a magical night

April 14, 2011

photo by Norman Blake. Jo Weldon interviews Bambi Jones, April 14th, 2011

Last night I attended Bambi and Bambi: Classic Burley-q meets the New Burlesque at Coney Island USA, the museum and theater that houses Burlesque at the Beach and Sideshows by the Seashore. It was truly an amazing evening that included talks about burlesque at Coney Island, in interview by Jo Weldon with Bambi Jones, a burlesque performer who started performing in 1949 and worked with many famous performers and hob knobbed with Errol Flynn (who said said was a “nasty man”).

The show also included 2 other Bambi’s: Bambi Galore a wonderful neo burlesque performer  who plays a lot with gender and queer culture and Bambi the Mermaid who is one of the main neo burlesque performers who is responsible for the NY scene.  This plus Little Brooklyn (a NY burlesque staple) doing her first performance since the birth of her son, Bunny Love (another NY Burlesque staple), current Miss Coney Island Lefty Lucy and the cutie with the bootyKita St. Cyr made for a magical night.

It was an evening of fabulous performances, great lectures, and I’ll tell you, when Bambi Jones performered, I cried.  The woman is 80 years old, and she was up there, shaking it and the crowd loved her back. Check out the video below to see the powerhouse that she is and check out her book My Journey Burlesque: The Way it Was for more amazing stories about her life

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/9325669″>Bambi Jones Burlesque Hall of Fame</a>

Also, the next two weekends I will be back in Pennsylvania, which means I get to indulge in

shoo fly pie, A-Treat Soda and vegan Girl scout cookies! I love PA!

some of my favorite PA goodies! Note: In the photo you seem me with Girl Scout cookies.  Vegans – take note, there are two companies that make GS cookies.  If you live in an area that has caramel DeLites (and not Samoas) your company is ABC (not to be confused with the vegan Alternative Baking Company) and there are currently 4 vegan friendly cookies: Thanks a lot, the new cinnamon ones, the Lemonades and Peanut Butter Patties.

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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.

Diana, myself and Kita St. Cyr goof around before the show.

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!

karaoke burlesque

October 29, 2010

On Monday I had the pleasure of performing at Karaoke Burlesque near Times Square.  Organized by Kita St Cyr (of the Rhinestone Follies) and hosted by Juliet Jeske, the show consists of 2 acts. The first act is Juliet singing songs selected by the performers while they perform strip tease to it.  The second act is members of the audience selecting songs and the same performers from before improvise a routine to it.  The whole idea is really fun and gives an audience a chance to see performers make up a whole act on the spot, not something that is commonly seen in the burlesque world.

On the day of my performance I arrived with my large suitcase, 2 numbers means 2 or more outfit selections, and went down to the super chic basement lounge where we’d be performing.  Around this time we found out the karaoke machines weren’t working. We decided to go on. Then we found out some of the stage lights weren’t working, we decided to go on.  The whole night became an experience in playing it on the fly and going with what you have.  In the end I had a blast and I think the audience did as well. Sadly I don’t have any pictures of my act, but an improved version will be seen on November 21st when I do Kitty Nights on Bar A. Trust me, it is ridiculous and you don’t want to miss this one.

For the vegans out there, I would also like to make mention that the venue, Pulse Karaoke, serves food, some of which might be vegan.  I haven’t checked with the cooks or anything, but it looks like the following have potential: popcorn basket ($9), Pommes Frites -just ask for ketchup instead of the chipolte mayo ($7), pita plate with hummus and olive tapenade ($9), vegetable spring rolls with sweet and spicy thai sauce ($9). If anyone does go and find out if these are officially veg friendly let me know! If I find out first, I’ll post it here.

It’s been over a week and I am still basking in the afterglow of the New York Burlesque Festival.  May I just say it was an amazing experience and I highly suggest more people check it out.  I bought the 4-day pass and also took three classes on Sunday which cost a pretty penny, but made the experience all-encompassing and completely wonderfully overwhelming.  It was great to have an entire 4 day weekend devoted to burlesque.

 

myself, Hazel Honeysuckle, Kita St. Cyr and Cheeky lane at the Thursday night Teaser Party

 

Thursday was the teaser party at Brooklyn Bowl. The night was broken into 4 acts, the first 2 hosted by the World Famous *Bob* and the remaining 2 by Albert Cadabra.  there were so many great performers that night, and every night, so I don’t have the stamina to write about all of them.  I will say I was very impressed with the ‘boylesque’  that night including Paco Fish, Go-Go Harder Faster Stronger and Brad Scolbie.  All did fantastic acts and blew me away.  The night was complete by dancing into the wee hours with Hazel Honeysuckle, Kita St. Cyr and Cheeky Lane while ?uestlove DJed.

Friday was the premiere party at the Bell House. This show had no intermissions, which I was not expecting, so the long time without sitting was a little tough in my corseted dress. It was still a great show and the host, Scott the Blue Bunny was hilarious, a great mix of sarcasm and insults that kept the audience alive for the whole show.  The act to note for the night was Little Brooklyn, who is pregnant and showing. One might think that this would deter people from performing, but Little Brooklyn, the NY legend that she is, embraced it and performed an act where she started nude and different well-known NY neo-burlesque performers came one by one and dressed her in a touching and tear producing sort of burlesque baby shower.  By the time Little Brooklyn turned around to show her stomach, I was all emotional and the music box version of  “Missing You” (the Aerosmith song) only made it that much more poignant.

 

Curtain call at the Saturday night Spectacular

 

Saturday was the Saturday Spectacular at B.B. King’s (times square). This night was hosted by Murray Hill and boasted some of the top acts in the burlesque world.  I was lucky enough to sit at a VIP table with Ruby Valentine, Pat (of Pat & Tony) and B. B. Heart (who I commiserated over the lack of vegan food options with) which made the night even more fun.  The acts were great and the fact that I got to see so many acts from around the world in one show was quite exciting and fulfilling.  The part I was really excited about was to experience Murray Hill as a host.  Mr. Showbiz himself, Murray Hill is a fantastic host, walking the line between persona and sincerity that makes you wonder where the quick wit comes from, become jealous of his charm but also want to just sit down and shoot the schtick with him.

 

Mr. Showbiz himself, Murray Hill!

 

Sunday was the Golden Pastie awards. This one was held the Highline Ballroom but since I arrived late most of the tables were already full and I had to join strangers in the VIP section. Different categories are selected each year and the voting was done online.  I was happy to see some of my burlesque acquaintices snag a golden paste and it inspired me to keep working in the burlesque world so maybe one day I’d win one.  The host on Sunday was Lady Astrid, whose overly sarcastic and unenthused German persona was great to watch laugh with as she mocked the audience and peroformers.  This night also held an amazingly poignant moment when Tigger! came on stage to talk about the recent string suicides by LGBT youth due to bullying. A candle light memorial was being held in Washington Square park, so the NYBF had a little moment of silence, which quickly turned into a raucous tribute and message to the youth that it gets better – with Lady Astrid singing “Don’t Stop Believing” as the queer burlesque performers got on stage and danced and the audience all belted out the lyrics.  It was a very burlesque way of telling gay and queer youth that there is at least one coommunity that will accept you,  and it is quite a fabulous community at that!

 

Curtain Call on Sunday night.

 

ps- Sunday morning I took 3 classes at the NY School of Burlesque. The first one, which I sadly arrived late to due to an emergency, was done by Indigo Blue, the head of the Seattle Burlesque school, about how to convey more expression while performing.  If you want to know and see more of Indigo Blue, check out the documentary A Wink and A Smile which shows her as she teaches several ladies in her 8 week burlesque class.  You can stream it instantly on Netflix if you have it.  The second class was by Dirty Martini which was about strutting and walking on stage.  You can see more of Dirty Martini in the french film Tournee which should be coming out in America soon.  The final class was the Ultimate Self  confidence class by the World Famous *Bob*. This class was an introspective look at yourself and is for performers and non-performers a like.  I’d highly suggest any of these classes to others.

 

Headed to the Sunday night after party - Hazel Honeysuckle, me, Cheeky Lane & Kita St. Cyr

 

night out on the town

September 18, 2010

photo by David Monroe

Last Friday I had a whole weekend of not performing, so I took it as a chance to pull out an old prom dress that I probably won’t be able to use for an act (too tight to get off in a graceful manner) and really doll myself up for a night.  I wore this schnazzy little number out to see the Rhinestone Follies at R Bar, an interesting modern bar and I guess night club (I’m not too much of a social butterfly, so I don’t know what differentiates a bar from a night club) that is the main house of operations for this troupe.

photo by David Monroe

The Rhinestone Follies are a classic burlesque trio that consists of Kita St. Cyr, Hazel Honeysuckle and Beelzebabe Agogo.  Their acts are fun and playful, but make me really desperate to find some kind of feather substitute so that I can make the elaborate showgirl costumes that Kita designs.

Another exciting part of the night was getting to see Jo “Boobs” Weldon, the Headmistress of the School of Burlesque, perform and chit chat with her before her act.  That lady has gusto and creativity that impresses me the more I interact with her!

I will be heading back to future Rhinestone Follies shows and hope to one day perform a classic burlesque number as part of their show.  I have been feverishly gluing rhinestones onto a corset (plastic boning) to get the costume part together for now.  I think I want to try my hand at making a feather free headdress.  If I succeed, I’ll make sure to post the pictures here!

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.

If you have been a reader for the past few months you know I have done a lot of backstage work for Wasabassco Burlesque since I’ve gotten involved in the NY  new burlesque scene.  Well, a week or so ago Doc Wasabassco had been asking around to try and find a stage manager for the Saturday City Winery show. I asked if I could step up to the plate and use my past backstage and kittening experience to help out.  Doc was down with the idea and I once again joined some wonderful performers down in the weird hidden dressing room of City Winery.  I was in charge of collecting music, filling out the info sheet for the show (performer order, song titles, when to cue music, etc) rounding up the performers, working the curtain, stage cleanup and helping to set up and props/chairs that the performers needed for their acts.  Since people had seen me the previous show from backstage, this time I got more dressed up.  Sadly I forgot to take pictures of any of this because things just went so quickly I completely forgot.  To keep this post short I’ll briefly give a synopsis of each performer and their amazing act (not listed in any specific order).
Marlo Maruise did a super adorable act where she had a large makeup puff that she used almost as fans to dust powder all over he body. Kita St. Cyr did a traditional glam striptease with some sparkly articles of clothing. Amber Ray did a super creative almost showgirl act where she had lilly pads on the stage and a bra that when she took it off and put it together it created a flower. Jenny C’est Quoi did her “I am the Walrus” act that I love so much and makes me giggle everytime. Vikki Likkerish did a fan dance, but the fans were made of balloons. Ruby Valentine did an act that included swinging nun chucks around. Stormy Leather started as a housewife, then undressed and used rope to create a knotted corset for herself, while blindfolded. Nikki Le Villian performed an act with candles and in the end poured the wax on her chest. Sapphire Jones did a comical routine where she was dressed up as a school lunch lady.  Also,Albert Cadabra, who performs  at Ripley’s Believe it or Not, did a magic act and a balloon swallowing act.
At the end of the show during the curtain call, I got to go on stage and share the applause with the wonderful performers.  Overall it was a very fun and rewarding night and I look forward to working with Wasabassco again in the future, hopefully soon as a performer!