BurlyCon 2019: Saturday

Dear Constant Reader,

Saturday was BurlyLab day. BurlyLabs are hands-on classes and I think was new this year. Students registered and paid any materials fees in advance. It takes the stress off both the students (having a guaranteed spot in class) and instructors (having the right amount of materials).

Bump N Grind Burlesque Patterning (Lou Lou la Duchess de Riere)
I was very excited for this class: patterning a panel skirt, triangle bra, and panties. I’m always interested to see how someone else does it. It started well, as we were all given pattern-making supplies and Lou Lou clearly explained the math needed to create a quarter circle pattern. We got gridded pattern fabric and could draft our own. That’s when things got rocky. The class was open to all levels and so many people didn’t understand the patterning and needed individual attention. It took almost two hours to get through that one part of the garment. She rushed though the belt pattern and construction. The class was supposed to be two hours, but we had the classroom for another hour so Lou Lou quickly explained patterning and construction of triangle bras and panties. I got some useful information, even in haste.

I saw the line for buying next year’s tickets was very short, so I got on it and got the cheapest ticket they offer. I guess I’m going next year. Now to develop some new class offerings on the them “The Roaring Twenties”…

Shake It Up: Shake Dancing in History & Practice (Bebe Bardot)
I was really looking forward to this one. Bebe is a scholar, a researcher, and is probably the foremost authority on black burlesque history. She’s amazing! She came rushing in about half an hour late — her plane had been delayed and landed around the time class was supposed to start! She hit the ground running and taught a shorter version of the class, but it was still packed with information. We learned about the history of shake dancing, a hidden part of burlesque history, and then we got to try it out! It’s so high energy and exciting. But I can’t imagine doing it for hours, like the shake dancers of the past. You can read Bebe’s brief history of shake dancing here.

Tantalizing Tulle Boas (Robyn Swing)
Before I go to BurlyCon I ask the troupe if there are any classes they’d like me to take and report back. Ava was particularly interested in this topic, so I signed up for it. It was terrific to be able to try the technique hands-on. After a few fumbles, I walked out of the class feeling like I had the technique down and I had something concrete to show the troupe. You can see my very first puff in the photo. Only a thousand more to make a boa!

Again I skipped the evenings activities to meet up with my friend A. I’ve known her since I was in grad school and try to get together with her whenever I can. She suggested we go see Dracula at a local theatre and I was all over that, as you might imagine. It was a terrific production. Very creative staging and movement, an interesting take on the story, great use of music, very effective puppetry. I’m very glad we went.

More to come…

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 4 December 2019 at 2:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip!

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! I hope my US readers had a pleasant Thanksgiving and everyone else had a nice Thursday. Speaking of thankfulness, here’s your tip:

Take five minutes a day to think about what and who you are thankful for.

Five minutes is such a tiny part of your day, but it can make a big impact in changing your mood and perspective. Try it first thing when you wake up or as the last thing before you go to sleep.

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 29 November 2019 at 2:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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BurlyCon 2019: Friday

Dear Constant Reader,

Friday was bookended by teaching. I skipped the first class session to try to sleep in (a lost cause) and work out in my room. A long stretching session was required after being scrunched up the plane the day before.

Caring for your Costumes (Mina Murray)
This is probably my most requested class. It’s 90 minutes of me expounding with advice, tips, and tricks. You know, the stuff I do here every Friday, only more so. It was in this class, many a BurlyCon ago, that I was dubbed “The Martha Stewart of Burlesque”. I was gratified that the class was so large and so enthusiastic. I should remember not to go over the stain handout, but just pass it out, so there’s more time for questions.

Teaching Burlesque: for Seasoned Burlesque Performers (Indigo Blue)
Although the class was packed with teachers, Indigo asked anyone with 4 years or less experience take a step back from participating. We did some role play for dealing with difficult students and discussed best practices in the classroom (very valuable!). We broke up into groups to discuss the two most popular issues — curriculum and marketing. I was in the curriculum group (facilitated by the unflappable Legs Malone) and realized my definitions of beginning, intermediate, and advanced classes are quite different from many of the other teachers. I’m still mulling over my take-away from this class.

Adding Magic Effects to Your Performance (Professor DR Schreiber)
My plan was to go to The Art of Sex and Seduction with Egypt Blaque Knyle, but the room was already jam-packed, with more people pouring in. No great shock given the subject and the instructor, but I was feeling rather claustrophobic and bowed out.

I ducked into the class on magic, another favorite subject of mine, and since I have an act that uses slight of hand, I can always use some pointers. Of course I can’t tell you anything about the class, because, you know, secrets are the foundation of magic.

Achieving Closure (Mina Murray)
My second time teaching. This class was much smaller, but still enthusiastic. It was opposite Jo Weldon’s Hairography class and I don’t blame people for wanting to go there instead — I would have as well if I wasn’t teaching. I had a few thoughts on how to improve my little busy book of closures for next time.

Then I met up with Scandal from Bohemia and Scarlett Letter for a “literary names of burlesque” photo. I do wish we could have tracked down Agatha Tristy to join us.

Jewlesquers Celebrate Shabbat (a meet-up)
I don’t really consider myself a Jewlesquer — I don’t have a Hanukkah act or anything like that — but it was nice to meet some new people and talk about some things only other members of the tribe really understand. I came in late and missed the candle lighting, but I was in time for blessing and sharing the challah.

Needing a little downtime, I had take-out and tea in my room and once again missed the class photo. This is pretty much an annual tradition by now.

Although I really just wanted to go to bed, I threw on a leopard print dress, didn’t do my hair or makeup and went to the dance. It’s really easy for me to just want to hole up in my hotel room with a book, but BurlyCon is such a great opportunity to see and meet people and I promised Scratch I would do so. Despite feeling shy and tired, I set out. Before attending the dance proper, I visited Melissa Flynn’s amazing vintage pop-up shop. There were many beautiful items I resisted buying, but it was hard.

I also grabbed my copy of Fierce and hoped I’d run into Jo Weldon. I did and she (wearing a fabulous leopard-rhinestoned corset) signed it.

More to come…

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 26 November 2019 at 11:52 am  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Here’s your tip!

Try a new art.

You may not be good at it at first… or ever, but it will challenge your mind and body. Even if it’s not something you would use on stage, it will spark your creativity and that’s always a good thing for your performances.

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 22 November 2019 at 11:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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BurlyCon 2019: Thursday

Dear Constant Reader,

Earlier this month I made my almost annual pilgrimage to Seattle for BurlyCon. Only “almost annual” because I missed the last two years. Last year, you might recall I caught a nasty cough that prevented me from traveling and the year before that we were hired to perform at RuffleCon. After two years off, I was glad to finally return.

I had to get up stupid early to get to the airport. I’m still not sure what was going on when my Lyft driver was about to plunge into some dire looking traffic when I gently pointed out that he wanted the exit on the left. He seemed puzzled that I wanted to go to the airport. That bit of excitement aside, it was a perfectly dull trip, just as I like it. There was even no one in the middle seat, so I could get some sleep.

Once arrived and checked in, I got settled and went to classes. I skipped the first two class sessions, so it was a short day.

Cowgirl Up! (Dixie DeLish)
I was really excited for this class because it was a whole new skill — trick roping. We learned all about the different parts of the rope and how to handle it. Then it was time to try it ourselves. We started with spinning a flat circle. I was terrible! I was starting to get a bit frustrated and sure I was never going to get it.

Eventually we switched ropes around and starting using one of a different length. I finally did it! I could hear my old archery mentor saying “This is an equipment driven sport”. But that’s only part of it — rotating your wrist while twisting the rope in your fingers is quite tricky. I think it’s a little like hooping — once your body learns the motion I bet it becomes second nature.

We also learned the catch. Not as challenging, but I wasn’t willing to try to catch another person. I’m definitely glad I took the class, even if I never pick up a rope again. It’s always good to challenge yourself.

Cooler on the Internet: Sparkle on Social Media (Siomai Moore)
I’m a fan of Siomai (rhymes with “Oh my!”)’s podcast, The Pastie Tapes (illustration is the pin she gave me for saying so) and my social medial game is poor, so this seemed like an ideal class. I think I walked out with more questions than when the class started, because I didn’t know I needed to ask them. I’m planning to do my own social media audit, once I get Siomai’s materials. She announced at the beginning of class that she’ll send out her presentation as an ebook, so I didn’t frantically have to take notes, but could just listen.

Then I ducked out on the evening’s social event, a circus-themed meet and greet, to have dinner with my sister. As a bonus, she took me to her local supermarket so I could get some genuine Washington apples for snacks. The Seattle light rail is pretty terrific and makes it easy to get out of the hotel and see people.

More to come…

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 18 November 2019 at 3:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! I’m back from BurlyCon where I learned a lot and hopefully imparted some knowledge as well. Here’s your tip!

Be kind to your knees.

I’ve already talked about wearing knee pads for practice. I wanted to gently remind you that knees are delicate parts of our bodies and should be treated accordingly.

In particular I want to caution you about the knee drop. It’s a dramatic way to get down to the floor, but if it’s done wrong you can cause yourself some serious damage. Unless you know how to do it safely, every time, consider a different method for getting down to the floor. There are other exciting ways that don’t risk your precious knees.

If there is interest, I’ll do a short video of some of them. Please comment here if you’d like that.

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 15 November 2019 at 3:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant reader,

Happy Friday! This is coming to you from BurlyCon in Seattle where I’m teaching today. Here’s your tip!

When traveling, bring more than one pair of shoes.

As performers we often spend a lot of time on our feet and often in shoes that look great but aren’t so comfortable. Soothe your feet by changing your shoes. A different heel height and sole shape will feel good on your feet and give you spring in your step again.

Pictured above, my shoes for BurlyCon: character shoes for daytime classes, heels for the dance, comfy flats for the plane and venturing out of the hotel, mules for relaxing.

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 8 November 2019 at 11:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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BurlyCon Bound

Dear Constant Reader,

In just a few days I shall be winging my way to BurlyCon!

I was so disappointed to miss last year, but I was so wretchedly sick that there was no way that I should have been allowed around other human beings.

This year I will be teaching two classes, both on Friday — Caring for Your Costumes at 10:15am and Achieving Closure at 5:30pm. I hope to see you there!

I’ll also have copies of my Little Books for sale! I’m almost out of the Book of Better Burlesque, so this may be your last chance to get a copy.

There are so many people I’m looking forward to seeing! I hope we can find a little time out of the busy schedule to catch up.

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 4 November 2019 at 2:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! It’s the day after Halloween and that means your tip is…

Go shopping today!

It’s a great time to buy all sorts of burlesque accessories. Stores that carried Halloween supplies are now desperate to get rid of them to make room for the next wave of holiday items. You can usually pick up useful staples like gloves, stockings, boas, eyelashes, makeup, and the like at deep discounts. They’re only costume pieces, so don’t expect high quality. Go today because tomorrow they’ll probably be replaced with Christmas stuff. Not that that’s such a bad thing

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 1 November 2019 at 11:10 am  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! We’re appearing tonight in Burlesque Macabre and I am incredibly excited to be doing a darkly seasonal show. This is the only time of year we get to do anything like this.

Here’s your tip!

Stage kittens have a very important job.
(Photo of stage kitten extraordinaire Guilted Lilly by Bruce Davis)

A “stage kitten”* for the non-burlesque folks are the crew members who clean the stage of discarded costume pieces and props. They also set up and remove any set pieces and sometimes interact with the performers, maybe to hand them an item. Backstage, they are there to support the performers and the best ones always seem to have that thing you need right now, like a safety pin. They are a vital part of the show.

A great stage kitten is an amazing asset to a show and makes performances run smoothly. It’s also a good way to get your feet wet in the world of burlesque.

However, I don’t love the idea that being a stage kitten is a required stepping stone to performing and that one has to pay one’s dues by being a stage kitten before performing. Like I said, I think it’s a fine way to start out, but it’s not required. Not everyone is cut out to be a stage kitten. It requires a certain focus and attention to detail.

I do think every performer should try their hand at it at least once, because it will give you an appreciation for the job and those who do it. It’s absolute nonsense that performers are somehow a step up from kittens (yes, I’ve heard people refuse a kittening job as though it were an insult to be asked). You’re all necessary for a good show!

In the world of theatre, there are performers and there are crew. Stage kittens straddle that line, since they are meant to be a visible part of the show, but also help keep it moving smoothly.

*Also called a stage panther, pickup artist, and other cute names. Let me know your favorites in the comments!

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 25 October 2019 at 3:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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