Summer Sizzle 7/16/22

Dear Constant Reader,

Our last show was on April first, right before my little world completely went to hell. It was good to get back on stage and even better to spend the time backstage with some of my favorite people.

We did two shows, an early and a late, as we often do on for a Saturday show. Sharon, one of our current apprentices, was an adorable stagehand in a watermelon-themed sundress, and we had Marek on follow spot. There were also a couple of photographers there, so  I may have some pictures to share with you eventually.

Ava Fox & Devastasia: Let’s Go Sunning
Devastasia sang while Ava tapdanced and they passed a parasol back and forth. This is a cute little song from the 1950’s that Devastasia heard while playing Fallout 3. It’s rather short so Scratch wrote a new verse.

Mina Murray: Rumble (The Ventures)
I love this song so much. Really, I love the Link Wray original, but it’s kind of short, so I used this version. I was only at dress rehearsal that Scratch pointed out that he could edit the original to be longer. Oh well, next time. The focal point of the act was my big black boa. Some years ago, when I went to Stripper’s Holiday in Los Angeles, I saw Kitten Natividad and she gifted me with the Star Boa that Fannie Annie made for her. I’ve been determined to use it in an act ever since.

Betty Blaize: Misirlou Twist (Dick Dale and the Del-Tones)
Earlier this year Betty was in Los Angeles for an extended stay (check out one of the things she did — six of hearts) and of course she hit the amazing fabric district and used some of her haul to make a very cool fringe skirt and arm pieces. Her fast paced dancing was exciting and became even more so when she balanced a sword on her head.

Ava Fox: Riviera Life (Caro Emerald)This is one of Ava’s standard summertime numbers. It’s cute and playful and she made that adorable sun suit.

Scratch: Magic
I’m not sure what amazing thing he did. I believe he correctly predicted an audience member’s favorite Deacon Giles spirit.

Devastasia: Summertime (Sam Cooke)
One of Devastasia’s summertime standards, as you might expect. It’s a gorgeous costume and a lot of it is made from repurposed items, scraps, and trash!

Ava Fox: Ice Cream Man (Tom Waites)
This is quite a departure from Ava’s previous act, straight up sexy with some killer chair balances. Here’s a little backstage secret: when she had done this number before, she had an actual ice cream on a stick hidden on the chair. That meant we needed to have some way of keeping it frozen until she hit the stage. Crafty Ava made a faux ice cream that looks delicious, but won’t melt all over her.

Scratch: Magic
I believe this was a card trick.

Betty Blaize: Stuff Like That There (Bette Middler)
It wouldn’t be summer without baseball! Scratch and Betty introduced the act with one of our standard classic burlesque comedy bits. Then Betty became the greatest Red Sox fan. The more her team was winning, the more her clothes came off!

Devastasia & Mina Murray: Too Darn Hot
It’s such a treat to perform with a singer! Devastasia sang the Holly Cole arrangement of “Too Darn Hot” while I fan danced.

We’ll be back on September 17 for the release of Deacon Giles new absinthe! (date subject to bureaucratic approval)

M2

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 14 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 August 2022 at 11:07 am  Leave a Comment  
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RVA Burlesque Festival 2022

Dear Constant Reader,

At the end of March I attended the first ever RVA Burlesque Festival in Richmond, VA. I was so thrilled to be accepted — I’m hardly ever accepted to festivals, I knew four of the producers, and I’d never performed in VA before. However, the festival was originally scheduled for the end of March 2020. Needless to say, that didn’t happen. Two years later and it was finally time!

CaligulaI was performing in the Friday night showcase and flying down Friday morning. I was a little nervous as it was my first time flying in over a year and I had heard horror stories of long security lines and canceled flights. But everything went smoothly and I arrived on time. Which meant I had time to kill before I could check into my accommodations. Fortunately, I was staying a mere couple of blocks away from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and you know I can never resist a museum.

I had enough time to relax, have some lunch, and unpack before heading to the Dogtown Dance Theatre for my tech rehearsal. The venue is a real theatre — professional lighting, wings with multiple legs, backstage cross, marley floor. After so often performing in makeshift spaces, this was exciting! We also got a really nice swag bag.

QZJR3190With plenty of time before the show, I hung out in the dressing room, which was well stocked with snacks and drinks. One of my favorite parts of festivals is seeing colleagues from around the country and meeting new folks. I spent a good deal of time chatting with Lady Fingers, from New York who was set up next to me. It was great to see Ember Sky, recently moved to Boston from Seattle, and Murphy Lawless, who I met at the NOLA Burlesque Retreat.

BackstageThe venue required masks, except on-stage, so I made one to go with my costume. Because I was on second after intermission I was able to watch the first half of the show and saw the above-mentioned three performers before deciding I needed to give my feet a break before it was my turn to hit the stage.

It was a thrill to perform in front of an audience in new city. I’ve been performing this number a lot recently, so between that and the great introduction from Ego Von Hubris, I felt completely confident. The audience was terrific, lots of cheering! Unbeknownst to me, there was a photographer there from the Richmond Times-Dispatch and two pictures of me ended up in their piece.

624479d6ae707.imageHere’s one of them, by Eva Russo from Richmond.com

DSC03989This one is from Milotic D Photography, the festival photographer.

It was a late night, made later when the occupants above my room came home very loudly at 2am, but I was still up bright and early to get a fried chicken biscuit and some tea from Early Bird Biscuit Co. before heading out for the Playing with Panels class with Lottie Ellington.

It was so good to see Lottie again! The class was a lot of fun and gave me some ideas to up my panel skirt game. It was even better to spend a little time with her afterwards, catching up and hearing the  latest about Miss Toni Elling.

One of my least favorite parts of festivals is that I’m usually traveling solo and I sometimes get a little lonely. There was no central place where everyone was staying, like some festivals, so it wasn’t easy to just hang out. In 2020, before the festival was postponed I had made arrangements to share a hotel room with three other women, but I was on my own this time. So I was pleased to join Ember Sky and her traveling companions and local friends for lunch.

PoeAfter that we went our separate ways because I had a very specific sightseeing destination — The Poe Museum. He lived a long time in Richmond, so they like to claim him, but so do New York and Baltimore. And let’s not forget that he was born in Boston and did his military service at Fort Independence, just a short ways from me. It’s a neat museum, spread out through several small buildings around a lovely courtyard. They have a number of great artifacts (and some filler and reproductions). I think my favorite was the candelabra under which Poe wrote “The Bells”. I wish it had been warmer, so I could sit in the garden for a bit. I was hoping to spot the resident black cats.

In the evening I returned for the second night show. Lottie Ellington had recommended Croaker’s Spot where I sat at the bar with a book and enjoyed a crab cake sandwich that was perfection. As thrilling as it is to be on stage, it was nice to sit in the audience and enjoy the entire show. It was a great mix of styles and some really creative performances. There were several that I couldn’t wait to tell the troupe about. I was particularly delighted to see Jaqueline Boxx’s headlining act. She’ll be completing for Queen with it at BHoF, but I’m not going (as usual) so it was a treat to see it live.

I lingered long enough to say my goodbyes, and have an unexpected and excellent conversation with Ellie Quinn, before returning to my lodgings to get a few hours of sleep before heading to the airport for a 6:30am flight.

Yes, you heard that correctly. I had to be in Boston in time to teach a 12:30 Introduction to Burlesque class and that was the only flight that would work. Happily, Scratch picked me up at the airport and took me out to breakfast before returning to The Manor so I could get a couple of hours of sleep before teaching.

Another rhinestone for my travel map!
Travel map VA

The festival was fun and ran smoothly (at least from my perspective). It was also very organized. I got my share of the tips within days and photos shortly thereafter. Video arrived only a couple of weeks after the festival. The only downside, as I mentioned above, was not staying in the same place as other performers and spending a ton on carfare. However, overall, a pretty great experience.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 16 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 20 April 2022 at 5:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Burlesque with a Band 2/3/22

Dear Constant Reader,

We had our second live music show at Flying Embers this past Thursday and it was more exciting than we expected…

The weather was kind of terrible, and Scratch told Ava and me that we were going to start a little late. The audience was trickling in (we were almost completely booked up) and not all the band members were here yet. That was fine. We were happily ensconced backstage with some snacks provided by the lovely bartenders. I had my latest embroidery project and Ava’s good company. But it got later and the drummer was still stuck in traffic.

The band started playing without him and Scratch said as soon as he got here we’d jump right into the burlesque and do a tightened-up set. Great. We were all ready for that and waited some more.

Then Scratch came backstage one more time with the fateful news. The traffic had been caused by an accident so bad the highway was now closed. We would have no drummer that night.

There was some good news, however. The drummer hadn’t been available for our last rehearsal, so he pre-recorded his tracks for the songs that we were running that night and the band had them. The bad news was they had Ava’s songs, but not mine, as I wasn’t at that rehearsal. Scratch said I could use recorded music for my acts… Hell no! We had a band — I was going to dance to live music!

The plan was to run the burlesque acts basically back to back with a little intermission between for the hard-working band to have a break and for Ava to have time to change costumes.

My first song was “Three for the Show”, which does have quite a bit of percussion. The other musicians did their best to fill in on the fly. I got a little lost in the middle — thank goodness Betty ran all those improv drills, so I had a plan until I got back on track.

My second song, “Harlem Nocturne”, was a little easier, as it’s heavy on the brass (trumpet in our case) and the drums are not as vital. However, because I can’t do anything the easy way, I was using new fans. Well, old fans that had been refurbished.

I had sent my white fans to Donna Touch to be converted from bamboo to aluminum staves and have another row of feathers added. The fans arrived that afternoon, so I only had a few minutes to practice with them before deciding I would use them at the show.

Slightly different music, new fans, what could go wrong?

As it turned out, nothing!

My hands aren’t used to the fans yet, but I managed. No, more than managed — it was as good a performance as I’ve given with the old set. It just took a little more thought and my hands were a bit sweatier than usual, given the circumstances. I’ll give a fuller review of the new fans in their own missive.

Here’s a little taste of the evening. Photos by Scratch.

Ava 2-3-22 Mina 02-03-22

The audience was great, really supportive of the situation. We were also lucky to have Betty Blaize in the audience. Instead of Ava and I acting as stage kittens for each other (the original plan), she jumped in to handle pick up, so we could concentrate on getting changed for the next act.

We’ll be back on February 17 with a special treat. It’s my birthday! I’m told there will be cake! I’m not performing, so hang out with me and enjoy the evening. Make a reservation because seats are limited (it’s free!) .

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 14 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 10 February 2022 at 10:14 am  Leave a Comment  
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Busy Week

Dear Constant Reader,

Last night we had our usual Sunday rehearsal, which was devoted to dress rehearsal for our show on Saturday and then I looked at my calendar for the week ahead…

Monday: Rehearsal with the band for Thursday’s show

Tuesday: Teach the first session of Introduction to Burlesque (on-line)

Wednesday: Rehearsal

Thursday: Burlesque with a Band at Flying Embers Taproom

Friday: Night off!

Saturday: Dinner show at Premier on Broadway

Sunday: Rehearsal

Whew! What a start to February!

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 15 Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 31 January 2022 at 11:44 am  Leave a Comment  
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Burlesque with a Band 1/20/22

Dear Constant Reader,

This past Thursday was our first live music show at Flying Embers and I think it was pretty successful! We had a pretty good crowd, especially for a Thursday, who seemed to be enjoying themselves. The bartenders were happy with everything, the band was terrific and I felt my performances went well.

Poor Scratch was run ragged, however. His assistant tested positive for Covid that day and our photographers bailed, so he ended up having to do pretty much everything himself — set up the lighting, work the door (checking reservations and vaccination cards), host the show, take photos, clean up some of the costumes, and run the FaceBook livestream.

The band played two sets — about an hour and a half total. Betty and I each did an act in each set. I went first with “Mina in Furs” and Betty closed out the set with “Lament”. She opened the second set with “Night Train” and I closed it out with a fan dance to “Harlem Nocturne”. 

I was so into my fan dance and enjoying it so much that I ended with a big sweep of my fans and dipped my head, forgetting that I hadn’t yet sewn a comb into my headdress and the whole thing fell right off! It hung around my neck and I was able to sweep in back into place. Oh the glamourous life of a showgirl!

The show has a couple of challenges which keep things spicy. The first is, of course, live music. The band is terrific, but as with any live performance, you never know what might happen. As it turned out, everything was fine. The other is that there’s no real stage. We decided to perform in the center of the room, which means people were seated at tables around the taproom as well as at the bar. Performing in the round is hard.  You are going to be seen from every angle and you need to make sure everyone has a good view most of the time. And don’t forget to make as much eye contact as possible. My fan dance is very directional, with either my front or back uncovered depending on which way I’m turned. I opted to perform directly in front of the band for most of it and come out into the center when I was covered front and back or entirely uncovered.

There should eventually be some photos and the whole thing was on FB Live (skip the first couple of minutes — it’s Scratch setting things up and there’s no way to edit a Live).

I’ll be back on February 3rd with Ava Fox and again on February 17th. I won’t be performing that night — I’ll be celebrating my birthday! I hear there will be cake.

Tickets are free, but reservations are suggested.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 15 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 January 2022 at 2:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Burlesque with a Band

Dear Constant Reader,

As you might recall, last month we performed at Flying Embers Taproom and Social Club. (If you don’t recall, here’s a reminder).

We’re coming back, every other Thursday, starting next week, and we’re going to have live music!

It’s going to be a relaxed evening. Listen to the fabulous jazz quartet, have some delicious beverages (how about some hard kombucha?), and watch a couple of burlesque acts over the course of the night. And it’s free! (tipping is always welcome!) Don’t forget to bring proof of vaccination! This is per the City of Boston, so please don’t give the staff a hard time about it.

The first night, January 20, will feature Betty Blaize and me! We’ll be mixing it up every show, so you’ll get a different pair of dancers each time.

This past Monday we got to rehearse in the space with the band for the first time. Big thanks to Ashley who gave up her night off to let us do so! The chance to work with a band for a series of shows is wonderful. We can play off one another, especially when we get to know each other’s style a bit more.

Betty is the best of us for this. She’s a skilled improvisational dancer and, as a musician herself, knows how to communicate what she wants to the band. It’s a joy to watch her. As it turned out, she brought two costumes (we’ll each be doing two acts per night), but the band had three songs ready. This did not perplex her at all and she did a costume mash-up for the last song.

We’re also performing in the center of the floor, so there’s potential audience all around the room. We’ve got to make sure everyone gets a good view. It was so helpful that Ashley and her friends sat at some of the tables to give us some practice.

I’m really excited for these shows! Please join us on the 20th and every other week thereafter!

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 14 Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 12 January 2022 at 12:51 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Brrrlesque for the Holidays 12/16/21

Dear Constant Reader,

We had a lot of fun presenting our holiday show at Flying Embers. I’m especially glad we had the chance since who knows what is going to happen with live entertainment in the coming weeks. Big thanks to Jo Oltman for connecting us with the venue in the first place!

As performance spaces that aren’t really theatres go, it’s a good one. There’s a large open space in front of a projection screen, so we had video backdrops for the acts. A private back hall was turned into a dressing room for us. There were even multiple mirrors! And it wasn’t freezing, like so many winter dressing rooms I’ve been in. We set up a curtain by the side of the stage so we could have a little place to stash our props and robes (and masks).

There was a photographer there, and I even saw a little video of the end of my fan dance on Instagram, so maybe there will be pictures someday.

Here’s a brief recap of the show:

Act I

Alyssa Joy, Ava Fox, Odette Good: Booty Swing
Alyssa and Odette are two of our apprentices (the third, Lopez La Lopez, was manning the box office) and this was their first “real” show. They have performed with us before, as Expositionettes at this year’s Expo and in Vamps After Midnite, but that was like being thrown in the deep end. This was a more typical show and more relaxed. Everyone was adorable in their sparkly silver shrugs and red velvet skirts.

Betty Blaize: Winter Wonderland
A reverse strip! After a wild night, Betty gathers her scattered clothing and re-dresses in her evening finery, ready for her walk of shame(lessness).

Devastasia: Santa Baby
A song, no striptease. After getting to the venue, we discovered no one had the right cable to connect the microphone to the sound system, so Devastasia sang unamplified. And did a fine job — I could hear her in the dressing room.

Mina Murray: Mina in Furs
A classic gloves & gown strip in wintery colors with a luxurious fur stole.

Scratch: Magic
Something impossible involving gift boxes and some high-end presents.

Ava Fox: Gift-Wrapped Boy
This is a fun, high-energy tap dance and strip with a gift-wrap costume. Ava’s pasties even have jingle bells on them.

Mina Murray: Sugar Rum Cherry
Possibly my favorite fan dance. Only doing it once a year makes it that much more special. I was going to wear my new Manuge et Toi Eugie (like a g-string without a string), but chickened out at the last minute in favor of my trusty thong.

Intermission (during which I made a quick video for my Patrons and ate pizza. Not at the same time.)

ACT II

Betty Blaize: Blue Christmas
Mrs. Claus, as portrayed by Betty, has a secret! It’s not naughty though… she just prefers eight glowing lights to eight tiny reindeer.

Devastasia: Warm in December
A rare costume with color for Devastasia as she strips from chilly blue to hot flames. And her panel skirt is just magical. Trust me on that.

Scratch: Magic
A minor miracle involving cards.

Ava Fox: Riviera Life
It may be winter now, but Ava is a ray of summer sun on the beach.

Devastasia: Real Gone
A classic bump & grind act.

Mina Murray: What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?
I get to break out my champagne gown and best ostrich boa for this one! An exquisitely slow tease and a champagne toast.

We had a good time and so did the audience. Our only real issue was with the sound system. There seemed to be a problem with the bluetooth connection, so the song would cut out for a second or two. Fortunately, we know our music well enough to just keep going. And it shouldn’t be an issue next time, since we’ll have live music. Keep your fingers crossed that we can go ahead with our first show with the band on January 20!

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 13 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 December 2021 at 4:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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New Show

Dear Constant Reader,

Tomorrow is our first show at Flying Embers! Get your tickets for an evening of cheerful holiday burlesque that will warm your heart and soul (and other body parts)!

And we will be back on January 20th and every other Thursday after that to entertain you. This is a different sort of show because we’ll be performing to a live jazz band!

Performing to live music is a treat we don’t get to do enough. Once a year, we perform at the Mardi Gras ball to an amazing band and several years ago our Valentine’s Day show, Unlucky in Love, had a band and a trio of singers.

There’s an entirely different energy with musicians versus recorded music. It’s more exiting, in several ways. Even when the band plays the same arrangement you are used to, it’s never exactly the same as the recording, which can be fun and challenging. You have to trust and learn to communicate to create something fabulous. As you can imagine, timing is very important for striptease, so if someone feels moved to change thing up (it is jazz, after all), you need to think on your feet.

Betty and I have had this experience before. In fact, Betty is a mistress of improvisational dance and can make magic out of whatever the musicians throw at her. But it’s going to be new for Ava and Devastasia and I’m looking forward to seeing what they create!

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 13 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 December 2021 at 1:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Upcoming Performances

Dear Constant Reader,

After a quiet November, we’re returning to the stage! You can catch us at least monthly through the winter.

One week from today we’ll be at Flying Embers Taproom in Boston with a winter holiday show sure to warm you all over. Expect to see more of us at this venue in the New Year!

On January 8th, we are heading south to AS220 in Providence, RI where we will be joined by special guest Guilted Lilly! To make this show even more enticing… some of our apprentices have been cooking up their own routines. Be the first to see them!

February 6 we’ll be performing a dinner show at Premier on Broadway in Somervile and we’re back on March 6 for brunch!

Even more shows to come as soon as the details are hammered out. 

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 13 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 9 December 2021 at 11:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

It’s Friday! Here’s a tip!

In your emergency costume repair kit, have some needles pre-threaded with a doubled length of thread and knot the ends so the needle won’t slip off.

If you need to make a repair at a show, it’s usually something you need to do fast. With this tip you’ll just have to grab your needle and get to it. I like to have needles threaded with black (good for most dark colors), white (good for most light colors), and red (the most common color of my costumes). You can wrap the thread around a little slip of cardboard to keep it from tangling in your sewing kit.

Don’t forget to replenish the thread after you use it up, so you’ll always be ready!

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 12 Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 5 November 2021 at 2:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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