Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Here’s your tip!

Before twirling, make sure your tassels are hanging freely.

Sometimes, after being curled up in your bra, tassels can get stuck to a stray bit of adhesive near the edge of your pastie, caught on a rhinestone or other bit of decoration, or just sweat-glued to your skin. Give them a little shake or smooth them out (perhaps with a surreptitious, gentle yank) just before you start your twirl.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 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 31 January 2020 at 11:00 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags:

Coffin Gift Box

Dear Constant Reader,

One of my sources of inspiration and creativity this winter has been Christine McConnell. As a Patron of hers, I get access to exclusive content and in November that was how to make the coffin-shaped gift box she packaged her aprons in.

Betty Blaize, although she famously doesn’t enjoy cooking, has been spending more time in her kitchen, cooking healthy food, so an apron sounded like a way to encourage her culinary efforts. I ordered her a cute one, but then I got an email that the seller canceled the order (it’s complicated). I panicked a little as it was getting close to Christmas, but Scratch pointed out that I could whip up an apron in no time flat. I found some cute pink cotton with big white polka dots and made her a chef-style apron that could actually be worn and washed without fear (and has pockets). Of course, the cute apron wasn’t actually cancelled and arrived the next day, so she got both.

Back to the box. I used the template pattern Christine provided Patrons at my level, which made things go much faster. I ended up using FOUR different kinds of glue on this project — spray adhesive, fabric glue, hot glue, and a glue stick. I’ll probably never work with spray adhesive again. I thought it would be easier and more accurate, but it was so messy. Since I wanted to keep the spray adhesive far away from Albert, I took everything into the basement and set up on top of the laundry machines. Not an ideal work environment, but needs must. Part way though I bemoaned the third-grade craft project look of the box and decided to give up. Scratch convinced me to see it through. And he was right. Once I starting decorating it, it began to look more polished.

I covered the outside of the box in pink satin and lined it with the same polka dot fabric I used for the apron. I had *just enough* of the polka dot fabric to line the box, but that meant I had to use a piece with a stain on it. I couldn’t gift it looking like that, so I glued a couple of white lace butterflies over the offending spot.

I trimmed it all with two styles of black lace, some black lace appliqués, and both pink and black ribbon. I had to buy the pink satin for the exterior and the narrow pink ribbon that covers the seams, but everything else came out of my stash. My only regret was that I couldn’t find the black silk roses I know are hiding somewhere in my atelier.

One of the finishing touches is to add a drop shadow behind the cut-out on the lid. I got a piece of black posterboard to make the shadow and discovered it was bright orange on the reverse! It was also too small to cut out the entire shadow, which serves to finish the inside of the lid. I glued the orange side to it a piece of larger white posterboard and cut the whole thing out as one. A little black Sharpie was needed to touch up one spot where I miscalculated the alignment, but you can’t even tell.

The final step was to add a window of thin acrylic, which makes the box more finished-looking and strengthens the lid. I could not find a piece of acrylic both thin enough and large enough at any store. I was starting to get concerned when I found a cheap poster frame lurking behind the door of the library at the Manor. Whatever purpose it was supposed to serve before, it was a coffin widow now. The edges were just a bit raggedy in places after I cut it (I probably should have changed blades in my utility knife at that point), so after I glued it in place, I went around the perimeter with cloth tape. It looks nicer and there’s no chance of damage (to the window or a person).

And voila! The final product!

You can get a closer look with this little video. I’m still learning iMovie, so I’m grateful to Scratch for editing help.

I’m very pleased with how it came out and I hope Betty is happy with it!

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 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 28 January 2020 at 6:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! I’m pleased to say that the Burlesque Deck is fully funded! Thank you, if you were one of those who help raise it up. You can still order one until Monday and you’ll still get a free apllication to The Great Burlesque Expo.

This Sunday I’ll be performing at Taste O’ Burlesque with an act many of you have never seen! Don’t miss this rare opportunity.

And now for your tip…

Use the power of the personal invitation.

Sure, it’s easy these days to send out mass invites to come to your show, apply to your festival, what have you — and it’s just as easy to ignore those invites. Taking the time to drop a note to someone shows you are actually interested in them and their presence.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 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 24 January 2020 at 3:51 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags:

In the Kitchen: The Dinner of Horror

Dear Constant Reader,

You might recall that I had been cooking from The Necronomnomnom and having a great deal of fun with it. A copy mysteriously appeared on the doorstep of my friend, Dr. Becky, and she, perhaps unwisely, suggested we get together in the kitchen and see what we could conjure up…

It was a great plan! I am please to announce that no one died and any Elder Gods summoned were promptly dispatched (to the table).

We began with Grape Old Wons — meat & cheese-stuffed wontons. The end result was supposed to look like eyes, but we couldn’t quite shape the wonton wrappers to look like lids. I should have gotten round ones instead of square. This recipe also showed the issues with translating the arcane recipes. I had interpreted “mixture from the ranch hidden in the valley” as ranch dressing mix and bought the powdered stuff. Dr. Becky, who has the bookstore edition with the recipes translated, discovered they meant bottled ranch dressing, so we added a little more milk and mayo to make up for it.

Next was Pallid Bisque — seafood bisque. It’s hard to go wrong with crab, cream, and sherry. We tried molding little masks out of rice (in tribute to The King in Yellow) to garnish it, but we were only partially successful. If I did it again, I would use smaller shrimp (or larger bowls — although these have charming skulls on them) and dollop the sour cream onto the soup first, then arrange the rice masks and shrimp triskelions on top of it.

Our main course, and crowning glory, was The Fate of The Elder Things — a most unusual eggplant parm. The hardest part was hollowing out the eggplant without rupturing the skin, but with saving the flesh for cooking. Next time I might try a melon baller. Then we breaded (with fresh, home-made breadcrumbs, by the way) and fried the eggplant tidbits, made a cheese sauce, and warmed up some marinara. The cheese sauce was poured into the hollowed out eggplant, where it oozed out of slits cut in the sides. The whole thing was topped with a slice of starfruit, procured by Dr. Becky’s husband when my market had none.

This was accompanied by Dining Trapazohedron — a wedge salad. The very best part of this salad was the candied bacon. It took a bit of work — first you cook it almost crisp, then chop it up and fry it until it’s crunchy, then add brown sugar and cook until it’s glazed — but any good ritual should be a challenge. The blue cheese dressing wasn’t bad either…

For dessert we served The Mounds of Tindalos — molten chocolate lava cake made in a slow cooker. We poured cake batter into the slow cooker, then chocolate pudding, then topped it all with a bag of chocolate chips and ignored it for the next three hours. I wasn’t sure what we were going to get but it smelled good. The result was so delicious — hot and gooey and intensely chocolate. We served it with a sprinkling of shredded coconut on each serving.

I would (and probably will) make any of these dishes again. There’s also more than two dozen terrifying recipes awaiting my attention. You never know what I might bring to life next time…

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 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 21 January 2020 at 11:56 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags:

Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! I’m in a philosophical mood and so is your tip…

A rising tide lifts all boats.

Helping your fellow performers to succeed helps all of us. Build each other up instead of knocking down. We can all win together. Burlesque is a niche art and we need to work together to keep it growing and thriving.

Here’s one way to do that…

Lili VonSchtupp, aka Boobdini the Vagician, has created The Burlesque Deck, a deck of pin-up playing cards with 54 gorgeous photos of burlesque performers. It can also be used for magic! The deck is currently only available via Kickstarter and only until January 27th. The project needs to raise $24,000 to go forward and Kickstarter is an all or nothing deal. If The Burlesque Deck is funded, people outside the burlesque enclave will see these fabulous photos and our reach gets a little wider.

Now here’s where the helping each other out part comes in. The Great Burlesque Expo is waiving the application fee for anyone who backs The Burlesque Deck and sends them proof.

You apply to The Expo for free, The Burlesque Deck becomes a reality (and introduce more people to burlesque), and you get the warm, fuzzy feeling of having helped elevate burlesque. Everybody wins.

What else can we do to lift up the world of burlesque?

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 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 17 January 2020 at 3:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Creative License

Dear Constant Reader,

I hadn’t been feeling too inspired on the burlesque front recently, so I’ve been exercising my creativity in other ways. Next week I’m going to start sharing some of the results.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 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 January 2020 at 12:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

Goals

Dear Constant Reader,

Last week the troupe and apprentices set our personal burlesque goals for the year (or for the term of their apprenticeship). This year we did things a little differently.

In the past people have written goals using vague language, like “more” or “better”, which makes it hard to tell when you’ve fulfilled your goal. This year goals had to follow the SMART guidelines (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based). We also had to choose some goals with an April deadline as well as some that had longer deadlines.

Then came the fun and challenging part. Each of us had to suggest a goal for each of the other members of the troupe. It was interesting to see what each person thought the others should work on. More than once people independently came up with the same or similar goal for someone.

One of my personal goals to complete before April is to make a video tutorial. You can help me choose a topic!

One of the goals I was given (by more than one person) is to create a funny number. Contrary to popular belief, I have done comedy in the past, just not in a long time. Here’s proof!

As we achieve our goals, I’ll show you some of the results! Did you set any goals this year?

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 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 14 January 2020 at 3:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags:

2019 in Review

Dear Constant Reader,

2019 was a year full of challenges. A hard, frustrating, often depressing year. A look back at my journal shows a lot of despair and desire to give up. I feel like we performed less frequently (not true — I performed as many times as in 2018 — but this year we had a number of shows that got canceled). I was not accepted into any festivals this year. On the other hand, I traveled a bit and performed in two new states.

January
I go to Los Angeles to perform at Burlesque Bingo: House of Knyle Edition and graduate from Egypt’s mentorship program. I regretfully turn down her offer to join her house. I get to spend time with Kitten Natividad and see friends. The only downside of the trip was that a class with Michelle L’amour was canceled. Everything else was wonderful.

February
We have a Valentine’s Day show at a new venue, Thunder Road in Somerville, where our newest apprentices help out. I get sick again, just in time to spend my birthday in bed with a bad cough. I also teach a workshop at a college for “Love Your Body Week”. It’s well received and a lot of fun.

March
We perform at the Mardi Gras Ball. I go to Costume-Con, which is local. Maybe someday I’ll even show you the costume and talk about its creation. I travel to Atlanta to perform in Coco Rosé’s anniversary show.

April
April marks 2 years that I’ve been on Patreon. Not much has changed there from when I started in terms of numbers of Patrons. I really need to figure out how to change that. We perform at a private club above a strip club with an interesting dressing room situation. Satan’s Angel dies. I still don’t have the words.

May
I teach a burlesque fitness class for a swanky hotel in Boston. We have a beach party show at Thunder Road and the apprentices, Electrix, Holly Go Harder, Kyra Lida, and Madeleine Minx, perform the solos they created with us. The venue likes the show so much they offer us a monthly slot. I also debut a new fan dance, which I love a lot. Despite performing it at 3 shows, there’s no video. It seems to always be the way…

June
I go to Topeka, Kansas to perform in a fundraiser for a historic theatre. This was probably my best traveling showgirl experience this year! The audience was great, the other performers were lovely, the producer was wonderful. And there was KC barbecue.

July
We have to leave The Thalia. Certain renovations have to be done and the city of Cambridge’s bureaucracy is making it nigh unto impossible to get the appropriate permits and licenses. We can’t use the space again until the work is done. We spend the next two months scrounging for rehearsal space. It’s very stressful.

August
Rust Belt Burlesque, a collection of photos from Cleveland burlesque shows is published and The Faerie Queene makes an appearance.

We’re still rehearsing in found space, but everyone is trying to make the best of it.
 

September
We have a new home! Welcome to The Arts Nexus, a space with multiple(!) studios. It needs a lot of work, but after a summer of traveling around, it’s wonderful. Also, we start our monthly show at Thunder Road on the second Saturday. We invite Electrix to join the troupe and she says yes!

September is also pretty terrible for me emotionally. I didn’t write about it at the time, because I was so badly wounded. Three former students (one of whom even taught for me) demand to have their presence removed from my school’s website. And a ex-troupe member tells me to kiss off when I reach out. Thanks, ladies, for reminding me just how inclusive and open-minded the Boston burlesque “community” is.

October
We do 3 shows in October, in Cambridge, Somerville, and Salem, with almost no overlap in numbers. It’s exhausting, but the shows are very good.

I win a contest for an incredible unique piece of art. The experience brightens my entire outlook after the soul-crushing events of September. I feel creative again. I host a spooky tea party. I record and edit a Halloween story (learning Audacity to do so). The day after Halloween I get to meet the artist herself in a graveyard in Salem.

November
I make my mostly annual pilgrimage to BurlyCon to teach and to learn. Scratch and I go to Miss Bonnie Dunn’s Le Scandal Cabaret for his birthday. I have a warm spot for this show as it’s where I made my NYC debut (although not in its current location).

December
A very disappointing month. We have no shows at all. Worse than not having any shows, we think we have three and for one reason after another, they don’t come to pass. Very frustrating. On the other hand, I don’t have to work New Year’s Eve.

A very mixed year. Mostly a low one, with a few bright spots. Here’s hoping 2020 is better!

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 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 2020 at 10:09 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags:

Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Don’t forget to vote in my poll! Here’s your tip:

Spread positivity.

Let’s face it, people love to complain and share bad news. With social media it’s even easier to spread the word. People praise less publicly and that should change.

For example, when someone goes to a burlesque show and has a good time, they *might* go up to their favorite performer after the show and tell them that they enjoyed the show. And that’s usually it. However, if they didn’t like the show, they’ll jump on their favorite platform and bitch about it*. And then other people will probably pile on and the trashing will continue. It’s so much more fun to knock down than build up! This can get rather toxic very quickly. Businesses and people have been ruined by this vicious behavior.

So, let’s reverse the trend. If you like something, say something. Write a review, leave a high rating, tell people. Don’t just keep it to yourself or tell that one friend. Be public about your pleasure. When someone else posts about something they liked, share it. The world is such a negative place, let’s not add more to it.

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

* I’m not talking about well-thought out critique or a reasoned negative review — that’s a different topic. This is just about trash-talk.

Published in: on 10 January 2020 at 3:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags:

Happy New Year!

Dear Constant Reader,

I hope 2020 is treating you well!

I’m often asked if there’s a place you can find all my Friday Tips and until now, the best way was to search on the tag “tips”, which wasn’t so helpful if you were looking for a specific tip. Now you can find all my Friday Tips right here in a helpful chronological list. Just click the tip and you’ll go to the original post.

I’d like to create some tutorials! Please pick your favorite on this little poll.


Next week I’ll announce the winner.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 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 2020 at 2:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: