Hot in Topeka at Jayhawk Theatre

Dear Constant Reader,

I want to tell you about my latest travels, to Topeka, Kansas. Short version: it was fantastic and I’m very glad I went. Long version…

I’m not entirely certain how I found the call for applications, but it came at just the right time. I was feeling rather down about my festival acceptance track record (way more “no” than “yes”) so on a lark, I applied. And was accepted! It wasn’t a festival, but a fundraiser for Jayhawk Theatare, a vaudeville house that’s in dire need of restoration, so I was very excited about the show.

It’s not easy or inexpensive to get from Boston to Kansas City (the closest airport), so to make it work, I had a whirlwind trip, starting at 3:30am on Saturday and ending 3:30am on Monday. At least there was a nice symmetry to it.

Anastacia Vulgar, the producer of the show, treated me like a rockstar at every turn. She arranged for transportation from and to the airport (over an hour away) and even put me up at her place. But it wasn’t just me; all the performers, most of whom were from out of town, were appreciated and got lovely perks: there was real food in the green room, someone else took care of selling our merch, we had an opportunity to teach, there was a very professional program (with mention of everyone’s Instagram), and even a little gift of some rhinestones. And I was paid so promptly I almost got whiplash.

Jayhawk Theatre was built in 1926 and presented vaudeville and movies. In December of 1928, Dainty June and her act, including her sister, Rose Louise, performed on that very stage. Later that night June snuck out of her hotel and ran away with Bobby Reed, a dancer in her act, whom she had married secretly. Rose Louise went on, of course, to become Gypsy Rose Lee. The fact that I was on the same stage as those famous sisters was a bit overwhelming.

The theatre is in rough shape. You can see how gorgeous it once was, but the painted decor is all damaged and the stage is basically bare. They’ve got a decent lighting and sounds set up, but I shudder to think of what the electrical is like. There are no theatre seats anymore, so there were chairs set up for the audience. The balcony wasn’t in use.

The show was fantastic. If it didn’t sell out, it was damned close. The audience was so enthusiastic! There were 10 performers and like I mentioned, almost everyone had traveled quite a distance to be there. It was so good to see Twirlisha Devine, OD Kimani, Caramel Knowledge, and Jacqueline Boxx again and delightful to meet everyone else.

I can’t do the show justice, but here are the performers, their acts (I got the names off the call-sheet, so forgive me of they’re not quite right), video when I could find it, and where they were from.

Caramel Knowledge (Los Angeles, CA): Black Amour
Tommy Gun (Flint, MI): Band Geek
Miss Mina Murray (Boston, MA): The Stripteaser’s Education
Mickie Sinn (Austin, TX): Break Up
Lola Loquacious (Kansas City, MO): Masterpiece
Valerie Veils (Tacoma, WA): Medusa
Twirlisha Divine (Bloomington, IN): Sugar in My Twirl
Anya Neeze (Kansas City, MO): Desire
OD Kimani (Madison, WI): Radioactive
Jacqueline Boxx (Baltimore, MD): Blues
Valerie Veils (Tacoma, WA): Glamour Cactus

Our hostess was Violet O’Hara (Dallas, TX).

My act, “The Stripteaser’s Education”, was inspired by Gypsy Rose Lee and her famous “The Psychology of a Stripteaser”. It’s a spoken-word piece and I wasn’t entirely sure how it would go over. Also I was nervous about using the microphone and about hitting my final cues. As it turned out, I nailed it. I might write a little more later about the act and the costume.

After the show, most people went around the corner to a bar. I overcame my exhaustion long enough to put in an appearance and talk costuming with Valerie Veils.

The next day was workshops. Unfortunately it sounded like most of them were canceled for lack of students. Burlesque is a pretty new thing in Topeka and the interest level just isn’t there yet. That did mean that Anastacia, Jacqueline, Twirlisha, Tommy and I could have a leisurely breakfast before it was time for my corsetry class. I had one very interested student who was a delight. I’m pleased with my presentation, but I’ve got a couple ideas to improve it even more.

Then I had to bail on Caramel’s workshop on making showgirl headdresses to go to the airport. Tobias, Anastacia’s partner, was playing chauffeur for the weekend and rather than make him drive to and from Kansas City multiple times, I left along with Jacqueline Boxx, who had an earlier flight. However, because I had time to kill and I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to have real KC barbecue, we went to Q39 and I finally had burnt ends in their native land. I even managed to take the leftovers home for Scratch.

Before I knew it, I had clicked my heels together three times and was back home with Albert A. Cat wondering if it had all been a dream. That might have just been the sleep deprivation.

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 11 July 2019 at 2:03 pm  Comments (2)  
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Atlanta 3/31/19

Dear Constant Reader,

One of the wonderful benefits of the mentorship program with Egypt Blaque Knyle was working with a bunch of wonderful women, with whom I might otherwise not have met. When Coco Rosé invited the members of our group to perform at her show, either in Atlanta or Memphis, I jumped at the chance.

I haven’t been to either city before, but Atlanta won, with more reasonably priced plane tickets. It was Coco’s anniversary show and her theme was “Evolution” — I thought the act I’d developed during Egypt’s program fit the bill.

My flight arrived in Atlanta Saturday evening. It was such a luxury not to have to get up at godawful in the morning, as is usually the case when I travel. It was also a luxury to not have to check a bag. I was only doing the one act and that costume doesn’t take up much suitcase real estate.

Coco put me up at an Airbnb and as soon as I was settled in, I headed out to one of the last remaining Trader Vic’s. I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to have a cocktail at the legendary tiki restaurant. Although I considered a piña colada, I had their signature mai tai.

Sunday morning I had hoped to be teaching. Talloolah Love of the Atlanta School of Burlesque had scheduled me for a workshop at Metropolitan Studios, but we didn’t get enough students to go ahead. Instead I went sightseeing. I was staying walking distance (for me, anyway) from the aquarium, so walk I did. It was a cold, overcast, windy day and I had packed for the 80 degree temperatures of the previous day!

Because I was a tourist. I visited World of Coca-Cola. I know, a weird choice for someone who doesn’t drink soda, but what the heck. There was some fun history, like this 19th century syrup dispenser (1 part syrup, 5 parts carbonated water) and the gallery about the advertising campaigns using the Coca-Cola Sprite (who disappeared before the soda named for him was developed). I did try some of the myriad sodas from around the world. My absolute favorite was the cucumber Sprite from Russia. Pine-Nut from Africa (pineapple and coconut, not actually pine nut flavor, alas) was a distant second. Inca Kola, often seen in my neighborhood, was way too sweet for me and tasted kind of like bubblegum. Least favorite was Beverley, a rather bitter soda from Italy. I later learned it’s drunk like an aperitif. I suppose if you are an amaro fan or like tonic water, it might be a win for you.

By then it was absolutely lunch time and some previous research had revealed a barbecue place just a short walk away. If you’ve been reading here for any length of time, you’ll know how fond I am of barbecue. Twin Smokers BBQ was just what I wanted. The sausage was a little dry, but the pulled pork was perfection, and I appreciated the wide range of sauces.

Thus fortified, I headed off to the Center for Puppetry Arts. The Global Collection is a huge display of puppets from around the world, including some celebrities, like Tom Servo and Madame. I was quite taken with the Vietnamese water puppets. The other main gallery is the Jim Henson Collection. What a delight! It was like visiting a whole bunch of old friends. It was hard to pick a representative photo, but here’s Fizzgig! The special exhibit gallery also featured Henson — The Dark Crystal! Besides getting to see all the fabulous creatures up close, there were also concept sketches and prototypes and video about the making of the movie. I was just a wee thing when I saw the movie, so I had no idea how revolutionary it was in terms of puppetry and film making.

But you want to know about the show! The Red Light Cafe is a familiar sort of venue — I’ve played many like this. I knew exactly what to expect when I walked in the door. It’s set up for bands. The stage is small and carpeted with monitors up front. The lighting set up is simple. The dressing room was cobbled together from some storage space in a loft and was better than many places I’ve changed. Several mirrors, decent lighting, including a makeup station, and plenty of places to put one’s stuff. From the posters on the walls, there a lot of burlesque at the venue.

The only performer I knew, other than Coco, was Stormy Knight, who had come to an early Expo. I was so flattered that she brought her copies of my Little Books for me to sign! It was great to reconnect with her and we ended up chatting a lot in the dressing room.

The show started at 6pm, which was unusual for me, but great for a Sunday night! There were eight acts in the show with an intermission and raffle drawings in the middle. I’m always interested in seeing how other producers do things differently. The raffle was for a variety of goods and services and one could put your ticket(s) in the (glitter-encrusted) jar for the items you wanted. Then the stage kittens would mix up the tickets in one of those bingo cages. I don’t remember the pricing for the tickets but the last one was “tits to toes” as measured on Winter (the long-stemmed) Rose. Also, tipping was done with a different set of glitter-encrusted jars, one for each performer.

I had a fine slot, second act opener. Of course that meant I spent the intermission feeling anxious. The line up was Flexx Giselle, Oodles of Troodles, Royal Tee, Stormy Knight, me, Clyf Hangar, Roula Roulette, and Coco Rosé. Our stage kittens were Winter Rose and Stormy Chance. Here we all are!

I felt good about the act. It still isn’t as smooth as I would like, even with the new shoes, but a little of that was performing on carpet. I should just get used to it. I’ve never yet done the act on an uncarpeted stage. My music was nice and loud. The audience was close and they had good energy. I got some lovely compliments afterward, including one woman who said my act was “everything”.

Here’s my favorite shot of the night, by Charles Bailey Photography:

Ever since I’ve known Coco, she’s been obsessed with Sublime Doughnuts, so I just had to try one! Stormy Knight gave me a lift to the nearest shop, and I finally tasted what all the fuss is about. I even managed to bring a couple home with me.

I had been warned to get to the airport extra early in the morning to deal with the construction and monster lines through security. I didn’t mind. It meant I didn’t have to worry about getting to my gate on time. I could stroll though all the art between terminals instead of taking the tram and I had plenty of time for a nice breakfast. By lunch time I was home with Albert.

And I got to scratch off another state and add a new rhinestone to my travel map!

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 1 May 2019 at 3:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Los Angeles: Burlesque Bingo 1/20/19

Dear Constant Reader,

I know this is the missive you’ve been waiting for — all about the House of Knyle graduation show at Burlesque Bingo!

I was extremely grateful for this opportunity, not only to share a stage with all the women I’d gotten to know through Egypt’s program, but I can’t imagine otherwise performing in one of Audrey DeLuxe’s shows.

The venue was Harvell’s in Long Beach. Lili VonSchtupp had given me some advance info like that the dressing room was good but narrow and that the stage was carpeted and a couple steps up, which allayed a little of my nervousness. The space has a great speakeasy vibe and I can see why there’s a lot of burlesque there.

I was the first to arrive. Scratch volunteered to do whatever was needed and that turned out to be running the follow spot. All the other ladies were staying with and therefore traveling with Egypt. I kind of regretted missing out of the bonding time (and more, as it turned out), but I’m not sorry I chose to spend time with Kitten Natividad. Our Legends are so important. When everyone else arrived they briefed me on the plan for the curtain call and after, whihc they had worked on the night before at Egypt’s. That did have me a little nervous because improvisation dance is not my strength.

Burlesque Bingo works thusly: On the floor perpendicular to the stage is a bingo board, like a very low runway. At the back of the stage is a number board (see photo).
When the performer discards a costume piece, she tosses it onto the board on the floor. One of the Lucky Charms (Audrey’s adorable assistants; also see photo) turns on the light for the corresponding number on the big board and everyone marks their bingo cards accordingly. After the act is over, if no one has bingo, the Lucky Charms begin to disrobe and toss out their garments until bingo is achieved. The bingo winner then comes onto stage to claim their goodie bag of prizes. If more than one person has bingo, everyone gets a chance to roll a giant pink fuzzy die to see who claims the prize. It’s a lot of fun. It was also clear some audience members are all abut the bingo, while others are just there for the burlesque.

I wish I could do a blow by blow of the other acts, but I was more than nervous and rather in my own head most of the night, so I don’t recall a lot of the show. The line up, however, was:
Bebe Bardot
Lilac SaintClair
Dulce D’Jour
CoCo Rose
Crocodile Lightning
Nadia Lotte
Briq House
Mayo Lua de Frenchie
Mina Murray
Twirlisha Devine
Egypt Blaque Knyle

After we each did our acts, Egypt joined us on stage and presented each student with a certificate of completion.

After Egypt’s performance, we each came out in reverse order, still in our pasties, and improvised on stage for a few measures. Eventually we moved into our assigned places, arrayed around the runway, while Egypt performed again. By the end we were all over her. We wouldn’t let her leave the stage until we had presented her with our gift, a large engraved diamond.

I was very touched when Bebe Bardot, who had to race off to the airport immediately after the show, took a few moments to say some kind things about my books. I feel a kinship with this lovely lady — she’s also a scholar of burlesque history, a writer, and a classic sort of gal — so it meant a lot.

All right, I won’t make you wait any longer. Here’s my act:

What did I think? It’s still a little rough. I’m not happy with my facial expressions and I can see all the tension in my shoulders. Those shoes were giving me such trouble, especially with the turns and lunges, and you can see where I so gracefully stumble off the edge of the bingo stage near the end. However, I’m really happy with parts of it and I can see there’s some power there. I’ve since performed it three other times and it just keeps getting better as I’m more comfortable with it and I’m not stressing about trying to impress a mentor (and I got new shoes)

This act, probably more than any other one, had a lot of feedback from a lot of people. Egypt suggested the lunges after the turns (as well as other things). It was Ava’s idea that I start with the back panel draped in front. Originally I dropped to my knees for the floorwork, but Betty said “Can you drop into a plank? You do planks all the time.” Scratch came up with the belt remove. He also edited my music so there was a strong ending instead of a fade-out.

I’m so grateful to Egypt for giving me the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone, to perform in this great show, and to work with these amazing women.

Performance photo by Jason Kamimura Photography
Video by Cliesha

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 9 April 2019 at 4:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Brrrlesque 12/15/18

Dear Constant Reader,

Saturday we presented Brrrlesque, our winter holiday show, at Deacon Giles Speakeasy Lab. Most of us have a number of holiday- or winter-themed acts, but we didn’t want to just do the same show as the years before, so each of us created a new number. I was a bit anxious as act development is not one of my strengths. But Scratch found just the right song, I had the perfect costume already, and it all came together quickly.

Here’s the show! All photos by Scratch. Some of our audience members took some good ones that I hope to be able to share.

This was Betty’s new act — a reverse strip to “Winter Wonderland”. The picture was taken at the beginning when she’s in her robe and her clothes are strewn about the stage.

Devastasia danced to “Warm in December”. She’s got a great costume surprise near the end of the act. Venues will remember this one forever because the tissue paper snow she brushes off her coat will linger, despite the best efforts to sweep it up.

Technically this wasn’t a holiday number, but I’m sure Scratch gave it an appropriate intro. Artemisia had only done this Las Vegas-inspired act once before, at a private show, and it deserved a little more exposure, so to speak. Although this is a lovely shot, you really should see the costume, created by Artemisia and Burluxe.

Tahni tapped her talented toes to “Gift-Wrapped Boy”. I’m sorry we don’t have a picture right now of her adorable gift-wrap costume (which she made) and jingle pasties.

Here’s a few moments of my standard for the holidays — Duke Ellington’s “Sugar Rum Cherry”.

As a palate-cleanser from the striptease, Artemisia sang “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”.

Betty brought back “Blue Christmas” — a perennial favorite. No pictures, but you can see a clip from last year.

Scratch stunned the audience with a Christmas miracle. No picture of that, since he was the one manning the camera.

This was Devastasia’s new piece to “Marshmallow World”. She really hates Christmas music, so she went for something wintery instead. We were all stunned when she showed up with this snow-white showgirl look. Not a scrap of black to be found!

Artemisia’s new act used a beautiful blue and silver cape (which she made) and some balletic dancing. Very wintery, very graceful.

I closed out the show with my new act, to the PMJ version of “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve”. I’m sorry I don’t have a picture of the glorious champagne-colored gown I wore (a find from Scratch — if you even have the chance, go shopping with him), but you get to see my beautiful Catherine D’Lish boa.

After the first show, we had a surprise treat! I was expecting Brigitte would be at the show since she’s local, but she brought some special guests, D.D. and Evie! Here we all are, BeauTease Classique!

It was so good to see everyone and catch up. I wish we’d had longer, but we had to get ready for our second show.

And that was our last performance of 2018! See you next year!

These 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 18 December 2018 at 1:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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This Guy Walks Into a Bra… 8/4/18

Dear Constant Reader,

This show was a little different from our usual fare. Instead of having Scratch between each act, we did some vintage burlesque comedy sketches. The show was very fast paced and a lot of fun.

Burlesque comedy is rather challenging. Much of the original material is problematic in various ways. First off, most of the lines were meant to be delivered by a Straightman and a Comic, although some sketches had even more male characters and some had a female role or two. We only have one guy, so the sketches had to be adapted for women to play some of the roles. Unlike the 1940’s, no one is going to think it unlikely for, say, a straightman cop to be played by a woman.

The real problem is that much of the material is incredibly offensive to a modern audience. It’s often horribly sexist, basically misogynistic, it’s racist, it’s violent (many sketches end with one character shooting the other), and sometimes the humor is so dated that a modern audience just doesn’t get it.

Scratch searched though tons of authentic burlesque and vaudeville comedy bits to find stuff we could edit and adapt. Sometimes the characters were made all female (as mentioned above). Sometimes the language needed updating (but not too up-to-date; we didn’t want to lose that vintage feel). Sometimes Scratch pulled bits from several different routines and strung them together into a single sketch. And occasionally he stole bits from later sources (like Airplane and Laugh-In).

Something else we did differently for this show — title cards! Back when we did Madame Burlesque, we had title cards for all the acts, which the stage kitten would place on a lovely easel. We wanted to revive that, but it starts getting expensive to create new cards for every act. Devastasia had a great idea — chalk boards. So Scratch took a bunch of thin board covered with chalkboard paint, cut them to size, and Devastasia went to town with her chalk markers. She made these beautiful cards for each performer. The cards add a nice vintage touch, but for this show they served a practical purpose. We didn’t have traditional MC introductions before each act because of the comedy sketches, so the cards gave the performers their due credit.

The show itself was quite lively and our audience, though small, was enthusiastic, despite the heat. I don’t know about them, but we were all wilting backstage. We got a lot of nice compliments, but none better than the woman who could only stay for 15 minutes but said she couldn’t miss the chance to see The Boston BeauTease. Perhaps we’ll return to Brattleboro, when it’s cooler.

Next up, I go to Winnipeg International Burlesque Festival to perform and teach and The BeauTease present The Bananaz Variety Hour at Deacon Giles Speakeasy Lab!

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 9 August 2018 at 2:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Burlesque Roadshow 6/29/18

Dear Constant Reader,

At the end of June we presented the first ever burlesque show at Down the Road Brewery in Everett. Credit to Devastasia for suggesting the venue. It was, shall we say, an eventful show.

True confessions first, I was very worried about the show. Ticket sales were rather slow. But, as it turned out, the house was pretty packed.

Although they have a big stage, it’s not a theatre and we had to bring in pipe & drape and some lighting. We also brought our own vintage-style microphone, but didn’t have enough cable to connect with their audio, but fortunately they provided a wireless microphone. If you were at the show, that’s why Scratch was having trouble with the volume levels. The lighting wasn’t wonderful — next time we’ll try something else. And the stage was mighty slippery. I was worried about the tap dancers. As it turned out, they were fine.

Before I get into the show itself, I want to share these great promo images Scratch created. I believe all three photos were taken by Charles Jones (correct me if I’m wrong, please).


The show was alcohol themed (because why not) and it went a little something like this:
(Act one performance photos by Jo Oltman)

Devastasia, Mina Murray, Stephanie: Poison
We’ve performed this one before, with three sexy, but rather stupid, murderesses who don’t seem to notice that EVERYONE’s glass is poisoned. New for this show were the matching pasties. I made the skull & crossbone bases and Devastasia did the gorgeous rhinestone job. They look amazing, but I was having a heck of a time twirling. I could only get one tassel going at a time.

Brigitte Bisoux: Alcohol
Brigitte created this act for The Wrathskellar as The Broad. It’s too good to save just for once a year, so she has a slightly more cheerful version for general audiences. I hope audience members noted the bottle from which she was drinking. There was nothing special about it at this time. We’ll get back to it. It was great that the stage had steps down so Brigitte could get into the audience to steal drinks and crush people to her bosom.

Artemisia Vulgaris: Scotch and Soda
Artemisia has such a lovely voice and we like to give her a chance to use it at least once a show. This is kind of a slow, smokey song, but it was livened up during the musical bridge as Artemisia chatted with the audience. 



Betty Blaize, Tahni: Absinthe
This one hasn’t seen the stage in a long time. I think the last appearance was French Kiss back in 2010. Betty, as an old school Goth (which she is), mourns her lack of absinthe. Suddenly a giant absinthe bottle runs onto stage and starts tap dancing! Tahni the Green Fairy pops out to continue her dance and offer Betty some absinthe. Betty in her delight begins stripping and the horrified Fairy rescinds her gift. Tahni made that lovely gauzy fairy costume herself. Our new bottle was constructed by Scratch and made beautiful (as usual) by Devastasia.

Devastasia: Love Potion Number 9
Okay, this wasn’t quite fitting the theme, as the love potion in evidence is a perfume, not a drink.

Scratch: Magic
Scratch did something impossible with a bottle of vermouth. This was just a little something to kill time while the stage kittens were setting up for…

Mina Murray: French Champagne
This is one of my signature acts, last seen at ABurlyQ last August. It requires a lot of set up and potentially some clean up, depending on how well I’ve positioned myself for the climax of the act, so it only works for certain shows, but I love it. People are usually surprised to see me as a blonde.


(There are some nice pictures of Act Two by Jo again, but they’re on Instagram, so I can’t make them show up here.)
Brigitte Bisoux: Oh, So Quiet
This is a brand-new act from Brigitte. What would a show about booze be without a hangover. And Brigitte is wearing tap shoes. Fortunately a little Gatorade gets her back on her toes. Ultimately it’s the hair of the dog that revives her completely. Observant audience members will note it was the same bottle that did her in in “Alcohol”.

Betty Blaize: Cocktails for Two
Another number from Betty that hasn’t been seen in a very long time. It was created for Dewer’s Repeal Day celebration back in, I think, 2008. Betty took this opportunity to completely revamp her Statue of Liberty costume and refine the choreography.

Artemisia Vulgaris: One For My Baby (and One More for the Road)
This is a new act from Artemisia and I love it! It’s so slow and slinky and she sprawls on a fur stole in such a classic style.

Devastasia: One Mint Julep
Another debut act — a flirty dance with a parasol. The remarkable thing about this one is the costume. When we presented Wrathskellar Tales I went to Savers and bought a whole bunch of gowns to fill the Diva’s armoire. One of them was a fairly boring mint green probably bridesmaid dress, with no embellishment at all. Devastasia thought the color was perfect for this act and ransacked the troupe trimming box to make it into a stunning costume. I wish I had a before and after picture to show you the amazing transformation.

Scratch: Martini Time
One of Scratch’s signature magic acts.

Mina Murray: Am I Blue
This is a new fan dance and I got to wear my new cage thong from Burluxe. Remember that slippery stage? I was the one who almost wiped out. I was going down to one knee and my foot slid out from under me. Fortunately I just ended up sort of ungracefully on my butt. Devora had surprised us by showing up in the audience and she said she thought it was “very sincere”.

Artemisia Vulgaris, Betty Blaize, Stephanie, Tahni: Puttin’ on the Ritz
Scratch asked Betty for a new group number and gave her some parameters. She exceeded all expectations with the choreography and the dancers did an amazing job with it. It’s one of the best group numbers we’ve done recently.

After the show we talked to audience members (one of who gave me something amazing that deserves its own post) and got a well-deserved drink. It was maybe 15 or 20 minutes all told, plenty of time later to strike, pack up, and load out. Then the fire alarm went off.

We all went outside. I figured this would be a short interlude since it was clear there wasn’t actually a fire. Then the fire truck showed up. The firemen went inside and eventually the alarm went silent. We continued waiting. Next thing we knew, the ladder extended from the truck to the roof of the building and a couple of firemen headed there. Uh oh.

Then the brewery announced that they were shut down by order of the fire department. It was the CO alarm that had gone off. We were incredibly flustered — all our stuff was inside, not just our costumes and other gear, but personal items like purses, phones, and car and house keys. Eventually the firefighters escorted us inside in small groups to get our most important stuff. Of course, I grabbed my fans as well as my purse. And the above-mentioned amazing thing.

If you want to hear all about this right after it happened, become a Patron and you can watch a video where I babble all about the incident after I got home.

Early the next morning, when we would have rather been sleeping in, most of us returned to Down the Road to sift through the chaos that was our dressing room (we were using the back hallway and the firefighters had to move a bunch of our stuff to get to the alarm panel) and pack and to strike the tech.

At least the alarm hadn’t gone off until AFTER the show was over.

I always hope we’l have an exciting show, but this wasn’t exactly what I meant.

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 12 July 2018 at 10:23 am  Leave a Comment  

Far From Our Clothes 4/15/18

Dear Constant Reader,

In continuing with our penchant for performing at creators of alcohol in Salem, we had our first show at Far From the Tree Cider. As with our shows at Deacon Giles, Brigitte Bisoux made the connection for us. In this case, because she’s a brand ambassador for the cider, so it seemed like an especially great fit.

We did two shows, as is our wont for small venues. The first audience was good, but the second one was fantastic! They were super enthusiastic and a joy to perform for. It was also the birthday of one of our long-time supporters, so we got the audience to join us in a non-direly rendition of “Happy Birthday”. Far From the Tree is very welcoming to dogs and babies. I don’t remember if there were any for the former there for the show, but there was a two-month old who (we’re told) enjoyed the show.

Because of our location, we threw in a couple of apple-themed acts. Brigitte did her infamous “Still Life” performance with a bowl full of apples instead of mixed fruit. Scratch mystified (and perhaps horrified) the audience with “Urban Legend”, involving an apple stuck wth double-edged razor blades. Artemisia sang the PMJ arrangement of “Criminal” because it’s by Fiona Apple (we amuse ourselves). And Betty closed out the show with “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree”, backed up by apprentices Ayo and Stephanie in their first show!

It was a bit logistically challenging to make a dressing room for ourselves. We were given the accessible restroom and the space in front of it. The challenge was that there were two doorways open to the tap room. We brought drape, but all the pipe is currently in The Expo trailer. Some very creative engineering was done with conduit, painter’s tape and even some ribbon to curtain off our space. It was cozy quarters, but we made it work. I made a backstage video for my Patrons.

We tried an experiment with this show. In New Orleans at the Legs and Eggs brunch, there were tip envelopes on every table printed with “tips” for enjoying the show. That seemed like a good, low-pressure way for the audience to tip if so chose. We included a piece of paper in the envelope so people could leave a note if they liked, and some of the results are in the photo.

The staff at Far From the Tree was terrific and we’re grateful to them for having us. We hope to do it again! We’ll be back in Salem next month at Deacon Giles with The Boston BeauTease Go Bananaz! (I still can’t believe I’m writing that). But our next show is this Saturday at The Castle on Charles in Rochester, NH.

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 19 April 2018 at 4:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Boston BeauTease Do It Again 2/2/18

Dear Constant Reader,

This past Friday we were performing at Deacon Giles Speakeasy Lab in Salem. It’s a small space, so we do two shows, an early and a late. As usual for us, there aren’t any performance photos or video, alas.

Since it was Groundhog Day, Scratch had a fun idea for the show. Every act ended with a snippet of “I Got You Babe” and then Scratch went into his introduction. The same introduction every time. Perhaps a bit more frantic or frustrated or bored, as the evening went on. That was the obvious reference. I’ll see if you can figure out the more subtle one.

  • Betty Blaize: “Harlem Nocturne” (Les Brown)
  • Artemisia Vulgaris: “Love Potion No. 9” (Artemisia singing)
  • Mina Murray: “Die Moritat von Mackie Messer” (Ute Lemper)
  • Brigitte Bisoux: “Night Train” (Harry Zimmerman)
  • Devastasia: “Tombstone Blues” (Johnny Staccato)
  • Scratch: Magic
  • Mina Murray: “Harlem Nocturne” (Sam Taylor and His All-Stars)
  • Devastasia: “Love Potion No. 9” (Herb Alpert and His Tijuana Brass)
  • Artemisia Vulgaris: “Mack the Knife” (Bobby Darren)
  • Betty Blaize: “Night Train” (Alvino Rey)
  • Brigitte Bisoux: “Tombstone Blues” (Ronnie Magri and His New Orleans Jazz Band)
  • Did you get it? Do you see what we did there? Each half of the show was the exact same set of songs, only different arrangements and very different styles of acts. We’re so clever.

    We’re also so clever in that the plan was that everyone would use one existing act and create one new one. It turned out that I used two existing numbers, because Artemisia was so in love with “Mack the Knife” (I use the German version), while she created one new act and learned a song.

    We had some fun and excitement backstage. Just before the doors opened, Brigitte was getting out her pasties for “Tombstone Blues” and being a little smug that she only had to put on one pair for the whole evening, since “Night Train” was a tap dance with no stripping. Then one of the tassels just exploded into it’s component strands. Yikes! What to do?

    First we realized that Betty had a pair of tasseled pasties that would match Brigitte’s outfit, but she was wearing them for one of her numbers. However, since Betty was wearing them for the first act and Brigitte would need them to close the show, there would be plenty of time for a hand-off. Then Betty asked if I had black thread in my emergency kit (yes) and said she had repaired tassels before. Before the second show, that tassel was good as new and ready to be twirled!

    In Betty’s version of “Night Train”, she’s a computer geek who gets super excited about technology. At the climax, she rips off her t-shirt. She forgot to pack a second shirt for the later show, but Deacon Giles provided her (and the rest of us) with shirts.

    Guilted Lily, our favorite stage kitten, came all the way from RI to help out and insisted on wearing the torn shirt *and* having Betty sign it and then her boobs. You can see it happen right here:

    And here’s a bonus picture of Lily wearing Scratch’s hat & jacket. I think it’s no contest — she wore it better!

    After the show we hung out and had marvelous cocktails with the staff. Mine was a simple mulled cider with spiced rum.

    We’ll probably be back in a couple of months. If you want to see us sooner than that, we’ll be at the Mardi Gras Ball on Saturday with a brand-new group number and I’ll be reprising my fan dance from this show.

    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 7 February 2018 at 3:52 pm  Leave a Comment  


    Dear Constant Reader,

    It had been years since we presented a winter holiday show and we weren’t really planning on doing so. We were hired for a New Year’s Eve show at The Strand Ballroom and that was enough. And yet, somehow, we found ourselves booked at Deacon Giles (hint: it was Brigitte’s doing) and as long as we were doing that show, why not put it on at The Thalia as well.

    All three shows (we do two at Deacon Giles) sold out completely and people were pleading for tickets. That was really nice, since, to be completely honest, Dear Reader, our shows did not do so well earlier the year.

    Since timing is tight and the stage is small at Deacon Giles, the show is pretty streamlined. Since we had more space and a more flexible schedule, The Thalia show had a larger cast and a couple more acts.

    It went a little something like this:

    Betty Blaize: Betty, It’s Cold Outside
    A classic. One of Betty’s signature numbers, with her puppet-partner, Dino Martini.

    Mina Murray: Three for the Show
    This is a brand-new number than I debuted on Friday. I wanted something winter-inspired, rather than something so strongly themed that I could only do it at the holidays. An ice-blue gown and white fur wrap did the trick. It’s very classic in style and a bit raunchier than my usual.

    Brigitte Bisoux: The Nutrocker
    Brigitte is a talented tap dancer and she loves the stages at both venues because they show off the sound really well. With her sparkling costume and feathered headdress, you’d never know she was too short for The Rockettes.

    Devora Darling: Snowfall
    D.D. dances en pointe in this beautiful striptease. She also throws around some tissue paper snow, which is beautiful. It’s also gets everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Someday I should tell you about the first time we used fake snow. Please enjoy this photo of Devora and Devastasia, who also used some of the snow in her act, cleaning up after the show.

    Devastasia: Warm in December
    Also a new number for Devastasia. She has professed a strong dislike of Christmas, so it was winter-themed for her. She made a lovely blue and silver dress which was over a flame panel skirt and bra.

    Scratch: Magic
    I think it was a card trick, but I’m not sure of the details. At Deacon Giles it’s very hard to hear what’s happening on stage from the backstage area (the actual distillery and warehouse).

    Betty Blaize: Blue Christmas
    Betty is a disillusioned Mrs. Claus, who once she’s alone, prefers to celebrate Hanukkah.

    Brigitte Bisoux: Perfect Christmas
    Brigitte starts out nice, dancing to “Perfect Christmas Night”, a sweet jazzy tune, and then gets naughty to a version of “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”. You’ll look at Christmas decorations in a new way…

    Devora Darling: Christmas Elf
    This is a super-adorable dance with Devora as a cute little elf handing out candy canes. And when she runs out of candy, she has clothing to give out.

    Mina Murray: Sugar Rum Cherry
    This my holiday fan dance and one of my favorites. At Deacon Giles I performed it solo, but at The Thalia I had Ingride and Gin-ni to open it with a graceful dance with snow-white fans to the traditional Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy music.

    At The Thalia we also had Devastasia, Gin-ni, and Ingride performing “Booty Swing” with oversized peppermint sticks and Gin-ni sang.

    All the shows went well and we had great time, for the most part. And there were delicious cocktails at both venues. The early show at Deacon Giles had one rude audience member sitting right up front who was talking with his seat mate through most of the show. It kind of brought the audience’s energy down. However, the second show was just fantastic. The audience was terrific and I think our performances were excellent.

    As is my custom, I made a backstage video only for my Patrons. You however can get a brief taste of the show in these video clips Scratch took during the show.

    Next up we’ll be at The Strand Ballroom on New Year’s Eve and then The Great Burlesque Expo!

    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 19 December 2017 at 4:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    RuffleCon 11/11

    Dear Constant Reader,

    For third year we were hired to perform at RuffleCon, an alternative fashion event in Stamford, CT. It’s always such a good time, but I think this year was the best. In the past the convention has been in October, so we were crazed with Wrathskellar preparations. They’ve moved the dates into November, which was saner for us, but it meant I missed BurlyCon for the first time in about 5 years. We were also moved to Saturday night rather than Friday, which gave us a bigger audience.

    Everyone headed down pretty early to enjoy the convention offerings. In the late afternoon I taught my corsetry class. Sadly, I was opposite one of the many fashion shows, but most of the ladies I was traveling with came to class, eager to learn about corsets.

    Before the show, we had a lovely, relaxed dinner at a near-by Mexican restaurant. Scratch has an excellent restaurant sense and once again picked out a terrific place. After a stop at a liquor store to gather post-show wine, we returned to the hotel to get ready.

    The show was a lot of fun and the audience was amazing. They were yelling, screaming, and cheering so loudly. We had a few technical issues, to be honest. There were constant problems with the music (songs starting early or late or just wrong or once two songs playing simultaneously), but they were resolved quickly every time. And we had to reconfigure most of our acts to the runway stage, which was really set up for fashion shows (narrow stage with a long runway), but we made it work.

    I’m not going to do a blow by blow of the show because I couldn’t see anything from backstage. Here are a few notes.

    Nicole and I opened the show with “Mistress & Maid”. When I snuck onto stage, an audience member yelled “someone’s going to get a spanking!” How did they know?

    No surprise, but they loved Artemisia, especially her singing voice. They went absolutely berserk when she hit those long high notes in “Creep”.

    Our special guest Mister Twister from Chicago was extremely popular with the ladies.

    Betty did a striking striptease with her new LED Wings of Isis to great acclaim.

    My costume for “Moon Over Bourbon Street” was further decorated and I made a new pair of strappy undies just for this show (with lots of patient help from Scratch — I can’t pin elastic over my butt by myself.) At one point I was covering myself with the fans and someone yelled “Stop teasing me!”

    We closed out with “Booty Swing” which had brand-new sparkly jackets and light-up staves with LEDs and fiber optics! We try to go all out on the costumes and props for these folks.

    After the show, we all went back to our hotel room for wine and snacks and decompressing. I made a post-show video for my Patrons, as it was too dark and too noisy backstage. Scratch asked someone an important question, which will be the topic of another missive.

    I admit that I was sinking lower and lower into bed as the merriment went on, but everyone else was still energetic and went to the dance party. I heard that Betty absolutely broke the dance floor with her all-out Old School Goth moves and she had a devoted ring of admirers dancing around her.

    The next morning we had a fabulous brunch and then most of us went shopping and spent a lot of time thanking audience members who telling us how much they enjoyed the show. Several of the ladies hit the consignment shop and found all sorts of treasures including Devastasia’s first corset. Scratch taught a class on Victorian Parlor Magic which was remarkably well attended for so early in the morning. Perhaps because he plugged it at the show and promised to reveal the secrets of how he pulled so many items from thin air. And then we hit the road to be back in MA in time for rehearsal!

    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 22 November 2017 at 1:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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