Bad Luck Burlesque 11/4

Dear Constant Reader,

We brought Bad Luck Burlesque, a mix of the previous show of that name and some acts from Panties Inferno to The Strand Ballroom in Dover, NH. This was the troupe’s second appearance there, but my first, since I was in New Mexico.

The Strand is a vintage theatre that had been turned into a movie house, but now also hosts live entertainment and dancing. The first several rows of seats had been removed and a dance floor laid out. Although there is a low proscenium stage, we were performing on the dance floor, so as not to be miles from the audience.

If you are one of my Patrons, you can see a video I made from our dressing room in all my pre-show not-so-glamourous glory. I don’t remember the order of the acts, but here are a few snippets. Photos are by audience member Beth Wittenberg.

Our special guest was local blues singer Mike Breman. He accompanied Betty during her injury striptease to “That’s Life” and sang two other songs.

Betty reprised her injured striptease, as mentioned above. She also danced with the Devil in her signature piece, as seen in the photo. Betty is also expert with Wings of Isis. Sometimes she does a striptease, sometimes it’s a straight-up dance number, as it was this time. She included a special surprise for this performance — halfway through the dance, her wings lit up! I wish I had a good picture of the multicolored LED wings in action.

Devastasia’s disturbing bird tormented poor Nicole. She was also an adorable witch in the act she created for our Salem show.
 
 
 
 
 

Scratch mystified and horrified the audience with two dangerous pieces: “The Spike”, which involves attempting not to drive a three-inch steel spike through his hand and “Urban Legend” which involves an apple studded with double-edged razor blades and his mouth. There has never been an incident, but I still can’t watch them.
 

Once again Nicole played my naughty maid and I got to spank her in “Mistress & Maid”. Poor Nicole — first a bird, than a sadistic employer. I also presented my fan dance to “Moon Over Bourbon Street”. From where I was, the lighting for that was fabulous.

For the finale Nicole, Devastasia and I danced to “Booty Swing”, an act that involves picking up and setting down tall staves. That’s when we discovered the the floor was sloped toward the audience… Exciting. I recall Nicole daintily setting down her foot on an errant staff as it began rolling down into the audience.

After the show the good folks at the theatre took up on a tour of the place and insisted we take several large bags of delicious fresh popcorn. We’ll be back for New Year’s Tease on December 31st!

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

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Published in: on 21 November 2017 at 3:25 am  Leave a Comment  
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Panties Inferno 10/28

Dear Constant Reader,

Most years for Halloween, we present our haunting cabaret, The Wrathskellar. This year, for various reasons, that just wasn’t going to happen. Scratch decided to present Panties Inferno, a cheery jaunt through Hell. Rather than a revue, the show had a plot and a script. Artemisia played the Dante-like character, while Scratch was not exactly her Virgil.

It was a nice change of pace to do a one-night show instead of a run that’s weeks long and also to do a show that was mostly comedic instead of angsty. From the audiences’ comments afterwards, it sounded like we achieved our goal: fun, funny, and entertaining.

And the show completely sold out.

I don’t think I can do the entire show justice, but I’ll do my best. It’s probably going to get long… I wish I had photos to merrily intersperse amongst the text, but we’re terrible about that. If you are or know a photographer or videographer who’d like to shoot a show, drop me a line!

Artemisia began the show, lost in the woods, where she encountered 3 ladies in gauzy draperies, dancing in the woods.

Devastasia, Gin-ni, Nicole: Virtuous Pagans (“Booty Swing”, Parov Stelar)
This is one of our staple group numbers. This time the dancers wore the aforementioned gauzy and sequined draperies and carried wooden staves, as befit bucolic virtuous pagans.

Artemisia: That’s Life
Resigned to her plight, Artemisia sang this old standard.Before she knew it, she had attracted a native guide willing to leader her through Hell. That would be Scratch (in his signature red zoot suit). The first denizen of the deep she spied was from her home state of Massachusetts!

Mina: Lizzie Borden (“Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing”, Chris Isaak)
This is an old, old number of mine — I created it for the second year we did Out for Blood. You can see some elements that I later used in my bathtub act.

Scratch: Magic
Scratch had Artemisia tie his thumbs together with Infernal Pipe Cleaners and proceeded to accidentally make the impossible happen. Unfortunately, his magic attracted a more powerful sorceress.

Devastasia: (“Ding, Dong The Witch is Dead”, Ella Fitzgerald)
This is an adorably perky number that Devastasia created for our show in Salem. She did most of the lovely costuming herself, from purple fringed gloves to illuminated spider panel skirt.

Mina, Gin-ni, Valerie: The Leopards of Lust (“Strip Blues”, Johnny Staccato)
Long time fans will have recognized this as the second half of an act we usually call “Factory Girls”. I had less time to get ready after my first act (because I had to dry off) than I though and was putting on my jewelry in the wings. I failed to properly clasp my necklace and realized as we were doing the bra remove, that it was sliding off. I admit I kinda screwed up the choreography (really noticeable in a number this tight) because I was trying to grab it before it fell off.

Betty: The Succubus (“Nightmare”, Artie Shaw)
This was the debut of this number. Betty, bathed in red light, dances and strips behind a door of jagged and broken slats. She’s partially visible, partially in shadow. It’s quite amazing. We’re hoping to get video of this one.

Artemisia: (“Everything Goes to Hell”, Tom Waits)
Seduced by the dance The Succubus, Artemisa performs her own striptease. Realizing what she’s done, she flees the stage.

INTERMISSION

Artemisia: Creep (PMJ arrangement)
Remorseful of her previous behavior, Artemisia tells us all how she feels about herself in a song, while showing off her impressive vocal range.

Gin-ni: (“I Want to Be Evil”, Eartha Kitt)
Gin-ni tries to convince Artemisia that being bad isn’t so, well, bad.

Devastasia: The Raven (“A Most Unpleasant Way, Sir”, Gordon Bok/ “Dark Eyes”)
Poor Artemisia, briefly abandoned by her guide, is set upon by a large and unpleasant bird. This was also an act debut and I just love it. The music selection, concept, and costume design were all Scratch, but Devastasia brought it to life. The first piece of music is a folk story-song about a man cursed with a vulture and Devastasia slowly transforms Artemisia into the bird.

Here it’s decided it would be better if they just took the Hellevator down to the bottom. This gag had Scratch & Artemisia just standing on stage in a rectangle of light for roughly an eternity while Muzak played. The audience couldn’t stop laughing.

Betty: Lilith (“You’re the Boss”, Brian Setzer)
This one of Betty’s first numbers and it’s only gotten better with time. Inspired by vintage performer Lorraine Lane, Betty dances with the Devil. I may be biased, but Betty is the best modern performer I’ve ever seen do this specialty style.

Mina, Nicole: Mistress and Maid (“Experiment in Terror/Stalkin'”, Impala)
This is second half of a number created for The Wrathskellar that I used to do with Brigitte. A naughty maid tries on one of my dresses and gets punished for it. I love this act because I get to spank someone with a hairbrush and I get to wear The Diva’s fabulous coat.

Scratch: Magic (“Sexe”)
At this point Artemisia is doubting everything Scratch has told her, even that he has magical powers. Using said magic, he conjures gifts and trinkets for her from thin air. She declares she’s not staying in Hell a minute longer. Of course, she’s about to be wrong about that, as demons flood the stage to tempt Artemisia to join them.

Artemisia, Betty, Devastasia, Mina, Valerie: Finale (“Hell”, Squirrel Nut Zippers)
This is really and truly our earliest group number. Betty created it for the opening of our very first full-length show. Over the years since then the costumes have improved and the choreography has become more complex. It was a bit of a brain twister for me because I’ve been playing Artemisia’s part for years, but I still had a little muscle memory of the original time I dances as a demon, twelve years ago. Needless to say, it’s not the same choreography at all.

After we swamped Artemisia and swept her off stage, Scratch gave an Epilogue to the audience. I have no idea what it was as we were getting dressed again for the curtain call.

The show was a lot of fun and some really good new acts came out of it. It was also kind of frantic, before and during. We had a limited time to rehearse, especially the group numbers, and there weren’t two rehearsals in a row with all the apprentices present. Everything was moving so quickly backstage that I didn’t even film my usual behind the scenes video for my Patrons. Scratch did post this video to Facebook, so you can get a taste.

Two more shows to write 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.

Published in: on 20 November 2017 at 11:05 am  Leave a Comment  
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Bad Luck Burlesque 10/13

Dear Constant Reader,

Over the summer The Boston BeauTease performed at Deacon Giles Speakeasy Lab in Salem, thanks to a connection made by Brigitte. The show went so well that they asked us back. Friday the 13th seemed like a great date for a show in Salem in October. Since the last show practically sold out, we had TWO seatings of this show and they both completely sold out.

Scratch, Devastasia, Artemisia, and I went up early so we could visit the Peabody Essex Museum for It’s Alive! Classic Horror and Sci-Fi Art from the Kirk Hammett Collection. It’s highly worth it, even if it means going into Salem in the high season. The collection is excellent, with most of the important films represented, and some I didn’t know (I must see Asta Nielsen’s Hamlet). The exhibit is also very well presented with simple lighting effects used to create mood — I’ve always been fond of gobos — and projected film clips of the most iconic characters on the walls.

After that delightful interlude, it was time to head to the venue.

The Speakeasy is a small space and like so many bars, there’s no permanent stage, but the good folks there made us one out of four pallets and a sheet of plywood. Before you get all snobby at me, it was actually better than some of the soggy carpeted stages at rock clubs I’ve played. And Brigitte’s taps sounded great. We had a huge dressing room space back in the distillery proper and everyone did their best to make sure we had a great experience. And we did.

The show went something like this:

Betty Blaize, Artemisia Vulgaris: That’s Life (Frank Sinatra arrangement)
Betty decided to embody the “Bad Luck” aspect of our show and came out on a crutch with a sling and neck brace, as Artemisia sang. As she stripped, she also stripped away her injuries her her trademark goofy style.

Brigitte Bisoux: In the Mood (Glenn Miller)
Disproving the superstition that it’s bad luck to open an umbrella indoors, Brigitte tapped her heart out. Here’s a little taste from her rehearsal.

Mina Murray: Moon Over Bourbon Street (Sting)
This is a brand new act from a suggestion by Scratch. I was delighted to have permission to use a song from outside of our usual aesthetic and also to wear one of my Catherine D’Lish robes.

Artemisia Vulagaris: Creep (PMJ arrangement)
Artemisia showcased her lovely voice with this not too creepy song.

Devastasia: Ding Dong the Witch is Dead (Ella Fitzgerald)
We couldn’t come to Salem in October without presenting a witch number. Devastasia was simply adorable.

Artemisia Vulagaris: The Man I Love (Julie London)
You may have seen Devora Darling perform this sinister love story. With her permission, Artemisia created her own version of the act.

Scratch: The Spike
I can’t watch Scratch perform this trick, which involves a large metal spike, a blindfold, and his hand.

Brigitte Bisoux: Alcohol (The Kinks)
This was created for The Wrathskellar, but slightly modified as it was being performed by Brigitte and not her character, The Broad. A little more humor, a little less darkness. And she swigged from a Deacon Giles bottle, of course

Artemisia Vulgaris, Devastasia, Mina Murray: Poison (Post Modern Jukebox)
This was originally created for Cover Girls but only Devastasia is left from the original casting. Three murderesses think they are cleverly offing the competition, but are they…?

I made a little backstage video between shows with an appearance from The BeauTease, but you have to be one of my Patrons to see it.

After the shows we were treated to creative (and strong!) cocktails by the bar staff. Mine was a Far Side of the Tracks, a mix of their spiced rum and Far from the Tree cider with egg white, cream and nutmeg, pictured at right. So delicious! Brigitte’s coffee rum-based cocktail had smoke in it! I also tried something with absinthe in it and the most bizarre cider I’ve ever tasted.

We’ll be back at Deacon Giles on December 16th with Brrrlesque, a winter holiday treat. If you can’t wait that long, you can catch us this Saturday at The Thalia in Panties Inferno!

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 23 October 2017 at 5:13 pm  Comments (2)  
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Cover Girls 9/30/17

Dear Constant Reader,

I was excited for this show, which was an idea Scratch had a long time ago — we would all perform to covers of songs, mostly current pop songs covered in a vintage-ish style. Then I discovered I had been accepted to ABurlyQ! for the same weekend as the shows, which were in Salem and New Hampshire. I was delighted when we decided to do the show on our home turf too.

I revived a very old number and created a brand-new one to a song I’ve been longing to use for a while now. I wrote about modifying a costume piece for the first one recently (and a little follow up report if you are a Patron). Neither one was particularly simple to create or rehearse and I confess to being worried abut the results for a while.

Things got a little exciting when Scratch got a message from our special guest, Carla Corazón, on the morning of the show — she was sick and had lost her voice. Since she was supposed to be singing, this was pretty bad. I’ll let you know how we handled things further down. Also, something went very wrong with transportation for Valerie, one of our new apprentices and a stage kitten for this show, and she didn’t arrive until halfway through the show. Again, it was handled by cast and crew gracefully.

And here’s the show…

Artemisia Vulgaris, Devastasia, Gin-ni Gelato: Poison (Bell Biv DeVoe covered by Post Modern Jukebox)
Three murderesses each think they’ll be the last one standing as they plot to take out the competition. Choreographed by Betty Blaize and originally performed at Cover Girls on the road. Only Devastasia was original to that version of the number and I’ll be taking Gin-ni’s place when we perform it at Bad Luck Burlesque in Salem.

Scratch: Magic (to Pastime Rag by Artie Matthews covered by Richard Dowling)
Here we ran into a small problem, because the costumes needed to be cleared from the stage *and* the table with the poisoned glasses needed to be struck *and* Scratch had a bit of schtick where he needed to be introduced by Nicole, who was also the sole available apprentice/stage kitten (Valerie was having the above-mentioned transportation issues and Gin-ni needed to get dressed before she could help). Somehow she managed to get most of it done.

It’s a card trick he does silently, because his mouth is taped shut — which is why he needed Nicole’s introduction.

Mina Murray: Peter Gunn (Henry Mancini Orchestra covered by Art of Noise)
My very first striptease was to the Peter Gunn Theme, although I used the Blues Brothers’ version back then. I still love the music and the costume. It’s evolved a bit in over a decade, but it’s not my typical languid moves and sparkly costume. This is where the previously mentioned zippered trousers come in.

Scratch: Makin’ Whoopee (Eddie Cantor covered by Tony Bennett)
Originally Carla was supposed to be singing “Fever” here. Since she was too sick to perform ( no fever jokes please), Scratch decided he would fill in with something from his repertoire. He sings so infrequently that most people don’t realize that it’s one of his many talents. He did pretty well until someone from the audience yelled “take it off!”.

Devastasia: Love Potion No. 9 (The Clovers covered by Herb Albert & The Tijuana Brass Band)
A rather classic striptease with a boa. Devastasia used her winning smile to great effect as she teased the audience with her love potion.

Betty Blaize: 1812 Overdrive (Tchaikovsky covered by The Brian Setzer Orchestra)
Betty created this act for The Big Time and built a stack of dice she can sit and stand on. It’s pretty impressive. However, it’s all stage hands on deck to move it and we were still down a kitten at this point. Artemisia lent a hand and everything went smoothly. Also, Betty’s costume is pretty impressive and has gotten more so since she first created the concept.

Intermission

Artemisia Vulgaris: All About That Bass (Meghan Trainor covered by PMJ)
This was the other song Carla was supposed to sing. Fortunately, Artemisia knew it and jumped in to fill the spot. She gets big points for going above & beyond this show.

Betty Blaize: Sweet Child O’ Mine (Guns ‘n’ Roses covered by Miche Braden with PMJ)
Betty did a stripped-down and dirty tease that was perfect for the down & dirty sound of this song.

Mina Murray: Bohemian Rhapsody in Blue (George Gershwin & Queen arranged by Scott Bradlee)
As soon as I heard this song, I wanted to perform to it. It’s an incredibly clever piece of music, blending two wonderful and disparate songs. And the only way I could get close to using Queen on stage. I tried is as a straight-ahead striptease, but realized it needed the drama of fans.

Scratch: Magic (to A Little Help From My Friends by The Beatles covered by Count Basie)
One of the best things I learned during the work on this show was that Count Basie had *two* albums of Beatles covers. They’re amazing; you should listen to them. Scratch did a very classic-style magic trick with, appropriately for a burlesque troupe, feathers.

Betty Blaize, Artemisia Vulgaris, Devastasia: Temptation (Tom Waits covered by Diana Krall)
Carla was also supposed to be singing this one. Fortunately we have a terrific recording of Billie Von Bonbon (long-time fans will remember her from V for Vixen and French Kiss, among other shows) singing this. The three ladies tempted the audience with various vices.

No rest for us, we’ve got more shows coming up soon. Next, Bad Luck Burlesque on Friday the 13 followed by Panties Inferno right before Halloween!

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 3 October 2017 at 5:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A New Teaser

Dear Constant Reader,

I’m so excited to announce the The Boston BeauTease have a new troupe member!

Meet the devastating Devastasia!

Devastasia started as a student at B.A.B.E.. She completed three of our advanced act creation courses and performed in student showcases and The Newcomers Showcase at The Expo. She also volunteered her impressive artistic skills during The Wrathskellar in 2015.

In 2016 she was cast as a maid (like a stage kitten, only creepier and with more responsibilities) in Wrathskellar Tales and she was a major part of making our set as weird and fabulous as it was.

Here’s some of her fine work!

Summoning Circle

Wall in the Contessa’s Seraglio

Left Luggage Room Sign

The Lost Girl’s Doll House

At the end of last year, she auditioned for and was invited to join our first crop of apprentices, dubbed The Irregulars, and appeared in Twenty Seven-Tease, The Great Burlesque Exposition, and The Big Time. She proved to be invaluable as an artist, a costumer, and a performer. We all had such a great time working together that we mutually decided to extend her time as an apprentice into the next term.

Since then she appeared at the Mini BurlExpo, in a group number with The BeauTease at The Pennsylvania Burlesque Festival, and in Cover Girls on tour. In light of her hard-work, dedication, and skill, and that we like hanging out with her an awful lot, it only seemed natural to invite her to join the troupe.

We’re so delighted to have such a multi-talented performer and all-around lovely person join our ranks!

See her on stage in Cover Girls in Cambridge on Saturday, September 30th and Bad Luck Burlesque on Friday, October 13th in Salem.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 14 September 2017 at 12:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Mini BurlExpo

Dear Constant Reader,

I’m so sorry for the recent silence. I have a lot of catching up to do! It’s been crazy busy for me recently and this was part of it.

Mini Expo PostcardThe last Saturday in July was the first ever Mini BurlExpo. The what? Every year Scratch hosts The Great Burlesque Exposition, a massive three-day burlesque event, which for various reasons beyond his control, has been held in February for the past several years. And invariably there has been a snowstorm that very weekend, causing chaos and disruption. He thought it would be fun to have a small, low-key version of the Expo in the summer.

Friday night there was a performer cookout, sponsored by Viva Vermont Burlesque, held in the backyard at The Manor. We cooked hot dogs and s’mores over the fire, drank local beer, and generally had a lovely time.

Next morning it was off to The Thalia for a day of classes. The regular Expo has 4 tracks of classes over 3 days, so a mere 5 classes (plus one on Sunday) was a bit more manageable. The offerings included marketing, ballet for burlesque, chair & floor work, and twerking.

In the evening there were two shows, as compared to The Expo’s four over three days. The first, The Mini Event, was a take off on The Main Event, the Expo’s competition. Instead of competing for serious titles like “Most Classic”, the performers were in the running for audience-voted awards like “Damn! That Was Awesome!” and ridiculously random trophies.

The show opened with an adorable group number from The Expositionettes, created by Betty Blaize and featuring her, Artemisia Vulgaris, Brigitte Bisoux, Devastacia, and Kitty Levesque. I’d like to point out that Brigitte was filling in for a performer struck ill and she only had one rehearsal. She’s just that good.

We had a whole host of performers, from all over the country, showing off the beautiful and the bizarre. There were veterans and neophytes and a whole range of performances styles, all creative and entertaining.

While the very official ballot-counters were tabulating the results (that would have been me and Betty), the audience was entertained by Diamond DeVille (Most Beautiful 2017), and Egypt Blaque Knyle (Best Solo 2016 and a huge number of other awards). I’m glad we counted efficiently and I was able to see most of Egypt’s remarkable performance.

The well-deserving winners were Bea Trouble who received “Greatest Googly-Moogly” for her cow-themed striptease (it was fabulously absurd and I’m not giving away the punchline), Mr. and Mrs. Fucksmart who were awarded “Most Pantsfeelings” for their sexy duet to “Tainted Love”, and Tapitha Kix was honored with “Damn! That Was Awesome” for her tap pointe striptease (yes, seriously, she can tap dance en pointe). Everyone put on a great show!

Then it was time for the second show, Late Night Lust, a passel of more risque acts. I was delighted to have the opportunity to perform my bathtub act with the lovely Artemisia Vulgaris as my lady’s maid. I really love this act, but it’s difficult to find a venue for it — it’s long (almost 8 minutes), it has a fussy set up, it requires a second performer to be my maid (it’s too complex a job to just ask a stage kitten to help) and requires a stage on to which the tub can be rolled (it’s really heavy once it’s filled with water, so carrying it up steps is right out). I feel so Lili St. Cyr-ish when I get to bathe. Maybe this time I’ll finally get some decent video — it’s been like a curse.

The next morning those that were up to it returned to the theatre for a little brunch and another class from Egypt (fantastic, by the way) and our little Expo interlude was over. It was a fun event for the middle of the summer. Who knows? It may become tradition! And now it’s time to start gearing up for The Great Burlesque Expo in January. Hope for no snow storms!

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 23 August 2017 at 3:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Show on the Road 7/23/17

Dear Constant Reader,

It’s been a while since we went on a substantial road trip. We were hired to entertain at a Vegas-themed 18th birthday/graduation party in Greenville Junction, Maine, which is about 5 hours from Boston. The birthday girl originally wanted a trip to Las Vegas, but instead she got a party with gambling and showgirls.

Scratch, Betty, Artemisia, and I piled into the BeauTeaseMobile for the long drive. We broke the trip in Portland for a little fun. First stop, The Holy Donut. Their famous cheese and bacon-filled donut was as amazing as promised. The chocolate sea salt was also outstanding. Highly recommended, if you like donuts.

Then on to the Cryptozoology Museum to gaze upon the weird and the mysterious. It’s a fun collection of really eclectic stuff, like a Feejee mermaid, big foot track casts, and Wessie’s shed skin. The curator in me desperately wants to rearrange things and write wall text.

As luck would have it, the museum shares a building with Big J’s Chicken Shack, so that was the obvious choice for lunch. I’d been craving fried chicken recently (the problem with reading a murder mystery series set in the south), so I was not displeased with this turn of events.

I was, however, extremely displeased to drop my iPhone in the parking lot, scattering the screen into a thousand tiny fragments. This is why I was largely absent from Instagram for this trip and the pictures I did take are of dubious quality.

We all piled back in the car for the long drive up to our final destination. Once you’re off the highway (and we were on local roads for quite a while), it’s really beautiful. We passed through a bunch of charming towns, like Sangervile (Town of Two Knights) and Abbott (Maine’s #1 Town). Closing in on our destination, we weren’t sure we were ever going to make it, as the GPS kept taking us down deserted roads that dead ended at scary-looking industrial buildings. Probably not a wise idea to have the GPS voice set to “Dr. Nightmare”.

But we did finally make it to the venue, Woody’s Bar & Grill, without incident. The whole place was done up with Vegas-themed decorations and various table games. There was a small stage and a large dance floor, which is where we did most of our show — Betty and her giant dice were up on the stage. Appropriate to the gambling theme, but just part of the everyday decor, there are dollar bills stuck all over the ceiling, some very high up. Apparently there’s a way to toss them up there with a quarter and a tack and it seems to be a popular past time. The staff was terrific and very accommodating. I made a short video backstage before the show, which is available to my Patrons.

Keeping with the Vegas theme, both Betty and I had new showgirl headdresses for a couple numbers, as created by Scratch (yes, he’s multi-talented). This was Artemisia’s first show with us and not only did she sing, she also performed her first striptease! We were joined by local(ish) flow performer Lexi Go-go, who dazzled us with her hooping. Her first act was done with changeable LED hoops and the second with SIX hoops. There was also magic from Scratch as well as striptease from Betty and me. The audience was appreciative, but mostly importantly, the birthday girl was very happy with the show.

Afterwards, after dragging Scratch out of game of Texas Hold ‘Em that he was trying unsuccessfully to lose, we retired to the luxurious accommodations provided for us. I’m not being facetious — it was a huge suite at a lakeside lodging. We each had our own room — usually on these road trips, we get very cozy and friendly in a single hotel room. There was even a jacuzzi tube in the (enormous) bathroom and a stack of washcloths with a little note “for makeup removal”.

This was the view the next morning:

That’s Moosehead Lake. Pretty gorgeous, no?

It was a long, long drive back to Boston. Mostly uneventful, except for the pouring rain for most it and the GPS taking us down a series of progressively less road-like roads. Finally faced with a gravel track heading into the woods, we decided not to trust a GPS in Stephen King country and backtracked to civilization. We broke the trip in Portland for a fabulous brunch and continued on it the rain back to Boston.

This weekend is the Mini Expo and then we are back on the road!

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 7 Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 26 July 2017 at 3:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Big Props: The Picture Frame

Dear Constant Reader,

Continuing in my big prop series, The Picture Frame was built for the same show as The Paintbrushes, The Fine Art of Burlesque. We used it as both a back drop for the whole show and as a silhouette screen for my number “An Invitation”.

The base of the frame is sturdy metal pieces that bolt together. They are concealed behind decorative molding, painted with a metallic finish. The two frames are held together with tiny bolts, which allow the metal to slide under the molding to make corners that are neat and securely-attached. The whole thing is supported with wooden feet and braces, painted black for unobtrusiveness. The scrim is made from a king bedsheet and is held in place with Velcro. That was a bit fussy (I was the one who sewed it), but after I added some subtle clues as to which side was up, it became much easier to attach correctly.

Brigitte got this backstage shot of the setup (I’ve since gotten a better backlight):

Once broken down, the frame packs into The Big Red Box along with the paint brushes and would ride on the roof thusly:

In The Big Time Pearl used the frame without the scrim to portray a dancer in the vein of Degas, who steps out of her picture and into the real world for a while.

Pros: packs down fairly small, albeit long. Versatile — I can think of a few neat effects we can do with the scrim that we haven’t tried yet.
Cons: a bit complicated to put together if you don’t know what you’re doing.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 5 July 2017 at 3:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Big Props: Evie’s Oyster

Dear Constant Reader,

I’d like to return to the theme of big props. I haven’t covered all the big props in the BeauTease collection, before I even get to the props we built for The Big Time. This is one of my favorites, because it looks great and the construction is so clever: Evie’s Oyster

Evie was our Oyster Girl for Madame Burlesque, so obviously she needed an oyster. We were touring with this show, so the oyster need to break down for transport, but it had to be large enough that Evie could fit inside with a minimum of contortion (she’s pretty bendy, but still…) Also, it needed to be light enough that the two sea nymphs who danced with Evie could carry it onto stage with her inside.

And this is how it appeared:

It’s very cleverly made from two papasan chairs. Betty sacrificed one for the cause and I think the other was a Craig’s List find. The two seats and one base were covered in fabric and decorated with “seaweed” and pearls, then securely fastened together with zip ties. We tried some other methods of attachment, but those proved the best, even though we had to cut them off after every show.

And when the oyster opened:

There’s Evie!

Behind Evie’s arms, you can just see the two golden cords inside that keep the lid from falling back when the oyster is open. What you can’t see is the wooden platform Scratch built for Evie to sit on, so she could just step out instead of clambering up.

Her pearl was made from a battery-powered accent lamp, so it gently glowed.

The only real problems I remember having with the oyster was a venue with a stage entrance that was so narrow the oyster had to be carried through sideways and Evie had to hop inside once it was positioned on stage and another one where the tiny backstage area had no room for it at all. For the most part it’s a good example of “packs (relatively) small, plays big”.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 27 June 2017 at 2:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Big Time

Dear Constant Reader,

This past weekend we finally opened our show The Big Time. It feels like we had been working on it forever. Well, it has been several months and we were often working outside of our normal rehearsal times.

The theme of the show was big props, and everyone built their own with help from Scratch. he had been pretty adamant that he would help and teach, but not actually do the construction. After all, there were 7 props being built and he couldn’t do them all. We used power tools, we used hand tools, we cut, we drilled, we sanded, we painted. We worked with wood and with metal, with plastic and papier mache, even electronics.

Here’s the results, in brief. I wish I had photos, but we were a little too busy to arrange for that.

Act I

Betty Blaize and Ruby Foxx: Spiderweb
This was one of the two existing acts which used one of three existing props. Betty is an old hand at getting trapped in the web, but Ruby was new to the spider role and she did a great job.

Pearl Buttons: Steam Heat
There’s no simple word to describe Pearl’s prop. It was two sets of stairs with a platform in between them, kind of like a bridge. She merrily danced up and down the steps and sprawled fetchingly on the platform.

Ruby Foxx: Orange Colored Sky
Besides being a stripteaser, Ruby is also a singer and she belted out this entertaining piece.

Jeannie Martini
: Piggy Bank
Jennie was dressed in layers of money, which she stripped off and dropped into her adorable over-sized piggy bank. Piggy is cleverly made from two half whiskey barrels and many cute decorations.

Scratch and Devastacia: Wall of Death
You might have seen Scratch doing this whip act before, but never with such a scary looking Wall of Death. Credit to Devastacia’s new-found skill with a nail gun.

Cara Siobhan: Waterfall
Cara got off easy in the prop construction department as we already had a free-standing doorframe that she modified to be her waterfall, but she challenged herself nonetheless. A novice seamstress, she sewed a hooded cloak with a lengthy train that flowed like water.

Mina Murray: Heavenly Body
I got to ride a shooting star! In reality, it’s a steel frame with a very solid wooden top, draped with black velvet and a shooting star mounted to the downstage side. It’s festooned with color-changing LED lights. I even have glowing reins for riding it. I admit that Scratch did much of the work, although I did cut the pieces for the frame and attached them together. With much cursing.

I’m really, really happy with how it came out. And I just love my costume. It’s the corset I made for Costume-Con, plus matching bra, panties, and garter belt and a poofy swirly skirt (6 layers!). Still needs some more rhinestones…

ACT II

Betty Blaize: Getting Lucky
This is Betty’s new number and I think she did the most construction work by herself of any of us. She built a towering stack of dice that she can climb, making her the tallest thing around, as she prefers. She also gets credit because her prop breaks down rather compactly.

Ruby Foxx: Hard-Boiled
Ruby, as a femme fatale, stepped out of a pulp detective novel. Literally. Her prop was a huge book with a cover that swung open.

Scratch: Martini Time
Here Scratch magically made vermouth bottles multiply until his table was covered with this. Not big in size, but big in numbers.

Pearl Buttons: Picture of a Ballerina
Like a Degas painting come to life, Pearl started behind a picture frame (seen here with a scrim in place) and danced her way into the real world.

Devastacia: Candelabra
Devastacia is so hot, she makes candles light up without even touching them (thanks to a little magic from Hunter). She’s a terrific artist and you would never realize her candelabra started its life as PVC pipe and newspaper.

Cara Siobhan: Why Don’t You Do Right?
Cara is also a talented singer and she crooned this classic tune.

Mina Murray: Midnight Bath
My beautiful, beautiful bath tub. It should get a post all its own, because it’s been a saga. I’ve wanted a bath tub since I started doing burlesque and I am so, so happy with everything about this act.

Scratch took this picture in rehearsal and I just love it:

We had our curtain call to a piece of music called “Big Noise from Winnetka”, kind of an inside joke for us.

Sadly, our usual curse was upon us and, despite trying to get video, technical difficulties kept that from happening. Someday…

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 23 May 2017 at 4:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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