May 2, 2010
This past friday (April 30th) I got to stage kitten for the first time. I was pretty nervous and flustered that day with a mix of excitement and worry. There was still so much I didn’t know but I was excited to learn. To help calm my nerves I watched the burlesque episode of Rupaul’s Drag Race with the ever so wonderful Dita Von Teese, the Queen of Burlesque, as a guest judge!
I had put my hair into two tight buns in the morning so by 7:45 when I took them out they had a good amount of curl and wave which I set with hairspray and gel. I never used hair products growing up, so I was pretty impressed with how well it stayed! I also gave myself a little volume bump in the front to off set my sailor hat I’d pin on at the venue. I then got started on my makeup, using Kandee Johnson youtube videos to assist me on smokey eyes, eyebrow arching, and applying false lashes. Sizzle Dizzle, who was the other stage kitten had suggested I do hair and makeup at home since you can never tell how well lit a backstage area will be. I actually got the fake lashes on, which is a big step for me since I’ve failed at attempts in the past. It was semi difficult finding fun lashes that are vegan, but I’ll save that part for another post!
My partner and I then quickly made our way to the Q train to get down to Coney island. Upon arriving there, I met up with Doc Wasabassco and headed backstage. Sizzle and Gigi were already there as well as Keith Bastard, who was doing a special song and dance peddling Burlixir, the Wasabbasco ‘medicine’ for the medicine show. While the other ladies made their way in, Sizzle went over kittening do’s and don’ts with me and also showed me how to fill out the sheet for the music cues. Keith, Sizzle and I did one run through which consisted of Keith doing his really funny routine and then Sizzle and I running on stage, acting like excited tweens at a Jonas brothers concert, and then going out into the audience to sell the Burlixir during intermission.
Before I knew it, the show was beginning. Although I was not nervous to be on stage, I was very nervous about missing or losing a costume piece when it was my job to pick up after a performer. Luckily, I got every piece every time and also didn’t flub any stage prop setups. The ladies backstage were really nice and considerate but seemed very busy and focused, which I could understand considering the difficulty of some of their acts. When it came time for intermission, we ended up selling almost all of the Burlixir and I had a fun time joking and working the audience.
The second half seemed to fly by and all the ladies (GiGi La Femme, Nasty Canasta, Sapphire Jones, Gal Friday) as well as Keith and a juggling act named Der Achten Taschen did a fantastic job, though I was somewhat jealous I didn’t get to watch them front and center. Finally, the night ended with a champagne bath as a tribute to Tirza’s Wine Bath Revue that used to happen in the 1940′s at Coney Island.
Originally I had planned on wearing a sequined outfit but after realizing I would be having champagne poured on me at the end of the show, I decided to go with my vintage bikini instead. GiGi and I got in the tub, and the rest of the ladies poured champagne on us, which they collected in cups and gave out to the audience. (For those of you who may know me from college, this wasn’t too different from that one Peddle to the Meddle performance I once did!) After all the champagne was gone, I went backstage, toweled off, got dressed, thanked everyone and headed back to the Q to go home. It was a fun and exciting night where I went from nervous to really pumped and stoked at the end. I hope I have more kittening and eventually performing in my future!
April 28, 2010
Last you read I had decided on my name. So, what comes with a name and what needed to be done to choose that name? First off I had to do an online search for Facebook, MySpace, the yahoo burlesque name database, and as a domain name by itself to see if it had been taken. With some performers using MySpace and others Facebook, you can never tell where someone might be promoting themselves. After checking and deciding, I added my name to the database, quickly opened a new Gmail account for Anja Keister, which then allowed me to make a Facebook page. The domain name is not taken, so once I start doing shows and have more publicity pictures, that will be the next major internet challenge for me.
The next promotion task is to get business cards made. Jezebel Express had recommended them as a great way of networking and also to have at shows and auditions to spread your name in the scene. Awhile ago I used vistaprint for promoting a co-op I’m a member of, so I will probably use them again. Aside from the ever so annoying almost daily emails touting their on sale products, vistaprint does do high quality printing of brochures, magnets, business cards, posters, etc. If you can work thrifty, you can get a bunch of stuff for free and end up only paying for shipping. Right now they are doing a sale with 500 premium business cards for free.
But what needs to go on the business card? First off, this is the very visual burlesque world, so a photo is probably a good start! I decided to do an impromptu photo shoot around 11:30pm Monday night so I would have pictures to put on the cards. Also, some nice photos for Facebook and other promotional use would be a good idea, so I curled my hair, did some makeup, put on my new vintage bathing suit, and did a self shot photo shoot in my bathroom. It was definitely difficult to work the camera by myself, but fun at the same time to see the results. There are a few more which can be seen on the Facebook page. I am starting to contact photographers to set up an actual photo shoot, but I want to wait till I have more costumes first to really makwe the shot worthwhile.
Other things to put on the business card would be contact info, like the email account, any information about the kind of performance I would be doing (comedy burlesque), and maybe a catchy phrase or tagline which I have seen several other performers have. I’m going to wait till after friday when I can get more examples of business cards from the other performers at the Coney Island show before I start layout. I also plan to bring my camera and get some shots in full glam face and outfit!
For now, I return to sewing on sequins and dreaming about Friday…..
Will I see any of you there??
April 25, 2010
It was a pretty jam-packed weekend so far, but to save y’all having to read a super long entry, I will break Friday and Saturday into two different posts (though in my mind it has all been one big roller coaster).
I left work early on Friday to take my 2 hour commute home where I had about 15 minutes to change from mellow work clothes into a retro glam outfit for my night of burlesque. Huffing and puffing, I quickly tried to curl my hair (no luck) and head out the door to catch the 5 train. I very carefully did my makeup on the subway, and got out at the 14th st station, where I quickly ran to Quad Cinema for a special showing of Behind the Burly-Q. This documentary follows burlesque (burlesk) as it grew in popularity during the 40′s via vaudeville and thrived during WWII till its sad downfall into the late 60′s-70′s. The stories are told by the performers that actually lived it including Dixie Evans, Tempest Storm, and April March plus many others. Even if you are not into burlesque, the film is fascinating just from a historical perspective and gives insight into a world of performers that they previously did not get to speak out.
The movie was followed by a quick Q&A with the director, Leslie Zemeckis, and April March (with her daughter and granddaughter in tow). This weekend was the US premiere of the movie, and I have no idea how far screenings might go, but if you have the possibility of seeing it, I highly recommend it!
After the movie, I met up with my friends and we headed down to Coney Island for the kickoff of Burlesque at the Beach. Since I had been rushed to get to the movie, I took my time in the car putting on my mini fishnets and heels so I’d be ready for the show.
Wasabassco had put together the show for the night and it starred the reigning Miss Coney Island 2010, Miss Gigi La Femme as well as Nasty Canasta, Melody Sweets, Keith Bastard and Snake Charmer Nikki Le Villain, plus Sizzle Dizzle and Jenny C’est Quoi stage kittened (picked up after the performer, kind of like a stage crew with more face time). The show had a great energy and a friend from my burlesque choreography class (Cheeky Lane) showed up. The show centered around Coney Island and side shows, but brought some other amazing and creative burlesque to the stage.
Earlier in the week I had emailed Doc to find out how I could eventually join Wasabassco when I felt more comfortable and had an act ready. He told me that he typically books performers he has seen before and that many performers get their start by volunteering and kittening so they can get some backstage experience. He did say that he was also considering putting together a show of first time performers so I should introduce myself at the show and we could discuss things further. Fast forward to after the show, with me all smiles and excitement from just seeing some high quality acts. I eventually make my way up to Doc and reach out for a handshake.
“Hi, I’m Danielle. You told me I should introduce myself to you.” He shook back, “Indeed you should! So you read the email and what did you think?” I kind of stammered out something about how I completely understand and am interested in volunteering for Wasabassco in the future sometime. ”Well, what are you doing next friday?” he asked with a grin. I look back, shocked “possibly going to a burlesque show?!?” ”Fantastic, how about you stage kitten with Sizzle Dizzle then?” I nodded and thanked him and kind of walked off in a daze. It was mind blowing to think that less than a month ago I had gotten my first dose of burlesque and now in a week I will actually be on a burlesque stage during a show! The rest of the night was a blur with me reeling from the excitement. Oh my gawd, so much to do in one week, and I don’t even have a stage name yet!?!