Homeward Bound (maybe)

Dear Constant Reader,

I make careful plans. My careful plan for my trip to New Mexico was to take a red-eye flight Monday night back to Boston, arriving Tuesday before dawn, but after the T had started running for the day. I had to make a connection in Phoenix, but a tedious layover had become a lovely opportunity for a visit with a dear friend.

My careful plan did not include Snowstorm Stella and airlines being jerks. Despite the fact that my flight, as scheduled, would have arrived before the snow was supposed to start, the airline canceled it. After spending an enormous amount of time on hold, a very sympathetic person did her best to get me home as soon as possible. I was now flying Tuesday morning Albuquerque-Dallas-Charlotte-Providence, arriving in Rhode Island around 10PM. Not ideal, but I would cope. Scratch agreed to pick me up at the airport.

Then they canceled the Charlotte-Providence flight and told me I couldn’t get a flight out of Charlotte until Thursday night. Thinking quickly, I asked them to get me from Albuquerque to Florida, where my parents are. At least, if I was going to be stuck somewhere for a couple of days, it wasn’t going to be a hotel in a strange city. Again, the earliest I could get to New England was Providence on Thursday around 10pm.

For those of you who aren’t from my neck of the woods, the Providence airport (really in Warwick) is more than an hour from The Manor and I’d have to take a bus to the city of Providence proper to *maybe* catch the last train to Boston and then *maybe* catch the last subway to my house. Why am I worrying about public transit when I just said that Scratch was willing to pick me up on Tuesday? Because by the time I landed in Rhode Island on Thursday, he would have been on a plane for several hours heading to Hungary.

Dr. Jen, my heroic hostess, lives in the mountains an hour and a half from Albuquerque. She and Wallace (her adorable French bulldog) were up at 4AM to drive me to the airport. That was truly above and beyond.

By the time I landed in Florida, ready for two days of sun (and acquiring some clean clothes), Scratch had found me a flight on Wednesday which arrived in Providence (still nothing to Boston). The only hitch was that I needed to catch the first flight of the day to Atlanta, which required my father and I getting up at 2:30AM. So it was but a brief hiatus of enjoying my mother’s heirloom-recipe meatloaf and playing with G.G., the shy ragdoll cat, before I passed out cold.

At godawful early my doting father drove me to the airport and despite having to wait for security to open for the day, it was an uneventful trip to Atlanta. You know you’re tired when you sleep for over an hour on the floor of an airport terminal. Even though the snow storm had long ended, I was positive my flight to Providence was going to be canceled until I was actually on the plane.

After six states and two days I was finally home. I was so grateful that I proceeded to sleep for the rest of the day.

Published in: on 31 March 2017 at 10:09 am  Leave a Comment  
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A Day in the Lab

Dear Constant Reader,

When last we left our traveling showgirl, she was wending her way high into the Jemez Mountains with native guide Dr. Jen and faithful assistant Gia.

I was welcomed to Dr. Jen’s adorable house in the woods, with wall to wall leopard print carpeting, by her three dogs: the famous Wallace, enormous puppy Stella, and Maya, who immediately figured out that I wasn’t a dog person, jumped up on me and planted a kiss on my nose. After enjoying the sunset and the scenery, I was happily ensconced in the Drag Room. Had I a middle of the night wig emergency, I would have been all set.

My Monday was spent in the Atomic Cosmetics lab seeing where and how the magic happens. This was a rare opportunity for me to get some makeup color matched and to make sure I’ve been using the right products for my skin.

I’m starting to run out of my favorite colors of Shu Uemura eyeshadow and blush and it’s getting increasingly hard to get Shu products (they closed all their US stores, for example). So, Dr. Jen made me a matching set. She even improved on the original a little in that two of the colors were on the cool side and she gave me warmer shades that compliment my skin tones better.

Also, we determined that I was wearing the wrong shade of BB cream. It wasn’t bad on me, but now I’ve got the same shade as my foundation and Nudie Cutie. It’s a subtle improvement.

I forgot to mention that when Dr. Jen picked me up, she greeted me with a lip balm (with shimmer!) (also a two-color liquid lipstick). I pretty desperately needed that lip balm all the time. It is insanely dry in New Mexico.

Dr. Jen also mentioned that she *might* have figured out a gel eyeliner and packed me up some samples when I told her that Pearl Button’s life would now be complete.

Part of the day was spent with me on the phone (more on that later), but Dr. Jen had another guest who had come in from Texas (I think) to make lipstick. I got to watch the process of making the base, adding the pigment, &c. through to molding and putting it in a case. The new shade was dubbed “Red Velvet” and you can see it on my (dry, needing more balm) lips to the right.

It was fascinating to see how eyeshadows are pressed, what pigments are to be used for which kind of cosmetic, the precision measuring, and what that big whisk is for. I’m so thrilled to have gotten an inside look at how the products are made.

This is the result of my shopping trip:

Next up: Time to go home. Or is it?

Published in: on 30 March 2017 at 2:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Visit to Santa Fe

Dear Constant Reader,

After my performance in Albuquerque Friday night, I was off to Santa Fe the next day. Well, originally I was going to spend all Saturday in Albuquerque and take the train to Santa Fe on Sunday morning, but there was a burlesque show Saturday night and it seemed dumb to miss the opportunity. And then Dr. Jen offered to come get me and put me up, so it was a no-brainer.

The landscape is just breathtaking. That’s the word I just kept using because my vocabulary was inadequate. Mountains, mesas, exactly the colors you think of as “southwestern”. This photo does not do it justice.

We stopped at The Teahouse where I had a lovely cranberry almond scone. You know I take my scones very seriously and this was pretty fabulous. Serving it with lemon curd was a nice touch.

The burlesque show, put on by Zircus Erotique was at The Palace, which I was told was once a brothel. It certainly has the right decor — red flocked wallpaper, decorative ceilings, and fancy chandeliers. The performance was at one end of the dining room — no stage, which is always a challenge. We were sitting in the bar, watching the show through open windows in the partition between rooms. Not terribly ideal sight lines, especially since the place was packed.

After doors opened, go-go dancers began circulating through the venue. Until the show started and then again at intermission, they slithered and shimmied through both rooms, getting up close with the patrons, but never being intrusive. This was a new approach to me, which worked well because of the lack of a stage and the aforementioned sight line issues.

The show itself was many of the same performers I had worked with the night before, but not necessarily the same acts. I really can’t give you a blow-by-blow this time because I don’t have a set list to jog my memory.

I was impressed with the Mosaic Dance Company, a trio of belly dancers with some really tight choreography.

I was eagerly awaiting Sophia Sunday’s second number because I assumed it would be the razor blades I had missed Friday night. However, it was something entirely different, but still weird and wonderful. She started on a chaise, fairly classic, but after stripping a bit, she set a bed of nails on it. She proceeded to demonstrate that she’s not called “The Pain Proof Pinup” for nothing. I loved the stocking removes. The act was kind of like this.

Al Monds danced with a flowing white cape she used to great effect. Lola was trying to remember the dance pioneer she resembled. Loie Fuller, I called out.

Lola Van Ella once again impressed me with her stage presence and stripping, this time to one of Scratch’s favorite Doors songs. She works the audience so well. I learned a lot from watching her.

The stand out of the evening for me was Holly Rebelle. So far this weekend I had seen her be classic and be vaudevillian, but for her last act, she was just fierce AF with a passionate performance to “Sabotage”. She told me before the show she was nervous about it, but she dominated that room.

After the show Dr. Jen’s assistant, Gia, wanted to meet some of the performers and do some networking. I did feel sort of weird making the introductions when I’d only met some of these people the night before.

The next day Dr. Jen, Gia, and I went to Ten Thousand Waves. It’s a beautiful, tranquil Japanese bath house and spa. It’s one of those places that looks like it could have opened yesterday, because everything is so beautifully maintained, or always been there, since the architecture is so harmonious and fits perfectly in its setting. We got a private tub and it was just the thing for a weary traveler to stretch and soak. I will definitely be back.

I insisted we go to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, since how could I be in New Mexico and not see some of her art. The first thing that surprised me was that you could take pictures of most of the art; only a few items were labeled as off limits. The other surprise was the painting to the right. I immediately recognized New York, just from those few shapes. Like most, I associate O’Keeffe with southwestern landscapes and yonic flowers. This painting changed my perspective on her style. It’s a toss up between this and a more expected calla lily as my favorite work.

On the way to Jen’s log cabin/lab in the mountains, we stopped at the town of Español for dinner at El Paragua for some local cuisine. I couldn’t decide, so I got an (enormous) combination plate (that I barely made a dent in). I got to try carne adovada (pork in a red chile sauce) and posole (hominy and pork stew) and sopapillas (heaven in a basket — pillowy fried dough with honey). I’m a big wimp when it comes to spice, so I was pleasantly surprised that the adovada wasn’t too hot for my palate. The red sauce on the enchilada was another story. Because I had to try green chile eventually, I tried a bite of Jen’s chile relleno and determined that while the heat wouldn’t kill me, I still don’t like green peppers in any form.

And then we continued the long, very scenic drive up into the mountains. I’m positive I’ve never been at an elevation that high before.

As this has gotten quite long, Dear Reader, and I have now left the city in the title, I shall sign off for now and perhaps take up my narrative again tomorrow.

Published in: on 29 March 2017 at 2:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Night of Classic Burlesque

Dear Constant Reader,

I’d been looking for an excuse to make a trip to the Southwest and when I saw my friend Holly Rebelle looking for out of town performers for her show in Albuquerque, I jumped at the chance. I met Holly at The Great Burlesque Expo something like 9 years ago, at which she and her troupe took home a Howard Award. I know she wasn’t expecting anyone from as far out of town as I am, but it turned out I wasn’t the only one who came from the East Coast!

Dr. Wilson of the Theatre of Miracles in Maine had relocated to Albuquerque and he and his lovely wife graciously offered me a place to stay. They’ve got a gorgeous guest suite and parrots! I couldn’t linger too long, because I was off early to tech for the show.

I had been nervous because Holly specifically requested “An Invitation”, which requires some set pieces that I couldn’t bring with me (I can barely transport Super Screen in my car, let alone by plane). She and David came through for me with the required screen and a backlight.

Launchpad, the venue, is the sort of place I’ve performed at before. It’s made for bands, with a high, carpeted stage, a tiny dressing room and a bar up front. The crew did a great job, bringing in pipe and drape to make the stage more burlesque friendly, and the performers took over the back half of the balcony, so as not to crowd the dressing room for when someone actually needed to dress. Also, a nice (and necessary touch) was a big cooler full of ice and bottled water for the performers. Albuquerque is incredibly dry and also at about 5000 feet above sea level. Both of which were a new experience for this New England gal and I was very careful not to get slammed by either, especially since I was also terribly short on sleep.

I did have time between tech and doors open to go down the block and relax over a light supper at Duel Brewing, which was lovely — four kinds of cheese and an array of sweet and sour accompaniments.

I was on near the end of the line-up, so I got to see much of the show, albeit from way in the back. Feisty Baudelaire let me have a corner of her merch table to vend my little book. It was a *long* show. Apparently the venue requires a three and a half hour show, but Holly and crew made sure it was entertaining.

Albuquerque poster

The show started with a stand-up comedy set (which I missed completely) and then we got into the burlesque. Hostess Lola Van Ella graced us all the way from St. Louis. She began by singing “Let Me Entertain You”, a promise of what was to come. I don’t think I can give you a blow by blow of the entire show, since I didn’t see all of it and it kind of ran together into a lovely, glittery blur, due to exhaustion and excitement. I’ll do the best I can.

  • Soiree Entertainment opened the show with a group dance with a tiny bit of stripping to “Feelin’ Good” (almost the same version The BeauTease use).
  • Lana Montresse did a classic strip with boa and gown.
  • Mena Domina had a gorgeous act with silk veil fans and a cape that transformed her into a delicate moth.
  • I was delighted when Annie O’Roar used a version of “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” that I thought no one else knew for her bellydance-inspired striptease. Also, she had a magnificent fabric boa.
  • Holly Rebelle did a sensual strip moving from a mostly black ensemble to white underthings, including a magnificent rhinestoned corset. EDIT: See it here.
  • Godiva Bleu had a truly impressive headdress. From where I was sitting, I didn’t realize the significance of the green decorations on her costume until she lit up. And then she was as high as her headdress.
  • Rebel, all the way from North Carolina, just blew me away with his high-energy moves.
  • Vivian MirAnn was slinky to “Minnie the Moocher” and showered herself and the audience with coins.
  • Sophia Sunday showed off her sideshow roots with something very naughty with balloons.
  • Lola Van Ella sang again, but I can’t remember what.
  • There was a lengthy intermission, but it was filled with live music from Eddie Brewer & The Manic Episodes.

  • Holly Rebelle opened the second act by performing with the band. After snuggling up to the keyboard player and then stripping a bit, she moved to center stage and began tap dancing. And continued stripping. “true vaudeville” said Lola. EDIT: See it here.
  • At this point I went to the dressing room to get ready, so my descriptions are about to get even hazier.

  • Mayo Lua de Frenchie did something funky in a purple pants suit with a chair and rather impressive boots.
  • Mischa Mischief had a gorgeous lilac-themed costume, which I had seen hanging in the dressing room. I’m sorry I missed this one.
  • Miss Conduct was another one I missed. I know she had a fur stole…
  • Feisty Baudelaire was classic with a gown and gloves strip, but she had this rose-trimmed picture hat that made the whole costume special.
  • Joy Coy ushered in spring with an adorable bunny costume and spot-on musicality.
  • Rebel burned up the stage again, in a sparkling, fuzzy, pink suit.
  • Then it was my turn. I was so happy that the stage had steps up front so I could enter the way the act is designed, through the audience. The train on my robe looks so much better slithering up stairs.
  • I’m so sorry I missed Sophia Sunday‘s next act (I was getting dressed again). She did a spin on Scratch’s “Urban Legend” aka swallowing razor blades. While stripping.
  • Vivian MirAnn got up close and very personal with the audience in a stunning blue costume.
  • Lola Van Ella closed out the show with a dead sexy striptease to “St. James Infirmary”.
  • The show was so good, so strong, so many excellent performances. I’m so pleased to have been a part of it!

    Here’s everyone! All photos by KayLynn Aragon Photography

    After the curtain call, my hosts took my weary ass home. At that point, not counting the fitful naps I got on the planes, I’d been up for 22 hours.

    Thank you to everyone who came out and supported the show and especially those of you who stayed for the whole thing! Big thanks to Holly for inviting me out and being so wonderful. And deep gratitude to Mr. Rebelle, the Kitten Squad, and all the tech crew — you made my act look great. Finally, to my fellow performers — it was great meeting all of you and seeing you strut your stuff. Thanks for being so welcoming to a traveling showgirl!

    Published in: on 27 March 2017 at 12:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    Westward Ho!

    Dear Constant Reader,

    This Friday I’m off on my first trip to the Southwest. I am beyond excited to be performing in Holly Rebelle’s A Night of Classic Burlesque in New Mexico! It’s a great line-up and I get to perform one of my favorite acts. I’m looking forward to meeting all my fellow performers.

    I’m equally excited to be seeing so many friends while I’m there. Even an otherwise tedious layover in Phoenix has become an opportunity to see a dear friend. This is one of the women who made me the costumer I am today and it’s been longer than I care to admit since we were in the same place.

    The next couple of days will be spent fretting over packing. What clothing will I bring to deal with daily 30 degree temperature fluctuations? Should I pack my fans securely in my huge suitcase and worry about luggage going astray or try to jam them in a carry-on and worry about getting them through security? How few pairs of shoes can I get away with?

    Expect to see pictures via Instagram of my adventures.


    Published in: on 7 March 2017 at 11:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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