my birthday egg

January 30, 2011

My birthday egg from Nasty Canasta!

Normally, getting an egg for one’s birthday is not the most exciting thing for a vegan, but this egg was a bit different.

Awhile ago I had performed at a reading for Caper Literary Journal and Fiction Circus. It was very exciting when I got contacted by them again to perform at another one of their readings, on my birthday! I had been trying to find a burlesque show to go to on my birthday, and instead I got booked for one.  I was asked to perform any literary acts I had, which meant I got to perform my Dolores Umbridge act again which was even more exciting. And the other burlesque performer for the night, none other than Nasty Canasta – one of my favorite performers!

Upon arriving at the Happy Ending Lounge through the slush or a recent snow storm, I began to unpack for my two acts (that’s right, I got to do 2 acts!) when Nasty came up to me with an egg.  A pink rock egg.  She explained that eggs are supposed to be good luck but I was just humbled to have received a birthday gift from someone I look up to so much.

performing my "History Repeating" act

Advice to any performer out there, perform on your birthday! Well, especially if you get to collect tips.

After quite a successful show, I got bundled back up and left with my friends who had come to see the show and walked to Kate’s Joint for a late night dinner. After show dinner can be so fulfilling, especially if you didn’t get to eat before the performance.  That plus the combination of walking in freezing temperatures to get there made the deliciousness of my meal seem magnified. This walk really only took around 20 minutes, but due to the cold, it felt like forever!

for the record, I did not take this picture, but it is quite a good example of how good these wings look!

At Kate’s Joint of course we started with tofu wings, which are one of my favorite vegan chicken wing substitutes out there.  For the record, it is just tofu inside, so they don’t have a wing consistency, but the sauce and grease factor are spot on!  After this I had the Southern Fried Unsteak, which a friend next to me also got because it sounded so good neither of us was willing to switch to something different.  After getting a free slice of coconut cream cake on the house from our waitress due to it being my birthday, so bundled back up and walked around to end the evening walking to bars before heading home.

All in all, this was definitely a birthday celebration to remember!

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Hello all! I know I know, I haven’t updated in awhile.  The past week and few days has been incredibly busy and included a vacation, getting a pretty bad cold, lots of travel, work, and trying to finish two different costumes for events this past weekend.  I’m still trying to get over this cold and the horrible congestion it entails, but I wanted to make sure I got some kind of post in before people thought I had abandoned this blog.

oh my, these fake lashes are ridiculous but so fun to wear!

The first major event of this weekend was getting to go to the Lady Gaga concert.  Despite your feelings about her music, if you enjoy offbeat glamor and a chance to dress up, Lady Gaga is a great inspiration.  Of course, her concert also doubled as an offbeat fashion show for her fans.  Originally I had planned to create a dress out of mirrors, but come thursday I couldn’t find the bunch I’d been collecting, so instead I modified an old prom dress I had, hemming it to tea length, doubling the tulle, adding sequins and changing the top.  I also glammed up the makeup and tried some new stuff with my hair.  At the concert they had a photo area where you could pose with a mock up Gaga gyroscope.  I’d been waiting for them to post their pictures of me but have become impatient and decided I should just get this posted and then put up the picture later when I can get access to it. Sadly I didn’t get a photo of my outift, but I did get a picture of my hair and makeup before I showered for the night.

As soon as the Gaga concert was over, I quickly jumped the 1 train downtown to the Wasabassco City Winery Show.  Lefty Lucy was the stage manager and kitten for the night, but Doc had said I could go around and collect email signups instead.  I arrived at City Winery just before the intermission was about to happen so I ended up going around during the intermission and at the end of the show.  I also got to see performances but Bird of Paradise, Madame Rosebud, Nasty Canasta and Gigi La Femme.  Getting the email signups was pretty fun since I enjoy talking with people and interacting with “the audience.” This Wasabassco event was a super fun way to end an already fantastic evening.

That evening I ended up getting to bed pretty late, but woke up around 10 the next morning and headed up to the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket.  For those of you who don’t live in New York or are unfamiliar with the Greenmarkets, here is a great synopsis from the the Grow NYC  website:

Greenmarket was founded in 1976 with a two-fold mission: to promote regional agriculture by providing small family farms the opportunity to sell their locally grown, caught, foraged and baked products directly to consumers, and to ensure that ALL New Yorkers have access to the freshest, most nutritious locally grown food the region has to offer.

What began over three decades ago with 12 farmers in a parking lot on 59th Street and 2nd Avenue in Manhattan has now grown to become the largest and most diverse outdoor urban farmers market network in the country, nearly doubling in eight years from 28 locations in 2002 to 50 today, with over 200 family farms and fishermen participating, and over 30,000 acres of farmland protected from development.”

ALL VEGAN - nom,nom, nom!

I am lucky to have one of these greenmarkets (or farmer’s markets as I grew up calling them in PA) very close and love the chance to spend my Saturday morning looking through the variety of veggies and locally made food products.  This week, with bags of veggies in tow, I approached one of the bakers stands I had seen previous weeks.  Their sign mentioned vegan products, but boy was I surprised when I asked and found out ALL their food is vegan!  Ends up the whole bakery is vegan and sells at both the Grand Army Plaza and the Manhattan Union Square green markets.  Their peach muffin and corn bread made a great addition to the spring onions, collard greens, romaine lettuce, green beans, bok choy, raspberries, blueberries, mixed greens and apples I had bought.   I used the berries as a sweet snack to help me get through the costume work I did the rest of the day for my Wasabassco debut later that night, but we’ll save talking about that experience for the next post!

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.

Earlier in the week I got an email from Doc Wasabassco asking if I could help out at their show on Saturday.  This time would not be stage kittening, but rather behind the scenes work to make sure things ran smoothly.  Of course I agreed to help and looked forward to the chance to meet and get advice/ hints from more performers backstage, plus see some more great acts!

Doc had told me I wouldn’t have to be dressed up for the show since I wouldn’t be seen, which made the night a little less stressful. I got to the City Winery around 10:30, found the really hidden dressing room in the basement, and started to help out.  Compared to other shows I’ve been to, the number of performers at this one was astounding!  I went around and introduced myself to the performers I had no met yet, and then started to do my backstage job – trying the CDs to make sure they worked, check the stage, learn how to work the curtain and make sure the performers were on deck when needed.  Ends up the band before the burlesque show was The Crash Test Dummies (yes, that band with the guy with the super low sexy voice) so I also cleaned up left over bottles and swept up guitar pics that were left on the stage.

The stage kitten for the night, Hazel Honeysuckle, was very sweet and nice and we struck up a great conversation about transitioning from burlesque student to burlesque performer, showcasing and how to get cheap promotional  pictures taken. It also felt good to know some of the performers I had met before remembered me, and Nasty Canasta even complimented my stage name!

One of the fun additions to the striptease ladies was Chris McDaniel, a trick roper who was charasmatic, charming, and put on quite an entertaining act! As for the burlesquers, I could write so much about each performance, but for time’s sake (and to prevent eye strain for you) I’d just talk about Madame Rosebud.  In college I studied fine art and fell in love with performance art.  I was chosen with three other classmates to perform at the Brick theatre which inspired us to start an underground performance art troupe on campus.  Watching Madame Rosebud’s act made me nostalgic for my performance art past.  Her act was intense, dark, cryptic, and so different from any other burlesque I’ve seen in person.  She threw herself on the stage, she gyrated in the air and did all kinds of dance moves ranging from sexy to jerky and robotic.  She began the act completely covered and wore a mask for most of the act.  By the time she finally took off the mask and peeled off the tight black ski mask like covering to reveal her blue and turquoise mohawk, my mind was blown (even though I knew the mohawk was there, it was still shocking to see the reveal).  Mixing in themes of bondage and kink,  her performance left you startled and excited, but also in shock of what you had just experienced.  If you ever have the chance to see her perform, I can not recommend it more!

The night seemed to go by so fast and soon it was time to say goodnight.  I thanked all the performers and Doc, who said I should do my Wasabassco debut with them soon, and made my way home.  I was giddy and my head was spinning from excitement.  The experience was fantastic, but I had a busy day on Sunday and needed to get home and sleep!

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!

back stage at Coney Island

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!

This cherry 'dress' is actually a skirt I put a belt around!

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!?!