Wednesday, August 25, 2010

2010-08-21 Syrens of the South 3rd Anniversary Show

What do you get when you get a grab bag of the Southeast's best performers, tell them they have the freedom to do whatever act they want and put them in front of an audience?  You get the Syrens of the South 3rd Anniversary Burlesque & Vaudeville Spectacular!  Performers for the anniversary show included:
MCs Fritzengreuben and John Carney; 
Asheville's Americana Burlesque and Sideshow Festival Producer and World renowned entertainer and teacher Onca O'Leary
Knoxville's Salome Cabaret including the amazing Kisa von Teasa who performed in the Best Debut category at the 2010 Burlesque Hall of Fame; 
Syrens of the South Producer and internationally recognized performer and teacher Katherine Lashe
Miss Viva Las Vegas 2010 Runner-Up and Texas Burlesque Fest 2010 Audience Pick Ursula Undress
The Mistress of Illusion and Atlanta's Queen of Boylesque, Fonda Lingue
The Master of Puppets and Pastor of Muppets, the amazing Mr. Tim Monteith
The Vivacious Vixen and Sultry Songbird Lala Lucious; 
The Master Magician Chad Sanborn
The hour glass and a half and Southern Sweetie, Tupelo Honey;
Every man's favorite solo act and the longest stems in Atlanta, Rosie Palms
Everyone's favorite pick-up artist Burnadette Cinders; 
Atlanta's newest burlesque sensations and recent Syrens of the South ABCs & 123s of Burlesque graduates Miss Ruby Redmayne and Miss Lola le Soliel!

Does that sound like a big 'ole mouth full of performers?  Well with 17 acts it sure was!  I would love to go through and mention in detail each and every performance, but then this would be a novel.  The out of town guests we're a hit with both of Onca's acts being with out back up music for a very intense experience and Salome Cabaret bringing the sultry striptease of Delinda Rabbit, the zany antics of Siren Santina with her 80s montage tribute to Rocky and a dryer sheet fan dance by the Maytag Man, Kisa von Teasa that created the cleanest dirty thoughts anyone had all night.  Fonda Lingue and Ruby Redmayne showed us two different sides of feathers while Ursula Undress and Lola le Soliel cornered the market on fringe!  Burnadette Cinders taught us to work hard for the money while Tupelo Honey showed us the lighter side of being homeless.  Chad Sanborn came out with a new trick, Tim Monteith came out as Liberace (though I thought Liberace was already out) while La La Lucious lulled us into love with her amazing voice.  From bump and grind to slap stick, from sultry song birds to a belly laugh, this show had it all!

After three years of shows and bringing in guest performers from all over the country, Syrens of the South has been actively working to make the Atlanta and Southern Burlesque scene be known North of the Mason Dixon Line and West of the Mississippi while helping Atlanta see what the burlesque world looks like outside of the South.    Hopefully, as Syrens continues to travel and teach, there will constantly be a new batch of performers and more people to celebrate each of the many more anniversaries to come!

Hope you guys enjoy a little backstage video!  There might have been some accidental nudity...hope you're not offended!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Burlesque Handbook by Jo Weldon

The Burlesque Handbook by Jo Weldon was released June 1, 2010, just in time for the 20th Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend in Las Vegas.  However, this book is is a culmination of her years of experience of teaching, studying and her love affair with burlesque.  An earlier version of this book used to be sold as a .pdf from The New York School of Burlesque, of which she is the head mistress, but this has been edited and streamlined to the most comprehensive burlesque beginners guide available.  The Burlesque Handbook is the equivalent of finding the missing link!  For years there has been a gap between a complete lack of knowledge about burlesque and specialized books that go in depth about one particular aspect; be it history, the neo-burlesque revival or costuming, this is the first book that gives you everything you need to know to get started or just have a better comprehension with out having to spend weeks reading fifty individual books.

The book itself is very simple to comprehend with out the feeling of being talked down to and makes you feel like you're having a casual chat over coffee rather then reading a text book.  It goes over a history of burlesque as well as  the author's personal history; basic movements complete with easy to lean routines; pastie making and other costuming; hair and make-up; how to pick a song, stage name and how to create a character; as well as basic business advice to get started!  I think one of my favorite parts of the book is actually the worksheets in the back that help you figure out things like inspiration, name character, music, costume, reveal and even how to critique each other.  If you have no one else to talk to about burlesque the worksheets in the back are a great way to get that second opinion with out the second person.  I really feel that this book makes burlesque accessible to people in areas that may not have classes or local burlesque shows to go see.

I do feel that I should point out my personal history with the author, less I be accused of writing a good review just because she's my friend.  Though honestly, if you know me, you would know that I'm not that kind of person, I have written unflattering reviews about friends before.

Once upon a time, when I very first started doing burlesque regularly, Atlanta legend Torchy Taboo asked me if I wanted to be in a show she was putting together.  Of course I said yes because she'd always been so awesome to me and I was really flattered that she'd asked me.  The show was The Princess and the PBR which was part of Jo Boobs and Torchy Taboo's Travelling Charm School at The Earl in Atlanta.  I knew very little about burlesque but already knew about Jo and her School of Burlesque in New York.  It was such an honor to be in a show with her and Torchy, and then Torchy volunteered me to play the straight man in a skit that Jo had about things she had been asked when she worked at the strip clubs.  It was awesome to be on stage with her and get to be a part of my first burlesque skit.  It was a lot of fun and I was so grateful that I got to be a part of such and amazing show so early in my career.

A few years later I was off to my first Miss Exotic World Weekend (now Burlesque Hall of Fame) and performing in one of the show cases.  I was nervous as hell and Jo let me rub her butt for luck, after that I was pretty much hooked.  Since then she has been an inspiration and a font of knowledge for me.  She proofed the first history of burlesque speech I gave at DragonCon, has always answered every inane question I have ever asked her since I started teaching and never once made me feel bad or stupid for asking.  She has always been a patient and amazing teacher an this book is a beautiful extension of her teaching skills.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

2010-08-04 Atlanta Burlesque and Cabaret Club

You would be surprised how many people will drag themselves out on a school night for the chance to be surrounded by fabulousness!  That's exactly what I, and about 15 other people, did last night.  The first Wednesday of every month from 8-10pm is the Atlanta Burlesque & Cabaret Club meeting at Twain's Billiard & Tap (called Twain's by its regulars).  Hosted and run by the lovely Talloolah Love this Club has been going strong for going on 3 years now.  The club started as a Meet-up Group around 6 years ago and then went dormant for a while before Talloolah picked it back up.  After a year or so of having to pay for the right to use the Meet-up system Talloolah moved it to a Google Group and then to the more successful Facebook Page that it is on now.

Since Talloolah's take over the event has moved venues about once per year, so not only is it a celebration of the local burlesque and cabaret scene in Atlanta, it has also been a tour of some amazing restaurants and pubs in the Atlanta area.  When she first took it over it was hosted at Manuel's Tavern (lovingly called Manny's by it's regulars) which is a local hang out for a large hunk of the Atlanta theater scene.  Centrally located in the Virginia Highlands, it was convenient for many people to come and check out the club's new ownership.  After about a year and a half of meetings the proprietor moved the event the the James Joyce Irish Pub (called the Joyce by it's regulars) in Avondale Estates.  A little more out of the way for most people, but as the Avondale Estates and Decatur area is home to many of Atlanta's burlesque performers and was the home of the Syrens of the South studios (about 1 block from the Joyce) it was a logical choice.  A year later (which is about how long it takes all of us to sample everything on the menu) the meetings were moved to Twains in Decatur, approximately 10 minutes from the Joyce.

Last night was the first time I'd been able to make the meet-up since it moved to Twain's earlier this year.  In between touring and filming I'd just been too busy to come out.  Last night, with the Syrens of the South 3rd Anniversary Show coming up in a few weeks, I figured I should wander out of my cave and go enjoy good food and good company!  Fritzengreuben was the first person to arrive and had staked out a table for the group.  There was a pretty decent turn out with discs of photos being handed out by Kevin from the July Mechanical Masquerade.  There were some new faces and some regulars in the turn out.  Rosie Palms was there to pimp her show on Aug 14th at Faerie Escape Atlanta as well as the upcoming Syrens show she'll be performing in.  Tupelo Honey was there in cute pig tails after a day of shopping with me for a skit we'll be doing on the 21st.  I sold some tickets to the Aug 21st show and some buttons to help support the upcoming Southern Fried Burlesque Fest in March 2011.  Over all it was a great night with good friends and tasty garlic fries!

Enjoy some photos that I snapped during the event!