Hot in Topeka at Jayhawk Theatre

Dear Constant Reader,

I want to tell you about my latest travels, to Topeka, Kansas. Short version: it was fantastic and I’m very glad I went. Long version…

I’m not entirely certain how I found the call for applications, but it came at just the right time. I was feeling rather down about my festival acceptance track record (way more “no” than “yes”) so on a lark, I applied. And was accepted! It wasn’t a festival, but a fundraiser for Jayhawk Theatare, a vaudeville house that’s in dire need of restoration, so I was very excited about the show.

It’s not easy or inexpensive to get from Boston to Kansas City (the closest airport), so to make it work, I had a whirlwind trip, starting at 3:30am on Saturday and ending 3:30am on Monday. At least there was a nice symmetry to it.

Anastacia Vulgar, the producer of the show, treated me like a rockstar at every turn. She arranged for transportation from and to the airport (over an hour away) and even put me up at her place. But it wasn’t just me; all the performers, most of whom were from out of town, were appreciated and got lovely perks: there was real food in the green room, someone else took care of selling our merch, we had an opportunity to teach, there was a lovely program (with mention of everyone’s Instagram), and even a little gift of some rhinestones. And I was paid so promptly I almost got whiplash.

Jayhawk Theatre was built in 1926 and presented vaudeville and movies. In December of 1928, Dainty June and her act, including her sister, Rose Louise, performed on that very stage. Later that night June snuck out of her hotel and ran away with Bobby Reed, a dancer in her act, whom she had married secretly. Rose Louise went on, of course, to become Gypsy Rose Lee. The fact that I was on the same stage as those famous sisters was a bit overwhelming.

The theatre is in rough shape. You can see how gorgeous it once was, but the painted decor is all damaged and the stage is basically bare. They’ve got a decent lighting and sounds set up, but I shudder to think of what the electrical is like. There are no theatre seats anymore, so there were chairs set up for the audience. The balcony wasn’t in use.

The show was so fantastic. If it didn’t sell out, it was damned close. The audience was so enthusiastic! There were 10 performers and like I mentioned, almost everyone had traveled quite a distance to be there. It was so good to see Twirlisha Devine, OD Kimani, Caramel Knowledge, and Jacqueline Boxx again and delightful to meet everyone else.

I can’t do the show justice, but here are the performers, their acts (I got the names off the call-sheet, so forgive me of they’re not quite right), video when I could find it, and where they were from.

Caramel Knowledge (Los Angeles, CA): Black Amour
Tommy Gun (Flint, MI): Band Geek
Miss Mina Murray (Boston, MA): The Stripteaser’s Education
Mickie Sinn (Austin, TX): Break Up
Lola Loquacious (Kansas City, MO): Masterpiece
Valerie Veils (Tacoma, WA): Medusa
Twirlisha Divine (Bloomington, IN): Sugar in My Twirl
Anya Neeze (Kansas City, MO): Desire
OD Kimani (Madison, WI): Radioactive
Jacqueline Boxx (Baltimore, MD): Blues
Valerie Veils (Tacoma, WA): Glamour Cactus

Our hostess was Violet O’Hara (Dallas, TX).

My act, “The Stripteaser’s Education”, was inspired by Gypsy Rose Lee and her famous “The Psychology of a Stripteaser”. It’s a spoken-word piece and I wasn’t entirely sure how it would go over. Also I was nervous about using the microphone and about hitting my final cues. As it turned out, I nailed it. I might write a little more later about the act and the costume.

After the show, most people went around the corner to a bar. I overcame my exhaustion long enough to put in an appearance and talk costuming with Valerie Veils.

The next day was workshops. Unfortunately it sounded like most of them were canceled for lack of students. Burlesque is a pretty new thing in Topeka and the interest level just isn’t there yet. That did mean that Anastacia, Jacqueline, Twirlisha, Tommy and I could have a leisurely breakfast before it was time for my corsetry class. I had one very interested student who was a delight. I’m pleased with my presentation, but I’ve got a couple ideas to improve it even more.

Then I had to bail on Caramel’s workshop on making showgirl headdresses to go to the airport. Tobias, Anastacia’s partner, was playing chauffeur for the weekend and rather than make him drive to and from Kansas City multiple times, I left along with Jacqueline Boxx, who had an earlier flight. However, because I had time to kill and I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to have real KC barbecue, we went to Q39 and I finally had burnt ends in their native land. I even managed to take the leftovers home for Scratch.

Before I knew it, I had clicked my heels together three times and was back home with Albert A. Cat wondering if it had all been a dream. That might have just been the sleep deprivation.

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 11 July 2019 at 2:03 pm  Comments (2)  
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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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    Atlanta 3/31/19

    Dear Constant Reader,

    One of the wonderful benefits of the mentorship program with Egypt Blaque Knyle was working with a bunch of wonderful women, with whom I might otherwise not have met. When Coco Rosé invited the members of our group to perform at her show, either in Atlanta or Memphis, I jumped at the chance.

    I haven’t been to either city before, but Atlanta won, with more reasonably priced plane tickets. It was Coco’s anniversary show and her theme was “Evolution” — I thought the act I’d developed during Egypt’s program fit the bill.

    My flight arrived in Atlanta Saturday evening. It was such a luxury not to have to get up at godawful in the morning, as is usually the case when I travel. It was also a luxury to not have to check a bag. I was only doing the one act and that costume doesn’t take up much suitcase real estate.

    Coco put me up at an Airbnb and as soon as I was settled in, I headed out to one of the last remaining Trader Vic’s. I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to have a cocktail at the legendary tiki restaurant. Although I considered a piña colada, I had their signature mai tai.

    Sunday morning I had hoped to be teaching. Talloolah Love of the Atlanta School of Burlesque had scheduled me for a workshop at Metropolitan Studios, but we didn’t get enough students to go ahead. Instead I went sightseeing. I was staying walking distance (for me, anyway) from the aquarium, so walk I did. It was a cold, overcast, windy day and I had packed for the 80 degree temperatures of the previous day!

    Because I was a tourist. I visited World of Coca-Cola. I know, a weird choice for someone who doesn’t drink soda, but what the heck. There was some fun history, like this 19th century syrup dispenser (1 part syrup, 5 parts carbonated water) and the gallery about the advertising campaigns using the Coca-Cola Sprite (who disappeared before the soda named for him was developed). I did try some of the myriad sodas from around the world. My absolute favorite was the cucumber Sprite from Russia. Pine-Nut from Africa (pineapple and coconut, not actually pine nut flavor, alas) was a distant second. Inca Kola, often seen in my neighborhood, was way too sweet for me and tasted kind of like bubblegum. Least favorite was Beverley, a rather bitter soda from Italy. I later learned it’s drunk like an aperitif. I suppose if you are an amaro fan or like tonic water, it might be a win for you.

    By then it was absolutely lunch time and some previous research had revealed a barbecue place just a short walk away. If you’ve been reading here for any length of time, you’ll know how fond I am of barbecue. Twin Smokers BBQ was just what I wanted. The sausage was a little dry, but the pulled pork was perfection, and I appreciated the wide range of sauces.

    Thus fortified, I headed off to the Center for Puppetry Arts. The Global Collection is a huge display of puppets from around the world, including some celebrities, like Tom Servo and Madame. I was quite taken with the Vietnamese water puppets. The other main gallery is the Jim Henson Collection. What a delight! It was like visiting a whole bunch of old friends. It was hard to pick a representative photo, but here’s Fizzgig! The special exhibit gallery also featured Henson — The Dark Crystal! Besides getting to see all the fabulous creatures up close, there were also concept sketches and prototypes and video about the making of the movie. I was just a wee thing when I saw the movie, so I had no idea how revolutionary it was in terms of puppetry and film making.

    But you want to know about the show! The Red Light Cafe is a familiar sort of venue — I’ve played many like this. I knew exactly what to expect when I walked in the door. It’s set up for bands. The stage is small and carpeted with monitors up front. The lighting set up is simple. The dressing room was cobbled together from some storage space in a loft and was better than many places I’ve changed. Several mirrors, decent lighting, including a makeup station, and plenty of places to put one’s stuff. From the posters on the walls, there a lot of burlesque at the venue.

    The only performer I knew, other than Coco, was Stormy Knight, who had come to an early Expo. I was so flattered that she brought her copies of my Little Books for me to sign! It was great to reconnect with her and we ended up chatting a lot in the dressing room.

    The show started at 6pm, which was unusual for me, but great for a Sunday night! There were eight acts in the show with an intermission and raffle drawings in the middle. I’m always interested in seeing how other producers do things differently. The raffle was for a variety of goods and services and one could put your ticket(s) in the (glitter-encrusted) jar for the items you wanted. Then the stage kittens would mix up the tickets in one of those bingo cages. I don’t remember the pricing for the tickets but the last one was “tits to toes” as measured on Winter (the long-stemmed) Rose. Also, tipping was done with a different set of glitter-encrusted jars, one for each performer.

    I had a fine slot, second act opener. Of course that meant I spent the intermission feeling anxious. The line up was Flexx Giselle, Oodles of Troodles, Royal Tee, Stormy Knight, me, Clyf Hangar, Roula Roulette, and Coco Rosé. Our stage kittens were Winter Rose and Stormy Chance. Here we all are!

    I felt good about the act. It still isn’t as smooth as I would like, even with the new shoes, but a little of that was performing on carpet. I should just get used to it. I’ve never yet done the act on an uncarpeted stage. My music was nice and loud. The audience was close and they had good energy. I got some lovely compliments afterward, including one woman who said my act was “everything”.

    Here’s my favorite shot of the night, by Charles Bailey Photography:

    Ever since I’ve known Coco, she’s been obsessed with Sublime Doughnuts, so I just had to try one! Stormy Knight gave me a lift to the nearest shop, and I finally tasted what all the fuss is about. I even managed to bring a couple home with me.

    I had been warned to get to the airport extra early in the morning to deal with the construction and monster lines through security. I didn’t mind. It meant I didn’t have to worry about getting to my gate on time. I could stroll though all the art between terminals instead of taking the tram and I had plenty of time for a nice breakfast. By lunch time I was home with Albert.

    And I got to scratch off another state and add a new rhinestone to my travel map!

    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 1 May 2019 at 3:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    Los Angeles: Burlesque Bingo 1/20/19

    Dear Constant Reader,

    I know this is the missive you’ve been waiting for — all about the House of Knyle graduation show at Burlesque Bingo!

    I was extremely grateful for this opportunity, not only to share a stage with all the women I’d gotten to know through Egypt’s program, but I can’t imagine otherwise performing in one of Audrey DeLuxe’s shows.

    The venue was Harvell’s in Long Beach. Lili VonSchtupp had given me some advance info like that the dressing room was good but narrow and that the stage was carpeted and a couple steps up, which allayed a little of my nervousness. The space has a great speakeasy vibe and I can see why there’s a lot of burlesque there.

    I was the first to arrive. Scratch volunteered to do whatever was needed and that turned out to be running the follow spot. All the other ladies were staying with and therefore traveling with Egypt. I kind of regretted missing out of the bonding time (and more, as it turned out), but I’m not sorry I chose to spend time with Kitten Natividad. Our Legends are so important. When everyone else arrived they briefed me on the plan for the curtain call and after, whihc they had worked on the night before at Egypt’s. That did have me a little nervous because improvisation dance is not my strength.

    Burlesque Bingo works thusly: On the floor perpendicular to the stage is a bingo board, like a very low runway. At the back of the stage is a number board (see photo).
    When the performer discards a costume piece, she tosses it onto the board on the floor. One of the Lucky Charms (Audrey’s adorable assistants; also see photo) turns on the light for the corresponding number on the big board and everyone marks their bingo cards accordingly. After the act is over, if no one has bingo, the Lucky Charms begin to disrobe and toss out their garments until bingo is achieved. The bingo winner then comes onto stage to claim their goodie bag of prizes. If more than one person has bingo, everyone gets a chance to roll a giant pink fuzzy die to see who claims the prize. It’s a lot of fun. It was also clear some audience members are all abut the bingo, while others are just there for the burlesque.

    I wish I could do a blow by blow of the other acts, but I was more than nervous and rather in my own head most of the night, so I don’t recall a lot of the show. The line up, however, was:
    Bebe Bardot
    Lilac SaintClair
    Dulce D’Jour
    CoCo Rose
    Crocodile Lightning
    Nadia Lotte
    Briq House
    Mayo Lua de Frenchie
    Mina Murray
    Twirlisha Devine
    Egypt Blaque Knyle

    After we each did our acts, Egypt joined us on stage and presented each student with a certificate of completion.

    After Egypt’s performance, we each came out in reverse order, still in our pasties, and improvised on stage for a few measures. Eventually we moved into our assigned places, arrayed around the runway, while Egypt performed again. By the end we were all over her. We wouldn’t let her leave the stage until we had presented her with our gift, a large engraved diamond.

    I was very touched when Bebe Bardot, who had to race off to the airport immediately after the show, took a few moments to say some kind things about my books. I feel a kinship with this lovely lady — she’s also a scholar of burlesque history, a writer, and a classic sort of gal — so it meant a lot.

    All right, I won’t make you wait any longer. Here’s my act:

    What did I think? It’s still a little rough. I’m not happy with my facial expressions and I can see all the tension in my shoulders. Those shoes were giving me such trouble, especially with the turns and lunges, and you can see where I so gracefully stumble off the edge of the bingo stage near the end. However, I’m really happy with parts of it and I can see there’s some power there. I’ve since performed it three other times and it just keeps getting better as I’m more comfortable with it and I’m not stressing about trying to impress a mentor (and I got new shoes)

    This act, probably more than any other one, had a lot of feedback from a lot of people. Egypt suggested the lunges after the turns (as well as other things). It was Ava’s idea that I start with the back panel draped in front. Originally I dropped to my knees for the floorwork, but Betty said “Can you drop into a plank? You do planks all the time.” Scratch came up with the belt remove. He also edited my music so there was a strong ending instead of a fade-out.

    I’m so grateful to Egypt for giving me the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone, to perform in this great show, and to work with these amazing women.

    Performance photo by Jason Kamimura Photography
    Video by Cliesha

    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 9 April 2019 at 4:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    Friday Tip

    Dear Constant Reader,

    Happy Friday! Before we get to your tip, I just want to mention that Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. One of my Little Books would be a wonderful gift for the burlesque lover in your life. Also, The Boston BeauTease are presenting Valent-Tease Day at Thunder Road that night. Not only will we be presenting our usual burlesque delights, but some of my students from B.A.B.E. will be making their burlesque debut. AND you’ll get to see the act I debuted in Los Angeles. Right now the only way to see it is to support me on Patreon.

    With no further ado or commercials, here’s your tip!

    If you have pets with fur, keep a lint brush in your show bag.

    No matter how carefully you keep you costumes away from your fuzzy family members, somehow fur is still going to make an appearance — and of course it will contrast as highly as possible. Albert just loves to cuddle up to dark clothing…

    Scratch points out that if you’ve forgotten your lint brush, there’s still hope, “you’re a burlesque dancer — you’ve got double-sided tape!”.

    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.

    Published in: on 8 February 2019 at 2:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

    Brrrlesque 12/15/18

    Dear Constant Reader,

    Saturday we presented Brrrlesque, our winter holiday show, at Deacon Giles Speakeasy Lab. Most of us have a number of holiday- or winter-themed acts, but we didn’t want to just do the same show as the years before, so each of us created a new number. I was a bit anxious as act development is not one of my strengths. But Scratch found just the right song, I had the perfect costume already, and it all came together quickly.

    Here’s the show! All photos by Scratch. Some of our audience members took some good ones that I hope to be able to share.

    This was Betty’s new act — a reverse strip to “Winter Wonderland”. The picture was taken at the beginning when she’s in her robe and her clothes are strewn about the stage.

    Devastasia danced to “Warm in December”. She’s got a great costume surprise near the end of the act. Venues will remember this one forever because the tissue paper snow she brushes off her coat will linger, despite the best efforts to sweep it up.

    Technically this wasn’t a holiday number, but I’m sure Scratch gave it an appropriate intro. Artemisia had only done this Las Vegas-inspired act once before, at a private show, and it deserved a little more exposure, so to speak. Although this is a lovely shot, you really should see the costume, created by Artemisia and Burluxe.

    Tahni tapped her talented toes to “Gift-Wrapped Boy”. I’m sorry we don’t have a picture right now of her adorable gift-wrap costume (which she made) and jingle pasties.

    Here’s a few moments of my standard for the holidays — Duke Ellington’s “Sugar Rum Cherry”.

    As a palate-cleanser from the striptease, Artemisia sang “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”.

    Betty brought back “Blue Christmas” — a perennial favorite. No pictures, but you can see a clip from last year.

    Scratch stunned the audience with a Christmas miracle. No picture of that, since he was the one manning the camera.

    This was Devastasia’s new piece to “Marshmallow World”. She really hates Christmas music, so she went for something wintery instead. We were all stunned when she showed up with this snow-white showgirl look. Not a scrap of black to be found!

    Artemisia’s new act used a beautiful blue and silver cape (which she made) and some balletic dancing. Very wintery, very graceful.

    I closed out the show with my new act, to the PMJ version of “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve”. I’m sorry I don’t have a picture of the glorious champagne-colored gown I wore (a find from Scratch — if you even have the chance, go shopping with him), but you get to see my beautiful Catherine D’Lish boa.

    After the first show, we had a surprise treat! I was expecting Brigitte would be at the show since she’s local, but she brought some special guests, D.D. and Evie! Here we all are, BeauTease Classique!

    It was so good to see everyone and catch up. I wish we’d had longer, but we had to get ready for our second show.

    And that was our last performance of 2018! See you next year!

    These 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 18 December 2018 at 1:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    Winnipeg International Burlesque Festival 2018

    Dear Constant Reader,

    I’m sorry this has taken so long to write, but several crises interrupted my life after I returned from Manitoba, Canada to perform at the 3rd annual Winnipeg International Burlesque Festival. It was a great time.

    First of all, I love to travel to perform. I especially love to go places I’ve never been before and Winnipeg was definitely on that list. I’m delighted to be able to say I’ve now performed in three Canadian provinces (and visited a fourth).

    I realized this was going to be a bit of a whirlwind trip, just under 48 hours, so I decided I could do the whole thing with a carry-on. It was only one costume, albeit a very full gown and a fur wrap, and no props. And bonus, I didn’t have to pay to check a bag.

    I arrived Friday morning after a disgustingly early flight and was really grateful that the hotel not only let me get into a room before check-in time, but they upgraded us to a suite to do so. My roommate for the weekend was the delightful Ruby Mechant, who also played tour guide a bit, as she had been to the festival before.

    My performance slot was Friday night. It was early in the first act, so I didn’t have too much time to fret as I waited to go on. The venue is very nice — raked seating, real dressing rooms with lots of mirrors, huge stage, great lighting. It’s called Gas Station Arts Centre, so I assume it was once a gas station, but you couldn’t tell.

    My performance (Mina in Furs) drew lots of cheers during and lots of praise afterwards. The audience was so great and I was so into performing, that I completely forgot the moment early in the routine when I scoop up my fur stole (I enter with it dragging behind me) until the moment that I was supposed to fling it off myself again. I was really kicking myself and I can’t bear to watch the video. However, I do love this action shot from Dano Tanaka.

    After intermission I slipped into the theatre to see the second half. My favorite act of the night was Delilah’s Le Morte de Corbeau. It’s a simply stunning performance and circumstances have prevented me from seeing it from the audience until now.

    I know it’s a cliche to say that Canadians are nice people, but everyone I met at the festival was SO nice and welcoming. We got these cute handmade swag bags with useful little items, like a notebook and glitter. Oh, and a performer badge! I love those. There’s something about having that round my neck and flashing it to the ushers or security that makes feel like a rock star.

    Saturday afternoon were the workshops. I’m really grateful to Dixie Cups for rearranging things so that I could teach “Who’s Who in Classic Burlesque”. She went out of her way to get me on the schedule and to make sure I had a projector. Communicating about these arrangements was hampered by the fact that apparently my email no longer likes to talk to Gmail, so I doubly commend her patience with me when it seemed like I was ignoring her emails.

    We had a great turn out and I was so thrilled that my slide show worked perfectly. I mention this because I agonized over it. I had upgraded my slideshow to include video clips of the performers, which worked great on my computer at home. However, I run the presentation off my tablet when traveling and no matter what I tried, I could not get the videos to play. Thanks to a suggestion from Scratch, I saved all my slides as images and dropped them and the videos into a photo album resident on the tablet. Not only did it work, but I was having data issues, so I wouldn’t have been able to reach anything cloud-based anyway. Oh, technology!

    Saturday night I got to relax and just enjoy the show. Best of all, I got to catch up with Delilah, whose company I always enjoy. The show was, as usual for festivals, a mixed bag. There were acts I liked very much and some that were not to my taste at all. I’m always happy to see the different styles and get some inspiration. I was a little surprised that several of the performers, particularly the invited guests, did the same acts on Friday as on Saturday. It seems like an odd production choice when encouraging the audience to buy tickets for both nights. The audience did get their money’s worth, however. The shows were good and long with, as I said, many different styles of performance.

    I reluctantly skipped the after-party, since Ruby and I had to get up pretty early the next day for our flights back to the States. And before I knew it, I was home.

    I’m glad I went. Not only was it a lovely experience, I can’t think of any reason I might have otherwise ended up in Winnipeg. It’s great to experience new places. I’m hoping to continue traveling in the year to come. (Hint, hint — book me…)

    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 November 2018 at 3:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    This Guy Walks Into a Bra… 8/4/18

    Dear Constant Reader,

    This show was a little different from our usual fare. Instead of having Scratch between each act, we did some vintage burlesque comedy sketches. The show was very fast paced and a lot of fun.

    Burlesque comedy is rather challenging. Much of the original material is problematic in various ways. First off, most of the lines were meant to be delivered by a Straightman and a Comic, although some sketches had even more male characters and some had a female role or two. We only have one guy, so the sketches had to be adapted for women to play some of the roles. Unlike the 1940’s, no one is going to think it unlikely for, say, a straightman cop to be played by a woman.

    The real problem is that much of the material is incredibly offensive to a modern audience. It’s often horribly sexist, basically misogynistic, it’s racist, it’s violent (many sketches end with one character shooting the other), and sometimes the humor is so dated that a modern audience just doesn’t get it.

    Scratch searched though tons of authentic burlesque and vaudeville comedy bits to find stuff we could edit and adapt. Sometimes the characters were made all female (as mentioned above). Sometimes the language needed updating (but not too up-to-date; we didn’t want to lose that vintage feel). Sometimes Scratch pulled bits from several different routines and strung them together into a single sketch. And occasionally he stole bits from later sources (like Airplane and Laugh-In).

    Something else we did differently for this show — title cards! Back when we did Madame Burlesque, we had title cards for all the acts, which the stage kitten would place on a lovely easel. We wanted to revive that, but it starts getting expensive to create new cards for every act. Devastasia had a great idea — chalk boards. So Scratch took a bunch of thin board covered with chalkboard paint, cut them to size, and Devastasia went to town with her chalk markers. She made these beautiful cards for each performer. The cards add a nice vintage touch, but for this show they served a practical purpose. We didn’t have traditional MC introductions before each act because of the comedy sketches, so the cards gave the performers their due credit.

    The show itself was quite lively and our audience, though small, was enthusiastic, despite the heat. I don’t know about them, but we were all wilting backstage. We got a lot of nice compliments, but none better than the woman who could only stay for 15 minutes but said she couldn’t miss the chance to see The Boston BeauTease. Perhaps we’ll return to Brattleboro, when it’s cooler.

    Next up, I go to Winnipeg International Burlesque Festival to perform and teach and The BeauTease present The Bananaz Variety Hour at Deacon Giles Speakeasy Lab!

    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 9 August 2018 at 2:05 pm  Leave a Comment  


    Dear Constant Reader,

    July was a quiet month, but things heat up in August.

    On Saturday The Boston BeauTease will be making a rare appearance in Brattleboro, VT with our new show, This Guy Walks Into a Bra…. We’ll be performing striptease, magic, and singing as usual, but we’ll also be adding in some old-fashioned burlesque comedy sketches. We’ve been describing it as “modern women and vintage comedy” and we’ve been having a lot of fun with it. You’ll see all your favorite BeauTeasers plus our apprentices stripping *and* talking.

    Next I’m off to the Winnipeg International Burlesque Festival!

    I’ll be performing Friday night and teaching “Who’s Who in Classic Burlesque” Saturday afternoon!

    If you’re not going to be in Winnipeg on Saturday the 18th, why don’t you join the rest of the BeauTease for The Bananaz Variety Hour at the Deacon Giles Speakeasy Lab in Salem? There will be bananas, singing, dancing, comedy, magic, bananas, and more. (Due to my well-known hatred of bananas, I’ve been forced to flee the country.)




    I hinted about something fabulous that I was given at our last show. This picture is just a tiny taste of the glorious ensemble. I may blog about it someday, but for now you can see pictures of the whole thing and read all about it at my Patreon page if you are a Patron, of course (and why aren’t you?).

    B.A.B.E. will be back in session in September after our summer break! Devastasia will be teaching Introduction to Burlesque and I will be showing the intermediate students fabulous things to do with a boa. In October, I’ll be teaching a bewitching choreography that’s perfect for Halloween.

    I’m sure there will be 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.

    Published in: on 31 July 2018 at 4:08 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    Burlesque Roadshow 6/29/18

    Dear Constant Reader,

    At the end of June we presented the first ever burlesque show at Down the Road Brewery in Everett. Credit to Devastasia for suggesting the venue. It was, shall we say, an eventful show.

    True confessions first, I was very worried about the show. Ticket sales were rather slow. But, as it turned out, the house was pretty packed.

    Although they have a big stage, it’s not a theatre and we had to bring in pipe & drape and some lighting. We also brought our own vintage-style microphone, but didn’t have enough cable to connect with their audio, but fortunately they provided a wireless microphone. If you were at the show, that’s why Scratch was having trouble with the volume levels. The lighting wasn’t wonderful — next time we’ll try something else. And the stage was mighty slippery. I was worried about the tap dancers. As it turned out, they were fine.

    Before I get into the show itself, I want to share these great promo images Scratch created. I believe all three photos were taken by Charles Jones (correct me if I’m wrong, please).


    The show was alcohol themed (because why not) and it went a little something like this:
    (Act one performance photos by Jo Oltman)

    Devastasia, Mina Murray, Stephanie: Poison
    We’ve performed this one before, with three sexy, but rather stupid, murderesses who don’t seem to notice that EVERYONE’s glass is poisoned. New for this show were the matching pasties. I made the skull & crossbone bases and Devastasia did the gorgeous rhinestone job. They look amazing, but I was having a heck of a time twirling. I could only get one tassel going at a time.

    Brigitte Bisoux: Alcohol
    Brigitte created this act for The Wrathskellar as The Broad. It’s too good to save just for once a year, so she has a slightly more cheerful version for general audiences. I hope audience members noted the bottle from which she was drinking. There was nothing special about it at this time. We’ll get back to it. It was great that the stage had steps down so Brigitte could get into the audience to steal drinks and crush people to her bosom.

    Artemisia Vulgaris: Scotch and Soda
    Artemisia has such a lovely voice and we like to give her a chance to use it at least once a show. This is kind of a slow, smokey song, but it was livened up during the musical bridge as Artemisia chatted with the audience. 



    Betty Blaize, Tahni: Absinthe
    This one hasn’t seen the stage in a long time. I think the last appearance was French Kiss back in 2010. Betty, as an old school Goth (which she is), mourns her lack of absinthe. Suddenly a giant absinthe bottle runs onto stage and starts tap dancing! Tahni the Green Fairy pops out to continue her dance and offer Betty some absinthe. Betty in her delight begins stripping and the horrified Fairy rescinds her gift. Tahni made that lovely gauzy fairy costume herself. Our new bottle was constructed by Scratch and made beautiful (as usual) by Devastasia.

    Devastasia: Love Potion Number 9
    Okay, this wasn’t quite fitting the theme, as the love potion in evidence is a perfume, not a drink.

    Scratch: Magic
    Scratch did something impossible with a bottle of vermouth. This was just a little something to kill time while the stage kittens were setting up for…

    Mina Murray: French Champagne
    This is one of my signature acts, last seen at ABurlyQ last August. It requires a lot of set up and potentially some clean up, depending on how well I’ve positioned myself for the climax of the act, so it only works for certain shows, but I love it. People are usually surprised to see me as a blonde.


    (There are some nice pictures of Act Two by Jo again, but they’re on Instagram, so I can’t make them show up here.)
    Brigitte Bisoux: Oh, So Quiet
    This is a brand-new act from Brigitte. What would a show about booze be without a hangover. And Brigitte is wearing tap shoes. Fortunately a little Gatorade gets her back on her toes. Ultimately it’s the hair of the dog that revives her completely. Observant audience members will note it was the same bottle that did her in in “Alcohol”.

    Betty Blaize: Cocktails for Two
    Another number from Betty that hasn’t been seen in a very long time. It was created for Dewer’s Repeal Day celebration back in, I think, 2008. Betty took this opportunity to completely revamp her Statue of Liberty costume and refine the choreography.

    Artemisia Vulgaris: One For My Baby (and One More for the Road)
    This is a new act from Artemisia and I love it! It’s so slow and slinky and she sprawls on a fur stole in such a classic style.

    Devastasia: One Mint Julep
    Another debut act — a flirty dance with a parasol. The remarkable thing about this one is the costume. When we presented Wrathskellar Tales I went to Savers and bought a whole bunch of gowns to fill the Diva’s armoire. One of them was a fairly boring mint green probably bridesmaid dress, with no embellishment at all. Devastasia thought the color was perfect for this act and ransacked the troupe trimming box to make it into a stunning costume. I wish I had a before and after picture to show you the amazing transformation.

    Scratch: Martini Time
    One of Scratch’s signature magic acts.

    Mina Murray: Am I Blue
    This is a new fan dance and I got to wear my new cage thong from Burluxe. Remember that slippery stage? I was the one who almost wiped out. I was going down to one knee and my foot slid out from under me. Fortunately I just ended up sort of ungracefully on my butt. Devora had surprised us by showing up in the audience and she said she thought it was “very sincere”.

    Artemisia Vulgaris, Betty Blaize, Stephanie, Tahni: Puttin’ on the Ritz
    Scratch asked Betty for a new group number and gave her some parameters. She exceeded all expectations with the choreography and the dancers did an amazing job with it. It’s one of the best group numbers we’ve done recently.

    After the show we talked to audience members (one of who gave me something amazing that deserves its own post) and got a well-deserved drink. It was maybe 15 or 20 minutes all told, plenty of time later to strike, pack up, and load out. Then the fire alarm went off.

    We all went outside. I figured this would be a short interlude since it was clear there wasn’t actually a fire. Then the fire truck showed up. The firemen went inside and eventually the alarm went silent. We continued waiting. Next thing we knew, the ladder extended from the truck to the roof of the building and a couple of firemen headed there. Uh oh.

    Then the brewery announced that they were shut down by order of the fire department. It was the CO alarm that had gone off. We were incredibly flustered — all our stuff was inside, not just our costumes and other gear, but personal items like purses, phones, and car and house keys. Eventually the firefighters escorted us inside in small groups to get our most important stuff. Of course, I grabbed my fans as well as my purse. And the above-mentioned amazing thing.

    If you want to hear all about this right after it happened, become a Patron and you can watch a video where I babble all about the incident after I got home.

    Early the next morning, when we would have rather been sleeping in, most of us returned to Down the Road to sift through the chaos that was our dressing room (we were using the back hallway and the firefighters had to move a bunch of our stuff to get to the alarm panel) and pack and to strike the tech.

    At least the alarm hadn’t gone off until AFTER the show was over.

    I always hope we’l have an exciting show, but this wasn’t exactly what I meant.

    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 12 July 2018 at 10:23 am  Leave a Comment