Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bra Flop

Here it is: my first bra constructed with proper lingerie materials.  The bra kit included quality materials, but the instructions were confusing.  It seems that every step had to be undone and redone because I was so confused.  As a result of my confusion, I would trim seam allowances then realize I had to seam rip and restitch many things.  I probably should've made bigger cups, and it didn't help that I likely lost some room from the seam issues.  My cup wires are too small (because I ordered them too small).  The hooks on the back look janky.  This isn't a bra I can wear unless I lose a cup size or two.

But I knew it wouldn't be perfect right out of the gate.  I do have a pattern I can use to make a nude underbra (in the correct size with the right wires).  I'm sure I could make a better bra next time.  This was my first time to sew with a ball needle.  It was my first time to machine sew around metal. I made my mistakes on this project and not on a costume bra.  I learned more about lingerie fabrics that support, stretch, and corral.  I spent about $10 on the pattern and about $10 on the kit of materials; I've paid more for things that weren't as educational.  I also learned the order for putting a bra together from scratch.

I'm going to collect up the supplies to make this same pattern in nude so I can wear it in venues where I need my sinful underboob covered to comply with vice laws.  I still have to pattern the full coverage bra from another bra I have, using what I learned from this experience to make something good.

I just got a book on how to make corsets in the mail.  I really hope that my first corset doesn't turn out this janky.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Waterfall Fans

I received a wonderful late birthday present from my friend Chase McKenna: silk fans.  She selected the perfect set in shades of blue.  They look like water; or at least, they will when I'm used to them.

I've been working with feather fans for five years, and these fans are definitely a challenge.  First, they're both right-hand fans so the left-hand gets confused by the contrary staves.  Second, it takes more work to keep the silk rippling.  With feather fans, I tend to let them float from position to position.  Constant motion is required to keep the tails of the fans from dragging the ground.  Third, Buster thinks they're a game.  As I whipped the fans around to get a feel for them, my LBD (little boy dog) propped himself on his hind legs and tried to catch the tails in his mouth.  We've gotten past that with the feather fans, but the feather fans don't have such long tails.

I have no plans for a number incorporating the fans yet.  I think a new feather fan dance is going to happen first.  But I will keep working with them until I can make them look like swirling water and have confidence using them in a number.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

"Doesn't It Bother You ..."

After my first burlesque performance
(Guest post by Mr. Snapper.)

“Doesn’t it bother you that people are watching your wife take her clothes off?”

I slowly stir my Jack and coke, a wry grin creeping across my face.  I’ve been married to the same wonderful, talented woman for almost 19 years -- over half my life.  No answer could possibly encapsulate all the pride I take in her accomplishments, all the happiness she brings me, and the depth of my devotion to her.  She is my best friend, my lover, and my muse.

I say, “You ever see a gear head pop his hood at a car show or the parking lot of a burger joint? Showing off a cherry, rebuilt V-8 engine, all that chrome?”  I know he has.  He’s a rockabilly guy.  “It’s kind of like that.  Other guys can look all they want; I’m driving my baby home.”

It’s an objectifying answer to be sure.  But it’s rather an objectifying question, don’t you think?

Every now and then I hear about some burlesque gal who hooks up with some guy who turns around and makes her “tone it down” or worse, quit burlesque altogether.  I have a name for these guys:  fucking idiots.  They are attempting to reign in the joie de vivre that attracted them in the first place.

Photo by Markus Alias 2011
Joie de vivre" literally means "joy of life," but we lose much in the literal translation.  "Joie" means more than just "joy."  It encompasses a feeling of fullness, an effervescent and visceral experience of life.  Joie resonates in the deepest part of our humanity.  I’m not a spiritual guy, but I believe in joie.

Not to get too metaphysical, but I think it’s joie that drives attraction.  I spend a considerable amount of time observing, thinking, and writing about live theatre and what it is that makes some performances worthy of all the praise an audience can muster versus what makes a dud.  I’m convinced it’s the joie.  

All live entertainment is some form of storytelling, no matter how abstract. We evolved storytelling as a way of conveying experiential knowledge to others, to save each other the hassle of getting stepped on by a wooly mammoth when out on the hunt (or whatever).  Storytelling is an intensely social act.  We’re social animals, and we care about each other.  When we encounter another human being who has joie, we experience a deep, evolutionary drive to assimilate that feeling.  That’s why you cried at the end of Marley and Me.

In entertainment as in life, it is joie that attracts us to other human beings.  Understand then why it is you may feel threatened or jealous when you see -- or even think about -- a group of strangers watching your wife or girlfriend strip.  You know how much joie is there to love.

Photo by Azul 2009
So hey, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to experience jealousy.  At its most innocuous, jealousy is a simply a misguided expression of love.  But I’m not concerned with the occasional twinge of jealousy, I’m concerned with those for whom jealousy is not innocuous and fleeting but noxious and ever present.  What can we say to these guys other than “get over it” or “nut the fuck up”?

There is a certain “safety” in live performance afforded by that fourth wall and what we call the “willing suspension of disbelief.”  You know how you laugh when the Three Stooges wail on each other?  It’s because you know, deep down in your heart of hearts that it’s not real.  A (good) live performance creates an artificial transference of joie for the audience; a place where if they squint their eyes they can almost believe it’s all real.  The contact high they get from a performer can last hours, days -- an entire lifetime.  But it’s just a contact high.

Your lady is performing a public service.  Next time she performs, really look at the audience.  Appreciate the happiness she’s bringing them.  Take pride in the fact that you support this artist!  You know better than anyone else in the room how much time and effort went into approximately three minutes of stage time.  Enjoy it!

The only way you would ever be in any danger of losing the relationship you have is if she reciprocated with her audience.  If she broke the “fourth wall” and allowed the artificial transference of joie in a theatrical setting become true transference of joie in an intimate setting.  Friend, if your lady is inclined to break intimacy with you, she’s going to do it, audience or no.

There is another, perhaps more justifiable cause for dumb fuckery:  A fear for your mate’s safety and well-being.  This, too I understand.  My wife has been hit on by overbearing drunks without me around to chase them off.  Quite frankly, I don’t give a shit if it sounds sexist:  I consider it part of my job to protect her.  I know for a fact she feels likewise, as she has on more than one occasion stepped between me and a fight.  

Photo by Chris Beyond 2008
I’m a big believer in the Biblical notion of “two become one.”  A romantic relationship is an artificial construct, when you think about it.  Two people choose to become family.  They choose to involve themselves in each other’s lives, and the baggage we all carry.  Part of the relationship is what a poet once called “‘I’ve got your back’ love”,  a bond that has to be on the “I’d take a bullet for you” order of magnitude.  Self-sacrifice.  Not self-nullification -- please don’t think I’m suggesting that.

Take all reasonable precautions.  Talk it over with her.  Tell her about your concerns for her safety, but above all trust your mate.  Trust her to act in her own best interests, to keep herself safe.  Trust is really what it comes down to.  A trust that grows out of openness, communication, and understanding.  Don’t allow your concern to become an obsessive need to insulate her.  Let her breathe.  She’s not your child, not your pet; she’s your equal.

I down the last of the Jack and coke just in time to help my lady out to the car, doing what I do, grabbing her bag and opening the doors for her.  We pause a few times on our way to the car so she can gladhand the audience.  She’s beaming, and I’m warmed by it.  I helped make this moment happen.  Resisting it or trying to squash it would only make us both unhappy, and we’re not together out of a mutual need for unhappiness.  We’re together because our individual strengths outweigh our individual weaknesses.  We’re a unit.
Photo by Jason Kamimura 2012

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"But what's your REAL name?"

Here's something that happened to me back in 2008 when I was very new to burlesque.

SETTING: A bar during a burlesque show between performances.

RED SNAPPER, in costume bra and panties after performing, walks to the restroom.  RANDOM GUY follows.

Hey, you were really amazing.

Thank you.

RED SNAPPER smiles and heads toward the bathroom.  RANDOM GUY steps into her path.

I mean, you were really amazing.  You're so hot.  What's your name?

It's Red Snapper.
RED SNAPPER makes another attempt for the loo.  RANDOM GUY gets in the way again.

No, I mean, what's your real name?

It's Red Snapper.

No, I mean, what's your real name?  It's gotta be, like, Jennifer or Kim or something.

It's Red Snapper.  That's all you really need to know.

Hey, give me your phone number.

Um, no.  I've married.  Like, very married.
RANDOM GUY follows RED SNAPPER in the direction of the bathroom but RANDOM GUY surprisingly has enough sense not to follow her inside.

As you can see, Random Guy doesn't have a Cyrano on his side coming up with his lines.  You can also see why I'd be so annoyed by this question.  I'd never seen this guy before, and I doubt he ever attended one of my shows again.  No etiquette.  (Even if I was single, his conversation would not have made me drop my panties.)

Let's drop in on a similar scene from late 2011.

SETTING: An arts space during a burlesque show.

RED SNAPPER, between burlesque numbers, is heading from the bathroom to the dressing room through the crowd to prepare for her next number.   RANDOM GUY hollers up to her from his seat on the couch between two other random guys.

Hey, you were amazing.

Thank you.  I love what I do.

RED SNAPPER smiles and starts to move toward the dressing room.

You're so hot.

Um, okay.  Thanks.  I've got to go get dressed for my next number.

RANDOM GUY grabs RED SNAPPER's hand and tries to pull her onto the couch.  Her trusty Crocs keep her feet planted.

What's your real name?  You're so hot.  Do you have a boyfriend?

My name is Red Snapper, and I'm married.  I've been married since the dawn of time as a matter of fact.

No, you're not married.  Seriously, what's your real name?  It has to be Elizabeth or Ashley or something.

RED SNAPPER frees her wrist from RANDOM GUY's grip.

I am married, my name is Red Snapper, and I'm here to work.  Excuse me.

RED SNAPPER darts to the dressing room while RANDOM GUY remains on the couch, drinking hipster beer.

I thought this guy was going to get into a game of Rumpelstiltskin with me.  I was wearing Crocs so I couldn't effectively stomp a hole in the pavement anyway.

When I'm out in the world as Red Snapper, I'm not interested in discussing my real name.  My performer identity is Red Snapper.  I'm not Nicole or Ashley or Jennifer or Diane.  I am Red Snapper.  I will discuss how my name was selected, but Red Snapper doesn't reveal the driver's license name to the random guys of the world.  (Funny how women don't usually ask what my real name is.)

I'm not sure why this question is important.  "What's your real name?"  Do you want to use my real name to try to evaluate why a girl with that name would go by Red Snapper?  Are you hoping to become my Facebook friend?  Do you think it's going to make us closer?  You want to write it on a cup of Starbucks for me to show how cool you are for remembering?

There are reasons why some people get to know my driver's license name:
  • They knew me before I started doing burlesque.  Family, high school and college friends, co-workers, people I worked with as an actor.  Most of them are conscientious enough to call me by my performer name in burlesque circles.
  • They're paying me.  They have to write a check to me for goods or services.  They have to send me a 1099.
  • They're working with me on a contractual basis.  Photographers, producers, booking agents -- they can all have my plain Jane name.
  • People who have become my friends from the burlesque world.  This doesn't mean I give my name to everyone I perform with and everyone I ever meet via burlesque.  We have to have a relationship that extends beyond the false eyelashes and rhinestone pasties.
And if you're not on the list, you don't get it.

By the way, my "real" name is Red.  My father has been calling me Red since I was an infant.   That's got to count for something.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Naked Girls Reading presents THINGS WE LIKE TO DO ... NAKED


Four Beautiful Naked Women reading about personal collections, Comic Books, and other hobbies!

Featuring Naked Readings from:

live at
4270 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90029

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

Doors at 7:00pm
(Show starts promptly at 8pm)

Admission: $18 (or $15 Advance Discount Tickets at NGRLA.COM)

18 & UP ONLY

There will be a free wine reception after the show patrons 21 & Up (Must have current valid ID)

Here's what the press is saying about NAKED GIRLS READING...

“The most provocative literary series in the world.” – The Globe and Mail

“The best thing to happen to books since they were put on tape.” – Carson Daly, Last Call with Carson Daly

“Bare breasts are a wonderful reading accessory.” – The Stranger

“This is genius.” – EyeWeekly

“This could change the nature of author events, liven up the library and put a shimmy in the book industry.” – The Daily Radar

“Paroxysms of delight. Seriously.” – Cultural Capitol

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Wonderful Resource

I was hunting for a pattern for a high low skirt, and I put out a call for help on my Facebook page.  My sister's friend (and my FB friend) sent me a link to an incredibly detailed YouTube video with instructions.  That video lead me to a pencil skirt how-to, and some other great tutorials.  In fact, I found this hair tutorial that I'm going to try for Sophia Sirena's wedding tomorrow.  There are so many great videos.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bra in Progress

Last summer I ordered supplies and a pattern to make my own bra.  I'm finally between projects enough to make it!  I have to do it now in order to problem solve for one of the next two costumes I'm making.  (Being a girl of some bosom, I want to make a top that would work better on a girl who is less endowed.  I have to troubleshoot how I'm going to keep my dinners contained, and making a bra is going to help me with that.)

I bought Elan bra pattern #511 and the kit that goes with it.  When I'm done, I'll have an unromantic white bra.  (Once the fashion industry figured out that white people aren't actually white, the surplus of white bras seemed to drop off the market.  Now everything is nude, cocoa or black.)  I'll also have the know-how to make a contemporary bra.

The pattern instructions are lacking.  There was nothing in the bra kit (the fabrics and notions to make the bra) that explained what everything was.  The pattern pieces aren't marked to delineate which fabric you should use for each piece.  I had to pull out an off-the-rack bra and try to determine what fabric made the most sense for which piece.  Tonight I cut the pieces.  I have to check to see that I have the right thread and needle for my machine tomorrow so I can crank this sucker out this week.

I intend to dance in a Southern city this summer where I have to wear a net bra.  I know this won't be the last time I'll have to cover my bazooms to follow the letter of the law and keep my hosts out of trouble.  I'm going to make my own bra with the skills I learn doing this pattern, but I think I'll get a much better shape by copying the bra in the photo.  I think the seams fall in better places. :)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

BHOF Fundraiser Revealed!

(c)SH Photo
Here's a saucy photo of my final reveal in my new number, as performed at the BHOF Fundraiser last week.  If this doesn't make you want to see the act, I don't know what will.

Ma Familie

I've established that I have opinions about how my parents feel about my life choices.  My mother once said that I was going to do what I wanted anyway so it was best just to stand back while I did it.  To create resistance when I was so set on doing something would've been a bad idea.  I didn't turn out so bad as a result of this parenting method.  'Genius honors student married for almost two decades who has a penchant for stripping' is better than 'psycho serial killer who wants to show parents not to get in the way.'

That said, it's nice to have a family that's not judgmental or barely tolerant of what I do.  It's nice to have them as supporters in my career -- not enemies or gossips or people who change the subject when I talk about what I'm doing.  They're more supportive of my burlesque dancing than they ever were of my acting.  And yes, they know I take my clothes off.

Last time I visited my hometown, my older sister coordinated a nice dinner so Andrew and I could visit with her family and with my dad.  (My dad now has a bumper sticker that says his daughter is stripper of the month at MNT.  Next I'm getting him the t-shirt.)  My dad would've attended my show, but he's an old man and his car is out of commission so he couldn't drive there and back.  He told all of his friends about it.  :)  My oldest sister couldn't get away from the special needs of two young ones in her household to come to the show, but she's planning to see me perform next time.  My mother remarried a man with failing health, so she's unlikely to get away and stay out late while I do what I do.  We did have lunch and she often has encouraging things to say about pursuing my dreams.  They've got my back.

But the ultimate in support was for family to see me doing my thing.  They so rarely saw me act when I did theatre in their area, so it delights me that they PAID to see me do burlesque.  My small sister has always been supportive of my performing and has ventured into the world of poi performing, so it was no surprise that she and her boyfriend bought a table by the stage.  What was surprising was meeting my younger brother's fiancee for the first time at the show.  (They were high school sweethearts and I'd never met her.)  She was with my sister right by the stage.  What was even more surprising was my oldest brother and his fiancee watching from the back of the room.  My brother is an amazing guitarist and I hadn't seen him in many years.  He was there to support me.  Holy shit.  (I may have surprised him when I gave him a hug after the show when I was just wearing pasties and undies, but I warned him that it's what I do.)  My mother-in-law and her husband, her boss and his wife, Andrew's grandmother and youngest sister were all there.  They bought a table as well.  None of these people in my family are embarrassed by what I do.

It's important to surround yourself with people who have your back.  It's even better when your family fits into that category.  I'm looking forward to seeing all of them this fall.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Laser Hair Removal - Five Months Later

I'm five months into my laser hair removal in a couple strategic places.  When I started, I had hoped to be done by now.  Of course, I still have one visit left on each of my two discount deals.  (Discount deals are the best way to see if the procedure will work for you.)

I have less hair returning after so many treatments.  I have less ingrown hairs than I did with waxing and shaving.  The hair that does grow back tends to be thinner.  I have to shave less frequently, making travel so much easier.  (I remember having days in a row of shoots and shows where I had to shave my underarms every day.  The first day everything was fine, but trying to shave the Fred Flintstone away on the following days left my armpits looking and feeling like hamburger meat.)  Everything is far more aesthetically pleasing thanks to the lasering.

Once I finish my discount deals, I'm going to purchase timed treatments.  You can get anything you want lasered in the time you buy.  In thirty minutes, I can get them to touch up the areas I've had done already and work on some other areas.  My plan is to do my legs (which I've been shaving since I was ten due to peer pressure) and random hairs with the timed treatments.  It'll be fantastic to travel without a razor.

For my performer friends who hate shaving, there are often deals on discount websites for laser service.  For the cost of three Brazilian waxes, I got six laser sessions for my good time as a discount deal.  If your hair color/skin tone will work with the laser, I can't recommend it enough.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Leftover Showgirl

For the BHOF fundraiser last night, Andrew and I donated a pair of pasties and a puppet for the raffle.  Because we're such busy people, I had intended to just give a naked puppet to the raffle.  (I assume that people like to give the puppet a personality first, then accessorize.)  On Wednesday night, naked puppet mostly done, Andrew said we needed to do something to make the puppet more burlesque themed.  His exact words were: "We need to tart the puppet up a bit."  We had one rushed evening to tart up the puppet before the raffle.

I scoured through my box of trim to see what I had on hand that matched fabric I had.  I wound up using leftover painted strips of English net from my panels and a smidge of extra fabric from the larger panels.  The net bra has spare rhinestones from Andrew's disco undies and beaded trim from my fourth burlesque costume ever.  The feathers on her head were from the order I made for my first feather fans back in 2007.  Her eyelashes were from a collection passed to me by Evie.  I cheated and used glues on the costume instead of sewing, but we used thread to tack the costume onto the puppet.

I'm pleased with the Leftover Showgirl.  It's stuff like this that keeps us from throwing away the tiniest bits of leftover fabric and trim.