Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Showgirl Stocking Stuffers

Last year I listed a series of showgirl stocking stuffers on Facebook. While these are great gifts year round, they're especially perfect at Christmas time because all of my recommendations will fit inside a stocking. I've added a few more to the list.

  • Good thread nippers. Don't scrimp on these and buy a $3 pair, even though it may be very tempting. The cheap pairs are barely sharp at all and only nip thread when it's pulled to where the blades meet at the very back. Trust me on this one. Spend a little extra on some Gingers. You can even get a fancy ribbon to tie to them so your seamstress can wear them around her neck while sewing; that's what we did in the costume shop in college.
  • Sharpies. It's always handy to have a Sharpie on hand to color in damages on black garments that you notice at the last minute. Great for autograph situations. Some people use them to create beauty marks. I'm all about color, so I buy them to go with my coloring when I find them in golds and bronzes.
  • Simple false eyelashes. Your showgirl can always use simple false eyelashes. She can double stack them if she wants them thicker. Get her plenty of them because she will use them.
  • If your showgirl travels, chances are she's registered in a frequent flyer program or two. You can gift her some of your miles and that will help her continue her adventures. 
  • Every showgirl needs a sewing kit, but a personalized kit will serve better than the standard kit with a brass safety pin and white buttons. Get your showgirl some needles, a wax button (to strengthen the thread), and a spool or two of thread to match the colors she wears most. I go through a lot of Flamingo and Peacock thread, so small spools of those work best. 
  • Tiny bottles of favorite hooches, disposable flasks, hidden wine bag bras. If your showgirl likes hooch (or wants to smuggle in a favorite hooch-free drink), these are good investments.
  • Every dancer needs a pair of ballet slippers. If the dancer in your life already has a pair, it may be showing signs of wear and tear. Amazon and Dance Distributors are great with sizing. Troll your dancer's wardrobe to see if there is a preferred brand, color, and style.
  • Gift her with a coupon for a free foot massage. Dancer feet are calloused, crampy, and overworked. We don't always take the time to treat them with care and respect. I'm not talking a foot massage that would make Marcellus Wallace upset, but the kind that brings relief to her feets.
  • More foot stuff! For the times when you can't rub her feet, get her some Yoga Toes. They're a great preventative for bunions, and they give the foot an incredible stretch. You can pick them up (or a comparable brand) at the drug store on your way home!
  • Snacks! Tiny packages of favorite snacks are always welcome. Peanuts, mints, jelly babies, jerky, crackers all make great treats for a showgirl on the go.
  • This one takes a little work but will be greatly appreciated. Restock the touring toiletry bag with your showgirl's favorite products. Sometimes we get so busy we forget to restock our travel toothpaste, lotions, and tissues between trips. I always carry slivers of artisan soaps from my hometown because my husband hates hotel soaps.
  • Give the gift of dance. Gift certificates for a local class or recommended technique videos are very welcome.
  • Charming pillboxes, lipstick cases, and tiny yet durable containers are fantastic showgirl stocking stuffers. We always need tins for hair elastics, bobby pins, and pasties.
  • Showgirls (and some showboys) can use nail polish. This can be a bit tricky because different folks have different nail polish requirements. One thing is certain: Never buy your showgirl discount nail polish, even if it is just a stocking stuffer. That 99 cent crap can turn nails yellow or peel off right after application.  I'm so rough and tumble that I do best with adhesive nail strips.
  • Poo-pourri. I think everyone needs some of this stuff because it is miraculous. Imagine some random girl from high school who you don't recognize talking BS about you to your niece. You may be a jerk who doesn't even remember who she is, but you KNOW your poo doesn't stink if it ever comes up that you think it doesn't. Allows for a comfortable deposit in a shared bathroom on the road and at home. :) 
  • Something handmade and useful. We have so much decorative stuff because we dress in decorative stuff. (Some of us are the absolute worst at dusting the decorative stuff we have in our house.) Potholders make great drink coasters. Zippered pillowcases make excellent shoe storage. Hand decorated tote bags are always useful. Placemats are great for the makeup table. Ashtrays for hairpins or safety pins. Pin cushions. Heck, glue some cool stuff to a flask and we'll be over the moon! Handmade stuff is awesome! 
  • Stockings, duh. Your girl might go through a lot of stockings if she does stocking peels, or she may just be a fishnet gal. If you can't find her legwear packages for her favorite brand, I'll give you some recommendations in the comments. 
  • This one is simple but is perhaps the most valuable. Give your time. Put on "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing" and take some pressure off in an area where you can really help. Washing the dishes, rhinestoning with her simple instructions, hand washing the sparkly bits, cleaning her sewing machine, bringing over salads so she can keep working. You can package this gift simply (Sharpie on a notecard in the stocking), or fancily (an inexpensive watch with a fancy note with poetic words about the gift of time).

Friday, November 27, 2015

How to be a Gift Giving Magician

The following article by Mr. Snapper appeared in the first issue of our joint newsletter, Snapperama. For more content like this, exclusive photos, projects, and performance dates, subscribe to the newsletter at www.snapperburlesque.com

How to be a Gift Giving Magician 

by Mr. Snapper

Of gift giving it is often said, “It’s the thought that matters.” Usually it is said in a conciliatory tone after some token of affection has fallen flat, but it is nevertheless a holiday truism. The more thought you put into your gift giving, the greater the reward, but even a little bit of consideration can up your game. Sit back while Mr. Snapper tells you how to turn even the smallest trinket into a big emotional payoff for your loved ones.

The secret is narrative. Politicians, priests, and other assorted performance artists have long since known that hard facts and figures are nothing compared to a good yarn. Our monkey brains are fueled by storytelling. It runs through our veins. By giving a gift that tells a story, you tap into a deep evolutionary well.

And what story should you tell with your gift? That all depends on whom you are giving it to, and herein lies the application of thought.

What do you know about this person?

What do you know about their past? Their childhood, their college-age aspirations, etc. What do you know about their present? Current interests, problems, etc. What do you know about their future? What goals are they working towards, etc.

Make a list of what you know. Just making this list, you should already have a couple of ideas sparking off. You can take a couple of the items on your list -- say, something from their past and something from their future -- and triangulate on a gift that will knock their stockings off.
I’m going to give you an example from the lives of the Snappers. Red grew up reading the Frances series of children’s books by Russell Hoban. Red is also studying French. I happen to know that when learning a new language, it can be helpful to find and read children’s books written in that language. After all, the vocabulary is simple, accompanied by pictures, and it’s how children actually learn to read their first language.

And thus, I went on the hunt for a French language version of the Frances books and eventually found Bonne nuit, Adele!,  the French version of Bedtime for Frances. There is a certain utility to this gift. I like gifts that can be used. The gift becomes a ready reminder of you, the gift-giver, and how much you dote upon the receiver.

Just make sure to keep your process a big secret. When you put this much thought and effort into gift giving you are literally making magic happen. And a magician never reveals the trick.

Saturday, October 24, 2015


I learned from my mother yesterday that my final grandparent, her mother, had a heart attack and stroke and would pass in the coming days. My pragmatic mother asked me to alert one of my five siblings as she was preparing to fly out to see my grandmother in her remaining days. My last grandmother at 90 years of age was wrapping up her life, and all I could think was that I wanted her passing to be as swift and painless as possible. I then thought of my mother, how sad she was when her father passed nearly 30 years before. I asked her if there was anything I could send along to be of assistance, as I am also pragmatic. My thoughts turned to how I should process the upcoming loss.

I wasn't close to my grandmother. I was under the impression that my parents' union was undesireable to my maternal grandparents. My father was a troublemaker who became a cheater. My grandparents were very middle class people, seeming to be the perfect television family of the mid-century. I spent most of my life living at the opposite end of the continent from them. The narrative from my talky father was that my grandfather was pissed about their union. It was implied that we were the lesser grandchildren because our father was "undesirable." I know most of my siblings grew up with this in mind, thinking we weren't considered good enough or worthwhile to my mom's mom and dad. We were never invited on vacations with my grandmother, didn't have snapshots of fun weekends with them, didn't even really have phone calls where they asked about our lives. I'm sure it was the distance, but it didn't help the narrative that we weren't good enough. I didn't even bother telling my grandmother about my wedding because I figured my young age would predict failure in her eyes simply because my father wasn't what they wanted for their oldest daughter. How do you process the life and loss of someone you felt had only a polite interest in you because of half of your parentage?

In a fast chat with my brother, I realized he probably wasn't sure how to process the end of our grandmother's days. We grew up under the same impression. We didn't want our mother to experience grief, but we felt disconnected from our grandmother. My youngest brother didn't really spend more than a few hours with her beyond his infancy. He didn't know her beyond Christmas cards with money and visits every few years. He has fewer memories than I do.

I decided to indulge in a narrative of the positive experiences I had with my grandmother so my younger siblings can know a little bit more about what she was like, and how she influenced my life a bit more than one might expect from a long-distance relationship. As my father's daughter, I felt challenged to impress my grandmother all the time. (My grandfather had resting bitch face all the time as if he could never be impressed. That's where I got mine.)

My grandparents had concrete deer in their front yard. I loved climbing on them. When I was a little thing, I could only climb onto the fawn. When we visited for their 40th wedding anniversary, I could climb the buck. She never told me to stop because I would potentially break them. I didn't have to sneak onto the deer. I could freely pursue something small and simple that made me happy.

When we visited my grandparents, I would go on daily walks through the neighborhood with my grandmother. We'd pass through a perfect suburbian neighborhood, passing the town library and the post office and that yard that had a totem pole. There was at least one mulberry bush on the path, and she knew I was drawn to mulberries as a moth to a flame. She didn't discourage me from indulging as long as we kept moving. There was no time to pack a lunch from the mulberry bush, but I could grab a couple berries as we passed. It was important to see an undertaking through to the end and not get too distracted along the way.

My grandmother was a school teacher when I was a child. I wrote to her after we moved away, and she used my letters full of childish importances to instruct her first grade class. It seemed I could be a good example for someone.

When my grandfather died, my grandmother busied herself with new pursuits. She took up the flute and violin, learned to tap dance, went to Europe with her sister a couple times. She made a point of having at least one meal a day with someone so she wouldn't feel alone. She was a firm believer in continuing education, and she never seemed to feel she was too old to learn how to do something new.

Two of the best holiday cookie recipes I have (candy cane cookies, cherry coconut bars) came from my grandmother. Holiday cookies are best made in large batches intended for sharing. Holiday baking is a ritual that was passed to me from my mother that I passed to my younger sister, and we still use those recipes. You have to share the best stuff because you want other people to have some awesomeness.

She had a prize box in her basement. If the grandchildren were well-behaved, they could select a prize from the prize box at the end of the visit. I got a battery-powered draw poker machine from that prize box that entertained the hell out of me on the train ride home. I love rewards that are actual rewards, and I'd still like to get prizes when I behave.

Once when I visited her, the neighborhood kids and my cousins had a bicycle race. I didn't learn to ride a bicycle until I was twelve so I kept time. My schoolteacher grandmother made blue ribbons for everyone who participated. They weren't lame "participant" ribbons; they were "first place" blue ribbons. On the back of each ribbon she acknowledged the individual talents and contributions. There were things like "First Place Cyclist - 10 Year-Old Division" and "Coolest Shoes." I got a blue ribbon for keeping time. It was pretty cheesy at the time, but I recognize that she wanted everyone to feel valuable and worthwhile. 

My grandparents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary when I was ten. I hung out in the bar of the VA and chatted with the menfolk when I took breaks from passing out drink tickets at the door. I flipped through the photo albums of their married histories, albums I'd never seen previously. I was fascinated by these people whose pre-me lives I had never known. I'd love to get my hands on those albums today. It was curious that they were celebrating their 40th anniversary when the 50th was supposed to be the big one. My grandfather died of cancer within a couple years of the celebration. The lesson I took away from that was to celebrate every moment I could, commemorating what I felt was important because the celebrations carry you through the tough times you'll face.

I know I'm not the only person to face the death of a relative, and I know I'm not the only person to not know what emotions and experiences are appropriate in such a situation. Maybe I should keep a box of blue ribbons around to celebrate people's lives as they pass from mine. Maybe I'd write on Ellen's ribbon "Best Educator" or "Best Mom's Mom." Maybe she'd get "Best Attempted Redhead" or "Most Patience." 

Maybe most fitting for me to write would be "Challenge Accepted."

Thursday, August 6, 2015


Now that the magazine is out, I can share this outtake from our trip to Desert Hot Springs.
Photo (c) Chris Beyond Photography

Want to know the story? Get Bachelor Pad Magazine Nightcap Edition and you can read Mr. Snapper's story. You can also see the first naked man in BPM! (I make a cameo in the story as well.)

I'll keep you posted on my next naked appearance. In the meantime, you can get my bunny slipper photo (uncensored) by SH Photo on the website.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Twenty Minutes

What can you accomplish when you just focus for twenty minutes? Twenty minutes a day dedicated to improving your burlesque presentation.

Today I spent twenty minutes just working on glove peels. It's a rare day of humidity in Los Angeles, my hands were sweaty, but I had twenty minutes of glove work on my to-do list. I set the timer on my phone and went to work. In playing around for twenty minutes, I worked out a move that is interesting and dynamic enough to me that I'm going to work it into some new choreography I'm doing in August. There are things to be tidied up, rehearsals to be done. I got it on video so I can reference it for improvement.

It got me to thinking what could be tackled in just twenty minutes a day. We all live busy lives. I talk to people all the time who just don't have time to focus on burlesque yet want to pursue burlesque. I'm going to try to focus twenty minutes each day on burlesque -- outside of answering emails and working on costumes. (Those things are already drilled into my daily routine already.)

What burlesque task can you tackle in twenty minutes?

- Working on stripping out of one garment. Perfect chance to brainstorm!
- Learning a new makeup technique.
- Repairing a damaged costume piece.
- Adding some embellishments to an existing costume piece.
- Assembling pastie bases so you have them ready for the next project.
- Learning a new dance move.
- Working through that one piece of choreography that isn't quite working yet.
- Practicing body angles.
- Perfecting a warm and inviting face for your audience.

Join me in focusing for twenty minutes a day for the next 31 days, will you?

(I spent twenty minutes learning how to better curl my hair a couple months ago. It's paid off quite well.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Changing Values

It's not a bad idea to reflect on your values from time to time. It keeps you in check. Our values change as time passes. That's okay. It's normal to reevaluate what's important to you. Consider two things and decide which is higher on your priority list.

When I was brand new to burlesque, I would dance in every show that would have me. I wanted experience and connections and to entertain a multitude of people. Nowadays, I would much rather present professionalism and polish, hopeful to make more money. There's nothing wrong with either choice. The key is to evaluate what's important to you and keep that in mind when you're making decisions. Your values guide your choices.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Topless Vlog #58

Now on Vimeo! Apparently a topless girl yammering about sewing gets blacklisted on Dailymotion for "incite to sexuality." Ha!

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Extroverted Introvert

I've been entertaining people since I was five, both as a stage ham and as a child genius. Like my husband and Kermit the Frog, I have the dream of making millions of people happy through entertainment. I prefer to pay my bills with entertainer money than administrative money.

I'm used to being "on," to focusing on making other people happy or proud or distracted from their own lives. When I'm performing in a show, I know to be as bright, approachable, and open as possible before, during, and after the show; people want to say hello. I've also had demands of "entertain me since you're an entertainer" in regular life. I've been asked by a delivery man at my day job to show him some burlesque moves. When I was into acting, I was commanded to act at a family gathering. Because I'm supposed to be larger than life on stage, I'm sometimes expected to be larger than life in person, ready to entertain at the drop of a hat. Dance, monkey, dance. Sometimes you just want to push some papers around or eat your potato salad and not be called upon to work. (Yes, entertaining people is work.)

Sometimes you have to be "on" because you're used to pretending to be the most social person present. You're called on to generate conversation, make introductions, play hostess at someone else's gathering because someone has to do it. In this world of secret introverts, you may very well be the most extroverted person there, trying to make sure everyone is having a good time.

I love my audience and supporters. I also love not being "on" all the time. I'm an extroverted introvert.

Being social takes work for some people. Some of you fine folks relax by dressing up, going out, and being entertained. When you're used to entertaining people, you plan your week to end with no pants and video games and comfort food. You curl up with a book, chain watch a television series, finally conquer that pint of ice cream you've yearned for while you were on your show diet. You put on a mud mask and kill an evening window shopping online. I like to put on my yoga pants and a random shirt that I've worn too many times between laundering, kick back with my dogs, and devour an entire tub of cheese spread with Andrew. Sometimes I craft or work on projects. Sometimes I play a video game. Many times I work out. These are all things that don't require I ensure someone else has a good time. It's "me" time, sometimes with friends.

I'm not the only entertainer who is an extroverted introvert. You would be surprised at how many of us just want to be "off" in our non-entertainer time. Don't be surprised when you don't see us at every outing. Don't be surprised if we're socially awkward in our off time. Don't assume we're stuck up if we're not as chatty when we're not performing. Being "on" is draining, and sometimes we just need to recharge. Sometimes that smiling nod in public is all the energy we have.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Make It So

When I first started studying burlesque in 2007, I wasn't connected to the Los Angeles community. The internet wasn't as huge as it is today, so finding shows and teachers was a challenge. My main resource at the time was Jo Weldon's website, which led me to studying with her and Indigo Blue at burlesque camp that same year. As I waited for camp to start, the internet found a couple more classes for me to join in Los Angeles. The word-of-mouth of my instructors sent me to shows to meet local performers and producers; the internet was pretty useless for it at that point. The seasoned instructors, the performers I met when I started performing at the very beginning of 2008 -- those were the things that welcomed me to the group. A community isn't formed by one person.

Back in the glory days of 2008, I danced in every show that would have me. There were a few free shows, plenty of shows that paid far less than a tank of gas, and a few that paid for most of my costume. (My costumes then were far less elaborate than they are now. Of course, I would jump to do every theme show that came my way. A lot of times it was like costuming myself for a glittery scene for acting class.) We also had craft nights, AKA "stitch and bitch" sessions. Someone would host each month. The guests would bring food and drinks to share. We'd carry in our latest costume project or pitch in to help someone else who was working against a crazy deadline. We would also brainstorm, network, and book shows. These potential co-workers would see how easy you were to get along with socially, how hard you worked on your costumes, and how your mind worked in a brainstorming session. So many themed shows grew out of these craft nights.

Many of us tried to keep the craft nights going. I hosted in a theater once, and many people offered up their homes. (I'm horribly allergic to cats, which kept me from attending those hosted in kitty homes.) It seemed like the craft nights were fewer and farther apart. I couldn't host because my dogs were jerks. (We also don't have the seating to entertain.) I'd miss out on the casting chats in the craft nights that did happen because of allergies. The craft nights then became selective gatherings I'd read about on Facebook. Three to five people who were in a theme show together needed to rush to get their costumes done so they'd post that they were having a craft night for those people. It wasn't the same. It wasn't as inviting to brand new performers. It wasn't a breeding ground for multiple producers to create new shows. The craft nights as I knew them seemed to die out.

I've been in this game professionally for over seven years now. My costumes are better. My acts are more polished. I hire choreographers when I need them. I don't dance in every show just to get experience. I also don't go to as many shows since I'm spending my money on my acts. I don't submit for shows when I don't think I have something ready or in my queue that I feel would fit the producer's needs. I'm not as involved in whatever community exists, or at least it doesn't feel that way. And where are the craft nights?

I'm tired of the disconnected feeling. I love the brainstorming and the creative breeding ground that was craft night. If we're calling this thing a community, let's make it a community. Let's attach faces and personalities to internet thumbnails. Let's work together. Maybe we won't have scores of comments on a thread of show name theft if we know one another in person. It's a lot harder to dick someone over when you know the other person who is unwittingly at the end of your dick.

I miss things about the glory days, so I'm doing what I can to bring it back. I can't just sit back and bitch about it without taking action. This Sunday I'm hosting a brunch for my community. Everyone who wants to eat at this one is paying a whopping $10 for the catering, and people with allergies or dietary restrictions don't have to pay for anything. I'm paying for the space rental and incidentals because I want this. I want to connect people. I want to be productive. I want to eat.

If I fail to generate more sense of community in my "community," it won't be because I did nothing about it. If I don't jumpstart the craft nights with this event, it won't be because I did no more than sit around and bitch to my dogs about the good ol' days. If you want something to happen, you have to take action, and I have to take my own advice.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Shoe Woes

I grew up poor so whenever we bought shoes for school, we bought them a bit big so we could "grow into them" over the school year. My uncles on my mom's side are 6'6", my aunts on my dad's side are 5'2". That gave this tiny waif a lot of possibility for foot growth, and created a comfort with wearing shoes that are a bit too big. I think I still buy my shoes a half size larger than I need because I'm used to my toes not touching the front of the shoe.

In junior high, I bought a pair of pumps and incorporated them into my regular wardrobe. I ran down our country hill to catch the bus in those pumps. I wore pumps in high school and junior college, wearing them comfortably in shows. I had pumps down by the time I entered the grunge years of flannel and faux Birkenstocks.

In 2006, I started pole dancing and learned how to walk in stripper shoes. I wore 6" platform heels and climbed the pole with no problem. The art of pole dancing is athletic yet slow, and I was able to do the walks and turns, transition from standing to floor work back to standing with relative ease. I could have gone grocery shopping in stripper shoes, but I prefer closed-toe shoes that allow me to move faster in life. (I read survival books as a hobby.)

Over my burlesque years, I've danced in boots, kitten heels, ballroom shoes, Chuck Taylors, platform Mary Janes, stripper shoes, and barefoot. In my daily life, I wear Crocs or tennis shoes because I don't have a job that requires the fancy shoes. I've danced on all sorts of stages. I know what precautions I need to take with certain shoes and certain surfaces to keep from wiping out. I've also wiped out, which may or may not have fractured my tailbone in 2008.

I've also had some injuries. I've pulled my groin on more than one occasion. I've had issues with my left knee and can't crouch as low as I once could. I run into things and trip over things all the time in my daily life. I know I'm not the only dancer who is a klutz in life. 

Most importantly, I want to look good on stage. I've gotten unsolicited shoe advice from so many other dancers. Some buy shoes that are too small, some soak their shoes then wear them so they fit perfectly, some say that shoes with a heel less than 3" are unacceptable, some swear by dancing in stripper shoes. (To be fair, shoes with a higher heel will help roll your pelvis in so you don't look as full in the tummy.)

For my newest number that's been on stage for a year, I wanted shoes that I could remove and put back on later in the number. I wanted to look tall, as statuesque as a girl who's 5'3" possibly can. I bought some good shoes with a low platform that were maybe a little big for my foot when I bought them. (I didn't want them to stick to my feet when I needed to remove them because struggling is not beautiful.) I danced in them for ten months, noticing that my feet were getting a bit smaller as I lost some weight. They were Nine West evening shoes, and they worked fairly well for this very choreographed number. When it was obviously time to get a smaller shoe, I decided to get one with a higher platform but the same rise. I went through three pairs of shoes from Amazon before I settled on a beautiful pair that had a higher platform and was already embellished. I spent time wearing them around the house to be sure I could comfortably move in them.

I wore them for a local show, taking them on a test run on the stage before the show to be sure they wouldn't give me fits. I had my former shoes with me, just in case. The higher platform made it a bit tougher to maneuver the shoes back onto my feet from standing or crouching, but I could make them work because the venue had a wall that I could use for support. Yay! I could actually look statuesque, even if I had to take smaller steps with my turns.

I took these beauties out of town with me, and this time I left the former, too-big shoes at home. I walked the stage in the beauties, testing my choreography to be sure I could do all of the moves. This particular venue only had a curtain at the top of the stage, so I didn't have a wall for support to remove and replace my shoes. The stage was a little slicker so my steps became even smaller. My dry run went fine so I thought I'd be okay for the show. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

These beauties did me no favors. I stumbled over cracks in the stage. My jumpsuit got caught on the embellishment of the shoes. I swear that my ankles were wobbling back and forth in the shoes. I could see the audience's faces, and they were either unimpressed with my basic walking skills or felt sorry for me because what kind of dumbass would wear those shoes to someplace other than a nightclub? I nearly wiped out when I removed the shoes, and I didn't put those beauties back on. It was safer to end the number barefoot than fall on my face trying to put them back on. I love this number so much, and the shoes did me no favors to share that love with the audience. That was it.

Despite all the advice I'd been given from many dancers, I had to face what was right for me. I'm a dancer. I'm not the best dancer, but I do more than parade and pose in most of my numbers. I incorporate a lot of dance basics with turns and smiles. I had to face that I need to wear dance shoes if I want to be able to execute dance moves and look good doing them. If I was posing, I'd be fine in the stripper shoes. I move around too much, so it was time to go back to ballroom shoes.

I just got some custom ballroom shoes from Light in the Box this morning. (Thanks to Pearl Lux for the recommendation.)
I paid an extra $10 to have expedited delivery. I think I put in the order two weeks ago. I put these on this morning and kicked my way around my carpeted living room, so happy about my decision. I've heard that a good pair of ballroom shoes will set you back about $100. These were custom made (meaning I selected the heel height, style, and color from their options). I may get a few more pairs with different heel heights. The ones I got are 2-1/4" and are fantastic! I'm wearing them when I debut my new number next week. I don't know if I have time to embellish them before the show, but this price makes it easy for me to think with having one pair of shoes to match each number.

I still have the beauties. I saved them for photoshoots or situations where I'm just parading and posing. I have to see if I can strip off my jumpsuit over a pair of these suckers because they were built for dancing.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Topless Vlog #56

Here's the vlog! I didn't share the last one here because I had just been hit with the Blogger email that told me I needed to shuffle off to Buffalo and take my "dinners" elsewhere because they were porny. Then they retracted it.

3/27 Burlesqueland
3/29 Brunchlesque
Facebook "likes"

Thursday, February 19, 2015

What Our Friends Say

Despite our relationship, he gives incredible feedback.
I've been to a lot of shows over the years, mostly plays and burlesque, but I've also been to my fair share of concerts. I've been with the band, in the band, in the show, producing the show, seeing the show. I've been around live entertainment since I started public school.

It's very educational to watch the audience during a performance. You can see who really engages and involves the audience, and you can see who alienates, confuses and/or doesn't appeal. What is especially fascinating is watching friends of the performers. They're always so enthusiastic and supportive and encouraging, even when the number seems sub par. Do you have those friends who come up to you after the show and tell you that you were greaaaaaaaaat when you know you sucked? Do they always give you the thumbs up when you actually want some feedback you can use?

People are friends with us because they are attracted to us. There's something within you that appeals to your friends. It may be the qualities and viewpoints you have in common, like you both love football and voted for the tallest person in the last election. It may be the qualities that you have that they with they had, like you stand up for people and have incredible parallel parking skills. The important thing is that they're your friends because they dig something about you. Why would you be friends with someone who isn't attracted to you, doesn't like you at all?

Your friends see you with Friend Goggles. They see the qualities they admire, and they see all of the awesomeness that draws them to your circle.  Just like a lover will see the best of you, your friends do the same. They've got your back, so why would they see you as anything less than the coolest?

Friend Goggles are tricky when you're asking for feedback. As a performer, you get feedback through the friend filter of "you were sooooo gooooood." That admiration and identification doesn't give you the feedback you seek. It can be frustrating to not get the advice you seek. It can also be frustrating to learn from a not-friend that your work could genuinely use some improvement. (Not-friends aren't always delicate and caring when they critique your work.) Sometimes you just need the support of your friends so you feel good about putting yourself out there as an artist, and that's not a bad thing.

So how do you hear what you want from your friends? Let them know before they open their mouths with feedback that you're so happy that they're supporting you. It's valuable to have a support network. If you want genuine observations of how your act can improve, be specific with your request. (I'm a huge fan of precision of language so there can be no confusion.) "I'd really like to know what you liked best and what you think I could improve about my act. Can you email me tomorrow?" Be clear about what feedback you want and how you want it.

Treasure your friends for supporting you, and be smart about taking the feedback you get from them. If you're asked to give a friend feedback, I have some recommendations for you here and here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Monday, February 16, 2015

Topless Vlog #53

Finally! I uploaded this on Groundhog Day, and then it was blacklisted. I don't know if that's because I forgot to tick the adult box, or maybe because I mentioned the hockey team I follow in the metadata. I asked their admins for clarification and have gotten no response. They haven't pulled my channel, so that's positive.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Fan Girl

Evie is always down for adventure.
I get a kick out of autographing things for people who dig Red Snapper. I'm always flattered because I'm just a small town girl who takes her clothes off in the big city. I've done some cool stuff, but I don't think of myself as any kind of big deal. If you ask me to autograph something, you'll get the same cheesy grin you see above because I'm tickled and amused that you want a memento of me.

Thursday I was a fan girl, and I wondered if the autographers think the same way I do. My best-good friend Evie joined me for the day of adventuring. (I love that I have a gal pal who is down for whatever random scheme I have cooked up.) We went to Long Beach at 6:30am to wait until 2pm for autographs from three of the LA Kings: Martin Jones, Jake Muzzin, and Anze Kopitar. Evie and her husband introduced us to hockey in 2011, so it was quite perfect that we went together.

This kind of signing is way different from someone buying a photo or t-shirt from me at a show and having me sign it. (I think I've signed a couple people over the years.) This is large scale stuff that wouldn't seem to give much opportunity for personal interaction or conversation. We plopped our chairs into position near the door around 7:15am, sixth and seventh in line. I brought sewing projects, she brought reading material. We had snacks, and we could trust the other folks in our chaired area in line to keep an eye on our stuff when we went to fast food places for more refreshments. (I highly recommend offering to bring something back for your seated line neighbors. It's polite and builds camaraderie.) I camped out for concert tickets back when I was a tween and teen, but never for more than three or four hours. This was a commitment, and we were prepared.

About thirty minutes before the signing was to begin, we put away our chairs and were ushered into Staples, winding our way around the entire store. Apparently the line had grown to 1000 people, and the city was getting complaints so they had to clear some of the sidewalk and alleyways. We were limited to one item per signature, so I had my jersey signed and Evie got a photo of the two of us without pants and with jerseys on signed. I had a few more personal items I was hoping to get signed (like a second copy of the photo, my nephew's birthday card, and a copy of Sports Illustrated), but I didn't push it. With 1000 people in line, they needed the line to move and their hands would've cramped horribly if they made exceptions for everyone.

I didn't anticipate having any opportunity for conversation. If I had expected it, I would have prepared myself better. I don't mean I would've had some grand speech prepared, but I would've had something intelligent to say. I try to be approachable for my fans so they don't have to go through this sort of thing.

We rounded the corner for autographs and I got my nephew's birthday card signed by Bailey. I've gotten a couple photos with Bailey, so I wasn't tongue-tied and stupid. I dig Bailey. No, my moment of stupidity came at the next stop: Martin Jones.

I should explain this a bit. Quick is the primary goaltender for the Kings, and Quick is amazing. It seems like he catches pucks with his nuts. Quick was out for a spell last season, and Jones was the backup goaltender for our backup goaltender. He won his first several games and had consecutive shutouts. He's cool as a cucumber on the ice, and he's just adorable. I think he's the same age as one of my suede coats. So I wasn't prepared to say how much I admire this kid and that I'm old enough to be his mom. (I also want to add that living in Los Angeles has a funny effect on being starstruck. You shop at the same supermarket as Uma Thurman, or get your coffee at the same gas station as Jason Alexander. I wound up starstruck by Richard Simmons, Richard Hatch from Battlestar Galactica TOS, and the guy who played Tony Dimera on "Days of Our Lives." All of these people were very much a part of my childhood as I watched TV in flyover country.)

So back to Jones. I pass over my jersey as planned and say hello, and it seems like time starts moving really slowly and I'm compelled to talk. I didn't have any planned mini-speeches, so why couldn't I keep my mouth shut? I blurt out, "I feel like such a nerd!" That was a pretty stupid thing to say because I'm making it all about my feelings and probably making it weird. It would've been weirder if I'd said, "Hey bro, I'm old enough to be your mom and I think you're great." That would be really weird. But nope, I describe myself as a nerd which actually makes me sound like a stalker and I'm so not a stalker. He looked up and said, "Why is that?" I've lost all conversational skills because I'm starstruck. How do I answer this question when I'm ill-prepared? I sound like an asshole if I say that I'm more excited to get his autograph than the two guys who've been in the NHL much longer who are next to him. (I was excited to get their autographs as well, but I wasn't tongue-tied and stupid about it.)

Somehow I manage to censor myself from saying something stupid like "I carried a watermelon." I confess that we've been there since 7am for this. I practically said I carried a watermelon. I also made it weird again because it was about me. At least I didn't say, "I'm a total fucking tool," which would've been accurate in that moment even if it was too honest. I collected my jersey and moved along to Muzzin and Kopi and was perfectly polite and didn't act like an idiot at all.

Evie and I headed back to the car, floating from autographs and feeling accomplished after investing a day in a couple lawn chairs in a Long Beach parking lot.

See, I'm more awkward than you, dear fans.

Saturday, January 10, 2015


I recommend to poor dancers to repair the costumes they have. I recommend to unemployed dancers to run the numbers they have so they can improve. Since I'm investing my cash in a new costume already, and I have one gig lined up for January, it's time to practice what I preach.

My husband has a gig this evening and I'm staying home to work on me. I haven't gone out much lately because I have commissions I'm working on, but I'm also working on my body and my acts. My eighth year as a professional burlesque dancer has commenced. I decided to pull out two acts I haven't performed in over a year and run them in my living room.

In my room
The first act I ran was "Butterflies" and I did it in full costume sans pasties and panties. This was the costume I made through the "My Final Reveal" series here. I was producing and had to create content. I wanted a panel skirt number with full panels. I wanted to use magnets. I wanted to make a dress from a pattern I had. I learned a lot as I made the costume. I put the number to "Butterflies" by Michael Jackson, a delightful and floaty tune. I don't feel like it ever fully arrived as a number. That could be why this beautiful costume didn't leave my wardrobe once in 2014, and only saw the stage once in 2013.

The costume construction lessons were incredible. The magnets were a challenge. I discovered it takes forever to rhinestone on a showgirl level with a hotfix tool. I learned that hand painting net makes it heavier than expected. I learned that Mod Podge and glitter on shoes seems like a great idea, but those shoes will stick together months after the Mod Podge has cured. I confirmed that strapless bras are a terrible idea for me and that I must have a strap of some sort.
Photo (c) Markus Alias

I put on the costume and started the song without running it in my mind as a refresher. It was liberating to not remember the choreography that didn't fully work. It was fun dancing in different shoes since the Mod Podge shoes just don't work. Little Coca Carter was absolutely fascinated with my living room performance. It was interesting. I have some distance from the number. It's not my bread and butter but I won't part with the costume. The song just doesn't work right for me in this costume.

As an experiment, I put on "Blue Prelude" and stripped to that. I'm not incredibly familiar with the song, but it's a striptease classic for a very good reason. It worked so much better! I may or may not use that song for this costume in future, but I realized the costume is worth putting to work again. I made notes of the repairs it needed and taped them to the garment bag. I'll get to those soon.

I was very warm and Coca Carter was eager to participate in my dancing, so I did a simpler version of another song. I pulled out "If," which I haven't performed since 2013. It has a chunk of floor work and I had a knee injury early last year. I didn't put on the costume and I didn't crawl on the floor. I danced the number as I remembered it, and realized I need to revisit the choreography to fully remember it. I'm not culling the number; I just need to find a producer who wants to see me dance hip hop. (This is good hip hop. I had a choreographer for this number. It's not like me and Evie getting served in hip hop class.)

I may just do this again next weekend. It was an incredible learning experience and very freeing.