Real Talk About the Performing Arts

Dear Constant Reader,

This was sent out to the BeauTease mailing list yesterday. I thought it was worth sharing here too.

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TL/DR: Donate to support us or buy a ticket to the ScroogeCo Holiday Office Party


We are usually full of happiness and good cheer – especially at this time of year – but the truth is, the performing arts are in trouble.  Sure, there a few exceptional bright spots, but if you ask any artist working in Boston, they’ll tell you that things aren’t good and haven’t been for a long time.

When ArtsBoston created the Audience Outlook Monitor (AOM), their takeaway was

The pandemic has been devastating for arts organizations hit from all sides. The survey proves what we know arts organizations and artists are already grappling with — it’s going to be a long road back and it won’t be an easy one.

Sadly, we’re not one of those exceptions.  The BeauTease have been around for 17 years.  We’re New England’s longest-running burlesque troupe.  We have trained and inspired dozens of performers around the country and the world.  We’d like to be around for another 17 years…but that’s not going to happen without your help.

We know it’s Giving Tuesday and you’re being bombarded from all sides with requests for donations.  Thanks to our partnership with The Professional Burlesque Society, we are able to take donations and truly appreciate anyone who chooses to make one, but we’d much rather see you at a show.

The ScroogeCo Holiday Office Party opens on this Friday, December 2, and has performances on December 2-4 and 8-10 at The Chelsea Theatre Works.  Tickets make great gifts and this show in particular is perfect for big groups.  It’s equal parts party and performance, so come on out and dance the night away with us!

xoxo,

BeauTease Burlesque

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M2

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 18 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 30 November 2022 at 2:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

Happy Halloween!

Dear Constant Reader,

I hope you have a magical, spooky night!lp_image
Photo by Stephanie May of La Photograpie Boudoir at The Manor
Costume and styling by me
Staging by Scratch
Bat cage by Christine McConnell

M2

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 17 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 October 2022 at 12:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

In Memoriam: Kitten Natividad

Dear Constant Reader,

I hate writing these missives. The death of every Legend is a tragedy. We lose so much of our history with them. But this one cuts very deep.

Photo by John Bilotti at The Great Burlesque Expo.

I saw her for the first time at Miss Exotic World in Las Vegas in 2006. In a voice I never heard before from him, tinged with awe and delight, Scratch said, almost reverently, “That’s Kitten Natividad!” I replied “Who?”

I learned who she was — Russ Meyer’s muse, burlesque Legend, Miss Nude Universe, porn star. And eventually our friend.

I’m usually more than a little intimidated by Legends, but she was so open and friendly that all my apprehensions just melted away. We got along very well, which surprised me sometimes. She was so exuberant and unapologetic, where I am reserved and demure. One year for my birthday she gave me fishnet bodystockings, saying how good I’d look. It took me a little while to get used to the idea, but she was right.
_DSC5198 fishnetPhoto by Altar Boy Photography

Whenever Scratch and I went to Los Angeles we would visit her and take her out (and she would take my leftovers home). The last trip was the best. She insisted we stay in her guest suite and Scratch made her breakfast every morning. We would sit in her courtyard and watch her crazy kittens race around. The night we left, we took her to dinner at Musso & Frank, our favorite L.A. restaurant and hers too. I think this is the only picture I have of us together.
IMG_8648Photo by a waiter at Musso and Frank

Then the pandemic came. We would call her from time to time and check in. We always talked about visiting as soon as we could. She would say “And you’ll stay with meeee!” We would assure her we would and Scratch would cook for her. And then we would tell her we loved her. That’s not something I say casually.

She told such wonderful stories about her time in burlesque, in porn, with Russ, but she was just as interested and enthusiastic about we were doing. When Scratch opened the American Burlesque Collection, she was so supportive. One of the exhibits was dedicated to Latina burlesque performers and a big part was devoted to her. I know Scratch did a little video tour for her, but I wish she could have seen it in person.

The last time we were in touch, she told us the cancer had come back. I said I would drop everything and come see her. She said “I’m not going anywhere” so we talked about going out for Scratch’s birthday in November or mine in February.

I wish I had known how sick she really was. Even if she couldn’t have had visitors, I wish we’d called her one more time.

I’m devastated. I can’t believe I’ll never see her again, never hear her wonderful laugh or feel her infectious delight for everything. I hope she knew how much I love her.

She touched and inspired so many of us. Lili VonSchtupp wrote a lovely tribute on her Patreon. Last year Angie Pontani interviewed Kitten for her podcast, The Bump ‘n Grind.

The thing I loved most about Kitten was the unbridled joy she took in life. She regretted nothing that she had done. I cannot think of a better tribute to her than to live life on those terms.

M2

Published in: on 24 October 2022 at 6:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Today’s tip brought to you by something that happened last weekend…

Want to be a hero? Bring a just-in-case act with you.

Stuff happens and sometimes a performer can’t make a show at literally the last minute and the show is going to be too short. If you have that extra act, you can help fill the void and give the audience the show they expected.

It should be something that packs small and that you know well and can perform in most venues (you know, perhaps not your giant champagne glass bath!). Also make sure you’ve got your music in a way you can get it to the DJ.

Ava Fox was just in a show where one of the other performers had an emergency and had to leave right before curtain. Quick-thinking Ava had the costume for another act in her car, which a stage kitten ran out to get, and the audience was none the wiser.

M2

These 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 21 October 2022 at 5:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

A quick reminder to vote for me for the Dorian Gray Award and the Producer’s Dream Award Golden Pasties!

Here’s your tip!

When using magnets in a costume remove, slide them apart instead of pulling.

If you try to pull magnets apart, depending on the strength, you could end up tearing your costume before you separate them. Sliding them breaks the hold more easily. I’m sure someone could explain the physics, but that person is not me.

M2

These 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 23 September 2022 at 4:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

Exciting News

Dear Constant Reader,

I’m a finalist for two Golden Pasties!!! Thank you so much for your help getting me nominated. I had a terrible day yesterday, but it ended with this news, so at least I could go to sleep on a positive note.

Now I’m counting on you all to vote for me the Dorian Gray Award and the Producer’s Dream Award. I’ve got some really stiff competition!

We’re encouraged to make silly campaign promises. I haven’t come up with any yet (I’m working on it!) but I do promise you all a treat if I win one of those coveted giant pasties!

M2

These 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 13 September 2022 at 3:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Introducing Bartholomew

Dear Constant Reader,

I’d like to introduce you to the newest denizen of The Manor

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Bartholomew A. Cat.

The A. is for Allen. He runs very fast.

He’s been in residence for just over a month and while we miss Albert more than I can say, little Bart brings some joy into the house.

He’s younger than we planned to adopt, not yet a year, and quite the intrepid explorer, looking for all the dustiest corners of The Manor and finding as many cobwebs as he can and he’s already figured out how to open some of the pantry cabinets. From his large ears and long legs and even longer tail we think he’s going to be a big boy. Probably not as massive as Albert, but he’s already a substantial cat.

It’s been a challenging transition from life with our dignified gentleman to this little bundle of energy and chaos. He wants very much to be in the same place as the people, although he doesn’t snuggle much (yet), and loves playing with toys, looking out the window, and being carried. He purrs constantly and loudly. We couldn’t have asked for a sweeter cat.

There’s a good chance you’ll be seeing him in more of my videos (if you’re a Patron or subscribe to my YouTube channel or 365 Kitchen Cabinet) or hearing some mysterious noise off-camera followed by someone yelling “Bart!”

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 28 July 2022 at 4:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

Review: The Costumes of Burlesque

Dear Constant Reader,

I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to review this glorious book. Scratch brought me back a freshly-released copy from the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend in 2019, so it’s recently celebrated its third birthday.

The Costumes of Burlesque 1866-2018 by Coleen Scott, 2019.

Coleen Scott (aka Rosey La Rouge) is a costume designer with a passion for burlesque. Her first book, The Pastie Project*, focused on that specialty adornment unique to burlesque. This tome shows everything.

It’s a chronological look at burlesque costumes from the 19th century until the present day, with each chapter spanning a couple of decades. Every chapter is illustrated with images of burlesque performers in costume and color photographs of extant costumes. The absolute best part is that Scott shows you all the layers when possible. It’s one of the challenges of displaying burlesque costumes (as I well know from mounting exhibits at the American Burlesque Collection), seeing only one part in isolation does not give you a full appreciation for the design of these costumes.

There are not a lot of extant early burlesque costumes, so she fills out the first chapter with images of performers and existing costumes for similar performances — ballet, cancan, circus, bellydance, Loie Fuller. As the chapters progress, more and more extant costumes are included (many from the collection of Nez Kendal) and we get to see details, sometimes even the insides. Still, photos of performers, posters, and other ephemera probably outweigh costumes. She touches briefly on a variety of costume styles, like half-and half acts and drag.

The very last chapter — Modern Burlesque Costume Design — features layer by layer photos. Dirty Martini, Cheeky Lane, Gin Minsky, and Darlinda Just Darlinda wear their costumes and strip for the camera, showing every piece as they go from full ensemble to pasties. They’re each on a plain white background which highlights the costumes in a way that’s impossible on stage. There are also close looks at individual components. It’s probably the best view of each costume possible, short of having the  owner show it off in person.

[Please note that while most of Gin Minsky’s quick-change costume was made by Garo Sparo, her Screen Siren G-string was created by Manuge et Toi Designs and the blue gown was rhinestoned by Canova Studio, who were not credited. I’ll assume that was an oversight.]

It’s a lovely book to just flip through and look at the gorgeous photographs, but the text is enlightening too. There are interviews with Legends, current performers, and costume designers. There are notes at the end of each chapter and a bibliography in the back. Throughout the book words in red can be found in a helpful glossary of terms for those unfamiliar with burlesque and its specialized language.

It’s impossible for one book to be completely comprehensive on any topic, and there are, of course, omissions, but Scott covers a lot of ground and has created a beautiful work. It’s not inexpensive, even in softcover, but worth it.

M2

*Which I don’t own…

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 20 July 2022 at 2:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Still Nothing

Dear Constant Reader,

I just feeling ready to ease back into writing here by resuming Friday Tips.

And I can’t.

With today’s Supreme Court decision, I am so filled with rage and sorrow and fear that I can’t think straight, let alone compose an educational and mildly entertaining post for you all.

M2

Published in: on 24 June 2022 at 3:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

No Words

Dear Constant Reader,

I’m not even sure how to start this. Our beloved Albert A. Cat died a week ago after three grueling weeks of illness. We kept hoping he would recover and did everything we could. In the end, he was in his favorite place, on Scratch’s chest, as they lay on the daybed in his room. He went to sleep and never woke up.

For ten years he brought so much joy into our lives. His sweet nature and rakishly handsome looks made friends and fans all over the world. He was a very special cat and loved Scratch more than anyone in the universe. There’s a big Albert-shaped hole in my life and my heart.
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I am so grateful to my friends for their support and sympathy during this very difficult time. And it’s been longer than I care to think. Please be gentle with me for a while.
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So I hope you forgive me that burlesque, or really much of any of my usual interests, have not been on my mind much lately.

We are fortunate that we could give Albert the very best veterinary care. However, it was very expensive care. I do not begrudge a single penny, but The Manor’s coffers are depleted. I feel a bit vulgar bringing up finances, but if you wanted to buy a book or arrange for private lessons or join my Patreon or shop my closet or bookshelves, it would be appreciated. Scratch reminds me that the Go Fund Me he set up for Albert’s thyroid treatment (was that really less than a year ago?) is still open.

IMG_0437

I miss our handsome boy so much.

M2

Published in: on 20 May 2022 at 4:11 pm  Comments (1)