Burlesque Roadshow 6/29/18

Dear Constant Reader,

At the end of June we presented the first ever burlesque show at Down the Road Brewery in Everett. Credit to Devastasia for suggesting the venue. It was, shall we say, an eventful show.

True confessions first, I was very worried about the show. Ticket sales were rather slow. But, as it turned out, the house was pretty packed.

Although they have a big stage, it’s not a theatre and we had to bring in pipe & drape and some lighting. We also brought our own vintage-style microphone, but didn’t have enough cable to connect with their audio, but fortunately they provided a wireless microphone. If you were at the show, that’s why Scratch was having trouble with the volume levels. The lighting wasn’t wonderful — next time we’ll try something else. And the stage was mighty slippery. I was worried about the tap dancers. AS it turned out, they were fine.

Before I get into the show itself, I want to share these great promo images Scratch created. I believe all three photos were taken by Charles Jones (correct me if I’m wrong, please).

  

The show was alcohol themed (because why not) and it went a little something like this:
(Act one performance photos by Jo Oltman)

Devastasia, Mina Murray, Stephanie: Poison
We’ve performed this one before, with three sexy, but rather stupid, murderesses who don’t seem to notice that EVERYONE’s glass is poisoned. New for this show were the matching pasties. I made the skull & crossbone bases and Devastasia did the gorgeous rhinestone job. They look amazing, but I was having a heck of a time twirling. I could only get one tassel going at a time.

Brigitte Bisoux: Alcohol
Brigitte created this act for The Wrathskellar as The Broad. It’s too good to save just for once a year, so she has a slightly more cheerful version for general audiences. I hope audience members noted the bottle from which she was drinking. There was nothing special about it at this time. We’ll get back to it. It was great that the stage had steps down so Brigitte could get into the audience to steal drinks and crush people to her bosom.

Artemisia Vulgaris: Scotch and Soda
Artemisia has such a lovely voice and we like to give her a chance to use it at least once a show. This is kind of a slow, smokey song, but it was livened up during the musical bridge as Artemisia chatted with the audience. 

 

 

Betty Blaize, Tahni: Absinthe
This one hasn’t seen the stage in a long time. I think the last appearance was French Kiss back in 2010. Betty, as an old school Goth (which she is), mourns her lack of absinthe. Suddenly a giant absinthe bottle runs onto stage and starts tap dancing! Tahni the Green Fairy pops out to continue her dance and offer Betty some absinthe. Betty in her delight begins stripping and the horrified Fairy rescinds her gift. Tahni made that lovely gauzy fairy costume herself. Our new bottle was constructed by Scratch and made beautiful (as usual) by Devastasia.
   

Devastasia: Love Potion Number 9
Okay, this wasn’t quite fitting the theme, as the love potion in evidence is a perfume, not a drink.

Scratch: Magic
Scratch did something impossible with a bottle of vermouth. This was just a little something to kill time while the stage kittens were setting up for…

Mina Murray: French Champagne
This is one of my signature acts, last seen at ABurlyQ last August. It requires a lot of set up and potentially some clean up, depending on how well I’ve positioned myself for the climax of the act, so it only works for certain shows, but I love it. People are usually surprised to see me as a blonde.

Intermission

(There are some nice pictures of Act Two by Jo again, but they’re on Instagram, so I can’t make them show up here.)
Brigitte Bisoux: Oh, So Quiet
This is a brand-new act from Brigitte. What would a show about booze be without a hangover. And Brigitte is wearing tap shoes. Fortunately a little Gatorade gets her back on her toes. Ultimately it’s the hair of the dog that revives her completely. Observant audience members will note it was the same bottle that did her in in “Alcohol”.

Betty Blaize: Cocktails for Two
Another number from Betty that hasn’t been seen in a very long time. It was created for Dewer’s Reveal Day celebration back in, I think, 2008. Betty took this opportunity to completely revamp her Statue of Liberty costume and refine the choreography.

Artemisia Vulgaris: One For My Baby (and One More for the Road)
This is a new act from Artemisia and I love it! It’s so slow and slinky and she sprawls on a fur stole in such a classic style.

Devastasia: One Mint Julep
Another debut act — a flirty dance with a parasol. The remarkable thing about this one is the costume. When we presented Wrathskellar Tales I went to Savers and bought a whole bunch of gowns to fill the Diva’s armoire. One of them was a fairly boring mint green probably bridesmaid dress, with no embellishment at all. Devastasia thought the color was perfect for this act and ransacked the troupe trimming box to make it into a stunning costume. I wish I had a before and after picture to show you the amazing transformation.

Scratch: Martini Time
One of Scratch’s signature magic acts.

Mina Murray: Am I Blue
This is a new fan dance and I got to wear my new cage thong from Burluxe. Remember that slippery stage? I was the one who almost wiped out. I was going down to one knee and my foot slid out from under me. Fortunately I just ended up sort of ungracefully on my butt. Devora had surprised us by showing up in the audience and she said she thought it was “very sincere”.

Artemisia Vulgaris, Betty Blaize, Stephanie, Tahni: Puttin’ on the Ritz
Scratch asked Betty for a new group number and gave her some parameters. She exceeded all expectations with the choreography and the dancers did an amazing job with it. It’s one of the best group numbers we’ve done recently.

After the show we talked to audience members (one of who gave me something amazing that deserves its own post) and got a well-deserved drink. It was maybe 15 or 20 minutes all told, plenty of time later to strike, pack up, and load out. Then the fire alarm went off.

We all went outside. I figured this would be a short interlude since it was clear there wasn’t actually a fire. Then the fire truck showed up. The firemen went inside and eventually the alarm went silent. We continued waiting. Next thing we knew, the ladder extended from the truck to the roof of the building and a couple of firemen headed there. Uh oh.

Then the brewery announced that they were shut down by order of the fire department. It was the CO alarm that had gone off. We were incredibly flustered — all our stuff was inside, not just our costumes and other gear, but personal items like purses, phones, and car and house keys. Eventually the firefighters escorted us inside in small groups to get our most important stuff. Of course, I grabbed my fans as well as my purse. And the above-mentioned amazing thing.

If you want to hear all about this right after it happened, become a Patron and you can watch a video where I babble all about the incident after I got home.

Early the next morning, when we would have rather been sleeping in, most of us returned to Down the Road to sift through the chaos that was our dressing room (we were using the back hallway and the firefighters had to move a bunch of our stuff to get to the alarm panel) and pack and to strike the tech.

At least the alarm hadn’t gone off until AFTER the show was over.

I always hope we’l have an exciting show, but this wasn’t exactly what I meant.

M2These 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 12 July 2018 at 10:23 am  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! It has been beastly hot in Boston. My atelier, where my writing desk is, has no air conditioning, which is why there have been no missives this week. However, I would never neglect your tip. July is sewing month at The Manor, and so the tips will be on topic as well.

Press your seams.

For really great seams, press on the wrong side, then flip the item over and press on the right side. It’s absolutely vital that you press the heck out of multi-part seams, like French or flat-felled. Press each seam after you sew it, rather than saving them all for the end. I know all this pressing seems like a hassle, but it will make a huge difference for your garment. Your iron is your friend.

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 6 July 2018 at 2:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! I hope I’m going to see you tonight at Burlesque Roadshow.

Your tip this week is in honor of Jo Weldon’s new book Fierce: The History of Leopard Print:
Leopard print is a neutral — it goes with everything!

It can be an accessory…

…or the complete outfit.

No matter what you’re wearing, leopard print won’t clash!

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 29 June 2018 at 1:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Sewing and Motivation

Dear Constant Reader,

Sewing is a big part of my life. The first project I can remember was making a gown for my Barbie out of some scraps from an outfit my mother had sewn for herself. By high school I was sewing clothes for myself and once I was in college I was making costumes for historical reenactment and science fiction conventions.

However, lately I’ve been feeling a little stalled out in my sewing. I tried to inspire myself by creating a page on my website highlighting my burlesque costume work. Mostly that served to remind me that I don’t have good pictures of most of my best costumes. (Hint to photographers: I’m available to shoot…)

I have all sorts of fabulous fabric in my stash which is doing no one any good just hanging around in bins. If you look to the right you’ll see some of the nifty stuff I really should be using, like that gold paillette and ruffle fabric or the striped peach net, the owl feather print and the artsy flower print. I have no idea what I want to do with any of them, but I want them all to become SOMETHING.

I’m going to dedicate July to getting back to sewing. Most of my posts are going to be about costuming, which will probably included Friday tips. My goal is to reduce my fabric stash and end up with some new clothes and costumes. Although I’m not going to try something like my Dress Me project, I may ask your for your input on some things through out July.

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 27 June 2018 at 2:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! And a very happy birthday to Emporium 32! 10 years of being purveyors of cool stuff you didn’t realize you needed, but you really do. I’ll be at their party this evening. Will you?

This is my 350th tip! Here we go:
Take something from your stash of unfinished costume projects… and finish it!

We all have that pile of projects that we’ve been meaning to complete, called by some UFOs (UnFinished Objects). My advice for you this week is to go through that pile, find one thing and do whatever you need to finish it. Really evaluate what’s in the unfinished collection and figure out what you need to do to finish everything. Then pick one thing and concentrate on that. It’s possible there are some lost causes and you should recycle the materials into another project.

Just think how good you’ll feel when that pile gets smaller and your wardrobe is larger!

***
Help a traveling showgirl out! I’m going to Canada in August and it’s made a big dent in my rhinestone fund, Buy a book! Book me to perform or teach! Become a Patron! I’m going to come up with a Special Something for everyone who supports me on Patreon between now and August 17th. Stay tuned to learn what it is…
***

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 22 June 2018 at 2:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

Going to Canada

Dear Constant Reader,

As the title says, I’m going to Canada. Not permanently. I’ve been accepted to perform at the Winnipeg International Burlesque Festival on August 17-18.

Honestly, I applied on a whim without any expectations. I don’t have a very high festival acceptance rate and this year I scaled back my applications. But the application was free and I had just received video of my act (thanks to Scratch), so I said what the heck. I was stunned to get an acceptance letter that very night!

I’m very excited to be returning to Canada and particularly to a province I’ve not visited before (I previously performed in Montreal and Toronto). I’m also exciting to be presenting the act I worked on at Stripper’s Holiday. Hopefully I’ll also get to teach.

However, it’s not cheap to fly from Boston to Winnipeg. Well, that’s technically not true. It was perfectly affordable to fly TO Winnpieg; it’s the return flight that was spendier than I liked.

So, help a traveling showgirl out! Buy a book! Book me to perform or teach! Become a Patron! I’m going to come up with a Special Something for everyone who supports me on Patreon between now and August 17th. Stay tuned to learn what it is…

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 18 June 2018 at 2:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Before I get to your tip I just want to mention that The Boston BeauTease are performing on June 29th at Down the Road Beer Co. in Everett, MA.
image
It’s the first time they’ve had burlesque at this venue and we’d like to make a good impression. We’re bringing all our favorite booze-themed acts and some brand-new ones. You can get your tickets here.

And now, here’s your tip!

Listen, really listen.

Too often we hear what someone else is saying without actually listening to them. Someone once said that to have a good argument you need to speak like you’re right, but listen like you’re wrong. I rather like that. I think there would be less strife and misunderstandings if we just listened to one another.

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 15 June 2018 at 3:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! I usually try to phrase my tips so that they are positive advice (“do”) rather than negative (“don’t”), but I just couldn’t figure out how to do so with this one. Here’s it is!

Don’t change your clothes in the bathroom.

This simple statement actually covers two situations.

Often at studios, gyms, and the like, where a locker room or changing area is provided, some women will choose to lock themselves in the bathroom to change their clothes. It’s selfish, rude, and annoys those waiting to use the bathroom for its designated purpose. Just don’t.

If a performance venue expects you to use a public bathroom as your dressing room, reconsider working there. As a performer, you need a clean, private, secure space. A public restroom is none of those things. Just don’t.

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 8 June 2018 at 3:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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In the Kitchen: Ailes de Poulet a la Diable

Dear Constant Reader,

I’d like to share this old* family recipe with you. Ailes de poulet a la diable is French for “deviled chicken wings”, basically chicken baked with a delicious coating of mustard and breadcrumbs.

Recently I made Angie Pontani’s chicken tenders (you should too; they’re so good) and they reminded me of this dish. Think of these wings as a more sophisticated, yet messier, take on Angie’s tenders. It’s going to keep you in the kitchen for an hour, since you need to do something to the wings every 15 minutes or so

You’ll need chicken wings, bread crumbs, chicken broth, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt & pepper, butter.

I’ve made this with both whole wings and the cut-up sort. If they’re whole, tuck the wing tip behind the other wing end, to make sort of a heart shape. It’s tidier and you can fit more in your baking pan, if you alternate which end is up. I actually prefer the whole wings, but the cut up ones are less messy.

Fresh bread crumbs are great for this, but I often use the kind that come in the canister. I’ve never tried it with panko. Let me know how it is, if you do!

I’ve used home-made chicken broth, canned chicken broth, and even mix-it-with-hot-water bullion. I really like Penzy’s Chicken Soup Base for the latter. It’s not as salty as the little cubes and has much more flavor.

Grey Pupon used to be my favorite Dijon, but I discovered it has added sugar, so now I use Maille.

Preheat the oven. Salt & pepper the wings while melting the butter in your baking dish. I just put the butter in the baking dish, pop it on a stove burner, and let the butter melt. Roll the wings around in the butter before cramming them into the baking pan skin side down.

Bake for 15 minutes.

Blend together some chicken broth, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. I just mix them all in the measuring cup and pour over the wings. Sprinkle with half the bread crumbs. Turn the wings and bake another 15 minutes.

Turn the wings again and bake another 15 minutes.

Add the last of the chicken broth and sprinkle with the remaining bread crumbs
and bake for 10 minutes more.

Have lots of napkins ready. I suppose there might be a neat and elegant way to eat these wings, but I’ve never found one (and you know if I can’t eat it elegantly, it just can’t be done).

Here’s the recipe:

Ailes de poulet a la diable
3 lb. chicken wings
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 cup chicken broth, divided
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2/3 cup bread crumbs, divided
Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400F.

Season chicken with salt & pepper. Melt butter in a large baking dish. Add wings and turn to coat. Place wings skin side down and bake 15 minutes.

Blend mustard and Worcestershire sauce with 1/3 cup chicken broth. Pour over chicken and sprinkle with 1/3 cup bread crumbs. Turn wings. Bake 15 minutes.

Turn wings again. Bake 15 minutes.

Add remaining chicken broth. Sprinkle with remaining bread crumbs. Bake 10 minutes.

Enjoy!

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

*and by “old”, I mean I’m the second generation to cook it. My family does not have a long-standing culinary tradition.

Published in: on 4 June 2018 at 2:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Much of the burlesque world is in Las Vegas at the Burlesque Hall of Fame weekend. I, myself, am at home, as usual. I will probably, also as usual, watch Exotic Word and the Burlesque Revival (and probably get weepy). By the way, the persistent rumor that I have never been to BHoF is completely untrue, as you can see from the photographic evidence.

If you are at BHoF, enjoy! If you are competing, best of luck! Big congratulations to the Legend of the Year, Kitten Natividad!

Here is your tip:
Look at festivals and similar events as marathons, not sprints.

Conserve your energy. You’re going to be busy and “on” all weekend. And don’t forget to drink lots of water and to alternate alcohol with water. Also, wear sunscreen. And, of course, make a little time for yourself.

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 1 June 2018 at 2:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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