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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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  

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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BurlyCon 2019: Thursday

Dear Constant Reader,

Earlier this month I made my almost annual pilgrimage to Seattle for BurlyCon. Only “almost annual” because I missed the last two years. Last year, you might recall I caught a nasty cough that prevented me from traveling and the year before that we were hired to perform at RuffleCon. After two years off, I was glad to finally return.

I had to get up stupid early to get to the airport. I’m still not sure what was going on when my Lyft driver was about to plunge into some dire looking traffic when I gently pointed out that he wanted the exit on the left. He seemed puzzled that I wanted to go to the airport. That bit of excitement aside, it was a perfectly dull trip, just as I like it. There was even no one in the middle seat, so I could get some sleep.

Once arrived and checked in, I got settled and went to classes. I skipped the first two class sessions, so it was a short day.

Cowgirl Up! (Dixie DeLish)
I was really excited for this class because it was a whole new skill — trick roping. We learned all about the different parts of the rope and how to handle it. Then it was time to try it ourselves. We started with spinning a flat circle. I was terrible! I was starting to get a bit frustrated and sure I was never going to get it.

Eventually we switched ropes around and starting using one of a different length. I finally did it! I could hear my old archery mentor saying “This is an equipment driven sport”. But that’s only part of it — rotating your wrist while twisting the rope in your fingers is quite tricky. I think it’s a little like hooping — once your body learns the motion I bet it becomes second nature.

We also learned the catch. Not as challenging, but I wasn’t willing to try to catch another person. I’m definitely glad I took the class, even if I never pick up a rope again. It’s always good to challenge yourself.

Cooler on the Internet: Sparkle on Social Media (Siomai Moore)
I’m a fan of Siomai (rhymes with “Oh my!”)’s podcast, The Pastie Tapes (illustration is the pin she gave me for saying so) and my social medial game is poor, so this seemed like an ideal class. I think I walked out with more questions than when the class started, because I didn’t know I needed to ask them. I’m planning to do my own social media audit, once I get Siomai’s materials. She announced at the beginning of class that she’ll send out her presentation as an ebook, so I didn’t frantically have to take notes, but could just listen.

Then I ducked out on the evening’s social event, a circus-themed meet and greet, to have dinner with my sister. As a bonus, she took me to her local supermarket so I could get some genuine Washington apples for snacks. The Seattle light rail is pretty terrific and makes it easy to get out of the hotel and see people.

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 18 November 2019 at 3:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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BurlyCon Bound

Dear Constant Reader,

In just a few days I shall be winging my way to BurlyCon!

I was so disappointed to miss last year, but I was so wretchedly sick that there was no way that I should have been allowed around other human beings.

This year I will be teaching two classes, both on Friday — Caring for Your Costumes at 10:15am and Achieving Closure at 5:30pm. I hope to see you there!

I’ll also have copies of my Little Books for sale! I’m almost out of the Book of Better Burlesque, so this may be your last chance to get a copy.

There are so many people I’m looking forward to seeing! I hope we can find a little time out of the busy schedule to catch up.

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 November 2019 at 2:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

BurlyCon 2016: Sunday

Dear Constant Reader,

My last day at BurlyCon began with making sure I was packed and ready to check out before I went to classes.

Achieving Closure (me): This is a relatively new class and I was delighted at how well it went. I’m particularly pleased with what I kept calling my “grown-up busy book”, cloth pages with examples of the various closures sewn on, so students could try them out. Educational and entertaining!

Icons of the Tease: From A(nn corio) to Z(orita ) (Leslie Zemeckis): A delightful look at a number of burlesque performers, illustrated with personal anecdotes, photographs, and film footage.

Book Signing (me): My first author event! I’m delighted at how many people showed up. I brought a lot of books with me and went home with almost none. Since I was there for two hours, people drifted in and out. Some stayed to chat, which was lovely, but there was enough quiet time that I could have some lunch lest I snarl at any of my adoring fans. The picture is me briefly curled up in front of the library’s little fireplace. I could have stayed there all day.

Get on the Good Foot: A Post-Stiletto Recovery Class (Elsa/Ernie von Schmaltz): This was a great class and it was the perfect thing to wrap up the weekend. I thought it was going to be about just foot massage, but since everything is connected, we did self-massage all the way from our toes, up our backs to our foreheads. So delightful. So relaxing. I will definitely be practicing this in the future.

I skipped out on the closing ceremony and caught the light rail into Seattle proper. As a method of getting from the airport to downtown, it certainly has Boston beat. I met my friend A. near the Pike Place Market and we had a lovely dinner. We’ve known each other a frighteningly long time and even though we only get together every couple of years, the conversation is always great.

Eventually I had to head back, pick up my bag at the hotel, and go to the airport for my red eye flight home. I was exhausted, but of course, I just couldn’t sleep on the plane. Usually I can sleep anywhere, but planes are just impossible. After an eternity of fitfully dozing to podcasts, the sun rose and we landed at Logan. I blearily made my way back to the Manor, there to collapse for a couple of hours with Albert.


Published in: on 23 November 2016 at 4:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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BurlyCon 2016: Saturday

Dear Constant Reader,

Saturday, mercifully, the first classes weren’t until 9. Of course, I was awake at 4:30am because of East Coast Time…

The Classic Chorus Girl (Sister Kate Dance Company): We learned some chorus girl dance steps and then dove into a short choreography based on the Shim Sham. Eventually we broke into groups of five or six and did the whole thing with an adorable entrance and fun ending. I can’t wait to share this one with the BeauTease.

Caring for Your Costumes (me): I’ve been teaching this class for a long time, but it stays popular. I refine it a bit every time I teach and sometimes (and this class was no exception) I learn a thing or two as well.

Book Signing (Leslie Zemeckis): I brought my copy of Behind the Burly-Q to be signed. I had two other hardcover books (Striptease and It’s All That Glitters) weighing down my suitcase, so I couldn’t also bring Goddess of Love Incarnate. Another time, I’m sure.

Exotic Dance Moves 101 (Peekaboo Pointe): A primer of exotic dance moves, some of which were familiar from burlesque, just done with different angles and intentions. My favorite part of the class was that we started with a Pilates warm up. Because of the intense schedule for Wrathskellar Tales I couldn’t get to the gym or barre class for about six weeks. The exertion was very welcome and I was pleased to discover I hadn’t lost all my core strength in the interim.

Props & Gimmicks (Gina Bon Bon): Gina demonstrated some of her signature moves with a boa and on a prop and then invited audience members to “show me what you learned”. Classes with Legends always remind me where we came from and are inspirational.

I had a very nice dinner in the hotel restaurant withe Maggie McMuffin, with conversation that ranged from frivolous to emotional. It was just what I needed, as I had been a bit too solitary this weekend.

Then I put on lounging attire and went to Tales Around the Glampfire for some storytelling. I think it went better than last year. Alotta Bouté was a fine hostess. That she sat on the stage with the storyteller made it feel less like *performance* and a bit more intimate. Also, it didn’t seem like they were sticking to a 5-minute limit for stories and the event itself was scheduled to run longer, so storytellers were less rushed and flustered. As expected, some stories were kind of rambling, some were excellent, and some were perfectly enjoyable. Indigo’s story about Wild Cherry was an appropriate, if melancholy, finale. Reminds me that I should remind Scratch to write up his Joan Arline story.

 And so to bed.


Published in: on 23 November 2016 at 1:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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BurlyCon 2016: Friday

Dear Constant Reader,

My second day at BurlyCon I woke early because I really, really wanted to take an 8:30am class.

Giving Good Face: Facial Expressions the Scientific Way (Tiger Tangerine): This was a splendid class. I’m terrible about facial expressions (I often look like I’m scowling) and am desperate to improve them. She used the work of Paul Ekman (the basis of the TV show “Lie to Me”) and the universality of facial expressions (like anger, joy, and disgust) to help us understand *what* our face it doing when we are expressing emotion. I found it a compatible with Delsarte theory. It was a 90 minute class, but it was clear she could have gone on for a while longer and I would have liked to. Now to practice, practice, practice.

Getting Tight: A Guide to Corsetry (me): My first class of the weekend. I was a little nervous about this one, not because of the material, which I know backward and forwards, but technology. I know it’s unusual in this day and age, but I don’t own a laptop or a tablet, so I was going to be running my presentation off an iPhone. A friend got me a converter for my phone and BurlyCon had the right cable to connect it to the projector, so it all went well.

Just around the time I was talking about the transition from corsets to other forms of support garments in the 1920’s, Don Spiro came in to take pictures of the class and tossed me a copy of the latest issue of Zelda. Excellent timing, as it just happens to have an article on making 1920s-style garters by yours truly!

Panty Magic (Sherry Bomb): I’ve been making panties for years but I hoped I might learn something new. Mostly I learned that I’ve been doing everything right. I really appreciated that she explained things for sewing machines, rather than for sergers.

Elegant and Dirty: Burlesque Movement Through the Decades (Vivienne VaVoom): Vivienne shared movements and gestures as well as historical context that she’s gleaned from films as well as interviewing our Legends. It was part lecture, part movement class.

After classes ended, I hiked almost back to the previous BurlyCon hotel to have dinner at L & L Hawaiian Barbecue, which Scratch and I discovered last year. I don’t know how authentic their food is, never having been to Hawaii (yet!), but you certainly can’t get a plate lunch in my neck of the woods. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, plate lunch is an entree, usually Asian-influenced, like the pork katsu I ordered, served with rice and macaroni salad.

The evenings activity was the class photo (which I missed as usual) and the dance. The theme this year was “Camp” and I had no idea what to wear. Pearl suggested “pin-up hiker” and that’s how I went: shorts, bandanna-print top, actual bandanna on my hair, and leopard heels. I must say that the combination of those shorts and those heels made my legs look spectacular.

I was heading to dance when I saw Maggie McMuffin and Jacqueline Boxx heading to hospitality, where the cheap drinks were, and tagged along. Maggie, the newly-elected co-Mayor of Seattle Burlesque, wanted to do short video interviews with performers from other parts of the country and I volunteered (well, I was volunteered by Scratch, from afar). We shot it in the hallway on her phone while I babbled awkwardly and people dashed between us. Fun!

I did check out the dance and the camp activities, but was too tired to make a late night of it.


Published in: on 22 November 2016 at 3:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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BurlyCon 2016: Thursday

Dear Constant Reader,

Thursday morning, not too early for once, I boarded a plane for the long, boring flight to Seattle and a long weekend of classes and glitter. My flight arrived early, the hotel had my room ready (it’s good to be a Hilton Honors member), and registration was a breeze. I could have actually made it to one of the classes in the second time slot, but I decided to relax instead. Naps and snacks are good things.

I did make it to one class: How I Came to Write Striptease (Rachel Schteir)
Striptease: The Untold History of the Girlie Show was one of the first books I read on the history of burlesque, partially because it was one of the only ones in existence at the time. It certainly influenced my perceptions of burlesque and I was glad to have the opportunity to tell the author that. It was interesting to hear about the research process behind the book, which was extensive and lengthy.

I took myself out for a quiet dinner at one of the local fine dining establishments (that would be Denny’s) and then prepared for the evening’s entertainments, the Vintage Meet & Greet.

This year there was a Pool Party theme. I was wearing my vintage-style one-piece bathing suit, but I covered it with my Catherine D’Lish caftan. I think the only person who ever saw the suit was Jacqueline Boxx, when I pulled open my caftan to show that my leopard suit complimented hers.

Although I started the evening in my awesome leopard heels, I soon realized that the caftan was long enough that I could just wear my comfy flats and no one could tell. I got a lot of compliments on that caftan and a few on my necklace, which was my first foray into making jewelry. I didn’t last very long and soon took myself to bed.

More to report on my Friday, a much fuller day.


Published in: on 21 November 2016 at 3:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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BurlyCon 2015: Shopping

Dear Constant Reader,

At last the post you’ve been waiting for. What burlesque goodies did I buy at BurlyCon? Not as many as previous years. I’m not sure why. Maybe because Atomic Cosmetics wasn’t there this year. Maybe I just wasn’t in a shopping mood. I’m saving my pennies for a set from Glorious Pasties.

Clockwise from top:

  • Tea from Jacqueline Hyde. I can’t live without my Bad Things tea. She’s no longer going to be selling her tea on-line, so I stocked up. However, she’s agreed to supply the tea for my party at The Great Burlesque Expo *and* she’ll be vending there.
  • Wide bracelets from COCA. I like to wear bracelets when I fan dance, since my arms are one of the only body parts that are visible. These will be perfect for Sugar Rum Cherry and we’re coming up on that season…
  • Socks from The Sock Monster. These were actually a gift from Scratch. He gave each of the BeauTease a pair of socks that he though expressed their personalities. Mine are somewhat medieval and say “Runnin’ the World and Stuff”.
  • A merkin from Gothfox. I tried making my own last year for the silhouette in An Invitation and wasn’t thrilled with how it turned out. Better to have a professionally-made one for next time.
  • More palettes from Beauty Butler. These are the “Flirt” size, for organizing my train case of on-the-go makeup.
  • The (at the time) latest issue of Zelda (#12). Although there are no credits, I was one of the contributors to the Vintage City feature on Boston.

Not pictured is the signed photo of Guest of Honor Delilah Jones all curled up in a giant champagne glass.

Scratch also did a little shopping. His best find was this fabulous costume that belonged to Raven Roland — complete with pasties. You can see it in person at The Great Burlesque Expo!


Published in: on 7 December 2015 at 3:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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