Monday, October 29, 2012

The Gift of Growing Up Poor

I come from a family of six children, spread out so that no more than four of us were of trick-or-treating age at a time.  I remember wishing for those hideous plastic masks and thin plastic coveralls from a box for my Halloween costume, and I remember being told they were too expensive.  In retrospect, they were shitty costumes and a total waste of money.  But at the time, they were all the rage.  Having one of those shitty costumes would mean I was normal, or just not poor.

I had one really great Halloween costume when I was under ten, one that was custom-made and looked fantastic.  Since I was a redhead and had Buster Brown shoes, my mother was more than happy to make me a Strawberry Shortcake costume for Halloween.  She hunted for the perfect fabrics and found reasonable substitutes when the world didn't have replica fabrics available.  She stitched the green diamond patches on the apron and made a strawberry-shaped pompom for the hat.  It was amazing.  I would've worn it every day if I could.

The rest of my childhood costumes were not as incredible, but they also weren't as well-funded.  I'd tell my mother what I wanted to be for Halloween, and we'd have to brainstorm how to make that happen.  I made scribbly sketches and went through my closet to see what I had that could be of use.  We'd have to scour the house to see what we had so we could bring it to life.  Some costumes were, well, shitty.  Others were not too shabby.  I had to learn to work with what I had, to plan wisely, and to use my imagination because there was no money hose to problem solve for me.

My childhood prepared me for burlesque.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Topless Vlog #7

Buster is dressed as a proper gentleman for Halloween and I'm making a bacon fairy costume!

LINKS! (fantastic ballet classes for the beginner adult) (burlesque venue formerly known as Bordello, great food & drinks) (one of my first burlesque teachers, amazing hip-hop instructor, choreographer, burlesque & bellydance performer) (Monday Night Tease Gallery Fundraiser - every donation appreciated, great perks) (Monday Night Tease) (my online store - buy something by 10/31/12 and I'll send you something from the Snapper grab bag)

Saturday, October 27, 2012


“Hair-raising Burlesque, Magic and Live Music to tickle your tastebuds!”

Have you been bitten by the Halloween bug yet? Aching for a Halloween party this weekend?

Are you waiting to show off that costume you just finished making, or arrived in the mail, or barely covers your butt?

Looking for somewhere to shake your heiney this weekend?

Well, you're in luck, because Prix de Beauté presents:
TEASE-OR-TREAT! Burlesque and Magic in a weekend-long Halloween party, with live music at the One-Eyed Gypsy!


*MORE Ghoulish BURLESQUE by:*

Ms. Red Snapper

Holly Go Darkly

Anastasia Von Teaserhausen


AK and Her Kalashnikovs

*Enjoy burlesque sets at 10PM and 11PM, before and after band sets!*

Hosted by Prix de Beauté, along with her Stage Badgering sidekick: Ms. Honey Badger!

All this for FREE??!?!?! You betcha, all down at:

The One-Eyed Gypsy
901 East 1st Street
Downtown Los Angeles, CA.

Both shows start at 10:00 PM!

Full bar full of amazing drinks and bartenders, and a kitchen open til 11pm, preparing unique and delicious appetizers!

A soothsayer will be there, reading fortunes all night, and a sexy candy cigarette girl will be there with tricks and treats!

So come down in your best Halloween costume, have yourself a Bloody Mary and enjoy the show full of beautiful burlesque ladies in scary and silly costumes, haunting magic and music to monster mash to!

See you this weekend!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My Final Reveal: Bands

I spent about thirty minutes working on a new headband to match my costume.  A few months ago I picked up a handful of "love" headbands (see photo) for $1 each.  I peeled the "love" fabric off one and replaced it with leftover spandex from my underthings.  You can see some bumps from the hot glue through the fabric, so I'm going to slap some rhinestones on it later.

I also received my package of lingerie supplies from Sew Sassy.  I was stocking up on supplies for some other projects, so I'm just going to count the costs of what I'm actually using for this project.  My bra wires were 55 cents for the pair.  (They come in packs of six pair, but I'm okay with that since I'm making my own underthings when I can.  I'll use all the wires.  I used some tubular channeling at $1.20 a yard, and some finishing elastic at 85 cents a yard.  I ran elastic on the lower edge of the bra band, and I attached the underwire channels to the band.  I made the band on the large side, so I'm going to have to take an inch or two out of it before I add the elastic along the top of the band.

The next problem I really have to solve is how best to construct my bootcut disco pants.  I'd prefer not to have to draft that pattern from scratch, but I'll do it if I must.

Total spent so far: 4:15 and $160.60.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My Final Reveal: A New Costume in Progress!

I have three costumes in progress at the moment -- two for my December trip and one for my November trip.  All of these numbers will hit the stage many times to earn their keep.  For now I'm concentrating on "If," the number I'm debuting in Arkansas in November.  (A nice chunk of one of the December costumes is finished, the other should be fairly simple.)  I'm getting private dance lessons to prepare for this number, so I have to make sure the costume makes a statement.

As I did last time, I'll share my time spent and my receipt totals.  This project is a little different from the blue gown since it's not a glamour number.  That doesn't mean it will be without its own set of complications.

I had a dancer once tell me, "I spent $80 on my costume.  That's the most I've ever spent!"  I was already spending hundreds per costume, doing the work myself to save money, so I laughed internally.  $80 isn't much to spend on an event costume, but I've tried to get away with spending as little as possible on costumes for theme shows.  (I'd pair something I already had in my closet with something I could get at Goodwill, trying to make no more than one shopping stop.)  But this new costume I'm going to try to do for under $200 because I already spent close to $100 on boots.

Since it's going to be a dancewear-style costume, I'm making it from spandex.  I spent about $50 on spandex over the weekend.  I got shiny fabrics with a pattern since I'm probably not going to add rhinestones, beading or appliques to the fabrics.  The rhinestones will be spent on the pasties and assels.  I think I can get away with spending under $200 because I'm making it from scratch.  Not one off-the-rack piece (except the boots).

I spent an hour cutting, stitching and fitting the monokini on Sunday night.  I still have to add elastic, cup supports, cup snaps to attach to the underbra, and a closure for the halter.  On Monday I spent thirty minutes cutting the underbra band and the undies (and drafting & cutting pasties and assels),  and another 45 minutes stitching the undies and reinforcing the sides of the underbra band.  I still have to add some elastic to the crack area of the undies to make them KABOOM!  I'm waiting for my bra underwires, elastic, and channeling so I can make more progress on the underthings.

Total spent so far: 2:15 and $157.00.

How to Make Pasties - I Can Do Math

If you can solve for x, this is the pastie making video for you.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Honey Boo Boo Project

Just over three weeks ago, I got an opportunity to make a Honey Boo Boo cosplay/Halloween costume for the daughter of Missy of Miss Missy's Photography.  You can see what I made.
Honey Boo Boo

 This is the main photo I referenced.  I was trying to capture the silhouette and colors, but I had to make sure the costume was cost efficient.  I had to get the silver trim, the triangle on the belly, and the lettuce edge ruffle.

To get the silhouette, I used a bustier pattern and drafted the skirt to attach to the bottom of the bustier.  I spent a lot of time working on the ruffle, but the ruffle is the key feature of the silhouette.  Without that ruffle, her costume might not be easily recognized.

HBB with Lacey in the Honey Boo Boo costume I made
Knowing this was going to be a Halloween costume and working to keep costs down, I used some very thin fabric for the ruffles and shell of the dress.  This gave me some challenges because it would shift while I was cutting and while I was sewing.  I did a lot of basting to keep things in place for machine sewing on this costume.  I also took my time because I knew from the first stitch that my fabric would challenge me.

The fabric was so thin that I had challenges installing the zipper.  I wanted the costume to be durable (even though it was made for Halloween), so I sandwiched the zipper in bias tape and attached the bias tape to the shell and lining.  The final product won't split at the zipper because of the bias tape solution.

I had some leftover appliques so I made a hair clip to match the dress.  I passed the leftover trim, appliques and rhinestones to the client to embellish a bag for Halloween, or to use on any accessories.

Even though the shell fabric was a challenge to use, I'm very pleased with the outcome.  Lacey wears the dress very well and looks pleased with the project.

Monday, October 15, 2012

More Viper Room Photos!

Photo (c) Jason Kamimura 2012

Photo (c) Jason Kamimura 2012

Photo (c) Jason Kamimura 2012
More photos of "So Wrong It's Right" from the Viper Room a couple weeks ago.  (The lighting there isn't awesome, but Jason Kamimura did a great job getting some shots of us.)


I've taken a few social dance classes and I have opinions on dance partners.  After yesterday's hustle intensive with m'love, I thought I'd share those thoughts with you.

For the men:
  • Be a strong leader.  This doesn't mean toss your dance partner around to show her who's boss.  This means decide what move you're going to do and lead her into that move.  (It doesn't matter if it's the wrong move, just be decisive about it.)
  • Don't try to pull a fast one on your dance partner.  That's just a jackass move.  When you try tricking your partner, you make your partner lose faith in your ability to lead and she'll start back leading.
  • If you have sweaty palms, wipe them off before you take your partner's hands.  (This applies for the ladies as well.)  If you're handling food or whatever before dancing, wash your hands or wipe them off before you invite the lady to dance.  I had a rash on my hands from something someone handled before they touched my hands yesterday.  Yuck.
  • When you have the moves down, try some eye contact and polite conversation.  (This may not work so well in a class situation because you are there to learn the moves so it becomes effortless.  Class is the place for effort.)
  • Compliment your partner for moves that were well executed, when appropriate.  At the very least, thank your partner for the dance.
  • Be relaxed, confident, and fun.  It should be a pleasure to dance with you.
(You might notice all of these things apply to picking up women and dating.)

For the ladies:
  • Follow his lead, no matter how logical the moves are in the sequence.  It is a social dance, not a stage performance.  If he runs you into another couple, politely mention that you can't see them through the back of your head.
  • Wipe off those sweaty hands!
  • When you know your dance partner isn't going to charge you backwards into the punch bowl, try some eye contact and polite conversation. You don't have to think of what move will come next in the sequence, so you get to ask how the weather is and how about the baseball team.
  • Compliment your partner for great leading, when appropriate.  Be sure to thank him for the dance.
  • Be relaxed, interested, and fun.  Don't try to be a difficult dance partner.
(These things can also apply to picking up men and dating.)

I don't like dancing with a partner who needs constant reassurances, who tells me I'm doing it all wrong when he's supposed to lead me into the moves, who won't look at me at all during the course of the dance, who looks miserable, who tries to get the dance done faster than everyone else and the rhythm of the music allows, who isn't having a good time.  I want it to be fun.

Of course, I'd get all starry-eyed when my perfect dance partner would rotate back to me in class.  Even if we both screw up, we can laugh about it.  The dance is full of big smiles and pleasant conversation ... and talk of incorporating the moves into future choreography.

Topless Vlog #5

Friday, October 12, 2012

"So Wrong It's Right" Photos

From Urban Fairytails last week at the Viper Room.
Photo (c) 2012

Photo (c) 2012

Photo (C) 2012

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Maverick Burlesque Presents OktoberBreast

Maverick Burlesque presents burlesque and variety entertainment featuring Fresno burlesque performers and special guests from Los Angeles- Red Snapper- the Go All the Way Girl and comedy by Mr. Snapper and Mr. Buddy!
Show at 10p.m., doors open at 9p.m., only $10

Friday, October 5, 2012

More Fun With Lasers

I went in for my first timed laser hair removal session yesterday.  I purchased three packages of 30 minutes to finish off the areas I had treated previously.  (I have thick hair on my head, so my stray hair is a bit hearty and stubborn.  Six sessions weren't enough for me in either area.)  My first laser sessions were discount deals for specific areas of the body, and I learned how quickly they treat those areas.  Buying timed sessions made a lot of sense, especially because I hate shaving my legs.

I didn't get as much done as I had hoped in 30 minutes, but I still got quite a bit done.  I got three small areas done (one was the seventh treatment for that area), two medium areas (one was the seventh treatment for that area), and one large area (upper legs).  It helped that I knew the procedure and didn't visit with my laser technician, readily repositioning for best access as quickly as possible.  I'm hopeful that the small areas need no more attention and that I don't need an eighth treatment on a medium area, because I really want to get started on my lower legs.

My recommendation: Get a discount deal for a small area to be sure that it works on your body.  Then buy laser treatment in timed sessions.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Boas For Vegans

Cynthia Gibb in Modern Girls
Having taken a day off to prepare for tonight's show and this weekend's trip to Fresno, I needed background noise while cleaning and sewing.  I found Modern Girls on Netflix Instant, a 1980's movie with just enough plot that I won't get irritated by being in the same room as the television but not enough plot that I'm actually going to miss some life changing moment.  It's good, clean fun.  I was surprised to see Cynthia Gibb's character donning an eccentric, colorful, vegan boa.

I've been asked by students and colleagues about feather boa substitutes that are vegan.  Sioux du Jour has a lovely tulle boa that resembles a long, glorious bath scrubbie with pailettes.  April Showers has a tulle boa that has exposed tulle edges, giving it more of an ostrich boa look than Sioux's boa that resembles a turkey boa.  These are great substitutions that are stage worthy.  There are also great fuzzy yarns that can be knitted into a really long scarf as a feather boa substitute.  I made a keyhole scarf for myself in my pre-burlesque days that looks a bit like maribou.

The boa from Modern Girls is another great substitute.  It looks more like coque feathers than turkey or ostrich.  This boa is made from multi-colored silk leaves, attached to a thin shawl.  I theorize you could make a vegan boa from silk flowers, stitching the blooms close together along a cord or ribbon.  You'd have to be sure you didn't have any bare spots.

If you have any great vegan boa finds, please let me know so I can pass along the info to other showgirls in need.

Urban Fairytails Presents Haunted Hollywood

Tickets available here.  Mr. Snapper and I are debuting a new duet, lampooning two very dear children's entertainers who are no longer among the living.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bar Costumes vs. Event Costumes

I officially spent a year working on Mega Costume.  It's the experience of Mega Costume (and all that came with it) and the posts of My Final Reveal that lead me to this subject.  I would classify costumes into two categories: bar costumes and event costumes.  (Sure, there are comedy novelty costumes, glamorous costumes, edible costumes, etc.  These categories will help you determine how to invest your costume dollar based on your intentions for your acts.)

Bar costumes are built for more intimate shows and venues.  In my own experience, some of them are very well planned while others are thrown together at the last minute.  (With the abundance of performers and lack of jobs in the burlesque world, I recommend against throwing things together at the last minute.  It's better for your brand -- unless of course the theme of the show is "thrown together.")  When I was in acting class many years ago, we'd have to assemble costumes and props to prepare scenes that we presented to the class in roughly one week.  We'd cobble bits from our own wardrobe, hit thrift stores, borrow what we could from classmates.  Of course, we weren't in the business of taking off our clothes to entertain an audience; we were presenting a slice of representational, real-life drama.  Also it was acting class, not a paid gig.

Bar costumes aren't necessarily intended to be seen from the back row of a large theater.  Bar costumes are a smart investment for a newer performer, for someone with a weekly show, or for someone who wants to hit the ground running and to perform as frequently as possible.  I've put together some great bar costumes for numbers I've been performing for four years.

This is a Leg Avenue outfit straight out of the package (and onto a very skinny Snapper in 2007).  I wore it for a pole show for one performance, and decided to turn it into a burlesque costume.  By adding some rhinestones to the skirt and ditching the two tops for a hoodie, I made a bar costume.  I still perform this number today, and the costume has held up well.  It's not flashy, but it is stage worthy.

SH Photo (c) 2012

This is a stripper store skirt, polo shirt, handmade beret (because I'm allergic to wool), and my original scout sash.  I wear a beaded bra beneath.  I was in a monthly show in 2008 and this number just fell into place.  It's not flashy, and it's not nearly as expensive as other costumes I've made.  It's a fun and entertaining number, but it's not designed for a huge audience to be able to see.

Dan Hendricks (c) 2008

This is my monkey wrench costume.  I glued (yes, glued) embellishments on the bra, panties, shoes and coveralls, and I stitched fringe on the bra, panties and socks.  I knew I'd have gigs in bars when I created this costume, so I didn't worry so much about making sure that more than 150 people could see the important parts of the costume from afar.  I had no designs on putting this on a large stage.

Dan Hendricks (c) 2009

Here's my sperm costume.  I paid too much for a "vintage" dress at a shop on Hollywood Boulevard for the outer costume.  I used glue (again) and some hand sewing for the underthings.  I put the number together for one gig at a bar/restaurant, and I've been performing it in bars since.  The costume and props aren't really designed for a large stage.

Event costumes are those you intend to sparkle and shine on a big stage.  They need a bit more "wow" than a bar costume because they need to be seen from the back of the house.  Event costumes can be a bit more spendy.  If you create a costume for an event (large theater, convention, festival, film), it needs to be sturdy because it's likely you'll be asked to perform that number in other places as an out-of-town guest.  It's also likely that you'll perform in that costume for several years.

Flash Adams (c) 2010

My Stepford Wife costume was the first costume I intended for a larger audience.  I made the dress from scratch.  I combined stitching and gluing for the trim (bad girl), but this time I used beaded trim that reflected more light.  I put rhinestones on the dress, underthings and gloves.  This number has been performed in theaters, bars, and at festivals across the country since 2008.  Very sparkly, very easy to pack, and it can be seen from the back row.

SH Photo (c) 2009

I made a fan dance costume for a play I did.  To be accurate, a costume designer bought some stuff for my costume and did a little bit of placement of that stuff, then I modified and completed it so it was useful.  There were bead strands and rhinestones and appliques.  It was intended for theaters, and I performed the number at a festival.  The costume also made an appearance in the 2010 LA Burlesque calendar.  I revamped the costume and took the fan dance (same song, better costume and fans) on tour in theaters and bars.

Nicolette Work (c) 2011

Mega Costume was my first glamorous gown and corset number.  I put the number together for the second New Orleans Burlesque Festival, knowing I'd be playing a big venue.  I've taken this number across the country as well.  It plays well in bars (as a very showy costume) and plays well in theaters.  It's been to a few festivals as well.  Hand-crafted, beaded, rhinestoned, and hand-painted, it truly was a labor of love.  (For my event costumes I try to stick with uncommon colors that really flatter my skin and hair.  They stand out from the backdrop better, and they make it easier to remember me.  "Oh, you were the girl in the peach gown!")

SH Photo (c) 2011

My toothpaste costume is for a number I intended to replace the Stepford Wife number on the road, giving the audience glamour in one number and silliness in the other.  The feathers read really well in any setting.  I made the bodice from scratch and used rhinestones in settings so they're much larger than the ones I usually use.  I used floral spray paint on the bustier beneath, painting both the inside and outside so it doesn't look off-the-rack to the audience.  This has made an appearance in theaters and bars.

Leora Saul (c) 2012

My Flower Duet number was built for theaters and large venues.  Big fans, shimmery fabrics, cleverly placed rhinestones, and an adhesive panty.  (I made it for venues that require 1" of buttcrack coverage but don't require side straps on the panties.)  With modifications it's appeared in bars, but it's appeared in more theaters and large venues across the country.

SH Photo (c) 2012

And then we have the last fancy costume I completed for myself, the Butterflies costume.  With all of the rhinestones and hand-painting, I intended for theaters, larger venues and special events.  It's built for touring because people expect the touring performer to have something a little flashy and exciting.  The progress of this costume from start to finish is all over my blog.

You can also have crossover costumes that were initially intended for bars but became event costumes.  These costumes can be fancied up a bit so they read better in larger venues and settings.

Markus Alias (c) 2010
The Twist Contest was designed for one event at Monday Night Tease.  The show became an annual event, and we were privately hired by QT to perform the show.  This number has been to a large venue and was selected for a festival (but we were unable to attend).  I rebuilt parts of my costume after the first year, and Mr. Snapper made some modifications over the four years we've been performing the number.  What makes these bar costumes translate to the big stage is the appeal of the concept.  Of course people want to see what happens next in the Twist Contest that led to them winning the prize.

SH Photo (c) 2010
Crocodile Rock was also designed for one event at Monday Night Tease.  Spare feathers attached to a bustier, a store-bought shimmy belt, leftover go-go boots, and whatever sparkly undies and pasties I can find.  After the first year I rebuilt the bustier and embellished it with cheap, plastic rhinestones.  Last year I redid the sleeves, and Mr. Snapper embellished the master croc.  We performed the number at a festival earlier this year, in many bars, theaters, and at a private party.  The costume was still pretty inexpensive (even with my modifications). 

What helps this number translate to events is the audience participation.  We slap together little snappers for some of the audience to participate in the sing-along.  Every show costs us a little extra cash and time to put together unique snappers for that audience.

When you create a costume (or an act), it helps to have an intended audience in mind before you start building.  It will help you wisely invest your money and time.  If you're just performing once in a bar to say that you did, you can get away with gluing your fringe to your bra or using a Leg Avenue costume with little to no modification.  You can shop at Goodwill for your pieces and spend some time turning them into stripper wear.  If you're thinking about a career, touring, or applying for festivals, spend the extra time and money to make something unique and easy to see from anywhere in the audience.  Don't skimp on making sure everything is stitched correctly the first time, finishing the edges of your costumes, and embellishing appropriately.  (If you're cash poor, you can embellish over time.  Start with the elements the audience will notice first, like appliques and fringe.  Then add rhinestones, sequins, and beading as you can afford.  Fabric paint goes a long way as well.)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Topless Vlog #3

This week's episode contains:
  • A list of the people who died from nipple radiation from last week's episode
  • Buster being a little dick
  • A teaser of the new duet I'm debuting at the Viper Room on Thursday
  • Info on Fresno's show this Saturday and classes this Sunday
  • Buster being a little jerk
  • A peek at my spread in Bachelor Pad Magazine