Dec 18, 2010

FaceBook-Unfriendly Photos

Since Facebook won't let me post these pictures on my Fan Page, these are some awesome pictures from the last Coco de Mer show with Ruby Valentine, Nikki LeVillain and myself. These photos were taken by Stacie Joy and Ed Barnas. To see the rest of the sets, click here.

Nikki Le Villain

The Grand Finale
Ruby Valentine

Nikki LeVillain

Dec 11, 2010

Performing at Private Events vs. Performing at a Show

Doing atmosphere work at French Tuesdays
Fun party, great people, and international
There are many advantages to performing at a private event. Most of the time because it's a private party, the producers/bookers have a bigger budget for talent so that means you get paid more. The downside is the "atmosphere" work you often have to do. You can't just sink back into your leggings, rock tshirt, and biker boots, hang out backstage then bail. You will have to put on a pretty dress, put those heels back on, go out and mingle with the partygoers who are usually drunk but you are sober. But this is just part of the job description and I don't mind it, in fact, I do enjoy it. The key to a private party gig, I find, is who is doing it with you. That can make a huge difference between a shitty experience where you feel dumb (which I will describe in a minute) or having an amazing time feeling really good about yourself and what you do. A good example of a positive experience was the French Tuesdays party that I did a few months ago with Veronica Varlow. It was hard work, two acts, two gogo sets, and hanging out for photo with people. But the organizers were SO nice and really great so it was way fun. The people at this party were friendly, outgoing, and they danced just as much as we did. The staff at the venue were absolutely accommodating and helped Vlo schlep her luggage up and down the stairs. THIS was a great experience plus she's a pleasure to be around which rounded out the night quite well.

At a private party there is typically no tipping so whatever the organizer agreed to that's what you'll get at the end of the night. This is an advantage over performing at a show where you (generally) don't get a guarantee and have to wait til the end of the night after the house sorts out the cover and count all the money then you get your share. You never know if you'll be going home with $30 or $80 or $12...

Veronica doing a fan dance number
From a producer's point of view to work a private event you should mentally prepare yourself for lots of unexpected changes, lack of structure, need to improvise on the fly. When you gig at a show, there is a producer and a host. Often these two roles are one, as in all my shows to save money. Shows have a structure: first set, intermission, second set, curtain call. There's a line-up. Someone will intro and out-tro you. In my opinion, one of the most important roles the host should play is crowd control. It is the host's (or producer) job to make people clear the space if there is no real stage (as in my Drunken Dragon Nights show at Macao Trading Company). It is also his/her job to set up what is about to happen, what the audience is about to see, and how to react. This is why we all do the whole "burletique 101" stint in the beginning just to be sure people know what to expect. I do it so the crowd knows that I will kick someone out if they are rude or disrespectful. Before I started doing burlesque a long time ago, I went to see a show at the Slipper Room with a group of Irish guys who I barely knew and they were so obnoxious screaming stuff like "show us your tits!" and "take your shirt off!" all the usual I'm-a-stupid-straight-man-moronic shit. So we got kicked out! I was so impressed with that. It made a lasting impression on me. From hence forth I said to myself, "If I ever have a show and that power that's exactly what I want to do." And now I have the verbal power and luckily the muscle power of Stephen and Craig at Nurse Bettie to back me up as well as Dushan, Igor, Mauricio, and all the other eastern European studs at Macao to pull a Eastern Promises on unruly assholes.

The host also should set up the performers to build anticipation and also to start reining in the focal point in the room. Albert Cadabra and Bastard Keith are really great and masters at making every performer sound like a fucking nuclear A-BOMB of hotness! It doesn't matter if you believe it or not, but the words make a difference to the audience. These are all advantages of working a well-produced show. There are many out there but there are also many lackluster sloppy shows.

Also at private events, there is often no host or MC to intro or out-tro you. You are lucky if there's a microphone. If someone does intro you count your lucky stars. In the worst case scenario someone with a meek voice will attempt to call attention to the ground-level circular space where you are standing in costume waiting to do your thing - awkwardly. No one cheers. They just stare because no one told them they can clap and cheer during a burlesque tease. When you are finished, no one out-tros you so you smile and do a showboat stance and um... bend down to pick up your own clothes like an out-of-style stripper working a cheap strip joint in buttfuck nowhere, USA. In another scenario as recently experienced by yours truly, you come out to do your act but there is no stage so you start to dance in the middle of the dance floor and a drunk douche bag siddles up to you in the straight-guy-thrusting-his-groin-with-legs-spread-open-hey-this-is-me-dancing move and tries to dance WITH you WHILE you are doing your act! Or, drunk partiers who obviously resent the music being stopped and having to watch some stupid burlesque act and push you to get around the dancefloor WHILE you are doing your act. Or, photographers who stand in front of you to take photos of someone else WHILE you are doing your act. Or, hey one more, the chair you asked for a million times isn't there so you improvise and stand with one leg on a soft cushy couch and then end up falling down while pulling out the rosary beads out of your vajay with a cloth gag in your mouth! I've never felt more DUMB. Lack of a stage is the primary disadvantage in my mind for working private events. I don't like being close to people this is why I don't attend concerts. And as the previous example demonstrates lack of spatial separation between performer and audience can lead to unhappy calamities.

New Year's Eve at Macao Trading Company!

One last thing to beware of about private parties. Expectations. Some generally have never seen burlesque and have no idea what we are, what we do or don't do. Again, this is the host's job to set the proper tone and mood. Many, I swear to beelzebub, think we are escorts, call girls, or strippers. They will make suggestions about taking drugs together, sharing a cab, sit on their laps, or as Sapphire Jones recently told me about her experience (with her permission to retell this), directly asked her if she is still "escorting" after she spent 15 minutes conversing about her career in acting, her boyfriend, her dog...My advice? If you feel uncomfortable, say so nicely. Your integrity is more important than whatever the pay is. And you have to protect that.

Not every private party is like this. Not every show is "amazing great fun" either. I'm only listing general advantages and disadvantages. Most of the time the downside of private parties have nothing to do with the people who actually booked the event. They are often nice professional people who really want to create a kickass event but are just new to having burlesque at their events. The organizers often don't have a good grasp of what kind of acts will go over well at private events. Understandly they want to create a "WOW" moment for their attendees but due to all the aforementioned limitations with space, lighting, setup, I would say, PLAY IT SAFE and do classic, glamorous straight-up strip tease with room for improving and moving around. Nothing with a heavy narrative or proprs or that requires paying attention throughout to "get it".

Dec 9, 2010

Continuing BS from Facebook

So the police have written me back about my disabled account due to "fake name" usage. Below is our correspondence:

From Facebook:
> Date: Thu, 9 Dec 2010 09:41:07 -0800
> To:
> From:
> Subject: Re: Disabled - Fake Name
> Hi Calamity,
> Facebook does not allow users to sign up with certain names that may be fake or associated with fake accounts. While we realize this verification method may prevent some users with legitimate names from registering, we feel this policy is currently the best method to prevent against malicious and fake accounts on the site.
> We can assist you with your request, but we will need additional information. Please reply to this email with a scanned image of a government-issued photo ID (e.g., driver’s license) in order to verify your name. Please black out any personal information that is not needed to verify your identity (e.g., social security number). Rest assured that we will permanently delete your ID from our servers once we have used it to verify your real name.
> Additionally, please include all of our previous correspondence so that we can refer to your original email. Once we have received this information, we will reevaluate the status of the account. Please note that we will not be able to process your request unless you send in proper identification. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
> If you have further questions about our name policies, please visit our Help Center:
> Thanks for contacting Facebook,
> Jill
> User Operations
> Facebook

My Reply:
I certainly have no problems with proving that I'm not some evil corporation claiming to be an individual so I can inflitrate people's wallets. But I DO have an issue with sending YOU (evil corporation seems like) who want to see a government issue ID. Do you know how many performers and actors are using Facebook under their performance names out there? Are we all under this type of scrutiny or is it just me?? I have not only been happy using FB as the primary platform to promote live performance art in NYC but also to invite new fans to join the FB community. Not only that, I have spend ALOT of money buying FB ads as well.

I am being treated absolutely unfairly due to this "fake name" issue. If this is something you really uphold, then you should go and delete or disable ALL performers on Facebook who are just trying to make a living being a clown, magician, or etc etc. Why don't you delete Dita Von Tease's profile? That's not her legal name.

Dec 8, 2010

Calamity Fan Page

Cats have 9 lives. This one just used one of hers.

Please join me again on my fan page on Facebook so I don't feel so lonely! Calamity Chang Fan Page!

Thank you!

Dec 7, 2010

Antisocial Network

It finally happened! My Facebook profile has been disabled because I am using a fake name! My profile is now in the processed of being "reviewed" by the Facebook Fascist regime and who knows how long that's going to take. It's not like I'm an evil corporation pretending to be an individual to infiltrate your wallets! I'm SO ANNOYED and its making me want to commit FB suicide permanently!!!

on the upside...its made my productivity level at work go way high and it's making me think more out of the box (or out-of-facebook) in terms of promotion.

so for now, follow me on or just keep reading my blog for events and status updates.