Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Here’s your tip!

Name your acts.

A lot of people just use the name of the song they are performing to as the name of the act. There’s nothing wrong with that. But by giving your act another name, you make it uniquely yours. Don’t be just another “I Want To Be Evil”. If you use more than one song in your routine, it’s just easier to refer to the act by a single name, particularly when dealing with a producer or client.

Sometimes acts develop working titles that are descriptive, but strive for something you’d like an MC to announce. I think it sounds more polished and professional to say “Brigitte Bisoux in ‘Still Life'” rather than “Here’s Brigitte’s Fruit Bowl Act!”. Also, your act name can set audience expectations by creating a mood.

The name doesn’t have to be particularly creative, just look at Dita — she has an act called “Le Bain” aka “The Bath”, which tells you exactly what you’re getting. But you can also have fun with it and maybe make a play on the title of the song, like “Betty, It’s Cold Outside“.

I have an act that we just called “Three for the Show” for months, after the song I used. Plenty of people use that music, so I wanted a new name — something that highlighted the classic style, the pale colors, or the prominent use of a fur stole. I finally hit upon “Mina in Furs”. A little literary joke (perfect with my literary name) and a bit of sensuality.

And here I am discarding said fur at the Winnipeg International Burlesque Festival.

Photo by Dano Tanaka

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

These 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 7 September 2018 at 11:42 am  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

It’s Friday again! Time for a tip!

When taking off a pair of garments, you don’t have to remove them at the same time. Except for shoes.

If you’re stripping out of gloves or stockings or anything else that comes in a pair, you can take off only one and then delay removing the other. The asymmetry and anticipation can make your audience wild.

However, if you’re removing your shoes, they really both need to come off at the same time. There is nothing sexy about walking with only one shoe on. Arrange your shoe removal so that you don’t have to take a single step until both feet are on, shall we say, equal footing.

Photo by Kenneth Ingham at ABurlyQ 2017.

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

These 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 August 2018 at 3:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Brief Feline Interlude

Dear Constant Reader,

I promise I will get back to the burlesque soon, after all, I still need to tell you about my travels to Winnipeg. However, I didn’t want to leave you hanging after my missive of Friday.

Thursday night I was awakened by Scratch yelling that something was wrong with Albert. He was behaving very strangely and clearly having trouble breathing. We raced off to the animal hospital. It was a terrifying trip, dear reader. After some oxygen and some tests, the vet diagnosed a possible asthma attack, gave us some recommendations, and we took him home at about 2:30 in the morning.

At about 7 in the morning Scratch yelled again — Albert was having a seizure. Then he had the same strange behavior (although thankfully not the breathing issue) of the night before. And then he was perfectly normal. Back to the hospital we went.

We realized he had probably had a seizure the night before, but we had only seen the aftermath. He was admitted to the hospital for observation and to have a battery of tests. His People were pretty well wrecked at this point and went home to fret. We did visit him in the evening and he was happy to see his Man, if a little dopey from the anti-seizure medication.

All his tests came back clear and we brought him home Saturday afternoon with a diagnosis of epilepsy of unknown cause. He’s very unsteady on his feet and he’s having a hard time climbing up and down from the day bed (his favorite spot and usually an easy jump), even with the trundle bed out to make a step. He’s uninterested in much of anything except sleep and food, although he enjoys being petted. Even his favorite toy holds no attraction. We’re told it will take him a couple of weeks to adjust to the medication. Also, his fur was shaved in a couple of places, including the top of his head, so he’s not his usual handsome self.

I have nothing but wonderful things to say about Angell Animal Medical Center. Everyone we dealt with was terrific. The fact that Albert was able to see a neurologist was incredible. If you need medical care for your pet, I can’t recommend them highly enough.

The outpouring of love and support from all over the internet has been amazing and we appreciate all your kind words. It really kept us going, knowing how many of you were sending us well wishes and healing thoughts.

And here he is, not the best picture, but he’s not at his best right now.

M2

Published in: on 27 August 2018 at 11:14 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday Tip

Dearest Constant Reader,

I had a nice Friday Tip all planned for you and then everything went to hell. Albert, Scratch’s beloved cat, had a scary medical incident last night that had us at the animal hospital until the wee hours and then this morning it happened again, so he’s back in the hospital. I’m kind of a wreck, so I’m just going to say

Be good to one another.

M2

Published in: on 24 August 2018 at 4:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Here’s your tip!
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Burlesque is a great reason for travel and travel is a great reason for burlesque.

Out-of-town burlesque shows and festivals are a great way to visit places to which you might not otherwise have gone. And if you’re traveling for some other reason, see if you can get a gig while you’re in town. You’ll probably meet some new folks and certainly be exposed to a new audience.

Right now, I’m on my way to Winnipeg, a city I probably never would have visited otherwise, to teach and perform.

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

These 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 August 2018 at 11:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Sewing in July

Dear Constant Reader,

At the end of June, I decided July would be a sewing month and I was going to work on using up my stash. How did I do? Well… not so great.

July was terribly hot and it was frequently stifling in my atelier, so I didn’t get as much done as I had hoped. I only made 3 garments, all lingerie.

First was a vintage-style net bra, which I made from some black netting embellished with gold that I had recycled from a skirt I made ages ago and never wore. No photos of this one yet. Maybe you’ll see it in my new book, hopefully coming out soon. You’ll definitely learn how to make one!

Then I made a bra top and French knickers from And Sew to Bed: 20 Vintage-Inspired Projects for the Boudoir. I used some luxurious black silk and some fun red buttons from my stash for these. I think I had to buy the right width elastic for the button loops on the bra, but everything else I had already. Artsy shot by Scratch.

The bra only turned out okay. I didn’t make a muslin first, so it was in progress that I realized the back band was going to be too long and shortened it. After the whole thing was finished, the cups didn’t fit well, so I made some hasty darts, which I don’t love and that tightened up the back band as well, so there’s a gap now. Lesson learned. Anything involving boobs really should get a test fit, but I was feeling lazy.

The French kickers (aka tap pants), however, are lovely. They’re cute and comfortable and I love the little red buttons on the side. They should have been much quicker, but I was a total perfectionist here. The waist and leg openings are bound with bias tape and even though the tape is turned to the inside, I just couldn’t bear to use commercial cotton-poly tape. Instead, I made bias tape from the silk. Making your own bias tape isn’t hard with the right tool — a widget that you pull the bias strip through and iron as it comes out with the edges folded under. My problem was that I couldn’t cut a nice, neat bias strip to run through my widget because the silk was so slippery. Scratch, because he’s clever this way, got me a yard-long, inch-wide piece of flat steel and painted one side with grip paint. It held the devilish fabric in place and gave me a nice edge against which to draw a chalk line for cutting.

The big win the whole month has that I can finally make buttonholes on my sewing machine. I have an amazing 1958 Singer Slant-O-Matic 403 Special that does everything I need — except buttonholes.

I mean I could make buttonholes, but it involved a lot of fuss, constantly changing the needle positions and the stitch width and they never seemed to come out evenly. I often resorted to making buttonholes by hand and once to hiring Vixens Ahoy to take care of the many, many buttonholes on a blouse I made.

A friend tipped me off that Singer made a buttonhole attachment back in the ’50s and I easily acquired one on eBay and it sat in a drawer for a long time. Now I had to learn to use it. It’s really clever! There are little cog-wheel templates that move the needle in the shape of whatever buttonhole you want. And the set I bought not only had all the original parts and the instructions, but extra templates and even a sample strip the previous owner had made of all the sizes. I’ll admit my buttonholes weren’t perfectly positioned, but they looked great and work just like they are supposed to. My next goal is to learn to use all the other sewing machine feet and attachments that I’ve never tried, like the ruffler.

Not a great month in terms of churning out stuff and winnowing down my stash, but I do have some really decadent French knickers. I still have some of that black silk and I want to make a camisole to go with them instead of the less-than-lovely bra top. More importantly I have some new tools and new skills.

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 August 2018 at 7:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Here’s your tip!

Strive to improve your art whenever you can.

Last night I had the incredible opportunity to watch the Cirque du Soliel show Luzia from backstage. Well, not actually backstage-backstage, but in the lounge area of the Artists’ tent. We could see the performance on a monitor, but the real show was all around us — the artists preparing. Sometimes that meant stretching or lifting weights, but mostly they were running their acts, sometimes over and over. Even after their set some of them continued working. During intermission I could watch the contortionist in an inhuman over-split while the strap and pole aerialists ran their moves on their respective apparatus and I could hear the juggler working just behind me. (The equipment set up in that tent was AMAZING!)

It was inspiring (and intimidating). And made me realized how much down time I waste when I could be using it to enhance my performance.

A big thanks to Lady Pepper Blossom for giving us the chance to see the circus from such a unique vantage point.

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

These 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 10 August 2018 at 11:35 am  Comments (2)  
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This Guy Walks Into a Bra… 8/4/18

Dear Constant Reader,

This show was a little different from our usual fare. Instead of having Scratch between each act, we did some vintage burlesque comedy sketches. The show was very fast paced and a lot of fun.

Burlesque comedy is rather challenging. Much of the original material is problematic in various ways. First off, most of the lines were meant to be delivered by a Straightman and a Comic, although some sketches had even more male characters and some had a female role or two. We only have one guy, so the sketches had to be adapted for women to play some of the roles. Unlike the 1940’s, no one is going to think it unlikely for, say, a straightman cop to be played by a woman.

The real problem is that much of the material is incredibly offensive to a modern audience. It’s often horribly sexist, basically misogynistic, it’s racist, it’s violent (many sketches end with one character shooting the other), and sometimes the humor is so dated that a modern audience just doesn’t get it.

Scratch searched though tons of authentic burlesque and vaudeville comedy bits to find stuff we could edit and adapt. Sometimes the characters were made all female (as mentioned above). Sometimes the language needed updating (but not too up-to-date; we didn’t want to lose that vintage feel). Sometimes Scratch pulled bits from several different routines and strung them together into a single sketch. And occasionally he stole bits from later sources (like Airplane and Laugh-In).

Something else we did differently for this show — title cards! Back when we did Madame Burlesque, we had title cards for all the acts, which the stage kitten would place on a lovely easel. We wanted to revive that, but it starts getting expensive to create new cards for every act. Devastasia had a great idea — chalk boards. So Scratch took a bunch of thin board covered with chalkboard paint, cut them to size, and Devastasia went to town with her chalk markers. She made these beautiful cards for each performer. The cards add a nice vintage touch, but for this show they Served a practical purpose. We didn’t have traditional MC introductions before each act because of the comedy sketches, so the cards gave the performers their due credit.

The show itself was quite lively and our audience, though small, was enthusiastic, despite the heat. I don’t know about them, but we were all wilting backstage. We got. A lot of nice compliments, but none better than the woman who could only stay for 15 minutes but said she couldn’t miss the chance to see The Boston BeauTease. Perhaps we’ll return to Brattleboro, when it’s cooler.

Next up, I go to Winnipeg International Burlesque Festival to perform and teach and The BeauTease present The Bananaz Variety Hour at Deacon Giles Speakeasy Lab!

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 August 2018 at 2:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Tomorrow we’re off to Brattleboro to present This Guy Walks Into a Bra…. I hope to see some of you in the audience!

And now for your tip!
Your signature is an extension of your stage persona.

Develop a signature that suits your personality and practice it so you’re comfortable signing it. You never know when you’re going to asked for an autograph!

For a famous example, here’s Dita Von Teese’s signature. It’s pretty distinctive — the encompassing D, the curviness, the fact that she only signs her first name. It’s also very compact and could probably be signed over and over again in a fairly short time.

 

A little closer to home, here’s Devastasia’s signature. I think it perfectly sums up her personality:

Don’t be too intimidated — she’s a graphic artist and letters are her playground.

For your signature, do you want it to be curvy? Angular? Have lots of flourishes? Be bold and simple? Do you want to use a particular color of pen? How about incorporating a little doodles, either as part of the name or before or after it (a heart, a smiley face, a pastie, a fan, &c.), if you’ve got the skill (sadly, I don’t).

And finally, if you’re signing an autograph, do you just sign your name or do you include a little catchphrase (like “love and tassels” or “keep shimmying” or just “best wishes”).

Play around with it!

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

These 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 3 August 2018 at 3:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Upcoming

Dear Constant Reader,

July was a quiet month, but things heat up in August.

On Saturday The Boston BeauTease will be making a rare appearance in Brattleboro, VT with our new show, This Guy Walks Into a Bra…. We’ll be performing striptease, magic, and singing as usual, but we’ll also be adding in some old-fashioned burlesque comedy sketches. We’ve been describing it as “modern women and vintage comedy” and we’ve been having a lot of fun with it. You’ll see all your favorite BeauTeasers plus our apprentices stripping *and* talking.

Next I’m off to the Winnipeg International Burlesque Festival!

I’ll be performing Friday night and teaching “Who’s Who in Classic Burlesque” Saturday afternoon!

If you’re not going to be in Winnipeg on Saturday the 18th, why don’t you join the rest of the BeauTease for The Bananaz Variety Hour at the Deacon Giles Speakeasy Lab in Salem? There will be bananas, singing, dancing, comedy, magic, bananas, and more. (Due to my well-known hatred of bananas, I’ve been forced to flee the country.)

 

 

 

I hinted about something fabulous that I was given at our last show. This picture is just a tiny taste of the glorious ensemble. I may blog about it someday, but for now you can see pictures of the whole thing and read all about it at my Patreon page if you are a Patron, of course (and why aren’t you?).

B.A.B.E. will be back in session in September after our summer break! Devastasia will be teaching Introduction to Burlesque and I will be showing the intermediate students fabulous things to do with a boa. In October, I’ll be teaching a bewitching choreography that’s perfect for Halloween.

I’m sure there will be 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.

Published in: on 31 July 2018 at 4:08 pm  Leave a Comment  
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