Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Stocking Class at What Katie Did

Photo (C) Ginger Liu 2013.
When I first learned there was burlesque happening in present day, I devoured everything I could find about the subject. I remember getting early issues of Bachelor Pad Magazine and seeing ads for What Katie Did. The retro-inspired lingerie in the ads was fantastic, and I wanted more. I placed an order or two when there was only the shop across the pond. They opened a Los Angeles store a couple years ago in the very fashionable strip of Melrose. They were less than 30 minutes from my house, but I still found myself ordering my underthings by mail. I'd been on the mailing list for almost as long as I'd been doing burlesque, but I'd never been in the store or tried their stockings.

The stockings workshop, conducted by Hollywood Burlesque Festival, gave me the opportunity to do both. Arranged by Lili vonSchtupp, the evening was filled with three mini-classes of ladies learning about the stocking peel. It was a bit of a dream come true to teach these classes with Lili, nestled in this adorable boutique, surrounded by silky unmentionables. (I had seen many London workshops in their newsletter over the years. I was really excited to be teaching at their Los Angeles shop.) WKD gifted every attendee with a pair of stockings, and I fell in love with mine from the first moment. Just the right amount of stretch for an exciting peel and more durable than the "one size" options I've purchased in a pinch. They were considerably sturdy; I peeled my stockings about 30 times and wore them around the shop without shoes, only developing a run in the toe at the end of the night.

Photo (C) Ginger Liu 2013.
What Katie Did also gave attendees an incredible discount. I made a little splurge of my own at the Free the Girls.
end of the evening to celebrate some great classes. With wine, cupcakes and candies, it was like a fantastically festive hen party. We even collected a few more bras for our Hollywood Burlesque Festival charity,

What Katie Did is located at 7970 1/2 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90046. Open 11am-7pm Monday through Saturday. What Katie Did is a sponsor of the Hollywood Burlesque Festival.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Topless Vlog #37

Vlog is here!

I shows off my Rainbow Dash cosplay that won third place in a Halloween costume contest. (Okay, I show off the dressed down version.)

11/15 Maxine's show
11/15 Silver Fox Lounge show

Friday, October 18, 2013

How to Make a Tulle Boa

When I want to know how something is done, I hunt down the information and try to do it myself.  I was randomly wondering one day how to make a tulle boa. Some resources suggested a running stitch down a length of tulle, but I didn't see how those boas would have the volume and texture I thought they should.

I found a method that involved fabric strips tied to a cord, usually made for children. Those instructions were all a bit fast and loose. Here was my process.

  • Two tassels for the end of your boa
  • A length of 1"wide grosgrain ribbon in a hue that roughly matches your tulle, cut 6" longer than you want your boa (mine was just over 7' long)
  • 3 yards of tulle for every foot of boa (I used 16 1/2 yards)
  • Rotary cutter
  • Cutting mat
  • Clear ruler 
You could get away with using scissors, but the rotary cutter will make your life so much easier. If you don't have one, watch for sales at JoAnn Fabrics. Several times a year you can get one for at least 40% off.

Ribbon knot with tail & tassel, starter tulle strip.
  1. Thread one end of the ribbon through a tassel loop. Knot that sucker on there good. Leave a little ribbon tail. Repeat on the other end of the ribbon. The tassels will give a little weight to the ends.
  2. Cut some strips of tulle. I used 10"x2" strips. Use the tulle like a poor person; get as many strips out of a yard as you can, even if it means you're doing mostly vertical strips with a few horizontal strips from the top of your fabric. They don't have to be perfect strips, but don't cut them on the bias because you don't need that stretch.  I recommend against cutting all of your tulle into strips at once because you have to put it somewhere while you work. It's much easier to store folded tulle than wads of tulle strips. Cut enough for the time you have available to work on the boa right now.
  3. Tie a strip of tulle just above the knot. Be sure to capture the ribbon tail under the tulle strip. I tied square knots because I was a Girl Scout and square knots are supposed to be really secure.
  4. Tie another strip of tulle right next to your starter strip. Try to alternate which way each knot faces so you get a fuller boa. Keep tying. This is a great project to put down and pick up again later because you can't really lose your place!
How progress looks. Keep going!
I took this project with me and worked on it when I expected to have down time. It took about a week of mildly interesting movies, waits backstage and in cars, idle hands during the day. I estimate it takes two hours per foot of finished boa.
One finished end.

It becomes a little more challenging to do the final few inches. Keep tying those knots and push them close together. You want to full the ribbon all the way to the knot.

Honestly, it looks a little silly when you start. I did this project for fun and was undecided if I'd keep the finished project or give it away.  Halfway through I decided to keep it for outings and classes. I'm considering making a tulle boa for my next number for a few reasons:
  • I can get reliable color variation, using bits of different colors throughout to achieve the look I want. I can't expect someone to get the feathers dyed just perfect when I have such curious ideas floating around my design mind.
  • I can wash the tulle boa with soap and water in my sink. I dance in some smoky clubs. I also dance in places that have spills. Easy cleaning prevents tears and whining about a damaged investment.
  • It costs way the hell less than feathers. I love the look of ostrich, but I'm looking at dropping a huge chunk of money on an ostrich boa (see above on damaged investments). This boa cost me about $20. (I did have a coupon for the tulle so I wound up with sparkly coral tulle instead of matte black.) Ostrich feathers are becoming more and more expensive. The boas I got for $20 three years ago now cost $40, and that's the "I know a guy" price. It would also cost less for me to replace if it was lost on a flight.
  • It's less wasteful. I have a lot of vegan friends -- some use feathers, some don't. I don't eat ostrich so I have a harder time justifying the use of byproducts. I eat cow and cheese, I wear leather. I use chicken feathers where I can, I eat chickens and eggs. For some reason I think tulle has less environmental impact.
If you're in Los Angeles, I'm happy to bring the boa to a show for you to check out. Give these instructions a try and improve on them. Let me know how they work for you.
So proud of my boa I let Richard Simmons wear it.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Topless Vlog #35

Video is here!

I chat about my newest costume in progress, a garment for the Hollywood Burlesque Festival fundraiser, making a tulle boa, and my next performance.

Friday, September 20, 2013

What I Learned Being a Festival Application Judge

My very first festival submission video was shot in my living room over five years ago, and it was terrible. I was told by a teacher to submit, so I whipped together an act that was well-costumed but the storyline was very incomplete. I shot it in my living room and was shot down by two festivals with that submission.

Of course I was looking at my submission subjectively.  I worked hard to make the costume and I busted ass at the eleventh hour to get music edited and put together some choreography. With my resume of instructors and my lifetime as a performer, how could they not see how much potential I had and put me in the festival already?

I'm older, wiser, and more experienced now. I've suffered through seeing bad shows (largely plays) where I was not entertained but I'm sure everyone involved in the show was trying really hard. I've also been part of productions that I thought would've been better off closing early, going on hiatus to spend the time becoming something better, or needing an honest opinion from someone who wasn't so close to the show and trying so hard. I've also been part of an amazing play didn't get bumped up to the next level of festival competition because of the discussions that went down in the selection room.

The entire screening committee for the Hollywood Burlesque Festival watched every video submission. Even if we'd seen the act before, we watched the entire video that was submitted and worked with that performance for scoring.  We had a number system to make things as fair as possible. There were no write-ins, no comments sections for us to say, "Yeah, this video doesn't really showcase the performer's best act but we really, really, really like them and think they should compete with a better number." We didn't compare one performer to another but scored each individual video we were watching against itself.

I'm sharing the "inside baseball" from this experience because it was so wonderfully educational. Here are some of the most valuable things I learned as a performer from being a judge:
  • Lighting is important. We want to see you looking great, to take in all the colors of your costume, to see what you're actually doing. If your costume is black, the backdrop is black, and you have the red and green lights of a dive bar, it's going to be hard to see your act on video.
  • Framing is important. We want to see what you're doing. If you have to set up your own camera to shoot footage of your act, talk with show producers to make it happen. We can't tell what you're doing when you drop out of frame, and we may be missing the most amazing floor work ever. And we don't have to see the entire venue in your video, just what's happening on stage.
  • Focus is important. It's so hard to see what someone is doing when the picture is blurry. Your makeup may be amazing and the title of the book you're reading may be key to the act, but we can't see it if it's out of focus.
  • Do something worth watching. This probably sounds mean, but this is how I feel about theatre as well.  If you're not an incredible dancer, fill the act with personality. Make the best of the assets you do have and let them fill in for the things you're lacking. Boldly be you. Embrace and demonstrate what you bring to the table.
  • If you have to shoot your video in your living room, your performance needs to be bigger than your living room. Treat it like it's a stage and like you have a real audience.  Even though you watch sitcom reruns on that television, you need to regard it as a paying customer in your submission video. The dog and the cat become VIPs who deserve to be truly entertained when you shoot at home.
  • Video your rehearsals and watch the video. It's therapeutic. You can become your own judge to determine what works and what doesn't, where you need to add or subtract from the number. It's so nice to cut things that don't work and replace them with things that do, especially before you show that act to other people.
  • Tell a story/make sure your act flows logically. If your act is all about falling in love for the first time, don't grab your crotch in the first five seconds because it gives you nowhere to go with the story. In a burlesque act, you have to have a final reveal. The final reveal tends to be pasties, but could be a skimpier garment or a prop or a special ability. To be blunt, don't orgasm until the act is over or you'll be that person who act-gasms prematurely. ;)
  • Sometimes it comes down to numbers. You might be the next person on the list after the tallies, but there are only so many slots that can be filled. Your act may have been incredible, but the performance slots were filled by the people who tallied more points.
Watch your video before you submit it. Check for these elements. Try to watch it objectively. Enlist a trusted friend.  (My husband and I review acts for one another because we can't always see what the audience sees. We trust each other so it's really easy to say "that doesn't read for the audience" or "you need to wiggle your ass more there.") Think about what you want to submit to festivals and hone those acts.  (I know we only gave you thirty days to submit for our festival. "Surprise! We're having a festival!")

As a friend, I wanted all of my friends to get into the festival because I love spending time with them and I love it when they succeed. As a Californian, I wanted all the folks I haven't met in the face to spend some time in Hollywood so they might get a little idea of why I get misty-eyed every time my flight home lowers through the smog and I see my city. As a judge, I watched the videos and submitted my numbers.

I hope this gives my fellow performers insight for their future festival submissions. I know that being a screener has changed my standard for what I will submit for other festivals.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Crafting Tornado: My Desk

Two weeks ago, this was my desk.
Let me start by defending myself because I know this photo is jarring. My home life encouraged creativity and activity, not organization to hide our projects.  I grew up in a cluttered house with a cluttered bedroom. Big family, busy people with no patience. We all preferred making new stuff to cleaning up the old stuff.

This was my desk in my craft room. We originally planned on using the room as a nursery when we moved into the house ten years ago, but biology dashed those plans and it became a home office. Of course, we're such social creatures that we moved the computer out of the office so we could be within ten feet of each other while we work at home.  Since this craft room is the only room that we can lock off from our rascally dogs during the day, it's become a catch-all room for things they can't have.

My college friend in Fayetteville, Arkansas, helped me organize my desk via Facebook.  You can see the desk has random papers, random costume bits, puppet foam, broken pasties, boxed supplies, teaching gloves, stray merch, my camera, and some things that could just be tossed.  Oh, and a giant handbag because that makes a lot of sense.

Here's my desk now.
Here is my desk two weeks later. All that shit from the photo above has been sorted, put away, or pitched. You can see the silamide I use all the time for hand sewing on the far left. I have a lovely MLP-themed piece of artwork gifted to me by June Gloom on the wall, along with original artwork by tattoo artist and burlesque dancer Doris Night of Hot Springs. My friend Sebastian did an awesome rendering of a statue I described one night in play rehearsal, and I have a sketch by T.J. Rappel from Dr. Sketchy's at Burlesque Hall of Fame a few years ago. Below all the artwork is my feather color card.

On the shelves above the desk are my Barbie from Richard Simmons and a Cruella doll I got from Lili vonSchtupp.  The second shelf holds labeled containers of lingerie supplies, fasteners, jewelry supplies, rhinestones, and bias tape & buttons. The bottom shelf holds my video camera and bra supplies.

The desk has become a cutting table so we can start to repurpose our ironing board, using it for its original intended purpose. The flower girl basket from the rewedding holds my shears, pattern weights, french curves, and rotary cutters. The cutting rulers are behind the serger. The serger rests on the corner of the desk. My serger instructions are on the desk as I learn to use the machine, then I'll rehome them.

I need to go through every shelf in my house and give it the same treatment as my desk.  The trick will be for me to keep the desk clean.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Topless Vlog #34

New topless vlog is here!
I talk about the Hollywood Burlesque Festival fundraiser, rewedding stuff, whip out a puppet, and Buster loses his shit.

Hollywood Burlesque Festival 
Get some rewedding stickers (paypal $1 to msredsnapper at gmail)

Advanced Stockings and Sensuality With Stephanie Blake

I'm a huge fan of taking classes with burlesque legends.  You can learn so much from the people who came before.  Los Angeles is a tough place to connect with people because it's so spread out and so busy, so having access to Stephanie Blake for a workshop was a fantastic opportunity for me to learn more from one of our local legends.

Stephanie's perspective is unique among legends. She's a second generation stripper, actress in legit theatre and film, and her stripteasing experience bridges the gap between old burlesque and the burlesque revival.  It's always delightful to hear these women share tales of their own striptease experiences.

This is a class you must take if you have the opportunity.  One of the best lessons I got from her class was to be easy to work with. No one wants to deal with a bitchy diva. She's a very pleasant, go-with-the-flow performer, and I dig that about her.

I believe she'll be teaching this class at New Orleans Burlesque Festival this year.  Keep your eyes peeled and take her class if she's teaching when she comes to your town.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Topless Vlog #33

A quick hello in the afterglow of the rewedding, Red shows a special gift from June Gloom, shows her rewedding "yearbook," and talks money.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Snapper Rewedding: Domestic Bliss

Makeup & hair by Vivienne Vermuth, photo by Modern Noir Studios, body by Snapper
From our December photo shoot with Modern Noir Studios.  I like cupcakes, he likes pipes.  I like argyle, he likes me being domestic while nude.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Snapper Rewedding: Save the Date

Tickets are already available.  Visit Monday Night Tease for details.

Topless Vlog #32

Here it is, at long last!  I've been so occupied with my rewedding and preoccupied with my dad's stroke that I haven't been able to vlog for a couple weeks.

I about the rewedding (corset, tulle, garter, show), says a hearty hello to Mike Schmidt, and plugs the final Tarantino burlesque tribute show at Monday Night Tease.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Snapper Rewedding: Joy and Pain

Joy: Batman wedding garter
I'm deep into costuming mode for the rewedding.  There are things I have to make for myself (corset, skirt, unders & pasties), things I have to make for participants (bras & panties with panel skirts), and things I have to make for the audience (like the toss bouquet I made a couple weeks ago).  After some challenges with elastic lace and following a tutorial that didn't turn out as I wished, I finally found a winning formula for the garters.

Yes.  That's the Batman symbol because Andrew is Batman in another show, and he's a huge fan of Batman.  Why not really personalize the garter?  The lace is some leftover vintage lace I was given by a dear friend that I used floral spray paint to color for the trim beneath the ostrich boas on my robe.  I bought a roll of 100 yards of aqua ribbon for $8 and have used that for almost everything I've done.  The rosette is from an unsuccessful purchase of flowers for snapper finger puppets; the flowers are just too big for the finger puppets.  The coral ribbon is from the feather fans I made for Bukowski.  I had some elastic in my supply boxes.  Once I found the right set of instructions I was able to crank out two in less than an hour.

That's right.  Two garters.  One is for keeping, and one is for tossing into the audience.  I really want the audience to have a great time and to be able to take home memories from this show.  I couldn't scrimp on the toss garter.

Pain: water damage & gluey shoes
I hunted eBay for a great pair of shoes with a low enough heel that I could move well in them.  I found these dyed shoes for under $12 with shipping included.  The description said they were floor samples, so there would be light wear and tear.  I don't recall seeing any photos of the glue stains I discovered when I opened the envelope of shoes yesterday.  I tried to scrub the spots away with a toothbrush, assuming they were dirt.  That didn't work.  I then hit them with the tiniest bit of water.  That washed away some of the dye.  Shit.

You would think that I would know about the care of dyed shoes.  Nope.  I wore black pleather shoes to all of the proms I attended.  I wore white pleather shoes at the first wedding.  I tend to wear leather, pleather, or embellished shoes.  This is my first pair of dyed "satin" shoes.

So with a little bit of water I fucked up my shoes.  Good thing I bought more rhinestones Saturday so I can hide that shit with sparkle.  Since the shoes are "satin," I can use GemTac instead of E6000.  I wasn't expecting to have this as a chore, so I'm going to try to make the most of it.  My plan is to cover the toes and the heels because that's where the damage is.  Fingers crossed it works.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

My Final Reveal: Mr. Snapper Edition part 4

(Guest post by Mr. Snapper.)
On Thursday, I made my shopping list for the things I need to buy to round out my ‘66 Batman costume. By the time I finished, the sheer number of things left to do in a little over a week left me dispirited. Add to that co-hosting another show Friday night was Garth to Mr. Buddy’s Wayne:
Also, Red and I are renewing our vows at the Monday Night Tease in August, a show that she’s been diligently working on for the past six months, and which I really need to concentrate on:
So I decided to put Batman ‘66 on hold. I don’t have the time or resources to make it look as good as I want it to. I have a choice: toil like mad, hijacking Red from the rewedding work to help me, and wind up with a costume I’m unhappy with, or just stick with the costume I already have that I’m unhappy with. An easy choice, really.
The main problem with the “Halloween” costume was the cowl. I added in a gusset today, so it fits my massive melon, opened up the eye holes so I don’t look cross-eyed, and tried the whole shebang on with those Funtastic hero boots I purchased last week. It will get me through Comic-con.
This is not the end of Gotham Girls, and I will finish this costume.  I figure I have about four weeks of work to do on the costume. Completely doable, just not in the week I have left. After the rewedding is over and before we start shifting into Nearly Naked Nutcracker work, I can spend more time on the ‘66 costume.
Sometimes, you have to step back, reassess, and switch gears. Or, as they say, “Retreat, Regroup, Reapproach.” This was one of those times. I’m not happy about this, but I feel good about it. If that makes any sense.
And now, for no particular reason, the Tumbler if it were styled after George Barris’ ‘66 Batmobile:

Sunday, July 7, 2013

My Final Reveal: Mr. Snapper Edition part 3

(Guest post by Mr. Snapper.)

Since last posting, I managed to pick up my Bat boots:

Funtasma brand “hero boots,” $50 from Halloween Town in Burbank. Vinyl, not the strongest sole in the world, but it has the right silhouette and length. They need to be navy blue as well, something I hope to take care of next weekend (if not before).

I hoped that my tights patterns would arrive in time to allow me to make them this weekend. No dice. So instead, I spent a little time on the utility belt. Here’s what it’s supposed to look like when it’s done:

From Osh I scored brass for the buckle. A little Dremel magic later, and here’s where I am:

A little rough, needs to be cleaned up and polished. The belt itself is supposed to be leather. I could buy leather. I found a yellow pelt (do you call it a pelt?) for $90 at Levine’s. A little too pale, but it would work. The only thing is, I don’t have $90 to spend. So I’m doing this on the cheap:

$9 worth of vinyl from Levine’s will work for now. When I have leisure time, I can go back and rebuild this item. Odds are, after making a ton of mistakes building it the first time, building it a second time should be a breeze.

Is it a cheat? Maybe. I’m making this to host a show, not to scale buildings while exchanging pleasantries with Sammy Davis, Jr.

It has to look good onstage, and I’m building on a budget. Ergo, corners will be cut, and vinyl will be used instead of leather. It’s not ideal, but it’s not an ideal world.

Total spent to date: $292 (including that $109 that On Stage Dancewear should be refunding any day now.) and approx. 4:30

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Snapper Rewedding: Nosegays Galore

Bottom bouquet for me, top one gets tossed.
A few weeks ago I did a web search for silk flower bouquets for sale.  I didn't find anything I really loved.  I also found that the prices, while appropriate for materials and labor, were not what I wanted to pay.  I'm far too crafty to spend $125 for a bouquet that's not as custom as I deserve.  I decided to make my own bouquet.  While I was at it, I made corsages and boutonnieres as well.

I used this site as a guide for my bouquet.  The basic technique is the same for everything I made.  You clip all the stems to one length and use floral tape to build around a center grouping.  Once the bouquet is big enough, you wrap the stems of the bundle with floral tape then wrap the floral tape with ribbon.  I used craft glue on the bouquet then realized it would take forever for the glue to dry so I started using hot glue.
Wrapped in single-sided satin ribbon.

I'm keeping the big, fancy bouquet.  I made a small toss bouquet to throw into the audience.  I used the same technique and a smaller bundle of flowers.  My bridesmaids will all make their own bouquets in the same method.  (I don't want them to feel completely left out of the pre-production fun.)

Buster rolled around on the shooting surface before the shot.
The boutonnieres are like tiny bouquets that need room for a pin.  I considered making them larger when Andrew said, "It is a burlesque wedding."  Then I held the XL version against his shirt and we agreed it was too much.  Half of the boutonnieres can accommodate pins, and half have pin curl clips attached to the back.  Some of the groomsmen will be wearing outfits that won't work with pins.

Spy Kitten's corsage

I used this site as a guide for the corsages.  Again, these are like tiny bouquets.  I used the wires in the silk flowers to shape the bundles so they could ride on wrists instead of in fists.  Some instructions recommend cutting a hole in ribbon to feed the stems through, then tying the ribbon on the wrist. I don't want to risk them falling off, but they have to fit wrists for which I don't have measurements.  I hot glued them to lingerie elastic.  I was going to stitch them to the elastic, but I didn't want to worry about them shifting around inside the stitches.  Hot glue formed a nice bond so I didn't follow up with reinforcement stitches.

Lili vonSchtupp's corsage
I spent about $140 on flowers, floral tape, butterflies and ribbon.  I had the pin curl clips and lingerie elastic in stock at home.  I made one large bouquet, one toss bouquet, two corsages, six boutonnieres, and had enough leftover flowers for three bridesmaids' bouquets.  It helped that some of my blooms were on sale as seasonal (spring) flowers.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Topless Vlog #31

Latest Topless Vlog is here!  I talk about rewedding projects (which I'll blog about soon).

Saturday, June 29, 2013

My Final Reveal: Mr. Snapper Edition part 2

(Guest post by Mr. Snapper.)

I purchased the “Caped Crime Fighter” pattern from Williams Studio 2. This includes professionally drafted and printed patterns for the trunks, cowl cover, and cape; and templates for the Bat symbol, utility belt, belt buckle, and glove. Well worth the $34.99 plus shipping! The pattern pieces come in one size: Adam West. You see, these things are drafted directly from an original on-screen costume. As it turns out, Adam West circa 1966 and I share the same waist size.

Red picked up my trunk fabric from Levine’s, a heavyweight nylon spandex. I haven’t cut the pieces yet, but it’s ready to go.

Today I ordered the patterns for the tights and the leotard. Per Chuck Williams’ recommendation on the Batman 1966 message board, I went with Kwik Sew patterns 1727 and 3502. We went downtown and picked up a microfiber cotton (or perhaps polycotton) spandex in the RIGHT SHADE OF GREY. See, On Stage Dancewear? It does exist. The tights fabric came from Blue Moon Fabric on 9th Street, a place Evie Lovelle introduced to Red.

I returned the On Stage tights and leotard for a full refund. I should get that money back next week. Jerks.

Tomorrow, I pick up boots and the bits and pieces I need for the utility belt. So today’s tally doesn’t include that.

Total spent to date: $223.14 (but that includes the $109 fucking that On Stage Dancewear gave me. That should be refunded by the next time I blog) and approx. 2:30

Thursday, June 20, 2013

My Final Reveal: Mr. Snapper Edition

(Guest post by Mr. Snapper.)

This past Saturday night, while Red was shaking her ass at the Time Traveller’s ball in Dallas, Mr. Buddy and I were hosting the third staging of Yadi Presents Gotham Girls Burlesque. This particular outing was at the Yost theater in charming Santa Ana, before a crowd of 600 people.
When Yadi asked me to co-host as Batman, she offered to provide the costume. That was very cool, and I greatly appreciate that she did that for me. I want to make sure that I say that, because I’m afraid the rest of this series might come off as ungrateful or dickish. I may be a dick, but I am a grateful dick. 

The costume is an off-the-rack halloween costume:

Serviceable. For the first few shows, perfectly fine! But here’s the catch: we’re doing this show in San Diego during Comic-Con. Without a doubt there will be someone in the audience who has poured their heart and soul into recreating a Batman costume. Maybe the functional Christopher Nolan version, maybe the nipple-tastic Joel Schumacher abomination; perhaps the most stylish take on the Caped Crusdader ever, the classic, 1966 Adam West Batsuit.

I cannot stand up in front of hardcore cosplayers in an off-the-rack halloween costume. That would be like wearing jean cut-offs to the Oscars.

Since I’m taking my inspiration to build a better Bat from the cosplay community, what better place to start? Right away I discovered the 1966 Batman Message Board. The path to my goal is well taped. Lynne and Chuck Williams in particular have done a significant part of that taping! 

I’m starting with the tights. Before I had dug too deeply into the message board, I was looking at zentai-style body suits. Yeah. Not it. Too shiny, too … snug. From the message board I discovered the best approach is a leotard/tights combination. For one, I will have an easier time going to the bathroom. For two, the lines are better.

On one of the boards I found a suggestion to purchase the needed tights from a company in New York called On Stage Dancewear. They can make it in supplex, a nylon/lycra micro fiber fabric with a matte finish. And look at one of the colors they offer it in:

Say! That’s a pretty good Batman grey, wouldn’t you say? The leotard and tights were a custom order, which meant a wait of two weeks and spending more money than I’m comfortable spending on this sort of thing: $109. But hey, the tights will be perfect, and I can get to work on the far more difficult aspects of this costume.

The tights arrived in the mail yesterday:

They seem rather … charcoal, wouldn’t you agree? For the above picture, I laid the unpacked tights on top of the Halloween costume. This should give you a better idea of just how much On Stage Dancewear fucked me.

I called them today, and pointed out that the color preview online is WILDLY different from what they actually sent me. The fellow I spoke to assured me that the supplex grey is the dark-as-the-pit-of-hell charcoal grey. Oops. And the only grey fabric they have that comes close to what they advertise as “grey” is in good ol’ shiny spandex. A color called “silver,” which sort of drives home just how shiny that fabric is bound to be.

They are willing to refund or exchange. The least they can do, really, seeing as how they fucked me. In order to work the exchange for shiny spandex tights, I have two options:

1. Return the charcoal grey leotard/tights for a full refund. At the same time place a new order for the leotard/tights in Spandex. This most likely will be charged to me at the time of order, which means I’m out even more money immediately.

2. Return the charcoal grey leotard/tights for exchange. They won't start making the new ones until the old ones arrive and are processed, 4 or 5 days. Add one more week to the whole process.

I ask if there’s anything they can do for me, seeing as how they fucked me. Nope. If I do option 2, they will have time to send me a swatch of silver spandex. Any chance they will do that, so I can ensure no further fucking occur? Nope. Will they at least buy me a bagel before fucking me? Who am I kidding.

Great. Pleasure doing business with you.

Morose, I dig further into the forums. I discover that Kwik Sew patterns exist for the tights and leotard. Red’s good friend and fellow burlesquer Evie Lovelle knows of a couple of places where I can purchase the right fabric in the correct color. I have decided that this is the path I will take, as I can most likely put this together in half the time it will take On Stage Dancewear to fuck me again. As for them, they can kindly return my money. 

Next time … Will Mr. Snapper haggle for a good price on fabric?

Will he manage to sew his own tights?

Will he begin to panic about the incredible chore that
awaits him when it comes time to make a Bat cowl?

Tune in next week to find out! Same Snapper Time, same Snapper Channel! 

Total spent to date: $109 and way more time than any reasonable human being should spend on the phone to New York explaining how what was promised was not what was delivered, and being told that there was basically no way to resolve the issue without fucking him further.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Snapper Rewedding: Arranging Flowers

Thanks to Rex for hunting for these in Vegas!
I decided to do something a bit unconventional for the rewedding.  Instead of live flower arrangements, I'm getting hair flowers and decorating the club with those.  After the ceremony folks can pluck a hair flower and take it home with them.

I have 39 flowers, thanks to my friend Rex the Impossible hitting the swap meet in Vegas last weekend.  I just need to get 61 more.  Every little favor the audience gets, the more worth the price of admission I think the show will be.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Snapper Rewedding: You Get 99 Cock Rings But I'm Keeping One

Can't wait to stuff my boxes!
I am all about getting things done early so I'm not crazy at the last minute.  It's something I learned in college after so many late night term papers and set designs.  (I threw a set model across the room hours before it was due because I was having problems with the material and too little time to problem solve.)

I got mini take-out boxes in two colors to hold the wedding favors.  If you know me by now, you won't be surprised that I bought three kinds of samples, took measurements and researched the best way to package everything up.  After testing the three sample boxes that made the cut, we agreed on the style and I ordered them in the best colors available (closest to the wedding colors).  While they're 'berry' instead of coral and 'paradise blue' instead of aqua, I think they'll work quite nicely.  I've started assembling the boxes so I can stuff them when I've finally decided I'm done getting wedding favors.

Cock rings a-plenty!
I ordered the last favor a month ago from China.  We were brainstorming about what sorts of favors people would most enjoy when I shouted, "Ooooooh!  Cock rings!"  That's right.  The last favor is cock rings.  Cock rings.  Cock rings.  I just like saying it.  Cock rings.  And typing it.  Cock rings.  When I ejaculated, "Ooooooh!  Cock rings!" it was a joke.  Within two seconds I was all, "Dooooood!  Yes!  Cock rings.  I'm ordering some."  I spent hours hunting for an affordable cock ring that didn't have too many bells and whistles (or LEDs or spikes or machinery or garden animals).  I had to find something simple, affordable, and available in bulk.  It took a month and two trips to the post office, but I'm now the proud owner of 100 pink and purple cock rings.  They look like funny gummy finger cots.  I'm looking forward to  99 of them being packed into boxes.  (I had to keep one for posterity.  Yeah, that's the ticket.  Posterity.  Cock rings.)  My guests that don't/can't pack them into their own boxes can use them as Chinese finger cuffs.

 Cock rings.  (Just had to put it in there one more time.)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Snapper Rewedding: All the Grooms

My Snapper grooms are finally finished.  I used the same process for these that I did for the brides.  I embellished them with tiny plastic top hats.  I had intended to put bowties on them, but I couldn't find ready-made bows that would work.  I tried gluing tiny ribbon bands around the hats, but hot glue is a bit of a disaster when you're working in such a small scale.  I then bought tiny ribbon flowers in hopes I could glue them to the top hats, but they were way too big to look right.  Next to the brides, Andrew thought they look complete enough.  I agree that they make a nice pair.

So how did I make these little finger puppets?  I'll tell you because you never know when you'll need a bunch of tiny finger puppets for a fairly low price.  I turned every glove inside out and ran a line of anti-fray adhesive along the bottom of each finger.  I did one side then the other, then I touched up the sides.  Once the glue was completely dry, I cut each finger on or just below the glue line with scissors.  The job was a bit too delicate for me to use my rotary cutter.  I turned the fingers inside out and hot glued on the features.  It's pretty tough to work with hot glue and such tiny features, so I recommend having plenty of patience as you work through any kind of small scale project like this.

I have one more favor arriving for the favor boxes and I think the wedding favors will be complete.  I located mini takeout boxes in the right colors on Oriental Trading's website that I'll have to order in the coming weeks.  Maybe I can use the ribbon flowers on those.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

My Final Reveal: It Is Finished

Cell phone pic courtesy Mr. Snapper
Two more hours of fixing the hem, adding a few extra stones to the edges of the bra, and putting bows on the shoes.  $5.98 for bows.  The costume was finally finished in time for last night's show.  I don't know that I'll add any more embellishments to it.

Total spent to date: $224.05 and 46:30.

I learned a lot during this process, as I always do when I take on a new challenge.  I'm glad I had the unembellished garments done as early in the process as possible so I could choreograph with the actual garments.  I'm glad I experimented with even more texture: appliques with fabric paint, beading and rhinestones.  I used cheap non-skid pads on the shoes and they kept slipping out of place, so I know now to spend more than a dollar on my non-skid pads.  Once again I realized it takes a very short amount of time to build the garments and way longer to embellish them.

The next "Final Reveal" series may just be guest posts from Mr. Snapper as he puts together a new Batman costume for the burlesque show he's doing in San Diego for Comic-Con.  While it's not going to be a striptease costume, it will still require the same problem solving skills and wise budgeting that any costume does.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Topless Vlog #29

Latest vlog is here!

In this episode, I look smart (wearing glasses) while talking about an upcoming debut and rewedding tasks.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

My Final Reveal: Last Looks

Happy marker trails on my panties
I've been working on the finishing touches the past couple days.  I basted then machine stitched the lingerie elastic onto the wings of the bra so they have a little more color.  I may add a few rhinestones to the elastic here and there, but I probably won't reach that decision until after the number's debut.

I had an interesting time figuring out what to do on the pasties and panties.  I decided to take the doodle & flower motif from the applique trim and do it in rhinestones and fabric paint.  In order to have an even distribution of doodles and flowers, I used my water-soluble marking pen to determine the placement of the flowers first. I painted the flowers and thought about how I would address the rest of the design while the paint dried.  I penned in the doodles then began rhinestoning.  Once all the glue was dry, I rinsed the marker out of the pasties.  I used the same motif on the panties, painting the bases with floral spray paint first.

All that remains is adding a few stones to the top of the bra and putting bows on the shoes.  Whew!

Total spent to date: $218.07 and 44:30.

Snapper Rewedding: Snapper's Getting Serious

Teenagers in love, 1993
A borrowed dress.  A loaned bouquet.  A choir tuxedo.  Cakes from my mother-in-law's co-worker.  Kismet location that my father coincidentally was putting the roof on when my mother went into labor with me.  Things fell into place for us when we were married in 1993.

We didn't register for our wedding.  I didn't care about dishes or matching linens.  I was fine sleeping on Batman sheets in a twin bed where we had to squeeze two pillows side by side.  I knew we needed plastic containers for leftovers.  (I came from a large family.  It took a long time for me to learn how to cook for two.)  I didn't know what to do with a crock pot (much less two of them).  We just took what we got, used what we could, and returned a lot of gifts to the store to help us pay for food and rent when we first hit university.

The rewedding is different.  We've registered with Macy's and we're adding gifts to the registry every day.  We know what we need to run an adult household so we're not asking for Twister or a Power Rangers shower curtain.  Everything is practical.  It took twenty years to reach this kind of practicality.

While we've registered for practical gifts, our event will still hold some impractical, youthful delight.  I'm in the process of making 200 finger puppets: 100 Snapper brides and 100 Snapper grooms.  Our Crocodile Rock number marries Andrew's love of puppets with my love of fabulousness, and we invite the audience to share in our loves and ridiculousness with Snapper hand puppets to sing along.  We hear tales from people who have these silly giveaway puppets about how our Snappers have become part of their lives.  Some keep them on shelves with treasured possessions, others tell about how their children enjoy the puppets, and we hear tale of pets having a fondness for these little guys.
Snapper brides

To that end, we're populating our favor packs with one bride and one groom to go forth and penetrate even more lives with Snapperocity.  I've been working on the brides this week.  Because we're making so many and there isn't a planned sing along in the rewedding, we decided to make finger puppets instead of hand puppets.  Each bride is wearing a veil and a coral bow.  I'll start on the grooms next week.

I have no idea how many wedding favors are appropriate per guest.  We had no favors at our teenage wedding.  Since our rewedding is going to be a show (with admission so the performers are compensated), I want the guests to leave with a pocket full of treasures to remember their participation in our celebration.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

My Final Reveal: Down Time

I'm a huge fan of taking full advantage of one's down time.  Work hard, play hard.  I'm fortunate that I can pack up little projects and work on them in my down time at the ol' day job.

Today I dealt with the problem of my loose shoes.  I cut two pieces of felt-backed lingerie elastic and glued each inside a shoe.  They're pulled a little tight so they hold the shoes in place.  I hot glued the elastic on each side, then touched up the middle so I don't slip my foot through the elastic when I put the shoes back on in my choreography.  With my heel cushions sitting in the back of the shoe, I did a fitting.  I then applied the adhesive heel cushions when I knew the fit was good.  I'm going to cover the elastic with a couple more bows when I pick them up.

I attached the clip to the back of the frouffy bow and put rhinestones on the flower.  I still have to drop a seam in the elastic that will hold the flower. That will finish up the hair accessories.  Today's projects took about thirty minutes.

Total spent to date: $218.07 and 39:30.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Monday, May 6, 2013

My Final Reveal: Bussy & Hair Doodles

Here is my little Bussy and my hair doodles.  I took this before he started wiggling because he was overwhelmed by the fabulousness.

I needed two hair accessories for this piece.  One of them is removed during the number, the second stays in my hair for the duration of the number.  I spent thirty minutes testing potential bits to see what looked good together, and to see what looked best with my final reveal panties.  I replaced the stones on one of the bows I bought and stitched a spare chunk of boa to the back.  Once it's glued to a clip, that will be the piece that stays in my hair.  I cut a length of lingerie elastic leftover from the top of my girdle skirt to turn into a headband.  I attached a spare flower I purchased when I bought the applique trim, and I may add a few rhinestones to the flower to unify the two hair accessories.  The headband will be removed during the number.

I may just buy a couple more of those ready-made bows for the shoes because they're the perfect color.

Total spent to date: $218.07 and 39:00.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

My Final Reveal: Strides & Speed Bumps

Six hours over three days.  The hand beading is finished.  The rhinestoning is mostly finished.  The choreography is finished (but that's a separate time log).  Holy cow.  I've made some great strides on this project.

In the top of the photo, you can see the trim on the edge of the robe's bodice.  I originally intended to fully encrust the trim with stones, then I realized that many stones would significantly alter the weight of the robe.  I decided to make it less sparkly so the garment would maintain its shape and wouldn't be much heavier.  I used the rest of my leftover 16ss sun AB stock to start the inner edge of the curve.  I had some leftover 30ss padparadscha that I used on the outer curve.  I ran out of both and hit the rhinestone store early yesterday morning.

This was my first speed bump.  I could easily get the sun AB and the light rose AB I used on the top curve of the bra appliques, but the stores I hit were all out of padparadscha in the size I needed.  At one of the stores I was asked why I wanted to use such an unpopular color.  I was a little dumbstruck by the question.  It can't be that uncommon, can it?  And why would I want to use the most popular rhinestone color?  I'm not the girl who wears black and red costumes, so I'm not the girl who's going to stock up on the most popular rhinestone colors.  I spent $46.77 in stores and another $12.50 on the internet so I'd have the stones in time to finish the collar before the May 20th debut.  I did pick up some 16ss padparadscha that I used to pop the appliques a bit more.

I picked up a couple coral bows from the wedding section of a craft store for possible use on the costume.  I can't decide if I want to put one in the center of the bra or not.  That was an additional $5.98.  I'm probably going to put the bows on the backs of my shoes, which means I'll buy a couple more bows if I want to put one on the bra.  The wedding section is fantastic for merch packaging, sparkly accessories, and clever embellishments.

My second speed bump is my shoes.  The silhouette is perfect, but the fit isn't ideal.  They're a bit loose in the heel.  I spent $9.55 on heel grips, pads for the ball of the toe, and traction stickers for the soles.  I have a little more to do with them in hopes I can get them to work.  It's tricky to buy shoes over the internet.  I wish I'd tried on this brand in a store beforehand so I'd know how the brand fit my foot so I could order a smaller size (if it would fit).

My rhinestone shopping was more efficient than ever.  I measured each surface that needed to be covered, then divided that number by the size of rhinestones I wanted to use.  If you try this technique, I recommend measuring in centimeters; you can find the diameter of individual stones in terms of millimeters.  I have few leftovers from my project.

Total spent to date: $218.07 and 38:30.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

MNT Show Pics

Glama Sutra is fantastic at documenting fabulousness backstage.  I don't think a single show has gone by where she didn't snap several pics backstage of posing dancers.  Last night she whipped out the camera phone for some post-show shenanigans on stage.  Here's what she got:

Prix, me, and Glama at MNT

I'm about to take off this bra, ya'll.

Artsy boobs

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Topless Vlog #27

You can see the latest topless vlog here!

I talk mole removal, performing in Hot Springs, new t-shirts, bathing in Hot Springs, and how YouTube gargles nuts.

Carolina Blue tees
Monday Night Tease
Quapaw Baths

My Final Reveal: It Takes a Village

Layering fabric paint, beads & rhinestones
Since my last blog, we've spent 13 hours on the costume.  I've installed snaps on the bra straps for what I think will be an awesome reveal.  I basted the appliques to the bra and spent a few minutes painting the flowers on the trim.  The rest of the time has been spent hand beading.  I'm not doing it alone.  Dearly devoted Mr. Snapper has put in four hours of hand beading time on the costume.  He knows I have hand issues (since most of my hand sewing has been with my left hand over the past several months), and he knows that I have to hand bead the costume to make it look as awesome as possible.  I'm fortunate that he's willing and able to help me make things happen.

Look at those shoes!
I spent $24.27 on a pair of shoes that match the trim on the undergarments.  They have a low heel and closed toe.  Since I bought them on Amazon and not in a store, I didn't try them on.  They're a little loose.  I tried dancing in them today and they're going to need a little bit of felt or moleskin inside so they grip my heels better.  I may or may not rhinestone them.

I buy rhinestones next weekend.  Let's see if I can keep this costume under $250.

Total spent to date: $143.27 and 32:30.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Snapper Rewedding: First Steps

On August 14th of this year, Mr. Snapper and I celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary.  When we planned our teenage wedding, I didn't want anything big or fancy; I just wanted to change my taxpayer name and spend the rest of my life with my best friend.  My mother-in-law was the one who pushed for the ceremony, preparing everything behind the scenes at the last minute.  She borrowed and bought everything for our cobbled-together wedding.  It was adorable and well attended, but it was more of "what a ceremony is supposed to be" than a reflection of who we were as a couple.  The wedding date was pushed from July to August because of a strange illness that had me on intravenous antibiotics for six weeks.  My mother-in-law had ten days to slam her only son's wedding together, my sister-in-law called all of our friends and family to attend, and my father-in-law performed the ceremony.

Parts of the wedding were very much us.  We selected the music.  I let my dad wear jeans and a leather vest to give me away because he was a biker.  Our friends were in the wedding party and a friend sang at the wedding.  The vows, the borrowed dress, the borrowed bouquet, the communion -- while lovely and very fitting for some folks, just weren't us.  Of course, we weren't the interesting people we are now.

Andrew and I have known each other slightly longer than we've been working together creatively (by maybe a few minutes), and we were married six months after we met.  Over the past two decades we've become more interesting people, and it's awesome that we've done it together.  We decided two years ago that we wanted to have a new ceremony on our twentieth anniversary, but this time it was going to be planned and executed by the two of us.  Because we're entertainers the rewedding is going to be a show event.

Since New Year's we've been working diligently on the rewedding: picking colors, hunting for awesome favors, selecting our wedding party, working out the structure of the show, looking for new wedding bands, thinking about music playlists, figuring out wardrobe.  I understand why people schedule some time between the proposal and their first ceremony for all the odds & ends of throwing a wedding.  The players in this event won't all be the same as the original wedding, but this is a Snapper event in Los Angeles so the wedding participants are all performing.

Special thanks to Jessie & Charlene for making this happen!
We met in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and it was a love at first sight situation when we actually met.  Since that's where I was born, where we met, and where we were initially wed, we wanted to have a taste of our younger lives in our wedding favors.  The folks at Bathhouse Soapery & Caldarium accommodated my last-minute request to make 100 bars of our favorite soap, Bathhouse Couture, for pick-up while we were in town this weekend.  The bars have a hint of glitter, making them perfect for a burlesque rewedding.  Each bar is individually wrapped and has a special label just for our event.

I'll share bits and pieces of the planning of the rewedding since I have so many friends and family who won't be able to attend.  Our event is August 12th, two days before our actual anniversary.  Watch this space for the official announcement.