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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BurlyCon 2015: Sunday

Dear Constant Reader,

The last day at BurlyCon. Priorities today included packing up, checking out, and making sure to say good bye to some people and “See you at The Expo” to others. I still managed to get in a goodly number of classes.

Advanced Floorwork (Bella Blue): This class promised to be fast-paced and not for the faint of heart. I didn’t realize we were going to be learning a choreography which incorporated some floorwork, rather than floorwork techniques (although there was a little of that later). I realized I was in over my inflexible head when Bella encouraged everyone to try a drop split to conclude the routine. I did my best to keep up and took copious notes about the things I wanted to try again later.

Sass and Play, Cabaret Dance Class (Midnite Martini): This class was so much fun! Midnite is a terrific teacher. As promised, we ran through a sassy, playful choreography to a song from Chicago. It reminded me of the importance of naming moves and combinations so they can easily be shouted out during teaching.

Roundtable: I’m Too Old for This Shit: Scandal from Bohemia led this discussion for older performers (“older” running a wide range of ages). Lots of interesting points raised about the problems and benefits of no longer being a spring chicken.

Prep for Press, Producers, & Festival Applications (Jo Weldon): I was going to go to Scarlet O’Hairdye and Bolt Action’s class on pattern alteration, but I realized that A) I didn’t have the brain power to give it the attention it deserved and B) they had proposed it for The Expo. Instead, I wandered late into this class of Jo’s and curled up in the corner to listen to her share her experience & wisdom. Honestly, it was old hat to me, but it was fabulous to see so many people learning the correct way to work with producers, etc. for the best possible result on all sides. This class should be mandatory for all performers.

I briefly went to Closing Ceremonies (not a raffle winner again), but couldn’t stay for the actual ceremony because my sister was going to pick us up for a visit. Last BurlyCon she and I tried to get together, but between managing the massive renovations on her house and getting ready for a trip to Beijing, it was impossible. It was delightful to see her, and finally encounter all the new (to me) things in her life: gentleman caller, house, and cat.

After a lovely dinner and a tour of her newly-renovated house, it was time to head to the airport for what turned out the be a rather hellish flight. Red-eyes are always no fun, but this was particularly special. I had booked an aisle and window seat in the hopes that there would be no one between us. Of course it was a completely full flight, so I gave up my window seat to sit next to Scratch. And discovered that the center seat wouldn’t recline. I managed to get some fitful sleep my head on the tray and the flight lasted approximately 67 hours. It’s so glamourous being a traveling showgirl.

I was so glad to get home, pet Albert, and then pass out on my luxurious bed for several hours.

Next up, the shopping!


Published in: on 3 December 2015 at 3:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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BurlyCon 2015: Saturday

Dear Constant Reader,

And thus the third day of BurlyCon dawned, but not too early.

Easy Tricks for Costuming (Bic Carroll): I took this class last year, but returned for an encore because Bic said he’d teach us to make his famous 2-yard gown and bring the pattern for us to copy. As I suspected would happen, most of the material he covered was totally different from last year and I ended up with pages and pages of notes and sketches.

There were some other classes I thought about attending, but decided instead to socialize and shop. I didn’t buy much this year, but that will be a separate missive.

Gloves & Stockings, Basics and Beyond (Midnite Martini): I was really looking forward to this one, after all, she’s The Stocking Girl. I came up with a stocking pull that I can’t wait to incorporate into a number. We did an interesting group exercise involving using the gloves as a prop. As it turned out, I was the only one with a pair of gloves in my group. We turned that into an advantage and I was pretty happy with our presentation to the class.

The Talk: 100 Years of Burlesque (Neil “Nez” Kendall): I can’t resist burlesque history. It was an excellent talk, even without the planned slideshow (his laptop had been stolen — boo). Some things I knew, some new information. Quite enjoyable and informative.

Scratch & I had to duck out as soon as class ended because we had big dinner plans and a tight schedule. He found that there was a Hawaiian barbecue place walking distance from the hotel. The walk was miserably wet and cold, made worse because my shoes were soaked. Soon we discovered we were practically at the old hotel! Good to know it’s not that long a walk away. I was able to sample the delights of a plate lunch (chicken katsu with rice and macaroni salad — half of it ended up in our fridge), which I’m sure would be even more delightful in tropical Hawaii itself instead of rainy Seattle.

Then we hustled back to the hotel so Scratch could prepare for Story Time. I changed into my lounging attire — red silk slip, ostrich-trimmed robe, and marabou mules. And forgot to take a picture.

Story Time was a new event this year and I was delighted that Scratch was able to participate. He’s an amazing storyteller, as some of you know, and taught me most everything I know about storytelling.

There were 11 storytellers plus Jonny Porkpie hosting. Each storyteller had 5 minutes, but I knew that wasn’t going to be enough time. And, sure enough, everyone ran over. I wished that some hadn’t rushed to conclude — I wanted to hear more! Maybe next year (and they absolutely should do it next year) there will be fewer storytellers with a longer time for each.

Some of the stories were funny, like Evilyn Sin Claire’s recounting of a very special audience member who was extremely into their show. Some were intensely personal, like Jo Weldon’s reminisces about Sherry Britton.

Scratch told a story about Joan Arline at The Expo. Normally, he works extempore, embellishing as he goes. In this case, he wrote the story down and read it. He wanted to make sure the language was exactly right, as befitted the perfectionist Sexquire Girl. It was a lovely story and several people were in tears at the conclusion. Mandy Flame, who was responsible for the event, was also recording everything, so you might even get to hear it.

Pleading fatigue, I decided to skip the movie, Us, Naked: Trixie & Monkey, despite Scratch being one of the backers. We’ll just have to wait for his copy. Although my plan was to go right to bed, we ended up talking to Nez outside the BurlyBar for a very long time about burlesque history.

And tomorrow is the last day.


Published in: on 2 December 2015 at 3:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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BurlyCon 2015: Friday

Dear Constant Reader,

My plan for my second day at BurlyCon was to begin with a Pilates class. When I woke 10 minutes before the class was to begin, I took it was a sign. Instead I had a leisurely breakfast in the hospitality room (Top Pot donuts!) with Scratch before starting my day full of classes.

FAN-tastic Feathers! (Beau Bordello): Obviously I love fans and feathers, so this was a must take. A couple of years ago I bought some fan staves from the instructor and eventually made my own fans (at right). I was hoping for some pointers, especially with stringing the fan. There was a lot of information about feathers and some kits for practicing attaching feathers to fan staves. Unfortunately for me, she doesn’t actually string her fans, so I’m still thirsting for an easier way. The booklet in each kit, also available as a PDF, was very informative on all aspects of feathers.

Take a Seat (Ophelia Flame): As you might imagine, this was a chair dance class. Although we did cover some chair moves, I found the most valuable part of the class was following along while Ophelia “made shit up” to differing types of music. Best was the Sharks/Jets dance off with half the class watching the other half perform.

Teasing Theories (panel): I was delighted when Sailor St. Claire invited me on this panel with Waxie Moon, Kristina Nekyia, and Tootsie Spangles to talk about “Aaaht”. All the panelists are educators with diverse backgrounds in other artistic disciplines and we had some interesting discussions. I have to admit feeling a bit of impostor syndrome in such company!

#pussymagic (Bella Blue): I loved the classes I took with Bella at The Expo and I was intrigued to explore her philosophy of pussymagic. We learned a short choreography and then after a pussy meditation, we performed it again, for a partner, keeping the principles from the meditation in mind. It was an intense experience and I want to thank Sapphire for being my pussymagic partner. I’m still thinking about my take-away from this class.

After classes ended Scratch & I trekked to a nearby Denny’s for an elegant dinner. There we saw the lovely Strawberry Stems from Anchorage having a solitary meal and asked to join her. Pleasant company indeed. I do hope my travels take me to Alaska some day.

That night was the Mystical Menagerie Dance. I was looking forward to it. My first thought had been to wear my satyr costume, which is very impressive, especially the hooves, but it takes up a lot of room in my suitcase and I can neither sit down nor dance. Pass.

Instead I went as…

 The Faerie Queene.

It took longer than I expected to get ready — getting eye makeup just right for wearing with a mask is challenging, despite previous practice — so I missed the class photo. Oh well. Scratch had fallen soundly asleep, so I went to the dance without him.

There were some charming vignettes in the ballroom, particularly the mermaid grotto and the Narnia setting, and a ton of fabulous costumes. Unicorns predominated, matched only by mermaids. I was so glad to see Whisper de Corvo and give her the big hug I’d been holding onto for months. She made my headdress above, by the way.

After a while I was too tired to dance and headed back to the room. On an impulse I stopped in at First Light Photography and took advantage of their Friday the 13th special. I need a good photo of this costume!

I opened the door to our room and caught Scratch putting his pants on to come join me. Instead, we called it a night. Tomorrow is going to be another very full day!


Published in: on 1 December 2015 at 3:52 pm  Leave a Comment  
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BurlyCon 2015: Thursday

Dear Constant Reader,

My annual pilgrimage to BurlyCon began as usual, getting up way too early to head to the airport, an uneventful and dull flight to Seattle, and arrival around lunchtime. We had hoped against hope that the room would be ready, so there could be a nap, a shower, and clothes changing before classes, but alas, it was not to be.

I’m not crazy about the new hotel. It’s closer to the airport than the previous one, but further from anything else. Admittedly, there were some restaurants within a 10-minute or so walk, but it was cold and raining (more than the usual Seattle drizzle) most of the weekend. Also, the conference center was in a separate building from the rooms, which required a short (although covered) jaunt outside. I think it’s possible that the room block could have been further from the conference center, but it would have been challenging. But that’s enough with the bitching.

Although we got there in time for the first rank of classes, we opted for lunch instead. There was a restaurant a short walk from the hotel. I was hoping the fact that it was open 24 hours meant it was a diner, but alas.

Then one class I attended was Risque Rhythms with Ronnie Magri: There was a bit less about music than I’d hoped and a bit more about generic burlesque history and how to produce a burlesque show than I needed. However, there were some great stories about burlesque back in the day in New Orleans. I appreciated the information on how to work with a live band, something we do from time to time. The best part was a break-down of a typical headliner’s fifteen-minute set.

I had to leave the class early because the front desk called. Our room was finally ready! I was going to go to another class, but punted in favor of a nap, unpacking, and a little shopping.

That was night was the Vintage Meet & Greet. Although I contemplated wearing an actual vintage dress (a Halston one-shouldered gown from the mid-eighties), I decided on my Stephanie Buscema mermaid dress and its voluminous crinoline. Not truly vintage, but it has that look. Scratch had to take his weekly Expo tech team call, so I went down solo and amused myself helping with the icebreaker game — I was able to be someone wearing seamed stockings, who had performed aerial burlesque, and something else that escapes me now. Sadly, I wasn’t one of ones who visited the Goat Farm and oddly for me I wasn’t carrying a fan. I also bumped into Vivacious Miss Audacious, whose signature I wanted for my copy of It’s All the Glitters and of course I’d left my copy upstairs! We had a nice chat nonetheless.

Eventually Scratch joined me. Photographic evidence here:
Photo by Paul O’Connell. Photobombing by Evilyn Sin Claire.

There are some more photos floating around from the fabulous photo booth. It had a camera with a foot trigger, so one could take photos without needing a photographer. And there were silly props too. I’m sure the photos will become available soon. There were a ton of people taking advantage.

After not too long, I was exhausted and ready to skip the peer reviews in favor of bed. And yet somehow we ended up in the Burly Bar… That’s ginger beer from one of the sponsors. An actual cocktail and I wouldn’t have made it back to my room!


Published in: on 30 November 2015 at 3:52 pm  Leave a Comment  
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BurlyCon 2015

Dear Constant Reader,

Just a quick note that I am returned from BurlyCon and almost back to normal after an intense weekend of glitter and classes. I’ll tell you all about it in my usual day by day fashion. Perhaps next week.

All the badges! I only missed one year, when it conflicted with The Wrathskellar. BurlyCon seems to have settled down into early November where I hope it stays.


Published in: on 19 November 2015 at 1:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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