Thursday, January 21, 2016

From 2014 to 2016

Photo by Madison Hurley Photography
I didn't do a recap last year. A lot of stuff happened in my world, and I just wasn't feeling it. The challenge with doing a recap for two years is that my gig book is hidden from my overgrown puppy. Let's take a look at what I've been able to sort out for 2014:
  • I had fewer performances -- just 32 in 25 shows. This tallies up to 405 performances for the career. Not too shabby. This is an estimate, because of the hidden gig book.
  • I taught at the Great Burlesque Expo in Cambridge again. I also taught in Hot Springs, and Mr. Snapper and I taught together in Dallas.
  • Fewer festivals for me in 2014, which I'll get to what's happening with that later. I did the Great Burlesque Festival and the Hollywood Fringe Festival. I also performed in San Diego for Comic-Con weekend.
  • Tour stops in Dallas, Hot Springs, San Diego, and Fresno.
  • I created a few new acts, like my California Sunset number and the first version of my Poison Ivy. I performed in a group number with Chocolate Box Burlesque, and Mr. Snapper and I co-hosted their show together. We also created our Goonies duet.
I had knee issues in 2014, and I had a wicked case of anemia that knocked me out of a couple shows. My sweet Doodlebug passed in August 2014, and that took quite an emotional toll. When my dog Holly passed in 2006, I stopped playing guitar for the most part. (I pick it up every nine months or so.) It was a rough time in my house. I did adopt little Coca Carter, who is a hellbeast. I love this dog, but she is a bundle of enthusiasm with teeth.

Photo by SH Photo
My 2015 was curious. I had far fewer performances, which I'll get into why as I break down the year:
  • Fewest performances in a year since I started this stuff in 2007. I estimate I performed sixteen times in twelve shows. This makes it 421 in eight years.
  • I taught some sewing classes, including dress making and corset construction. I enjoy sewing and become better at sewing by teaching. I made some incredible garments this year as well.
  • When I first started doing burlesque, networking was easier. I met people at craft nights and at shows. We'd spend some time together, brainstorm together, and I had bookings coming out of my ears. A lot of those people have retired, and a lot of new performers have popped up. Now it seems everyone wants an audition video of every act you may want to perform, even if you've worked with them in the past. While I agree that burlesque is business, I was missing the community aspect that was there when I signed up; I also missed the networking. I hosted a brunch for the community and started recruiting people to host craft nights. I started teaching community classes for a low price to help performers fill in gaps in their education. I may not have my community ideal yet, but it's not going to improve unless I work on it.
  • No festivals in 2015. I did screen videos for Hollywood Burlesque Festival, which was educational.
  • I performed in Vegas, Dallas on two visits, Houston, Little Rock, and Hot Springs. Our schedules were so full I only got to teach in Hot Springs. These trips are always packed with activity.
  • I created some new acts. I have an act that's built with LEDs that needs a little reworking. I rebuilt Poison Ivy, making the act a bit more couture. I created a dressing and stripping number. (It feels silly to call it a "reverse strip," because that's just getting dressed.) I hosted a nudist comedy show twice. I also rebuilt my mermaid tail for Burlesqueland.
I had two major things working against me in 2015 (besides that video thing): car and work. My car was at 220,000 miles when I finally replaced it in November. I'd lived without a car payment since right after I started burlesque, and I wanted to make it until this spring with the old car. This meant I didn't submit my acts for shows that are driving distance if I couldn't justify renting a car. My car overheated on my way to an October gig in Ventura. The last straw was when it barely made it from the city to the San Fernando Valley on a weekend. I flew to Dallas the following weekend, and bought a car the day I returned. I have a small car payment, but I can now drive to gigs outside of Los Angeles.

The other major issue working against me was my job. At the end of 2014, I cut back my days at the office so I could work on commissions. This meant that the three days I spent at work per week had more financial value for me, and more production importance for the company. A co-worker quit at the end of 2014 and no replacement was hired, which meant taking off or leaving early for Friday gigs was very unlikely. I spent 2015 wishing for a new situation where I could miss Fridays for festivals or leave work in the early afternoon so I wouldn't feel rushed or stressed for the few Friday night gigs I got. A week ago I got an offer for the perfect work-from-home job for me, which means I can build my own schedule and work on the road. I can do Monday, Wednesday, and Friday night gigs without having to tart myself up at my desk if the time allowed. I feel less like Cinderella.

Photo by Modern Noir
So what's in store for 2016? Persistence. Being the best me. Strength. Lots of rehearsals. Maybe even some producing. Turning 40 and celebrating it. Building my community. Going to Texas a couple times and Arkansas a couple times and hopefully other places. Taming the hellbeast. Getting some stuff published, even if it's DIY. Learning. Living.