Thursday, January 31, 2013

2013-01-30 RIP Patty Andrews, The Last Andrews Sister

Patty Andrews was the last surviving member of The Andrews Sisters.  She passed away at age 94 in her home in Los Angeles.  She was the lead singer of The Andrews Sisters.  They recorded over 400 songs and sold more than 80 million records during their long career. You can check out a lot of their amazingness in The Best of the Andrews Sisters.  Known mostly for their work with the USO and entertaining troops over seas, they held a special place in the hearts of many of the service men they entertained and brought hope to during those dark times during World War II.  They were the first sister act to break away from being huddled around a microphone singing to dancing to the music during breaks in the songs which really brought up the energy and made it more of a stage show which put them ahead of the other acts of that time period.  They were also recorded with popular bands of the time period, such as Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller.  Patty was preceded in death by her husband and both of her sisters. LaVerne Andrews died in 1967 of cancer and Maxene Andrews died in 1995 of a heart attack.

I was always a big fan of the Andrew Sisters thanks to my grandmother's love of music.  When I first started doing burlesque I was in a period themed troupe and I tried to track down everything I could as far as music from the 1940s.  Every single compilation or box set I could find was full of their hits.  The Andrew Sisters were everywhere and had songs that ranged from up beat messages of hope to slow sad ballads that were full of longing to be at home with your loved ones.  Each beautiful song held meaning and frozen moments of time for a war where so many passed away and would never see their loved ones again.  They spread their songs from base camp to base camp helping bring a little piece of home to all of those soldiers over seas.  It's a sad day that the last piece of history and American Patriotism that was The Andrews Sisters is now gone, hopefully they're doing beautiful trios in the afterlife.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Warm Bodies

One of the perks of working for Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse is that sometimes through out the year you hear about cool things like screenings and get to see movies for free on the big screen before they're released to the public.  Warm Bodies, being about zombies, was right up AZA's alley.

I went to the movie expecting it to be kind of campy and it totally could have gone that way, but it was actually very well done, really fun and I was pleasantly surprised.  I loved that they didn't explain where zombies came from, in the first five minutes they go over that it could have been an engineered virus, a disease, a monkey bite or the gates of hell; all the traditional reasons for zombies, but no one knows and it doesn't matter.  Zombies exist and that's just a fact that you have to accept to move on.  I like that the zombies have a little mystery.  I am a huge fan of zombie movies and there are so many different zombie-verses each with it's own explanation as to where zombies came from.  Sometimes it's nice for the film to be about the undead instead of why the undead exist.  I really loved the explanation of why zombies eat brains.  I'm not going to give it away, you'll just have to go see the movie, but I thought it was a very nice touch.  That's the one thing most zombie movies don't bother to explain so I'm glad they took the time to make it more interesting instead of just mindlessly wanting brains for no specific reason.

The idea of a zombie/human love story had a nice blend of eeew and awe.  You know he's dead, but you're still rooting for him to get the girl!  There were some really great one liners and a very coherent story arch.  I, and the rest of the audience, laughed out loud many times through out the film.  There were also some very touching moments that made you care and really relate to the characters.  It was a little, oh by the way in case you didn't get the message of the film, we're going to spell it out for you at the end, but it was very brief and didn't take away from the fun of the story so I'm willing to forgive it.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it to everyone!

Warm Bodies is based on Warm Bodies: A Novel by Isaac Marion.  I had never heard of it before seeing the movie, but if the book is just as clever then it's one I'm probably going to have to pick up.  I do recommend going to the Official Warm Bodies Movie Website as it has some really fun features, a game to see if your boyfriend is a zombie, zombie acting tips and more.  Warm Bodies opens this Friday, February 1st.  It's worth seeing it on the big screen and it would be an amazing date night at the drive-in.  I checked and starting this Friday it's going to be showing at the Starlight Six Drive-In here in Atlanta so there you go, right in time for Valentine's Day!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Studio Burlesque Atlanta

Back around the end of November, beginning of December, I'm sitting in Ursula Undress' kitchen and she's about to explode with excitement.  For a few months she had told me that she'd been working for a new client, what I didn't know was that the client was going to change the face of Atlanta burlesque.  She had been approached by a gentleman that wanted to start the first all burlesque studio in Atlanta and she had many meetings and had become the Artistic Director of what would end up being Studio Burlesque Atlanta.

She said she was a little nervous about talking to me as I've been running the ABCs and 123s of Burlesque Classes through Syrens of the South for years and have trained a great majority of the Atlanta Burlesque scene at this point.  However, we no longer had our own dance space and relied on other studios to allow us rental time in order to be able to have the classes.  I spent a great deal of time working on classes schedules, wrangling teachers, press, and having to try to wrangle up students.  I love teaching, I really do, but I got paid just like all the other teachers, any additional money went to studio rental or in the kitty to make sure that we had money in case a class came up short.  It was very stressful.  The idea of just getting to show up somewhere and teach was wonderful.  So I closed up shop and threw my hat in with Ursula and hoped for the best as she began collecting additional teachers.  (I do still offer private one on one classes and group classes for parties and stuff, I'm just sayin')

One of the things that Ursula and I have been pushing for is a greater sense of community in the Atlanta burlesque scene.  That was one of the reasons we've worked so hard over the years to get the Southern Fried Burlesque Fest up and running and now she had the opportunity to bring in performers from all over Atlanta and give them a home in which they could teach their individual styles of burlesque and give students and opportunity to find the teacher that suits them best since not every teacher and every student are going to be that perfect mesh.  People teach differently and people learn differently and you need all types to get everyone in the game.  I think this is going to be an amazing opportunity for not only the students, but for the more experienced burlesque performers in town to share their love and knowledge and to give out of town guests a place to teach when they pass through.

The studio opened on January 7, there is currently a Living Social deal for 5 classes for only $29 (saving you $46 or 61%) if you get it before Tuesday, January 22nd.  Some take some classes for cheap and find your burlesque style!  Wednesdays I teach Beginning Burlesque at 6:30pm and Fun and Flirty at 8:30 (Sadie Hawkins' GoGo class is sandwiched between) and Saturday at 11am I teach GoGo Shimmy Shimmy (I tend to go more Shimmy and Sadie's more GoGo) which is sandwiched between Ursula's Fun and Flirty at 10am and Beginning Burlesque at noon, so you can come take from me or one of the other amazing teachers at the Studio.  Personally, I'm addicted to Fonda Lingue's Ballesque class at 6:30pm on Mondays.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

2013-01-17 7 Stages Home Brew Series: Mass Transit Muse

On Monday I received a phone call from Heidi Howard, the new Artistic Director of 7 Stages, asking me if I could hop in to Stage Manage a show she was directing this week because the person who was going to be running it had a family emergency.  I was told we'd have rehearsal on Tuesday and the show would be on Thursday.  Of course I said yes because I love 7 Stages and I love a challenge so it sounded like an amazing opportunity to jump into something new.

So I show up on Tuesday with no idea what's going on, what the show is or at this point that it's just a workshop and we're not actually putting on a full production in one rehearsal because, after, these things have happened before.  The gig turned out to be for 7 Stages new Home Brew Series where new plays are being work-shopped before becoming a full blown production.  The show is Mass Transit Muse by Michael Molina, he is a wonderful spoken word artist originally from New Orleans that wrote a book with the same name which he was using as the basis of the play.  It was amazing to come in to see how quickly it developed with Michael doing the spoken word, Dorothy Bell as the Musical Director and singer for the production and Lillian Ransjin as co-choreographer and lead dancer and Manny Rivers on guitar.  The production team was rounded out with Keiron Bone as co-choreographer and Jessica Caldes doing Set and Video Design.  The rehearsal flew by with amazing movement and vocal choices and listening to Michael's haunting words about one of my favorite cities, New Orleans.

Wednesday, we did not have rehearsal, I decided to head over to head over to Java Lords after teaching over at Studio Burlesque and ran into Heidi in the parking lot.  (figuratively, not literally)  She kidnapped me and we headed over to The Highland Inn Ballroom for Write Club since Michael was invited to be one of the spoken word artists.  I had never heard of Write Club before, they give spoken word artists topics and have them compete against each other, two at a time, with the audience voting with applause and a panel of judges determining who received the loudest audience reaction.  The winner of each bout got to have money donated to a charity of their choice.  Michael did a spoken word section from Mass Transit Muse and was the champion of his bout, his winnings going to 7 Stages for which he also had a chance to plug the Thursday night workshop.

On Thursday we did a brief run through before the show at 7:30pm.  The weather was terrible and we'd already received many calls that people were afraid it was going to ice over or *gasp* snow, no time for theater if the white horror is going to fall from the sky, time to stock up on milk and bread for all those milk and bread sandwiches everyone always eats in the winter.  (Seriously, I have no idea why it's milk and bread)  However, we had about half the space full which was more then we were expecting with the weather so we were very pleased with the turn out.  The show was amazing, maybe a third of the script had blocking and music, the other two-thirds were on book but there was still some song and movement through out when ever the cast felt inspiration hit them.

After the show there was a Q&A section where the audience could ask questions and give feed back about what they thought of the performance.  Overall, everyone else seemed just as in love with the performance as I was, lots of comments about, 'I hate spoken word, but this was amazing."  There was a lot of discussion about the other and everyone's perception of the other and the distance we put between ourselves and the unfamiliar and unknown.  I think the audience had some great questions and there was some great feed back for everyone to take back with them to improve.

Mass Transit Muse is currently slated to be the closing production for 7 Stages 2013-2014 season in April/May of next year.  I am thrilled to say that I will be stage managing this production when it hits the main stage next year!  I cannot wait to see where it goes with such an amazing start!

The next Home Brew Series is Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow by Nathaniel Lachenmeyer on Sunday, January 20, 2013 at 6:30pm at 7 Stages in the Black Box theater.  Price of admission is FREE, though they will gladly accept donations towards the theater and this program to help new works get to the stage!

Friday, January 18, 2013

2013-01-13 Kitty Love's Sultry Sunday Lucky 13 Show

This past Sunday I was lucky enough to get to be the Mistress of Ceremonies for an All-Star Show here in Atlanta, GA!  Kitty Love began her Sultry Sundays at Red Light Cafe two months ago and for her third show she pulled out all the stops.  With the Reigning King of Burlesque, Russell Bruner, along with Mistress Kali from NOLA coming to town, she booked a show to match the amazing talent level coming in!  The show included the belly dancing talents of Madame X and Haideh, the sultry songbird Lah Lah Luscious, The Magic of Chad Sanborn, Stormy Knight, Sunny MidnightTalloolah Love, Ursula Undress and of course Kitty Love.

The show was amazing!  Everyone brought their A game and the show really was everything that is wonderful about Atlanta Burlesque.  Since it was Russell's first time in Atlanta everyone was excited about being in the show and even the performers that weren't in the show were excited to come be in the audience!  The crowd was almost as star studded at the stage with Kisa von Teasa and Rosey Lady of Salome Cabaret in town from Knoxville, TN, Sadie Hawkins was easily as entertaining in the audience with her intermission exhibitions as some of the acts on stage, Bourgeois Betty, Lola le Soleil and the Mouth of the South Miss Mason were all in attendance.  This was the glitterati of Atlanta Burlesque, who knew all it took was a little royalty to bring everyone together!

Red Light Cafe, it has some good and bad points.  Good: nonsmoking for all you nonsmokers and also means it won't make your costumes smell if you're a performer, beautiful red curtain backdrop, decent lighting and site lines, easy going very nice staff, free parking, lots of seats!  Bad: location of the stage is really far from the dressing room so you have to walk through the audience but it does give them a thrill while you do it, the stage kind of small and carpeted so just make sure you have the right shoes on for that kind of stage, drinks and food are a little pricey, but they are all super tasty!

I think the show has a lot of potential, Kitty is still very new to producing and has a few things she needs to work out, but I think it could go well.  Though the turn out wasn't bad I think it could have been better with some marketing or at least a press release going out.  The city of Atlanta had an amazing show and I don't think enough people knew about it and ended up missing out on something special.  I wish her the best and hope to get to come back as Mistress of Ceremonies again sometime as it was the most fun I've gotten to have in a while!

Stungun Photography was there to take lots of amazing photos, including the one of Russell shown here.  You can see more of the photos in their gallery HERE.  They're the amazing photographers that shot at Dracula and AXA in addition to countless other shows.  I am a huge fan of their work and am always excited to see them snapping away in the audience!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy Holidays

Pic by Studio Adrian
So the holidays happened.  I really wasn't in the holiday spirit at all.  Maybe I was disappointed the world didn't end because that meant I had to go Christmas shopping which I had put off because of being too busy with everything else.  After AXA I had the plague and pretty much missed Christmas by living on my couch pretty much from Saturday after AXA closed until Wednesday when it was pretty clear that if we were going to make it up to Tennessee to do the family rounds remotely during the holiday season we'd have to get going.  So we left Wednesday night and went to Oak Ridge, Newport, Knoxville, Chattanooga and then home by Friday night so we could get some rest since Good Golly Svengali had a show Saturday night.

Highlights included getting to see The Hobbit.  I don't actually remember the last time I saw a movie in a theater.  It was awesome, reminded me of my childhood from where my dad read me the books and I would watch the cartoons on the amazingly old VHS player (that I am pretty sure my dad still has) and sing along to the songs with my animated friends.  Also, I made my dad a Sockthulhu which is a Cthulhu done in the style of a sock monkey.  Probably the most awesome present I gave anyone this Christmas.  Dad thinks I should sell them, maybe I'll work on that later this year.  I ended up making three, two prototypes to make sure I knew what I was doing before the final one that I gave to Dad.  The Good Golly Svengali show was a lot of fun, they opened so it was a short set but lots of fun.  We ended up at a friend's house for an impromptu holiday party.  It was a great time and I got to see lots of people I hadn't gotten to hang out with for a while for a lot of silliness!

Sockthulhu I made for Dad
New Years ended up being a whirlwind starting out at Java Lords then two different friend's houses to do run-bys to be social.  Over all it was a nice way to spend NYE.  I typically avoid going to bars and clubs because all the amateur drunks come out and make my life hell by being really annoying because they have no idea how to drink with out making an ass of themselves.  Yes, I realize that kind of makes me sound like either a drunk or an alcoholic.  However, that who drinking responsibly it exactly what I do, I don't slam shots, I space out my drinks and I know what my tolerance and limits are and that's what I drink.  Seriously, it's so rare that I am actually drunk, let alone black out stupid drunk, that some people I know don't believe it's possible.  (It is possible, but it's not pretty which is why I don't let it happen very often)

Jan 1st I spent alternating between being lazy and productive so that's a good sign for 2013.  I'm a fan of balance.  I've been asked a few times about resolutions...I have mixed feelings about resolutions. People usually pick goals they can't achieve because they're unrealistic.  There will be no I will work out 5 days a week as that's unrealistic.  I go back to lyra next week and am going to try to do my yoga DVD once a week.  I'd like to do one photo shoot a month to help build my portfolio.  There are some burlesque fests I would like to at least apply to since I missed a bunch of application deadlines last year and had to resign from a bunch due to Stage Managing Dracula.  So nothing overly stressing or unattainable and fairly realistic and if it doesn't happen because I get super busy and other things come up, that's fine too.  Things happen and who knows, maybe something much cooler will come up then anything I had planned.  That's what happened with Dracula and that was amazing!

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and I hope that your 2013 is amazing!