This photo shows the archway leading into one of the main room. The performance was later held there.

Last week I received an email from the wonderful Grace Gotham asking if I could be her assistant for an act she needed help setting up. At the time I thought I has work, but luckily I found out the next day that I was scheduled to have Tuesday off so I excitedly emailed Grace back to say I could! She hadn’t found another helper at that point so it was all food.

At this point she shared more details. Ends up the event was a Marie Antoinette inspired tea party. Well, it was a charity event, or rather a Charitea event.  Hosted by Tracy Stern, the women behind SALONTEA, the event was a fundraiser for SFK (Success For Kids) which helps at risk youth by offering different kinds of positive and educational experiences.

Grace Gotham and Tracy Stern (in her amazing outfit) posing for the cameras post performance.

The event was going to be held at the The National Arts Club, which is a fancy older building organization that hosts art events, hosts talks, and has several galleries inside it’s walls.  The event was going to be taped for Bravo to be used for the upcoming Chris March Project.  (To prevent massive let down later, no Chris March ended up not being there) And finally, the event was a themed tea party, Marie Antionette style.

I decided that if I was going to be helping Grace Gotham out, I should make sure to dress the part so I pieced together an outfit and styled a wig and was all packed and ready for the next day’s festivities.

I arrived around 2pm and started to get ready in their large bathroom that had its own sort of parlor area to it, which ended up serving as a wonderful dressing room.  Grace arrived and I helped her set up her props and stage, and then worked with the event planners to have her ready at the desired time.  I ran the music, introduced Grace Gotham (“Humor’s Favorite Temptress!”) and then kittened up the clothes afterwards. It was a lot of work for a fairly short performance, but it was neat to be around so photographers and camera people from Bravo TV.

Grace Gotham and I fooling around and posing after the taping.

To help calm down before the performance, Grace and I hit up L’express, a restaurant and bar up the street from the venue, and so we excited to go back afterwards for a celebratory drink which ended up turning into dinner because we were chatting up a storm. Although the place is not vegan, I will give them credit for being a fancy place, that uses green practices, and is open 24 hours!

While I munched on some fries and grilled asparagus, and sipped a delicious apple ginger cocktail, we discussed the differences between the NY burlesque scene and others, the merits of comedy in burlesque, and how burlesque had effected our lives and romantic relationships. It was quite a delight to just sit and talk with another performer, and Grace is such a kind, charming lady, we just kept talking.  Eventually we finished our meals, and drinks, and had to head home because it was getting late.  We went back to the National Arts Club and picked up our wigs and burlesque gear from the coat check before parting ways for the night.

Overall a great experience and way more fun than a day of work!

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I had met Kat Mandu at the book release party that I performed at and she was such a sweet lady.  I had originally seen her perform at that now infamous Jim Thorpe Burlesque festival that set me on my path to where I am now in the burlesque world.  I didn’t get to talk to her in Jim Thorpe, so the book release was my time to bond and get advice.  That was why I was so sad to find out that Kat is soon leaving to go to grad school in London for a year.

In order to send her off in style, Siren Song Burlesque, a show she co-produces with Boo Bess the Baroness, had an England themed show a little while ago, London Britches falling Down held at the Delancey. I asked if I could get in on the action and was invited to come kitten.

I quickly worked to create my very own Union Jack bustier which you can see in the picture.  I wasn’t the only one sporting one though, Sticky Ricky, who did his burlesque debut that night had a very charming union jack speedo like bottom he stripped down to and Boo Bess had an ever so glittery bra and panties set which she got down to and wore for the rest of the night to host in.

Other performers included B.B. Heart was blew me away with an act where she sang and went from sweet blonde to chaotically and dramatically ripping off clothes in between verses.  Misty Lux (the only official Brit in the house) did her glass walking act which always impresses me.  Sizzle Dizzle did her NY act, as Kat had requested, which I also saw at the Jim Thorpe burlesque festival.  And the lady who inspired the nights show did a wonderfully hilarious tribute to brit comedy by envoking Mrs. Slocombe  from Are You Being Served?

It was a smashing good time, and what even made it better was that including myself, there were 3 vegans in the show! I spoke with Misty Lux and B.B. after the show and they were totally excited about the idea of a vegan burlesque brunch with all the NY veg burly-q people!

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!