Babydollmas

Dear Constant Reader,

The other day the troupe celebrated Babydollmas. We’ve thought about changing the name Beauteasemas, but we’re traditionalists. It’s a chance for us to get together and celebrate after the craziness of the holiday season has wound down. We go out for dinner or have a potluck and exchange small gifts — usually something handmade or burlesquey or tasty.

Scratch gave us all silver and rhinestone initial letter necklaces, for times we want to be more subtle than our classic rhinestone name necklaces. Devastasia, queen of snacks, gave us bundles of fancy treats, including some lovely dark chocolate. D.D. made everyone glitter-laden body lotion (and an unglittered version for the guys). Artemisia gave us very pretty bath bombs. Brigitte selected truffles from the oldest candy company in America. Betty made us all gorgeous matching fascinators (except the guys who got rhinestones ties). She made me a special one with a band instead of a comb like everyone else, since things tend to slide out of my fine hair.

I gave these useful little zipper bags with a travel-sized bottle of Atomic Cosmetics hand sanitizer.

Of course I couldn’t give one to Scratch as-is, being as he isn’t a girl, so did a little careful editing.

There’s a little piece of ribbon with new letters painted on which was sewn over the inappropriate letters. I was pretty pleased with the results. I guess I did a good job, because at first Scratch didn’t realize it had been doctored!

What were some of your favorite gifts, giving or receiving, this holiday season?

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 29 January 2018 at 11:16 am  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Here’s your tip!

Your secret weapon for cleaning is distilled white vinegar.

I don’t cook with this kind of vinegar, but I do clean with it. It’s so useful! It’s a mild bleach, slightly anti-microbial, and a deodorizer. I’ve tried to make the tips below vaguely related to the life of a showgirl.

  • Pour half a cup into the washing machine during the final rinse to remove detergent residue that can dull colors.
  • Use it to clean your makeup mirrom and your smudgy device screens.
  • Wipe down your fingernails before putting on polish to remove any buildup.
  • Gently clean and polish leather shoes and purses with a soft cloth lightly dampened with a mixture of equal parts of vinegar and water.
  • To get the smell of smoke out of your costumes, hang your costumes in the bathroom, fill the bathtub with hot water, dump in a cup of vinegar. Shut the door and let the steam do its magic.
  • Just to be clear, you know that I’m talking about cheap distilled white vinegar, not wine, not balsamic, not that fancy herb-infused stuff at the back of the cabinet, right? Of course you do!

    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 26 January 2018 at 3:08 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    Quiet

    Dear Constant Reader,

    I’m sorry for my relative silence this month. I do have things I want to share with you, like book reviews, recipes, a look at my new act and costumes for it, but I just haven’t had the energy to write. To be blunt, January has been a bitch of a month.

    In brief, it’s been filed with a car accident, injury (not me), extreme weather, illness, death (thankfully no one very close to me, but people I care about are hurting), and other lousy, time-consuming, emotionally-draining things.

    I’m hoping February will bring a fresh start and help me find my motivation to write. We’re starting off the month with a really fun Groundhog Day show at Deacon Giles!

    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 25 January 2018 at 2:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

    Friday Tip

    Dear Constant Reader,

    Happy Friday! Here’s your tip!

    Save your performance shoes for the stage.

    They’ll last longer and stay cleaner if you only wear your dance shoes in rehearsal and performance. I know sometimes they’re so fabulous you want to wear them out, but pavement is no good for delicate soles. Also, you don’t want to be tracking outside dirt (and other things…ick) onto a stage where you may be placing your bare bum.

    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 19 January 2018 at 3:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    2017 in Review

    Dear Constant Reader,

    twentyseventeaseLooking back on 2017, it was a mixed year. We had some extreme lows, but some great moments as well.

    January
    B.A.B.E. officially moves out of our dedicated studio and into The Thalia. While I’m grateful to no longer be responsible for so much (especially that much rent), I do miss having my own space.

    Also this month we make a poor choice in marketing our February show. The backlash reignited the ire of the Boston burlesque scene against us and a number of former allies disavowed us. It was very ugly. I can barely even talk about it now, but at the time I was a complete wreck and strongly considered giving up burlesque completely.

    February
    The Expo, of course, is bracketed by snowstorms and attendance is way down.

    We present The Road to Striptopia, a rather clever show, if I do say so myself, with a witty script and some fine performances by our apprentices. The audience is tiny, which is terribly disheartening.

    Also, we see Dita when she passes through Boston. It’s an inspiring show, as you will see later.

    March
    I go to New Mexico for the first time. In short, it was beautiful. I performed in a new state, saw old friends (and met some new ones), ate great food, and had a hell of a time getting home thanks to an ill-time East Coast snowstorm.

    April
    Devora goes back to school and cuts back on time with us. We understand but miss her.

    May
    Inspired by Dita’s big props, we base a whole show on big props with all the cast members learning to build their own props. We work with wood, plastic, metal, papier mache, electrical, &c. The Big Time is a lot of work, but the results are impressive. The audience is tiny.

    I launch my Patreon account.

    June
    Scratch goes to BHoF; most of the rest of us work RiverFest.

    July
    Now things get busy!

    We go to Maine for a private show. Road trips are usually fun and something of an adventure and this is no exception.

    The Mini-Expo was a chance to have some fun when it wasn’t snowing (although we kept the snowblower on the porch at Stately Babydoll Manor just in case. It’s wonderful to spend some time with Egypt Blaque Knyle.

    August
    The troupe goes to the Pennsylvania Burlesque Festival. Originally I’d applied solo and found out I was accepted before the deadline, so we also submitted as a group. I’m also invited to teach. 9 days before the festival one of the performers is too sick to continue. Betty & Brigitte rechoreograph our five person number for four and we all work like hell. We’re very pleased with the results.

    I go to ABurlyQ. I’m very excited about this because it was my first festival acceptance in years. Also, it’s great to have an excuse to go back to NM. I see friends, teach, learn, watch terrific performances, and have amazing BBQ.

    While I’m gone the troupe performs Cover Girls, acts to songs by artists who didn’t make them famous, at two new venues, Deacon Giles Speakeasy Lab and The Strand Ballroom.

    September
    We invite Devastasia to officially join the troupe.

    We present Cover Girls at The Thalia and I finally get to perform “Bohemian Rhapsody in Blue”.

    October
    We perform in Salem on Friday, October 13th. The show is called Bad Luck Burlesque, but it’s good luck for us because we sell out both shows.

    We are all too exhausted to produce The Wrathskellar this year, so instead Scratch writes Panties Inferno, a light-hearted romp through hell. It is very good and quite clever. And it completely sells out.

    November
    We return to The Strand Ballroom for another iteration of Bad Luck Burlesque.

    We are invited to perform at RuffleCon for the third year, the best audience yet.

    We invite Artemisia to officially join the troupe.

    December
    We aren’t planning on doing a winter holiday show, but Brigitte really wants to do her Christmas numbers. Brrrlesque sells out at both The Thalia and at Deacon Giles. I debut a new number and am quite pleased with it. (Yes, the photo is from The Expo, by George Ross. I didn’t get one in December)

    We go to The Strand Ballroom for New Year’s Tease. It’s really cold and the audience is relatively small, but very appreciative. My troupe mates demonstrate once again that they’re pretty terrific people who work very hard.

    In short, some good, some bad. I think things got better as the year went on.

    Here’s hoping things get better and better in 2018!

    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 17 January 2018 at 12:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    Friday Tip

    Dear Constant Reader,

    Happy Friday! I’m still unpacking from The Expo, which reminded me of this week’s tip:

    Wash your underthings as soon as you get home from a show.

    I find the easiest way to do this is in the shower. I always take a shower after a show because I don’t like getting glitter in my bed. You can multitask and wash away the show residue from both body and costume bits. Hang your dainties to dry and in the morning they’ll be ready to go again.

    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 12 January 2018 at 2:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    Friday Tip

    Dear Constant Reader,

    Happy Friday! It’s Expo time! Of course, yesterday when everything was coming to the hotel for loading and many of the participants were traveling, New England got socked with a monster snowstorm — more than a foot of snow, high winds, tidal flooding, and of course the inevitable canceled flights. And The Expo had been moved* from February to early January to try to get ahead of the snow. (We haven’t had any major storms at this time for a couple of years, even the Snowpocalypse of 2015 didn’t start until the very end of January.)

    That brings me to this week’s tip:

    Mann Tracht und Gott Lacht (Man plans and God laughs)

    I’m a big fan of advanced planning. Make checklists and contingency plans. Research and prepare. And then, sometimes you just have to throw up your hands and realize that circumstances have gone beyond your control. That doesn’t mean give up, just adjust your plans as much as possible. Be willing to be flexible and creative. And maybe laugh a little.

    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.

    *If you’re wondering why The Expo is in the winter, it all has to do with hotel prices. Trust me, we’d all love to do this in the spring again, but the hotel charges way too much for rooms then.

    Published in: on 5 January 2018 at 11:21 am  Leave a Comment  
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    Friday Tip

    Dear Constant Reader,

    As the year draws to a close, I’d like to thank you for being my Constant Reader. Without you, I’m just shouting into the void.

    For your tip today I’d like to echo something I’d heard recently and which has stuck with me.

    Be kind.

    I hope you all have a wonderful, beautiful, peaceful, and very kind 2018.

    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 December 2017 at 11:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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    Friday Tip

    Dear Constant Reader,

    Happy Friday! And a merry Christmas to those who celebrate it. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy your Chinese food and movie! Here’s your tip!

    You don’t have to do it all. It’s okay to get help.

    In burlesque, as in other fringe arts, there’s this DIY thing. There’s an expectation that the performer should also be a choreographer, costumer, producer, promoter, teacher, graphic artist, prop fabricator, music and video editor, roadie, &c.

    Most of us aren’t good at everything. You can hire other people or trade your skills. It doesn’t mean you are less of a performer; it means that you know how to delegate and how to prevent burn out and frustration.

    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 December 2017 at 12:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    In the Kitchen: Zuppa Inglese

    Dear Constant Reader,

    Last month we celebrated both Scratch’s & Devora’s birthdays and I made zuppa inglese for our little party. What?, you may ask.

    True Italian zuppa inglese (“English soup”) is sponge cake soaked in alkermes and layered with pastry cream. There’s great debate as to the age and origins of the dish. One theory is that it’s an Italian take on English trifle, hence the name. As much as I want to, I’m not going to take you down a rabbit hole of culinary history. Not now, any way.

    Alkermes (also spelled “alchermes”), since I know you’re going to ask, is a liqueur flavored with spices and colored a gorgeous red with dried cochineal insects (also known as kermes, hence the name of the liqueur). Do not be repulsed by the inclusion of bugs. They’re totally harmless and frequently used to color food and cosmetics as “carmine”. I’ve made alkermes and it’s such a beautiful color. That, however, is a story for another time.

    Now, the zuppa inglese I made is not the authentic Italian version, but more of an American adaptation. I got the recipe from Angie Pontani via her Go-Go-Robics II DVD (yes, she provides recipes on a exercise video).

    This zuppa inglese is the style of dessert known as “icebox cake”, since, after layering cake or cookies, pudding or whipped cream, and perhaps fruit, you chill it in your fancy new-fangled icebox. During the 1920s it was also known as “flapper pudding” because it was so quick and easy even a flighty modern gal could throw it together. Icebox cakes of many different styles have been popular throughout the 20th century. You might remember one made of chocolate wafer cookies layers with whipped cream.

    For this recipe start with sponge cake or lady fingers. Some say you can use pound cake, but I think it’s too heavy. If you don’t have time to make cake, you can certainly buy it. I baked a sponge cake of the sort the Brits call a “fatless sponge”. It has no butter and is lightened with well-beaten eggs.


    You’ll need flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, hot water, vinegar, and eggs.

    Separate the eggs. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.

    Beat the egg whites until stiff. Beat the yolks until thick and lemon-colored. Gradually beat in sugar.

    Add flour mixture, hot water, and vinegar to egg yolks. Fold in egg whites.

    Bake in a greased and floured pan and let cool completely. You can make this a day ahead.

    When you’re ready to make your zuppa inglese, you’ll need the cake, a big can of crushed pineapple, a jar of maraschino cherries, amaretto, a box of French vanilla pudding, milk, heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract.

    Cut the sponge cake into 1/2″ thick slices. Drain pineapple and reserve the juice. Drain maraschino cherries and reserve the juice. Make the pudding, but use one cup less milk, so it’s thick & spreadable, and chill it.

    Lay half of the sponge cake slices side by side in a large dish. I was transporting this to rehearsal, so I used a 13″x9″ baking dish, which was perfect.

    Drizzle half the pineapple juice over the cake. Do the same for the cherry juice. Then repeat with some amaretto (or rum).

    Spread the pineapple over the cake. Get it right to the edge!

    Cover the pineapple with another layer of cake slices. Sprinkle with the remaining pineapple juice, cherry juice, and amaretto.

    Spread the pudding on top of the cake.

    Make whipped cream with heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla. Spread over the top of the cake. Decorate with the cherries and chill for a couple of hours in the fridge.


    Isn’t it pretty!


    You can sort of see the layers and attractive colors here.

    You want to serve this the same day you make it or the cake gets very soggy. It’s still delicious, just wet and easier to scoop than slice.

    If you want the actual recipe, you’ll need to get a copy of Go-Go-Robics II or perhaps Angie will post it on her new blog.

    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 20 December 2017 at 2:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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