BeauTease Slumber Party

Dear Constant Reader,

It was Artemisia’s fault idea. I had been saying that we should find some time that wasn’t during rehearsal to watch some burlesque documentaries and performance videos. Artemisia said we should have a slumber party at The Manor. Scratch liked the idea and so it was planned.

Artemisia, Betty, and apprentice Tahni joined us at The Manor. Devastasia had to bow out at the last minute as she got an emergency mural job — ah, the life of a working artist. After the build-your-own taco bar (thanks to Scratch), we retired to Albert’s room for a little burlesque history.

We started with Exotic World and the Burlesque Revival. I think it’s incredibly important to know where we came from. Exotic World and Dixie may be gone, but at least we have this documentary. In a remarkable bit of timing, as I write this, the Burlesque Hall of Fame just had its grand reopening and many of the treasures last seen in the documentary are finally on display.

After a break for ice cream sundaes, it was time to decide between some classic burlesque or modern performances. Classic burlesque, it was! We viewed a couple of iconic performances, like Lili St. Cyr and Tempest Storm, and some lesser known performers, from our large stash of Something Weird videos.

Then there was a request for old Babydoll performances. Scratch pulled out a box of random DVDs from our early years, including our appearance at Miss Exotic World (the first year in Vegas, not at the goat farm). It was kind of fun, but a little hard to watch some of the acts. We’ve come so far since then!

Despite calling it a slumber party, we really only made it until about 1:30 in the morning. It was a great deal of fun and we’ll probably do it again.

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 18 April 2018 at 2:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

NOLA Burlesque Retreat 2018: Friday

Dear Constant Reader,

I’ve been writing a report of my trip to the New Orleans Burlesqeu Retreat. You can read about what happened on Wednesday and Thursday.

Friday morning came early. We grabbed our yoga mats and stumbled out the door to the park near the studio. It was lovely doing yoga there in the cool morning. A beautiful start to the day.

We began the day’s classes with a panel on production with most of our instructors answering questions (a couple of them were occupied elsewhere, but I’ll get to that). So many burlesque performers have to produce their own shows, so it was helpful to get several perspectives. We’re fortunate that we have a producer and I don’t usually have to worry about things like this, but it’s good to be knowledgeable all the same.

After that we broke for lunch. Gaea Lady and Dahlia Fatale had been busy in the kitchen (hence not on the production panel) whipping up a substantial vegan luncheon. We took our plates to the courtyard next to the studio to enjoy a little fresh air. Courtyards are one of those things I really love about New Orleans; they’re not something we have in New England.

Back to work with Sexing the Stage with Sweetpea. This was a terrific class, but absolutely mobbed. In addition to all the retreat participants, one of the bachelorette parties from Whiskey and Rhinestones the night before was in attendance. There was a lot of work with eye contact, touching, and energy. Breathing is so important on stage.

Then we got to sit for a bit for Stage Tech with AJay Strong. Although he touched on a variety of tech issues, his forte is audio. We discussed a variety of audio issues and factors. A lot of people were interested in getting more in-depth information about audio editing and playback.

Dahlia Fatale absolutely kicked our asses with Floorwork. I knew she would, but I was even more impressed because she was filling in for Perle Noire whose flight out of NYC was canceled by the same storm that was worrying me. We did some work on transitions (always necessary!) and ran through a challenging choreography. Dahlia was very good about providing modifications for some of the moves.

Our last class of the day was Intentional Performance with Gaea Lady. To begin we had to state an intention (for the class, for the retreat, &c). Mine was “Be better”. It’s a philosophy you’ve probably hear me espouse before. Later when we broke into small groups, we had to elaborate on our intentions. I chose that one because perfection is unattainable, but you can always be better, even if it’s in very small ways.

I decided to skip Whiskey and Rhinetones, which would have required racing out almost as soon as we got back, and opted to get ready for the Instructors’ Showcase at midnight in a more leisurely fashion. Also, my brain was very full and needed a bit of rest. I was delighted to learn that Siberia was across the street from the venue. Some of my flatmates, Jen and Maureen, and I had some delightful Russian food there, like the lovely pierogis in the photo.

Then we walked over to the Allways Lounge to see our instructors’ strut their stuff. Bella hosted the show and announced that because of the peculiarities of the venue, the performers can take it ALL off. Sweetpea started with a high-energy strip. The moment when she removed her bra and wasn’t wearing pasties was so powerful. Gaea came next with the same act I had seen the night before, only now under her veil, she was wearing only jewelry. Lola sang Tori Amos’s “Leather”, giving emphasis to the opening line. The microphone wasn’t working for her, so eventually she just flung it dramatically away and continued unamplified. Then Bella introduced herself and did something beautiful with a boa. I was delighted to see many of the moves she had taught us the day before (was it only the day before?). Dahlia did a contortion routine while smoking a cigarette. The high point of which was when she parked the cigarette between her toes while lying on the floor and then brought her foot up behind her head to take a puff.

Then there was a brief diversion while Sweetpea and Gaea introduced a little game to the audience. They would hold a plastic cup somewhere against their anatomy and if an audience member could sink a wadded-up dollar bill into the cup, said audience member would receive a shot from Dakota Crow, the lovely stage hand. Also clothing would come off. After that amusement, the show closed with a rather blasphemous group act with AJay (as a priest), Bella, Lola, Dahlia (as the congregants), and a large tub (for the baptism).

It was a fabulous show, but I was more than ready for bed. Yoga was going to come early in the morning…

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 2018 at 4:13 pm  Leave a Comment  
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NOLA Burlesque Retreat 2018: Wednesday

Dear Constant Reader,

I recently attended the first ever New Orleans Burlesque Retreat, organized by Bella Blue. The participants spent four days living together, taking classes from a number of talented instructors, going to shows, and generally learning a whole heck of a lot. It was an amazing opportunity.

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that I am all about the continuing education. There were participants with all ranges of experience, from over a decade of performing to some who had yet to set foot on a burlesque stage. The instructors had a variety of different knowledge. It was marvelous. One of my former students once told me she was done taking classes. “Why should I pay for something I can learn from YouTube?” She’s missing out on so much! Human interaction is part of the learning process, both between you and the instructor and you and the other students. One cannot learn in a vacuum. [rant over]

The retreat started on Wednesday. I was extremely anxious because ANOTHER Nor’easter was predicted to hit the East Coast (that would have been the 4th since March started) and knowing airlines as I do, I feared my flight would be canceled. Fortunately the storm didn’t make it up to Massachusetts until long after I was gone.

We were staying in Mid-City, a part of New Orleans with which I was completely unfamiliar, in a pair of apartments that slept 6 each, sharing beds. I got there early and picked the room with only one bed simply because it had a nightstand on which to put my glasses. And somehow I ended up in solitary splendor, since we were ultimately only eleven. I admit I felt a bit guilty.

The first order of business was that we all marched over to the Whole Foods to stock up on edible necessities. I was entertained at seeing what my fellows considered essential foodstuffs (myself: baby carrots, blackberries, and tiny cheeses. Also oatmeal, but I had brought that with me).

In the evening all the instructors joined us (with bubbly, elderflower lemonade, and fresh fruit) so everyone could introduce themselves. We all had to share what we hoped to get out of the retreat and what we hoped to bring to it. I knew only a few of the people attending, so it was really nice to meet everyone else and learn a bit about them all.

It wasn’t too late when the evening broke up and a few of us joined Miss Audacious, who was meeting up with her friend Juliette Electrique (in town for The Southern Sideshow Hootenanny), on an excursion to the French Quarter. After starting at Cafe Beignet, we went to the Olde Absinthe House in Pirate Alley. We had a lovely time trading stories, posing for ridiculous photos (see right), and drinking Death in the Afternoon (absinthe and champagne). Unfortunately, the door guy decided we were a lot more fun than sitting in a corner not checking IDs (we were the only patrons) and invited himself and his cigarettes to our table and sort of took over the conversation. I was annoyed and also cold and tired, so an exit was the best strategy. I gather my companions left soon after to find a different spot for another round.

It was surprisingly chilly that night — I’d never been in New Orleans when it wasn’t stifling hot. The weather the whole time was on the coolish side and made me glad I’d grabbed my snuggly hoodie as I walked out the door in Boston.

Next up, our first day of the retreat.

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 4 April 2018 at 2:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Happy Birthday

Dear Constant Reader,

It’s my birthday today! The big celebration was yesterday when Scratch stunned me with a surprise party at one of my favorite restaurants. I thought we were just going for a quiet brunch, but when I walked in a huge group of friends were already there. I had no idea!

I wanted to give you all a birthday present, dear readers! I love the backlighting on this and the Delsarte pose.

Photo by George Ross. Robe by Catherine D’Lish.

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 19 February 2018 at 9:11 am  Leave a Comment  
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Small Kindnesses

Dear Constant Reader,

It’s been a couple of lousy months, dear reader, and I’ve been feeling a bit down. I try to be positive in public fora, like here, but there’s been a lot of self-doubt in my life. Am I just shouting into the void? Does what I do make any difference?

Yesterday, I posted a picture for Valentine’s Day on various social media and received this comment on Instagram from one of my former B.A.B.E. students:

Awesome. Absolutely awesome. Much love. It’s been 7 years since I’ve seen you, but will never forget how empowered I felt– and still do every time I hear Peggy Lee’s version of “Fever.”❤️

I was touched. Moved to tears, in fact. It was exactly what I needed to remind me that yes, what I do does make a difference. Thank you so much.

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 15 February 2018 at 3:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

Valentine’s Day Treat

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Valentine’s Day to those who celebrate it and happy Wednesday to those who don’t. And for those who were celebrating Mardi Gras yesterday, I hope your hangover has eased by now.

Whatever you celebrate or not, here’s a sweet treat for you from me.

Mina curtain
Photo by George Ross

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 February 2018 at 12:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Quiet

Dear Constant Reader,

I’m sorry for my relative silence this month. I do have things I want to share with you, like book reviews, recipes, a look at my new act and costumes for it, but I just haven’t had the energy to write. To be blunt, January has been a bitch of a month.

In brief, it’s been filed with a car accident, injury (not me), extreme weather, illness, death (thankfully no one very close to me, but people I care about are hurting), and other lousy, time-consuming, emotionally-draining things.

I’m hoping February will bring a fresh start and help me find my motivation to write. We’re starting off the month with a really fun Groundhog Day show at Deacon Giles!

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 25 January 2018 at 2:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

2017 in Review

Dear Constant Reader,

twentyseventeaseLooking back on 2017, it was a mixed year. We had some extreme lows, but some great moments as well.

January
B.A.B.E. officially moves out of our dedicated studio and into The Thalia. While I’m grateful to no longer be responsible for so much (especially that much rent), I do miss having my own space.

Also this month we make a poor choice in marketing our February show. The backlash reignited the ire of the Boston burlesque scene against us and a number of former allies disavowed us. It was very ugly. I can barely even talk about it now, but at the time I was a complete wreck and strongly considered giving up burlesque completely.

February
The Expo, of course, is bracketed by snowstorms and attendance is way down.

We present The Road to Striptopia, a rather clever show, if I do say so myself, with a witty script and some fine performances by our apprentices. The audience is tiny, which is terribly disheartening.

Also, we see Dita when she passes through Boston. It’s an inspiring show, as you will see later.

March
I go to New Mexico for the first time. In short, it was beautiful. I performed in a new state, saw old friends (and met some new ones), ate great food, and had a hell of a time getting home thanks to an ill-time East Coast snowstorm.

April
Devora goes back to school and cuts back on time with us. We understand but miss her.

May
Inspired by Dita’s big props, we base a whole show on big props with all the cast members learning to build their own props. We work with wood, plastic, metal, papier mache, electrical, &c. The Big Time is a lot of work, but the results are impressive. The audience is tiny.

I launch my Patreon account.

June
Scratch goes to BHoF; most of the rest of us work RiverFest.

July
Now things get busy!

We go to Maine for a private show. Road trips are usually fun and something of an adventure and this is no exception.

The Mini-Expo was a chance to have some fun when it wasn’t snowing (although we kept the snowblower on the porch at Stately Babydoll Manor just in case. It’s wonderful to spend some time with Egypt Blaque Knyle.

August
The troupe goes to the Pennsylvania Burlesque Festival. Originally I’d applied solo and found out I was accepted before the deadline, so we also submitted as a group. I’m also invited to teach. 9 days before the festival one of the performers is too sick to continue. Betty & Brigitte rechoreograph our five person number for four and we all work like hell. We’re very pleased with the results.

I go to ABurlyQ. I’m very excited about this because it was my first festival acceptance in years. Also, it’s great to have an excuse to go back to NM. I see friends, teach, learn, watch terrific performances, and have amazing BBQ.

While I’m gone the troupe performs Cover Girls, acts to songs by artists who didn’t make them famous, at two new venues, Deacon Giles Speakeasy Lab and The Strand Ballroom.

September
We invite Devastasia to officially join the troupe.

We present Cover Girls at The Thalia and I finally get to perform “Bohemian Rhapsody in Blue”.

October
We perform in Salem on Friday, October 13th. The show is called Bad Luck Burlesque, but it’s good luck for us because we sell out both shows.

We are all too exhausted to produce The Wrathskellar this year, so instead Scratch writes Panties Inferno, a light-hearted romp through hell. It is very good and quite clever. And it completely sells out.

November
We return to The Strand Ballroom for another iteration of Bad Luck Burlesque.

We are invited to perform at RuffleCon for the third year, the best audience yet.

We invite Artemisia to officially join the troupe.

December
We aren’t planning on doing a winter holiday show, but Brigitte really wants to do her Christmas numbers. Brrrlesque sells out at both The Thalia and at Deacon Giles. I debut a new number and am quite pleased with it. (Yes, the photo is from The Expo, by George Ross. I didn’t get one in December)

We go to The Strand Ballroom for New Year’s Tease. It’s really cold and the audience is relatively small, but very appreciative. My troupe mates demonstrate once again that they’re pretty terrific people who work very hard.

In short, some good, some bad. I think things got better as the year went on.

Here’s hoping things get better and better in 2018!

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 17 January 2018 at 12:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Being Patronized, Again

Dear Constant Reader,

I just spent a few relaxing (and unplugged) days in Florida and returned to Boston to discover snow and that Patreon has changed their fee structure.

For those of you who haven’t noticed the little note I put at the end of every missive, people who like my writings can support me for a few dollars a month through Patreon. It’s not a life-changing amount of money, but it lets me know that people care. I recycle some of that money back into being a patron myself for a couple of other artists.

Until now Patreon took a bite out of the pledges, as you might expect — they are a business, after all — so creators, like me, got a little less than the total pledged. I knew that when I signed on and I’m okay with that. The new system is still going to take a bite out of creators’ funding, but they’ve shifted part of the fees onto the patrons. So if you pledge me $1 a month, you’ll actually get charged $1.38.

I’m not okay with this and as far as I can tell no creator is.

BREAKING NEWS:
While I was writing this I learned that Patreon apologized and won’t be changing anything right now, presumably due to overwhelmingly negative response from just about everyone. There will be changes coming, but they plan to work with Creators to solve the issues.

More news as I get it.

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 13 December 2017 at 2:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Gift Suggestions

Dear Constant Reader,

It’s the gift-giving time of year and once again I’d like to suggest some small businesses from which to purchase gifts. You can see some of my previous suggestions here and here.

Deacon Giles is a distillery in Salem, MA with a small line of spirits that is constantly expanding. Try the coffee rum or absinthe! If you make it to the Speakeasy Lab (say for Brrrlesque on the 16th…), sample their creative and delicious cocktails.

Emporium 32, also in Salem, sells beautiful, macabre, creative, and unusual accoutrements for adorning yourself and your home. They’ve got curios and art from local artisans as well as a large selection of jewelry and leather goods made right in the shop!

FinTail Fusions is the brainchild of Master costumer, Rae Bradbury-Enslin. Disappointed in the look of fabric mermaid tails and the price of silicon ones, Rae developed a customizable fabric tail with a cast-silicon fluke. They’re all hand-made in her New Hampshire studio.

International burlesque superstar and Great Burlesque Expo Special Guest Angie Pontani is selling hand-made crocheted hats so you can stay fashionable while you keep warm this winter. She has many different designs, including cloches, turbans, and headbands. Each one is a unique design created by the Italian Stallionette herself!

Cherry Dollface, pin-up, hair & makeup artist, and vintage aficionado, has published her first book, Dollface Vintage: An Everyday Gal’s Guide to a Vintage Lifestyle, a guide to all things vintage, like clothing, hairstyle, makeup, and entertaining. You can’t get this book at Amazon, only through the link above!

I would be remiss if I didn’t recommend my little book as a great stocking stuffer for the burlesquer in your life. It’s full of great ideas for improving your life on-, off- and back stage!

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 4 December 2017 at 11:40 am  Leave a Comment  
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