The Mystery Box Challenge Comes to an End

Dear Constant Reader,

I’m going to take a little break from my Expo reporting. Last night was our last rehearsal for working on The Mystery Box Challenge. We all ended with complete routines, although not necessarily stage-worthy ones. Some I think will be seen on stage as-is and some may be raided for some good bits to be used in other acts.

What did I think of the experience? It was hard. The hardest part for me was probably that the songs were chosen randomly and didn’t always suit the assigned mood. I had “All of Me”, a wistful, romantic song and the mood “dirty/sexy/raunchy” — not my usual attitude of stage. I tried to be dirtier, but I fell down there. Some of the other ladies were much more successful in integrating the song and the mood.

I liked all the contents of my box, so I kept it, even though I didn’t like the song. I think Stella had the opposite situation where she hated the box contents, but loved the song.

It was good to have the opportunity to stretch in a few directions. I made a semi-circular panel skirt, which has been on my to do list for a long time. Okay, it’s way too long in the front — math is hard! — but at least I did it. Also, I discovered which assel technique works for me.

Scratch liked what I did with the ruffled trim. He thought it would be attached to a skirt, but instead I treated it like a boa. That gave him an idea for use in a future number. There were similar jumping off points in some of the other acts.

Scratch is considering using a modified version of the mystery box in a future class at B.A.B.E. There are certain aspects that would have to be changed for the less experienced performer and for someone who didn’t have access to the vast troupe holdings of costumes and props. Then he’s planning on writing up the results of this experiment and that class as a paper for presentation at BurlyCon.

Despite my frustrations with my act, I’m glad we did it. It was a nice breather after the craziness of the last several months and let us get creative without the pressure of a show.


Published in: on 26 March 2015 at 3:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

Mystery Box Challenge Progress

Dear Constant Reader,

The Mystery Box Challenge continues. Everyone has complete routines and complete costume concepts, if not completed costumes. I think Evie might have been wearing one actual component of her costume last night. And my mission to make a panel skirt this weekend completely failed. I have makings for the hip belt, but no panel fabric.

I’m finding — and I think everyone is — that it’s impossible to give equal weight to all the requirements. In my case, if I try to highlight my prop, my costume item, *and* my specialty move, I’m losing the mood.

Personally, I’m kind of frustrated. I feel like there is a key something I’m missing that will make everything hang together, but I have no idea what it is. Adding to it is the fact that I am an inexperienced asseler. I know, I know, it wouldn’t be a challenge if it was within my comfort zone. But some acts are turning out to be real winners and I feel like I’m flailing.

Because I know you pay more attention if there are pictures, here are a couple from rehearsal last night. I’m bad about taking photos — I forget I have the camera and just watch the act. So, I missed Devora and Stella, Betty is still in California, and I obviously couldn’t shoot myself.

One of Evie’s requirements is stockings and her mood is “playful/funny” So far, she’s spot on.

Brigitte has to wear pants and use a cane.

More updates as we progress!


Published in: on 16 March 2015 at 2:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

Mystery Box Challenge: Week 1

Dear Constant Reader,

At rehearsal last night everyone worked on their mystery box challenge and eventually showed what they have so far. I *wish* I’d remembered to take some pictures. I know you all pay more attention to these missives when there are pictures.

Often when developing a new routine, especially after only one week, the dancers show maybe a minute. Last night everyone went through the entire song. There might have been some faking through the weak spots, but for the most part there’s a start to finish act there. I think because we want to play with all the components we’ve been assigned.

Some costumes have been pulled from the closet and are completely done. Others are still in progress, so there’s some stunt or phantom clothing items in play. I’m using a substitute panel skirt and imaginary assels. I think Evie’s entire costume was in absentia and at least one of her props.

Betty is even playing along from L.A. She emailed us a progress report and some photos of her costume in process.

Personally, I’m on my third costume concept and I think this is the keeper. My initial idea was to take the ruffled trim and apply it to the hem of this skirt:

Then I thought about using it as some kind of top that I could unwind. But decided instead I’d use it to replace the scarf in this costume:

I’d wear this with gloves to cover my required gauntlets and be all elegant and what audiences expect from me until I stripped down to panels & bra and could get dirty.

It look glorious, of course, but even with a 4 minute song I didn’t feel like I had enough time to really give the ruffles, the chair, and the panels their due. I didn’t want to give any of them short shrift. I feel that every component needs to be used well and not just perfunctorily to fulfill the rules of the challenge.

So I ditched the glove peel. I was still feeling rushed. After a couple of runs last night, I completely ditched the outer layer. It was the right move. I have so much more time to tease with the ruffle, the panels and play with the chair. I still need to get it dirtier and actually try out the assels.

The plan before Sunday’s rehearsal is to make my new panel skirt or at least have it ready enough to use. And figure out the whole assel thing. I’ve never used them before!

Wish me luck!


Published in: on 12 March 2015 at 10:08 am  Leave a Comment  

The Mystery Box Challenge

Dear Constant Reader,

Yesterday I alluded to a challenge that had been set for me. Actually, there’s been one set for all The Boston Babydolls. We have a little down time in March until we gear up for our new show, The MalTease Falcon, and we like to use down time to build our skills and push our abilities. A couple years ago we had The July Project, out of which came some acts that have become standards for many of us (see some of them at The Tardy Gras Ball on Saturday!).

This time Scratch came up with something fiendish. There were 7 identical boxes on the dance floor. The six of us each grabbed one and then went out into the hall to open them privately. Each box contained an accessory and some costume embellishment item(s) and 4 cards — a dance move, a prop, a costume piece, and a mood. You must use all the items in the box in the routine, but can draw from the pantry & fridge, I mean, the costume closet and your personal resources.

One by one we went into the studio and were given a piece of music to listen to. We could then decide to stay with what we had or switch to the remaining box. If you switched (and a couple people did), you got to open that box and listen to the new music, but you couldn’t switch back if you liked it less.

Then we all went into the studio and revealed everything, including the contents of the box and associated song that were left over.

This was my box: red satin gauntlets and wide ruffled trim. The cards read “panel skirt”, “chair”, “assels”, and “dirty/sexy/raunchy”. And the song is Billie Holiday doing “All of Me”.

I’ve got some ideas, but this is certainly going to be a challenge!


Published in: on 5 March 2015 at 12:18 pm  Comments (1)