Friday, November 18, 2011

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night

So if Jim Butcher and Charlaine Harris got busy while Joss Whedon watched, the baby would be Dylan Dog.  Dylan Dog is a Private Investigator that used to specialize in the super natural before a tragedy made him give it up and go back to the regular world.  He's got smart-ass comments in life threatening situations, a comedic side-kick and, as per usual, there's the beautiful female client that walks into his office that ends up being the love interest.  It wouldn't be a PI movie, supernatural or not, if there wasn't the damsel in distress that was more then meets the eye.  Did I mention that it takes place in New Orleans?  Of course it does, it's got supernatural things in it, where else are they going to live other then New Orleans.

I'm a huge fan of vampire, werewolf, zombie, and other supernatural themed movies, and this one had them all.  Over all, I would absolutely recommend this flick.  It's not terribly serious or scary, but it is a fun time that has a nice take on the whole supernatural world.  Honestly, I'm kind of hoping that it'll have some sequels.  With these kinds of movies it's really easy to set up for it.  The fact that they didn't limit themselves to just werewolves, vampires or zombies you can go a lot of different directions or even ad in new subsets of monsters.  Seriously, you should buy this movie!

UPDATE: Apparently it's based off a comic book, so I must find it!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

2011-09-03 Dragon*Con Cabaret

The Dragon*Con Cabaret has been produced for the past four years by Atlanta burlesque performer Stormy Knight as part of a five day weekend that occurs each year over the Labor Day holiday.   Dragon*Con is a weekend of science fiction, fantasy, comics and general geekdom so it seemed only natural that the show’s theme this year would be Comic Book Characters.  The show was hosted by Baroness Von Schmalhausen as Zatanna and included some popular favorites including Tora Torrid as Wonder Woman to Lenny Kravitz’s version of American Woman, Desire Evoquer as Super Girl which included a large rhinestone “S” on her chest in the Superman tradition, Sammy Sutra as Poison Ivy, Big Mamma D singing about boobs as Silk Spectre, as well as Blaze as a very shiny Dark Phoenix, and a Victorian version of Harley Quinn by Silver Kitsune.  Some more obscure characters included a very classic routine by Scarlett Letter as Medusa, Scarlett Witch who I think was played by Eyrie Twylite, and Porcelain as Cheetah.    

I, Katherine Lashe, was very excited to be asked to perform as The Joker from Batman due to the fact that I had made a breakaway straight jacket for a Mad Hatter routine I did back in March at an Alice in Wonderland show.  Sadly, because of the unreliability of email, I didn’t find out until one week before the show that I was doing the routine.  Had I received the email when it was sent, I’m not sure I could have done any better with getting everything together.  Due to the fashion trends in Atlanta I actually had my choice of purple suits at the thrift store.  I found one that was slightly too big to easily fit my additional costume pieces underneath.  Through the magic of sequins and E6000 I was able to bling out my ensemble fairly effectively in a short period of time for not too much money.  However, to make something truly ready for a burlesque show this does require the ability to get out of your clothes fairly quickly.  A jacket is a jacket so other then make it shiny I pretty much left it as is.  By slitting the seams on the sides of the pants I was able to insert a separating zipper in the leg and snap on the waist band on each side to make the pants go from solid to break away.  My green shirt was sequined and cut down to a bib so with the jacket it on it looked like a full shirt but was actually just a front with no sleeves or back and had a snap at the collar for easy removal.  Underneath the straightjacket and suit were green heels, purple fishnets with a purple thong with green beaded fringe and green pasties with tassels.  I topped this all off with a green wig and some serious make-up time to turn myself into the demented character that is The Joker.
 The crew included House Mom Mon Cherie, whose job is much like a traditional stage manager and made sure everyone knew the show order, collected everyone’s music and was there in case anything went wrong for the performers.  Sunny Midnight and Heaven Leigh were our stage kittens; which mean they not only placed our props but also acted as “panty wranglers” and picked up the discarded clothes from the stage after each act.  Though there is no nudity in the burlesque shows it does include the art of the strip tease so there is often a laundry pile after each act.
Over all I really enjoyed being a part of the show and felt it was very appropriate for us to do that theme at Dragon*Con.  In the past the Cabaret had been more on the classic side, and though that’s beautiful and traditional I don’t feel that it spoke as much to the fan base other then geeks who had never seen a live naked woman finally getting to see scantily clad girls that were actually three dimensional.  I think that Stormy is doing a great job and I love the direction she’s taking the show.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

2011-08-09 New York School of Burlesque in Atlanta

One of my greatest joys as a producer is to help bring out of town talent and shows to Atlanta.  The icing on the cake is when we can also schedule some time to teach a class as well, the cherry on top is when the teachers are from the world renowned New York School of Burlesque!  Jo "Boobs" Weldon, who literally wrote the book on burlesque, took the show girl on the road while touring with Jonny Porkpie during his Grab My Junk Tour and we were lucky enough to be able to schedule them some teaching time at Spinarella Pole/Dance/Fitness the day before they performed.

Jo taught Philosophy of the Tease.  She went over the history of the striptease, pointing out that as it's only around 100 years old it's just a baby as far as art forms go.  From how to connect with your audience to going over ways to enhance your strip, she took everyone on a journey to being a better burlesque performer, regardless of skill level.  Even after almost 10 years of burlesque and nearly 20 years of dance I still learned a lot from this class.  At the end of the lecture she showed the class a few basic moves  that everyone got to try out and then we played "Stump the Stripper" as she called it. She answered questions as to how to take off every day items brought by the students.  She discussed side zippers, t-shirts, talked a student through the best way to flirt with a hat before removing it and as a bonus showed her what effect it has on the audience when she does something as simple as taking off her earrings.  Closing out her class was how to take off a corset with both grace and sex appeal.  I don't know if you've ever worn a corset, but the class was afraid to blink least they miss something on how to remove this antiquated piece of lingerie that's become a fetish staple.  If you missed the class Jo recommended her DVD Striptease for Burlesque, as it goes over many of the concepts she went over in class as well as many other articles of clothing she wasn't able to go over in class due to time constraints.

The next class was The Arc of the Tease with Jonny Porkpie.  I was so excited that he was going to teach this class as I missed it when he taught it at Southern Fried Burlesque Fest this past March.  Jonny, having an extensive theater background, tackles burlesque numbers as a director would a full play.  In this class he had all of us come up with an idea for a number regardless of how insane, out there or impossible the idea was.  We all then went through and came up with the arc of the story and how it would be incorporated as being part of a strip tease.  Sadly I don't always work super well under pressure so I ended up using an idea that I had come up with but had not flushed out in any way shape or form.  By the end of the class I had the whole act figured out on my worksheet and a great tool for putting together future numbers as well.  Many in the class have never taken a burlesque class before, let alone ever performed, and watching them come up with some AMAZING ideas that I hope to see in future student showcases.  There's something amazing about watching that light click on that they can do this and that coming up with a burlesque routine isn't nearly as hard as they thought it was going to be.

Over all it was an amazing evening of classes and it once again proved to me that you can never take too many classes.  It doesn't matter how long you've been doing it, there's always a new way of looking at things. Recently I was asked by Talloolah Love for a quote about the importance of taking classes and here's what I sent to her:

"One of the things I love about burlesque is that anyone can do it; but as with anything, the more you practice the better you'll be.  I always recommend taking classes whenever you can because you will always learn something new. There really is no one way to do anything and someone else may have figured out a way that works better for you. I've been performing burlesque for almost 10 years and teaching for almost five; on top of that I have over 20 years of theater and dance training; and yet I still learn something new in every class I take."

-Katherine 'Lashe" Neslund
Producer and Teacher

Syrens of the South Productions

Monday, August 15, 2011

2011-08-03 TnT Invades the Cult Movie and Atlanta

Back in March I was contacted by Tennessee Tease Burlesque from Memphis, who was trying to put together a tour for the very first time.  We went over dates and began trying to work out all the details.  Syrens of the South Productions was happy to get them a venue and a show date to help bring even more amazing burlesque to Atlanta! The reason I bring this up is March...for an August show...yup, you gotta plan that far in advance!

So on Wednesday, August 3rd, Atlanta was invaded by  Tennessee Tease Burlesque!  I was joined by Lola le Soliel with New Orleans Jon and his lovely date sitting near by at The Shelter.  Being a huge movie buff I was really excited about this show, I ended up being familiar with every movie they did thus proving that yes, I am a big dork.

The show was a tribute to their favorite cult movies.  It opened with the dinner scene from Beetlejuiceand just went to more awesome places from there.  Some of the highlights of the evening were tributes to Pink Floyd's The Wall, which was done as a medley that took you on a tour of the entire movie with some amazing costume changes and layers, including the faceless mask.  There was also a hilarious rendition of What Ever Happen to Baby Jane that went from a nearly literal rendition of the movie to a wire hanger spank fest!   There was an beautiful tribute to Metropolis as well, and I may have been the only person in the audience that's seen that movie.  There was also the plastic wrapped body of Laura Palmer from Twin Peaks/Fire Walk with Me and a well done adaptation of Barbarella.

There was a bit of variety thrown into the mix as well with songs being sung from The Big Labowski with the dancing Valkyrie stripping as The Dude sung.  Dirty Dancing had Baby and Johnny singing about her lover boy, and Grease showed how helplessly devoted she was.  There was also some amazing fire acts including flaming nun-chucks for Enter the Dragon and a beautiful fire dance for Nightmare Before Christmas. 

One of my favorite moments was the Oh Brother Where Art Thou tribute after intermission that had the sirens doing laundry and it was all sung acapella. The ladies went into the crowd and retrieved three gentlemen from the audience. It was really simple and subtle and that's what made it so great next to the flash and glitz of the other tributes.  The MC then came out to have the chosen gentleman twirl tassels or striptease for the audience in order to win an autographed show poster. Over all the show was amazingly well done, the acts were all very original and brilliant in both their execution and simplicity to make the easy to travel.  I highly recommend going to see Tennessee Tease Burlesque if you get the chance and do hope they'll come back to Atlanta again soon!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Tease University July Burlesque Classes

ABCs & 123s of 

Burlesque Classes

ABCs and 123s of Burlesque Classes will be on Sundays from 1-3pm at Spinarella Pole l Dance l Fitness 1427 Mayson St. NE Atlanta GA 30324.  There will be occasional specialty classes or workshops on other days or times and those will be listed as special events.  All classes in the ABCs & 123s of Burlesque Class Series are intended for ages 18+. There are classes that are craft workshops or lecture while the others will tend to focus more on burlesque movement.  You can purchase classes on the Syrens of the South Class Page.  Classes are $20 in advance or $60 for a four class pass, a savings of $20! Drop ins are $25.  Some craft classes will have additional $5.00 charge for materials.  Please note that we are independent from Spinarella classes and we do not take their class card.
Each class has a maximum of 15 slots so there is plenty of time for questions and one on one work with the teacher.  Pre-sales and reservations for each class will be shut down at 5pm the day before, each class requires five confirmed students or it will be cancelled.  To confirm you will need to purchase the individual pass or if you have a class pass, send an email to syrensofthesouth@gmail.  Burlesque is the art of the tease, focusing on the tease and there is no nudity in any of our classes or productions.

2011-07-10 Burlesque History and Beginning Burlesque Movement with Katherine Lashe
Katherine Lashe will present information on the history of burlesque, followed by a how to on the basic moves including bumps, grinds, glove peels and tassel twirls. Students will hear anecdotes collected from actual Burlesque American Icons such as Tura Santana, Satan’s Angel and more! Students will be encouraged to wear clothing and shoes you can move in (we suggest heels if you can comfortably wear them).  Be prepared to not only take notes, but also be ready to practice beginning burlesque movements and peels!!! Beginning Burlesque Books, pasties and other burlesque accessories will be available for purchase. 

2011-07-17 Putting the Tease back in Striptease with Katherine Lashe
Times have changed, let's go back to when how you took it off was more important then the end result.  Burlesque is about the journey, not the destination.  Please bring an oversize button down shirt or overcoat, a skirt you can pull down over your hips and a back clasp bra that you can wear and take off over your bra or t-shirt you will leave on.  Please wear tights, leggings or other fitted clothing that can go under your skirt if you are not comfortable stripping down to your panties.  Heels are encouraged, but not required, for this class.

2011-07-24 Beginning Vintage Hair Styling with D'lilah D'lite
Learn the art of vintage hair styling from an award winning pin-up girl. She'll teach you the tricks of the trade so you can do all those up dos that you dream about. From hair pins and curling irons to victory rolls and pompadours. Bring paper and pencil to take notes!

2011-07-31 Hot Oratory!! The Art of Being a Burlesque Emcee with Baroness Vonschmalhausen
Emceeing a burlesque show is more than introducing a line-up of dancers and performers. It's teasing and entertaining the audience with your words, while helping move the show along to add production value and keeping the audience hootin' and hollerin'.
Topics in this class include: general public speaking hints, improv games to get you into character, activities that will help create your emcee style and multiple opportunities to take the stage and show the class what you've got!!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

2011-06-23 Prohibition Exhibition *Making the Illicit Explicit*

Minette Magnifique invited me out to The Warren City Club to take photos of their Prohibition Exhibition and I was thrilled to accept the opportunity to take pictures of such lovely ladies!  It was a little tricky to find as it's in the Virginia Highlands and on the third floor above the Dark Horse Tavern and you have to enter behind the back patio.  It is a private club and if I hadn't been told where to go it would have stayed very private, all it needed was a secret knock and it would have been perfect!  Instead it had a very friendly door guy who checked our ideas, marked that we were supposed to be there, handed us drink tickets and let us wander in.

Once inside it was a beautiful bar with couches, VIP tables with champagne, and a deck outside that was amazing to stand on and over look the area.  I should say that it appeared to be a beautiful bar, it was fairly crowded when I got there at 8:30pm, by 9pm when the show was to start it was shoulder to shoulder standing room only.  The drink tickets we had been given were for a drink special that was made of whip cream flavored vodka and cranberry juice.  Way better then the regular vodka cran that most bars serve, probably would have tasted like a creamcicle if it had been orange instead of cran, highly recommend the combination!  I snuck out to the patio and got a side view of the stage so I could see the show and not be quite so confined.  They ended up opening the patio to the rest of the patrons as well, glad I hopped out early before they did so.

The show opened with Baroness VONschmalhausen Femceeing the event and introducing their stage kittens and welcoming everyone to their special Prohibition show.   As she spoke the stage slowly filled up with lovely ladies in kimonos, dressed as Geisha with long cigarette holders lounging around on pillows as if in an opium den.  Once everyone was lounging about and the Baroness had finished speaking it was time for the first act.  Madame Wiley came out to "Straight to Hell" by the Clash dressed in a breathe taking blue kimono with a red silk fan that she quickly stripped out of down to her tassels giving the audience the first thrill of the evening.

Once the bevy of beauties had cleared the stage it was quickly replaced by a work bench as well as Geppetto and his very naughty doll played by Vyolet Venom.  When ever his back was turned she began stripping away her clothes and the crowds inhibitions, though he tried to right both when ever he caught her in a misdeed.  It was a fun act, a great blend of sex and humor that had the audience rolling with laughter.  After clearing the stage of all of her naughty puppet bits and the work bench they brought out a large white screen in preparation of the next act.

Behind the screen was a light so Mimi de Milo went back and forth from stripping on her seti to doing so behind the screen and giving the audience a sneak peek of her silhouette in shadow form.  She began as a vision of green sparkles and ended up in a shadowy black outfit doing stocking pulls which she played like an upright bass.  When her strip was done she grabbed her scarf and scampered off stage while the lovely pick up artists wrangled her clothing and props.

Baroness VONschmalhausen had some time to shine with her story of "My Tommy and His Gun" with the "Our Gang Theme Song" as her back up music.  It was an amusing tale of her time with a rum runner and how she wish him luck by kissing and stroking his gun before he went out.  It was just the right blend of dirty innuendo and period slang to really capture the audience's attention and keep them laughing and waiting for more.  I asked after the show and yes, she did write it herself, so extra bravo to her for that.  After her tale she brought out a lovely suffragette with her own tale to tell.

Darcy Lemmonier has been a good and proper lady her whole life and was the star off her charm school, her first day out she saw a handsome man and promptly forgot everything she'd been taught.  Loosing control to "Howlin' for You" by The Black Keys, she tossed her book, her glasses and shortly there after her clothes to the glee of the audience.  Proving it's the quiet book worms that you have to watch out for!

Next up was a Brazilian exotic by  the name Carmen Corazon doing a hula hoop strip to "Cuban Pete" by Desi Arnaz.  She swayed her hips and managed to take off her corset and everything else while doing it.  Once she got down to the skimpier bits she dropped the hula hoop and spent some quality time in the audience.  This was apparently too much as an officer from the Vice Squad came out to chain her up and thrown her in the Paddy Wagon!  While the Baroness grabbed a drink to get over the shock it was obviously time to take the intermission.

During intermission the crowd swarmed the bar to grab drinks and wandered out to have cigarettes on the patio.  The Fire Marshall had been called due to over crowding.  Someone called them because they were jealous of the success of the burlesque show.  Silly people, boobies always win!  Once the crowd had settled back into their places it was time for the second act.

Opening the act was Mimi de Milo and Vyolet Venom doing a duet to "All That Jazz" by Catherine Zeta-Jones from the Chicago Soundtrack.  It was well done with synchronized dancing and stripping with enough room that you could still see their individual personalities shine through.  They wandered out into the audience with glove pulls and boas to really get the audience back involved for the second half of the show.

After the dueling tassels it was time to bring back out our good girl gone bad, Darcy Lemmonier.  Completely embracing her darker side she performed to "March of the Hookers" by Blair Crimmins and the Hookers.  She teased and tantalized with her big black boa drawing the crowd in to her new found naughtiness!

Apparently our little lawbreaker broke out of the Paddy Wagon, proving you can't keep a bad girl down, but she kept on the chains for a more bondage slant on the tradition tease.  Done to "My Body is a Cage" by Arcade Fire, it was a sensual strip but seemed a bit out of place with the more Prohibition era inspired acts of the rest of the evening.

Next was Madame Willey doing "Singing in the Rain" by Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse.  In a shiney emerald green dress it was very reminiscent of an outfit used in the movie.  One of the joys of live entertainment is that sometimes things go wrong.  Though Madame Willey did a beautiful strip until the malfunction, she won the audience back by saying "Shit Happens" and laughing it off.  They stayed on her side even through the malfunction thanks to her care free attitude.

The next performer was a surprise, finally of age, stage kitten Luna Lynx was ready for her debut!  Covered in a pink corset and tons of feathers, her outfit reminded me of one from Moulin Rouge with Nicole Kidman.  Dancing to "Pink Champagne" by Louise Goffin she had a great time popping her cherry and her cork and sharing her champagne with the audience.  She did an amazing job, full of good energy, and it's always nice to get to see someone's debut.

It was then time for Baroness VONschmalhausen to say thank you and do curtain call before the ladies broke into the Group Finale to "The Golden Age" by The Asteroids.  Matching outfits and shimmy belts made a fanny filled fond farewell.  Once they were done they celebrated Carmen Corazon's birthday with song and spankings!  Afterwards the ladies filtered into the audience to do meet and greets as well as photo ops with the fans.

As my Flickr Pro account has expired and I do not currently have the cash to renew so I can't post my pictures for you all.  My apologies and I hope to have it up and running again very soon!

Monday, June 27, 2011

2011-06-15 Hump Day Honeys with Burlesque Nouveau

It was a dark and stormy night...though it sounds like the beginning of a bad first horror novel it is the way this evening began.  I pulled up at 7pm to unload the car just as the sky opened up.  The radio was reporting hail the size of quarters falling in parts of Atlanta and as a result traffic was awful and no one else had made it to The Shelter yet.  Around 7:45pm, after fighting with traffic, Dave finally made it up there so I could begin load in.  With the raffle for Southern Fried Burlesque Fest I had a bit more then normal to haul in, including The Wheel of Burlesque...but I'll get back to that in a minute.

Everyone was running late but the rain had stopped by our 8pm call time, a call time that ended up being a bit closer to 8:30pm by the time everyone got there.  Doors opened at 9pm with a line of people waiting outside in the parking lot to come in which was a nice surprise with the weather.  Desire Evoquer was kind enough to wander about selling some raffle tickets to the patrons so they could get a chance to spin The Wheel of Burlesque...but I'll get back to that in a minute.

The show started at 10:15pm instead of 10pm because of the weather, which hurts my soul a little as I hate not to start on time, but the crowd understood and forgave us.  Syrens of the South Presenting Hump Day Honeys with Burlesque Nouveau had begun and it was time for me to hit the stage and introduce the beauties!

We opened the show with a torch singer Whiskey Christy singing, "Too Darn Hot".  Which, with the summer storms, was painfully appropriate.  After her act it was time for the first raffle drawing of the evening.  If your number was called it earned you a spin on The Wheel of Burlesque!  Yes, we had an actual wheel for the contestants to spin to win fabulous prizes.  The wheel was color coated and what color you landed on determined your prize.  Red got you another raffle ticket, green got you a gift from one of our alcohol sponsors, yellow got you a SFBF t-shirt, orange got you a SFBF gift bag and pink got you an "adult novelty".  Our first contestant won a raffle ticket...don't feel bad for him, he won three other times that evening.

Second was a debut of a brand new number to "Crazy in Love" from Miss Pearl E White!  She was a vision of fringe-y nakedness in nude and gold and shimmied her way in to everyone's hearts.  The finale of her number was assels of a most provocative nature that had the crowd howling for more.  Our contestant for The Wheel of Burlesque landed on red, but as had the first person we decided it was time for a do over which won them a SFBF t-shirt!

Our next act was our favorite little sex kitten Kittie Katrina doing some very naughty things to "Bad Boy" by Christina Aguilera.  It was a sensuous strip tease with some amazing chair work.  She just oozed sex all over the stage and had everyone's attention!  Once the crowd recovered we had our third raffle winner spin the wheel.  The crowd chanted "PINK" over and over again which must have done some good as he landed on Pink!  Looking at the table covered in vibrators and cock rings made him take his time to decide before swiping up the "Tasteful Pocket Vagina" as his very own.

Fourth was Lola le Soliel doing a classic balloon routine with a regal twist!  She came out to "Night Train" by Alvino covered in pink balloons that seemingly floated near her body unattached.  After she was done presenting herself to the audience she pulled a long pink ostrich feather from her hair which she used to begin popping some of the balloons.  Once she had made her point with the balloons she shimmied and the balloons magically fell away behind her into a train like a royal robe while she finished her set down to her pasties.  (Which she pointed out back stage was the first pair of pasties she made in class over a year ago)  After her act it was again time for The Wheel of Burlesque which landed on orange and won a lovely lady from the audience a SFBF prize pack which included a poster, SFBF and SoS buttons as well as stickers.

Rounding out the end of the show was two of our special guests.  First was Kelly Setliff bringing boylesque to The Shelter's stage!  Using the song "Janglin" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Kelly did a striptease with suspenders and break away pants down to a g-string with a skull and cross bones on the crotch and a tootsie roll that magically appeared from somewhere that he gave to a lucky audience member.  Another lucky audience member hit orange on The Wheel of Burlesque and won an SFBF gift bag!

Closing the first half was Mona Loverly doing her routine to "Circus" by Brittney Spears.  She came out as a dark ring master with dance moves that were amazing and inspiring to watch.  She wound up the audience for one last raffle before the break.  Our winner ended up being a visiting celebrity from Charlotte, Nicolette Tesla, who won a raffle ticket for another chance at the wheel.

After a brief intermission it was time for the second half of our show. Whiskey Christy came back to the stage  to sing "Let's Fall in Love" by Cole Porter.   The Wheel of Burlesque was again spun to yellow for a SFBF t-shirt.

Next came Brandy Noir debuting a new act to "Whiskey" by Hillbilly Casino.  Her take on the sassy saloon girl with an alcoholic edge was a fun romp to the old west including a gun that rolled out fabric with the word bang on it.  Crowned with a Jack Daniels logo on her back side and Old No 7 pasties, she looked good enough to drink!  This time The Wheel of Burlesque was spun to pink to a reluctant winner and he asked to change his prize to a SFBF t-shirt which we allowed as he was very embarrassed, lol.

Then Kelly Setliff came back to the stage in a shiny gold coat, a ruffled shirt and a drawn on mustache to show off his boylesque skills.  With his hat and cane he drank, danced, stripped and wowed the audience to "Leeds United" by Amanda Palmer.  The Wheel of Burlesque winner was Miss Pearl E White's escort and he sent her up there to do his spinning.  She landed on orange and won a SFBF grab bag...that she had helped stuff earlier that evening.

Closing out the show was Mona Loverly performing to "Shewolf" by Shakira.  She came out with furry cuffs around her wrists and a furry hair piece and tattered flannel shirt and jean shorts that was reminiscent of the old 'Teen Wolf' movies.  The amazing dance moves were a mix of sultry strutting with a hint of Thriller.  It was a howling good way to close out the show!  The final contestant for The Wheel of Burlesque was a lovely lady who'd been hoping and praying to win all evening.  She landed on pink and took a rhinestoned adult novelty for her very own.

The crowd wasn't huge due to the weather but they were loving, loyal and had a great time.  We raised around $100 for Southern Fried Burlesque Fest thanks to the raffle and The Wheel of Burlesque.  Next Hump Day Honeys will be August 3rd with Special Guests the Tennessee Tease from Memphis doing a full show!

Photos by Mr. Wombat!

Here's a special backstage video for you guys!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Corpse Wore Pasties by Jonny Porkpie

press photos by Don Spiro

When Jonny Porkpie, the self proclaimed Burlesque Mayor of New York City, was in town for the Southern Fried Burlesque Fest we arranged a book signing with Eagle Eye.  We were all a little nervous as we didn’t know if they’d be able to get any of his books as the first printing had come and gone and the second printing hadn’t come out yet.   (The second printing is available now.) To all of our amazement they showed up with an entire case full of first editions, the last known to be unsold existence, so of course I had to pick one up and have him sign it for me.  I have a strange collection of things my friends have signed over the years; I guess I’m just lucky that way to have so many friends that are autograph worthy.  So between shows, teaching, and being on set it’s been sitting on my shelf the past few month collecting dust.  It’s not that I didn’t want to read it, it’s gone to set with me to strange looks multiple times, I really have just been that swamped.  Monday I had to take B to the dentist’s office in case they drugged him up rendering him unable to drive, so I figured this was a great opportunity to get to sit down and read it uninterrupted, and it was.

With the title being The Corpse Wore Pasties I don’t think anyone’s going to accuse me of giving anything away by pointing out it’s a murder mystery.  A murder that takes place at a burlesque show in New York City with Jonny Porkpie as the leading man and comic relief, just the way he likes it.  It opens with the big murder scene written in such seductive and gruesome detail that you’re not really sure if you should be sick, turned on or a little of both.  Not being from New York, but being a little familiar with the scene up there having visited and done a few shows, I recognized Topkapi as the first place I ever saw a burlesque show in New York and the Gilded Heel as the first place I ever performed in New York.  Many of the characters are recognizable as being based on actual performers; but only Jonny Porkpie, Nasty Canasta and a brief list as he scrolls through his cell phone are the only ones who get to keep their “real” names.  However, the book has that handy dandy disclaimer on the copyright page I’m sure that’s all “entirely coincidental”. 

The book is only 223 pages and is a fast read.  I got so caught up in the action that I had flown threw almost half the book in the hour that B was in his consultation.  Knowing I was going to have to return to the dentist with him again the next day for his actual procedure, I vowed not to pick the book up again until the next day so I’d have something to read…I broke those vows quicker than a Vegas bride.  To be fair, I was actually being pretty good until bedtime, I had stopped in the middle of a chapter since I had been interrupted by having to leave so I intended to finish the chapter and go to sleep.  I had to force myself to stop reading three chapters later.  Frankly, I blame it entirely on the scene that takes place on the Brooklyn Bridge.  Wait…let me back up a little bit.

Our hero, Jonny Porkpie, was accused of the murder.  The dead performer was a plagiarist, which is the worst sin in the burlesque world.  (Sadly I can tell you the “real” name of the plagiarist too, but let’s pretend that people don’t actually rip off other performers and this would only happen in a pulp novel.)  Everyone in the show, including Jonny, had been stolen from by the victim.  This gives everyone motive, so Jonny does a little gum shoe routine to try to clear his name.  If you’re familiar with burlesque performers more than just a passing glance of them nearly naked on stage, then you’ll know that there are some very strange and interesting people behind those pasties.  First imagine having to try to interrogate them when they’re all very comfortable being naked, have apartments full of weird props that you could stash a body in, a collection of bondage equipment and an inability to speak in a way that you can understand unless you have a PhD.  Now all of this can sometimes lead you to running down the Brooklyn Bridge half naked from an angry metal band…I’m just sayin’.

The book is amazingly well written and a great read.  From start to finish it’s fast paced and makes you really care about the story and care about the whodunit.  It makes me wish that more burlesque performers were worthy of being story book villains so Jonny could write an entire series.  Maybe it ends up like ‘Murder She Wrote’; new town and new body every week with no one ever suspecting Angela Lansbury.  I don’t know why no one ever wondered why a dead body popped up where ever she was, but if the suspension of disbelief worked for her then maybe it could work for Jonny Porkpie so we could get a few sequels. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

TONIGHT: Hump Day Honeys with Burlesque Nouveau



            What:    Hump Day Honeys with Special Guests         
                          Burlesque Nouveau from Greensboro, NC

            When:   Wed, June 15, 2011, Doors at 9pm
                          Show at 10pm

            Tickets:  Tickets are $5 at the door (Cash Only)

            Where:   The Shelter
                           2101 Tula St
                           Atlanta, GA 30309

Syrens of the South Productions presents a show to help get everyone through the long work week with Hump Day Honeys!  Wednesday, June 15th, Syrens of the South will have a mix of amazing local performers including Desire Evoquer, Brandy Noir, Katherine Lashe, Kittie Katrina, Lola le Soliel, Pearl E. White, along with special guests Kelly Setliff doing boylesque, Mona Loverly doing circus burlesque, and torch singer Whisky Christy from Burlesque Nouveau in Greensboro, NC.

The show will include a raffle to benefit the Southern Fried Burlesque Fest.  Each raffle will give the winner a chance to spin the Wheel of Burlesque (yes, we have an actual wheel to spin) to claim your prize.  Prizes will all be worth $5 or more and will include anything from t-shirts, pasties, autographed photos, adult novelties, tickets to future shows, etc...  Raffle tickets will be $5 for one or 3 for $10.

As Wednesday is a week night, the show will start promptly at 10pm and be done before midnight to make sure that everyone that needs to get up to go to work in the morning can.  For those that don’t need to get up first thing in the morning The Shelter will be slinging drinks and playing music until last call. 

Burlesque is the art of the striptease, with a focus on the tease.  The performers occasionally strip to pasties, but there is no nudity in any of our productions. This show is a revival of an American art form that has become an international movement.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

American Rose: A Nation Laid Bar, The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee by Karen Abbott

January 8, 2011, marked the 100th birthday of Gypsy Rose Lee so of course there would be tribute shows and a renewed interest of her life in the main stream media.   Karen Abbott's book, American Rose came out just in time for the celebration.  Jo Boobs and Karen Abbott were actually involved in the celebration at the New York Public Library on her birthday, how cool is that?  

Though this book came out just in time for the big anniversary, it is very obvious from reading it that years of research and preparation went into it.  With interviews with Gypsy's younger sister "Baby" June, her son Erik, hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles, letters to and from Gypsy as well as her diaries.  There are 40 pages devoted to Notes and Sources as well as the Bibliography.  No one can accuse Karen Abbot of not doing her homework.

The book is written in such a way that you get all the facts with out it reading like a text book.  She weaves details and narrative so at the end of the 350 pages you feel like you were there with Gypsy; cooking on hot plates back stage; crammed in hotel rooms with 10 other kids, all pretending to be younger; and you feel like you've been through all the triumphs and pit falls with her.  One of the things that I love is that though the book is about Gypsy Rose Lee, it's not just about Gypsy.  You learn so much about the Minsky brothers; the old vaudeville and burlesque wheels; New York City politics and how it affected the trade; and Rose Havok, the mother, master mind and bane of Gypsy's existence.  Never has there been a story that so richly embodied the Rags to Riches American Dream and her life did so over and over again with every high and every fall.

Beginning with her as a child and loosing her name, June, to her younger sister as she had "no talent" and was sent to live in "Baby June's" shadow until June ran away to get married and Louise Havok (Gypsy) became her mother's only hope for fame so she could live vicariously through and off her daughter.  Stealing bits and pieces from June's career and reinventing herself until no one knew what was real
any more and truly becoming Gypsy Rose Lee.  I think that Karen Abbott being able to interview June made a great impact on her ability to be able to accurately write this book.  Being able to get that perspective and having someone sift through the truth and the legend brings a whole new light to the Gypsy myth.

I will say as the book is not written in a linear story line and often jumps back and forth between times lines you do have to pay attention.  Had I been able to sit down in one sitting and read the book it probably wouldn't have been an issue, but I read when I have spare time like most people do. I did occasionally find myself flipping back and forth to make sure I understood what was going on when it switched between Gypsy's childhood to her days in Hollywood or New York and back to her childhood again.

Overall I will say that I found the book truly inspiring.  Being a burlesque performer, and one that teaches Burlesque History at that, I am always looking for more information on how those who came before us did it.  It never ceases to amaze me that once upon a time people could make their living off this amazing art form.  And not just a living; but a grand, extravagant living with furs, estates and jewels!  There was a trade off, however, with the amazing highs there were equally opposite lows of living in cars, not having food and shelter, etc...nothing came with out a price.  The sheer amount of drive and determination these women had is amazing.  Gypsy started her entertainment career the day she was born, these days most burlesque performers can't get started until at least 21 so we're years behind where these women were by then.

I don't think I have ever read such a detailed account of Gypsy's life and I'm not sure there are many people who would be as passionate about it as Karen Abbott obviously is to even come close later on.  She made me feel like I was there, a part of this amazing time and amazing life.  I hadn't gotten around to reading her previous book Sin in the Second City, but I will definitely be picking that one up very soon.  If it's even half as well written as American Rose I'll be a happy reader.

Below is a video from the100th birthday celebration at The New York Public Library!

Monday, June 13, 2011

2011-06-04 Americana Burlesque and Sideshow Festival

This year celebrates ABSFest's 5th Birthday in Asheville, NC, The Paris of the South!  The creation of Madame Onca, this yearly event celebrates the disciplines of burlesque and sideshow making it just as much about the variety as well as the striptease.  With acts varying from jugglers, vocalists, magicians, pole performers, drag kings and queens, aerialists, belly dancers, and of course the ecdysiasts!  The very first festival back in 2006 was headlined by the multi-talented Princess Farhana of Hollywood who reprised her role as headliner this year to celebrate five years of amazing performances.  Princess Farhana is a world renowned belly dancer, burlesque performer and teacher of both disciplines.  I was fortunate enough to perform at the second ABSFest and the event opened with a documentary about her that was amazingly fascinating.  After seeing all she's accomplished in
both worlds it was truly an honor to be asked to share a stage with her this year.

As a performer let me just say how amazing everyone that was involved in the festival.  We were given amazingly detailed emails as to what information was needed from us for the producers, for the sound engineers, for the lighting techs, and for the prop and panty wranglers.  Everything was beautifully organized, professional, we were all given time on stage in an efficient manner so we could all do walk throughs, go over sound cues and prop placement.  So before I go through the rest of the festival, let me say thank you to everyone that worked behind the scenes that may or may not ever get thanked or acknowledged.

The festival actually started with a red carpet gala on Friday night at The Bebe Theater.  The infamous Purple Party Bus provided by La Zoom carried the performers on a quickie drunken tour of Asheville while being entertained by each other.  The write up for this event went as follows, "The theater bus pulls up, the glittering artists disembark, tumbling along the Red Carpet in a swirl of laughter, and the party starts. This is just the beginning of a three-run of debauchery and high art... a teaser, if you will. The Opening Ceremonies will be hosted this year by Philadelphia's comedy storytelling duo, Sidetracked, and are followed by awards, performance, live music, appetizers and more."   I wasn't in town for it this year but having been on the bus for the 2nd and 3rd ABSFest I am well aware of what silliness goes on.

One of the things that I love about this festival is all the classes.  Belly dance, burlesque, MC, Aerial, Ukulele, Hooping, Juggling, fire and even some private sessions with Armitage Shanks to have some one on one time polish up numbers.   Many have been performing for years but you never quit learning.  My theory is that if Dirty Martini and Jo Boobs are still going to pop in and take classes when they're out of time then no one's too good to take a class.  So if you ever get a chance to take a class from people as amazing Armitage Shanks or Princess Farhanna please hop on it, you won't regret it!

The Saturday Specatular was held at The Orange Peel.  The space is just amazing; huge stage, great lighting and sound set up, and plenty of room for the audience and a burlesque bizarre lining the walls for everyone's shopping needs.  There was belly dance attire, circus attire, steampunk accessories as well as many other items that one might need to remember the event.  The show itself held up to its name and was truly spectacular.  It was a blur of aerialists, some amazing pole work to Max Raabe's version of "Let's Talk About Sex", Salome Cabaret's Ula Uberbusen did a spectacular tribute to crazy cat ladies everywhere with the evening punctuated with Princess Farhanna performing twice, once belly dancing and once doing burlesque.  The entire event was MC'd by Armitage Shanks who did an amazing job with introductions as well as some wonderfully creepy songs including closing the show with "Pink Elephants on Parade" from Dumbo for curtain call where all the performers and audience were encouraged to get in touch with their inner pachyderms. It was an amazing festival and I wish I could have been there for all of it, but being there for at least part of it was still enough to take my breathe away.  If you get a chance I highly recommend submitting to perform or even just going to be in the audience and take the classes for the 2012 event.

There was no photography at the event so I wasn't able to take more then a few backstage snap shots but you can see many of the amazing performances on the ABSFest YouTube Channel.  Below are some interviews with Madamce Onca about ABSFest.