Saturday, October 25, 2014

Tassel Twirling Basics Are Back!

I shared this video on YouTube back in 2011 before my nipples prompted the absolute cancellation of my account. If you want to learn how to twirl, here are the basics.

Friday, October 24, 2014

"I Don't Have a Tag Line ..."

All variety and dance stage performers will need to provide an introduction for an emcee to read at some point in their careers. My goal is to set you on the right path so you can give them something to say about you. I'll talk about tag lines and then about intros.

Tag Lines
The point of a tag line is to give the audience a quick and catchy idea of who you are as a performer. As an example, I'm "the Go All the Way Girl" because I like to get as naked as possible when I perform (without giving the producer venue/vice issues because I like to get booked again). It's a great catchall for the various acts I do. Someone told me I'm like the girl next door who knows you're watching her strip.

Here's some inside baseball: "The Go All the Way Girl" came out of a discussion of my performance style with the one I went all the way with: Mr. Snapper. I don't know which one of us came up with the exact phrase because we're so alike, but I contributed to my own tag line nonetheless.

My first tag line was something off the cuff that I came up with backstage before a show, a whopping three months into my professional burlesque career. As my performance style grew and changed, so did my tag line. To change my tag line, I had to send it in my booking confirmation emails and tell every emcee individually what the new tag line was. Some of them still remember the old one and want to use it from time to time, but they usually ask first.

Sometimes another person will sum up your performance style so beautifully that you wind up using that as your tag line. "She's a real stripping tornado! Watch out for ..." Keep your ears open for these gems.

What comprises a good tag line? I asked Mr. Snapper because he spends more time saying them than I do, him being a host and all.

Catchy, memorable, and above all, say-able. It should roll off the tongue, not trip up the speaker.
It’s not a bio, should not be a passage of prose. It’s poetry; a jingle.

The idea that the only legit tagline/intro is one that is given to you is a quaint myth. To paraphrase (or rather, blatantly edit) John Adams:

“Modesty is a virtue that can never thrive in public …. A performer must be her own trumpeter—she must write or dictate paragraphs of praise in the newspapers; she must dress, have a retinue and equipage; she must ostentatiously publish to the world her own writings with her name, make the mob stare and gape, and perpetuate her fame.”
I'm going to add that it usually needs to be ten words or less. Make it easy to remember and the emcee (and audience) will remember it. Think about the best tag lines you've heard for products. Jot down the first four or five that come to mind. They're not necessarily complete sentences, but you remember them. It's just another way to remember your brand.

I also suggest that you avoid adding "of burlesque" if you're primarily performing in burlesque shows. "She's the stripping girl Of Burlesque." "She's the tile cleaner Of Burlesque." "He's the football cream Of Burlesque." Imagine a night where every tag line is "Of Burlesque." If you were named "The Ice Cream Sandwich Of Burlesque" by LA Weekly, use it. If you're working it out on your own and you weren't named "Of Burlesque" or crowned as "Of Burlesque," get clever about it. "She's an Ice Cream Sandwich because everyone wants to lick her ..." "He's a swamp buggy badass ..." "Empty your pockets because she's taking your milk money ..."

Your tag line needs to tell the audience who you are so they can remember you. Keep that in mind before you decide to make it something funny that's incredibly unflattering. "She'll give you the clap" may be funny once, but you probably don't want fans to come up to you after the show and ask who gave you the clap.

If you've been performing for a month, or maybe if you've been performing ten years, you may not have a tag line. That's okay. Don't force it. More importantly, don't expect your emcee to play tag line fairy godmother/godfather and endow you with the best tag line ever. It's not their responsibility to shape and label your brand; it's yours. Don't put the onus on the emcee. They do introductions, announcements, and stall as necessary.

Your introduction sets the scene for what you are about to show the audience. Your intro can change based on the act, while your tag line shouldn't vary with every performance. You can frequently just use your tag line (if you have one) as an intro.

You don't have to have a tag line, but you do have to have an intro. The emcee needs to prepare the audience for you.

What can you say about yourself? Remembering Mr. Snapper's paraphrasing of John Adams, say something good. General introductions can include where you're from, what titles you've won, what festivals you've performed in that someone in the audience might recognize (probably no more than three). If you produce, you can give the show you produce and where. If you have another show or exciting tour/festival coming up, you can include that information. "The next performer is a Pacoima native who has performed in the Daisy Chain Festival and is The Dairy Queen 2012."

What if you're brand new, you've been out of the game for a while, or you can't think of anything interesting to say about yourself in an intro? Look at what's unique about you. Can you tie cherry stems with your tongue? Are you stripping your way through college? Teacher by day, dancer by night? Are you returning to the stage after ten years off to raise twins? You can give this info to the emcee. As you gain more experience and notoriety, your intro can change.

There are times when you may want to give more information with your intro. For example, you're performing a Little Bo Peep number as Deadpool. That might require a little explanation to get the audience in the right frame of mind for the act, especially when the rest of the evening is glamour burlesque. For this sort of act, be clear and concise with your intro. Make it easy for the emcee to get the audience in the mood. "Cosplay and burlesque are a natural pairing. Comic book character Deadpool is often caught cosplaying other characters at conventions. Bringing you his take on Deadpool as a stripping Little Bo Peep, please welcome ..." Okay, that one's not particularly brilliant, but you get the idea. The audience now gets the basic concept of this outre act, even if they have no idea who Deadpool is or why he would dress up as Little Bo Peep.

If you haven't worked with an emcee before, if they're unfamiliar with your act or with you as a performer, don't ask them to make something up for you. Have some basic info ready to help them do their job.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Guide to Corset Shopping

I've gotten many questions about corsets over the past few years, so I put together a video to help those of you who want a burlesque look make wise choices based on your intentions for the garment. I give some simple tips to recognize a well-constructed corset, and recommendations on how to select and utilize an off-the-rack corset or corset-like garment.

Enjoy and share the love.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Sewing September - Day 30

I didn't post last night since I was finishing this for my sister. It's finished!

Glad I paid attention when I was cutting the fabric!
The laces in the back are red. I may replace the cord I got with paracord since paracord will make it easier for my sister to cinch herself in. She needed something that looked "burlesquey" for an upcoming poi performance at Harvest Festival, and I think this will do the trick.

I didn't get as much done in September as I had hoped. I wanted to do a sew-along, but there were plenty of speed bumps that prevented that from happening. I can plan better for next year. :)

Here's what I actually completed in September:
  • sparkly mint cardigan
  • sparkly mint headband
  • gray cardigan
  • my sister's striped underbust corset
  • my black zip underbust corset
  • a ridiculous sock monster for Coca Carter
  • two panels for my panel skirt
Here's what I worked on but didn't really complete:
  • e-textiles (I did complete some tutorials.)
  • quilted bag
  • two Doodle squares for the quilt
I lost some corset pieces, ruined some corset pieces, replaced a part for my primary machine, got attacked by a crazy person, did a couple shows, and started a new business in September. Despite these interruptions, I still managed to get some things done.
While I don't have the pressure of National Sewing Month, I'm always creating and will share my discoveries with you as I go.