Summer Sizzle 7/16/22

Dear Constant Reader,

Our last show was on April first, right before my little world completely went to hell. It was good to get back on stage and even better to spend the time backstage with some of my favorite people.

We did two shows, an early and a late, as we often do on for a Saturday show. Sharon, one of our current apprentices, was an adorable stagehand in a watermelon-themed sundress, and we had Marek on follow spot. There were also a couple of photographers there, so  I may have some pictures to share with you eventually.

Ava Fox & Devastasia: Let’s Go Sunning
Devastasia sang while Ava tapdanced and they passed a parasol back and forth. This is a cute little song from the 1950’s that Devastasia heard while playing Fallout 3. It’s rather short so Scratch wrote a new verse.

Mina Murray: Rumble (The Ventures)
I love this song so much. Really, I love the Link Wray original, but it’s kind of short, so I used this version. I was only at dress rehearsal that Scratch pointed out that he could edit the original to be longer. Oh well, next time. The focal point of the act was my big black boa. Some years ago, when I went to Stripper’s Holiday in Los Angeles, I saw Kitten Natividad and she gifted me with the Star Boa that Fannie Annie made for her. I’ve been determined to use it in an act ever since.

Betty Blaize: Misirlou Twist (Dick Dale and the Del-Tones)
Earlier this year Betty was in Los Angeles for an extended stay (check out one of the things she did — six of hearts) and of course she hit the amazing fabric district and used some of her haul to make a very cool fringe skirt and arm pieces. Her fast paced dancing was exciting and became even more so when she balanced a sword on her head.

Ava Fox: Riviera Life (Caro Emerald)This is one of Ava’s standard summertime numbers. It’s cute and playful and she made that adorable sun suit.

Scratch: Magic
I’m not sure what amazing thing he did. I believe he correctly predicted an audience member’s favorite Deacon Giles spirit.

Devastasia: Summertime (Sam Cooke)
One of Devastasia’s summertime standards, as you might expect. It’s a gorgeous costume and a lot of it is made from repurposed items, scraps, and trash!

Ava Fox: Ice Cream Man (Tom Waites)
This is quite a departure from Ava’s previous act, straight up sexy with some killer chair balances. Here’s a little backstage secret: when she had done this number before, she had an actual ice cream on a stick hidden on the chair. That meant we needed to have some way of keeping it frozen until she hit the stage. Crafty Ava made a faux ice cream that looks delicious, but won’t melt all over her.

Scratch: Magic
I believe this was a card trick.

Betty Blaize: Stuff Like That There (Bette Middler)
It wouldn’t be summer without baseball! Scratch and Betty introduced the act with one of our standard classic burlesque comedy bits. Then Betty became the greatest Red Sox fan. The more her team was winning, the more her clothes came off!

Devastasia & Mina Murray: Too Darn Hot
It’s such a treat to perform with a singer! Devastasia sang the Holly Cole arrangement of “Too Darn Hot” while I fan danced.

We’ll be back on September 17 for the release of Deacon Giles new absinthe! (date subject to bureaucratic approval)

M2

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 14 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 15 August 2022 at 11:07 am  Leave a Comment  
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Burlesque with a Band 2/3/22

Dear Constant Reader,

We had our second live music show at Flying Embers this past Thursday and it was more exciting than we expected…

The weather was kind of terrible, and Scratch told Ava and me that we were going to start a little late. The audience was trickling in (we were almost completely booked up) and not all the band members were here yet. That was fine. We were happily ensconced backstage with some snacks provided by the lovely bartenders. I had my latest embroidery project and Ava’s good company. But it got later and the drummer was still stuck in traffic.

The band started playing without him and Scratch said as soon as he got here we’d jump right into the burlesque and do a tightened-up set. Great. We were all ready for that and waited some more.

Then Scratch came backstage one more time with the fateful news. The traffic had been caused by an accident so bad the highway was now closed. We would have no drummer that night.

There was some good news, however. The drummer hadn’t been available for our last rehearsal, so he pre-recorded his tracks for the songs that we were running that night and the band had them. The bad news was they had Ava’s songs, but not mine, as I wasn’t at that rehearsal. Scratch said I could use recorded music for my acts… Hell no! We had a band — I was going to dance to live music!

The plan was to run the burlesque acts basically back to back with a little intermission between for the hard-working band to have a break and for Ava to have time to change costumes.

My first song was “Three for the Show”, which does have quite a bit of percussion. The other musicians did their best to fill in on the fly. I got a little lost in the middle — thank goodness Betty ran all those improv drills, so I had a plan until I got back on track.

My second song, “Harlem Nocturne”, was a little easier, as it’s heavy on the brass (trumpet in our case) and the drums are not as vital. However, because I can’t do anything the easy way, I was using new fans. Well, old fans that had been refurbished.

I had sent my white fans to Donna Touch to be converted from bamboo to aluminum staves and have another row of feathers added. The fans arrived that afternoon, so I only had a few minutes to practice with them before deciding I would use them at the show.

Slightly different music, new fans, what could go wrong?

As it turned out, nothing!

My hands aren’t used to the fans yet, but I managed. No, more than managed — it was as good a performance as I’ve given with the old set. It just took a little more thought and my hands were a bit sweatier than usual, given the circumstances. I’ll give a fuller review of the new fans in their own missive.

Here’s a little taste of the evening. Photos by Scratch.

Ava 2-3-22 Mina 02-03-22

The audience was great, really supportive of the situation. We were also lucky to have Betty Blaize in the audience. Instead of Ava and I acting as stage kittens for each other (the original plan), she jumped in to handle pick up, so we could concentrate on getting changed for the next act.

We’ll be back on February 17 with a special treat. It’s my birthday! I’m told there will be cake! I’m not performing, so hang out with me and enjoy the evening. Make a reservation because seats are limited (it’s free!) .

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 14 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 10 February 2022 at 10:14 am  Leave a Comment  
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Burlesque with a Band 1/20/22

Dear Constant Reader,

This past Thursday was our first live music show at Flying Embers and I think it was pretty successful! We had a pretty good crowd, especially for a Thursday, who seemed to be enjoying themselves. The bartenders were happy with everything, the band was terrific and I felt my performances went well.

Poor Scratch was run ragged, however. His assistant tested positive for Covid that day and our photographers bailed, so he ended up having to do pretty much everything himself — set up the lighting, work the door (checking reservations and vaccination cards), host the show, take photos, clean up some of the costumes, and run the FaceBook livestream.

The band played two sets — about an hour and a half total. Betty and I each did an act in each set. I went first with “Mina in Furs” and Betty closed out the set with “Lament”. She opened the second set with “Night Train” and I closed it out with a fan dance to “Harlem Nocturne”. 

I was so into my fan dance and enjoying it so much that I ended with a big sweep of my fans and dipped my head, forgetting that I hadn’t yet sewn a comb into my headdress and the whole thing fell right off! It hung around my neck and I was able to sweep in back into place. Oh the glamourous life of a showgirl!

The show has a couple of challenges which keep things spicy. The first is, of course, live music. The band is terrific, but as with any live performance, you never know what might happen. As it turned out, everything was fine. The other is that there’s no real stage. We decided to perform in the center of the room, which means people were seated at tables around the taproom as well as at the bar. Performing in the round is hard.  You are going to be seen from every angle and you need to make sure everyone has a good view most of the time. And don’t forget to make as much eye contact as possible. My fan dance is very directional, with either my front or back uncovered depending on which way I’m turned. I opted to perform directly in front of the band for most of it and come out into the center when I was covered front and back or entirely uncovered.

There should eventually be some photos and the whole thing was on FB Live (skip the first couple of minutes — it’s Scratch setting things up and there’s no way to edit a Live).

I’ll be back on February 3rd with Ava Fox and again on February 17th. I won’t be performing that night — I’ll be celebrating my birthday! I hear there will be cake.

Tickets are free, but reservations are suggested.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 15 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 26 January 2022 at 2:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Burlesque with a Band

Dear Constant Reader,

As you might recall, last month we performed at Flying Embers Taproom and Social Club. (If you don’t recall, here’s a reminder).

We’re coming back, every other Thursday, starting next week, and we’re going to have live music!

It’s going to be a relaxed evening. Listen to the fabulous jazz quartet, have some delicious beverages (how about some hard kombucha?), and watch a couple of burlesque acts over the course of the night. And it’s free! (tipping is always welcome!) Don’t forget to bring proof of vaccination! This is per the City of Boston, so please don’t give the staff a hard time about it.

The first night, January 20, will feature Betty Blaize and me! We’ll be mixing it up every show, so you’ll get a different pair of dancers each time.

This past Monday we got to rehearse in the space with the band for the first time. Big thanks to Ashley who gave up her night off to let us do so! The chance to work with a band for a series of shows is wonderful. We can play off one another, especially when we get to know each other’s style a bit more.

Betty is the best of us for this. She’s a skilled improvisational dancer and, as a musician herself, knows how to communicate what she wants to the band. It’s a joy to watch her. As it turned out, she brought two costumes (we’ll each be doing two acts per night), but the band had three songs ready. This did not perplex her at all and she did a costume mash-up for the last song.

We’re also performing in the center of the floor, so there’s potential audience all around the room. We’ve got to make sure everyone gets a good view. It was so helpful that Ashley and her friends sat at some of the tables to give us some practice.

I’m really excited for these shows! Please join us on the 20th and every other week thereafter!

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 14 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 12 January 2022 at 12:51 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Brrrlesque for the Holidays 12/16/21

Dear Constant Reader,

We had a lot of fun presenting our holiday show at Flying Embers. I’m especially glad we had the chance since who knows what is going to happen with live entertainment in the coming weeks. Big thanks to Jo Oltman for connecting us with the venue in the first place!

As performance spaces that aren’t really theatres go, it’s a good one. There’s a large open space in front of a projection screen, so we had video backdrops for the acts. A private back hall was turned into a dressing room for us. There were even multiple mirrors! And it wasn’t freezing, like so many winter dressing rooms I’ve been in. We set up a curtain by the side of the stage so we could have a little place to stash our props and robes (and masks).

There was a photographer there, and I even saw a little video of the end of my fan dance on Instagram, so maybe there will be pictures someday.

Here’s a brief recap of the show:

Act I

Alyssa Joy, Ava Fox, Odette Good: Booty Swing
Alyssa and Odette are two of our apprentices (the third, Lopez La Lopez, was manning the box office) and this was their first “real” show. They have performed with us before, as Expositionettes at this year’s Expo and in Vamps After Midnite, but that was like being thrown in the deep end. This was a more typical show and more relaxed. Everyone was adorable in their sparkly silver shrugs and red velvet skirts.

Betty Blaize: Winter Wonderland
A reverse strip! After a wild night, Betty gathers her scattered clothing and re-dresses in her evening finery, ready for her walk of shame(lessness).

Devastasia: Santa Baby
A song, no striptease. After getting to the venue, we discovered no one had the right cable to connect the microphone to the sound system, so Devastasia sang unamplified. And did a fine job — I could hear her in the dressing room.

Mina Murray: Mina in Furs
A classic gloves & gown strip in wintery colors with a luxurious fur stole.

Scratch: Magic
Something impossible involving gift boxes and some high-end presents.

Ava Fox: Gift-Wrapped Boy
This is a fun, high-energy tap dance and strip with a gift-wrap costume. Ava’s pasties even have jingle bells on them.

Mina Murray: Sugar Rum Cherry
Possibly my favorite fan dance. Only doing it once a year makes it that much more special. I was going to wear my new Manuge et Toi Eugie (like a g-string without a string), but chickened out at the last minute in favor of my trusty thong.

Intermission (during which I made a quick video for my Patrons and ate pizza. Not at the same time.)

ACT II

Betty Blaize: Blue Christmas
Mrs. Claus, as portrayed by Betty, has a secret! It’s not naughty though… she just prefers eight glowing lights to eight tiny reindeer.

Devastasia: Warm in December
A rare costume with color for Devastasia as she strips from chilly blue to hot flames. And her panel skirt is just magical. Trust me on that.

Scratch: Magic
A minor miracle involving cards.

Ava Fox: Riviera Life
It may be winter now, but Ava is a ray of summer sun on the beach.

Devastasia: Real Gone
A classic bump & grind act.

Mina Murray: What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?
I get to break out my champagne gown and best ostrich boa for this one! An exquisitely slow tease and a champagne toast.

We had a good time and so did the audience. Our only real issue was with the sound system. There seemed to be a problem with the bluetooth connection, so the song would cut out for a second or two. Fortunately, we know our music well enough to just keep going. And it shouldn’t be an issue next time, since we’ll have live music. Keep your fingers crossed that we can go ahead with our first show with the band on January 20!

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 13 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 22 December 2021 at 4:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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New Show

Dear Constant Reader,

Tomorrow is our first show at Flying Embers! Get your tickets for an evening of cheerful holiday burlesque that will warm your heart and soul (and other body parts)!

And we will be back on January 20th and every other Thursday after that to entertain you. This is a different sort of show because we’ll be performing to a live jazz band!

Performing to live music is a treat we don’t get to do enough. Once a year, we perform at the Mardi Gras ball to an amazing band and several years ago our Valentine’s Day show, Unlucky in Love, had a band and a trio of singers.

There’s an entirely different energy with musicians versus recorded music. It’s more exiting, in several ways. Even when the band plays the same arrangement you are used to, it’s never exactly the same as the recording, which can be fun and challenging. You have to trust and learn to communicate to create something fabulous. As you can imagine, timing is very important for striptease, so if someone feels moved to change thing up (it is jazz, after all), you need to think on your feet.

Betty and I have had this experience before. In fact, Betty is a mistress of improvisational dance and can make magic out of whatever the musicians throw at her. But it’s going to be new for Ava and Devastasia and I’m looking forward to seeing what they create!

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 13 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 15 December 2021 at 1:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Vamps and Roses

Dear Constant Reader,

After a really intense week of working on and performing in Vamps After Midnite, I’m glad for two days off. We’ve got four shows next week — get your tickets now!

IMG_3149In Vamps After Midnite I play the Mother Superior of an order of vampire hunting nuns, The Little Sisters of the Thrusting Shaft, and spend most of my time wearing a wimple. (Here I am with Devastasia, who plays Mary Daguerreotype, a Lay Sister.) I can’t style my hair because the wimple fits rather closely. That wouldn’t be a big deal, if you never saw my hair in the show. However, at the end of my first scene, due to a “pointless flashback”, I remove my habit and wimple to perform La Vie en Rose. Usually I just have a single hair ornament for this act, but I also usually have styled hair. I needed something to distract from my boring (and flattened) hair.

Time to make a headdress! (Because it all came together so quickly, I forgot to take progress shots, so these are after the fact.)

I started with a cloth visor, like this one. Amazon said the one I bought was “rose”, but when it came out of the package, it was bright pink. That certainly would not do! I started to overcomplicate things by making plans to cover it with more appropriately colored fabric.

But then I remembered this stuff!
IMG_3165
Perfect for a quick & dirty project like this. A mere few minutes later the visor was red.

While waiting for the paint to dry, off to the dollar store for a bouquet of roses. The first step was to cut them apart from the central stem, using a wire cutter. Then I grabbed my hot glue gun.

My initial plan was to treat the roses like feathers on a showgirl headdress, but that meant the flowers were basically in profile and I decided I wanted the open blossoms to be visible. Also it was just a little ridiculous looking. I mean, more ridiculous than I was willing to wear. Fortunately, it’s easy to remove hot glue.

I clipped the roses completely off the stems and glued the calyx to the visor, tucking in some leaves to fill a couple of gaps. I covered the band with more leaves. After wondering for a bit how I was going to finish the back of the visor, I glued on two rows of individual petals. Then just because I could, I added a few red rhinestones here and there on the roses.
IMG_3151

Voila! Active construction was about an hour (not including letting the paint dry or the walk to the dollar store and back) and I wore it in that night’s show.

This was taken post-show, since I don’t have any downtime during the show while I’m wearing the headdress in which to take a photo. You can see it in action this Wednesday through Saturday at Vamps After Midnite!

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 12 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 26 October 2021 at 1:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Red Hot & Blue 7/3/21

Dear Constant Reader,

Our first live show in front of an actual audience! Although it was a long, hard process to make that happen.

If you’ve been following these chronicles, you know we often perform in lovely spaces which aren’t really theatres. And this was no different. The hall upstairs from the American Burlesque Collection is spacious with a proscenium stage, but it’s not actually a theatre. Scratch and Hunter put in long hours making sure we had decent lighting (and thank goodness they had the luxury to do that instead of scrambling day of).

Still, there was a lot to do. We had to hang curtains in all the (huge) windows, set up the audio equipment (kindly lent by our good friends at Deacon Giles), set up the dressing room, set out chairs, assemble goody bags for the VIP guests, make a sign or two, and of course, rehearse, checking lights and sound as we went.

Our faithful stage manager Marek was working at his farmers’ market in NH (visit if you’re in the area!), so he wasn’t available and we missed him! However, we did have Sarah, the museum’s intern, and Gabe, a cast member for this show, to be the stage crew. And all the performers did their best to help them out with their first show, with Betty acting as a stage manager during the second act when she had a fair bit of down time.

By they way, those lovely signs on the easel that someone had to switch every act, were done by Devastasia.

Of course, it was pouring rain. Despite that we had a good turn out and even some walk-ins. And they were definitely enthusiastic! VIPs got a tour of the new exhibit at the museum — which I haven’t seen yet! — Lights! Camera! Burlesque!, showcasing burlesque as portrayed in movies, burlesque performers who made the jump to Hollywood, and filmed burlesque shows.

The show was a celebration of things summery and patriotic, which a little USO flavor. Alas, there are no photos, so you’ll just have to make do with my commentary.

Gabe & Sarah: Candy Butcher
This is a classic burlesque bit, where a fast-talking con man sells boxes of candy by promising ridiculous prizes in some of the boxes. This particular night, being “Bank Night” (sign by Devastasia), there is an additional promise of cash prizes. It’s all a lie. Gabe took the original script and ran with it. In true burlesque fashion, he improvised bits and added some physical comedy. Poor Sarah could barely keep up with the orders and plaintively asked backstage if there were any more boxes of candy. We were stunned that we’d sold all we had in no time flat. Gabe was a more successful pitchman than we expected!
A peek behind the curtain: The Uncle Sam’s Whiz-Bangs (with that All-American Flavor) were actually boxes of Starbursts with a paper wrapper Scratch designed (and your humble correspondent did most of the wrapping. Such a glamourous life!)

Betty Blaize & Mina Murray: The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Such a silly number. We created it in less than a week as kind of a throw-away act. Who would have imagined we’d still be performing it over a decade later *and* teaching it so others can perform it. It’s a bit unusual in that we do a spoken word intro. Also, many of those ridiculous hand-gestures are authentic 16th century mudras from classical Indian dance (of which Betty is an expert practitioner).

Devastasia: Cape Cod
One of the surprises of the Pandemic was learning that Devastasia has a beautiful singing voice. She sang in two of our recorded shows, but this was her first outing before a live audience. She did a wonderful job singing of the pleasures of a trip to the Cape.
A peek behind the curtain: Devastasia did all the audio editing to make the backtrack exactly what she wanted, including adding in the sea gulls and distant harbor bells.

Ava Fox: In The Mood
This was a great stage for tapping, so Ava let loose with this joyful striptease with a 1940s feel.

Betty Blaize & Scratch: Baseballs
A brief comedy bit that leads into the next act. We like to throw some comedy bits into a show in homage to the original burlesque shows, which were not all striptease.
A peek behind the curtain: Although we try to base our comedic interludes on actually comedy sketches from the Gold Age of burlesque, we have to substantially rewrite many of them as they are often too sexist, racist, or violent for modern sensibilities.

Betty Blaize: Stuff Like That There
Keeping with our summer theme, Betty appeared as a devoted Red Sox fan who gets so excited that her clothes come flying off. Betty made the entire costume, including the baseball bra and infield undies.

Scratch: Martini Time
Bottles keep mysteriously multiplying to the bafflement of Scratch and the audience.
A peek behind the curtain: this magic trick is choreographed to the song “Martini Time” by Rev. Horton Heat. However, in tech rehearsal, there was something wrong with the track — this is why you have tech rehearsals! — so Scratch used a different song in performance. Nobody was the wiser; he’s just that good!

Mina Murray: French Champagne
I love this act, despite its complicated set up. I felt badly about inflicting it on our novice stage crew, but they did great! What does it have to do with our theme? I’m cooling down with some ice!

INTERMISSION

Devastasia: Summertime
This is one of Devastasia’s most beautiful costumes — and has a lot of creativity in the construction! 

Gabe: It’s Been a Long, Long Time
We were fortunate that Gabe is a talented pianist, and the venue had a piano we could use, and it was in tune! Marvel fans might recognize this melancholy song from several moments during Captain America’s story.

Mina Murray: Too Darn Hot
I couldn’t do a show without including a fan dance. This one had been appropriate for the weather, until Saturday, of course. It’s always fun to include a little striptease while fan dancing. I used to do this act on a boat for Harborlesque, with Stella Diamond singing, and while I miss Stella, it was nice to perform it on a stage that doesn’t move.
A peek behind the curtain: the “magic” bra is a innovation designed by Manuge et Toi and constructed by me.

Ava Fox & Devastasia: Don’t Sit Under the Appletree
This act was created for L.D.R.: Love in the Time of Coronavirus, but this was its first outing in front of a live audience. Ava and Devastasia are military cuties, with a friendly rivalry.
A peek behind the curtain: Ava made those beautiful fans completely from scratch. She cut the acrylic staves, sewed the fabric feathers, assembled the fans, and decorated them.

Gabe & Scratch: Deductions
Another vintage comedy bit. They laid the groundwork for Scratch as the overbearing boss and Gabe as the put-upon employee during the opening of Gabe’s song above.

Betty Blaize: 1812 Overdrive
Despite the 1812 overture not being about the War of 1812, it has become an Independence Day staple. Don’t ask me why. Betty goes all out with a gambling-themed act including a huge stack of dice that she can climb up on.
A peek behind the curtain: Betty built and decorated those dice herself. She’s also the one who assembles them — if you need to trust the security of a set piece, you need to trust those who set them up. If this sounds like a Friday Tip, it’s because it is.

Ava Fox, Devastasia, Mina Murray & Scratch: Date Night
Another classic comedy bit. We did this one in The BeauTease Holiday Special where Devastasia actually got to say her scandalous last time, since Scratch could bleep it instead of having to interrupt.

Ava Fox, Devastasia & Mina Murray: Stompin’ at the Savoy
This is one of our standard adorable trios. Now that I’m thinking about it I believe we debuted this on the Harbourlesque boat at our tenth anniversary party. We switched up the look a bit so we were in red and in white and in blue.
A peek behind the curtain: Usually I’m in the center position, but I also had a red costume, so I moved to the appropriate end. The choreography is just different enough for the three positions that I had a heck of a time adjusting at first.

And that was the show! And then we had to strike everything and load out, so there wasn’t much time for more than briefly greeting our beloved audience.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 12 Patrons. Thank you! I appreciate you all so much. To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 15 July 2021 at 11:20 am  Leave a Comment  
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News and Notes

Dear Constant Reader,

I’ve got so many exciting things to share with you! Where do I start?

I’ll start with B.A.B.E. The next session of Introduction to Burlesque starts November 1st. That’s a Sunday, for those of you who’ve been asking for weekend classes! Sign up by October 25 to get the Early Bird price for the entire class series.

I’m delighted to announce that Bebe Bardot will be teaching her acclaimed class Shake It Up: Shake Dancing in History & Practice on November 7th!

Betty Blaize’s workshop on false eyelashes went so well, she’s going to teach a new make-up class, The 1940s Face, in early December. Stay tuned for details!

Next up, some news from The Boston BeauTease! We are having a Halloween show this year. We wouldn’t miss our favorite holiday, even if everything is terrible. We were going to broadcast it live, but we decided you should be able to watch the show on your own schedule, so we’re recording our spooky striptease. The show will be available for download next week!

And lastly, me! I’m thrilled that my writing is being featured on Burlesque Galaxy! Go to the Sextra-Sextra News page to see my article on Sally Keith, Queen of the Tassels. More to come!

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 19 October 2020 at 3:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Underwear Academy 8/1

Dear Constant Reader,

This was our second on-line show and we tried a few experiments, some successful, some not.

The first was that the show was themed around a TV series. We’re all big fans of The Umbrella Academy and were so excited when the announcement for season 2 dropped. And thus The Underwear Academy was born.

One of the things we loved about the first season was the killer soundtrack. Everyone chose songs that spoke to them and created acts around them, not necessarily Umbrella Academy-themed. Just two of the acts used other music, but they were thematically related.

The second thing that was new and different was that we figured because we weren’t pretending to be on a stage, or even all in the same place, we’d have some fun with the videos and explore the options of editing. Scratch handled all the editing (and some of the filming), except for one act.

The last and hardest new thing was that some of this show was broadcast live. We used a program called StreamYard, which worked like a dream in a couple of tests, but, of course, was all kinds of problematic when it came to showtime. I think some of the issues have been figured out. I think…

And here’s how The Underwear Academy went…

One of the lessons we learned from our first on-line show was not to start on the dot of eight, like we would with a show with an in-person audience. So this show opened with a countdown timer and then another countdown, more in character. Scratch was hosting live between each act as well as running all the tech.

Opening Credits

Ava Fox: Good Morning Little School Girl (Johnny Lang)
This was the first number that didn’t use a song from the show. It had Ava in a schoolgirl outfit, completely with rhinestoned umbrella patch on her blazer and UA mask, performing in a ruined classroom (did I mention we got a green screen?).

Betty Blaize: Istanbul (Not Constantinople) (They Might Be Giants)
Our first live act! Betty performed direct from her living room!
One of her earliest stripteases was done to this song, but she’s upgraded the costume quite a bit since then. Her gorgeous outfit started its life as a wedding outfit she bought in Hyderabad, India and modified into a burlesque costume.

Devastasia: Stormy Weather (Emmy Raver-Lampman)
Despite the stormy weather, Devastasia has her usual sunny smile as she teases with a parasol (back lace, of course) amid her plants and skulls. I was really excited to see this one as Devastasia hasn’t been able to come to rehearsal and has been working with Scratch remotely. This video was edited by Dave D’anranjo.

Anita Stagename: Don’t Stop Me Now
Anita sang and accompanied herself on the keyboard in front of an appropriately apocalyptic background. I think this was the PMJ arrangement of the song.

Mina Murray: Never Tear Us Apart (Paloma Faith)
This was one of the acts that both used music from the show *and* was directly inspired by it. I loved the song, but had no idea what to do with it. Scratch, looking in my closet, suggested I dress as The Handler. I’m pleased to say it all came together after that. I did have to buy a wig, fingerless gloves, and red Pleasers, but everything else — dress, lingerie, all accessories — came from my wardrobe. I did have to modify the dress to put in pockets to hold my sunglasses and cigarette case (which I ended up stashing in my bra instead). Scratch provided the briefcase.

We shot this on three locations at The Manor so I could “time travel” between them. I may have a reputation for always looking cool and collected and I hope that came through because it was 95 degrees at 11 o’clock at night. We did minimal takes of each scene so nobody died. The last scene was a single take, so I hope it looked good!

Lady Marin Era and Penny Rain: Happy Together (Gerard Way (feat. Ray Toro))
Our apprentices in a duet! Betty Blaize created this adorable choreography with umbrellas for the two of them. Marin and Penny worked really hard on this and it’s certainly not easy performing a duet by yourself, as they did on film.

Scratch: Magic
I know it was a card trick, but at this point I was no longer watching the show.

Boobdini: Burlesque Deck commercial
Our good friend Lili VonSchtupp (aka Boobdini) has a great new project, The Burlesque Deck, available now! 26 gorgeous performers in 54 fabulous poses on playing cards! You should get one and play with yourself!

Ava Fox: Mad About You (Hooverphonic)
Ava, dressed simply in thigh-highs and a man’s shirt, shows up her sultry dance abilities and acrobatic floorwork skills. Beautiful and powerful.

There was a technical issue with this file so that it didn’t upload properly. Scratch figured ended up doing a screen share later in the show, but it was supposed to go here. I’m glad he managed to make it work because it would have been a terrible shame to leave it out.

Anita Stagename: Dancing in the Moonlight
This song showcases Anita’s beautiful voice so well. I wasn’t waiting the show at this point, so I don’t know if she had another great background.

Betty Blaize: Kill of the Night (Gin Wigmore)
I believe this song was everyone’s second choice song, but only Betty managed to pull it off. She drew upon her many years of training in both martial arts and dance to create this menacing choreography.

Mina Murray: Heroes (Pete Gabriel)
This was the other song that wasn’t actually used in the show*. It seems thematic though. As much as I love the Bowie original, the Gabriel version is so hauntingly anguished. I was so nervous, like I haven’t been in years, maybe decades, to perform this live. I think it came out okay though.

At about noon (with the show launching at 8pm), Scratch said “I think you should wear a mask”, by which he meant the current style, not a superhero mask. I dashed to my sewing room and made one, realized it wouldn’t show up well on video, and made another one. Then practiced the act while wearing it.

*It was used in Stranger Things though…

Ava Fox, Betty Blaize, Devastasia, Devora Darling, Evie Sphinx, Mina Murray, Scratch: I Think We’re Alone Now (Tiffany)
One of the great things about filming remotely is that some of our far-flung troupe members could participate! We were so happy to have Evie and D.D. performing with us again (Brigitte is out on maternity leave right now).

This act was probably the most inspired by the show, or really, the second season teaser. All of us created an act to “I Think We’re Alone Now” somewhere in our respective houses, which Scratch then intercut together. For the final section we had a unison choreography (again created by Betty) and all six of us appeared on the screen together, yet separate.

I filmed my scenes in the bathtub and it worked out that you only actually see my face once. Betty writhed on her kitchen island, Ava sauntered down creepiest hallway ever, while Devastasia was in the conservatory with a watering can. Evie was moving boxes into an empty room and D.D. looked a bit like the Creepy Doll in her rocking chair.

Closing credits with bloopers and bonus post-credit scene

This was a huge amount of work, but also a lot of fun along the way. I’m sorry that technology conspired to give our audience a less smooth broadcast than we expected. I think all the videos came out beautifully. We might present an encore performance, but that would require reshooting Scratch’s hosting bits and we’ve got some other projects on the immediate horizon that are going to take a lot of our time.

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Published in: on 5 August 2020 at 3:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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