The man, the myth, the Campbell

This past Thursday my partner and I headed down to Coney Island U.S.A. for the Casino O’ Fortune Cookie’s tribute to Bruce Campbell.   If you don’t know who Bruce Campbell is, I feel sorry for you.  If you do, you understand why this was a show not to be missed.

This was my first Casino O’Fortune Cookie production, and it was amazing.  I have to say that sometimes themed shows can be boring or lame, but because Bruce Campbell has a lot of variety in his career, it wasn’t painful. It was awesome.

Anita Cookie, Clams Casino and Neal O’Fortune were great hosts, and I appreciated that Anita Cookie even thought outside the B.C. box enough to do an act inspired by his Old Spice “Hungry Like the Wolf” ad. And Clams Casino’s chin act was an honorable tribute piece.

Sizzle Dizzle’s Autolycus (Xena) act was amazing and Jezebel’s S Mart chainsaw act was fantastic. This show was also my first time seeing Velocity Chyaldd – which is quite an act to take in.  I don’t want to ruin it for anyone, so I won’t say much except nudity and lots of fake blood.

I am super excited to continue to take in the themed Burlesque shows and hope to be in some in the future!

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On Monday, I had the chance to see a show I had been looking forward to for quite awhile.  In honor of PRIDE Week,  Precious Little and Bastard Keith put together a show (this was the second annual one) in order to raise funds for Empire State Pride Agenda and marriage equality.  I was excited about this show because 1) it was a benefit I can get behind and 2) the roster of performers was amazing.  The show also had a great slew of raffle prizes, but we’ll get to that later.

The show was hosted by  Bastard Keith, who is always a pleasure to be entertained by and in addition to his traditional singing and jokes, he read a tribute to David Bowie’s song, 5 years, which was really quite touching.  The show’s performers were Nasty Canasta, Madame Rosebud and Marlo Marquise (hot girl on girl tango that was beautiful to watch) , Gal Friday, Legs Malone, Tigger!, Bea B Heart, Cybil Libertease, The Schlep Sisters (Darlinda Just Darlinda and Minnie Tonka) and Jezebel Express. I was really excited to finally see Tigger! (who I had heard so much about) as well as Jezebel who I had taken so many classes with, but was yet to see actually perform burlesque.

Now, raffle prizes at the show included gift certificates for a yoga class, a krav maga class, crystal jewelry, original comic book art by artist Robert Walker, bull whip lesson from trick roper Chris McDaniel, a 2 hour photo shoot with Beau Allulli, a goodie bag from Toys in Babeland and pasties made by Nasty Canasta.  So many great options to choose from, I ended up putting in the the toys, the photo shoot, the pasties and the bull whip lesson.  I ended up winning…drum roll please….the 2 hour photo shoot!  So now, in addition to the Dale Rio photos and a shoot I did with Chris Zedano, I’ll have some nice headshots to add into the mix!

Even without the prize, the night was still all I could have hoped for and ended with a gay prom party on stage in solidarity for Constance McMillen, who was in town for PRIDE week.  At one point Tigger! and Gal Friday switched dresses and danced and hugged before going to take a (prom) picture.  It was a truly a magical moment during one magical night.

NOTE: I hate that these updates are so far behind, my apologies.  Hopefully next week will be much calmer and I can play catchup on the exciting going ons of my burlesque world adventures.

So, over a week ago, the ever so wonderful Jezebel Express sent me an email saying choreography class was canceled for Sunday, but that she was getting interviewed and taped for a Brazilian television show instead.  Since I was a loyal student, she asked if I would like to come be a background person while they taped her teaching the host of the tv show.  Of course I didn’t want to miss out my chance to be on Brazian television, so I headed over on Sunday to get in on the action.

Since I had just had the haircut the previous day, I was still figuring out how to style it.  Now that is it shorter in the front I was totally able to do the Rosie the Riviter hair do I’ve longed to pull off for awhile now. I got to the dance studio where the filming would happen, glammed myself up in the bathroom, and went back where Jezebel and the tv people were setting up.

I am still a bit unsure of exactly who or what this Brazilian television show is called, but it is for the channel Globo, which is basically equivalent to NBC in America.  Now Globo is a television show for Brazilians, but is also broadcasted in Canada, so I was not sure where this segment would be shown.  The show follows the host as she investigates the different ways love & lust manifest themselves in culture. The previous night the host had attended a burlesque show and was now in the studio to learn some dance techniques from Jezebel. Along with myself, Cheeky Lane and Kita St Cyr were the other classmates in shoot.

The actual “class’ just went over how to walk sexy in heels, isolations, bump-n-grind, and clothing removal.  After this, the host interviewed each of us about what got us interested in burlesque and how we’ve used out burlesque movement knowledge so far.  I answered about the theatricality of burlesque and my love of getting to create and become new characters. Also, when asked if it was all on stage or if I moved it into the bedroom, I explained that the burlesque is for the stage in my world, but the confidence it brings me I use everyday all the time.  I guess I’ll be excited if I ever get to see a clip of the show to see if I am in it, but I also feel like this may have just been a fun thing to throw out into the world whether or not I get to enjoy seeing myself on the screen.

group shot at our last class

Today was my last class in the 4 week Classic Moves/Essentials of Burlesque class through the New York School of Burlesque. This final class focused on chair dancing, stocking removal and glove removal.  I don’t know if it was the class topics, my own skills becoming polished or the fact that I had debuted just this past Friday and felt more confident, but the class seemed extra fun this week and I felt like I was on fire!

We learned an easy to follow chair dance routine which made me realize how simple it would be to do a whole chair dance for a song.  Man, I tell you with all the booty shaking, squats, kicks, leg lifts and slow dance moves, my thighs have never been more sore in my life!  The part on gloves and stockings seemed to whiz right by and before I knew it, the class had come to an end.  Jo was so nice and sweet saying she was sad to see the class go.  I asked to take a class picture and then everybody started to leave. Although I doubt I will see some of those ladies again, it was a great experience and I learned some great basic moves and what I feel I excel at or may not want to include as part of my burlesque repertoire.

After the Essentials class was Jezebel’s choreography class which I am such a big fan of.  This week we did a lot of fun activities which were to give us insight into our natural burlesque inclinations when it comes to our own moves.  The different activities included strutting to a variety of music styles, a posing game, and learning simple grinds to get us from pose to pose.  During the posing game, Jezebel watched us and then told us any overall moves/poses we gravitate towards. Ends up I really like to move and pop out my booty.  Very appropriate for Anja Keister, don’t ya think?

Sadly I will be in Pennsylvania the next two weekends, so I won’t have any burlesque classes to attend.  I’ll actually only be missing only one class though. The weekend of June 4-6th is the Miss Exotic World weekend in Las Vegas, and since most of the NY school of Burlesque teachers are there and participating, the school is pretty much shut down for the weekend.  I think I’ll use these weekends to relax and focus on coming up and solidifying new routine ideas (although while I am in Philly for the one weekend, I might try to go catch the Peek-A-Boo Revue or some other philly burlesque).

After the exciting night of kittening I had two more days of burlesque fun filled activities to go – Saturday choreography class and Sunday Classic Burlesque movement class.

Saturday’s choreography class ended up being only Jezebel, Cheeky Lane and myself, so we took the time to work out choreography issues Cheeky and I were having with our routines.  To sound like a broken record, this class has been super helpful and Jezebel is a great teacher! I always leave that class with a bunch of helpful notes and a renewed confidence in my abilities.

Sunday’s class was a different kind of set up but still helpful.  This class is a 4 week intensive on the essentials of burlesque and is taught by the school headmistress herself, Jo Boobs.  Only 10 students could register for the class and I was the last one to get in.  The class is two hours long each sunday and covers two different skills in the burlesque world. 

Weekend #1 was classic burlesque movement and tassel twirling.  The movement part was very similar to other classes I took at the Jim Thorpe Burlesque festival and the one Flirting with Burlesque class.  Jo taught us all a routine which she has taught over the years and incorporates classic moves she learned from some of the original 1930’s burlesque performers.   

For this part of class we did do boa work, so I brought in my own vegan ‘boa’ which was actually a tube scarf I had knitted with fun fur yarn.  Although it definitely looked different from the feather boas, I had no problem working it like the other girls in the class while not having to compromise my beliefs.  Eventually we will do fan dancing, so I will have to start work on creating a fabric fan like I talked about in a previous post.

The second hour of group was about tassel twirling.  Now, for those of you new to the world of burlesque, a typical performance will end with the performer close to nude, but typically they will be covered by small decorated pasties.  Some of them are plain, some super decorated, some are comedic and some are tasselled like the ones on the right created (and for sale) by the Cheesecake Burlesque Review etsy shop.  Pasties prevent the performer from being nude, which means they can perform in bars and clubs without any laws being broken.  At some point in the world of burlesque, tassels became a part of pasties which resulted in the stage burlesque act of tassel twirling.

In the class each student got a pair of practice tasselled pasties which we put on and practiced several different ways of twirling them.  As Jo instructed, she pointed out that different techniques work better, or are easier, for different people and we should practice at home to be able to do them all.  I think people would be surprised at how natural some of the moves are and how fun it can be.  If you ever wanted to try you can always buy premade pasties or make them yourself following directions that can be found online.

got a name, now what?

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. 

bathroom photo shoot at 12:30 am

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??

Feeling the burlesque bug biting all day Friday, I knew I had to do something productive this weekend to get me closer towards my performance goal. I searched around the internet for shows, shops, whatever I could find to make some progress. It was when I was, once again, looking at the New York School of Burlesque’s website that I found out about $10 choreography classes. I sent the necessary pre-register email for the class and was in.

I was a bit nervous getting ready for the class (do I take the heels or not? Should I bring a non-feather boa in case the instructor asks us to do boa work? Should I wear a skirt or pants or a skirt over pants?!?) but luckily I pulled it all together and got to the class with a few minutes to spare.  When I made it to the dance studio located in the lower east side of Manhattan there were two other girls waiting for the class. I felt awkward and excused myself to go change into workout pants.  When I got back another girl had shown up, and during the class one more girl arrived late making the class 5 people in total.  The instructor entered, I put on my heels and the class got started.

Jezebel Express, who was the instructor for the class, had us all sit on the dance floor and introduce ourselves and our experience with dance and burlesque.  It ended up that the other girls were all aspiring burlesque  performers too,

My instructor, Jezebel Express. (She didn't wear that to class)

 and I felt much more comfortable.  During the class Jezebel went over different ways to improve your choreography such as different ways to sex up a walk, how to circle all parts of your body, simple ways to choreograph music.  Jezebel was so nice and approachable and even stayed after class to answer more questions we had when the studio time ran out.  She seemed really excited about the class and how she could gear the workshops towards exactly what we want to achieve while working towards our first performances.

After the class, a few of the other girls and I walked downstairs and discussed our burlesque plans till next class, which resulted in finding out more info about the Slipper Room‘s show that night.  I spent the time until the show that night looking for some music to possibly choreograph to and eating a delicious dinner at Kate’s Joint, a great vegetarian place near the Slipper Room. Side note: I had the southern fried tofu with mashed potatoes, gravy, and broccoli, it was great!

Then I was off to the Slipper Room, where I luckily got a table close to the front, sat myself down with a rum and coke, and waited for the show to begin. The place filled up pretty quickly but my partner showed up right before the lights dimmed and the go-go dancers came out.  The show contained sets from Trixie Little & The Evil Hate Monkey, Mstickle and Darlinda Just Darlinda.  I enjoyed all the burlesque, but the crowd was a little too “frat boy” for me and I was getting frustrated with the disrespectful things a bachelor party was yelling from the back.  My partner and I ended up leaving after the second set of burlesque performances, which was still a great amount of entertainment for a $5 cover.  All the performers were great, and Darlinda just Darlinda did some stuff that shocked me and I am too shy to mention on this blog!  My favorite act of the night was Trixie Little & the Evil Hate Monkey so  I’ll include a youtube video of them below so you can experience some of their magic.  If they come to a town near you, I highly suggest you check them out!