Wednesday, April 21, 2010

2010-04-20 Atlanta Photographers Guild Burlesque Camera Club

Fellow Syrens of the South regulars Rosie Palms and D'lilah D'lite modeled for the Atlanta Photographers Guild(APG) Burlesque Camera Club(BCC) and I attended to help wrangle the models and take some photos with my Nikon D90 12.3MP Digital SLR Camera (Body Only) and get some behind the scenes footage on my Flip Camera.  We were pleasantly surprised to find Minette Magnifique, Atlanta's newest burlesque troupe, was having their debut photo shoot there as well.  We played dress up with the girls and ran through them all fairly quickly as far as number of girls verses time with shoots.  I think that my girls may have been a bad influence on the new troupe as there was dog piles, spankings and mounting...I am sure that Rosie and D'lilah's frisky examples led the new troupe down the garden path of naughtiness!
Minette Magnifique is the brain child of my girls Kellyn of Atlanta's Pinup Girls Cosmetics and Shelly of VONschmalhausen, both ladies have been super awesome friends to both myself and Syrens of the South over the years.  Minette Magnifique will have the debut on May 1st at Zibas.  Sadly I won't be able to attend as I will be performing at midnight for Anachrocon with Syrens of the South, but I do wish them the best of luck with their debut!
As per usual you can check out all of my photos on Flickr.  Below is a video of some of the shoot and some very random backstage silliness.  There's some interesting discussions about waffles that I hope you guys find as amusing as I did.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

2010-04-15-18 Windy City Burlesque Festival

This past weekend Talloolah Love and I were lucky enough to go to Windy City Burlesque Festival in Chicago, IL. You can check out all of my photos on Flickr.  I took over 1200 photos through out the weekend and there are pictures of the performers I mention here, as well as many other amazing performers, there were just too many to mention all of them in this post.
We arrived on Thursday, took two trains a bus an a cab to where we were staying and got ready for the opening gala. There was a red carpet and a jam packed audience. My only complaint about that evening was it was really crowded and there for really hot, but that rise in temperature could have just been because of the amazing performers! They strutted down the bar to a platform on the end of the stage to take it off for all of us. It was high energy and full of laughs! There was a nice variety of acts, including: balloons, an Indian Princess (feathers, not dots), rockabilly bad girls, puppets and a lot of food references. Honestly, after the performances I did wonder if I shouldn't have brought the French Chef routine seeing as there was a salad number, a grape number, a Carmen Miranda number with a banana in the pants etc...perhaps I should have sat on a cake, lol. The night was a lot of fun and we got to catch up with a lot of friends from all over that had come in for the festival and meet some of the performers that we'll get to see again at Texas Burlesque Fest this coming weekend and at Vancouver International Burlesque Fest next month.

On the second day, as I was to perform at the 10pm Main Stage show, I had a quick and dirty well organized and easy peasy tech. No really, I was in and out of tech in under 10 minutes, it was amazing! Afterwards, Talloolah Love and I went back and began the process of getting ready. I was able to watch the 8pm Main Stage Show with Talloolah Love and Gia Nova. It was wonderful! Foxy Tann did a the best routine to "I'll Keep Sittin' on It (If I Can't Sell It)" that I have ever seen.  Penny Starr Jr did a routine that I think speaks to all performers who have had to screw on their smile before they go on stage and, of course Ray Gunn...OMG, he was amazing and I still don't know how he kept his gesture of a half a thong on. He told me it was magic and I kind of believe him. He did a pole dance routine to an amazing version Kaa's song "Trust in Me (The Python's Song)" from the Jungle Book. Had I been Eve, I would have happily taken the apple from him and asked for more.  Kellita closed out the first show with an amazingly high energy inspired performance!  I'm not just saying I liked her number because she was wearing leopard print, I promise!  As per usual she shimmied her way into the audience's hearts and was a great choice for a finale!
I was not able to watch all of the 10pm Main Stage show since I was back stage getting ready to perform.  The second half of the show was amazing.  I had my camera out and was taking pictures as fast as I could.  I was most sad that I missed the Stage Door Johnnies (which included Ray Gunn) as they went on right after I did.  When they came of stage they had merkins with things like "POW", "BANG" and "KABLOOIE" written on them in comic book font.  I was really, really sad to miss that.  My favorite act from the second show was Anna Fur Laxis doing her Good vs Bad Bettie Page Tribute.  Not that the other performers weren't also amazing, but this was so insanely clever and well executed that I was just blown away.  Her movements and facial expressions were flawless.  Madame X singing about her friendly little cat and Hot Tamale doing her routine to Not An Addict was a big fun mess of chocolate syrup!  I still have the song stuck in my head, lol.

On Saturday Talloolah Love and I took Kitten DeVille's Bump and Grind Class.  It was an amazing class.  It wasn't that we didn't know how to shimmy, but her transitions are amazing and some of her pointers were so simple but things we hadn't thought of, but when she mentioned them a bell went off in our heads.  The warm up was great and the drills we're really helpful!  Afterwards I had tech and heard the Satanic version of my Betty Crocker number but we were able to fix it by my bringing in my laptop, or so we thought...  Then I taught my Business of Burlesque Class, which I was told was the highest attended class at the Festival.  I guess everyone's sick of not making money!  Honestly with some of the big names in my class I was a smidge nervous, but got over it really quickly.  The students listened, took notes and had some really great questions for me.  As per usually I was taking just as many notes in an attempt to make the class better for next time.  I always know its been a good class when at the end everyone is handing info back and forth to help each other and I feel like I've learned a few things as well.
Saturday night, myself, Talloolah Love and Gia Nova performed at 10:30pm on two separate stages.  We we noticed we were all in blue with aprons and our acts all mentioned food so apparently we're perpetuating the myth that all Southern women need to be in the kitchen baking a pie, lol.  There were a few minor technical difficulties, such as I performed with out my no music at all.  The sound system died about 30 seconds into my Betty Crocker routine so I just kept going.  The same thing happened on the other stage to Gia Nova so we decided that music is for sissies and we're going to start Mime Burlesque!  Honestly it wasn't the festival's fault.  After we did tech the plays running on the stages had to make some adjustments for their shows and the festival staff weren't told so there was no way to know it was going to happen.  I still feel that my number was still well received even with out music and I got some compliments for being so professional which was really sweet and made me feel really good about my choice to keep going.
I only got to see the acts after me that were on my stage.  Iva Handful did an amazing Snake Act to NIN, Closer and Ray Gunn did an amazing chair work routine.  I swear that he maybe the hardest working man in boylesque!  Hot Tamale was our MC until she ended up covered in shaving cream and did a routine of stripping the cream off her body with knives.  Yup, Talloolah and I are a little in love with her and had a great time having pizza with her after we were done packing up everything after the show.

Sunday, Talloolah and I were sad to leave Chicago but glad to be going home.  We had an amazing time and were so delirious from lack of sleep that we were pretty punch drunk.  We said goodbye to our amazing hosts, the world's coolest cat and set off for home.  The only thing I didn't like about the whole weekend was on Saturday there were multiple shows going on at the same time so we didn't get to see everyone's acts.  I would have really liked to have seen Kitten DeVille perform, but as she was at 10pm on Saturday on a different stage that wasn't possible.  The shows I did get to see were well put together and had a great flow and mass amounts of talent.  I would say that over all, especially for a first year festival, it was amazing and we had a great time.  I would definitely recommend this festival to other performers.  Hopefully next year there will be a way to see all of the amazing performers that they bring in as I am sure it's just going to grow in popularity.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

2010-04-10 Interviews and Video Diary

So it's been crazy and it took me a minute to edit the videos.  I decided that since I could, I should also interview all of the students.  Fritzengreuben went and hid from me after the show (by hid I mean he was filming the other two non student shows) so I wasn't able to do his exit interview.  Here are interviews with our fabulous students as well as my roving video diary of backstage shenanigans. Special thanks to Talloolah Love for forcing me to learn how to edit, lol. I got everything edited before the Windy City Burlesque Fest in Chicago but didnt have a chance to put them up before I left. I'll have a whole new set of pictures and interviews and random bit of Talloolah Love and I acting silly later this week! All of my videos were shot on my trusty Flip UltraHD Camcorder, I loves it so much!  With out it I would not be able to carry it around for emergency backstage filming and you would never know how silly we truly are!

Monday, April 12, 2010

2010-04-10 Syrens of the South Student Showcase and 3rd Annual Spring Chicken Show

This is a review of the Syrens of the South Fourth Student Showcase.  I'm not going to lie, as I am one of the teachers for the Syrens of the South ABCs & 123s of Burlesque Class Series, I am about as biased as a mother is to her children; but let me tell you I am one proud momma!  Talloolah Love and I made a point to break out the nice evening wear so we weren't shown up by our new students since they're costumes were to the nines!  We had a mixture of students that started late into the fall classes or couldn't make the Third Student Showcase in December and students that started brand new with the beginning of the class series in January.  I am going to go in order that they went on stage:

We were very excited to have our very first student MC Fritzengrueben, which I am sure I am misspelling so hopefully he will correct me.  As I can't spell I did introduce him as "Fritzy Pants" which backstage somehow turned into "Fritzy Pants Off Dance Off"...but I digress.  Fritz used to perform on a regular basis in theater when he was younger and this student showcase was the first time he had been on stage in about seventeen years.  Though he was a little nervous before we brought him out on stage he quickly loosened up and rolled with the punches with the help of his flask.  He was prepared with jokes, he handled the heckling well and treated all of the performers with respect.  As he has also been helping us behind the scenes with lights for quite a while the heckling from our regular patrons and staff was fairly epic and he handled it with flying colors!  We're very excited that he's planning on continuing to MC with us at shows in the future and hope that the rest of the world will enjoy him as much as we did.

Lola Le Soleil opened the show with a remake of the Pink song Get The Party Started by Dame Shirley Bassey.  First of all, I know that many other people may be familiar with that remake, but I was not.  The song is awesome and really set the mood for her whole number.  With a character background as an international jewel thief her costume was appropriately bling-tastic.  Lola has a background as a dancer and she has been trained in both salsa and belly dance so moving on stage was nothing new to her, but being in a solo situation with a character she created and taking a little bit off was brand new to her and she handled it with grace and confidence of a veteran!  We're really excited that she is interested in continuing to perform after her debut so we'll hopefully see more of her miles of legs and miles of smiles again really soon!

Next up was the vivacious vixen Sukie Tawdry who's tag line is that she's thinking of going into interior decorating as her carpets match her drapes!  She came out with big hair, blue eye shadow and a spectacularly shiny blue sequined cocktail dress in her Vegas tribute with the song Sugar Daddy by Tom Jones.  She was the embodiment of slow and sensual as she peeled through her clothes.  She was the only performer that decided to utilize props this evening with pulling jewelry her "sugar daddy" gave her as well as doing some impressive chair work.  This, along with her incredible shrinking panties, made her a tempestuous treat for the audience.  She had never really done much performing before and she took to it like a fish to water and definitely "Sukied it to us".  We're happy to add her to our roster of performers and we are hoping to be showing her off as our guest at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Reunion in the blue sequined dress of course!

Last, but certainly not least was our second ever boylesque student and our first boylesque student to do it in drag!  Fonda Linguel (pronounced "fonda ling") was the epitome of classic burlesque with the song Zip Strip by The "Keep Your Shirt on Band".  Her tag line is The Mistress of Illusion and a well deserved tag line at that.  Fonda was a professional ballerina dancer and has been doing drag for quite a few years now when she decided that taking that next step to taking it all off to show just how good an illusion it was.  Obviously not new to the stage and our most experienced performer out of the student showcase, Fonda Linguel embodied the art of the tease, taking the audience for a wonderfully classic and classy ride.  We are sure to expect great things out of this performer career and can't wait to share this treat with the world of boylesque!

We're very proud of all of our students and a special shout out goes to Vaniety Wolf who was supposed to perform, but a bout of strep throat kept her out of the show.  You can catch her debut at our next student showcase in August before the Syrens of the South Anniversary Show!

After the Student Showcase we delved into the silliest show of the year, The 3rd Annual Spring Chicken Show.  Yes, I said 3rd Annual, we live in Georgia and there's fried chicken on every corner.  When I first moved here in Nov of 2001there was a Church's and Popeye's directly across the street from each other on Ponce de Leon and they both had enough sales that they both stayed in business for years until the economy tanked...The Popeye's won.  As I am uncomfortable reviewing shows I produce I'll give you a run down of what you missed if you weren't able to make the show....

The show included, in no particular order: The Colonel, cowgirls; songs about cock (the rooster of course); dancing giant Peeps; Scarlett and Rhett live sized puppets; rebel flag bikinis, deadly chickens, juggling rubber chickens; juggling eggs and chickens and waffles while stripping; giant 42 inch rubber chickens, girls sitting in cakes, chickens twirling tassels, and THE CHICKEN GUN!

I sadly wasn't able to take any pictures of the Spring Chicken show because I was busy backstage with my changes, but I did get to take a decent amount of photos of the students.  Also, as an added bonus, we got a special surprise visit from Sadie Hawkins and Dickie van Dyke from Blastoff Burlesque so there's some pictures of those shenanigans as well!  You can check out my photos from the night in my Flickr set, and you can always check out the Syrens of the South Flickr Pool to see what everyone else took!

And, just on principal, you too can order your very own 21" rubber chicken so you can be prepared for next year!

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Lady is a Stripper by Dusty Summers

I have been fortunate enough to have met Dusty Summers on several occasions at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Reunion Weekend in Las Vegas.  After watching her perform on Legend's Night as Las Vegas' only nude magician I was an instant fan of her skill and charisma.  I was even more impressed when I found out she was a pit boss for a casino in Las Vegas, where she lives still.  She was kind enough to let me interview her for my Burlesque History Class, so when I found out that she had a book I had to track it down to read it.  It's a really quick and easy read and I devoured it in a relatively short period of time since I couldn't put it down.

This book is an amazing and heart wrenching tale of a woman over coming all odds to find love, happiness and success.  It begins with the hardships and abuse she suffered with her sister from her family to a series of husbands that weren't much better.  The physical and mental abuse was devastating and is a testament to the amazingly strong woman she is today.  Her rise to a Featured Performer is an amazingly inspiring story of guts an sheer force of will.  Taking her daughter with her in an RV on tour during the summer months so she could make enough money to support her family and spend time together is so touching and shows the lengths a mother will go to do what's best for her child.  Her husbands may have come and gone, but her love  and devotion for her sister and daughter were unending.

As a burlesque performer, I found many parts of the book truly inspiring.  Having been crammed in a car for hours going from burlesque show to burlesque show I did envy her talking about having a sleeper trailer or RV.  Reading about the love and dedication she showed for the art form and the things she did to make sure she never compromised herself as a person really meant a lot to me.  She was able to become a living legend by never doing anything she wasn't comfortable with or didn't want to do.  Dusty Summers did everything in her life on her terms.  Through all of her hardships and trials she took everything in stride and with a grace that is seldom seen today.  Dusty Summers is truly a Lady and everything that goes along with being such.  I do truly think that if more neo-burlesquers read the books by the amazing legends who came before us they would have a much greater appreciation of the freedoms we have today as performers.