Performing Live(ish)

Dear Constant Reader,

It’s been too long since I last performed before a live audience (Taste o’ Burlesque, March 8) and even longer since I performed at The Speakeasy Lab at Deacon Giles (Valentine’s Day).

Well, we’re back! Kinda. This Friday at 8pm Eastern join us for Live-ish From Deacon Giles (sort of)!. We’re not actually at Deacon Giles, of course and we’re not performing live, but we will be live on the chat. We miss our fans and are eager to hear from you!

You’ll see some performances recorded at Deacon Giles, from back when we could still do that, and some brand-new acts filmed in our homes! We even have some special guests. The show is free, but we’re taking donations.

Want to feel like you’re really there? Order some booze from Deacon Giles — they’re delivering to the North Shore and greater Boston — and have a cocktail of three with us!

I’m looking forward to seeing you (virtually) Friday night!

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 27 May 2020 at 12:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

Bad Girls Need Love Too 2/14/20

Dear Constant Reader,

This Friday was our Valentine’s Day show at the Speakeasy Lab at Deacon Giles Distillery in Salem. We’ve been performing there for three years at this point and at this point we’ve got a system to our set up. Want to know what happens before a show? Well, I’m going to tell you any way.

We drive into the distillery itself to unload our gear. I cannot emphasize how convenient this is. No schlepping from distant parking lots or making multiple trips or hauling stuff up stairs. After unloading, we need to set up both the backstage (in the distillery) and the theatre (the tasting room). Everybody helps out.

The guys at Deacon Giles are good enough to build us a stage. It’s two pallets stacked with a piece of plywood on top. It’s very sturdy, great for tap dancing on, but only 4′ x 8′. We’re used to working with those size constraints now — we used to have a space the same size taped off on our dance floor for rehearsals. We’re not stuck up there, however, we can go down on the floor or into the audience if we want.

We also set up some striplights behind the stage and a follow spot up near the door at the highest point in the room. The spotlight operator also runs the video camera. Sometimes we even get decent footage. We also set up the music and microphone for Scratch. Fortunately, there’s a house system we can use and don’t have to bring our own.

We set up our merch on and near the drink rail over by the stage and then set out tip envelopes throughout the audience. They have a slip of paper and a wee pencil inside, so the audience can leave us little notes if they like.

Backstage there’s already a table and some chairs for us, which becomes the makeup/snack station (Devastasia always brings snacks). We set up a clothing rack and hang up our costumes. Any set pieces (like our boudoir bench) get assembled and props set out. The glass door between the backstage and theatre is propped open and we put up a curtain rod and two curtains in the door way. We discovered early on that if the door is shut, you can’t hear anything backstage and it’s heavy to open — hard if you’re carrying something, like fans. We cover the glass walls with our banners. There are convenient hooks already in place and we just use some binder clips at the top of each banner.

Then Scratch has pizza delivered and we do hair and makeup in between warming up our numbers on the stage up until doors open — 30 minutes before the show starts.

We’ll do two shows because we can only seat 35 people. We get an hour break between the shows as people from the first show finish their drinks and close out their tabs and then the second audience is let in. We use that time to reset costumes, re-tape pasties, fix makeup, etc.

During the second show we’re also breaking down set pieces, packing costumes, &c. as they are no longer needed and generally getting as ready to load out as possible, so we don’t have to do it all at the end when everyone just wants to have a drink and relax before heading home.

Well, that was a lot about the behind-the-senes of a show. Here’s a short list of the acts, just for posterity:
Betty Blaize: Betty, It’s Cold Outside
Devastasia: “All For You”
Ava Fox: “Feelin’ Good” (a tap dance)
Mina Murray: “I’m in the Mood for Love” (a fan dance)
Scratch: Magic
Betty Blaize: “Sweet Child o’ Mine”
Devastasia: “Sunday Kind of Love”
Ava Fox: “The Man I Love”
Mina Murray: Whole Lotta Mina

One thing we tried for this show was that every ticket got a cocktail from the special Valentine’s menu. I don’t know how the other drinks were but I had the FWB mocktail (pineapple, hibiscus, lime, and maraschino) and it was amazing. I should have taken a picture of its beautiful purple foam.

Our next show is Taste o’ Burlesque on March 8th! I don’t know if I’ll be performing or not yet, but it’s going to be a great show no matter what. See you there!

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 17 February 2020 at 11:15 am  Leave a Comment  

Taste o’ Burlesque 1/26/20

Dear Constant Reader,

Back, back in the dim and distant past of 2006, Scratch created a show called Taste o’ Burlesque. It was an “open stage” (like an open mic, but for burlesque) where burlesque performers of any experience level could hit the stage. It was also a light-hearted competition with the audience voting for their favorite, who got a gold plastic trophy in the shape of a chef.

It was fun, it was often silly, it gave some new performers an opportunity to try this burlesque thing out. I remember one performer (never seen again after that night) showing up with an entire squad of fans in T-shirts emblazoned with her name. Another time a CD failed part way through the song and the audience began singing for the performers.

Scratch decided to revive the idea. I admit I was dubious. There are a lot more outlets for burlesque now than there were back then. I should not have worried. A bunch of diverse and talented performers signed up and the venue was packed with enthusiastic audience members, including a lot of B.A.B.E. students.

The BeauTease book-ended the competition to warm up the audience and then give the ballot counter time to tabulate the votes.

The show went a little like this… In some cases, there’s even video, so you don’t have to read my deathless prose to get an idea of the act, you can just watch it!

Betty Blaize opened the show with her down and dirty striptease to PMJ’s “Sweet Child o’ Mine” — always a crowd pleaser.

Ava Fox got everyone “In the Mood” with a sassy tap-strip

Our sweet Electrix opened the competition as the newest member of NH-based Lady Luck (She still loves us but the commute to and from Boston was just too much). She showed off her adorably naughty side and that it’s not just her smile that can light up a room!

Reno Banzai is a new performer to me. Unfortunately I missed most of this act, trying to find a good vantage point. It was very high energy and involved some killer lip synching.

Ingride Denise is a former BeauTease apprentice, turned independent performer. She’s got a lovely classic style.

Penny Rain is a current BeauTease apprentice and this was her burlesque debut! Usually we like to let the apprentices start with an appearance in a group number that we’ve created, but she jumped right in the deep end with her very own act.

Charlie was also making her burlesque debut! She’s a seasoned performer, but this was her first time stripping.

Jeannie Martini is a regular on the local burlesque scene. She’s well known for her comedic burlesque, but she showed she can sizzle with the best of them!

Jewess Prudence is also a current apprentice and this was also her first time stripping on stage, and with an act of her own creation.

The Guilted Lilly is famed for her skills as a stage kitten, but she’s also a very talented singer (and writer of new lyrics).

At this point the ballots were gathered up to be counted by our expert, and the audience got a little entertainment while they waited.

Devastasia performed a sultry chair dance to “Sunday Kind of Love”. You can see her do it again on Valentine’s Day at Deacon Giles.

I closed out the show with an unusual number for me. It’s to my favorite David Bowie song, “Life on Mars?” and this was only the third time I’ve performed it. I created it for Peepshow Menagerie’s annual Bowie tribute show. It was shortly after his death and also on my birthday — I have a lot of emotions tangled up in the act. I hope I did it justice.

The votes were counted and all the competitors were called onto stage to receive their rewards. Third place went to Jewess Prudence! Second place to Charlie! And to no one’s surprise, first place and the coveted Golden Chef to The Guilted Lilly!

The venue was so happy with the show and the turn-out that we’re doing it again! The next Taste o’ Burlesque will be Sunday, March 8th at Thunder Road in Somerville. Sign up to perform here and buy tickets here.

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 13 February 2020 at 6:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Burlesque Macabre 10/25/19

Dear Constant Reader,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And we bid our creepy cabaret adieu for another year!

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

Published in: on 29 October 2019 at 12:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Batwoman Burlesque 10/6

Dear Constant Reader,

Sunday night was the debut of the Batwoman TV show and we had a little premiere party. It’s was kind of a last minute thing and we’re grateful to Tavern 730 for letting us use their back room.

The BeauTease are not known for performing as comic book characters and the like (often called nerdlesque), but we’re all big fans. It was a lot of fun to adapt some of our acts to work for a Bat-themed burlesque show.

Betty Blaize opened the show with Betty, It’s Cold Outside, but instead of her usual partner, Dino Martini, she danced with Mr. Freeze. (Puppetry creation by Scratch)

Then I performed my rose-petal act as Poison Ivy. The biggest difference being that I changed my usual cut-velvet jacket for a white coat wreathed in ivy.

Ava created a new act for the occasion — Cat Woman. You can see this one at It Came From Beneath the Tease on Saturday at Thunder Road.

We closed out our little show with Bat Woman, of course. Actually Devastasia in her secret identity.

And then we celebrated the birthdays of two of our audience and Ava Fox with some cake! Shows that end with cake are the best!

I realize it’s been a while since I shared any of the glamorous details of burlesque life. Once we got to the venue, Betty realized she was missing her pasties. I was planning to wear gold rhinestoned ones for my act, which were very similar to the ones Betty usually wears, although sans tassels. I loaned them to Betty.

What did I do? If you’ve seen “La Vie en Rose”, you’ll recall that I pluck off rose petals that are stuck to my boobs. Well, I just glued on extra petals as pasties and just had to remember which one could come off and which ones had to stay on! I doubt anyone knew there was anything amiss.

You can see us next at It Came From Beneath the Tease on Saturday for a fun halloween/monster movie themed show. Friday the 25th we’ll be at Deacon Giles in Salem for a darker, creepier Halloween 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. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 7 October 2019 at 3:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

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