Apr 26, 2010

End of Weekly Dim Sum Burlesque

Yes, last Sunday (that was just last night!) was the last of the weekly show at Chow Bar of "Dim Sum Burlesque". I've been running that show since November 2009 and it's been sixth months of every Sunday except for Christian holidays and whatever days. Six months in showbiz time feels like twelve months in human time! It's been a great ride and I will always remember this show as the first show I produced. I loved the routine of Sunday nights of seeing Brassy, the regular performers like Dame, Strawberry, Pandora, and hanging downstairs in the office and kitchen. It was a well-oiled machine. I learned tremendously week by week by leaps and bounds every weekend, all my improv skills from college came rushing back and I really found myself on stage as the host and as a performer. Funny how it can take like three decades of one's life to finally "find" oneself.

So starting in May, May 16 to be specific, Dim Sum Burlesque is a monthly show. May 16 is going to be a special show because my mom is coming to visit from Texas. This show is billed as "Calamity Chang Comes Out to Her Mom Show" and I'm bringing back all the highlight performers of the last six months so my mom can see that I'm not working at a strip club where men with long, oily hair with semi-balding pattern are sitting around touching their genitals (with similar semi-balding pattern) with one fistful of crumpled, torn edged dollar bills and another fistful of crushed Bud Lite cans.

I've never seen anyone of the above description at any strip clubs I've been to! But for dramatic effect I'm using my poetic license.

Anyway the point is, my mom knows I have been producing and hosting shows but I never directly said I am performing. But she knows me pretty well so I have an inkling that she knows. So yeah, I want her to meet the powerful and fierce women I've gotten to know and work with, I want her to see the new apartment, the new back tattoo (she does not know!), and the new boyfriend who isn't really "new" anymore, it's been a year I think. But it feels longer like I've known him for a much longer time. Yes a lot of revelations.

Admittedly I was a little sad at the show. I was sad for various reasons. First, I was sick so I forgot things. Second, I knew the crowd was going to be very thin. I was happy that one of the people who were coming was Diana Delatorre and I actually had some time to sit and talk to her pre-show. Lastly, I was sad that the set up with Chow is not going to work out profitably for me from a business perspective, and here it was in front of me, the last night, the demise of something that could have been, should have been, might have been if (x, y, z variables) were possible. I felt at once melancholic and resentful. It felt like breaking up with someone who has loved you but may not love you as much now. I don't know. There are many reasons, all blended together. Producing a show takes a lot of energy out of both producer and the venue. Both parties have to work REALLY hard ALL the time, and I mean EVERY single day of reaching out to press, bloggers, twitters, etc to promote the show. If the venue is a big name has a PR department who handles that, that's ideal. But if they aren't and they rely on you to do all the promoting, marketing, emailing - then it's inevitable that some other venue will notice you and give you the kind of marketing and financial support you need to make your show consistently profitable. Again to use the cliché relationship metaphor, it feels like I am making myself "available" to meet someone else who can give me what I am looking for. Thus the slow backing out. The room filled out towards the end like by the last two acts. I wasn't planning on doing an act at all that night, being sick and cold and all, but at the end, I spontaneously stripped out of my street clothes to Peggy Lee's "Fever" sans pasties and with non-matching civilian underwear.

As they say, one show closes, another opens.

Some stuff that I'm up to this week:
  • Wednesday night I am auditioning at the Slipper Room to be on the regular roster. Slipper is closing for renovation all summer so I don't really even know what that means to be on "the regular roster" like when will I perform again there? Who knows? But Rosewood has been encouraging me to do it and be "on track" - she's so awesome and so inspiring. I will have to write a whole blog entry about her another night. So I'm going to do my nun act and the red priestess act which I just found out is an act that Jo used to do with the same song! I cleared it with her and she said I can go for it cause she doesn't do that act much anymore.
  • Thursday I am doing one classic act at an agency industry party at Click3x along with Nikkita Lemarcelle and Ruby Valentine. I bet you anything I will see people I am or have worked with. Can't wait to see their faces. After that party, I have the Nurse Bettie show. This Thursday is with Brassy, Madame Rosebud, Dame Cuchifrita, Marlo Marquise, and Honi Harlow.
The rest of the week and weekend will be used to rehearse my new act "Asian Hooker" ha!! It's not what you think it is. But I will probably do it at Dr Lucky's class showcase on Friday, May 7 called "Reform School Girls". I also need to rehearse my act for Beatles Burlesque on May 10, and create a groooooooooooovy slideshow to project behind the stage! And make a new mc costume - no fro this time but something a little... sleeker!

Apr 23, 2010

My birthday, a new show, butt plug, a new act

That's what's going on in the last couple of weeks! Wednesday was my birthday - 35!!! I have no qualms about my age and I'll tell anyone who ask how old I am. Frankly I have no idea why it's such a big deal. I don't care if I'm 35 or 45 cause I never want to be in my 20s again. I have liked every new year of my life better than the last year. And I'm having the best motherfucking time ever in my life in every aspect of my life. I would have NEVER ever dreamed of this when I was in high school. The high school me thought the 35 year old me would be a journalist of some kind successful in some way (I was voted "most likely to succeed" my senior year). I don't think I ever pictured myself married or with kids though. That scenario never entered into my "visualization board". I refuse to define my sense of success and happiness through mainstream culture. Vivian Luu of The Northwest Asian Weekly recently wrote this article about one of my burlesque heroines, The Shanghai Pearl out in Seattle, and she kindly interviewed me and let me share the article too.

The other new thing that I've been working on has finally been finalized this week. I am starting a new monthly Saturday night show with UK luxury lingerie and erotic toy boutique Coco de Mer at their little velvet room in the back of the flagship Nolita store. The first inaugural show is Saturday, June 19 at 8pm. Seating starts at 730pm. 42Below vodka is my official alcohol sponsor for the show and will be featuring a punch bowl and two muddled cocktails that will rotate monthly. This show is a little over an hour long and will be open bar provided by 42Below. The cover is still TBD but believe you me, you will hear more about this show. It's very exclusive because the room can only fit 35 people. The line-up will be announced shortly, but so far Amber Ray and Madame Rosebud are on board! The show will be called "Calamity Chang Presents Spreading the Curtains at Coco de Mer" - I will host the event and have obviously burlesque performances but I'm also going to finally do the 2 other performances I've been dying to do: prose interpretation of a piece of erotica and a demonstration performance utilizing one of the boutique's sex toys.

Speaking of new acts, I found this beauty at the store. I've been looking for a jeweled butt plug for an act then I saw this beauty. But next to this beauty was a butt plug that has a horse tail at the end!!! I think I stopped breathing for 2 seconds when I saw the horsetail butt plug. I must have it!!

Tonight I'm celebrating my birthday with a limo ride - having some friends over for a drink first then headed up to Dinosaur BBQ in Harlem cause that's Texas to me! Peanut shells on the floor, live music, and an ol skool limo provided by Al Limosine!

Here's what I found when I came home this afternoon. Michael decorated the apartment to surprise me!! No one other than my mom has ever successfully surprised the Chang. Not an easy feat to do.

Apr 14, 2010

I Showed My Vag

This month marks the one year anniversary of when I decided to stick all of my head (and all my bountiful hair) into the world of burlesque. I mark the date as the day I started kittening and the day I debuted at The Slipper Room in Jo's Beginning burlesque student showcase show. That was April 25th, 2009 - I believe. I had a three-way party after the debut and remember trekking over to Williamsburg immediately afterwards.

I have not stopped to do all that reflection bullshit on how much I've accomplished. I feel that is way too self-congratulatory right now to do. If I want to feel self-congratulatory, I'll just do a heap of cocaine on a night off. But - having said that - I will take this moment to self congratulate myself on the badass awesomeness that was Beatles Burlesque on Monday night!

To date, this was my best. I mean as a creator, producer, and hostess. I did not perform in the inaugural show because I had my hands and head full of a million other details of getting the band rehearsal time, coordinating who is doing what number, promotion, and running two other shows and a bunch of other secret pursuits I'm on. And of course, the night of the show I had to start a new day time job at a new agency which in hindsight was a blessing in disguise cause I was forced to think about something else all day instead of micromanaging and obsessing. I was really tired having to go straight from work to Public Assembly for sound check, but nothing a shot of whiskey can't fix.

The energy was tremendous from the minute I got there. Honi was setting up her elaborate setup for Blackbird, the boys in the band looked so great in their first set outfits: black suit jacket, white shirt, and skinny black tie. The gogo dancers looked fantastic in their fringey outfits. I love it when the visuals come together and its one big spectacle. My MC outfit was a big fro with a little silver thing with lots of silver fringe and white gogo knee boots with my old raver days white fur bootie covers. Yes, I used to go to raves... glow sticks and mini backpacks and all... sad days.

We started on time and opened the show with 2 songs by Ticket to Ride. I was also really excited for Brassy cause this is the first show I've done with her where she is providing the lead vocals on all the songs. I kept asking her if the sets were too long but she rocked it out. It was fucking amazing to hear her with a live band doing rock versions of Beatles. The performers really brought it - there's something about a live band that changes the experience of burlesque. I booked these girls specifically because they all have had lots of experience working with a live band. They can roll with it, improv, and don't need to adhere to a strict sound cue system. The band improvised on many songs and some songs were shortened and extended or had solo drums for instance. The band, the singer, and the performer - they are an organism on stage all working off of each other. As much as I would love to book new performers, this show is not a beginner showcase. I am consideromg adding one sacrificial lamb to be in the show. (Applications and concept proposals welcome! Send it to calamity@foxfatale.com)

A live band really adds to a show, I have to say. But it can be a delicate balance cause you don't want to feel like the band is competing with the dancers and vice versa. I think this time the format was successful because the band played some songs solo without dancers. Stormy Leather did a reverse strip to Sexy Sadie and she did a pretty fucking awesome piece to Revolution complete with a gas mask and a smoke bomb that was *this close* to lighting the curtain on fire. Gal Friday was absolutely gorgeous and delicate and sublime in this pink gown (that she made herself might I add) to Dear Prudence and then she was a black clad, flame haired VAMP for Helter Skelter. Honi's Drive My Car was so hilarious and the audience loved her stage set ups. Madame Rosebud did two crazy acts both of which ended with her doing something nasty to Brassy. I told her (Rosebud) backstage that her performances always veer on the edge of complete abandonment which is transfixing and why she has a signature mark and is so in demand. We talked some more about performativity as I counted out the tip hat. In the end, Brassy closed with "Let It Be" - so beautiful the way they played it and the way she sang it. Oh yes and I flashed my vag at curtain call. I felt like I teased and provoked all night and didn't perform so that was the least I could contribute to humanity - my vag show. The audience was amazing. The energy was so high. I think we all felt high the next day too. Luma Rouge attended and illustrated the show, prints available for purchase. Juliet Jeske blogged about the show. Stay tuned for Burlesque Magazine's review of the show, and Melody Mudd's slideshow for Cultural Capital!

For next month's show on May 10, I will be doing a "Yoko" spoken word performance piece and close with an act. Plus a projected slideshow! woo! The band and Brassy stays. The performer line up may vary and the song list will vary. But here's the set list from Monday for those who are curious:

Ticket to Ride
I Saw Her Standing There
Sexy Sadie
Dear Prudence
Happiness is a Warm Gun
Mean Mr. Muster
Drive My Car
I Me Mine
Eleanor Rigby
Helter Skelter
Why Don't We Do It in the Road
Let It Be

Apr 8, 2010

Beatles Burlesque TIME OUT NY Critic's Pick

Holy shit the show is next Monday!!! I am SO excited I'm having insomnia. We were up til 4am watching Requiem For a Dream for some reason last night, after I got home from Dr Lukki's class and seeing the show at The Delancey. I have not worked the last 2 weeks or this week, which is quite a luxury for me to have the whole day to spend on burlesque things such as working on costumes with the Beatles gogo dancers (Gemini Rising, Tansy, Vegasm) and with Brassy, adding sparkly fringe on her dresses, going to band rehearsals sitting in the studio much like Yoko did in this video clip (I'll find the link later), and promoting the crap out of the show. Luckily for me, Time Out NY listed it as a Critic's Pick calling me "...host and harbinger of band doom as 'Yoko Chang'" - haha. NY Post also listed the show which I only found out because they twittered it. I'm also excited to have Cherry Belle, from the very economically smart and brilliantly produced online magazine Burlesque Magazine, review the show next Monday. Fingers crossed!!

Apr 5, 2010

High Priestess

Costume is DONE! Workin on a "Yellow Fever" one next. Both should be ready to debut by next week. That's what I've been busy doing. Tonight is Harlow's Hide-a-way at Fontana's - I'll be doing Enter Sandman which coincidentally is also what I'll be doing at the next F*BOMB show at The Delancey on April 24th with "Beatallica" - yes, you read right, a band that covers Beatles songs in Metallica death metal style and vice versa. They are quite brilliant and the re-working of the lyrics are ingenious. For example, "Sandman Calling", "Hero of the Day Tripper", "All You Need Is Blood".

Another day when I have more witty or not-so-witty observations to make, I'll write more.