The Faerie Queene: Part the Last (for now)

Dear Constant Reader,

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

The act still needed work. March was “Nose to the Rhinestone” month for me and I started poking around at some of these issues.

Between balancing the headdress and trying to see out of the mask, I kept lowering my head, which is not a good look at all. Also, the mask was cheap looking compared to the rest of the costume and it hid almost all of my face, making it hard for me to project any emotion.

I started searching for a new mask and found a number of gold butterfly-shaped options. The one I bought is brass and even had a couple of gems on it. I discovered to my delight that Jewel Bond (a white rhinestone glue) worked just as well as E-6000 on metal without all the toxic fumes (I was always reluctant to use that poison, but now I don’t want to expose Albert’s little lungs) and added some purple rhinestones.

The new mask has much bigger eye holes, so I decided to take advantage and get some new eye makeup. With the old mask I couldn’t even wear lashes. I got a custom eyeshadow palette from Atomic Cosmetics with 3 shades of purple and a gold. I also picked up some deep purple glitter (I already had gold) and Dr. Jen threw in some fabulous white glitter that reflects purple.

Scratch pointed out how static the act was, especially during the fan dance. I’d just plant and gesture. Boring. He suggested that since the music was for dances I knew, how about incorporating some of the steps? Sadly, I discovered that galliard, salterello, and canarie steps are really hard to do in ballroom heels. However, I could do a piva step, but I couldn’t do it with my headdress on. A new headpiece would be great, but I just couldn’t visualize it. I kept trying to work with the one I had.

In frustration, one rehearsal, I fumed “I can galliard in a farthengale while wearing a French hood! Why can’t I…” Oh. Brain storm.

As sad as I was to set Whisper’s headdress aside (I’ll find another act for it — it’s too lovely to languish), I was excited to create a new piece. It had been a while since I’d done any millinery (I think my last project was the silk top hat I made for “Mackie Messer”). I made a French hood base and covered it in printed purple velvet. Scratch designed a twiggy crown with leaves and flowers of metal and I did my best to bring it to life.

He painted some twigs with a variety of metallic paints and I attached them to the crescent, then added a bunch of flower, leaf and butterfly charms and a few Swarovski butterfly beads. Instead of the traditional black hood, I stitched an array of colored organza ribbons to the back of the crescent. The entire thing is edged-beaded with gold Swarovski pearls (in Renaissance terms, a billiment). I’m so happy with how it turned out.

While in Los Angeles in February I bought a long red wig. It wasn’t cheap, but it looks great. It’s probably the best fitting wig I’ve ever worn.

As well as Cassie’s fan had served me, it was starting to soften around the edges. It was time for a new one, made out of more durable material. I had decided wood would work nicely after Brigitte brought me back a wooden fan from Spain. I certainly didn’t want to try cutting over 2 dozen staves myself, even out of something soft, like basswood. I went to danger!awesome and they laser-cut new staves out of birch veneer.

My student Devastasia is a talented artist (she’s the one who made The Lost Girl’s dollhouse so beautiful and creepy) and I asked her if she would paint the new fan. My biggest challenge was stringing the staves together. I had the original fan to copy and Cassie gave me a little advice, but for the first try I definitely used the wrong thread. It was only after Devastasia finished the painting that I figured out the right stuff. It was a remarkable pain to redo, I must say, but it was worth the effort. The fan looks beautiful now and it’s much sturdier and lighter.

I also wanted new pasties — butterflies that actually look like butterflies. I used wee lace butterflies and embellished them, which turned out lovely. However, even using skin-tone pastie bases, they looked like lace butterflies sewn to pasties, not like butterflies just perched on my nips. After a few attempts, I figured out a trick…

I’ve only performed the new act in public twice and I don’t have any performance photos yet. The best I can do for now is this backstage selfie:

What’s next for the act? Keep practicing, keep performing, keep improving. I might tweak the music, but other than that, I think this version is the one (famous last words…) I’m planning to submit it to the New York Burlesque Festival, so keep your fingers crossed for me!


Published in: on 9 June 2016 at 3:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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