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
INTERMISSION
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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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! I try to make your tips positive rather than negative, that is “dos” instead of “don’ts”. This one, I just couldn’t figure out how to do it…

Never fly Spirit Airlines.

Mercifully, I’m not speaking from personal experience, but I’ve had a remarkable number of friends and loved ones swear off the airline. I know they’re often the cheapest option, but it’s not worth it if you’re constantly inconvenienced.

The complaints I’ve heard ranged from minor — the price wasn’t *that* low once you paid for all the necessary “extras” or the the seats are really uncomfortable — to major ones like seats resold, reservations vanishing, canceled flights with no rebooking for days, &c. And throughout it all the constant thread of poor or non-existent customer service.

When I flew to Atlanta last month (yes, there’s a missive on that trip in the works), I noticed that all the delayed or cancelled flights on the departures board were Spirit. And there were a lot of them. No other carrier had canceled a flight at that time.

So, to put a positive spin on this tip, what should you do instead?

I’m not going to recommend a specific airline, but you should pick one that works well for you, like it flies non-stop to places you often go or has perks you need (like a free checked bag). Fly it whenever you travel and watch your miles add up! If you can maximize your miles (without paying more), do so. I used to have my hotel loyalty program linked to my airline miles, so when I bought an plane ticket I got hotel points and vice versa. (I was so sad when they discontinued that!). Sometimes it’s worth it not to go for the absolute cheapest option to be sure you’ll get to your destination as planned or that someone can help you out when plans go awry.

No airline is perfect, but you can find one that’s better than Spirit!

M2Like this tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Better Burlesque.

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 26 April 2019 at 2:37 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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Los Angeles: Tuesday 1/22/19

Dear Constant Reader,

Our last day! You can read about the previous three here, here, and here.

Again Scratch cooked breakfast for the three of us — a delicious vegetable sauté with a lot of spinach — and again, we ate outdoors in the sunshine. I could really get used to that.

Scratch and I set out for one of our favorite places in Los Angeles, the garment district, and met up with the lovely and talented Sheila Starr Siani. I am so happy the we managed to see so many friends on this short trip. I am also pleased at our restraint. We each had proprieties — I needed gloves for B.A.B.E., Sheila wanted rhinestones, and Scratch was hunting for a name necklace for Ava, our newest troupe member — and we all found what we wanted and didn’t even buy too much else. Although I was sorely tempted. I am so jealous of the local performers and the resources for costumes they have available.

After a bite with Sheila, we returned to Kitten’s house to pack for the trip home. I was sorry to be leaving the warmth of the weather and our friends, but I was also missing Mr. Albert pretty badly. Kitten’s kittens are adorable, but more interested in racing around and chasing one another than snuggling and purring.

As a farewell and thank you, we took Kitten out to The Musso and Frank Grill, an old Hollywood classic. We love the timeless, dingy charm and it turned out to be one of Kitten’s favorites too. She used to go there all the time with Russ Meyer. The food is old-school, since the menu hasn’t changed in decades: steaks, lobster thermidor, chicken a la king, &c. I’m told the martinis are excellent and I can personally vouch for the sand dabs (it’s a Pacific flat fish, like sole). But you’re really going there for the history and the feeling of being in another era. I was excited to realize we were there during the centennial year.

After a Caesar salad, I had the fettuccine Alfredo. The story is that Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks had the original dish in Rome and cajoled, begged, and bribed Alfredo into sharing the recipe, which they brought to Musso and Frank. It really was sublime. I usually never order it because most place serve it with a gloppy cream sauce. I’m very picky about my pastas! (just ask me about how carbonara should be made). This was silky, cheesy, and rich without being cloying. I barely made a dent in the huge plate, so Kitten took the rest home. I’m glad all that deliciousness didn’t go to waste.

Then it was time to say our goodbyes and head to LAX for the red-eye back to Boston. Our flight was on-time, but we heard the morning flight, which I had considered taking, had been delayed for six hours. I’m glad Scratch convinced me to take the evening flight — more time in L.A. and no waiting to go home.

I always book an aisle and a window seat for us, hoping that no one wanted the middle seat. If someone did, I end up taking the hit and offering them the window. As the plane filled up, we kept an anxious eye on the empty seat between us. Could it be… a travel miracle? The only vacant seat on the plane was between us! I happily lay down and went to sleep until we arrived in Boston.

And that, dear Reader, is the end of my trip to Los Angeles, but not the end of my story. I still need to tell you all about Burlesque Bingo, the whole reason I was 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.

Published in: on 28 March 2019 at 3:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Los Angeles: Monday 1/21/19

Dear Constant Reader,

Here’s my third day in L.A.. You can read about Saturday and Sunday as well. You didn’t miss the part about the show — that comes last.

As would become our pattern for the trip, Scratch took over Kitten’s kitchen to make breakfast. Since I had Cuban food leftover from the day before, he made eggs for himself and Kitten. In case you haven’t been reading for very long, I hate eggs. In general I don’t like a lot of traditional breakfast foods. Diners that advertise breakfast all day are not a draw for me. I’d much rather have dinner food for breakfast than breakfast food for dinner. I know, I’m weird.

Then we set out to the Los Angeles Zoo to meet up with one of Scratch’s long-time friends. I didn’t even know Los Angeles had a zoo! I mean, I knew about San Diego — everyone has heard of that zoo. I’m so glad we went. It was a terrific zoo and so big! Sometimes I’m surprise at how much wilderness there is in a city like L.A.

Our native guide took us through the best parts of the zoo. We saw animals I didn’t even know existed. I was rather taken with this antediluvian-looking critter, a tomistoma (it’s between the rope and the wire, blending in with its surroundings)
There were lots more wonderful animals, including our household favorite, gorillas. I regret I didn’t ride the carousel, but I was pretty tired at the time. There had been a LOT of walking.

Despite the slight chill, it was a lovely sunny day. Which reminds me, the weather was terrible in Boston while we were gone. There was a snowstorm predicted for Saturday night, which was supposed to be bad. Betty Blaize bunked down at The Manor to make sure the weather wouldn’t prevent her from giving Albert his medicine in the morning. She’s a big damn hero.

Later in the evening we met up with my dear friend Professor A. You know those people with whom you just fall right into conversation, even though it’s been ages since you saw each other? She’s one of those. We were having such a good time catching up over a late dinner, that we didn’t want to stop, even though the restaurant was closing up around us. We retired to her charming apartment for tea and sweets she had hand-carried back from her vacation in Lebanon. Eventually it got very late and we reluctantly took our leave. I hope we’re in the same city again soon! I got lucky last year and not only got to visit her after Stripper’s Holiday, but we were also both in New Orleans the previous month.

Kitten had worried that the guest room was going to be cold and mentioned that she wanted to get a space heater. As long as Scratch and I were out, we picked one up for her. It was the least we could do for our generous and lovely hostess. And it made the room very cozy.

One more day!

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 28 March 2019 at 3:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Los Angeles: Sunday 1/20/19

Dear Constant Reader,

Here is my second day in Los Angeles. You can read about the first one here.

As I mentioned previously, we were staying with Kitten Natividad and her guest room is a treasure trove. The walls are covered with posters and photographs from her career. She has tons of her movies — on VHS, DVD, and even film. Scratch thought she was just teasing us, since there was no way to watch them. There’s even a doll wearing a replica of one of her signature burlesque costumes. And other wondrous memorabilia, like this memento of Liz Renay. I saw her only once, but she sure left an impression.

I started my day by running my number. I reminded myself that the ceiling in the guest room was low, especially with the heels I was wearing. The music started, I forgot everything else, and WHAM! slammed my hand right into the ceiling. Chipped a couple of nails. I’m such a graceful showgirl.

After figurative licking my paws as though I meant to do that, I joined Scratch and Kitten for breakfast. Scratch took over the kitchen (as he would every morning) and made simple bowls of fresh berries and cream, which we enjoyed in the sunshine of the courtyard, watching Kitten’s kittens play. As Albert was a dignified adult cat when we found him, I forgot kittens don’t really bother with gravity. Here they are trying to scale the pergola. One would get part of the way up and the other would jump up and knock him down. Endless entertainment!

I suggested a stroll through Hollywood Forever Cemetery, which was nearby. But first we went to Larchmont Village to wander their farmer’s market. One of the things I love most about Los Angeles is the amazing produce. I just want to take it all home, but settled for sampling some oranges. Fabulous!

We drove over to Hollywood Forever, but didn’t pick up a map and thus had no idea where we were going. We decided to park over by the lake and that turned out to be the right choice. Right away I saw the very monument I’d been hoping to find! Scratch and I paid our respects to Johnny Ramone. Growing up in NYC, Scratch was fortunate to see the Ramones perform many times. As I had a more sheltered upbringing, this was as close as I ever got to the punk icons.

Wandering about the lake we found graves of many notable industry people — movie stars, directors, and starlets — but one touched me more than the others. This simple marker is a memorial to one of the greatest costume designers of Golden Age Hollywood and a personal inspiration.

On the way out we saw some of the feral cats that have made the cemetery their home. I was taken with this charmer, sunning itself on a headstone. There were a fair number of animals on the grounds — turtles and ducks on the lake, few peacocks wandering around.

Then we went back to the house so I could head over to the Fit & Bendy Studio. I was so excited when Scratch mentioned that Michelle L’amour was teaching a workshop while we were going to be in L.A. It’s called Sex Drive, and that sounded like just the thing I needed right before the big show, so I signed up right away. I quickly checked my email just before I ran out the door (so nice to be mostly unconnected all day) and saw the class was canceled. Michelle was injured and could barely walk. Obviously I was terribly disappointed, but also concerned for her. Injuries are no joke when you make your living being physical.

So instead of working on my sex drive, I joined Scratch and Kitten for a late lunch at a local Cuban restaurant.

I think I may have taken a nap, but soon it was time to head for Long Beach and Burlesque Bingo! I know you all want to heard about the show, but I’m going to make you wait. I’m going to devote an entire missive to the show, but it’s going to come last. Consider it a tease.

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 20 March 2019 at 3:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Los Angeles: Saturday 1/19/19

Dear Constant Reader,

At last, here it is, my trip to LA to perform with The House of Knyle!

We had a stupid early flight and Betty Blaize went above and beyond the call of friendship by driving us to the airport at 4 in the morning. I have never seen the line for security as long as it was that morning — and I had flown out of the same terminal just a week before. I don’t think it was the government shutdown (yes, this was then), because things were moving along, just SO MANY PEOPLE. It was making me rather anxious. I’m not nervous about flying, but about about missing my flight. I never really relax until I’m through security and at my gate.

Once arrived in sunny (but coolish) California, we headed to my favorite breakfast place, Du-Par’s. I just love their pancakes. As Scratch took the obligatory we’ve-arrived photo, I realized that we always sit at the same table. I am nothing if not a creature of habit. Sitting outside in January was treat, especially knowing a major snowstorm was heading for Boston.

After strolling the Farmers Market and picking up a goodie or two, we were looking for something else to do. I turned to Atlas Obscura and we decided The Museum of Jurassic Technology sounded interesting.

“Interesting” is an understatement. Behind a rather plain facade in Culver City is a wonder. No photos are allowed, so you’ll have to make do with my poor words. The space is mostly very dim, which immediately puts you in a liminal space, surrounded by curious and obscure objects. It’s not so much the items on exhibit are the works of art, but the exhibits themselves are the art. The topics are eclectic, like Ricky Jay’s decaying dice, the history of Russian space dogs, and micro-mosaics. The exhibit design is exquisite and takes advantage of various technologies to enhance the experience. I don’t want to go into details because it might spoil things. Just go. It’s weird and clever and very creative.

By then we were completely overwhelmed and tried to find our way to the tea room, only to discover there was even more museum! It’s much bigger on the inside. Weary from wonder, we stepped into the Russian-style tea room for a restorative glass of tea and cookies. We took our treats out to the wee courtyard garden — almost like a miniature of the Gardener’s — and relaxed while gazing at the doves. As a Classicist and a Deathling both, I was tickled that they had a columbarium, in both senses of the word.

At last we headed for our accommodations. The lovely and generous Kitten Natividad put us up in her charming guest suite overlooking a secluded courtyard, right in Hollywood. I’m so spoiled now — I don’t think I could stay in a hotel. It had been a long day, so I laid down for a nap. We had been thinking about going to a burlesque show that night, but when evening fell, I could not get out of bed and just went back to sleep. I’m so exciting on a Saturday night.

I had mixed feelings about my travel plans. It was a delight to stay with Kitten and spend time with a Legend and Scratch is my favorite traveling companion. However, all my House of Knyle sisters were staying with Egypt. I knew my choices meant I was going to miss out on all that bonding time. On the other hand, given that I was unconscious the entire evening, it might have been for the best that I wasn’t there. : )

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.

Published in: on 13 March 2019 at 2:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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My Travel Map

Dear Constant Reader,

I love to travel and I especially love to perform when I travel. I’ve been fortunate to see some great parts of North America, some of which I probably wouldn’t have gone to without the performance opportunity.

When I got back from Winnipeg last year, I finally implemented an idea I’d had for a long time — a map for recording my travels and the places I’ve performed.

I wanted one of those scratch-off maps, where you reveal the state you’ve visited. That proved to be more of a challenge that I expected. I wanted one with all of North America, but I could only find either just the US or the entire world and many weren’t detailed enough. I wanted to see cities, not just the shape of the state filled in with pretty colors. I finally found one that satisfied most of my criteria (although it only has the lower part of Canada). And it amuses me that it’s labeled “Scratch USA”.

I’ve revealed all the states and provinces I’ve visited (only being in an airport doesn’t count). These are the colored states; everything in gold is still untrod by my foot. I’ve been to 22 states (and 4 provinces). There’s a whole lot of the country I’ve never seen!

Then, for extra fun, I glued ss12 AB rhinestones over the places I’ve performed burlesque in. Most of the cities were marked on the map, but some required a little consultation with other maps, like Sellinsgrove, PA. Most of the venues in eastern MA all fall under the “Boston” rhinestone, because they’re so close together on the map. I’ve performed in 14 states (and 3 provinces). Here’s the most densely concentrated area of rhinestones:

I really want to add rhinestones to Florida, Illinois, and Washington. Maybe this will be the year!

Here’s my most recent addition — Long Beach, CA, Home of Burlesque Bingo! I promise I will tell you all about it soon.

I’m looking forward to scratching off more states this year. First up is Georgia! I’m so delighted to be performing in Atlanta at
Evolution (The Journey Of Burlesque), presented by my House of Knyle sister, Coco Rosé on Sunday, March 31! I’m not in Atlanta for very long, but let me know if there are any must-see sights or must-eat restaurants and I’ll try to squeeze them in.

Up next, I’ll finally write about my trip to Los Angeles!

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! A big welcome to my newest Patron! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 6 March 2019 at 3:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Los Angeles: The Prologue

Dear Constant Reader,

I was in Los Angeles recently and there’s quite a bit of back story as to how I got there.

In the fall I applied to be part of a mentorship program with Egypt Blaque Knyle. Now, you may saying, “Mina, why do you need someone to mentor you? You’ve been doing burlesque for over a dozen years. You teach and you’ve even coached students through the creation of routines. Shouldn’t you be the one doing the mentoring?” While this is all true, I also want to improve my skills. This is why I take classes with other people whenever I can. It’s why I go to BurlyCon and The Expo almost every year and why I attended the New Orleans Burlesque Retreat and Stripper’s Holiday last year.

Egypt is a very different type of performer that I am. I wrote in my application essay that she is “almost the polar opposite of me – uninhibited where I am reserved, exuberant where I am stately”. I thought I could learn a lot from her. Dear Reader, just writing, let alone submitting, that application made me feel incredible vulnerable. And that’s not a side of myself I tend to show the world. Just writing the essay was a learning experience about myself.

In the end there were ten highly-motivated women with various levels of experience, scattered around the country, chosen to work with Egypt. We had to read books, research Legends, write essays, and create or polish a routine. I chose to create a new routine, about which I will write in depth. I’ll also share some of the essays I wrote. Our graduation was performing at Audrey Deluxe’s Burlesque Bingo in Long Beach, CA. Although it was not mandatory, everyone made it! I’ll tell you all about it later as well.

I’m not sure, timing-wise, it was the best choice for me to take this on. The mentorship began in later September. In October I was frantically trying to get Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Burlesque Costuming ready for the printer. In November I was sick for most of the month. I think I ended up having about six weeks to get my brand-new act from zero to show time. But I did it!

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.

Published in: on 30 January 2019 at 3:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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