Mini BurlExpo

Dear Constant Reader,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in: on 23 August 2017 at 3:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Upcoming Events

Dear Constant Reader,

Last night one of my students asked if I had any upcoming shows and should she check my blog for the schedule. I keep a schedule on my website, but it’s certainly not a bad thing to also post it here. This is going to be a long one…

This Sunday, July 23, I’m heading to Maine with Betty, Scratch, and one of our new interns, Artemisia Vulgaris, for a private show. It’s a Vegas-themed birthday party and I’m looking forward to wearing my new showgirl headdress.

The following Saturday, July 29th, I’m teaching and performing at the Mini Expo. You can catch me and my bathtub at the Late Night Lust show at 10:30.

The very next weekend, I’m heading to Jim Thorpe, PA for the Pennsylvania Burlesque Festival. I’ll be performing at the Friday Night Delight, then teaching two workshops on Saturday as part of the Burlesque Boot Camp. If that weren’t enough, I’ll be performing again Saturday night in The Big Reveal competition, as a soloist and as part of The Boston BeauTease. Wish me luck!

Next up: I get a blessed weekend off.

Then I hop on a plane to New Mexico for ABurlyQ! Burlesque and Sideshow Spectacular, August 17-19. I’ll be teaching Friday morning and then performing Friday night in The Wild Ones showcase. I’m there for the whole weekend (although I’m sad to miss the Sunday field trip because Southwest doesn’t offer flights after 5pm. What?).

While I’m off in the Land of Enchantment, The Boston BeauTease will be bringing you Cover Girls, an evening of familiar music with a twist. On Friday night they’re at the Deacon Giles Speakeasy Lab in Salem, MA and on Saturday at the Strand Ballroom in Dover, NH.

I’ll join the cast of Cover Girls on August 25-26 at The Thalia.

Seeing it written out like this is exhausting, but it’s going to be so much fun!

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

Published in: on 20 July 2017 at 10:47 am  Leave a Comment  
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And the Winner is…

Dear Constant Reader,

Thank you all for reading my review of Exotic World and The Burlesque Revival. Big thanks to those of you who shared your favorite burlesque Legends, living, departed, and fictional. I enjoyed reading your comments.

By random selection, the winner of the DVD is Caramel Knowledge! I hope you enjoy it!

Also, Red Tremmel, the documentary’s creator pointed out that one can rent or buy the film streaming right here. And you should!

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 June 2017 at 3:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Big Time All the Time

Dear Constant Reader,

Just to give you a quick rundown of what’s going on right now.

The Boston BeauTease welcomed our newest batch of interns and other volunteers last night, which also happened to be Betty’s birthday. We don’t usual end rehearsals with a large spread of treats, but it was certainly an auspicious day to start working with us.

They’ll be helping out on our upcoming show The Big Time in two weeks. You’ll be able to see our current interns, Cara, Devastacia, Jeannie Martini, and Ruby Foxx, on stage showing off what they’ve learned, alongside The BeauTease.

Everyone will be performing brand-new, never-before-seen acts, expect Betty and I who will also be performing a second, favorite number from our respective repertoires. I’ll give you a hint: one involves a spiderweb and the other a bathtub.

The show is called The Big Time because we’re all using big props, most of which have been built expressly for this show, and have mostly been built by the performers themselves, with a *lot* of help and guidance from Scratch. We’ve been working in wood and metal and plastic and fabric and papier mache. We’ve been using power tools and paintbrushes and glue and electronics. Everyone has been working very hard and pushing themselves in many ways not just in building the props, but in all aspects of act creation.

I can’t wait for you to see what we’ve accomplished! Tickets are pretty cheap right now, but they’re going to go up at the door, so do yourself (and us) a favor and get yours now.

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 8 May 2017 at 3:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Being Patronized

Dear Constant Reader,

Today I did something very hard for me. I created a Patreon page. I had to set myself a specific deadline or I never would have hit that “Launch” button.

I don’t like asking for things. It’s very hard for me to ask for help and it’s even harder to ask for money. This involves doing both. I know plenty of burlesque performers are using Patreon, but it was my friend Marrus‘s example that finally gave me the courage to do this.

I’m asking you, my Constant Readers and Loyal Fans, to part with your hard-earned dollars, so that I may keep doing what I do and do it even better. That’s extremely difficult for me to ask. For a long time I’ve been involved with groups and events that do things on a volunteer basis — you share your skills, your time, your knowledge because you love doing it. I still feel that way. However, I think what I create has value and I hope some of you do to.

I’m not going to put up some sort of pay wall here and only allow patrons to see my writing. That goes against some personal beliefs. Instead, I hope that with support I can bring you more missives that are more in-depth and maybe even have more pictures. Think of being my patron like supporting NPR or PBS — everyone still gets access, but my patrons get some special extras that no one else does.

I’ve also realized that I can’t do what I want to all by myself. I need to get other people involved to bring you the best content I can. And asking for help is a challenge for me. But I shall rise to the occasion and find some collaborators so I can bring you photos and videos and other wonderful stuff.

Thank you so much for your continued support.

M2

Published in: on 1 May 2017 at 3:38 pm  Comments (4)  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Here’s your tip!

A big prop requires big consideration.

Who amongst us hasn’t dreamed of a giant champagne glass or some similar oversized, over the top prop. For many people, burlesque means some sort of large scale prop (I think we all know who we can blame thank for that).

Anything is possible these days, but there are several factors you should consider before jumping into the land of big props.

Price
Can you afford the big prop of your dreams? And will you make that money back? Are you going to be able to get enough gigs at the price you need for the prop to pay for itself? Now, a big prop doesn’t have to be crazy expensive. Perhaps you’re handy and can do some of all of the work yourself. Perhaps you can modify something existing to give you what you want without fabricating the whole thing from the ground up.

Transport and Storage
Once you have this enormous thing, how do you get it to your gigs? Will it fit in your vehicle or are you going to need to borrow or rent something bigger? Can you lift it by yourself? Do you need a hand-truck?
When you’re not using it, where will it live? Do you have space in your home or rehearsal space or will you need to rent a storage unit. Making your prop break down into smaller components is a big help. Once it’s broken down, how do you store the component parts so everything is safe and nothing gets lost?

Set Up
Can you set it up by yourself? Does it need tools? Do you have special requirements, like electrical power or a minimum ceiling height? Can it be set up off-stage and moved on and off relatively quickly? Do you know how to fix it if something goes wrong?

Perhaps I’ll talk about some of these issues in future missives, because big props are currently on my mind. Our upcoming show The Big Time at The Thalia on May 19th and 20th features acts using big props, most of which were built by the cast members!

M2Like this tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Better Burlesque.

Published in: on 7 April 2017 at 1:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

Support Art

Dear Constant Reader,

Two of my favorite artists have launched new projects!

Marrus is sharing her art and her creative process through Patreon. For only a couple of bucks a month you can see her new artworks before they’re released to the public and learn how she created them. And let me tell you, the mind of Marrus is a very interesting place indeed. With this support she’ll be able to spend more time in her studio bringing the pictures in her head to life.

Rae Bradbury-Enslin has designed a line of beautiful and affordable mermaid tails that’s she’s making available through Kickstarter. She’s developed a hybrid between a fabric tail and a silicone one and the results are gorgeous.

This all makes me think about my own projects and creative process. There are so many things I want to do and to share with you, my Constant Reader, but I just don’t have the time (that is, the time to take away from earning a living) to do them all. Or to do them on the scale I want. I’ve been putting things out here in the great wide world for more than 5 years now, but there’s only so much I can do as one woman with a computer and a mediocre camera*.

Would you be willing to pay a little for better content? There are things I’m not willing to share with the entire world, for free, but I might just share with you in a more private venue. Also, I’ve got two more books in the works and I just haven’t been able to devote the time needed to finish them.

What is it that you want to see from me? More reviews? Photos? Videos? Costuming tutorials? Historic cooking? More personal stories? Tell me and I will do my best (within reason) to indulge you, Constant Reader.

M2 * For example, my little book never would have happened without a huge amount of work from Scratch. I absolutely could not have done it by myself.

Published in: on 16 February 2017 at 2:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

Taking a Break

Dear Constant Reader,

For the past week or so I’ve been taking a break from Facebook. You might be puzzled since you were sure you’ve seen me there. Kind of. I’ve been cross-posting from Instagram and popping on briefly to link to my writings here. But I haven’t been creating any content and I haven’t been reading anything.

I’ve been finding Facebook to be a place where ugliness and unpleasantness fly and magnify. I try to avoid things that will make me unhappy and frequently what I see on Facebook makes me unhappy. Maybe I take things too personally — it’s a flaw in my character. I hate confrontation (I know some who revel in it) and right now I’m feeling particularly fragile and vulnerable to negativity.

My absence is not a condemnation of you, my dearest Constant Readers, but something I need to do for my own well-being.

Yes, I miss keeping up with my friends (and “friends”), but if we are actually friends, we’ll stay in touch in other ways. Yes, I know this will probably hurt my personal brand as I’m making myself less visible to the almighty algorithm. However, I’m finding myself much more productive now that I don’t have that easy time-sink of “I’m bored; what’s happening on Facebook?” and I’m feeling a little better about the world.

Maybe I’ll see you there again, maybe not, but you can always find me here, especially on Fridays.

M2

Published in: on 7 February 2017 at 1:38 pm  Comments (2)  

What Dreams May Come

Dear Constant Reader,

Last night I slept fitfully, due to an injury, and I had one of those dreams. You know, when you have to take a test that you know nothing about or you have to make a presentation but you forgot your pants.

In this dream I was performing in Dita’s show (that’s how you know it was a dream). I was going to be performing my new peacock fan act (that’s a real thing — see it on Valentine’s Day). Things started a little rocky because I had forgotten my lovely Glorious Pasties, and frantically rummaged around the dressing rooms until I found an acceptable pair.

I was waiting backstage, dressed in rehearsal clothes — leggings, t-shirt, and fleecy socks — when I realized intermission was over. No one had given us a 5 minute warning or a “places” call. My music was starting and my backup dancers were on-stage doing their thing.

I remember frantically tearing off my socks, but realizing putting on my shoes would take too long. I ran into another room and began searching for my fans. Someone thought it would be cute to hand me two large *cans* (of peaches I think). I finally found my fans and rushed out onto stage where my backup dancers had been improvising and had the audience roaring with laughter. Somehow I got through the rest of the act in bare feet and rehearsal clothes (I can’t remember if I was in makeup or not) with the audience laughing the whole time.

I guess the burlesque equivalent of the dream of being naked in public is being on stage with clothes on.

M2

Published in: on 1 February 2017 at 2:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

Arisia 2017

Dear Constant Reader,

This past weekend I attended Arisia, a local science fiction convention with a wide range of interests. For example, I spoke on three panels: on historical accuracy in costuming, on the tv show Person of Interest, and on tea (yes, tea. There was also a panel on cocktails). It’s an exhausting weekend with tons to do, like gaming, shopping, a charity auction (with associated poker tournament), music, art, historic dances, movie screenings, a geeky bellydance show, &c. And, my favorite part, amazing costumes everywhere.

But I wanted to tell you about a couple of moments I enjoyed that have nothing to do with any of the con’s programming.

When I was in the ladies’ room, I took the opportunity to refresh my lipstick, like you do. Every time I pulled out my Atomic Cosmetics liquid lipstick and the little light in the wand lit up, everyone around me was awed. I explained where it came from and did a little pitch about how awesome Dr. Jen and her products are. There was lots of interest and I saw at least one person write down the company name. I love turning people, especially strangers, on to my favorite things.

Now, true confession time, Constant Reader. Sometimes I feel what I do doesn’t matter, that it isn’t seen or appreciated. Burlesque is a niche in the performance world and we struggle to gain audiences from and be accepted by the more mainstream performance community. I often feel like I’m struggling to be recognized in the burlesque world as well. It can be daunting and dispiriting. However…

Early on at Arisia, a woman approached Scratch and me and asked “Were you in Wrathskellar Tales?” She recognized me as The Diva and praised my performance. That buoyed my spirits a great deal. Pebblestardom*, as Marrus calls it, is a great boost. As I was getting ready to leave, someone else asked me if I had been in Wrathskellar Tales. It’s great being recognized, but even more so from one of the shows of which I am most proud.

But the high point of the weekend was a woman who recognized me as a member of The Boston BeauTease. She was somewhat nervous and very shy about talking to me, but it was also clearly important to her to do so. She said how much she enjoyed our performances and that they made her happy, they gave her hope. She implored me “Keep doing what you do for as long as you can.” I was deeply touched, more that I could express.

This is why I keep doing what I do.

M2*Because you not actually famous enough to be a rockstar.

Published in: on 19 January 2017 at 3:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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