Friday, October 30, 2009

Baring All

I'm a nudist.  Specifically, I spend as much time at home naked as I can.  I used to go to the nude beach before they shut them all down in California.  (I went to a nudist resort once and had such a terrible experience I haven't gone to another.)  I'm very comfortable in my own skin.  In fact, I'm more comfortable being naked than I am wearing a swimsuit.

While I'm comfortable being naked, I know I have to be smart about nude photos.  I only shoot nude or apparently nude with people I trust.  I usually have a helper there (Mr. Snapper) to make sure my exposed parts look as good as possible.  I also like having control over my naked images so I know where and how they're being used.  I don't want bad photos all over the internet, and I don't want my pictures used to endorse something I don't endorse.

My advice to new performers is not to do naked shoots unless you know and trust the photographer (or if that person is highly recommended for what you're shooting).  That is, unless you're willing to have the bad photos appear everywhere.

This photo was taken by Crazy White Lady Photography with hair and makeup by Eva Woodby.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Project List

I built a lot of costumes and acts in my first year as a professional burlesque performer.  It was an expensive time.  I had more money to burn and I don't regret spending any of it.  I still use costumes and numbers from my first year.  When someone would ask me to do their show (even if it required a completely new number or a "one-off" number that I probably would never do again), I would say, "Absolutely I will."

Because I had so many numbers to build my first year, I put a list on my wall so I could get everything done on time.  I'd put the month the number had to be ready with a to-do list for each number below.  It helped me keep my head straight and prioritize my activities.  That ensured everything would get done on time.

I have plenty of numbers to cover any upcoming gigs.  I'm not worried about quantity of numbers in my arsenal.  I'm now focusing on quality because I can with my current job situation.  I'm taking my time building costumes and working out new numbers.  And to return to a successful action, I'm writing down due dates for all of my new numbers along with to-do lists.  When I have time available at home, I can just tackle items on the to-do lists so my numbers are ready with the quality I now demand.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Creative Stretches

My husband is a creative hyphenate; he does everything.  He's a writer-director-actor-musician-puppeteer who designs-hosts-builds and strips.  I try to acquire hyphenates and strengthen the hyphenates I already have.  Everything I do makes me a better burlesque performer.  Here's what I did in the past week to contribute to my creative hyphenates, making myself a better performer in the process:
  • Ballet class.  I take a 90-minute ballet class every week.  I got a late start studying ballet so I know I'll never be a prima ballerina.  I do know that ballet will strengthen my dance frame, bring more grace to my performances, and improve the height and form of my kicks.  Ballet class forces me to concentrate on what I'm doing.  I'm sure the year plus of ballet classes have influenced my burlesque.
  • Tap class.  I take a two-hour tap class every week.  I had about six months of tap class ten years ago from a terrible teacher.  Kismet landed me in this class, and I'm learning so much.  I have to concentrate on the combinations so I can get them right.  I have to change my posture for tap class because we're learning down and dirty tap, not show tap.  I hope one day to incorporate tap into my burlesque.
  • Acting.  I opened a play on Saturday.  I play a best friend-love interest type.  This is very different from what I usually portray in my burlesque numbers because it's very naturalistic.  Of course, I get to show something I don't otherwise -- vulnerability.  Assuming any kind of role as an actor gives me more options in burlesque.
  • Writing.  I wrote a short play that opened Friday night.  On Friday night, I wrote a short play that ran just Saturday night as part of a 24-hour play festival.  Writing forces me to create stories rapidly, keeping my idea generator hot for creating acts.
Sharpening one's other skills keeps the mind in shape for being creative.  All of these activities are influencing my next acts.  I can't wait to see how it all pays off.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Shop Snapper!

My mother was a homemaker when I was very small, and I learned the fine womanly arts of baking and sewing from her.  She really didn't know what kind of monster she was creating when we sat down at her sewing machine together when I was five.  I make many components of my costumes.  I also make products for my Etsy store.

This is my latest creation.  It was inspired by my part-time homemaker status.  It's a wonderful multi-size apron that's utilitarian and fancy.  In fact, I made one to use in my "Bewitched" act at Peepshow Menagerie a few days ago.  I'll be cranking out more aprons in my spare time because I think everyone needs one for the kitchen.  It's also a great way to put my sewing skills to work when I don't have a costume in front of me.  Anyone need an apron?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Peepshow Menagerie presents Famous Monstergirls of Burlesque

I'm representing witchy housewives at this show.  I guess I've really been getting into my role as part-time housewife so it shows in my work.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday Night Tease

Bar Opens: 9pm 
Seating Starts: 9:30pm 
Show Starts: 10pm 

Cover charge: $12 
****$9 with flyer****

Ask about the $5 drink specials!!!

3 Clubs 
1123 Vine St. 
(Vine at Santa Monica) 
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Hosted by: Patrick The Bank Robber

With burlesque performances by:
Jolee Blon'
Ida Claire
Estella Detroit
Scarlett Letter
Red Snapper
Vixen Violette
a duet by Truffles Mcclure & Pheonix Briar
and the insanity that is Scot Nery

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Private Parties

I enjoy dancing at private parties.  I danced at a private party last night for this tattoo shop in Azusa.  (The only reason I'm sharing who hosted the 'private' party is because they had a flier.)  It was my first time dancing behind a tattoo parlor and it was a lot of fun.

The curious thing about private parties is that you never know how the audience will react.  At established burlesque shows, the crowd knows how to behave and when to cheer.  At private shows, you don't know if the people in the audience know what burlesque is or if they've ever seen it before.  Last night's crowd was great.  The music was so loud that it was hard to hear them cheering until the end, but I did hear someone say early in my number, "I love this song!"  That was great.

Another great thing about private parties is finding a new audience and making new fans in that audience.  The gentleman who booked us saw our Quentin Tarantino show at Monday Night Tease and wanted to bring burlesque to this crowd.  There may now be a demand for our talents in this area after last night's show.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Making a Triangle Bra

I created a pattern for my triangle bras last year when I had to have one for a number I did.  I made the pattern with an old manila folder so it will hold up because I know I'm going to make a number of these over time.  I drew the triangle based on the amount of coverage I wanted and I left an extra inch or so at the bottom for a channel for the underbust tie.  (I don't like permanently attaching ties to each side because I like versatility and sometimes wear my triangle bra so it ties in the front.)

I showed you the fabric I bought in yesterday's entry.  It's mesh and a bit stretchy.  For opacity, I used two layers of fabric for each cup.  The fabric was so stretchy that it was difficult to cut and get a decent seam allowance.  To solve that problem, I folded the fabric and drew the cup on one side.  I pinned it together so I had two layers and stitched on the line I drew.  I then trimmed the sides, folded them in and stitched again so the edge would be clean.

I wanted the bottom of this cup to be neat so I used bias tape to create the channel for the ties.  I usually fold the bottom edge under to create the channel but you can see the ties inside when I use mesh.  I had bias tape to match the bra so I used it as directed and made a neat channel that adds a smidge of extra support.  I'm attaching a tiny bit of bias tape at the top of each cup so my ties are sturdy and the mesh doesn't get damaged from the torque of my breasts.

The rhinestones follow my rendering.  I want lots of sparkle but the bra isn't sturdy enough to support being fully encrusted with rhinestones.  That's the one drawback to lightweight fabric.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Costuming on a Budget

When I first started dancing professionally, I designed my costumes before I went shopping for components.  I studied costume design in college and was taught to sketch out designs before spending any money.  We had to use our costume budgets wisely in school, and that training was so valuable.

I'm not going to spill the beans on every part of my next act, but I will share some tidbits as I work on it.  I was inspired to put together this act last month.  I found a wonderful costume component at a very reasonable price and made my color selections around that piece.  I sketched out the costume on a ready-made fashion design figure, jotted down what I had and what I needed to complete the design.  I knew I'd have to match the color of the base piece (the first component I purchased) for a few of the other pieces.  What's really great about sketching it all out before going to the store is that I know how much of everything I need to get.

Fortunately this new act won't require a ton of fabric.  I knew what I needed first so I could work the act as I continued building and embellishing the pieces.  I had to match the base piece (on the left) with some mesh fabric.  Since I am on a limited budget, I had to be very smart about my purchase.  I matched the color in my rendering to the base piece.  I used the rendering to select the matching fabric.  My husband and I hunted through the discount section of Michael Levine in downtown Los Angeles first in hopes to find a deal.  We seriously scored.  I got the fabric on the right for $1.50 a yard.  There's plenty of it to make all the pieces I need with a little leftover.  (I bought all 2.5 yards that were available because that was too good of a price.)

While I enjoyed spending my first year as a professional burlesque dancer going to the store and buying fabric and trim with just an idea in mind, it's much wiser for me to design the costume on paper first and create a shopping list, especially in this economy.  This means I have less "waste" at the end.  Sure, I tend to use leftover fabric and trim for other projects, but I run out of space in my home office for leftovers and I don't have the same money to buy things I don't use right away.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Time With Twyla Tharp

I went to a workshop at USC yesterday with Twyla Tharp.  Her book, The Creative Habit, was part of the reason me and my husband bailed from the stale acting class we were taking to pursue actual acting work.  I was excited to have the opportunity to hear her speak.  When we got there, I found out it was a problem solving workshop of sorts; people would throw out their creative problems and she would give feedback.  The questions I had were answered when she addressed other people, so I didn't have the need to raise my hand.

Here are some key things from Twyla, all applicable to burlesque:
  • Don't expect people to pay while you're learning your lessons.
  • Figure out your strengths and interests.  Cut your ambition in half for your first venture.
  • Find a way to accommodate what your body will do.
  • Where have you been?  What have you learned.
  • If you're "kind of" about it, you're not going to expose yourself the way you should.
  • Really want to do it or don't bother.
  • You'll only get back what you put in.
Having read her book and applied parts to life, the workshop was very validating.  Of course, the best part for me was at the end when I carried my well-loved hardcover book up for her to sign.  I gave her my name, handed her the book and pen and said, "I'm a burlesque dancer."  Twyla said, "Good girl."  That was some incredible and unexpected validation from someone I really admire.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Coming Soon: International Snapper!

I have accepted the invitation to perform with Cherry Kiss Burlesque in Costa Rica in January 2010.  More details will be released as I have them.  If you'd like to share some love to help me with my trip, pop over to my store to pick up some Snapper merchandise.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My First Very Own Show - Sort Of

Sunday night was the inaugural installment of Red Snapper's Sassy, Classy Burlesque Revue.  It was my first very own show in a theater - sort of.  That statement requires a little unpacking.  Last fall I produced High Jinks Burlesque in conjunction with Theatre Unleashed as a fundraiser and late-night show to follow Pin-Up Girls.  I brought that show to Monday Night Tease earlier this year.  I've co-produced a couple nights of Peepshow Menagerie.  I also produced a fundraiser for the Burlesque Hall of Fame in May, but I had lots of help at my fingertips to have a huge show.  This night was just mine.

I'm so pleased with the talent I got for the show.  It really was a sassy, classy line-up.  I got the date of the show secured right before I flew to New Orleans, so I didn't have as much promotional time as I would have liked.  However, we had a nice turnout and I think everyone had a good time.

Theaters are very different from bars.  There are plenty of seats in the audience so the patrons don't have to stand the entire night.  There's a backstage so the performers make a formal entrance and don't reveal their costumes to the audience before their performance while trying to get from one place to another.  There's the opportunity for a formal curtain call.  And there's the possibility of nudity without breaking the law.  Sunday night's audience got to see a little more than permitted at a bar.  Who knows what extra peep December's show will hold.

Since I produced the show, I could control the backstage activity.  Specifically, the brilliant photographer John Nelson was backstage before the show to shoot the process -- on film.  He and I did a photo shoot a little more than a week ago in the theater.  The image on this blog is one of the few digital images he shot that day.  If you visit his website, you can see he has an incredible way of capturing the essence of people's personalities.  I'm eager to see what he shot before the show.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Video from New Orleans!

The good folks of New Orleans Burlesque Festival have uploaded oodles of video from the shows!  While I can't embed it, you can find my cutesy number and a slew of others here.  I performed this number at last night's inaugural show of Red Snapper's Sassy, Classy Burlesque Revue.  Spend an afternoon catching up on an incredible festival!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

I'm a Button

I love merch.  This is quite evident with my collection of 20 John Mayer shirts.  I love supporting fellow performers when I can by purchasing their merchandise.  As a theatre and burlesque producer and performer, I've spent a lot of time pondering what merchandise people are interested in purchasing, fair price points, good exchange for the money they spend, etc.  I'm still pondering it and I doubt I'll ever stop pondering it.

I talk about merchandising with fellow performers and producers.  My chum Chris Beyond has started rolling out buttons to sell at shows.  Here you can see some designs for Peepshow Menagerie.  The second row is Pinky Petite.  The third row is my cover for Chris Beyond's Bootleg Stag Party Vol. 2.  The fifth row is my naked butt from the centerfold of the bootleg.  These buttons will only be available at Peepshow Menagerie.  Perfect for guitar straps, backpacks and jackets, each pin is $2.

Other Los Angeles shows will carry their own buttons soon.  Keep an eye out.  Maybe I'll even start carrying them for Red Snapper's Sassy, Classy Burlesque Revue!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Making the Family Proud

As I've mentioned before, I grew up heavily influenced by music.  I love live music.  It's no wonder that I married a man who is a multi-instrumentalist.

When I saw the shower at the House of Blues, my clothes flew off my body and onto the floor.  I found myself posing for a photo in the shower.  (Photo shot by Vagina Jenkins.)  All those years of legendary rock star funk were now on my feet.

Tee hee hee!