Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

It’s Friday again! Here’s your tip!

Revising is easier than creating.

Writing a book (hi!), choreographing a routine, designing a costume, &c., can be so hard. Just get something “on paper”. It doesn’t have to be perfect or complete or even good. Then, you can go back and change it. That first pass will get you thinking and more importantly doing. The results may be laughable or they may be surprising, but they’re better than starting at a blank canvas waiting for the “right” ideas.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 17 Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 27 January 2023 at 3:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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What Have I Been Up To?

Dear Constant Reader,

I know it’s been quiet here. It’s not because I’ve forgotten you.

I’m working on  my second costuming book! This one is all about hip belts and panel skirts. As I said to a friend, it’s a challenge to translate what my hands know how to do to words on the page, but I’m chipping away at it.

I’ve got Devastasia on board to create the illustrations again and Scratch will once again be doing the layout design. Our goal is to have it in your hands in the spring.

I am planning to reprint the Little Book of Better Burlesque as well. It’s been unavailable for longer than I wanted.

Also, the price of shipping internationally has gotten insane. My overseas customers are paying more for shipping than the books themselves and I hate that. To that end, I’m looking into making ebook versions of all 3 little books!

Like I did the last two times, I will probably be running a Kickstarter for pre-sales, and you will be able to order copies of the other two books as well. I will keep you all apprised as I proceed!

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 17 Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 26 January 2023 at 4:08 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

This coming Tuesday I’m teaching Getting Tight: A Guide to Corsetry on-line. You’ll learn about different types of corsets, what to look for when buying one, tips for making one, history, how to wear them and how to strip out of them. Here’s a little something:

Wear something under your corset to keep it clean.

Corsets are very hard to wash, because of all the metal in their construction. To keep your corset clean and smelling pleasant, wear it over a base garment. I know that’s not feasible if you’re stripping, but you’re also only wearing it for a relatively short time. If you’re wearing one for a photoshoot, a party, or some other kind of event, do try to wear something between the corset and your skin. I like a camisole, but if you want something that’s not going to show at all, a tube top is a good option.

For more about corsets, join me Tuesday night, 7pm Eastern!

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 17 Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 20 January 2023 at 3:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

It’s Friday the 13th! But you’re lucky today because I have a tip to share…

It’s great to interact with audience members! But only if they want to interact with you.

Some people love it when a performer comes up to them and makes them a part of the show for a moment. Some people loathe it. They may not want to be singled out, be the focus of attention, or be touched.

I’ve written before about not touching performers without consent, but the reverse is true as well. When I was at the RVA Burlesque Festival, the host, Ego Von Hubris, laid down the rules, as a good host does. One of them was “Consent is mandatory!”, which I though was simple and concise.

If you are going to interact with an audience member, follow the first rule of stage combat — make eye contact so they know something is coming. And read their body language. If they drop their gaze, or look uncomfortable, move on to someone else. It doesn’t matter if it’s something as chaste as offering them your finger tips so they can help remove your glove,  if they don’t want it, find an eager participant.

At a recent show, Devastasia was doing crowd work and mashed some people’s faces into her cleavage. She came up to one audience member and registered the look of panic instead of anticipation.  So, she stepped back and shimmied instead. Everyone was happy with that.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 17 Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 13 January 2023 at 2:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Burlesque Decks

Dear Constant Reader,

Our friend Lili VonSchtupp has created a lot of fabulous things and one of her recent creations are burlesque playing cards!

First was the Burlesque Deck, Photos of 26 Los Angeles-area performers adorn the 54 cards (I’m counting Lili VonSchtupp, the one-eyed Jack, and Boobdini, the Joker, as two separate performers). There’s even a special set of cards for magicians. The photos are in a very pin-up style, like the decks of old. Even though the release party was almost a year ago, you can still watch it.

But Lili and C.B. Summers, the photographer, couldn’t leave it at just one deck…

Tonight she’s celebrating the release of the Neo-Burlesque Deck! This contains photos of 53 burlesque performers from around the country, including two Legends. Our own Betty Blaize is the 6 of Hearts! The style is very different — the performers tend to be more unclad and the lighting is moody with neon-inspired colors, one for each suit.

In 2022 there was a pin-up calendar with performers from The Burlesque Deck, but this year, there’s a topless calendar with Neo-Burlesque Deck performers — and one of them is Betty! If you ever wanted to know what she looked like sans pasties, you can find out in June.

Go forth and get yourself one or both of these decks! Not only do I want to support these existing projects and all the amazing performers who appear within, but Lili has hinted that if there’s another deck it will be vintage-style black & white photos and there’s a chance I’ll be one of the performers in it. Let’s make that possible!

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 17 Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 12 January 2023 at 4:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

It’s the first tip of 2023!

I’m jumping off of last week’s tip about items that need to be replenished. It’s also about interacting with the audience.

Toss a little something to the audience.

Audiences love to be given little gifts. It makes people feel special to have a little part of the show — and a little part of you. I’ve seen people go crazy over scraps of ribbon.

Obviously you don’t have to do this with every act, but once in a while, it’s a nice surprise and a treat. Be reasonable about what you give out and make sure it’s something you don’t mind never seeing again.

Sometimes they want to keep it as a little memento. At the climax of her computer geek number, Betty tears open her t-shirt and throws it into the audience. She’s been asked to sign the shreds. (Harking back to last week’s tip, she has a stash of t-shirts that a former employer was going to toss and was glad to give to her — is that upcycling?)

Sometimes they want the opportunity to return it to the performer. During La Vie en Rose, I pull rose petals off my breasts and toss them out. I once had someone carefully gather up each one and pour them into my hands after the show.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 17 Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 6 January 2023 at 4:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

It’s the last Friday of 2022! I don’t know about you, but I am so ready to say farewell to what has been a terrible, terrible year for me. I know that just turning a calendar page doesn’t mean a fresh start, but I can hope.

Anyway, here’s your tip!

If you consume something during your act, replenish it as soon as possible (or have a plan to do so before the next performance).

By “consume”, I don’t necessarily mean “eat”, but something you use once and can’t use again. This could be a giant paper bag you cut your way out of, a t-shirt, you tear off, whipped cream you spray on your butt, &c. You don’t want to be caught at the venue, missing a vital component of your act because you forgot to get another one.

Betty Blaize has an act where she cuts her costume off with a knife. She keep rolls of ribbon on hand to reset the costume pieces after each performance. For “French Champagne“, I need a bottle of champagne. I’m not going to keep one on hand, just in case I get booked with this act, but it’s on my pre-show checklist.

When performing an act like this, where you have to make or procure something every time, consider the additional time and expense when you’re negotiating with the producer. Also, it might not be an ideal act for multiple shows in a row depending on how complicated the reset is

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 17 Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 30 December 2022 at 2:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday!

Quick note from B.A.B.E. before I get to your tip. Classes resume in January. Introduction to Burlesque classes will be at Tony Williams Dance Center, as they’ve been for the past year, but in February we’re moving to the Asylum CoLab at Faneuil Hall. We are excited about that! However, we’re less excited that we have to raise our prices for classes. We’ve kept the same rates for 15 years, but they’ll be going up a little in February. If you want to save a little, take classes in January — and sign up before New Year’s Day to get the Early Bird discount!

Okay, here’s your tip.

Claim your name (stage name, troupe, and/or school name) on as many platforms as you can.

Even if you’re not planning on using them right now, it’s a good idea to stake your claim. The reason I’m “miss_mina_murray” on IG is because someone else grabbed “missminamurray” first — and she’s a cat. Having consistent user names is the best, if you can manage it. B.A.B.E. is “StudyBurlesque” everywhere that we have a presence.

However…

Don’t be a jerk. No squatting!

That is, don’t grab a domain or user name that you know someone else might want and just sit on it so that they can’t have it. It’s petty. Although I know that you’d never do something like that, dear reader.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 17 Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

 

Published in: on 23 December 2022 at 2:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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In the Kitchen: Hot Spiced Milk (1948)

Dear Constant Reader,

There’s a FB group I belong to where one person has been sharing daily menus from The Modern Family Cook Book by Meta Givens (1948) for the past couple of years. I even got my own copy of the book to check out the recipes. Then last year I jumped into the game to share Fannie Farmer menus and it’s been fun to compare the two generations of cooking. Some of Meta’s recipes are off-putting — a lot of vegetables covered with white or cheese sauce, a lack of seasoning, plenty of organ meats — but some grabbed my fancy and I’ve given them a whirl.

One of the recipes I tried was Hot Spiced Milk. It was so good that I’ve made it a few times. My cozy winter drink of choice is hot chocolate, so it’s saying something that I like this, sans any chocolate.

I recently mentioned it during a livestream with Patrons of Christine McConnell. If you were one of the folks who requested the recipe, here it is!

You need
IMG_0626butter, coconut, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, and honey

Hot Spiced Milk
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1 tablespoon butter
4 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons honey

Melt the butter and brown the coconut in it. Then add all the other ingredients and heat until scalding (180°F). Strain out the coconut and serve. If you want to leave the coconut in, chop finely before browning.

Serves 4.

This works best with whole milk, but there no reason not to use a plant-based milk, if that’s your preference.

I usually use unsweetened coconut, but sweetened coconut will probably brown better. It will also make the drink sweeter, so you might want to adjust the honey.

I suppose you could toast the coconut without any butter, but you’d loose that little bit of extra richness.

It’s lovely on a winter evening with some cookies!

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 17 Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 20 December 2022 at 3:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

It’s a blustery Friday here in Boston and I was trying to come up with a tip that suited the weather, but instead the chaos that is my sewing room/office/video recording and editing studio inspired this.

When facing a big task,  break it down into tiny ones.

Looking at a big project can be daunting, but making it a series of much smaller projects can help a lot. You know what they say about how to eat an elephant — one bite at a time.

You could make detailed to do lists. For example, if I’m making a new costume, I’ll start by listing every costume component, and then writing down every step for each one. Sometimes it can get pretty granular if I need the motivation of more things to check off the list. “Prep fabric” could be one item, or it could be broken down to “buy fabric”, “wash fabric”, “dry fabric”, “press fabric”.

Another approach is to set a timer for a short time, like 15 minutes, but no goofing around, you have to spend all the time on the task. I find having a hard end time helps me keep focused to do as much as possible before the timer goes off.

And then there’s the number method — pick a small number of items to deal with, like put away five pairs of shoes, or answer three emails.

Have you tried any of these techniques to accomplish a big task? Do you have tricks of your own?

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 17 Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 16 December 2022 at 4:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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