Clang clang clang went the trolley, ding ding ding went the Elvis Clown

My apartment looks like shit right now.

It looks like a glitter-crusted monster came stomping through it with the sole intention of throwing clothing and shoes everywhere in a state of iced coffee-induced ecstasy and once exhausted from the havoc wreaking, barfed up sewing supplies, laundry, and dust bunnies across three rooms.

My mother would be tsk-tsking and shaking her head at the state of my home is what I’m saying.  It’s gross.  My house is so covered in fabric remnants and bits of burlesque shit that my poor lupus-afflicted, roided-out geriatric cat, Moki, had this situation happening last night:

I swear, SWEAR, that we didn’t put that bit of feather there. It got stuck under her nose and then she ate it right after this picture was taken.

But who has time to not be a secret slob?  Not me.  Not me.  (And go ahead and judge me, by the way.  The fact that I’m sitting here writing this and not dealing with the pile of unfolded laundry that’s been sitting on my couch for three days is not lost on me.  I don’t wanna.  I just don’t wanna.  So fuck that laundry.  We’ll wear through the pile eventually.)  Normally, when my life gets this hectic it’s due to a barrage of costume work that has me taking anger breaks to morosely stare at evidence of other people’s fun on Facebook before I go back to hunching over my sewing machine and cursing.  (I love what I do, but there’s a certain amount of pissed-offedness that’s essential to the work.  Ask any designer, seamstress, draper, pattern maker.  They’re a grumpy bunch.  And a vindictive bunch.  Be nice to the people who make you look good, people.  Years in the theatre have provided me with stories that will make you clench your ass cheeks in discomfort.)  There’s been a fair share of that lately — but hey! life improvement!– I’ve actually been doing some fun stuff, too.

Like taking a road trip to St. Louis with my gal pal, May Oui, to perform at the Show-Me Burlesque Festival.  We were only there for one night because May has a real job, but it was super duper fun.  Especially the part where we got 4 hours of sleep before getting up at 5:30 AM to drive back to Chicago in time for May to get to work.  But really, we had so much fun we hardly noticed.  The five hour drive there went by in a flash (funny, how that can work out when you’re in a car with people you really like.)  The bulk of the time was spent in swerve-inducing giggle fits thanks to this internet meme.  (My husband does the the Derp voice the best.  He had practice, though.  Apparently drinking and looking at shit on the internet was all he did at Playboy.  God rest it’s Chicago-based soul.) A reference, out of nowhere, to Kenny Rodgers prompted the creation of this variation when we got back home.  (We’re dorks, ok?  Not even nerds.  Dorks.  It’s best you realize that now.)

And you know you have a real friend when they’re willing to feed you cheetoes while you drive.  We made it there with just enough time to throw our shit into the hotel room, sigh over the pool we didn’t have time to swim in, throw some gyros into our faces, and get to the venue to find a corner to get ready in.  This great shot was the result, though:

Taken by Virginia Harold at The Coliseum

Everyone in the St. Louis burlesque scene was SO friendly and awesome.  I wanted to just lay them all out on my bed and make a big comfort, love, cuddle, awesome, sexy blanket out of them to sleep in.  (What?  Is that weird, or something?)  Here’s a few of them awesome folks:  Nadine Du Bois.  Damn, that lady is fab.  Mister Junior.  Check this guy out, please.  His number was so killer that May was compelled to actually run back stage immediately after he finished to high five him.  Whiskey Kiss.  Awesome number.  Fantastic, friendly lady.  Dewey De Cimalle had me slapping May on the arm in delight.  Kind of hard.  Queenie Von Curves, Victoria Deville … oh, there’s too many.  Too many.  See?

That’s a fuck ton of sexy, right there.

It was a great array of talent with inspiring approaches to the art form.  I loved it.  Lola van Ella and Sammich the Tramp, producers of the festival, were warm and welcoming, and super fun and sexy on stage.  I can’t wait to get back to see more of them.  And they ran a brilliant show with a Johnny-on-the-spot stage crew.  I can not say enough good things about Blue Barber, the stage manager.  Solid.  That’s just a smidgy little bit.  We only saw one night.  I can only imagine how fantastic the rest of the festival was.

And our performance was pretty good, too.

Oh!  And Clownvis.  Clownvis!!  CLOWNVIS!!!!!!  Holy fuck balls.  I love him.  I want to have his sneering clown babies.

And, apparently, so does May.

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To pube or not to pube: that is the merkin.

I want to state something, for the record, and state it loudly and proudly.  No longer should I slither through the shadows, feeling naked and bare.  No longer will I cross my legs in shame.

I like having pubic hair, y’all.

Maybe it was living in LA that gave me the distaste for it — because I’m convinced that no one in LA has pubic hair — but I’m really not feeling the hairless cooch.  I know it’s all clean and fuck-ready, but I’ve never quite understand why someone would want to look like a character from the first half of a Judy Blume novel.  Sure, I’ve shaved it all once or twice.  And I looked like a 10-year-old.  Baby face, small tits, no pubes.  No good.  I felt like there were a handful of fat, greasy dudes in clown suits trolling the internet who would love the look I had going on.

Plus — and I know I’m not the only one in the world who’s experienced this — pubes on the labia provide a sort of Hoover Dam, if you will, for the stream.  You know what I mean?  Look, when peeing while sitting is your thing, public restrooms can be a little unsavory.  That’s why every female in civilization has perfected the toilet hover.  It’s a magical thing, really.  The pee goes where it needs to go and no part of your body comes in contact with all of that ickyness. (And we encounter a lot of it.  Girls are heavenly creatures and all, but clearly they leave their halos at the bathroom door.)  But conditions have to be just so to achieve a successful hover.  And if you don’t have a little bit of a barrier, things will go awry.  You’ll pee down your leg is what I’m saying.  And then you have to be all Ninja reflexive to catch it with the toilet paper before it hits your pants.

I’m not saying I’m into complete nature or anything like that.  Perish the thought of hairy assholes.  This isn’t 1906.

And there something to be said for unobstruction.  One should be able to find what they’re looking for.  And I’m not sure if even I could find it were I sporting that bush.  A little is nice, though.  I give you exhibit B:

Sasha Grey up there is proof positive that you can cancel your brazilian and still hold some dignity.  I think she looks beautiful and I’ll take this look over the vertical Hitler pussy moustache any day.

But here’s the conundrum:  I’m not having sex for a living.  (Are you just a teensy bit relieved, family, to hear me say it?)  I’m taking my clothes off.  And my two naked jobs conflict.  While I do not enjoy a bunch of college freshman getting a good, long, artful look at my bare labia, likewise do I not want an audience to see a lumberjack peeking out of my g-string.  What to do, what to do?  I can’t wear big girl panties on stage.  Enough performers do that already. (Stop it, by the way.)  And I’ve long since grown tired of getting on my hands and needs in front of a Russian lady with a bowl of hot wax.

Maybe I’ll treat my pubes like Joan Crawford treated her eyebrows.  I’ll get rid of all of it, then paint it on.  Or I could make myself a merkin, a little snatch toupee, to wear at work.  It would give me a ton of creative freedom.  I’ve always wanted to be a redhead.

Boom. Problem solved.

Wiggled

When I woke up this morning, my hair was a nest of hairspray and cigarette smoke.  The eyeliner that I had lazily left on had migrated south of my cheekbones and there was a patina of glitter on my pillow.  And when I got into the shower I noticed very angry-looking red rings forming little halos around my nipples.

True. This does sound exactly like any given Tuesday morning when I was in college.  But last night I did not revert back to sophomore year (the absence of a waifish girl in a Sleater-Kinney t-shirt next to me being proof.)  Last night, I wiggled.

Oh, I was so looking forward to performing at Wiggle Room.  Don’t know it?  Go here.  Learning the opening trio number was weighing heavily on my sanity and it felt just delicious to finally get out there and perform it.  And Speakeasy performances notwithstanding, I hadn’t performed a solo since December.  I admit that I had lost my sea legs a little (B legs, perhaps?) but last night I saddled up the old g-strings and took ’em for a ride.  It was great, great fun.

I love this show series.  Love it.  I don’t get out to a lot of comedy shows.  Or any, rather.  Watching Louie on FX is about as close as I usually get.  But these guys have made me want to change that situation tout suite.  The host, Adam Burke, is as kind as he is fucking hilarious, and his line-ups have been stellar.  Plus, I’m a sucker for a guy in a suit who knows his way around a dictionary.  The man has some vocabulary.  I’m officially a big fan. (I couldn’t find a website, but here’s his twitter thingy.  That’s a thing, right?)

And speaking of being a fan, I feel the need to slip into a bit of a fawny, gushy, crushy state.  Cameron Esposito.  She’s just super deluxe.  Love her.  I was so pleased that she did a set last night.  If you ever have a chance to see her, jump on it like a beast.  She kills me.  And she’s fucking adorably hot with that trendy side-mullet and all. (Here’s her website.)

Was it a great night?  It was.  Was it worth the pastie tape burn on my nips?  Yep.  And do I deserve the whole week off from posing in front of awkward freshman art students who render my boobs to look like two mismatched tube socks with pacifiers stuck on them?

You bet your sweet twat I do.  It’s vacation time.  Hello, couch and dog and Street Fighter X Tekken.  Let’s do this.

Bits of information that are absolutely necessary to the well-being of your life

a.  May Oui and I have been asked to perform in the St. Louis Show-Me Burlesque Festival

b.  Go to Wiggle Room.  It’s pretty great.

c.  My cat has lupus. (Not Oatmeal.  Another one.)  Lupus.  Like she’s the reincarnation of Flannery O’ Connor or something.  Her hair is falling out all over my apartment and she looks like something from The Dark Crystal.

d.  The wonderful, fantastic Frenchie Kiss and the ridiculously hot Jett Adore are competing at The Burlesque Hall of Fame with their show-stopping duet.  For which I designed Ms. Kiss’s costume.  And I’m getting to work on a gown for her to wear when they win.  Fantastic.

e. Happy Birthday, Ashleigh.

f.  Check out this guy.  My husband is doing his new record cover.  He’s the fucking best and is now living large in LA.  If you’re in the greater Los Angeles area, look him up.  Go get a coffee with him.  Maybe go for a jog around the Silverlake reservoir.

My husband also did this rad poster. He's the best, too.

g.  It’s time for a snack.

Rainbows and Sunshine

Maybe it’s nauseating, but I woke up this morning with the notion to write a post entirely about shit that makes me happy.  It’s a beautiful day in Chicago, I just got paid, I slept until 10, and I haven’t read or listened to the news all day.  I’m practical farting rainbows and sunshine.  And to keep this merriment motorcade movin’ on down the highway, I’m doubling down with a list of things that push my happy button.  Hopefully some of them will push yours, too.

1.  This face.

It's worth it to leave the house just to be able to come home to this happy dog face.

2.  Biscuits and gravy.

3.  Mike 4.0.  He’s been going to the gym and eating right, and it’s really given him a boost in the hard drive.  He’s been seriously double-clicking my mouse.  Downloading my zip files.  #gettingpoundeduntillossofmotorskillsoccurs.  The husband makes me happy anyway, but he’s been a real magic maker, lately.  Yeah, Stairmaster!

4.  Wearing shorts and drinking beer in my backyard, Homer Simpson style.

5.  This scene in my favorite movie:  Puttin’ on the Ritz from Young Frankenstein.  The “Cooper Duper” line gets me every time.  Every time.

6.  Big hair and flashy painted nails.  I’m from the Deep South, y’all.  Trashy is in my DNA.

7.  Rereading a book that you liked and discovering that you actually love it.  Currently, it’s Geek Love by Katherine Dunn.

8.  This website.  There’s nothing that can deflate my stress balloon like a baby pig in rain boots.

9.  Getting dirty in the kitchen

10.  Swearing.  Fucking cunty biscuits, I love to swear.

11.  This act with this girl.  I love it and her.

12.  Sweet tea.  Fried things from the sea.  Raw oysters.  Barbecued ribs.  Fried green tomatoes.  My mom’s gumbo.

13.  Speaking of my mom.  She’s the best.  Especially when she laughs.

14.  This song.  And Soul Train.

15.  Ass-friendly jeans and a t-shirt.  Add a pair of sunglasses and sandals, and I couldn’t feel sexier.

16.  Sharing a completely vulgar and offensive joke with the only other person in the world who would think it was funny — my husband.

17.  Dick jokes.  Also, fart jokes.  But not pussy jokes.  I have some class.

18.  This.

19. And this.

20.  Shaking my ass with complete unabashedness.

There’s more and more and more, if I think about it.  But I’ll leave it at the first twenty that popped into my head.  Happy Fucking Friday, y’all!!

Okay, one more of the dog face:

I suffer from BTS (Burlesque Tourette’s Syndrome)

I woke up this morning with the insides of my thighs on fire.  Was it because of friction caused by a pair of ears rubbing against them?  No. (Though that probably didn’t help. Zing.)  It was because of rehearsal yesterday and the crazy squatty jungle cat move Michelle had us doing.  And the plank-pose-to-donkey-kick-walk-it-back-up-and-do-it again-a-zillion-more-times thing.  A burlesque work out is not the same as yoga, people.  That woman is in some good fucking shape.  She’s hard to keep up with on a good day but she must have had her Wheaties yesterday.  And that was just the warm-up.  Then we moved on to a solid hour and a half of rehearsing the Wiggle Room number.  It’s an awesome number.  Super fun.  Full of thrills and spills.  And it’s my Mount Fuji.  Meaning it’s really hard to do, but I am going to climb that motherfucker.  But right now I’m only, eh, about half-way up it.  Learning complicated group choreography is not easy for someone like me who thought it would be more high-brow and academic to focus on Shakespeare instead of Sondheim with my theatre major.  (Fat lot of good you’re doing me now, thesis paper on Titus Andronicus.  Thanks for the jobs.  You’re the worst play in the canon, by the way.  Loser.)  So, yeah.  I’ve been spending a lot of time asking my body to do things and having it respond to my requests like a drunk hobo passed out on the sidewalk.  (“Huzzz, wha? Frack.  Where’s my trombone?” it says to me before peeing on a 7-11 window.)  My body is starting to sober up and come around after many curses and threats, but the thing is — now it’s my mouth that’s a problem.   Have you ever watched a dancer and noticed her lips moving because she’s either lip synching with the music or counting steps?  It’s weird.  And somewhere along the line I’ve picked up this dirty nasty habit.  If I’m not counting beats, I’m murmuring this strange language that I’ve created that’s a mish mash of steps and verbalization of music notes. Badadah Bah Bump – Kick! Badadah Bah Bump – Kick! Step Step Step Kick! Badoodoo Doooooooh Wahhhhhhhhhh Wahhhh — Football Shiiiiiimmmmmmmmyyyyyy!! I didn’t even know I was doing it until it was pointed out to me.  I couldn’t control it.  Like a tic.  Like I have burlesque Tourette’s.  It’s no good.  Is there a medication for this?  A burly equivalent of Clonidine?  Now I’m worried about overcompensating for it and performing with a slightly psychotic smile plastered on my face.  I don’t know.  Maybe it could work.  Maybe that could be my angle.

“Welcome to the stage Ray Ray Sunshine — The Slighty Off-Putting Temptress!”

Kittens!  Shit Horse!  Balls!

Standards and Practices

It seems like this keeps coming up in conversation and I feel like I should write about it while it’s still fresh in my head.  I was having coffee yesterday with Frenchie Kiss, one of my very favorite ladies and an amazing performer, and we got to talking about this idea of standards, competition, and professionalism in burlesque.  And when older, more seasoned performers have something to say on the subject, my ears perk up.  The reason the topic came up in the first place was due to a group discussion we had with Michelle during Starlets rehearsal earlier that day.  Now, I’m not going to lay out all of the details of that group discussion because I’m basically of the opinion that if Michelle wanted the world to know the details of her conversations she wouldn’t be shy about it.  As it is, I feel trusted with the insider information and it goes a long way to open my eyes to the bigger picture and I would in no way want to jeopardize that trust.  But the gist of it was standards.

I realize better than anyone that my introduction to burlesque was unlike most. For better or worse (mostly better, I think.)  Because I live in Chicago and had the dumb luck of stumbling upon her studio, I have trained and worked closely with one of the best performers out there.  In the beginning, especially when I started achieving little victories here and there, this made me kind of cocky (or perhaps cunty?)  But then I realized just how much work was required to perform on Michelle’s and Franky’s stage.  It’s a lot.  Michelle does not coddle us.  She encourages us, she congratulates us when we succeed, but she gives no one a free pass.  She holds her performers to a very high standard and because of ridiculously awesome numbers getting banged out by these girls, the bar keeps getting raised higher and higher.  I know better that anyone how high that bar is.

And I respect the fuck out of that bar.

Because the thing is, I need a high standard out of my chosen art.  And for the life of me, I can’t understand why it seems to be considered something repugnant by so many.  I’m all for getting yourself out there and making yourself happy.  If that means heading up to the local watering hole and flinging off your clothes to Motorhead then do it.  God knows I have.  But as a new performer, I have to admit that it’s a little discouraging when I see all of this outcry about there needing to be some sort of love blanket thrown over the burlesque community.  I don’t want a love blanket; I want to see those amazing performers who inspire me recognized for achievement.  I want to feel the burn of the fire that watching those performers lights under my ass.  I want to know that The Burlesque Hall of Fame is out there, glittering in the sun like a pastie covered mecca, inspiring us to be the absolute best grinders and bumpers and twirlers that we can possibly be.  Because if we’re not, the only way we’ll see it is through ticket master.

Getting into this has forced me to take some long, hard looks in the mirror and acknowledge some things I’d much rather have ignored.  It was way scarier than that Bloody Mary game we played when we were 12.  And scariest of all, I’ve had to face up to the fact that I might end up as just a local enthusiast writing a blog.  That wouldn’t be so bad, but I hope not.  I’m working really, really fucking hard to achieve something because I’m inspired by that high standard.  If I ever make it, I want to have earned it through dedication and good old-fashioned elbow grease (Or perhaps boobie grease?  Too much?)  Not because I conquered my fears and got naked on stage.  That’s a conversation for my therapist, not an audience.

I don’t mean to get all ranty.  And for fuck’s sake, don’t look to me for answers because I’m way too verde for answers.  I only have questions and mushy feelings at this point.  I’m like an angsty burlesque 14-year-old asking “Like, what’s the point of the, like, world?” while I slather Manic Panic on my hair.

And as I finish this a thought occurs to me:  maybe I would be better off keeping my feelings to myself and leaving this blog to discussions of kittens and penises.  Well, there’s always next week.