Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! I’m in a philosophical mood and so is your tip…

A rising tide lifts all boats.

Helping your fellow performers to succeed helps all of us. Build each other up instead of knocking down. We can all win together. Burlesque is a niche art and we need to work together to keep it growing and thriving.

Here’s one way to do that…

Lili VonSchtupp, aka Boobdini the Vagician, has created The Burlesque Deck, a deck of pin-up playing cards with 54 gorgeous photos of burlesque performers. It can also be used for magic! The deck is currently only available via Kickstarter and only until January 27th. The project needs to raise $24,000 to go forward and Kickstarter is an all or nothing deal. If The Burlesque Deck is funded, people outside the burlesque enclave will see these fabulous photos and our reach gets a little wider.

Now here’s where the helping each other out part comes in. The Great Burlesque Expo is waiving the application fee for anyone who backs The Burlesque Deck and sends them proof.

You apply to The Expo for free, The Burlesque Deck becomes a reality (and introduce more people to burlesque), and you get the warm, fuzzy feeling of having helped elevate burlesque. Everybody wins.

What else can we do to lift up the world of burlesque?

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 17 January 2020 at 3:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Creative License

Dear Constant Reader,

I hadn’t been feeling too inspired on the burlesque front recently, so I’ve been exercising my creativity in other ways. Next week I’m going to start sharing some of the results.

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 16 January 2020 at 12:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

Goals

Dear Constant Reader,

Last week the troupe and apprentices set our personal burlesque goals for the year (or for the term of their apprenticeship). This year we did things a little differently.

In the past people have written goals using vague language, like “more” or “better”, which makes it hard to tell when you’ve fulfilled your goal. This year goals had to follow the SMART guidelines (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based). We also had to choose some goals with an April deadline as well as some that had longer deadlines.

Then came the fun and challenging part. Each of us had to suggest a goal for each of the other members of the troupe. It was interesting to see what each person thought the others should work on. More than once people independently came up with the same or similar goal for someone.

One of my personal goals to complete before April is to make a video tutorial. You can help me choose a topic!

One of the goals I was given (by more than one person) is to create a funny number. Contrary to popular belief, I have done comedy in the past, just not in a long time. Here’s proof!

As we achieve our goals, I’ll show you some of the results! Did you set any goals this year?

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 14 January 2020 at 3:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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2019 in Review

Dear Constant Reader,

2019 was a year full of challenges. A hard, frustrating, often depressing year. A look back at my journal shows a lot of despair and desire to give up. I feel like we performed less frequently (not true — I performed as many times as in 2018 — but this year we had a number of shows that got canceled). I was not accepted into any festivals this year. On the other hand, I traveled a bit and performed in two new states.

January
I go to Los Angeles to perform at Burlesque Bingo: House of Knyle Edition and graduate from Egypt’s mentorship program. I regretfully turn down her offer to join her house. I get to spend time with Kitten Natividad and see friends. The only downside of the trip was that a class with Michelle L’amour was canceled. Everything else was wonderful.

February
We have a Valentine’s Day show at a new venue, Thunder Road in Somerville, where our newest apprentices help out. I get sick again, just in time to spend my birthday in bed with a bad cough. I also teach a workshop at a college for “Love Your Body Week”. It’s well received and a lot of fun.

March
We perform at the Mardi Gras Ball. I go to Costume-Con, which is local. Maybe someday I’ll even show you the costume and talk about its creation. I travel to Atlanta to perform in Coco Rosé’s anniversary show.

April
April marks 2 years that I’ve been on Patreon. Not much has changed there from when I started in terms of numbers of Patrons. I really need to figure out how to change that. We perform at a private club above a strip club with an interesting dressing room situation. Satan’s Angel dies. I still don’t have the words.

May
I teach a burlesque fitness class for a swanky hotel in Boston. We have a beach party show at Thunder Road and the apprentices, Electrix, Holly Go Harder, Kyra Lida, and Madeleine Minx, perform the solos they created with us. The venue likes the show so much they offer us a monthly slot. I also debut a new fan dance, which I love a lot. Despite performing it at 3 shows, there’s no video. It seems to always be the way…

June
I go to Topeka, Kansas to perform in a fundraiser for a historic theatre. This was probably my best traveling showgirl experience this year! The audience was great, the other performers were lovely, the producer was wonderful. And there was KC barbecue.

July
We have to leave The Thalia. Certain renovations have to be done and the city of Cambridge’s bureaucracy is making it nigh unto impossible to get the appropriate permits and licenses. We can’t use the space again until the work is done. We spend the next two months scrounging for rehearsal space. It’s very stressful.

August
Rust Belt Burlesque, a collection of photos from Cleveland burlesque shows is published and The Faerie Queene makes an appearance.

We’re still rehearsing in found space, but everyone is trying to make the best of it.
 

September
We have a new home! Welcome to The Arts Nexus, a space with multiple(!) studios. It needs a lot of work, but after a summer of traveling around, it’s wonderful. Also, we start our monthly show at Thunder Road on the second Saturday. We invite Electrix to join the troupe and she says yes!

September is also pretty terrible for me emotionally. I didn’t write about it at the time, because I was so badly wounded. Three former students (one of whom even taught for me) demand to have their presence removed from my school’s website. And a ex-troupe member tells me to kiss off when I reach out. Thanks, ladies, for reminding me just how inclusive and open-minded the Boston burlesque “community” is.

October
We do 3 shows in October, in Cambridge, Somerville, and Salem, with almost no overlap in numbers. It’s exhausting, but the shows are very good.

I win a contest for an incredible unique piece of art. The experience brightens my entire outlook after the soul-crushing events of September. I feel creative again. I host a spooky tea party. I record and edit a Halloween story (learning Audacity to do so). The day after Halloween I get to meet the artist herself in a graveyard in Salem.

November
I make my mostly annual pilgrimage to BurlyCon to teach and to learn. Scratch and I go to Miss Bonnie Dunn’s Le Scandal Cabaret for his birthday. I have a warm spot for this show as it’s where I made my NYC debut (although not in its current location).

December
A very disappointing month. We have no shows at all. Worse than not having any shows, we think we have three and for one reason after another, they don’t come to pass. Very frustrating. On the other hand, I don’t have to work New Year’s Eve.

A very mixed year. Mostly a low one, with a few bright spots. Here’s hoping 2020 is better!

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 13 January 2020 at 10:09 am  Leave a Comment  
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Happy New Year!

Dear Constant Reader,

I hope 2020 is treating you well!

I’m often asked if there’s a place you can find all my Friday Tips and until now, the best way was to search on the tag “tips”, which wasn’t so helpful if you were looking for a specific tip. Now you can find all my Friday Tips right here in a helpful chronological list. Just click the tip and you’ll go to the original post.

I’d like to create some tutorials! Please pick your favorite on this little poll.


Next week I’ll announce the winner.

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 6 January 2020 at 2:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Getting the Word Out

Dear Constant Reader,

One of the less glamourous aspects of burlesque is promotion. I mean, it’s fun to come up with ads and promo images, but actually using them and reaching people is less than exciting.

Over the years tried all different ways of reaching people — putting up posters and handing out postcards, posting announcements on local calendars and groups, running ads in local newspapers and magazines, even radio spots, and of course, sending email to our mailing list.

These days social media rules over everything and yet makes it harder to reach anyone. Not only is there a murky algorithm controlling who gets to see what, but there are strange rules which change, it seems, from minute to minute, about what kind of picture you can use, how much text, which hashtags or else be shadow banned or outright banned. No one will see your post unless you boost it as an ad, but so often burlesque ads are just rejected out of hand. It’s exhausting and frustrating. Makes one wonder in a paranoid fashion if people don’t care about your event or if they just aren’t seeing your promo.

Everybody involved in the show has to pitch in a do some kind of promotion. It’s part of the show, just like rehearsing or costuming. Even I, the prima diva, have spent hours tramping around in the rain or the cold or the sun, asking stores and restaurants if they’ll hang up a poster.

Look at this cute ad Devastasia made for our upcoming show!

How do you, Constant Reader, promote your shows? What methods do you find most effective?

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 18 December 2019 at 11:20 am  Comments (1)  
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BurlyCon 2019: Saturday

Dear Constant Reader,

Saturday was BurlyLab day. BurlyLabs are hands-on classes and I think was new this year. Students registered and paid any materials fees in advance. It takes the stress off both the students (having a guaranteed spot in class) and instructors (having the right amount of materials).

Bump N Grind Burlesque Patterning (Lou Lou la Duchess de Riere)
I was very excited for this class: patterning a panel skirt, triangle bra, and panties. I’m always interested to see how someone else does it. It started well, as we were all given pattern-making supplies and Lou Lou clearly explained the math needed to create a quarter circle pattern. We got gridded pattern fabric and could draft our own. That’s when things got rocky. The class was open to all levels and so many people didn’t understand the patterning and needed individual attention. It took almost two hours to get through that one part of the garment. She rushed though the belt pattern and construction. The class was supposed to be two hours, but we had the classroom for another hour so Lou Lou quickly explained patterning and construction of triangle bras and panties. I got some useful information, even in haste.

I saw the line for buying next year’s tickets was very short, so I got on it and got the cheapest ticket they offer. I guess I’m going next year. Now to develop some new class offerings on the them “The Roaring Twenties”…

Shake It Up: Shake Dancing in History & Practice (Bebe Bardot)
I was really looking forward to this one. Bebe is a scholar, a researcher, and is probably the foremost authority on black burlesque history. She’s amazing! She came rushing in about half an hour late — her plane had been delayed and landed around the time class was supposed to start! She hit the ground running and taught a shorter version of the class, but it was still packed with information. We learned about the history of shake dancing, a hidden part of burlesque history, and then we got to try it out! It’s so high energy and exciting. But I can’t imagine doing it for hours, like the shake dancers of the past. You can read Bebe’s brief history of shake dancing here.

Tantalizing Tulle Boas (Robyn Swing)
Before I go to BurlyCon I ask the troupe if there are any classes they’d like me to take and report back. Ava was particularly interested in this topic, so I signed up for it. It was terrific to be able to try the technique hands-on. After a few fumbles, I walked out of the class feeling like I had the technique down and I had something concrete to show the troupe. You can see my very first puff in the photo. Only a thousand more to make a boa!

Again I skipped the evenings activities to meet up with my friend A. I’ve known her since I was in grad school and try to get together with her whenever I can. She suggested we go see Dracula at a local theatre and I was all over that, as you might imagine. It was a terrific production. Very creative staging and movement, an interesting take on the story, great use of music, very effective puppetry. I’m very glad we went.

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. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 4 December 2019 at 2:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Here’s your tip!

Try a new art.

You may not be good at it at first… or ever, but it will challenge your mind and body. Even if it’s not something you would use on stage, it will spark your creativity and that’s always a good thing for your performances.

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 22 November 2019 at 11:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Happy Halloween!

Dear Constant Reader,

It’s my favorite holiday of the year and I have a very special treat for you!

I am a champion storyteller — that’s not bragging, just the truth. I won a major storytelling telling competition… twice. And I love to read aloud. I miss it, so I thought I’d read you a little something seasonal. Here, for you, is my first time recording a story.

The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe.

I recorded this on my iPhone and learned the rudiments of Audacity to edit it. I’m a little nervous about releasing my amateurish first attempt into the wild, but a wise man often says to me “Never let the best be the enemy of the good” and if I waited for it to be perfect, I’d never do it. So here goes.

If you want to hear it without the interruptions, you can become a Patron. If enough people like it, perhaps I can invest in some better audio equipment. I’m looking for some burlesque-related material to read next. Any suggestions?

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 31 October 2019 at 4:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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What’s in the Box?

Dear Constant Reader,

A huge, mysterious parcel arrived at The Manor. The contents were so special I thought I’d try an unboxing video.

How did I end up with this magnificent piece? Christine McConnell has a YouTube series, From the Mind of Christine McConnell. Each month she makes something fabulous and selects one of her supporters on Patreon to receive it. This month she asked a trivia question during a livestream and the first person to answer correctly would get the cage. And that person was me!

This was on October first. I had been having such a terrible September. Certain events made me full of doubt about myself and I had lost my desire to do anything creative. Winning the cage was a jolt of positivity and I’ve been much better this month. It could not have come at a more perfect time. Thank you so much, Christine!

The trivia question, by the way, was “In the movie Addams Family Values, what is the name of the baby?” (which is the name of the bat). I still can’t believe that out of the hundreds of people responding, I answered first.

I love everything about it! The Victorian birdcage is the perfect aesthetic for The Manor. There’s so many fabulous details, like the handmade spiders and the fairy lights. And of course the Bat himself and his glowing eyes. The purple accents are just marvelous — there’s even a chunk of amethyst (my birthstone!). I could just go on about how incredible this is! I don’t know where exactly in The Manor Pubert is going to live, but he’ll be the star of that room for sure.

To see more about the creation of the Bat-Cage, here’s the video:

Thanks to…
…Christine McConnell for making this whole experience possible.
…Georgia Dunn for permission to include a panel from her wonderful comic strip, Breaking Cat News in my video. See the rest of that particular strip here.
…Scratch for filming, video editing assistance, and helping to clean up packing peanuts. In case you were wondering, a “metric fuckton” of packing peanuts is five garbage bags full.

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 23 October 2019 at 9:58 am  Leave a Comment  
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