Aug 31, 2015

Holiday Striptease Advent Calendar - Getting Ready!

It may be another steamy, humid 90+ week here in NYC, but I'm already thinking ahead to cool, frosty, beautiful winter and started to prepare for my holiday burlesque striptease calendar! It is one of my favorite personal content driven projects to work on and I only release it on my Instagram account. It starts on December 1 to 25. If you missed last winter's calendar, you'll have to scrub through my IG feed to find all 25 mini striptease clips.

This past weekend I shot with Mike Webb Photography again to create the film clips for the calendar. We found a really great hotel deal in awful Times Square, but it is one of my favorite neo-gothic boutique hotels in town that won't break the bank. Everything in the hotel is monochromatic, there is NO color used at all. We shot film and more stills to add to my "Hotel Series" on my website. We were able to get 3 great shots in addition to all 25+ mini clips for the calendar, but the struggle is real, ya'll! Of course halfway through I got tired and just wanted to order champagne and snacks to the room. I swear I was one of those Southern, overweight, filthy rich ladies of the yore who lounged around on a chaise bed eating bonbons all day in a past life. The only way I powered through was promising myself a bowl of decadent pasta (my forbidden food!) after the shoot. And reward I did! I even went to Olive Garden nearby for this awful "treat". Should have gone to Frankie's though because the food sucks at OG. You can taste the over saltiness and low grade ingredients...

I've got many hours of photo processing and film editing ahead, and it's the perfect week to work on this since its really too hot to be out and about anyway. I can't wait to share all the final products! The advent calendar will release on December 1, 2015 but the stills will come out a bit sooner. Here's a little teaser for you!



Here is a clip from 2014!

Aug 23, 2015

5th Anniversary Show with Black Diamond Burlesque, Sarasota Florida

Performing at the historic Asolo Theater with Black Diamond Burlesque 5th Anniversary show, Sarasota, Fl. Photo by John Jones.
Last weekend I flew down to Sarasota, Fl to perform with the Black Diamond Burlesque troupe’s 5th anniversary show at the historic Asolo Theater. I’ve been aware of BDB for a few years when I first met Miss Petite Coquette at the New Orleans Burlesque Festival in 2011. We hit it off right away and since then she has come up to perform in NYC with Laura Daniel Gale, producer/owner/co-founder of the Black Diamond Burlesque. When they invited me to come down and be their guest performer this year naturally I jumped at the chance. I love traveling (more than anything else as long as Chewie is with me!) and performing second, and truthfully, its the only way I can spread the “Asian Sexsation” gospel, Amen! In many cities I tour in, I am often the only Asian person on stage and I would go for days without seeing another Asian face. It’s not an “issue” or anything, just an observation. But I just think it makes me as a performer even more impactful being an Asian burlesque performer for many eyes who have never seen one before. I also enjoy getting to know other cities' burlesque scene and the community, always interesting to experience what works in other cities and what different audiences like to see.

When I landed in Sarasota’s airport, small and charming, a nice respite from the insanity of La Guardia/JFK airports, I was greeted by Laura, Petite, and Vixen! I was floored to be met at the airport this way – such a great start after the 7am flight!
L to R: Laura, Petite, Vixen (our MC of the evening)
We hit the ground running after a very delicious brunch. First it was the radio interview with WSLR. I was impressed that the DJ did his research and asked me about the music video I was in with Moby's metal glam band Diamondsnake, my shade of lipstick with RED Burlesque, and Huffington Post. Laura has been on WSLR many times before being such an entrepreneur and business woman in Sarasota, everyone knows her.
At WSLR with Laura
I really like what Petite and Laura are doing for burlesque in Sarasota. They are representing the art form honorably and legitimately in a town that is still relatively conservative. Even though Sarasota has an extremely supportive artist community with the rich history of circus luminary John Ringling, the impressive Ringling Museum and the prestigious Ringling College of Art and Design, there are still obstacles the troupe have to overcome being the only group to educate the masses what "burlesque" is.

After the radio interview it was time for my beginner burlesque fan dance workshop in a posh downtown yoga studio that Laura organized. I was thrilled that so many people attended, half were first timers and half were members of BDB troupe, and a couple of girls from the Tampa scene even attended. I love teaching this class so much. Every one brought their own special flare to fan dancing and it was such a great way to meet everyone in BDB and play with them in a workshop atmosphere.
Big thanks to Cindy at Fancy Feather for sponsoring all my fan dance classes and loaning me extra fans for students to use!
Great job ladies and Johnny! So much fun with you!
The next day was the big show date! The historic Asolo theater has an amazing history:
The theater was originally designed and built in 1798 in honor of Queen Caterina Cornaro, the widow of the King of Cyprus, who ruled over Asolo, a small town near Venice, from 1489 until her death in 1510.
Reconstructed in 1857, the theater – U-shaped with three tiers of boxes, with an architectural plan and scale of construction common in 18th century court theaters – remained in its original setting in the castle until 1930, when it was dismantled and removed, its ornamental panels and decorative elements kept in storage for the next two decades. In its place, a movie theater was built and named for the great star of the age, actress Eleonora Duse, who first performed there in 1885, retired to the town and was later buried there.
This historic theater was the one we performed in on Saturday night, the interior transported from Italy to Sarasota. It was a magnificent space. I've been so spoiled from my touring in other cities with real theaters, luxurious stages, multiple green rooms, union lighting crew...it has made coming back to NYC a little lackluster. As Tigger once said to me, "Make your name in New York, and make your money else where."
One of the VIP balcony booths
With Miss Petite Coquette backstage between sets
Photo by John Jones
The Saturday show was a phenomenal success! BDB sold out the theater and it was an incredible high to perform for such an enthusiastic crowd. That is one thing I have noticed in my travels - in other cities people treat burlesque shows as a theater event. They get dressed up, they treat it like a big night out, and they are willing to pay $30+ for a ticket. Whereas in NYC...no one would dream of paying more than $30 to see a burlesque show! And its NOT because there are free shows competing for other people's attention, its just because here, no one thinks of burlesque as "theater". Theater in NYC is strictly broadway-related. Burlesque is like the bastard weird child that is half nightlife, half theater, but neither completely. Time Out NY even gave Burlesque its own section away from Theater, Comedy, Nightlife, but even that was short-lived as the editors have decided to kill the Burlesque section completely a few months ago. In NYC, we also don't have incredible, affordable, non-black box theater spaces to work with. The ones that exist ask for minimum rental fees that start in the thousands. The only proper theater space that is burlesque-appropriate is The Slipper Room.
Opening group number. Photo by John Jones.
Curtain call. Photo by John Jones.
One of my favorite post show photos at the party at Selvo in downtown. L to R: Matthew Holler, amazing photographer based in Sarasota and NYC; Spikey van Dikey, an incredible drag king performer and also a total babe and fantastic cook; Miss Petite Coquette co-founder and star performer of Black Diamond Burlesque. Photo by John Jones.
With Candy Muldane, member of BDB. At Gator Club upstairs. It is the oldest building in Sarasota and was once a brothel. Photo by John Jones.
The next morning, by sheer will power and not willing to break appointments, I squeezed in a Sunday morning photo shoot with House of The Broken Dragon and Little Skull Photography to model some of their custom, handmade kimonos. It was a sheer miracle that I was able to wake up early, put my face on, do my hair, and power through a 4 hour shoot! Once I got to the studio and saw the amazing lighting that Mike and Jocelyn created for each set, I knew this was going to be great. We did several shots in 4-5 different kimonos and used cool props to create a series of photos that are very evocative of chinoiserie reminiscent of some of the art work I saw at The Met’s “China Through the Looking Glass”. I can't wait to get the final series and share them! If you are in the Tampa Sarasota area and need pinup photos, you gotta hit up Little Skull! And you have to try to catch a Black Diamond Burlesque show!


Beautiful bay views from the tiki bar where Laura treated me to delicious fish tacos and a cold beer! I saw some dolphins here too.
I loved waking up and falling asleep to this lightbox that Petite made for her guest room.





Here are some of my favorite shots from the show by John Jones:
Photo by John Jones
Photo by John Jones

Photo by John Jones
Photo by John Jones
Photo by John Jones
Photo by John Jones
Photo by John Jones
Photo by John Jones
I loved these name boards BDB used for our intros. Classy! Photo by John Jones
Shine on, Black Diamonds!



Aug 13, 2015

Adding More to My Hotel Series Photos, This Set By Bettina May!

Only a Texan would plan a trip to Texas in July, and only a burlesque performer would plan a TOUR in Texas in July! And that is exactly what I did last month. I organized a nice little tour in my home state and managed to get in a week's worth of time with my family as well. The trip coincided with two other NYC performer's traveling schedules (Grace Gotham and Bettina May) so we all decided to try to organize as many shows together as possible while we were all in Texas. Since I lost my drivers license years ago (not due to anything as salacious as DWI but mere expired for too long...) I told my parents I was going to "borrow" my older brother and make him chauffeur us around the 100+ Texas heat. And chauffeuring he did! He drove us to Houston, Austin, Corpus Christi, and all my local gigs in Dallas/Fort Worth. I've never gone on a road trip with my brother so it was actually kinda sibling bonding time and for us, it was bonding over many episodes of the classic Twilight Zone series.

While we were in Houston, Bettina (ever creative and industrious) pulled out her camera in our hotel room and we shot a few photos for my Hotel Series. I love adding to this growing series on my web site especially photos from different photographers.

There is a funny story about this photo. I tend to not like photos of myself laughing or smiling. I find that I have to have a real laugh for the photo to appear genuine. In all the fake smile/laugh photos, I look like a demonic clown so I tend to prefer photos of myself like this:

"Hotel Series #5", Photo by Michael Webb.
See All in "Hotel Series" >
 Or this.
"Hotel Series #3", Photo by Michael Webb. 
See All in "Hotel Series" >

But Bettina managed to capture me in a moment of genuine joy and laughter mainly because of what Grace Gotham was doing in the background which a lady can not divulge! Let's just say that I will forever think of this photo as the wonderful moment where Grace Gotham elicited an authentic laugh from me during a photo shoot.
"Hotel Series #7", Photo by Bettina May
See All in "Hotel Series" >
"Hotel Series #7", Photo by Bettina May
See All in "Hotel Series" >
"Hotel Series #7", Photo by Bettina May
See All in "Hotel Series" >




See All in My "Hotel Series"


Bettina is also for hire if you would like to have her style you for pin-up photos >
Check out Bettina's Pin Up Class >

Mar 3, 2015

3rd Annual Asian Burlesque Spectacular, May 30, 2015


We have finalized our cast for the 3rd year! Like last year we commissioned Yao Xiao to create our poster art work. I have received many inquiries from burlesque performers nationally about how to be involved. This makes me so happy when I receive an inquiry, because I am getting to know more and more Asian performers out there! Right now this one-night event is by invitation only. We, that is, the producers (Jen Gapay, Sukki Singapora, and myself) hope to turn this to a 2-3 day festival soon and be able to have an open application process. In the meantime if you are interested to be involved in the event in the next year, please feel free to email me your video clip of the act you would like to submit. We are always casting through the year and it's never too early to get in the pool!

Tickets are available online >


Oct 30, 2014

Finally the 2015 Nurse Bettie Burlesque Calendar!

After months of planning and working the 2015 Nurse Bettie Burlesque Calendar is finally available for purchase online! I am so proud of all twelve performers who brought their A-game to every shoot, and it seemed like every time we had a shoot it was raining cats and dogs. I am beyond happy with the final photos that Lucy La Riot took at her studio. I had a lot of fun concept-ing the theme for each month with Lucy as we didn't want to re-do all the usual themes you see in most calendars. For instance, instead of doing yet another heart-shaped cutesy-cute for Valentine's Day in February, I wanted to bring an element of Chinese New Year (Thursday, February 19, 2015). For July, I wanted to feature Bettina May who is the first person to receive a US Green Card based on her burlesque career. It doesn't get more American than her story. We are New York City after all and there's a whole lot of diversity here and that is what makes this calendar different. Although I really enjoyed styling everyone's shoot from costuming options to poses, it was EXHAUSTING! I have a deeper appreciation for stylists who work on photo shoots now. By the end of that first weekend when we shot back to back for 8 hours straight, I slept for 12 hours the next day.
On sale now: http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/824604?__r=542086
To see a preview of all the months inside, just click the link above! 

The calendars measure 8x8 square and have 28 pages. They are saddle-stitched and are packaged with cardboard to prevent bending or folding. We are selling them through the printer's site at MagCloud, who I really enjoyed working with the last few months.

The calendar makes for a great birthday or holiday gift. And they are collectible! I have a feeling I will be making a new calendar every year from now on!

Hope you enjoy these cheeky beauties as much as I did creating the calendar. Bring them home with you all year round!

Sep 29, 2014

Hotel Series #5 - Hotel Pierre Du Calvet in Old Montreal Quebec

Here is a sample photo from HOTEL SERIES #5 from my latest travels to Montreal.

One of the loveliest cities in my opinion for the poor New Yorker's "Paris". I couldn't afford another Paris trip this year so I opted for the next best thing, Montreal. Only a 1.5 flight or a 6 hour scenic drive away. I love Old Montreal even though our Québécois friends think it's totally touristy. It's like me saying "I love Times Square!" But the architecture, the old cobble stoned streets (a la Crosby Street), the history and the charm win me over every time! I did stay in Hotel Zero 1 for a couple nights before Hotel Pierre Du Calvet just to get a democratic sense of Montreal. Hotel Zero 1 is a boutique designer hotel right across the street from the Chinatown gate. Ironically every time I've stayed in a hotel in Canada, it has always been right by the Chinatown there! Hotel Zero 1 is beautiful, modern, chic, and conveniently located right by all the prostitutes, pimps, dingy strip clubs and some unsavory characters mixed in with hipsters and young people. It is also on the same block as the famous Cafe Cleopatra! I love myself a modern hotel but I love myself an old historic landmark hotel even more. Hotel Pierre du Calvet apparently is also haunted according to several internet accounts. Room 3 is where most of the sightings have occurred such as a woman or a man sitting by the foot of your bed in the middle of the night, or sensing a malevolent presence in the room. We were in Room 6 so luckily nothing strange occurred... at least not when my eyes were closed. This hotel is just absolutely to die for. Simply out of time, extravagant, old world, and romantic. I highly recommend going with someone you love (or lust).
Photo by Mike Webb Photography. Click here to see more of Hotel Series #5 >

Photo by Mike Webb Photography. Click here to see more of Hotel Series #5 >