The Faerie Queene: Part 2

Dear Constant Reader,

I’ve been writing about the evolution of my act, The Faerie Queene this week. You can read about the origins and the first iteration.

I let the act rest for a bit after The Bod of Avon while I thought about what needed improvement. I mostly liked the costume and the magic, but I wanted new music, some kind of headdress, and some magic for the middle of the act.

Music
After puzzling about the music, I decided that I wanted to stick with the Renaissance. I asked Aaron M., occasional BeauTease photographer and Renaissance dance expert, to recommend some dances tunes. He sent me a dozen suggestions and the winner was “Celeste Giglio” by Renaissonics. I liked it for a bunch of reasons, including that Renaissonics are local and that the title means “Heavenly Lily” in Italian. Also, it incorporated several dance styles* in one song, so there were lots of interesting changes.

Costume
The basic improvements were easy. I made new pasties with the white ribbon flowers that decorated my bra and thong. I replaced the ribbon sash with a narrow belt than hung down in the front, medieval-style. Since the costume was purple and gold, I wasn’t loving the silver shoes, even if the heels were covered with rhinestones. I got gold ballroom shoes and added rhinestones (picture is pre-stoning).

I decided that untying the two ribbon straps was too boring — I couldn’t make them different enough from one another. I removed one set and went to a one-shoulder look that I like better.

A fabulous headdress was needed. It would give me height and presence and really signify “queen”. The problem was that I couldn’t come up with a design. I had been collecting little purple flowers and butterflies and also had a hair fall I never wore. At the Expo I commissioned Whisper de Corvo to make me a regal headdress, incorporating all those bits & bobs. She works with quilled paper, which has a very delicate look (and is made from recycled show posters). And she understands fae and fantastical design. When the headdress arrived, I ended up making a little padded rest to elevate the back and give me more height.

I don’t have great hair and my usual curled-and-pinned style doesn’t exactly say “fae”. The long red wig I wear as The Diva was pressed into use. It looked good, especially with flowers and butterflies randomly scattered in the tresses, but it’s slippery. I always felt like the headdress was going to slide off, despite trying combs, clips, pins, and a strap. It never did, but I worried.

Scratch thought a mask would be a good addition and gave me a large gold glittery one, which I detailed with purple glitter paint and purple rhinestones. I liked the look, but it was really hard for me to see with it on and it liked to poke me under the eye. Eventually I figured out a few places on which to stick some foam to make it sit better.

Magic
The biggest challenge was the new magic trick for the middle of the act. I decided I wanted the fan to be magic too, since it’s a major part of the act. The trick I wanted is a color-changing fan, but the ones you can buy are small, made of laminated cardboard, and cheap-looking, only really good for kids’ shows. I was going to need a custom-made item.


Scratch had been working with a prop-fabricator named Cassandra, who made the giant paint brushes for our touring show, The Fine Art of Burlesque. I gave her the sample trick, explained what I wanted, and let her get to work. I had asked that the fan be something sturdy (not cardboard), purple with gold decorations changing to the reverse. As it turned out, she had to use heavy card, because her plastic prototype failed when scaled up, but it worked perfectly.

On Stage
The BeauTease were invited to perform at The 2014 Ohio Burlesque Festival and Scratch was hosting. He asked Bella Sin, the festival organizer, if I could debut my revamped act there. Without even asking to see it, she agreed. It was great to have a performance date, but, of course, that meant that the pressure was on to get everything ready in time.

I was so nervous, but it seemed to go over well. I think this was the first time the act was introduced as “The Faerie Queene”. Scratch told me that the stage kittens were all clustered in the wings trying to figure out where the flowers were coming from. There is video, but it was shot from a great distance and I’m this tiny washed out figure on a great big stage.

Here are two photos from Eric Paul Owens from the festival.

When the act was accepted at the Vermont Burlesque Festival in 2015, I only made one change. I thought the pasties with the white flowers didn’t read from stage. If anything, they looked like I had a little whipped cream on my boobs. Nothing worth the dramatic reveal the music wants.

Just before the festival, I made butterfly-shaped pasties covered with purple rhinestones. Very sparkly, but ultimately I didn’t love them. They were too large — it was my first attempted at a non-geometric pastie — and because of the rhinestones I had available at the time, I made a poor design choice in shading and the details of the wings got lost. If I had it to do again, I would have used the lightest purple on the outer part of the wings and the purple velvet in the centers of the wings.

Of course I don’t have any photos of the pasties in use. I do have this artistic shot from Tim Stowe Photography.

The act still wasn’t really where I wanted it. What could I do to improve it?

Up next: take three and the present day.

M2
*A galliard, a salterello, and a canarie, for those that are wondering. Yes, I know how to dance all of them, but that’s a story for another time.

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Published in: on 8 June 2016 at 3:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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