Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

It’s Friday again and I am back in Boston after a grand time in Seattle. I’ll tell you all about it, but, given my track record, it’s going to take some time.

This tip is based on my recent travels:

To save time and money when you travel, pack your own food.

This is particularly useful when you’re going to be in a hotel and there isn’t much around, like many conventions. Rather than pay hotel prices or take the time to go far afield for meals, I pack stuff for breakfast and lunch (and then splurge on dinner). Since most hotel rooms have coffee makers, there’s hot water, so I pack instant oatmeal (Trader Joe’s makes a sea salt & cocoa oatmeal that’s a treat) and soup cups (TJ’s used to carry cups of fresh noodles that were supposed to be heated, but were also good cold). If your accommodations have a microwave, you have even more options. I also bring fresh fruit, like apples or oranges, baby carrots, protein bars, and trail mix.

Not only are you saving money (so you can buy goodies from the vendors), but you have more room in your suitcase on the trip home (in which to pack the aforementioned goodies).

M2

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 18 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 18 November 2022 at 3:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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RVA Burlesque Festival 2022

Dear Constant Reader,

At the end of March I attended the first ever RVA Burlesque Festival in Richmond, VA. I was so thrilled to be accepted — I’m hardly ever accepted to festivals, I knew four of the producers, and I’d never performed in VA before. However, the festival was originally scheduled for the end of March 2020. Needless to say, that didn’t happen. Two years later and it was finally time!

CaligulaI was performing in the Friday night showcase and flying down Friday morning. I was a little nervous as it was my first time flying in over a year and I had heard horror stories of long security lines and canceled flights. But everything went smoothly and I arrived on time. Which meant I had time to kill before I could check into my accommodations. Fortunately, I was staying a mere couple of blocks away from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and you know I can never resist a museum.

I had enough time to relax, have some lunch, and unpack before heading to the Dogtown Dance Theatre for my tech rehearsal. The venue is a real theatre — professional lighting, wings with multiple legs, backstage cross, marley floor. After so often performing in makeshift spaces, this was exciting! We also got a really nice swag bag.

QZJR3190With plenty of time before the show, I hung out in the dressing room, which was well stocked with snacks and drinks. One of my favorite parts of festivals is seeing colleagues from around the country and meeting new folks. I spent a good deal of time chatting with Lady Fingers, from New York who was set up next to me. It was great to see Ember Sky, recently moved to Boston from Seattle, and Murphy Lawless, who I met at the NOLA Burlesque Retreat.

BackstageThe venue required masks, except on-stage, so I made one to go with my costume. Because I was on second after intermission I was able to watch the first half of the show and saw the above-mentioned three performers before deciding I needed to give my feet a break before it was my turn to hit the stage.

It was a thrill to perform in front of an audience in new city. I’ve been performing this number a lot recently, so between that and the great introduction from Ego Von Hubris, I felt completely confident. The audience was terrific, lots of cheering! Unbeknownst to me, there was a photographer there from the Richmond Times-Dispatch and two pictures of me ended up in their piece.

624479d6ae707.imageHere’s one of them, by Eva Russo from Richmond.com

DSC03989This one is from Milotic D Photography, the festival photographer.

It was a late night, made later when the occupants above my room came home very loudly at 2am, but I was still up bright and early to get a fried chicken biscuit and some tea from Early Bird Biscuit Co. before heading out for the Playing with Panels class with Lottie Ellington.

It was so good to see Lottie again! The class was a lot of fun and gave me some ideas to up my panel skirt game. It was even better to spend a little time with her afterwards, catching up and hearing the  latest about Miss Toni Elling.

One of my least favorite parts of festivals is that I’m usually traveling solo and I sometimes get a little lonely. There was no central place where everyone was staying, like some festivals, so it wasn’t easy to just hang out. In 2020, before the festival was postponed I had made arrangements to share a hotel room with three other women, but I was on my own this time. So I was pleased to join Ember Sky and her traveling companions and local friends for lunch.

PoeAfter that we went our separate ways because I had a very specific sightseeing destination — The Poe Museum. He lived a long time in Richmond, so they like to claim him, but so do New York and Baltimore. And let’s not forget that he was born in Boston and did his military service at Fort Independence, just a short ways from me. It’s a neat museum, spread out through several small buildings around a lovely courtyard. They have a number of great artifacts (and some filler and reproductions). I think my favorite was the candelabra under which Poe wrote “The Bells”. I wish it had been warmer, so I could sit in the garden for a bit. I was hoping to spot the resident black cats.

In the evening I returned for the second night show. Lottie Ellington had recommended Croaker’s Spot where I sat at the bar with a book and enjoyed a crab cake sandwich that was perfection. As thrilling as it is to be on stage, it was nice to sit in the audience and enjoy the entire show. It was a great mix of styles and some really creative performances. There were several that I couldn’t wait to tell the troupe about. I was particularly delighted to see Jaqueline Boxx’s headlining act. She’ll be completing for Queen with it at BHoF, but I’m not going (as usual) so it was a treat to see it live.

I lingered long enough to say my goodbyes, and have an unexpected and excellent conversation with Ellie Quinn, before returning to my lodgings to get a few hours of sleep before heading to the airport for a 6:30am flight.

Yes, you heard that correctly. I had to be in Boston in time to teach a 12:30 Introduction to Burlesque class and that was the only flight that would work. Happily, Scratch picked me up at the airport and took me out to breakfast before returning to The Manor so I could get a couple of hours of sleep before teaching.

Another rhinestone for my travel map!
Travel map VA

The festival was fun and ran smoothly (at least from my perspective). It was also very organized. I got my share of the tips within days and photos shortly thereafter. Video arrived only a couple of weeks after the festival. The only downside, as I mentioned above, was not staying in the same place as other performers and spending a ton on carfare. However, overall, a pretty great experience.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 16 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 20 April 2022 at 5:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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BurlyCon 2019: Sunday

Dear Constant Reader,

And the last day of BurlyCon… I had to pack up my Giant Suitcase so I was ready to check out after my first class.

The Get Down: Floorwork Masterclass (Lou Lou la Duchess de Riere)
What a great class! Almost everything we did were new moves to me, which was very exciting. Also, I could do almost everything — a far cry from a floorwork class I once took that started with drop splits and I ended up sitting most of it out. The one thing I didn’t try was my nemesis, the shoulder roll. I really will try it some day… when I have a spotter… maybe.

After checking out and storing the Giant Suitcase, I couldn’t decide what class to take next, so I took a quick poll of the BeauTease by text and the majority said…

On Beat: Musicality 101 (Lou Lou la Duchess de Riere)
By now Lou Lou probably thinks I’m stalking her. Musicality is something I struggle with, so it was good for me. we looked at the different aspects of a piece of music and did some exercises. There’s one we should definitely try in rehearsal and one that will be good for me to play around with.

Choices! Creative Costuming & Leaving Them Gagging (Aria Delanoche)
This was another quandary. I’ve been impressed with Aria’s costuming since I met her at Stripper’s Holiday last year. However, the class was opposite Jo Weldon’s History of Leopard Print class. Hard choice! I finally decided I’d be more likely to be able to take Jo’s class in the future. Aria shared her Ten Commandments of Costuming and a list of questions to consider when designing your costume. I was particularly pleased by the section on color theory, something I often tend to be too conservative in my color pallette.

After closing ceremonies, I had hours to kill as my flight wasn’t until midnight. This was one of those times I felt pretty lonely traveling by myself. Most people I knew went out to or were performing in a local show, but I was too concerned about getting back in time for my flight. I ended up grabbing a seat by the fireplace in the lobby and working on my embroidery until it was time to head over to the airport. My flight ended up being delayed a bit, so I treated myself to a very decadent hot chocolate and brownie while I waited. Once again, there was no one in the middle seat on the place, so I even slept for much of the flight. I was so happy to get home to Albert and cuddle up with him for a nap.

Whilst writing this, I got my class evaluations. I’m so grateful for all the students who filled out the forms and gave me such great reviews!

As always, I learned a lot at BurlyCon and I’ll see you next 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 11 December 2019 at 3:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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BurlyCon 2019: Friday

Dear Constant Reader,

Friday was bookended by teaching. I skipped the first class session to try to sleep in (a lost cause) and work out in my room. A long stretching session was required after being scrunched up the plane the day before.

Caring for your Costumes (Mina Murray)
This is probably my most requested class. It’s 90 minutes of me expounding with advice, tips, and tricks. You know, the stuff I do here every Friday, only more so. It was in this class, many a BurlyCon ago, that I was dubbed “The Martha Stewart of Burlesque”. I was gratified that the class was so large and so enthusiastic. I should remember not to go over the stain handout, but just pass it out, so there’s more time for questions.

Teaching Burlesque: for Seasoned Burlesque Performers (Indigo Blue)
Although the class was packed with teachers, Indigo asked anyone with 4 years or less experience take a step back from participating. We did some role play for dealing with difficult students and discussed best practices in the classroom (very valuable!). We broke up into groups to discuss the two most popular issues — curriculum and marketing. I was in the curriculum group (facilitated by the unflappable Legs Malone) and realized my definitions of beginning, intermediate, and advanced classes are quite different from many of the other teachers. I’m still mulling over my take-away from this class.

Adding Magic Effects to Your Performance (Professor DR Schreiber)
My plan was to go to The Art of Sex and Seduction with Egypt Blaque Knyle, but the room was already jam-packed, with more people pouring in. No great shock given the subject and the instructor, but I was feeling rather claustrophobic and bowed out.

I ducked into the class on magic, another favorite subject of mine, and since I have an act that uses slight of hand, I can always use some pointers. Of course I can’t tell you anything about the class, because, you know, secrets are the foundation of magic.

Achieving Closure (Mina Murray)
My second time teaching. This class was much smaller, but still enthusiastic. It was opposite Jo Weldon’s Hairography class and I don’t blame people for wanting to go there instead — I would have as well if I wasn’t teaching. I had a few thoughts on how to improve my little busy book of closures for next time.

Then I met up with Scandal from Bohemia and Scarlett Letter for a “literary names of burlesque” photo. I do wish we could have tracked down Agatha Tristy to join us.

Jewlesquers Celebrate Shabbat (a meet-up)
I don’t really consider myself a Jewlesquer — I don’t have a Hanukkah act or anything like that — but it was nice to meet some new people and talk about some things only other members of the tribe really understand. I came in late and missed the candle lighting, but I was in time for blessing and sharing the challah.

Needing a little downtime, I had take-out and tea in my room and once again missed the class photo. This is pretty much an annual tradition by now.

Although I really just wanted to go to bed, I threw on a leopard print dress, didn’t do my hair or makeup and went to the dance. It’s really easy for me to just want to hole up in my hotel room with a book, but BurlyCon is such a great opportunity to see and meet people and I promised Scratch I would do so. Despite feeling shy and tired, I set out. Before attending the dance proper, I visited Melissa Flynn’s amazing vintage pop-up shop. There were many beautiful items I resisted buying, but it was hard.

I also grabbed my copy of Fierce and hoped I’d run into Jo Weldon. I did and she (wearing a fabulous leopard-rhinestoned corset) signed 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. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 26 November 2019 at 11:52 am  Leave a Comment  
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BurlyCon 2019: Thursday

Dear Constant Reader,

Earlier this month I made my almost annual pilgrimage to Seattle for BurlyCon. Only “almost annual” because I missed the last two years. Last year, you might recall I caught a nasty cough that prevented me from traveling and the year before that we were hired to perform at RuffleCon. After two years off, I was glad to finally return.

I had to get up stupid early to get to the airport. I’m still not sure what was going on when my Lyft driver was about to plunge into some dire looking traffic when I gently pointed out that he wanted the exit on the left. He seemed puzzled that I wanted to go to the airport. That bit of excitement aside, it was a perfectly dull trip, just as I like it. There was even no one in the middle seat, so I could get some sleep.

Once arrived and checked in, I got settled and went to classes. I skipped the first two class sessions, so it was a short day.

Cowgirl Up! (Dixie DeLish)
I was really excited for this class because it was a whole new skill — trick roping. We learned all about the different parts of the rope and how to handle it. Then it was time to try it ourselves. We started with spinning a flat circle. I was terrible! I was starting to get a bit frustrated and sure I was never going to get it.

Eventually we switched ropes around and starting using one of a different length. I finally did it! I could hear my old archery mentor saying “This is an equipment driven sport”. But that’s only part of it — rotating your wrist while twisting the rope in your fingers is quite tricky. I think it’s a little like hooping — once your body learns the motion I bet it becomes second nature.

We also learned the catch. Not as challenging, but I wasn’t willing to try to catch another person. I’m definitely glad I took the class, even if I never pick up a rope again. It’s always good to challenge yourself.

Cooler on the Internet: Sparkle on Social Media (Siomai Moore)
I’m a fan of Siomai (rhymes with “Oh my!”)’s podcast, The Pastie Tapes (illustration is the pin she gave me for saying so) and my social medial game is poor, so this seemed like an ideal class. I think I walked out with more questions than when the class started, because I didn’t know I needed to ask them. I’m planning to do my own social media audit, once I get Siomai’s materials. She announced at the beginning of class that she’ll send out her presentation as an ebook, so I didn’t frantically have to take notes, but could just listen.

Then I ducked out on the evening’s social event, a circus-themed meet and greet, to have dinner with my sister. As a bonus, she took me to her local supermarket so I could get some genuine Washington apples for snacks. The Seattle light rail is pretty terrific and makes it easy to get out of the hotel and see people.

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 18 November 2019 at 3:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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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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