Happy Halloween!

Dear Constant Reader,

It’s my favorite holiday of the year and I have a very special treat for you!

I am a champion storyteller — that’s not bragging, just the truth. I won a major storytelling telling competition… twice. And I love to read aloud. I miss it, so I thought I’d read you a little something seasonal. Here, for you, is my first time recording a story.

The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe.

I recorded this on my iPhone and learned the rudiments of Audacity to edit it. I’m a little nervous about releasing my amateurish first attempt into the wild, but a wise man often says to me “Never let the best be the enemy of the good” and if I waited for it to be perfect, I’d never do it. So here goes.

If you want to hear it without the interruptions, you can become a Patron. If enough people like it, perhaps I can invest in some better audio equipment. I’m looking for some burlesque-related material to read next. Any suggestions?

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 31 October 2019 at 4:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Burlesque Macabre 10/25/19

Dear Constant Reader,

October was a busy month. We had three shows in three different styles, with almost no overlap in acts, which is a *lot* of rehearsing and some lightning fast act creation and teaching. First, the superhero sexiness of Batwoman Burlesque, then the cute and campy horror of It Came from Beneath the Tease, and lastly the dark and disturbing Burlesque Macabre.

We weren’t presenting The Wrathskellar this year (someday, it will reopen!) and we were itching to do something similar. October is the only month we get to go dark on stage. I may look oh-so-elegant and glamorous most of the time, but I LOVE the creepy stuff. The Manor skews more Addams Family than Old Hollywood most of the time. It’s such a treat to break out of our usual aesthetic and use music that wouldn’t ordinarily make the cut.

We had two late night shows at Deacon Giles and I’m pleased to say the first show sold out and the second was even better attended than I expected for an 11PM show on a Friday night. Unfortunately no pictures from the show, but we did get video. And might even let you see it someday…

Big thanks to Hunter for lights and video, English Sarah for working the merch table, and Pirate Jenny for kittening. It was her first time and she did a great job!

Mina Murray: Sex Spider (Gogol Bordello)
This new act was an excuse to bring out The Diva’s Coat, probably my favorite costume that I’ve ever made. Someday (if I get enough Patrons) I’ll tell its story.

Ava Fox: Dead and Lovely (Tom Waites)
Another new act! And the first time someone else in the troupe did a fan dance! Admittedly they were my fans (a gift from Scratch), but they’d been a pile of components for years. Ava did all the assembly herself (and did a much better job than I could have).

Devastasia and Electrix: A Most Unpleasant Way/Dark Eyes (Gordon Bok/Devochka)
Scratch has always loved the first song in this set and envisioned an act to it. Devastasia was the right person to give it eerie reality. And the bird costume she made is amazing. The painting on the mask is so detailed!

Scratch: Magic
I didn’t see this but I know it involved a playing card and a lighter.

Betty Blaize: Farewell Magyar (G-String Orchestra)
A classic! Betty cuts off her costume with a very real knife. She created this act for the very first Wrathskellar and has been performing it ever since. If I remember correctly, the music comes from a band Scratch heard playing on the street in New Orleans.

Mina Murray: Nightmare (Mac Gollehon, et al.)
Earlier this year I created an act with the guidance of Egypt Blaque Knyle to “Whole Lotta Love”, which I adore. However, I have very few opportunities to perform it because of our usual aesthetic. So I took the costume and choreography and adapted it to a more appropriate song. And thus “NightMina” was born…

Devastasia: Moon Over Soho (The Tiger Lilies)
This creepy clown number was created by Stella Diamond and Scratch, but it never got the stage time it deserved. Devastasia brought it back to life in a disturbing way. You can be assured Devastasia was smiling almost as widely as her mask from behind it…

Betty Blaize: Me and My Shadow (Peggy Lee — Wrathskellar remix)
Betty, undressing after a show, can’t shake the feeling that she’s being watched… In one rehearsal she actually gave herself goosebumps. Scratch engineered this haunting version of the song for The Lost Girl in Wrathskellar Tales.

Scratch: Urban Legend
A terrifying trick with an apple and razor blades. I can never watch it.

Ava Fox, Electrix, Mina Murray: Herr Drosselmeyer’s Doll (Abney Park)
Betty created this for The Wrathskellar in 2011. I was concerned when I was cast because it involves some partner balancing, which I’ve never done before and the original trio involved some very flexible and/or strong people. But I had nothing to be afraid of. The audience on the other hand… there are some quite unsettling moments.

And we bid our creepy cabaret adieu for another 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 29 October 2019 at 12:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Panties Inferno 10/28

Dear Constant Reader,

Most years for Halloween, we present our haunting cabaret, The Wrathskellar. This year, for various reasons, that just wasn’t going to happen. Scratch decided to present Panties Inferno, a cheery jaunt through Hell. Rather than a revue, the show had a plot and a script. Artemisia played the Dante-like character, while Scratch was not exactly her Virgil.

It was a nice change of pace to do a one-night show instead of a run that’s weeks long and also to do a show that was mostly comedic instead of angsty. From the audiences’ comments afterwards, it sounded like we achieved our goal: fun, funny, and entertaining.

And the show completely sold out.

I don’t think I can do the entire show justice, but I’ll do my best. It’s probably going to get long… I wish I had photos to merrily intersperse amongst the text, but we’re terrible about that. If you are or know a photographer or videographer who’d like to shoot a show, drop me a line!

Artemisia began the show, lost in the woods, where she encountered 3 ladies in gauzy draperies, dancing in the woods.

Devastasia, Gin-ni, Nicole: Virtuous Pagans (“Booty Swing”, Parov Stelar)
This is one of our staple group numbers. This time the dancers wore the aforementioned gauzy and sequined draperies and carried wooden staves, as befit bucolic virtuous pagans.

Artemisia: That’s Life
Resigned to her plight, Artemisia sang this old standard. Before she knew it, she had attracted a native guide willing to leader her through Hell. That would be Scratch (in his signature red zoot suit). The first denizen of the deep she spied was from her home state of Massachusetts!

Mina: Lizzie Borden (“Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing”, Chris Isaak)
This is an old, old number of mine — I created it for the second year we did Out for Blood. You can see some elements that I later used in my bathtub act.

Scratch: Magic
Scratch had Artemisia tie his thumbs together with Infernal Pipe Cleaners and proceeded to accidentally make the impossible happen. Unfortunately, his magic attracted a more powerful sorceress.

Devastasia: (“Ding, Dong The Witch is Dead”, Ella Fitzgerald)
This is an adorably perky number that Devastasia created for our show in Salem. She did most of the lovely costuming herself, from purple fringed gloves to illuminated spider panel skirt.

Mina, Gin-ni, Valerie: The Leopards of Lust (“Strip Blues”, Johnny Staccato)
Long time fans will have recognized this as the second half of an act we usually call “Factory Girls”. I had less time to get ready after my first act (because I had to dry off) than I though and was putting on my jewelry in the wings. I failed to properly clasp my necklace and realized as we were doing the bra remove, that it was sliding off. I admit I kinda screwed up the choreography (really noticeable in a number this tight) because I was trying to grab it before it fell off.

Betty: The Succubus (“Nightmare”, Artie Shaw)
This was the debut of this number. Betty, bathed in red light, dances and strips behind a door of jagged and broken slats. She’s partially visible, partially in shadow. It’s quite amazing. We’re hoping to get video of this one.

Artemisia: (“Everything Goes to Hell”, Tom Waits)
Seduced by the dance The Succubus, Artemisa performs her own striptease. Realizing what she’s done, she flees the stage.

INTERMISSION

Artemisia: Creep (PMJ arrangement)
Remorseful of her previous behavior, Artemisia tells us all how she feels about herself in a song, while showing off her impressive vocal range.

Gin-ni: (“I Want to Be Evil”, Eartha Kitt)
Gin-ni tries to convince Artemisia that being bad isn’t so, well, bad.

Devastasia: The Raven (“A Most Unpleasant Way, Sir”, Gordon Bok/ “Dark Eyes”)
Poor Artemisia, briefly abandoned by her guide, is set upon by a large and unpleasant bird. This was also an act debut and I just love it. The music selection, concept, and costume design were all Scratch, but Devastasia brought it to life. The first piece of music is a folk story-song about a man cursed with a vulture and Devastasia slowly transforms Artemisia into the bird.

Here it’s decided it would be better if they just took the Hellevator down to the bottom. This gag had Scratch & Artemisia just standing on stage in a rectangle of light for roughly an eternity while Muzak played. The audience couldn’t stop laughing.

Betty: Lilith (“You’re the Boss”, Brian Setzer)
This one of Betty’s first numbers and it’s only gotten better with time. Inspired by vintage performer Lorraine Lane, Betty dances with the Devil. I may be biased, but Betty is the best modern performer I’ve ever seen do this specialty style.

Mina, Nicole: Mistress and Maid (“Experiment in Terror/Stalkin'”, Impala)
This is second half of a number created for The Wrathskellar that I used to do with Brigitte. A naughty maid tries on one of my dresses and gets punished for it. I love this act because I get to spank someone with a hairbrush and I get to wear The Diva’s fabulous coat.

Scratch: Magic (“Sexe”)
At this point Artemisia is doubting everything Scratch has told her, even that he has magical powers. Using said magic, he conjures gifts and trinkets for her from thin air. She declares she’s not staying in Hell a minute longer. Of course, she’s about to be wrong about that, as demons flood the stage to tempt Artemisia to join them.

Artemisia, Betty, Devastasia, Mina, Valerie: Finale (“Hell”, Squirrel Nut Zippers)
This is really and truly our earliest group number. Betty created it for the opening of our very first full-length show. Over the years since then the costumes have improved and the choreography has become more complex. It was a bit of a brain twister for me because I’ve been playing Artemisia’s part for years, but I still had a little muscle memory of the original time I danced as a demon, twelve years ago. Needless to say, it’s not the same choreography at all.

After we swamped Artemisia and swept her off stage, Scratch gave an Epilogue to the audience. I have no idea what it was as we were getting dressed again for the curtain call.

The show was a lot of fun and some really good new acts came out of it. It was also kind of frantic, before and during. We had a limited time to rehearse, especially the group numbers, and there weren’t two rehearsals in a row with all the apprentices present. Everything was moving so quickly backstage that I didn’t even film my usual behind the scenes video for my Patrons. Scratch did post this video to Facebook, so you can get a taste.

Two more shows to write 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.

Published in: on 20 November 2017 at 11:05 am  Leave a Comment  
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Happy Halloween!

Dear Constant Reader,

Wishing you a very happy and spooky Halloween!

Wrathskellar Babydolls-19 Diva

This is one of my favorite pictures of The Diva. I can’t remember the photographer, but it was opening night of The Wrathskellar 2012. I was utterly exhausted, physically and emotionally, but that’s a story for another time.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 31 October 2017 at 11:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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Big Props: Spider Web

Dear Constant Reader,

Today’s big prop is Betty’s spider web. It was originally made for Out For Blood 2006, our second Halloween show.

The web backdrop is two huge pieces of black velvet seamed together. The web itself is silver sequin trim. When we first made the web we were under a time crunch (aren’t we always) and it was just safety pinned in place. Later it was stitched down. The whole thing attached to a frame with Velcro along the sides and elastic cord looped through eyelets in the corners.

The original frame was made by a blacksmith friend of ours and it was *huge*. The backdrop is about 10′ x 10′, so the frame was bigger than that and it had big feet so it wouldn’t tip over. They were easy to trip over, though. The whole thing sat at the back of the stage until it was time to bring it forward for the act, which I think was the show closer. The frame came apart into pieces, but it was still bulky when broken down and I think it had to go together just so. I remember strips of tape on the pieces to mark what connected to which.

The velvet backdrop had slits cut in it so the spiders could come out and grope Betty. I remember reinforcing them part way through that show.

The spiders themselves are made of sequin trim and fabric, stuffed and mounted on the backs of black gloves. Betty did the work and very nicely.

In summer of 2011 we presented Madame Burlesque: An Evening of Tributes featuring acts inspired by the great Legends. Betty, of course, revived the spider act in honor of Zorita. This was going to be a touring show (our first!) so the frame had to be replaced with something that could travel and be set up and broken down quickly.

Scratch came up with a clever contraption made of PVC pipe and some hardware that works sort of like an umbrella. There are two center pieces that bolt together. Each one has two arms that fold out and extend to each side, making a top and a bottom. The backdrop has a pocket in each corner and the arms just slide in. Voila. It breaks down into two sections that go into a carrying bag that fits easily into a car. The whole thing is attached to a wooden base that also provides a step for the spider manipulator for when she has to reach the top of Betty’s head (remember: Betty is six feet tall sans heels and none of the other BeauTease top 5’5″).

Pros: very impressive, lightweight, sets up quickly, easy to transport and store.

Cons: needs a certain amount of ceiling clearance.

You’ll get to see the spider web in action at The Big Time on May 19 and 20 at The Thalia.

M2

Published in: on 20 April 2017 at 3:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Happy Halloween!

Dear Constant Reader,

Here’s a little treat to celebrate my favorite holiday!

We’ve only got two performances of Wrathskellar Tales left: tonight and Saturday!

M2

 

 

Published in: on 31 October 2016 at 2:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Happy Halloween!

Dear Constant Reader,

A little Halloween treat for you!

OfB-medium

Have a wonderful, spooky holiday!

M2

Published in: on 31 October 2013 at 9:03 am  Leave a Comment  
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