Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Here’s your tip!

Put your hustle on hold for a day.

As performers and artists we are constantly hustling — to get gigs, clients, students, audience, &c. It seems like if we stop, we lose. Some times I feel like a shark: swim or die.

Take a day off every once in a while and just don’t think about work. One day won’t hurt your business and it will refresh you. And that’s what I’m doing today.

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 20 December 2019 at 9:01 am  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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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Happy Friday the 13th right after a full moon! Before we get to your tip, a few upcoming events…

In one week I’ll be teaching Christmas Stockings: A Holiday Burlesque Workshop.

Next Saturday The Boston BeauTease are presenting a special seasonal show at an undisclosed location! Get your tickets to the Secret (Santa) Show to learn where it is! (hint: it’s in the Boston area, there’s parking and it’s T-accessable)

And applications are open for the 13th Great Burlesque Expo!

And now your tip…

To get better sleep, don’t look at a screen before bedtime.

This time of year is stressful and hectic and performers are working a lot. It can be hard to get the sleep you need, especially when you come home keyed up from a performance. Instead of looking at your devices, do something soothing and relaxing, like taking a warm bath, writing in a journal, meditating, or doing a little gentle yoga. You’ll sleep much 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 December 2019 at 3:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Teaching, Learning, and Relearning

Dear Constant Reader,

The BeauTease have a new crop of apprentices and we’re training them. Part of the way we do that is through exercises. However, all of us participate, not just the new kids.

It’s good for all of us. The troupe members can lead and guide and the apprentices don’t have to feel like they’re being flung to the wolves while everyone else watches. We all get to practice our skills and it’s valuable for the established performers to get back to basics.

We started with character exercises. The simplest version of this is that everyone draws a card on which is written an emotion. One by one, to the same bit of music, we walk across the floor and express that emotion. Then everyone watching tries to guess what the emotion was. We learn to be big and clear, to express emotion with the entire body. For some, it’s practice walking in time to music. This exercise can get more complex and involved, but we left it at the simple version.

The next one is Standing, Sitting, Kneeling, based on an improv game. We have one chair and 3 performers. Someone needs to be on their feet, someone needs to be using the chair, and someone needs to be on the floor. The goal is to work together and trade off positions while creating an improvised group routine. This exercise has sparked a couple of our group acts…

Factory Girls

Feelin’ Good

But no time for such things now. Our rehearsals are focused on our Secret (Santa) Show on Saturday, December 21. It’s a festive evening of seasonal burlesque at an undisclosed location only revealed to ticket holders! The apprentices will be making their striptease debut!

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 December 2019 at 3:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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BurlyCon 2019: Sunday

Dear Constant Reader,

And the last day of BurlyCon… I had to pack up my Giant Suitcase so I was ready to check out after my first class.

The Get Down: Floorwork Masterclass (Lou Lou la Duchess de Riere)
What a great class! Almost everything we did were new moves to me, which was very exciting. Also, I could do almost everything — a far cry from a floorwork class I once took that started with drop splits and I ended up sitting most of it out. The one thing I didn’t try was my nemesis, the shoulder roll. I really will try it some day… when I have a spotter… maybe.

After checking out and storing the Giant Suitcase, I couldn’t decide what class to take next, so I took a quick poll of the BeauTease by text and the majority said…

On Beat: Musicality 101 (Lou Lou la Duchess de Riere)
By now Lou Lou probably thinks I’m stalking her. Musicality is something I struggle with, so it was good for me. we looked at the different aspects of a piece of music and did some exercises. There’s one we should definitely try in rehearsal and one that will be good for me to play around with.

Choices! Creative Costuming & Leaving Them Gagging (Aria Delanoche)
This was another quandary. I’ve been impressed with Aria’s costuming since I met her at Stripper’s Holiday last year. However, the class was opposite Jo Weldon’s History of Leopard Print class. Hard choice! I finally decided I’d be more likely to be able to take Jo’s class in the future. Aria shared her Ten Commandments of Costuming and a list of questions to consider when designing your costume. I was particularly pleased by the section on color theory, something I often tend to be too conservative in my color pallette.

After closing ceremonies, I had hours to kill as my flight wasn’t until midnight. This was one of those times I felt pretty lonely traveling by myself. Most people I knew went out to or were performing in a local show, but I was too concerned about getting back in time for my flight. I ended up grabbing a seat by the fireplace in the lobby and working on my embroidery until it was time to head over to the airport. My flight ended up being delayed a bit, so I treated myself to a very decadent hot chocolate and brownie while I waited. Once again, there was no one in the middle seat on the place, so I even slept for much of the flight. I was so happy to get home to Albert and cuddle up with him for a nap.

Whilst writing this, I got my class evaluations. I’m so grateful for all the students who filled out the forms and gave me such great reviews!

As always, I learned a lot at BurlyCon and I’ll see you next 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 11 December 2019 at 3:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Here’s your tip!

When cutting pattern pieces, keep the cutting line to the left of the scissors.
If you’re left handed and have scissors to match, keep the line on the right.

I know this seems very simple, but I’ve seen people cut the other way. It’s more awkward and the line won’t be as clean. This goes for a rotary cutter as well — keep the straight edge to the left of the cutting line and the blade to the right.

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 December 2019 at 3:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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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! I hope my US readers had a pleasant Thanksgiving and everyone else had a nice Thursday. Speaking of thankfulness, here’s your tip:

Take five minutes a day to think about what and who you are thankful for.

Five minutes is such a tiny part of your day, but it can make a big impact in changing your mood and perspective. Try it first thing when you wake up or as the last thing before you go to sleep.

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 29 November 2019 at 2:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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BurlyCon 2019: Friday

Dear Constant Reader,

Friday was bookended by teaching. I skipped the first class session to try to sleep in (a lost cause) and work out in my room. A long stretching session was required after being scrunched up the plane the day before.

Caring for your Costumes (Mina Murray)
This is probably my most requested class. It’s 90 minutes of me expounding with advice, tips, and tricks. You know, the stuff I do here every Friday, only more so. It was in this class, many a BurlyCon ago, that I was dubbed “The Martha Stewart of Burlesque”. I was gratified that the class was so large and so enthusiastic. I should remember not to go over the stain handout, but just pass it out, so there’s more time for questions.

Teaching Burlesque: for Seasoned Burlesque Performers (Indigo Blue)
Although the class was packed with teachers, Indigo asked anyone with 4 years or less experience take a step back from participating. We did some role play for dealing with difficult students and discussed best practices in the classroom (very valuable!). We broke up into groups to discuss the two most popular issues — curriculum and marketing. I was in the curriculum group (facilitated by the unflappable Legs Malone) and realized my definitions of beginning, intermediate, and advanced classes are quite different from many of the other teachers. I’m still mulling over my take-away from this class.

Adding Magic Effects to Your Performance (Professor DR Schreiber)
My plan was to go to The Art of Sex and Seduction with Egypt Blaque Knyle, but the room was already jam-packed, with more people pouring in. No great shock given the subject and the instructor, but I was feeling rather claustrophobic and bowed out.

I ducked into the class on magic, another favorite subject of mine, and since I have an act that uses slight of hand, I can always use some pointers. Of course I can’t tell you anything about the class, because, you know, secrets are the foundation of magic.

Achieving Closure (Mina Murray)
My second time teaching. This class was much smaller, but still enthusiastic. It was opposite Jo Weldon’s Hairography class and I don’t blame people for wanting to go there instead — I would have as well if I wasn’t teaching. I had a few thoughts on how to improve my little busy book of closures for next time.

Then I met up with Scandal from Bohemia and Scarlett Letter for a “literary names of burlesque” photo. I do wish we could have tracked down Agatha Tristy to join us.

Jewlesquers Celebrate Shabbat (a meet-up)
I don’t really consider myself a Jewlesquer — I don’t have a Hanukkah act or anything like that — but it was nice to meet some new people and talk about some things only other members of the tribe really understand. I came in late and missed the candle lighting, but I was in time for blessing and sharing the challah.

Needing a little downtime, I had take-out and tea in my room and once again missed the class photo. This is pretty much an annual tradition by now.

Although I really just wanted to go to bed, I threw on a leopard print dress, didn’t do my hair or makeup and went to the dance. It’s really easy for me to just want to hole up in my hotel room with a book, but BurlyCon is such a great opportunity to see and meet people and I promised Scratch I would do so. Despite feeling shy and tired, I set out. Before attending the dance proper, I visited Melissa Flynn’s amazing vintage pop-up shop. There were many beautiful items I resisted buying, but it was hard.

I also grabbed my copy of Fierce and hoped I’d run into Jo Weldon. I did and she (wearing a fabulous leopard-rhinestoned corset) signed it.

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 26 November 2019 at 11:52 am  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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