Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! I hope you’re staying cool. Here’s your tip!

Finish the ends of ribbons.

Ribbons are so useful in costuming, but the cut ends fray easily and can dissolve into a mass of threads from one wrong pull. You could just tie a knot in the end, but it’s not that nice looking. Here are some attractive and easy finishes.

Sewn: Fold the end of the ribbon twice, so the raw edge is neatly hidden and then stitch. No machine necessary — I prefer to sew these small hems by hand.

Cut: Cut the ribbon on a diagonal (along the bias). I like the swallowtail shown in the picture, but a simple diagonal or an arrow shape work too.

Sealed: Dab a little FrayCheck or fabric glue along the cut edge. I used glitter paint in the above example for a little contrast and sparkle.

Melted: This is only for ribbons made from artificial fibers (most ribbons qualify). Hold the end of the ribbon near a flame. It will melt from the heat and neatly seal the edge. Don’t put the ribbon in the flame — we’re looking for melted, not burnt. I like to use one of those barbecue lighters for this method.

Enjoy the clean finish on your ribbons!

M2Like this costuming tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Burlesque Costuming.

These 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 19 July 2019 at 2:27 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Today’s tip comes from Scratch and it’s about intellectual property (IP), those intangible creations of one’s mind.

When collaborating on a creation with someone, you can save a lot of heartache if everyone agrees in advance who can do what with the creation.

If it’s an act, who gets to perform it and under what circumstances? If it’s a class, who gets to teach it? If it’s a recurring show at a venue or a troupe, who gets to use the name?

It’s easier to decide about who owns something when there’s only one of it. A physical costume can only be in one place at one time, but what about the design of the costume? Does the designer retain the IP and can create another costume with the same design? Did the wearer purchase the rights to the design and can reproduce it? Was the design exclusive to this one costume and neither person can reproduce it?

Here’s another example with something even more intangible, a dance: If you choreograph a duet with another performer and then perform it together, then what? Who owns the act? How can it be used in the future?

Maybe the two of you agree that you will only perform the act together. Maybe you agree that each of you can teach the choreography to another dancer and perform it with them. Maybe you agree that the choreography can be taught to other dancers and does not need any members of the original partnership on stage. There are lots of options, but you both should decide on one and abide by it.

I’m not saying you need have lawyers and contracts involved, but a solid understanding about who owns what before you start collaborating will save everyone hassle and heartbreak later.

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. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 12 July 2019 at 3:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! It sure is summer here in Boston!

Partial CoverageYou all know to wear sunscreen, but sometimes things happen and you get burned.

Treat a sunburn with cool water and moisturizer.

Put cool compresses on the burn or take a bath or shower. Just lightly pat your skin with a towel so it’s not completely dry and apply a moisturizer to the burn. Aloe vera is great! Lotions with any sort of “-caine” can irritate your skin. If the burn is really painful and inflamed, some ibuprofen will help.

I use this, which has all sorts of soothing ingredients, like aloe, oatmeal, cucumber and lavender.

Make sure to drink a lot of water too.

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. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 5 July 2019 at 3:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! This week I’ve got another sewing tip for you!

A little wax can smooth your way.

When you’re sewing through thick fabric or using multiple strands of thread in your needles, it can help a lot to wax the thread. It strengthens the thread and holds the strands together which helps prevent tangles and fraying. You can buy wax in a cake, like in the picture, which comes in a plastic holder with notches to run the thread through (I took it out of the case for the photo — too much glare) or in pretty shapes. or you can just use a candle end.

To wax the thread, just hold the thread against the wax and pull it the whole length once or twice. Some people wax their thread first, but I prefer to thread my needle, knot the thread, and then run it through the wax.

I wish you smooth sewing!

M2Like this costuming tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Burlesque Costuming.

These 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 June 2019 at 3:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Tomorrow I’m off to Topeka — extremely early in the morning — but this week’s tip isn’t about travel. It’s about your hands.

Extend your gestures beyond your fingertips.

You want your hands be dramatic and your gestures to be clearly seen, even in the back of the house. Make your motions full of energy (which is not necessarily the same as energetic). I like to imagine I’m shooting power rays out of the ends of my fingers.

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. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 21 June 2019 at 3:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! I hope you’re going to join me tomorrow at Burlesque Beach Blast at Deacon Giles. Ticket prices go up at midnight, so grab yours now!

I was humbled to see that close to 200 people read last week’s tip. I hope you like this one too!

Rehearse your curtain call.

It’s the last thing the audience sees of your show, so you want it to be strong and clean. Here are somethings that will help create a professional-looking curtain call.

  • Know what order you’re entering. This could be the same order as performance or reverse or alphabetical. In the BeauTease we start with stage kittens as a group, then apprentices (also as a group), special guests, and then the troupe in order of seniority. What ever order you chose, make sure everyone knows it.
  • Know where to stand. After you’ve taken your bow and fade back, you should take a position on stage. It doesn’t matter if it’s a line or more creative placement as no one has to jockey for a place and each side of the stage is balanced.
  • Know if you’re staying in character or not. This doesn’t always apply in burlesque because often the “character” you play is your burlesque persona and you should stay in that character for as long as the audience can see you.
  • If you’re taking a group bow, be in unison. The easiest way to do this is have the person in the center lead the bow. It helps if you’re all holding hands and the leader will do something everyone can see, like nod. Then all together, hands go up, take your bow, count to two, then stand again, lowering your hands.
  • Acknowledge the tech staff. It’s always classy to extend a hand (all cast members should do this at the same time) to the back of the house.
  • Know how to exit. You should know where to exit (stage right, stage left, through the audience, &c.) and in what order you should leave. Someone should be designated to lead the cast off the stage and everyone can follow like baby ducks.
  • Know when to exit. Leave just after the applause has peaked, but before it starts to taper off. Lingering on stage is awkward.
  • After you’ve left the stage, you can come out into the audience or theatre lobby to meet your Adoring Fans.

    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. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

    Published in: on 14 June 2019 at 3:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    Friday Tip

    Dear Constant Reader,

    Happy Friday! Many of those in the burlesque world are off at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend. I hope you’re having fun, drinking lots of water, and maybe even getting a little sleep.

    I’m so excited to share with you a tip (my 400th!) from the brilliant Betty Blaize. It’s so simple and so clever.

    When you’ve got a tear-away cup bra, it’s important to make sure you attach the cups on the correct sides. There’s a subtle, but important, difference between the left cup and the right, but they look so similar. Betty, ever the engineer, came up with this simple solution.

    On one side of the bra, sew the male halves of the snaps on the cup and female halves on the frame. For the other side do the opposite.


    Here’s the bra she just made for Devastasia. I know it’s hard to see the details, so there’s a close up below.

    You can see the female snap on the cup and the male snap on the frame. It’s exactly the reverse on the other side. It’s impossible to snap a cup onto the wrong side!

    This works for detachable panel skirts too! Sew the snaps one way for the front panel and the other way for the back.

    M2Like this costuming tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Burlesque Costuming.

    These 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 7 June 2019 at 2:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    Friday Tip

    Dear Constant Reader,

    Happy Friday! Tonight I’ll be at our Burlesque Beach Party. Hope to see you there! And here’s your tip…


    Even if you can’t kick high or straddle wide, if your form is good, you look great.

    Look at Devastasia’s straight legs and her nicely pointed toes. That’s what you want to strive for! Keep your back nice and straight too. It’s easy to bend forward and not even be aware, especially you’re trying for a higher kick.

    (Photo by Andrea Ramirez-Maciolek.)

    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. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

    Published in: on 31 May 2019 at 2:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    Friday Tip

    Dear Constant Reader,

    Happy Friday! Before I get to your tip, some exciting news! On June 22 I’ll be headed to Topeka, Kansas to perform at the historic Jayhawk Theatre, site of Dainty June’s last vaudeville performance with her sister, the future Gypsy Rose Lee. I’m thrilled to be performing at this fundraiser for the theatre. You know how I feel about history! I’m also teaching the next day.

    Now, it’s neither easy nor inexpensive to get from Boston to Kansas City (the closest airport to Topeka). If you want to help me defray the costs of this worthwhile performance, please become a Patron, buy a book, take a class, or just leave a donation. Thank you!

    And now for your tip…

    Dance shoes are not necessarily sized the same as street shoes.

    And of course the sizing isn’t constant across manufacturers. Trying to buy on-line can be an occasion for tears. I recommend going to a dance store and trying on shoes to find the size and style that works for you, then you can buy them on-line if you want. I keep a list of my preferred shoe styles and the size that fits me best. That list also speeds things up at the shoe store (I don’t enjoy shopping and try to be as efficient as I can).

    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. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

    Published in: on 24 May 2019 at 3:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    Friday Tip

    Dear Constant Reader,

    Once again it’s Friday and time for a tip!

    Ballroom shoes need special care.

    Ballroom dance shoes are wonderful. Their flexible suede soles give the dancer a lot of control, but they’re also more delicate than a hard leather-soled shoe. To make them last as long as possible, there are a couple of simple steps you can take.

    First, only wear them while you’re performing or rehearsing, as you should with any dance shoe.

    Brush the soles with a soft-bristled shoe brush after each wearing. This will remove any dirt and condition the suede, which gets compacted when you dance on it.

    Use heel protectors. The heels of your shoes take a lot of pressure and wear out fast. These clear plastic caps that fit over the heel of your shoe. My new ballroom shoes (above) included the heel protectors in a cute little bag, but you can buy them separately too. Mine are plain plastic, but I’ve hear you can get ones with a suede bottom. They’re a little tight to get on, but you won’t have to take them off unless they need to be replaced.

    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. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

    Published in: on 17 May 2019 at 2:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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