February 28, 2011
After the galleries and falafel, Diana and I jumped in a taxi and headed over to Nurse Bettie, a bar located at 106 Norfolk in the Lower East Side. I had never been to it before due to my work schedule, so I was excited to finally experience this weekly show!
Diana and I were able to quickly saddle up to the bar and due to having several small glasses of wine at the galleries, we ordered some non-alcoholic drinks and settled in for a night of entertainment.
The line up for that night was pretty great: Bettina May, Kita St. Cyr, Tansy (Tan Dora), Ruby Valentine, Broadway Brassy and the host for the evening, Calamity Chang! This show was also another chance for me to see Calamity perform while Broadway Brassy belts out the soundtrack. This evening both Brassy’s indivddual performance and Calamity’s act ended up being songs by the band Heart which Brassy covered wonderfully.
I could write a great deal about the performers, but since I am nodding off and my cat is getting bitey for dinner, I’ll just mention that they were all great and did a great job working such a small stage.
Right, because Nurse Bettie is a bar with very little space when crowded, so it was interesting to see the performers confine themselves to a small square of stage. The venue is fun, with pin-up paintings and posters decorating the walls, but the performance space is small. But Calamity works it and on Wednesdays when Honi Harlow hosts, I’m sure she does the same.
The overall experience was great, and I am saddened I didn’t get to see these free weekly shows earlier, but I know where I can now go if I have wednesday or thursday night free, and you should go too! Just make sure to get there early to secure a good seat for the show and then take your time and enjoy the pre-show go-go!
January 6, 2011
Tonight I had the great pleasure of meeting up with Bettina May (you can read my interview with her here) for vegan dinner and desserts! I’ve admired Bettina May for awhile and actually interviewed her before even meeting her. Something people not realize is how small the burlesque world is in NY, so it’s not uncommon to run into the same people over and over. Well, with my partner being out of town, and Bettina May consistently posting about how amazing the vegan baked good are at Champs, we decided it was finally time for me to try the place out.
We met up at Foodswings, a place I’ve talked about before, where I feasted on chicken parm while she got a wing with mac n’ cheese, all vegan of course. We shared great talk on all kinds of issues which was great to speak with someone who also deals with staying vegan in a very non-vegan profession. After finishing our dinners we walked the short walk (well, as Bettina pointed out – even short walks seem long in this chilly weather) to Champs.
I am a huge fan of all vegan bakeries. There is nothing I find as sad as going into a place that sells baked goods and not finding anything vegan. vegan baking can be so simple, but I don’t have the time to do it all the time. Going to an all vegan restaurant then becomes a dream come true.
Champ is an adorable shop located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn that doesn’t give off the typical ‘vegan’ vibe. It looks neither like a hippie head shop, a punk venue or fancy modern pastry place. Champs bills itself as a family bakery, and that is how they seem. The store is a bit retro, but not in a planned sort of way but rather it just happens to occupy an older space with an old feel to the decor.
The staff was super polite and nice and even let Bettina May hang up posters for her upcoming pin-up classes. And the baked goods? Delicious. I got a pumpkin cheesecake muffin and a mixed berry scone which I’ll have for breakfast tomorrow. Bettina May got a vanilla roll coated in chocolate and some cookies to go.
It is great to have a friend like Bettina here in New York who I can commiserate and dish with about vegan issues and share tips and advice on vegan costume making. If you get a chance, see this girl and then buy her a (vegan) drink after the show. She is hard working, and isn’t even fully a green card tax b back wasn’t too long, but carrying
August 12, 2010
A few weeks ago I did a short photo shoot with Dale Rio, who was the wonderful lady behind my last set of pin-up shots. This time I got to include a certain prop I wanted to do last time, a vegan cupcake. Now, originally I wanted to bake my own, but ran out of time. Then I wanted to try and buy some from the ever so wonderful baker Danielle Konya of Vegan Treats but I wasn’t able to stop by any of the many locations she sells to in NY before the shoot. (Interesting side fact, I grew up and went to the same high school as Danielle, but we were too many years apart to know each other.) In the end I ended up having to buy a vegan cupcake from Whole Foods. It was no vegan treats cupcake, but it sufficed.
If you remember from my last post about photo shoots, the room gets really hot. Between the cramped space, lack of air conditioning and the heat from all the photo spotlights it is enough to melt the lipsticks in the tube and…..the icing on my cupcake. I was able to still work with it, but it was really runny. This was fine, because my main plan was to get a few playful ones and then just shove the rest of it in my mouth. It was basically the best photo series ever!
Dale was pretty impressed with my ability to really cram it in, though i will say the combo of melted icing and somewhat dry cake, it was a battle. I still got some pretty amazing shots out of the deal, so I can’t really complain.
After this shoot, Dale and I headed over to Food Swings again and even though Ihad just wolfed down a sizable vegan cupcake, I still had room for vegan fast food!
Now that Dale has moved her studio to Philadelphia, I am sad that I don’t have a kick ass vegan photographer so close, but it seems her new studio is doing well and is even having a retro finishing school class this weekend with a class on vintage hairstyling by Bettina May, who you may remember from the interview I did with her in June!
I will be heading down to Philly this weekend for a shoot though. This will be posted about after the fact though, so for now I leave you drooling over these pictures of me and my cupcake!
While researching for this blog, I copied down a bunch of info about burlesque performers and people who create vegan burlesque goods. One of the product lines I had found was Coquette Faux Furriers, but little did I know that the creator was also a vegan burlesque star! Below is an online interview I did with the ever so wonderful and fierce Bettina May. Make sure to check out her website, which is linked at the bottom of the interview, to see and read more about her.
VEGAN BURLESQUE (VB): How long have you been doing burlesque?
BETTINA MAY (BM): I have been performing burlesque since 2003, when I started a burlesque scene in my sleepy little town of Victoria BC, Canada with my dance partner Lulumae, calling ourselves the BettiLu Bombshells.
VB: What first got you interested in burlesque?
BM: I started off as a vintage pin-up model, doing shoots for fun with my friends, both as a model and photographer, and as a longtime collector of vintage outfits, I already had a healthy costume supply. I started creating cruelty-free costume pieces for burlesque dancers in Vancouver, a nearby city with a burlesque scene for my company CoquetteFauxFurriers.com, and in the process became enamored with the art of burlesque. When a local club owner in Victoria approached me about starting a local troupe, I jumped at the chance, and started choreographing an act right away!
VB: Which burlesque performers inspire you?
BM: I’m inspired by ladies who really push the boundaries of glamour, elegance and humour. Trixie Minx from New Orleans’ Fleur de Tease is amazing, gorgeous and SO funny in her acts. Dita Von Teese, of course, is vintage perfection and a marketing genius, which I admire. My favourite legendary performer is Sherry Britton, so beautiful and amazing costumes.
VB: Do you have a favorite venue you perform at? Is it vegan-friendly (food/drinks/etc)?
BM: My all-time favourite venue to perform at is Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park, NJ, and it IS vegan friendly! It’s an old 1950s bowling alley, completely restored with the original equipment, and the centre bowling lanes have been converted into a stage, but you can still bowl on the side lanes during shows. The concession serves the best tofu bbq sandwich, and the curly fries are to die for!
VB: Do you have a favorite routine you’ve done?
BM: Oh gosh, I love all my routines, otherwise I wouldn’t do them! I guess the two crowd favourites are my Weekend In Canada act, which is my tribute to my homeland, an ice-skating shimmy act, and the other one is to Josephine Baker’s “Don’t Touch Me Tomatoes” and it’s more Carmen Miranda inspired, with a big faux-feather showgirl headdress and faux feather skirt.
VB: How long have you been vegan?
BM: I have been vegan for about 3 years, and was vegetarian for about 10 years before that.
VB: What made you decide to be vegan?
BM: I was introduced to the idea of veganism in high school when I started going to punk and hardcore shows, and started listening to bands that advocated a vegan and straightedge lifestyle, both for reasons of personal health and compassion for animals. I became vegetarian when I moved out on my own, and while I always strove to be fully vegan, didn’t fully make the commitment until 2007, when I went on my first European tour – great timing, right? I was touring with another performer who was vegan, so in solidarity I decided to only eat vegan to be fair, and after realizing I could be vegan in Paris, the land of croissants and fois gras, I had no excuse to be a lazy vegetarian in my little west coast hippie community where vegan options abound! I’ve been vegan ever since, and appreciate the challenge of finding vegan options on the road, in unlikely places like the Deep South and Midwest. I’ve started a blog about how I cope on tour and the excitement of finding vegan oases on the road at
VB: Favorite vegan drink/food?
BM: I think my favourite vegan drink is vegan Thai iced tea, so delightfully sweet and creamy, but so full of caffeine that it makes me a bit wild! My favourite food is deep fried mushrooms, particularly this dish I get at my hometown Buddhist veg place, Lotus Pond, called Shiitake Mushroom Delight, covered in black bean sauce and so amazing!
VB: How do you deal with the non-vegan aspects of burlesque (such as boas/feather fans)?
BM: It really makes me sad to see how many animals have to die for my profession, from fur stoles to feather boas to leather shoes, when it is so needless! I enjoy the challenge of coming up with inventive ways of making glamorous costumes that are true to the style of classic vintage burlesque, but without the cruelty. The only cruelty that should be onstage is the suffering I inflict on my poor feet from high heels and my back from tight-lacing my corsets! I’ve made a few different fans dances using fabric fans instead of feathers, and shred satin to mimic the fluff of ostrich feathers, and of course I use a lot of faux fur in my costumes, since that is what got me started on this path in the first place. I have even created custom pieces for Dita Von Teese, who is trying to incorporate more cruelty-free items into her collection. Fortunately, cute pin-up shoes are easier to come by these days with the resurgence in popularity of vintage styles, so it’s fairly easy to find non-leather heels for stage.
VB: If you could change one thing about burlesque, what would it be?
BM: I would love to see more people using alternatives to animal products in their costumes!
VB: Where can we see more of you?
BM: Right now I’m on tour for 3 months with the Pretty Things Peepshow –
, and you can find my full tour schedule and pin-up gallery at