiled
Ruby, as a femme fatale, stepped out of a pulp detective novel. Literally. Her prop was a huge book with a cover that swung open.

Scratch: Martini Time
Here Scratch magically made vermouth bottles multiply until his table was covered with this. Not big in size, but big in numbers.

Pearl Buttons: Picture of a Ballerina
Like a Degas painting come to life, Pearl started behind a picture frame (seen here with a scrim in place) and danced her way into the real world.

Devastacia: Candelabra
Devastacia is so hot, she makes candles light up without even touching them (thanks to a little magic from Hunter). She’s a terrific artist and you would never realize her candelabra started its life as PVC pipe and newspaper.

Cara Siobhan: Why Don’t You Do Right?
Cara is also a talented singer and she crooned this classic tune.

Mina Murray: Midnight Bath
My beautiful, beautiful bath tub. It should get a post all its own, because it’s been a saga. I’ve wanted a bath tub since I started doing burlesque and I am so, so happy with everything about this act.

Scratch took this picture in rehearsal and I just love it:

We had our curtain call to a piece of music called “Big Noise from Winnetka”, kind of an inside joke for us.

Sadly, our usual curse was upon us and, despite trying to get video, technical difficulties kept that from happening. Someday…

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 23 May 2017 at 4:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Today I’m all excited for the opening of The Big Time and the premier of my new act, but I wouldn’t forget your tip (which is about tipping):

Tip your bartender.

If you get comped drinks as part of your deal with the venue or producer, tip as much as you would have if you were paying full price.

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 19 May 2017 at 2:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Big Time Approaches

Dear Constant Reader,

Our new show, The Big Time, opens on Friday! We’re all very busy putting the finishing touches on our costumes and props for dress rehearsal.

Here’s an early look at my not-yet-decorated prop for my new act.

I also made a new costume. My Patrons got a backstage look, but the rest of you will just have to wait until showtime. Hint: part of it was made out of these fabrics:

I’m really excited to unveil this new act! We’re calling it “Heavenly Body” — you’ll see why this weekend

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 May 2017 at 3:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Here’s your tip:

When working with slippery, slithery, or otherwise difficult fabrics, baste them in place first.

Yes, it takes extra time and thread, but you’ll thank me later. I make these mistakes so you don’t have to.

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 May 2017 at 3:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Big Time All the Time

Dear Constant Reader,

Just to give you a quick rundown of what’s going on right now.

The Boston BeauTease welcomed our newest batch of interns and other volunteers last night, which also happened to be Betty’s birthday. We don’t usual end rehearsals with a large spread of treats, but it was certainly an auspicious day to start working with us.

They’ll be helping out on our upcoming show The Big Time in two weeks. You’ll be able to see our current interns, Cara, Devastacia, Jeannie Martini, and Ruby Foxx, on stage showing off what they’ve learned, alongside The BeauTease.

Everyone will be performing brand-new, never-before-seen acts, expect Betty and I who will also be performing a second, favorite number from our respective repertoires. I’ll give you a hint: one involves a spiderweb and the other a bathtub.

The show is called The Big Time because we’re all using big props, most of which have been built expressly for this show, and have mostly been built by the performers themselves, with a *lot* of help and guidance from Scratch. We’ve been working in wood and metal and plastic and fabric and papier mache. We’ve been using power tools and paintbrushes and glue and electronics. Everyone has been working very hard and pushing themselves in many ways not just in building the props, but in all aspects of act creation.

I can’t wait for you to see what we’ve accomplished! Tickets are pretty cheap right now, but they’re going to go up at the door, so do yourself (and us) a favor and get yours now.

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 8 May 2017 at 3:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Here’s your tip!

If you have the option, buy travel insurance.

When planning my trip to New Mexico, I decided on a whim to opt for the travel insurance for my airline ticket. It wasn’t much additional money and I’m so glad I did. As you might recall, there was a snowstorm that screwed up my travel plans. I ended up having to buy a ticket on another airline to get home in a reasonable amount of time and the insurance reimbursed me for the cost of my original ticket. As traveling showgirls on a budget, it’s worth it to have that safety net in case things go wrong.

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 5 May 2017 at 2:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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On Wigs

Dear Constant Reader,

I don’t have great hair. I love the color and the way it curls, but it’s very fine and rather thin and doesn’t grow very long before it starts looking straggly. I rarely seem to have time to go to the salon to keep it nicely trimmed and besides, my favorite stylist, Diamond DeVille, works in a different state. This is why I generally have my hair pulled back in a simple twist. When Scratch suggested I try wigs, I was resistant. It was like admitting I had terrible hair.

I had worn a wig before, at BettySioux Taylor’s first Salute to Bettie Page. Everyone wore Bettie wigs, so I was okay with that. Several people commented how different (and good I looked), but I was still sure wigs were not for me.

My first real wig wearing was because I was doing a tribute to a Legend who had a black pageboy in her heyday and my red head just would not do. Fortunately for this wig novice, I had the expertise of Sydney Lauren Robinson to help out. She took me wig shopping, styled the wig, put it on me the first time, and made me helpful videos demonstrating how to wear it.

Having seen me do the same act with the wig and without, Betty Blaize commented that I moved differently when I was wearing the wig. It did help get me into character to be wearing the wig and I became a little more of a convert. But not completely.

I ended up getting a couple of wigs to wear as The Diva in The Wrathskellar, which was okay, because she wasn’t me. Like in the above tribute, I was playing a character.

Somehow I realized I wasn’t sacrificing my personal integrity or anything if I wore a wig on stage. In fact, I began to embrace wigs. I could change my look for each act. I didn’t have to spend the time curling and pinning my hair. I didn’t have to worry if I was having a bad hair day. All good reasons for going with a wig.

A couple things I’ve learned about wearing wigs.

  • Use the right pin for the job
  • Net wig caps are easier to pin into than the stocking-type ones
  • A folding wig stand is a life saver
  • Get a good wig brush
  • And here are some backstage selfies (and one on-stage shot) of my different looks:

    My standard wig — taken backstage at The Teaseday Club last night

    Another standard, usually worn for French Champagne, although The Diva borrowed it for this picture

    The Diva again

    Yet another look for The Diva, worn with a smashing black coat & tall boots

    The Faerie Queene

    These days I am completely sold on wigs, although I still can be found with my real hair on many an occasion. How about you, Dear Reader? Are you a fan of wigs?

    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 3 May 2017 at 3:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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