Amplifying Performers of Color and their Projects

Dear Constant Reader,

Yesterday was Blackout Tuesday on social media platforms, but instead of remaining silent (I grew up in the era of silence=death) I posted some of the projects that performers of color I know have created. Facebook made it very difficult by refusing to publish any of my posts with links. I put the links in comments, but I could see the engagement was very low.

This is important stuff, so here it is all in one place.

Bebe Bardot has done an amazing amount of research into the hidden history of shake dancers. She recommends to following articles as starting points:

  • A Brief History of Shake Dancing
  • A Brief History of Blackface in Burlesque
  • Screaming into the Burly Void: Why We Should Never Give Up or Shut Up
  • The Legacy of Black American Classic Burlesque
  • Blackface in Burlesque
  • More Vintage Black Burly Videos
  • Loving Classic Burlesque as a Soft Black Femme
  • If you like these, toss a little something her way
    CashApp and Venmo: $bebebardot
    Paypal: paypal.me/bebebardot

    Caramel Knowledge is hosting her show Cocktails with Caramel on June 14th! Get your tickets now.

    Until June 4th you can watch The House of Knyle at Web of Sin and tip the performers!

    Watch SHAKEDOWN, a documentary about black lesbian strip clubs, featuring Egypt BlaqueKnyle.

    Shimmy LaRoux has taken her years in advertising and product development and turned them into on-demand burlesque business classes.

    Siomai Moore created and hosts the podcast The Pastie Tapes with interviews of a diversity of burlesque performers, including Jeez Loueez, Shimmy LaRoux, Nox Falls, and Ray Gunn.

    Twirlisha Divine created and hosts the podcast Showgirl Sunday Dinner.

    RedBone makes Glam Jam, an all-natural solid glitter lotion.

    More to come! Suggestions welcome!

    M2

    Published in: on 3 June 2020 at 11:02 am  Leave a Comment  

    Performing Live(ish)

    Dear Constant Reader,

    It’s been too long since I last performed before a live audience (Taste o’ Burlesque, March 8) and even longer since I performed at The Speakeasy Lab at Deacon Giles (Valentine’s Day).

    Well, we’re back! Kinda. This Friday at 8pm Eastern join us for Live-ish From Deacon Giles (sort of)!. We’re not actually at Deacon Giles, of course and we’re not performing live, but we will be live on the chat. We miss our fans and are eager to hear from you!

    You’ll see some performances recorded at Deacon Giles, from back when we could still do that, and some brand-new acts filmed in our homes! We even have some special guests. The show is free, but we’re taking donations.

    Want to feel like you’re really there? Order some booze from Deacon Giles — they’re delivering to the North Shore and greater Boston — and have a cocktail of three with us!

    I’m looking forward to seeing you (virtually) Friday night!

    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 27 May 2020 at 12:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    Friday Tip

    Dear Constant Reader,

    It’s Friday again! How do you know? Here’s a tip!

    This week your tip is from special guest contributor, Devastasia!

    Threading elastic (or whatever) through things with a bobby pin of some kind is 1000x easier than using a stupid safety pin..

    Brilliant!

    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 Devastasia if you liked this.

    Published in: on 15 May 2020 at 12:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    Friday Tip

    Dear Constant Reader,

    It’s Friday again! Time for a tip!

    All this constant hand washing is taking a toll on my skin and I’ve been going through a lot of moisturizers. How about an alternative to standard hand lotion?

    Try solid lotion.

    I love this stuff. It’s like a bar of soap, but it melts deliciously with body heat. Once we’re traveling again, since it’s solid, you can take it with you on a plane to combat the dry air. It’s great for massages too. The addition of glitter makes it perfect for pre-show sparkling!

    You can certainly find solid lotion for sale, but it’s easy to make your own. You need some speciality ingredients, but the process is so simple. I’ve had great success with this formula.

    Equal parts* of beeswax, coconut oil, and cocoa butter

    Gently melt all ingredients together over very low heat. When the mixture is liquid, pour into molds. I use 2-ounce silicone soap molds, but you could try a muffin tin or an ice cube tray. Let the bars cool and harden. Pop them out of the mold and store individually in tins or other containers.

    I think these smell wonderful as is, sort of honey-chocolate-coconut, but you can alway add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the liquid mixture.

    Also, if you’re adding glitter, be sure to use cosmetic grade!

    Remember, these bars melt at body temperature, so when it starts getting hot out, stash them in your fridge.

    *By weight, not volume. One ounce of each is a good start and will give you a couple of hotel soap-sized bars.

    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 10 April 2020 at 12:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

    To Pass The Time…

    Dear Constant Reader,

    I know so many of us are feeling trapped and restless. Here are a few diversions I’ve found to help pass the time and stay active in body and mind.

    The Enigma Emporium is offering their first set of postcard puzzles, Wish You Were Here, for free. Also, on their FB page, they post a puzzle every Friday — and there are years worth at this point.

    The Morbid Curiosity Podcast has been sharing virtual tours on their FB page. And of course you could always give the podcast a listen.

    Rory Raven is offering his walking tour of Salem on YouTube. Each short video provides a taste of Salem’s fascinating history.

    Angie Pontani is teaching burlesque and go-go routines at 3pm Eastern every Friday on IG Live. If you miss it, she’s putting the videos up on her YouTube, but, trust me, they’re more fun live.

    Her sister Tara aka Toning with Tara is running killer workout sessions via Zoom every weekday at 8:45am Eastern.

    You can join me on Wednesdays at 3pm Eastern on IG Live at @studyburlesque for a short burlesque lesson. Also, I’ve been doing a little reading aloud.

    What do you recommend to keep mind and body active?

    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 1 April 2020 at 9:44 am  Leave a Comment  

    What am I up to?

    Dear Constant Reader,

    How are you dong in this new, weird reality?

    I’m pretty lucky because my day job (which I rarely talk about) can be done 99% from home. However, it does take up a lot of my time. Also, I’m spending a lot of time cleaning The Manor. I haven’t been nearly as creative or productive as I might have hoped. I haven’t even been snuggling Albert A. Cat as much as I (or he) would like.

    I’ve been working on getting B.A.B.E. on-line. I didn’t want to just leave people who had already registered hanging until we could reopen the studio. Who knows when that will be? We are going to start offering our classes remotely via Zoom this Thursday. It’s totally uncharted waters for me and I hope it works!

    I did a couple of mini-lessons on Instagram Live at @studyburlesque, one on floorwork and one with a boa combination. That was a lesson for me too. I’m so used to cuing off of students’ visual and verbal feedback that it was weird to just be playing to my phone. I knew people were watching right then, but I had no connection to them. It wasn’t even like recording a video, which I know will be watched later (and I can edit it).

    Perhaps fortunately, that floorwork lesson is lost forever, as I didn’t know how to save the video (Instagram does not make it easy or obvious). Now I know, and I even know how to recover a video once it’s gone to stories, although that’s clunky.

    I’m keeping these mini-lessons to 15-20 minutes — short and sweet. I’m also trying to figure out a consistent day and time to offer them. Let me know if there is anything you’d like to learn!

    We had a troupe meeting on-line during on Sunday rehearsal time and it was so good to see everyone. Devastasia has the best backgrounds. Albert made a special guest appearance on my feed. We’ll be meeting again regularly and working on some projects, as best we can.

    My partner, Mr. Scratch, unlike myself, is an essential worker. When he’s not producing burlesque shows, he’s a contractor. Right now, he’s renovating an old building that will be used for low-income housing. They’re in the final stages of painting and restoring some of the vintage details (his speciality) to make it beautiful. He says “just because it’s low-income housing, it doesn’t have to look like low-incoming housing”. He’s hiring as many out-of-work theatre people as he can. Right now he’s got a lighting designer, a rigger, and a playwright painting the place. They’re all being careful — since it’s an entire building, it’s easy to keep their distance, and they already had protective gear — but I do worry.

    I hope you are well, dear readers. Let me know how and what you’re doing.

    Next time I’ll share some resources to save off boredom and cabin fever.

    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 31 March 2020 at 2:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

    Life in the Time of Coronavirus

    Dear Constant Reader,

    These are weird and frightening times. Most performers, burlesque and other, are out of work. Here in Boston all restaurants and bars are closed except for take out or delivery, but many are just closing for the duration, so all those people (some of whom are also performers) are out of work too. My heart goes out to all of those who have lost their income.

    The Great Burlesque Expo has been postponed until September. The RVA Burlesque Festival (where I was going to perform) was postponed for a full year. And I just closed B.A.B.E. for the duration.

    I’m going to see what I can do to provide entertainment and diversion for all of my Constant Readers. Give me your ideas for content you’d like to see in the comments below! At the very least, I’ll be writing here more often.

    Stay safe and healthy, my dear Readers.

    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 March 2020 at 1:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

    Museum of Burlesque

    Dear Constant Reader,

    I’m so excited to tell you that I am once again involved in a burlesque museum exhibit! As part of The Expo (and beyond), Scratch, Devastasia, and I (and surely some players to be named later, as this is a big job) are setting up a modest museum of burlesque history in Salem.

    We’re mostly drawing on our large collection of posters, programs, photos, costumes, and other interesting stuff, but hope to have some loans (if you have something you think is important, drop me a line!).

    Yesterday, Scratch and Devastasia went through a small portion of the collection, carefully inventorying each item, a task, which I admit is years overdue. It’s going to be so hard to decide what to include in the museum! I can pretty much guarantee that this beauty will be there:

    Plus some of Lynne O’Neill’s costumes, including an actual hand-made garter!

    Follow @burl.expo on Instagram to get a preview of some of the amazing items that will be on display, like this one

    We hope to have a catalog, maybe on-line, for those of you who can’t make it to Salem in April and May, but that’s going to take time and work. More updates to come as we choose the items for display, design the exhibits, and start setting up the museum!

    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 11 March 2020 at 3:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    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