Los Angeles: Saturday 11/22/14

Dear Constant Reader,

It was a late night on Friday, so we got a late start on Saturday. On a tip from a friend we went to the Farmer’s Market and ended up having breakfast at Du-Par’s. I gotta say the pancakes were pretty fabulous. I suspect the pitcher of melted butter had a lot to do with that…

Having eaten and strolled, it was time for a more serious visit and we headed to Westwood Memorial Park. It’s hidden deep in the heart of the city, surrounded by tall buildings — there’s a sign which seems to be pointing to a parking garage, but once you come around the corner and there’s a lovely bucolic park.

We were there to pay our respects to Dixie Evans, The Marilyn Monroe of Burlesque. I wrote a bit about her last year, you might recall. Many of us across the country planned to raise money for her care, but ended up using the funds for her final resting place. We went to the office to ask for directions and learned that her mausoleum was locked. Fortunately, someone was available to escort us and unlock the gates.

It’s lovely. Her ashes are in a glittery, rhinestone-decked urn in a glass-sided niche just behind the wrought iron gates. There are tiny framed photos on 2 sides and a miniature of her star. It was done with such love and care that I was quite choked up. She’s right near Marilyn Monroe and it’s a straight line to see Bettie Page. Lili VonSchtupp told me Dixie didn’t want to be in the dark, so the sun shines on her last home.

I’m glad we were able to visit. With Dixie Evans we wouldn’t be doing what we do.

Back to being tourists, we headed to LACMA and the La Brea Tar Pits. The theme for the day seemed to be unlikely things in the middle of a city, like bubbling tar pits and millions of Ice Age bones. My friend in the photo is a Columbian mammoth. I was particularly struck by the wall of hundreds of dire wolf skulls, which gives some idea of the enormity of the discoveries.

At last, it was about time to meet Lili VonSchtupp at The Magic Castle. I first heard about it when I was a kid (maybe through Games Magazine) and assumed, not being a magician, that I would never get to see it. I was wrong. It’s good to have generous friends with connections.

First though, an amusing interlude. We packed our evening wear, so as not to have to make the trek to the hotel & back. I ended up on a dark side street, changing in the front seat of the car with some entertaining contortions and putting on my makeup in the rear view mirror. I planned to make final adjustments, like hooking my garters and, oh, pulling my dress down over my rump, in the parking lot. This was also Scratch’s plan for putting on his dress shirt & tie (The Magic Castle has a dress code — yay!). Then we arrived and discovered it was valet parking. That was a tad awkward. Especially when I climbed out of the car. Don’t worry — we were all well & decently dressed once we said “Open Sesame” and the hidden door opened, allowing us into to the Castle.

I’m not sure I can do the experience justice. The building is huge and fabulous and quirky. Lili was a wonderful hostess and without her guidance I don’t think I could have found my way around the utterly disorienting warren of rooms. Everywhere you turned there was some wonderful piece of magic memorabilia or a movie set piece or just odd things. What was my favorite? The prototype of the Ballroom at the Haunted Mansion? Invisible Irma (who played “Bohemian Rhapsody” for us)? The library that I could only sigh at from the threshold? W.C. Field’s trick billiards table? Houdini’s hands? I can’t even begin to choose.

We saw 4 different magic shows in 4 locations, all terrific in their own way. Sometimes I was impressed with the spin the magician put on a trick I knew, sometimes I was awed by slight-of-hand skill, and frequently I was just baffled and delighted.

No photos because that sort of thing isn’t allowed and I’d rather remember it as a quasi-dreamlike experience. Exhausted and giddy, we finally left around midnight.

Tomorrow, we hit the Fashion District!

M2

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Published in: on 2 December 2014 at 3:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip!

Dear Constant Reader,

A couple of notes before we get to your tip.

First, between the Boston Babydolls’ show and the B.A.B.E. workshop we raised $550 for Dixie Evans Week. Thank you to everyone who participated!

Next, Tuesday is Teaseday! Get your tickets in advance and save! Support your favorite performer and she might get The Great Teaseday Cookie! Last I heard Vikki Likkerish was in the lead.

Now for that tip!

Make your act the same length as your music.

I’ve seen too many performers walk off stage while their music is still playing or have the music end before the act is over. The key is to know your music, know your choreography, and know where the 2 intersect.

You should have milestones in the music and in your choreography, so even if you get a little off-track, you can find your place again. You might have to briefly vamp or speed up, but it shouldn’t be too noticeable, if you are confident in what you do.

If you’re still always coming up short, edit the music or adjust your choreography.

M2

Published in: on 6 September 2013 at 12:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Dixie Evans Week in Boston

Dear Constant Reader,

B.A.B.E. and The Boston Babydolls were proud to be a part of Dixie Evans Week. We held 2 events, both to to raise money for Dixie’s memorial fund.

B.A.B.E was part of the 100 Classes for Dixie with “Blonde Bombshell”, a 3-hour workshop in which we taught an entire, brand-new routine to “Diamonds Are a Girl’s best Friend”, in honor of The Marilyn Monroe of Burlesque.

It was an experiment of sorts. Now, any new choreography is a bit of an experiment — you never know if it’s going to survive contact with dancers — but we’d never created or taught a class in this way before. Brigitte, Stella, and I each choreographed 1/3 of the song, checking, of course, to make sure everything was compatible. And then we team taught it, which was an awful lot of fun.

The students were great! Everyone was really enthusiastic, including the bride-to-be who was using this as a kick-off for her bachelorette celebration. We started off the class by talking about Dixie and then showing “The Casting Couch”. Everybody was inspired by it, even the teachers.

It turned out that the only issue with the joint choreography was that both Brigitte and Stella used a step-touch, but Brigitte started with the touch and Stella with the step. The students were getting confused as when to use which, so Brigitte declared that she would change to start with the step instead. And everyone was happy.

And here are our glamourous students!

But we weren’t done yet! Right after class, we all headed over to Davis Square for

Big thanks to everyone who came out, despite it being Labor Day weekend. (For those of you who are not Bostonians, that’s the weekend when thousands and thousands of students descend upon the Boston area to move into their dorms or out of their summer sublets. The sidewalks of Allston are filled with discarded belongings and moving vans get stuck under bridges on Storrow Drive.)

Bigger thanks to those of you who chose to pay more than the lowest ticket price or made an additional donation.

And biggest thanks to the Davis Square Theatre for giving us a very reduced rate and to the performers and crew for donating their time.

The show went a little something like this:

Scratch opened with a speech about Dixie Evans, who she was and why she’s important.

Stella started with her “Date Night” number to “Moonglow”. We thought this was a good first act since it’s got some similar elements to “Casting Couch” — Stella is seduced by a man who isn’t really there, just his jacket.

For a little variety we turned to Betty in her fast-paced bellydance-inspired number to “Airmail Special”.

Next up was Brigitte with a dirty striptease to “Tombstone Blues”.

Devora presented a dance en pointe with just a hint of striptease (she took off gloves and a scarf, but left her filmy tunic in place). This is usually done with a balloon, a la Sally Rand’s bubble dance, but the ceilings at the theatre were too low.

And then I did my fan dance to “Harlem Nocturne”.

Stella sang “Always be True to You”. Unfortunately, there was a problem with the microphone, so she could barely be heard over the backing track.

Betty closed out the first half with an act we like to call Geek Love. Betty, dressed in jeans, sneakers, a flannel, and a t-shirt, gets really hot & bothered by her laptop. The costume may not be sexy, but Betty is as she bumps & grinds to “Night Train”.

And then we took a little intermission.

To make up for the previous audio problem, Stella came back and sang “I Hate Men”. She hadn’t planned on singing twice, but she’s just that good.

Next up, I preformed “Champagne on Ice”, a moody striptease with some ice. Again, we picked it because there’s an invisible partner. When I finished, there was dead silence. It stretched long enough that I was wondering how to get off the stage with any dignity when a woman’s voice drifted down from the back of the house: “Wow…” Thunderous applause. Thank goodness.

Brigitte brightened things up with a tap dance to “In the Mood”.

Devora had a little surprise for the audience during her can-can striptease to “Love Me Or Leave Me” — assels!

We had given the Blonde Bombshell students the option to perform the routine they had just learned in the show and one of them was brave enough to do it! Trixie Santiago made her burlesque debut right on our stage with a choreography she hadn’t known mere hours before. Brigitte performed it alongside her, but Trixie did great!

Then, with the help of a volunteer from the audience, Scratch performed a card trick which didn’t quite go as planned…

Betty, Devora, Stella, and I closed out the show with “Leap Frog”, the number we presented at the Ohio Burlesque Festival.

And Scratch ended by once again talking about Dixie and how the funds raised were going to be used.

It was a fun show, but bitter-sweet. I hope we did Dixie proud.

M2

Published in: on 5 September 2013 at 9:48 am  Leave a Comment  
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Dixie Evans Week

Dear Constant Reader,

It’s Dixie Evans Week! You can read all about it and Dixie Evans herself here on the official page.

What are we doing to celebrate this amazing woman in Boston? I’m so glad you asked!

On Saturday The Boston Academy of Burlesque Education is offing “Blonde Bombshell” a 3-hour workshop in which we will teach an entire (and brand-new) burlesque routine to “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend”, in honor of The Marilyn Monroe of Burlesque. No experience necessary! And the money goes to Dixie’s memorial fund. Brigitte, Stella, and I are going to be tag-team teaching this, so it’s going to be a *lot* of fun. Come join us!

And that evening, The Boston Babydolls present “Boston Loves Dixie” with all the burlesque you love. Tickets are Pay-What-You-Can with a suggested donation of $25. Students from the afternoon workshop get to show off what they learned at the show!

I hope you’ll join us for one or both events and celebrate The Godmother of Modern Burlesque.

M2

Published in: on 28 August 2013 at 11:37 am  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip: In Memoriam

Dear Constant Reader,

This is a special Friday Tip, laden with sorrow.

Always remember those who came before.

Saturday night at the Ohio Burlesque Festival, shortly before the headliners started, Scratch came over to me and said simply, “Dixie died.”

Dixie Evans, The Marilyn Monroe of Burlesque, was the godmother of modern burlesque. She took dreams of a burlesque museum and made them reality. She created the Miss Exotic World pageant. In some way or another every current burlesque performer can trace their heritage back to Dixie and her work to keep burlesque alive. At the end of this month, performers around the world planned classes and shows to celebrate her 87th birthday and raise money for her care.

While I stood there, stunned and sad, Bella Sin began talking to Scratch. I knew what she was asking. It was a heavy request, but we all knew he was the right person.

When the show was over, and the stage was filled with energized performers having just taken their final curtain call, Scratch took the stage to announce our loss.

He spoke eloquently about Dixie’s life and legacy. About her importance to the burlesque world and her connection to all of us. And then he began to choke up: “I think you know where I’m going with this. (Fuck!) Dixie died this afternoon.” It was that muffled profanity that made me begin to weep again — seeing our silver-tongued Scratch, usually never at a loss for words, being almost unable to speak.

It breaks my heart that I can’t share his moving, extemporaneous speech with you. I was too overcome with emotion to even think of taking a crummy cellphone video. And the videographer had stopped filming. You just had to have been there.

He ended by asking everyone to light a candle, raise a glass, whatever was meaningful to you, to celebrate the life of this great Legend. And she was sent off with thunderous applause.

Every time we lose a Legend the connection to our past and our history becomes ever more tenuous. Always remember them and what they did to make what we do possible. We stand on the shoulders of giants.

April March, The First Lady of Burlesque; Dixie Evans, The Marilyn Monroe of Burlesque; Lily Ann Rose, Banned in Boston

Sorrowfully,
M2

Published in: on 9 August 2013 at 10:30 am  Comments (1)  
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