Expo 2016: Parties

Dear Constant Reader,

After the Main Event each year, The Expo holds a party at the hotel pool with music from The Waveriders. It’s a lot of fun, but very, very loud, between the music and the pool house acoustics. This year there was also a quieter option — the Game Room, overseen by the Game Warden, Scarlett Letter, with most of the games supplied by the invaluable Heather C.

I started out at the Pool Party, where it is traditional for the BeauTease to go-go to the surf music until late. You can’t really tell in this selfie, but I’m wearing 3 different leopard prints (scarf, bathing suit, and sarong). After a while of nibbling on cheese and watching my B.A.B.E. instructors frolic in the water, I realized I was completely exhausted. There would be no twisting the night away for me.

I dropped in on the Game Room which was indeed much quieter than the pool despite the rollicking game of Cards Against Humanity. It appeared that our copy of “Take It Off”, a vintage board game about a burlesque club (yes, really), was still in the storage room, ah well. No one seemed to miss it. I’ll write something up about it another time. It’s a hoot. But I was in bed long before either party shut down.

On Sunday afternoon I hosted a little tea party, with help from my hostesses, Corinne and Chelsea. I was so excited because the tea this year was provided by Jacqueline Hyde, which I just adore. I was delighted to addict a few more people with the pleasures of Bad Things (peach oolong) tea. And I got to wear my Stephanie Buscema mermaid dress with *two* crinolines. So fluffy! There are pictures out there somewhere…

As usual the food was terrific. The set-up, not so much. The staff brought in all the food when they were supposed to, but there was no sign of our tea equipment (hot water urns and tea pots). What we need to get started first is the tea! After they finally (with much prodding from me) brought in the hot water urns, I asked about the tea pots and was told that it wasn’t part of the order. Oh yes, it was. It’s been the same basic order for years now. Grrr.

At this point we were mere minutes from doors and there was already a line outside. I *hate* starting anything late, but how can we have a tea party without tea? Finally we got our pots and quickly got the tea started before opening the doors to the genteelly ravaging hoards. As I mentioned, the food was terrific — finger sandwiches, little muffins, and tiny cakes. I think the chef has fun with this event. It’s lovely to just relax for an hour or so before the final show and then strike.

And then it was time for the Sunday Showcases!

M2

Published in: on 8 March 2016 at 1:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Expo: Shopping

Dear Constant Reader,

The Vendor Hall is one of the delights of The Expo. I never seem to spend as much time as I want there…

This year’s haul (sort of)

On the left is some soap from Amaranth and Rue. It’s a gift for Scratch, because he’s crazy about all things cherry. On the right is a new jewelry set from Farasha and Su’ad Dance and Designs. I have a lot of red costumes and very little red jewelry, so this was a no-brainer. Plus their prices are so reasonable!

The “sort of” is because I commissioned a set of pasties and a g-string from Glorious Pasties which don’t exist yet, so no photo. I have this act with a fabulous bathtub and a gorgeous costume, but my bottom layer is distinctly lacking in glam. And that’s what gets seen while I’m splashing around in the tub! Cheeky is specially making the set to withstand getting a soaking. I’m so excited!

There were a couple of vendors I didn’t patronize (this time!), but I’d still like to point out.

  • The proprietress of Vixens Ahoy has expanded her repertoire to include circle skirts along with her adorable aprons.
  • Mrs. V and the Bees makes solid moisturizer and lips balms from natural ingredients (like bees’ wax and essential oils) that smell amazing!
  • Light Painting Portraits created some incredible photos, like this one of Vita Lightly:

    I really regret that I didn’t duck into his booth.
  • Next report, parties!

    M2

    Published in: on 3 March 2016 at 3:30 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    The Expo: Costume Exhibit and The Atheneum

    Dear Constant Reader,

    Here we have two of my favorite things, costumes and books.

    The costumes…

    Ever since The Expo moved to Cambridge we’ve had a costume exhibit, ably curated by BettySioux Tailor, with the assistance of Baroness Blitzen von Schtupp for the last last *eight* years. As always, there was some fantastic stuff!

    From L to R (top row and then bottom row): Scarlett Letter, Dita Von Tease, Miss Mina Murray, Hedy Jo Star (pink), Hedy Jo Star (green), Jacqueline Hyde, Dangrrr Doll, Red Hot Annie, Sailor St. Claire, Matt Finish, Scarlett O’Hairdye, Raven Roland, Angie Pontani.

    The two Hedy Jo Star costumes were gifted to The Expo from a costumer working in Tokyo who found them in the storage room of her theatre company. We have no idea how they got there or who wore them, but pink one has the name “Nancy Lee” written inside. Any thoughts? Pictures can not do these pieces justice. I hope you got a chance to see them close up.


    We also had an exhibit in memory of Blaze Starr, who passed away over the summer. It included several photographs (two with Boston connections!), video of a couple of her film appearances, the costume Angie Pontani wore for her tribute to the Legend at Miss Exotic World 2006, and Blaze’s own powder puff and hand-made red evening bag with a handwritten note.

    And the books…

    The Atheneum was a new addition this year. Librarian Jennie put together a collection of relevant books and magazines in the breakfast/tea party room for people to browse during the day. Counterpoint Press was good enough to donate Leslie Zemeckis’s Goddess of Love Incarnate and Margo Christie sent her novel, These Days. Other books came from the Library at Stately Babydoll Manor and from Jennie’s own collection.

    I have a collection of “Cavalcade of Burlesque”, an industry magazine published in the early 1950’s by burlesque agent Jess Mack. They’re valuable documents for our community and I wanted to share them, but as you might expect from 65-year-old pulp paper, they’re rather fragile. So, I carefully scanned all my issues page by page and had them printed them up to be as close to the original as possible. I’m so happy to share this bit of history while keeping the originals preserved! (By the way, I’m on the look-out for the May 1953, March 1954, and May 1954 issues…)

    I certainly hope The Expo continues to offer The Atheneum and it becomes a bigger and better resource.

    Up next, shopping!

    M2

    Published in: on 2 March 2016 at 3:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    Expo 2016: The Main Event

    Dear Constant Reader,

    I know this is the missive you’re eagerly awaiting. Who were The Howard Award Winners?

    First, I want to tell you about the opening number. Scratch had this idea… and he got Willy Barrett to make it reality. Scratch sang (yes, he actually sang) “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with new lyrics, of course. Whilst he did so, Willy Barrett led a bevy of beauties around the stage in a Follies-style parade with them first displaying and then discarding banners with the numbers 1 through 9. Then Betty and I came out to either side of Scratch and displayed “1” and “0”.

    I try to keep my involvement in The Expo low-profile. From year one I’ve said “I’m not in charge of anything!” So, I didn’t really want to be so prominently featured in the “Parade of Years”, but Willy insisted and I can’t say no to him. As I stood in the wings, watching the showgirls (and boy) swoop and prance, I actually got a bit teary-eyed. I’ll chalk it up a little to stress and lack of sleep, but mostly it was seeing our very own Follies number live on The Expo stage.

    And then I raced to the Green Room to put on something more appropriate for judging than a bra, panel skirt, and feathered hair ornament. On to The Main Event!

    Allow me draw attention to a couple of acts I particularly liked:

  • Maggie McMuffin‘s hot strip to Pink Floyd’s “Have a Cigar” in which she demonstrated her mastery of the eye-fucking techniques she had taught earlier that day. I did not expect the ending. Also, I love her 70’s aesthetic.
  • Shimmy LaRoux as a booty-ful mermaid. Not only was her act adorable and funny, her music mash-up was *perfect*.
  • Delilah as “Annie White”. Due to my particular cultural illiteracy someone had to explain part of this to me later, but I still enjoyed the half-and-half act, even if I didn’t recognize the Jack White half.
  • Although this was a tough slate to judge, I have to say that my fellow judges made this a delightfully easy deliberation experience. We were done in twenty minutes! (I timed it.) In fact, there was still business happening on stage when we got back.

    And that was when I got blindsided. Scratch began calling up people who had worked on The Expo for the past 10 years. First Hunter, our long-time tech director. He and Scratch have been working together since before The Expo was even an idea. Then Willy Barrett, who was at the first Expo because Betty took a workshop with him in New York, thought he was amazing, heard he used to do burlesque, and invited him. And the rest is, as they say, history. Betty Blaize, of course, who was the original Conference Coordinator, became Queen of Registration, and has been in charge of making the new website happen (you have no idea how hard she’s been working on that, non-stop, for at least two years). And me. I almost did cry then. So much for keeping a low profile…

    And now the awards!

    Honored by Gabriella Maze: Jacqueline Boxx*
    Honored by Matt Finish: Private Tails
    Honored by Dangrrr Doll: Sunny Sighed & Bal’d Lightning

    The Howard Award Winners
    Judges’ Choice: Mimi MaShuga
    Best Hybrid: Sunny Sighed & Bal’d Lightning
    Most Comedic: Ruby Spruce
    Most Beautiful: Freaky Candy
    Most Classic: Red Velvet**
    Best Group: The Duet That Do It (aka Scarlett O’Hairdye & Bolt Action)
    Best Solo Performer: Egypt Blaque Knyle

    And then it was definitely time to party!

    M2
    * Jacqueline was appearing as a special guest, rather than a competitor, but a Legend gets to give her personal award to whoever the hell she wants.
    ** Red Velvet joins the small club of those who have won two Howard Awards.

    Published in: on 1 March 2016 at 3:27 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    Expo 2016: The Conference

    Dear Constant Reader,

    I confess that I went to fewer classes this year that I think I ever have before. I was just so busy and tired this year. However, the ones I made it to were uniformly terrific.

    Saturday
    Lazy Stripper Techniques: Eye-Fucking for Beginners (Maggie McMuffin): Eye contact is one of those things that’s so important and yet I often shy away from. We did some really helpful exercises, practicing eye contact with different messages. Besides eye-fucking we also learned about the importance of walls.

    Burlesque, Broadway & Hollywood (Sailor St. Claire): This was so much fun. A look at how burlesque influenced (and still does) Broadway and Hollywood productions. Accompanied by one of Sailor’s terrific presentations with stills *and* clips from “Silk Stockings” (you must see it!). Apparently she knew this class would be Mina-bait because she included as many pictures with fans as possible.

    Sunday
    Burlesque vs. the Real World (panel): A discussion on how to deal with being a burlesque performer in a world that can be hostile to what we do. Honestly, this isn’t usually my interest, but panels often bring up things I never would have thought of. Mostly, I’m lucky that “outing” has never been a problem.

    Stalking the Stocking (me): Although Scandal did her best not to throw me under the bus this year (9am on Sunday, opposite Willy Barrett, &c.), I only had a single student. However, she was completely new to the world of stocking removes, so we had a terrific one-on-one lesson that I hope was valuable for her.

    Adding Drama with Isis Wings (Baroness Blitzen von Schtupp): I’ve had a pair of wings gathering dust (and wrinkles) for a couple of years now. I’m a lot more comfortable using them now after this class. I certainly got my quota of spinning and an arm work out. Number one project before I try using the wings again: replace the sticks. The cheap wooden ones had broken inside the wings which made holding them a little challenging.

    Dirty, Sexy, Smooth Chair Dancing (Red Hot Annie): A fun class and a real work out.We learned chair moves in a little choreography, which changed and evolved as we did it. The song we used was “In These Shoes”, which Betty often uses for a warm-up, so there was a little aural confusion for me at first. The hotel chairs are really terrible — the backs are too high and they’re balanced poorly — but we did our best. I decided to save the inversion tricks until I’m in the studio with my beloved Stefan. A few people went down and I didn’t want to add myself to those numbers.

    As always I’m grateful to all the teachers who share their knowledge and all the students who give the teachers someone to teach and Scandal and her staff for making it possible.

    M2

    Published in: on 17 February 2016 at 3:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    Expo 2016: The Bordello

    Dear Constant Reader,

    After The Rhinestone Revue, the action moved next door to the Exhibit Hall for The Bordello, a little late-night entertainment and dessert. The show was hosted by Sailor St. Claire. Yes, she closed out the Rhinestone Review and then hopped into her gold jumpsuit and ran over next door to welcome the guests.

    There was a terrific dessert buffet (I should have grabbed another one of those brownies when I had the chance…) and three sets of burlesque acts.

    Set One

  • Elsa Riot with her award-winning act to “Everybody Loves My Baby”. This gets better everything I see it.
  • Ginge O’Lolly as Medusa. Really disturbing, especially after she got off stage because she wore the costume (including the snakes in her hair and the contacts) for the rest of the night.
  • Scarlett O’Hairdye with her “Meteor” act to “Don’t Stop Me Now” was blazingly fabulous, especially the silk veil fans.
  • Red Hot Annie lived up to her name. That act was gorgeous, so sexy, and red hot! (and very purple too).
  • Elsa Riot

    Ginge O’Lolly

    Scarlett O’Hairdye

    Red Hot Annie

    Set Two

  • I adored Raven Gemini‘s space strip, as her costume pieces came off and drifted away into space (with Shimmy LaRoux playing the part of Space). It was the tassels pointing straight up that really made it perfect.
  • Ruby Solitaire had an absolutely beautiful costume for “La Vie en Rose”, including a hand-made vegan boa.
  • It was delightful to see Vita Lightly on stage again. She first performed this act when she was with The Boston Babydolls, before being on America’s Next Top Model took her away from burlesque for a while. It was great to see how it has evolved.
  • Alice Azul was simply stunning in a sensual striptease that was new to me. It was clear she had taken her Delsarte lessons from Willy Barrett to heart!
  • Doctor Vu tricked us all when she took the stage as Loki.
  • Raven Gemini

    Ruby Solitaire

    Vita Lightly

    Alice Azul

    Doctor Vu

    Set Three

  • Corinne Southern sang “Moonage Daydream” as she stripped.
  • Sara Dipity also sang and stripped, but in a Broadway style with “Life of the Party”.
  • I always manage to miss an act and unfortunately, it was Whiskey Joy. Can someone tell me what she did?
  • Trixie Paprika was an adorably mischievous jewel thief with a terrific mask.
  • Alexa Luthor cranked up Awesome Mix Vol. 1 to strip as Groot. Yes, you heard me correctly. Groot. Strip.
  • Corinne Southern

    Sara Dipity

    Whiskey Joy

    Trixie Paprika

    Alexa Luthor

    You can see the photos from George Ross in all their full-sized glory in this Facebook album

    M2

    Published in: on 16 February 2016 at 1:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    Expo 2016: The Rhinestone Revue

    Dear Constant Reader,

    The Expo kicks off with the glittering Rhinestone Revue featuring past winners, special guests, and a star turn for the current title holders.

    This year, the performances went something like this…

    The Expositionettes
    This was the opening number for the show. Betty took a dozen volunteers (several of whom were B.A.B.E. students) and in a mere 4 rehearsals taught them a group striptease to a jazzy version of “Happy Birthday”, it being The Expo’s 10th year.

    Scandal from Bohemia (Most Humorous 2010)
    Our Hard-working Conference coordinator stripped out of a satin evening gown/straitjacket to Patsy Cline’s “Crazy”. Of course. Before the show I said to her “I don’t know what you’re going to do, but it’s bound to be preposterous”. And I was right.

     

     

      

    Kibry LaBrea (Mr. Hollywood Burlesque 2015)
    The Hollywood Burlesque Festival is our sister show and we exchange winners each year. We were so glad they sent us Kirby LaBrea and his energetic dance to “Ladies’ Choice”. He certainly was. And the gentlemen’s choice too. He did pander to the hometown audience a bit with his Red Sox costuming, but I don’t think anyone minded.

     

     

    BettySioux Tailor (Most Beautiful 2010)
    The Blue-haired Beauty and our Costume Exhibit creator dazzled us all with a gorgeous routine in her signature shade. I’m a sucker for fan dances. I particularly loved her use of the Isis wings that had been disguised as part of her skirts. It was a lovely surprise.

     

    Donna Denise (Most Classic 2013)
    Donna Denise brought us a sultry striptease which concluded with her signature mammary manipulation. I could watch those pectoral pops all night long…

    Matt Finish (Reigning King of Burlesque)
    Matt has been to the Expo a couple of time before, but now he’s royalty! We were delighted to have him as one of our special guest this year! He gave us one of the most achingly slow teases I have ever seen.

    The Boston BeauTease
    Hey, it’s us! We presented an act we call “The Duel” from our upcoming show R & J: A Shakespearean Burlesque. It’s not our usual style, but it was so much fun. Betty did the dance choreography and Scratch did the fight choreography. For those of you who saw it, Devora’s sword was *not* supposed to shatter like that! I’m so glad we were all so familiar with the choreography and trust one another such that we could keep going with faith that no one would get hurt.

     

    Dangrrr Doll (Most Humorous 2013)
    Our special guest, The Twisted Beauty of Burlesque, brought her “Classic Metal” act, fusing a classic look with, well, metal music. I particularly loved the reveal when she whipped off her long blonde wig to show her actual short ebony hair.

     

    Mika Romantic (Most Classic 2015)
    Fittingly, our Most Classic winner paraded and peeled from a stunning gown to “More Bumps & Grinds”. Classic from head to toe with the gown, the boa, the music, the moves, everything.

     

    Gala Delicious (Most Beautiful 2015)
    I must confess, Constant Reader, that I missed almost all of this act. I realized I was standing around in next to nothing and needed to put something on for the curtain call. I know it was fire-themed and she had a gorgeous costume (of course!) that included a ruffled and ribbonned robe and a candelabra headpiece. I guess I have to wait for video!

    Cheri Nuit (Most Humorous 2015)
    Cheri was just freakin’ hysterical last year and she was again. This time she was a rat. Yes, a rat, dancing to “Uptown Funk”. And just when I thought she had revealed her final punch-line with her pasties, there was yet another, even funnier reveal!

    Kiki Allure (Best Hybrid 2015)
    This was a literally hot number as Kiki, as the sexiest welder ever, struck sparks with the audience. Well, actually with a piece of metal and then with her costume! Her song was “Girl on Fire” and so she was.

     

    Sailor St. Claire (Best Solo 2015)
    In a stunning contrast to her tightly controlled and sensual act last year, Sailor busted out the Vegas glamour in a J. von Stratton gown. Note: there are four suits in a deck of cards. Her pasties represented two of them, so guess where she put the other two…

    (All Photos by George Ross)

    And then it was time for The Bordello!

    M2

    Published in: on 15 February 2016 at 2:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    The Great Burlesque Exposition of 2016

    Dear Constant Reader,

    I’m still recovering from the 10th anniversary Expo, but I’ll be posting all about it soon. All I can say right now is thank you, thank you thank you to everyone who had a hand in making it amazing.

    M2

    Published in: on 10 February 2016 at 9:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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    Friday Tip!

    Dear Constant Reader,

    The Expo starts today! It’s been a really busy several months and this week has been really crazy. The weekend is going to be so busy, but so worth it. You can find me performing in The Rhinestone Revue, judging The Main Event, teaching “Stalking the Stocking”, hosting my Tea Party, hosting The Sunday Showcases, and, of course, working strike. I hope to see you there!

    With no further delay, here’s your tip! Straight from the lips of Mr. Scratch…

    Get your butt to The Expo.

    Seriously folks. It’s an amazing event. It’s worth it just to check out the Exhibit Hall: shopping, the Costume Exhibit, Art Show, Historic Lingerie Display and Fashion Show, meet the Legendary Guest of Honor, Drop-in classes! But what makes the Expo so incredible is The Conference, where you can take classes from experts from all over the world. And of course, the fantastic shows and super-fun parties. Let’s face it, it’s just an incredible weekend.

    M2

    Published in: on 5 February 2016 at 11:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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    Expo 2015: The Costume Exhibit

    Dear Constant Reader,

    (Read about The Rhinestone Revue, The Bordello, The Conference, and The Main Event.)

    The Costume Exhibit is near & dear to my heart, because, well, costumes! BettySioux Tailor and Blizen von Schtupp do a fabulous job every year setting up a lovely display.


    I love the panorama function!

    Here were have, from left to right:

    • “Krampus” by Blizten von Schtupp with handmade mask by Rick Sardinha and faux fur coat by BettySioux Tailor
    • “Round Midnight” by Betty Blaize, from fabric hand-selected in Bangalore, India.
    • “Taki Rari Burly” by Dot Mitzvah, seen in The Rhinestone Revue 2013
    • “The Fly” by BettySioux Tailor. This picture doesn’t show the headdress with rhinestones eyes.

    Here are 3 costumes courtesy of Angie Pontani: two vintage showgirl costumes (which were for sale and both of them were snapped up) and her “Madame Pompadour” costume. Next to them is a showgirl costume from maybe the 1970’s worn at the Primadonna Casino & Cabaret in Reno, NV, from Scratch’s collection.

    And here we have:

    • “Pink Passion” by Blaze, The Red Rose of Texas / Red Rose Regalia for Ginger Valentine to wear in the 2014 Burlesque Hall of Fame Queen Competition.
    • “The Faerie Queene” by me, headress by Whisper de Corvo, fan by Cassandra Annati
    • “Ringmistress” by Vivienne LaFlamme, with a 1930s Knights Templar jacket.

    I know there are better pictures out there, but until they surface, you’ll just have to suffer with my phone snaps.

    Next year will be the tenth anniversary of The Expo, please consider making a contribution to make it super-amazing. And if you have a fabulous costume, modern or vintage, consider submitting it for the exhibit. If all goes according to plan, we should have a great on-line submission process for next year.

    M2

    Published in: on 2 April 2015 at 1:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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