Dec 27, 2011

The Final Push!

Besides all the shows I am and have been doing this busy month, I have quite a few blog posts that have been festering away just waiting for me to have some downtime where I can gather my thoughts. For now I will have to content myself with getting my costumes together to perform in BOSTON for New Year's Eve at the very popular, highly beloved The Beehive in a part of Boston that my Boston-ite friends have unanimously praised from the vibe to the sight line. The owner is also a friend of a friend, and she highly recommended working with him. All these things (hopefully) bode good things because I do believe that whatever you do on New Year's Eve holds a glimpse of things to come in 2012.

For instance last NYE I performed at Macao Trading Company's annual decadent party (do they do anything that's NOT decadent?) where I ended up hosting the event standing on top of the bar while Bird of Paradise dodged the servers while doing her tightrope act and Lil Steph worked with a space that was the circumference of a poodle skirt. No joke. It was a very hectic night as it usually is here in NYC on NYE. Steph and her boy Ray crashed at our place. We were all so hungry that we ordered Domino's, the only place delivering that night, and we watched "Inglorious Bastards" which I never saw before because I have an anti-Tarantino soapbox that I stand on. I didn't even know who Michael Fassbender was when I saw this movie and look what happened in 2011? I got to work with him on one of the most controversial and critically praised film of the year, Shame! And in 2011, I have ordered more Domino's than ever before... Their new chicken nuggets are REALLY good, for real!

Stormy Leather and I will be performing together at The Beehive and staying overnight at a really nice boutique hotel that The Beehive have generously and kindly provided for us along with all transportation coverage. We are each doing 3 acts for the night. I am really excited about going to Boston for NYE and performing for the audience at Beehive. Maybe this means next year I will be traveling and performing out of NYC more or that I will become a conservative Republican.

Here's the flyer for the event in case any of my readers will be there!

Buy tickets online at BeehiveBoston.com!

Dec 21, 2011

My 2011 Holiday Card

Photo by Mike Webb Photography
This year I made a very limited edition of holiday postcards that I sent out to the venues I work for and some other VIP people who have helped me in many ways in my burlesque career. I am sentimental this way. I remember every favor, act of kindness or generosity, and opportunity offered to me from others through the year. I thought about making these available for purchase on my web site but I just got too busy to set that up. Perhaps next year!



Dec 18, 2011

Another Uncensored Holiday Picture


Since there's only a week left to Christmas, here's another picture from my holiday shoot!

Dec 7, 2011

Goin' South!

I'm finally back in NYC after two trips back-to-back to Dallas, TX and to Charlotte, NC. From now til the beginning of February 2012 when I return to Dallas for the 4th Annual Dallas Burlesque Festival (I am in the Saturday night show at the House of Blues), I will be happily here in NYC putting a few things to bed and starting up a few new things for 2012. One of the things going to bed is my monthly Beatles Burlesque show at Public Assembly in Brooklyn. Next Monday, December 12 is our last and final blow out show! Many people have asked why I am stopping the show and I'm just going to put the rumours to rest right now. It had nothing to do with the venue. It was all my decision. A good actor knows when to exit. After almost two years of a riotous good time with the band and ALL the performers who have ever graced the show, it is time to end on a high note and pursue new opportunities without spreading myself too thin.

One of the new things I am going to be focusing on in 2012 is my dream show! I've finally created enough traction to gather the talent I have been wanting to work with and I have finally found the perfect home for this show. It will launch on Chinese New Year on Wednesday, January 25. Details of the show and location will be announced soon.

Now to recap. I went home to Texas for Thanksgiving and my brother Michael took my Michael to the gun range and they did boy things like shoot guns. I didn't go this time, because I went shopping with my mom and my aunt! My bro also took us for a little tour of a little town called Decatur where we stepped in the Wise County Heritage Museum to have a gander. I saw some cool Victorian things like an authentic hearse, a box containing a set of real unidentified human skeleton, and a much of old newspaper clippings in the upstairs Lost Battalion Room - a room dedicated "to those who lost their lives and those who survived as Japan's prisoners of war in World War II."

Victorian hearse donated by one of the local families
A clipping of Ann Miller

An ol' timey pictorial depicting Japanese torturing American G.I.s
When the elderly gentleman, acting as the museum guide, told us about the room and the tribute to the G.I.s who lost their lives to the Japanese, he made me feel suddenly very self-conscious. This is Texas after all. He sees two "orientals" and one whitey (what's the whitey doing with us? Lol) and I doubt he has any idea whether my bro and I were Chinese, Japanese or Korean. Luckily my brother was also on my wavelength and he being a big chatter off-handedly informed our tour guide that our grandfather fought the Japanese during WWII as well, just to ease everyone's unspoken questions.

I really liked the "downtown" of Decatur which was probably the size of two NYC blocks. But it was really quaint and had some old murals from a few decades ago.

I'm jumpin for joy at sun down!


We also went to the Forth Worth Stockyards where I found a fantastic bobcat pelt that I'm going to turn into a stole. I also saw some fucked up racist, anti-Obama shit at one store. Like these!
The sign says, "OBAMA: Fiddlin' around while thousands of small businesses are goin' down"

"Obama: Fishin' for answers and catchin' nothing!"

Oh, Texas.... I don't even know what to say.

Fort Worth Stockyards

I also performed in another one of Vivienne Vermouth's shows in Deep Ellum this time too. This show was called "Rockband Burlesque" where attendees signed up to play Rock Band while a performer danced to it. Again my brother rounded up his colleagues who rounded up their friends and there was a huge table of his friends and acquaintances at the show. Like last time, I made him leave when I performed. Ha!

In Deep Ellum

After Texas I went straight to Charlotte, NC for the 2nd Annual Southern Exposure Festival burlesque pageant. I wrote about my first time in Charlotte and the "pageant" experience  in more depth here. Needless to say, it was interesting. Here are a bunch of photos to give you an idea!

My friend Maggie filming a documentary about burlesque in which I am one of the featured performers and I stayed at an Econo Lodge off the side of a highway. This is the first room before we asked to change rooms.
See? That's the highway to the left! Outside of Upscale Bar & Grill
Damn good curry chicken and rice at Upscale
The Bishop of Burlesque David Bishop & I

Sneaking in a mini pecan pie from Amelie's at sound/tech check at the Visulite Theater
Selia Carmichael performing
Blaze the Red Rose of Texas won Queen!

The madness backstage right before curtain call and title announcement

Last year's King of Southern Exposure, Fonda Lingue from Atlanta. I love her!

Nov 16, 2011

Let Me Get My Hands on Your Mammary Glands

Me, Cheeky Lane, Stella Chuu

I just posted a new post called "Let Me Get My Hands on Your Mammary Glands" at AsianceMagazine.com where the three of us Chinese girls dish about our D's! Read it here >

Here are some more pictures of Cheeky and Stella from shows they've been in.

By Don Spiro
 
By Maggie Saniewska


By Stacie Joy







Oct 30, 2011

Burlesque Eye Makeup for Asian Eyes (AsianceMagazine.com)


(Originally written for AsianceMagazine.com)
Asian women are obsessed with making their eyes look bigger. No shock to those of us who are Asian. We all have secret tips on how to make our eyes appear bigger with makeup and in more extreme cases with the popular “eyelid” cosmetic surgery which creates that desirable double-lid crease that Western eyes are naturally born with. Although I am not against cosmetic surgery as a theory, I AM against it when a woman’s self esteem becomes reliant on surgery instead of her intellect. Don’t get me wrong. I was not immune to the burning desire to enlarge my eyes when I was growing up in Texas in the land of blonde buxom Barbie dolls with long, long eyelashes and big round blue eyes. I went so far as to wear eyelid tape for a long while during junior high and some of high school despite strange looks from peers and questions such as, “Um... what is that on your eyes?” I have to give the younger me props for doing as I pleased and fearlessly going against the grain, or er I should say, against the eyelid I was born with.
Eyelid tape - very popular in Asia
The topic of cosmetic surgery in Asia has already been heavily discussed on Asiance so I am not going down that road. Instead I am going to discuss how I do my makeup for burlesque shows. I will say right off the bat that the older I get the more of an eye crease I have. I think it’s just from getting older and gravity is pulling my skin down because when I was in my twenties I could never simulate the creased look naturally. Nowadays my concern is more focused on skin care and dutifully washing off stage makeup when I get home. As burlesque superstar World Famous Bob said in her “Burlesque Makeup” class, every night you don’t take off your stage makeup ages you two days. Stage makeup is often made with heavier color pigments, not often the best ingredients, and especially tough around the thinnest and most sensitive skin on yoru face: your eyes. On my days off when there is no show, I wear no makeup at all other than moisturizer with at least 15 SPF. Even if you are indoors, you should always wear some level of SPF protection. Between the eyelash glue, layers of eyeshadow, glitter, blush, and cover-up and foundation, I give my skin a fresh breather as often as I can. I don’t care if I don’t look glamorous off-stage, because I rather have good skin when I’m older instead of looking “fabulous” when I’m picking up my dog’s poop on the street.

When it comes to doing burlesque makeup on Asian eyes, bigger is better. Burlesque makeup is essentially stage makeup which means it is designed to be visible from far away. Your makeup should be visible to the person sitting WAY in the back of the theater. If it looks “too much” to you in the mirror, it is probably almost right. If you start looking like a drag queen, then it is perfect. To me doing “burlesque makeup” is not the same thing as “pin-up makeup” which is less exaggerated, does not use as much glitter, and is probably what most people think of when they think “burlesque”. For example, I would do “pin-up makeup” if I am attending but not performing in a show or if I am going to a vintage-inspired party. I do full “burlesque makeup” when I am performing. You can see the difference below in my picture:



Bigger is better especially when it comes to false eyelashes. Falsies will actually help you create that double lid effect if you apply it as close to your eyelash line as possible. There is no secret trick on getting it on other than practice, practice, practice. I DO recommend using black lash glue instead of the clear one - because for our coloring, the dried black glue actually looks like a line of liquid eyeliner which enhances the dark color of our eyes. I use Duo in Dark tone:

There are a lot of false eyelashes out there. The ones you get at drug stores are fine for day wear, but for stage wear, I would get the longest length and double them up on top of each other. YES. It’s very common for burlesquers to “customize” their favorite pair of lashes by combining 2-4 pairs together, trimming the bits you like and pasting them together. 
The Shanghai Pearl
My friend The Shanghai Pearl (Seattle) wears these lashes that she adhered tiny little Swarvoski crystals on the ends. For her burlesque makeup routine: 

"I tend to draw on a dramatic and thick wingtip with liquid eyeliner. I prefer the ones with the softer brushtip with inkpot over the stiffer 'pen' types, like Almay Amazing Eyeliner. I've also used gel eyeliner with a nice brush, I liked that as well."

I do NOT recommend Asian eyes to use the false eyelashes with long, droopy ends. This will drag our already smaller eyes down and make you look "sad". Like these feathery ones:
I recommend getting ones that sweep UP and OUT on the corners like these:
Another tip World Famous Bob taught us in her class was that once you put the glue on the lashes, leave it alone for at least 5 minutes for the glue to dry before sticking them on your eyes! This has proven invaluable. It makes the application process SO much easier when the glue is tacky than wet. I apply the glue on the lashes while I’m doing foundation and primer on my face, then by the time I am done with my eyeshadow (always do your eye makeup first then lashes after), I put the lashes on. By then, they just stick on easy breezy. You will find that some of the heavier lashes once on will “force” your eyelid to crease - this is what happens to my eyes but I think it’s gravity that’s helping me have that double lid appearance.  So now, eye makeup.
 

Liz at work on set with Gordon Ramsey
My friend Liz Yoon, a makeup artist in NYC who has worked for celebrities such as Michael Douglas, Rosario Dawson, Gordon Ramsey and for publications such as Marie Claire and Hall’s “Get Through the Season” advertisement campaign, says:    
One can create an illusion of a crease with a shadow that is a shade or two darker than your skin tone. First you should always apply primer, especially for "show" makeup because then the makeup will stay put and increase its longevity.
Then you gently sweep a light neutral color over your eyelid up to your brow bone followed by using the darker shadow in your crease. The trick to blend, blend, blend, until it looks seamless. To finish this look you can apply a lighter color on your brow bone so it will give your eyes depth. For more intensity, like performing in shows, you can use darker colors. 
I also recommend getting a set of good makeup brushes for your eye makeup application process. Invest in a set of decent quality ones, not the drug store types. I wash my brushes every 2 weeks with warm water and gentle soap, and they do not shed or lose their integrity. I start off using a dark color as Liz describes along the top lash line and moving outward with a slight sweep up to create a longer eye. Then I use a color that matches my costume (deep plum, turquoise blue, pinks, golds, bronze) and layer that along the top of the dark base color. I find blending is most effective when I use my finger tips. I blend the two colors gently together in the area where they overlap and finish off with a light color (shimmery white or shimmery nude) along the top brow bone (the bottom part of your eyebrows).
Tina Turnbow
I also asked my friend Tina Turnbow, who is a well-known celebrity makeup artist and also the beauty blogger for The New York Times, on her professional tip for Asian women who want to create a rounder eye effect:
For bigger eyes its all about subtle shading. Lighter shades graduating into deeper shades to create an almond or rounder shape. A smokey eye that starts darkest around the lash-line and then gradually diffuses up and out, can make the eye appear bigger. Use single lashes at outer corners of the eye, for a wider eye. Make sure your eyebrows are shaped well to give the eye an instant lift.

I can not emphasize the importance of shading and shaping your eyebrows! No one should be going for that thin, over plucked eyebrow shape anymore unless you are trying to achieve a vintage, old Hollywood glamour look like Greta Garbo who is famously known for her expressive thin arches.
Greta Garbo (L), Marlene Dietrich (R)
I think thicker eyebrows frame one’s eyes and face better, and they can make Asian eyes look more intense. I’ve gone through a thin eyebrow phase and in every picture I saw, I looked perpetually surprised AND I thought they made my eyes look squinty. For shows, I use a thin brush and dab a little bit of black/dark brown eyeshadow and drag the brush carefully through my eyebrows - and I ALWAYS extend the ends. In Liz’s list of simple eye makeup tricks she also emphasizes the importance of brows:
Definitely fill/define your brows because your brows frame your face! I find that less is more on Asian women. Eyeliner does wonders, up and outward to open up the eyes.

Lastly Liz gives her top four tips:
1. Instead of rimming your eyes with dark eyeliner, use a light color and rim the bottom of your eyes 
2. Curling your lashes instantly opens up your eyes (for more info on what kind of mascara to use to make the most of short, spare Asian eyelashes read my previous post "Eyelash Deficiency & Mascaras")
3. Using eyeliner 
4. Fill/Define your brows
Shanghai also "keep it pretty classic and retro. The bigger eye thing for me is a necessity for stage. After I draw my wingtip I set my lashes a little bit above my natural lashes and line the bottom of my eyes with a white kohl."
The last stop for my burlesque makeup transformation is the tell-tale, ultimate symbol of a burlesque performer - glittery red lips! 
Women ask me all the time how to get that effect and the answer is quite simple. Cosmetic glitter. I’ve written about this on my blog before which you can read about more here.
 
Tina, who often surprises me with her generosity with bags of top quality cosmetics, will include various types of red lipsticks for me to try. She says:
A true red lip color is always striking. For a more nude lip, try one with more yellow under-tones to blend in with your skin. Or if your lips have a good deal of pink in them naturally, just pump that up with a plum lip stain.

The most recent color that I was introduced to via Tina is Buxom Big & Healthy Lip Tarnish in Busted. This lipstick comes with a sharper attached and because it is shaped like a big marker, you can apply it easily. It stays on for a long time as well and it is really my favorite shade of red. Shanghai agrees that finding the right shade of red is critical in achieving a polished look. "My staples are a good red lipstick and a wingtip. Fancy foundation I love is Dior Skin Forever and drugstore foundation I like L'Oreal True Match," she adds.
I hope this has solved some mysteries about the trickiness of doing makeup on Asian eyes. As Liz says, "If you look at most Asian eyes, we don't have as much eye area as Western eyes to play with. Many Asians go through cosmetic surgery and spend a lot of money with the possibility of it coming out right. Eyelids are a very delicate area to tamper with, if the surgery goes awry or happens to heal incorrectly etc, it's irreversible." 
I am envious of teenage girls growing up nowadays because when I was growing up, YM Magazine and Seventeen Magazine never talked about how to do makeup on other eye shapes. Sometimes they might mention Latin skin, but it was predominantly all Caucasian models and tips for fair skin and Western eyes. If I had YouTube and the Internet as an invaluable research too back then, I wouldn't have made my mistake of walking around with big patches of frosty eyeshadow in the most horrible shade of blue!

Oct 25, 2011

Advice for New Performers







My first kittening gig at Duane Park. Taken by Jo Weldon, Headmistress of the School of Burlesque in NYC.
The picture you see above is taken at my first stage kittening gig ever in NYC. I had just finished taking a month long course at Jo Weldon's School of Burlesque during, what I call, "The Winter of My Liberation". It was a cold, cold winter and I had broken up with someone whose name I can't even remember now (lol), so I decided to finally take action and pursue my irrepressible burlesque curiosity. Why not? I thought to myself as I perused the school's web site. Nobody can mind your bizniz when you're single and you don't have to explain nothin' to nobody! So I clicked on the submit button and started a whole new career I never thought could be mine.

A few new performers have emailed me from my Facebook account and from this blog asking for advice on how to get started on their budding burlesque career. This is definitely something I could have used more when I was starting out. If I went back in time and gave newbie me advice, I would offer the following:

1. Kittening is invaluable. That is where you are introduced to the community, to producers, seasoned performers, and other good people to know. It is also where I learned how other people produce a show from how to put things together, how to negotiate with the venue, things that you need, all the various details that make a show run smoothly. I kittened for over a year before transitioning out of kittening as a performer. Stage kittening is not a lucrative, stand around look pretty, and get drunk gig. Stage kittens get more stage time on stage than performers, they are also the direct link to the stage for performers, and they are the ones who will retrieve all the precious costume pieces back successfully. One trick I used to have when kittening longer, complicated shows is to ask each performer how many costume pieces they will discard on stage and match those numbers up. Often you are retrieving thongs and panties from dark corners so having a number to tally up for each performer really helped. I've never had a kitten lose a piece of costume until recently and it's a performer's worst heartbreak - losing an important costume piece that sometimes is impossible to recreate.

Lefty Lucy, co-producer of Drive-Thru Burlesque, founding member of StoryBook Burlesque, AND Miss Coney Island 2011, also had this to say about the value of kittening:
Stage kittening is awesome! Some people have attitude about it, but it's a wonderful way to get paid to go see a show you would have seen anyway, plus you get to hang out with the performers backstage, and your name will be in the promo material so that other performers start to hear about you more.


2. Go see the shows you want to be in. One of my biggest pet peeves is getting booking inquiries from people who have never been to any of my shows. All four of my shows vary tremendously in style and what kind of acts I can and can not book. This may be surprising to many people, but I work very hard at my relationships with the venues I work with and I book to their preference. For instance, I will never book a bloody neo-act at Hotel Chantelle's Friday night show but I will book that kind of act for Nurse Bettie on Thursdays and at Beatles Burlesque. So when someone emails me and asks to be booked at Nurse Bettie for their act that has a gigantic costume, I won't even reply because if they had taken the time to come to Nurse Bettie, they would know there is no room whatsoever for a big costume on stage or off stage.

Honi Harlow, producer and host of the Wednesday night show at Nurse Bettie and "Harlow's Hideaway" at Ella Lounge said:

It definitely helps when looking for new performers if I have meet you, and you have seen the show, the space, the vibe ect. 














Jo Weldon, who is many of our "first encounter" (haha), suggests:
The best way to learn about burlesque and network in the burlesque world is to just go to shows and say hello to people. Many of my students have made friends in classes and at showcases and have gone on to produce shows or create troupes with those friends.
Be willing to intern on shows in other ways than as a performer. Kitten, go-go dance, help with merch and the door. You'll learn a lot really fast.




  
Depending on how much free time and money one has in the "fun fund", going to see shows is the best way to introduce yourself to the producers. For me personally meeting someone in person will cement their names and personality in my mind more so than a Facebook "poke", know what I mean? When I first started I made a list of shows I would like to perform in and just went down the list one by one. You have to remember also that many producers (not all, some like to book the same regular performers again and again) like to book new people. New performers often bring their friends to their debut which means a bigger house which means more financial gain for everyone in the show.


Sizzle Dizzle, co-producer of Drive Thru Burlesque, agrees by saying:
Go see shows! We love seeing burly-q peeps out in the audience- the sense of community is so refreshing. Introduce yourself to the producer(s) and let them know you're interested in performing. We love new blood!

 












3. Have proper backstage behavior.  I've been lucky to have worked with performers and aspiring performers alike who have not been divas or nuisance backstage. I have heard stories however and have witness things going awry backstage. There has been plenty of times when someone is just a little too crazy, chatty, or off their rockers before and during a show - that kind of hectic energy is NOT appreciated or constructive to everyone's headspace at a show. It is NOT cute. Not cool. And NOT fabulous. I understand the excitement of working behind-the-scenes and meeting legends like World Famous Bob, Angie Pontani, Murray Hill or any of the performers one have admired from afar and now they are right in front of you. But you have to remember that this is a show and everyone is trying to bring their A-game, run through their acts, and get themselves organized. Producers usually have all of that to keep track of on top of all the other details of running the show. So offer your availability to help if they need anything, be alert and helpful, and stay out of people's way. Don't monopolize people's time backstage with endless chatter about your day, your love life, what you had for lunch - unless someone is starting the conversation and wants to chit chat with you.

A lot of backstage behavior is common sense. Observe and learn. Another interesting point that Jo mentioned that I didn't think of before is how to present yourself in front of seasoned performers. Jo adds:
Remember that they love that you love burlesque, but if you come across as too ambitious they may be uncomfortable. It may seem to you like they have burlesque on a silver platter, but everybody has to work hard to get gigs, so respect that they don't have it as easy as it may appear.
The bubbling enthusiasm of a new performer who wants to discuss her acts and ideas can sometimes be misconstrued. It's important to frame yourself in a constructive manner. Here's an example:
Bad: "OMG, I have this act where I'm wearing (fill in the blank) and I do (fill in the blank), then in the end I (fill in the blank). Isn't it awesome? I have never seen ANYONE do anything like my idea. I really think I will go far in burlesque!"
Better Way of Phrasing: "I am working on a new act that involves me doing (fill in the blank) - what do you think?"
Jo offers the following suggestion:
Get to know several experienced performers and ask them what they love to see new performers do. What they hate to see new performers do sometimes has something to do with personal issues, so frame it positively — ask them what they'd like to see and consider whether those are things that help you do what you want to do with burlesque.
In Jo's "The Burlesque Handbook" she dedicates a chapter on backstage etiquette. This is an absolute must-read. You can read some of the highlights from this chapter at her website at http://www.schoolofburlesque.com/theburlesquehandbook/excerpt.shtml 



Kittening for one of Jo's shows in Coney Island. I was a BAD maid who kept stealing other people's costumes!

4. Check yourself before you wreck yourself. My last piece of advice is to stop comparing yourself to other performers. This is applicable in all aspects of life, not just in burlesque. It's human to compare oneself to others and gauge how successful or not successful you are. But the danger is when you become angry and jealousy rears its ugly head. I've seen this happen several times in burlesque friendships. There is constructive comparison where you see something amazing and you go, "I wonder how I can elevate my act so that it's on the same level of BAM as so-and-so's act" - and I don't mean copying someone's choreography or costuming ideas. Ask yourself what makes that particular act so amazing: is it the performer's commitment to the persona? Is it the music choice? Often it is just experience and who they are that makes their act amazing. Constructive comparison also includes, "What are they doing differently that I'm not?" Perhaps that performer spends more time networking or use her nights off taking sewing or dance classes to help her create better costumes or enhance her stage presence. It could be anything. There's just no way to know scientifically or objectively. Our business is based on personal preferences stemmed from individual personal histories that have been influenced by a gazillion things. Going down the path of negative comparison and asking "Why did so-and-so get this and not me?" only breeds paranoia.

In my most defeated hour (I was this close in quitting burlesque completely in the beginning after experiencing a few rejections), I caught myself doing the "destructive comparison" - the "why her and not me" - which didn't lead to anything pro-active or made myself feel better about anything. So I sat down and took a hard, honest look and realized that I wasn't developing acts I was completely committed to. They just weren't "me".

And on this point, Vivienne Vermouth, burlesque performer and producer of Broads & Panties in my hometown Dallas, Texas and also a crazy talented makeup artist, advices:

Find the niche of burlesque that speaks to you (classic, neo, horror, etc) and really ponder, write out, and create stories to tell on stage. If you put your heart and soul into a routine, it shows, and your passion will get you booked. It also helps to go to area shows, be a supporting patron, and chat up the producers. Offer to help on a show, learn the ropes and you'll soon be in like flynt!






It may also help to take other classes to help you expand and figure things out. Jo also advices performers to take dance and theater classes as well as burlesque classes to help one grow and be inspired via other mediums.

Juliet Jeske, a chameleon hostess who used to produce Wham, Bam, Slam and a baker extraordinaire, says:
I always recommend interested performers should take classes at the NY School of Burlesque, because with a few exceptions, the quality of the performers who have taken classes is much better.  I also recommend Jo Weldon's Burlesque handbook as she gives excellent technical advice and performance etiquette.  Usually but not always, a trained performer is a better performer.  



 






5. Following Up & Promoting. So now what? You've gone and introduced yourself to the producers you want to work with, you've debuted a few time, but the bookings are still hard to come by. Here's another tip I've learned from my day career. After meeting the producer don't be afraid to send a follow-up email (just like after a job interview) and offer your availability as a kitten, gogo, or door girl, and if you have video clips of your acts, send that along with a description of what your act is. This makes the booking part of the job much easier when there are pictures and video clips to look at. I never book anyone who I have never seen perform AND doesn't have video clips to show me. Video clips can tell me a lot about a performer's ability, control, and presence on stage. Unless they are a veteran of the performance world, then obviously I won't need to see a clip. This is why I created the "sacrificial lamb" position in all my shows. It's an unpaid slot for newer performers who I haven't seen live. A way for me to get to know their style, what they are like backstage, and their acts. I appeciate all the invitation to see new performers' shows but between 2 weekly shows and 2 monthly shows on top of other people's shows that I perform in, I simply do not have the time. 

Then if you are booked for a show - PROMOTE, PROMOTE, PROMOTE! I can not say this enough and how much it makes someone stand out in my mind when they use their social media platforms smartly and push the show. As a producer this means extra to me and it shows you are computer savvy and know a thing or two about creating a buzz and fan base for yourself. (Updated: The owner of Nurse Bettie have actually just given the directive not to book performers who do not promote their booking from hence forth.) So you see, you can't just expect to show up and not promote your own show. Even Dita von Teese is super active in Twittering her tours, her brand lines, perfume, sweaters, lingerie. And Mila Jovovich too! She's constantly twittering about the film she is working on and other projects. So unless you think you are bigger than Dita or Milla, promote the event you are booked in. Start collecting emails of fans who talk to you. Send your email blasts and updates to NON-PERFORMERS. You need to target civilians who attend the show and NOT performers. I get performer updates all the time and why? I have no idea. I know who they are, and I know what they do. I don't need to know where they are performing in the month. Civilians are your fans!

Lastly, I keep in mind this little mantra all my life: Everyone has a path they are destined to be on. Don't be distracted by what's happening on other people's paths. Stay focused and work hard on yours and good things will happen.

I have also learned from my decade long designer day career that when clients don't pick my design direction it isn't personal. Some clients want a conservative blue/beige palette with a giant logo. 90% of the time it has nothing to do with the actual design aesthetic. Like the world of acting, people are cast based on their face, body types, voice, race - many things that you can't change or control which is probably why many actors are crazy and paranoid. There is almost no objectivity so you have to really watch yourself. In burlesque it is the same. Some people get booked for certain gigs because the promoters want a certain look, or frankly, they just like them better. I get booked for some gigs and not others. I don't take it personally. I'm preaching the uneasy truth, but one must try not to internalize these things. One person doesn't like you, another will. Like me, Rice University rejected me for undergrad but Cornell University accepted me. And that led me to be in NYC for the rest of my adult life. Showbiz is probably not for you if you continually feel hurt and defeated. If it's driving you crazy not knowing, you can always politely and genuinely ask the producer for constructive criticism on how to make an act more suitable for the show you want to be in.



Oct 12, 2011

"Drunken Dragon Nights" Oct 24 & "Drinks & Inks" Oct 25

Please note that both events have strict RSVPs. If you plan to attend and I hope you do cause both are going to be very popular, please RSVP ASAP. I love you all, but I can't get everyone in if you don't click that little email button and hit send. Cheerio!

It's back!!

I will be performing along with Gal Friday & Hazel Honeysuckle. Kittening by Sydney Sunrise.

Sep 26, 2011

The Dirty Rice in the Dirty South

I was in New Orleans to perform in the 3rd Annual New Orleans Burlesque Festival a couple of weeks ago. I was in the Friday night "Bad Girls of Burlesque" show at the House of Blues. Not only did I met amazingly talented women and men alike but I got to experience the city of New Orleans for the first time! There were things I loved and not loved about this infamous city. I loved the charming architecture, the enchanting history and music culture, and the rich air that was palpable with folklore and mystery the minute you set foot in the French Quarter. As soon as my boyfriend and I checked in the Westin (the official festival hotel) we dumped our bags and went exploring. Naturally, the first stop was where all the strip bars were on Bourbon Street!

Strip clubs on Bourbon Street!
There were some skeevy men hanging out in front of every strip club but I did enjoy oogling the black girls in metallic bikinis doing their New Orleans "bounce". Bounce describes a popular dance trend and a type of party where all the girls bounce their booty up and down and all over the place making it all jiggly. The music usually goes something like this, "Make the booty bounce, make the booty bounce, Make the booty bounce!" and "Up, down, up, down, up, down!"








Obviously I could never master the bounce cause I have flat Asian booty as seen here which is all the more reason why I love watching other performers do butt tricks. The two NYC performers who in my humble opinion are the reigning booty-queens are Gal Friday and Peekaboo Pointe. It's hypnotizing to watch them shake their booty. It just reverberates like an earthquake in my eyeballs and I can't look away!




So after quickly experiencing the drunken fraternity atrocity that is Bourbon Street we made our way to Cafe Amelie where I had the best shrimp and grits and crabcakes I've ever eaten! This was just the beginning of me saying "the best (fill in the blank) I've ever eaten" for the rest of the week. Sure enough the next night, Thursday, we went to the famous Vaughn's Lounge where Kermit Ruffins have played for over ten years! Kermit is famous for being a jazz musician, a chef, and a regular on HBO's show Treme. Everyone I talked to knew who he was. That night was an extra special night because Kermit was cooking for everyone and playing with his brass band. HBO and FoodTV were there to film the line of people queuing up for his food. I was so glad that Armitage Shanks (from Seattle who was also the MC for my show on Friday night) told me about it and Peekaboo Pointe went with us that night. Kermit made dirty rice and beans, grilled some crazy delicious andouille sausage, salmon, sweet potato, and Peekaboo's favorite, grilled quail! I was to find out more about Peek's bold culinary tastes on this trip too...

Peekaboo Pointe & I at Vaughns Lounge
After seeing Kermit play we went to the 2nd after-party that Rick Delaup (producer of the NOBF) organized for all the performers. We also went to the Wednesday night party in his suite at the Westin, and like the Thursday night party at Broussard's, it was a very fun and open bar event. The Wednesday night one was actually curtailed because hotel guests complained about the noise we were making.





Thursday After Party at Broussards with Lou Lou D'vil, Bettina May, Mina Mechante, Deidre Doll, Charlotte Treuse
What I liked most about these parties is meeting in person people I know from Facebook. For instance I finally got to meet met Burgundy Brixx from Vancouver. She produces Kitty Nights there and I've heard so much about her through Fem Appeal. I also met Betsy Bottomdollar from Victoria (also in Canada) and she is SO fun and a total riot! We all went to the Carousel Bar in Hotel Monteleon after Broussards where the bar rotates ever....so......slowly...... while you sip away at your cocktail. There was a vampire convention at the Monteleon so it was really funny to see all these "vampiric" Twilight-to-be's hanging out at the bar drinking. Betsy said that these "vampires" have a system of gestural language to communicate amongst each other. For instance, if you cross your arms and put them across your chest, it means you are "invisible". If you raise your arms above your head, it means you've transformed into a werewolf! Hahahahahahahahah. I can't wait to be "invisible" next time I rob a bank or don't pick up Chewie's poop on the street.
Me and Betsy Bottomdollar
Friday was my show day and I usually take it pretty easy so we didn't go walking around for hours in the New Orleans sun. I went to tech/sound check at The House of Blues in the afternooon, and I was very impressed with how organized, on time, professional and nice everyone were.

Show Setlist for "Bad Girls of Burlesque"!
Everything from day one has been running like a well-oiled machine and that's major kudos to Rick Delaup. It's a three day festival with a lot of people coming from all over the place. The show was beautiful and I met even MORE women backstage. There were hot food provided for us too. Rice and beans and grilled chicken. My favorite combination. Gimme a bit of Tabasco, I can eat this every day!

Here are some of my favorite photos from the "Bad Girls" show and Saturday night's "Queen of Burlesque" show.

Iva Handful, sodomizer of fan dance
Medianoche who competed in Saturday night's Queen of Burlesque
With Angi Bee-Lovely from Dallas. She does beautiful aerial work!















I would have spraypainted this plastic astronaut helmet silver and developed an act to "Space Oddity" by David Bowie
Saturday was my official day off! We spent the day walking up and down Magazine Street shopping and had brunch at Slim Goodies Diner. There were great vintage shopping and I almost bought this astronaut helmet. I didn't because I still had to go to Dallas, Texas after New Orleans plus my fans to carry...USAirways charged $25 per luggage! And you know what all airlines now charge to travel with an in-cabin pet? $125 EACH WAY!!! It's totally fucked up. It used to be $80 each way for Chewie, but every year, they unreasonably raise the price for carrying a pet who doesn't even sit in a chair so they are NOT taking up extra room other than the pet owner having to share their feet space. On top of that, you can't use your miles to pay for your pet. It's totally a greedy way for the airlines to make more money. Traveling nowadays is definitely NOT fun or glamorous like the show Pan Am...it's just stress and sheer boredom and annoying strange men trying to strike up conversations with you even after you make a big show of putting on your headphones.

We also took the tram on Saturday after stumbling around Magazine Street and going into Commander's Palace in our shorts (ooops). They were in-between brunch and dinner so Michael took some impromptu "hair" photos across the street in front of Lafayette Cementery. He took quite a few great shots that I love on the street, not "burlesquey" pictures but regular, more fashion-inspired shots since that is his day job and background. You can see them here on my Facebook page.
Some fun outtakes













Earlier I mentioned how enchanted I was with the architecture in New Orleans. It seemed like every porch and every corner house with open balcony windows beckoned to me to leave NYC and come spend balmy nights sipping a chilled Sazerac on the porch with perhaps a vintage palm-leafed fan lazily spinning on the ceiling...aaah. We even looked at some real estate rental listings and talked to a couple friendly locals on the street who gave us some pointers. It's a lot cheaper to live in NO, obviously it's a lot cheaper to live anywhere other than NYC! I just realized during this trip to the south that I've been in New York since 1998 - that's 13 grubby years! These thoughts and more have become more frequent the last 5 years. Thoughts about leaving NY, where to go, why to go... these  beautiful buildings in their silent majesty and power can evoke strong feelings of longing for something unknown... New Orleans is indeed magical in this sense.


Sunday was our last day in NO. We went back to Mothers which was just down the street cause I become obsessed with their crawfish etouffe. It was the best thing I've ever eaten! We also discovered a casual, cheap taqueria called Felipe by the hotel that was surprisingly delicious! We went there almost every day for their fish tacos that were $1.85 a piece and seasoned so perfectly. We also went on the free cocktail tour that Rick had so kindly organized for out-of-towners given by the very knowledgeable and fun Brian Huff. He took us to 4 different places: Sylvaine (I had a Moscow Mule), Pirates Alley Cat Cafe (I drank Absinthe but couldn't finish it...hate the taste), Court of Two Sisters (Pimms Cup), and the last stop was Arnaud's where I had the French75. Peekaboo met us here at the end of the tour, ravenous. We all ordered nibbles to eat and she ordered turtle soup! I was impressed that a white girl was ordering like a Chinese person, a turtle soup! Holy reptiles. Arnaud's was most interesting because of the rich family history that is full of twists and turns. The daughter of Arnaud, Germaine, was a notorious figure among many other things. The restaurant has a non-publicized mardi gras museum upstairs displaying several of Germaine's opulent mardi gras gowns from decades past. This was an amazing spectacle and I'm so glad Jo Boobs told me to check it out. Besides the amazing craftsmanship and devotion to the annual event, the museum is supposedly HAUNTED! If you see unexplained reflections in these photos that's probably why...






  
In my zeal for haunted history I convinced Betsy and Paul, Lucy Sky Diamond, and Peekaboo Pointe to go on a haunted tour called "Ghosts & Vampires" with me Sunday night. Our tour guide was a kooky old lady who was very...animated. I felt bad that I made everyone spend $20 on a tour that was not what we expected. We were expecting more of a historical fact tour about locations, buildings, and landmarks. Not a comedic re-enactment full of ghost noises. It would have been perfect for a younger group, just not for us. But - she did take us in front of a building where a ghost named "Julie" haunts the roof where she froze to death trying to prove her love to her lover. She said that by the fourth shot on an automatic camera you will get light globes and sure enough, three people in our group of about 15 captures light globes in their photos of all different sizes and locations. That was pretty scary and that wrapped up my trip!

The next morning Michael went back to NYC and I went to Dallas. I was booked to perform in Vivienne Vermouth's show "The Orient Express" at The Bone in Deep Ellum that week, and it was something I was really looking forward to. Three of my high school friends came with 3-4 of their friends. My brother and sister-in-law came with 4 of their friends. My mom and my aunt came. And an old childhood friend came with her husband. It was an amazing night and my first time performing in Texas! I made my brother go out to smoke a cigarette when I performed, and he did! Haha. I met several people including the beautiful pin-up model Angela Ryan who I met last year in NYC when she came to my Thursday show at Nurse Bettie. Here are some of my favorite pictures from the show. That's the end of this posting! Now that I've taken off TWO whole months from my day job, the job that pays for my rent and my rhinestones, I am going to buckle down for the fall/winter and save some money!