Olympia’s Own TUSH! Burlesque seeking new faces.

•08/17/2014 • Leave a Comment

2014 Audition call

Well look who’s recruiting…

Do you have what it takes to be a part of the untamed & fiercely independent collective that is Olympia’s Own TUSH! Burlesque? The following call for auditions caught our eye when it hit Facebook last week:

Saturday, September 6

TUSH! Burlesque is seeking talented individuals for our cooperative run troupe during the fall/winter season.

We are looking for motivated people of all experience levels to participate at events and in performances in the capacity of interns. This is an opportunity to work closely with our troupe while you learn how our cooperative runs. This internship is intended as a trial membership and will offer mentorship with-in our troupe as well as encouragement for interns to learn and grow as performers, team members and individuals.

Auditions will include an introduction to TUSH! Burlesque, an interview, and an opportunity to meet our current members.

You will perform a routine of your choice, no longer than 7 minutes, and have a chance to ask TUSH! Burlesque any questions you might have.

We encourage performers of all type and experience to take advantage of this fabulous audition opportunity!

Please email tushburlesque@gmail.com for an information/audition packet.

Details (time, location) will be emailed as well.
We can’t wait to see you! ♥

******

Don’t delay…send that email and throw your feather boa in the ring to be considered.  Being on stage with these ladies would be an absolute riot.

(For previous BSP features on TUSH!, click on the tag below).

The Best of Undressed Portland: A Burlesquer’s Guide to Rose City Strip Clubs.

•08/07/2014 • Leave a Comment
Crystal reports from the front lines in PDX

Private Dancer: Crystal Tassels reports from the front lines in PDX

~ by Crystal Tassels, BSP Contributing Writer

Back in June I had the sincere pleasure of exploring some of the best strip clubs in Portland, a city that boasts the highest number of strip clubs per capita in the country. For a place that prides itself on having bespoke everything, it’s not surprising that the massive number of strip clubs does little to dilute the quality of performance or ambiance if you know where to go.

I was accompanied on this mission by my sex-positive partner-in-smut, Press. Before arriving in Portland, I sent out a call to my friends in the burlesque community asking for suggestions on where we should go. In the 36 hours we had, we visited:

1. Acropolis

2. Lucky Devil Lounge

3. Kit Kat Club

4. Casa Diablo

5. Union Jacks

6. Hawthorne Strip

7. Devil’s Point

8. Black Cauldron

9. Club 205

As a fellow performer and striptease artist, I am interested in the ways strippers command space and attention, how they move, and how they entertain. I watch strippers with the same analytical eye I study ballerinas and rock stars with (because if you really want to see someone strut in heels, watch Tina Turner). That’s not to say that I’m immune to the artful presentation of a nude body for my viewing pleasure – or that I wasn’t hot under the collar during the one exquisite lap dance I received – but I’m watching for performance, so that’s what impresses me. I don’t hold it against working performers when they go through the motions instead of throwing themselves in 100%; everyone has a day when that’s necessary. But that’s not what makes Portland strip clubs famous and it’s not what makes me hungry for more.

For those of you in Cyberland who have never been to a strip club, here’s how it works: the stage (or stages, depending on the club) is surrounded by a slim counter called the “rail” or “rack,” where guests are required to tip at the start of each new song in exchange for front row seats. In between sets, performers sell private dances (usually for $20 a pop) that last one song. Just like in burlesque, guests are not allowed to touch the performers, though dancers may, and often do, straddle/grope/twerk on their audience members. In Oregon, state liquor laws require that food be served at every bar, so many of the strip clubs compete via food gimmicks, like the 10-egg omelet at Acropolis ($7.50) or the all-vegan menus at Casa Diablo and Black Cauldron.

The performances we witnessed on our strip club safari ran the gamut from high production value narrative pieces to brand new dancers doing yoga on the stage. Without a doubt, the three best clubs we visited were Devil’s Point, The Kit Kat Club, and Lucky Devil Lounge.

*****

1. The Acropolis

Tagline: Who needs glitter when you can have gristle?

Why it Sparkles: giant food portions, like the two-pound Colossal Burger, which comes on a 14-inch bun ($10)

Pros: apparently the best strip club steak in town ($6 for an 8 oz. sirloin)

Cons: uninspiring performances, sticky furniture

Press immediately recognized the blue and white façade of this club, which looks from the road like someone draped a giant Greek flag over a warehouse next to the highway. We paid a $5 cover (the only cover we paid all weekend) and walked into a dim, sprawling dive with multiple large stages. Vinyl table tops, lots of wood paneling, and a crowd of mostly middle-aged men made the “A-crop” feel more like a sports bar than a strip club. On the inside, the only thing that matches its patriotic Greek exterior is the enormous and achingly 1970s statue of Zeus (and attendant nymphs) gleaming in the corner. We slid into two sticky plastic chairs and watched the dancers undulate and giggle with the men sitting at the tip rail. As performances go, these were heavy on humping and light on dance, and the blasé looks on the performers’ faces made it clear that they were going through the motions. Motley Crue and AC/DC blared as the dancers switched shifts, taking turns plugging their iPhones into the stereo. Rumor has it that the club’s famous sirloin is sourced from the owner’s private cattle ranch. I wasn’t particularly inspired by the A-crop, but maybe it’s because I’m a vegetarian.

2. Lucky Devil Lounge

Tagline: Where red velvet wallpaper feels classy

Why it Sparkles: two fireplaces (one on the patio) and a poker table

Pros: laid-back, mid-century vibe, an even crowd of men and women

Cons: for some reason the whole place smelled like pancakes

Lucky Devil seems like the kind of place where you could catch up with friends over a Manhattan after work. The red velvet walls, copper-topped tables, and back patio make this a casual whiskey spot that wouldn’t feel out of place in Mad Men. Of course, the mirror-backed stage with dual stripper poles and dancing ladies in garters only adds to the Don Draper-approved atmosphere. Unlike the haphazard gyrations of the A-crop dancers, much of what we saw at Lucky Devil was polished choreography with a good sense of musicality. Given a relatively limited performance area, the dancers used every inch of space by crawling on the rail and hip-bumping into the mirrored back corner of the stage (which, visually, was a very neat trick…two mirrors facing each other means hip bumps for days).

The level of skill and acrobatics we saw on the pole was high, but the most impressive aspect of these performances was the interactivity. The dancers at Lucky Devil were social, upbeat, and extremely inspiring hustlers. (Both Press and I purchased lap dances, the only ones of the weekend, from the incomparably sexy Elle.) When faced with a table of gentlemen that seemed interested in her performance but were seated back from the stage and not tipping, Elle spun up the pole and onto the counter, then strode over the rack, never once breaking eye contact with her targets. Smirking, she swaggered to their table, took one of their beers, nearly full, and glided back to the stage. Making eye contact once again, she saluted the men, downed the entire beer, and then slid the empty glass down the deserted tip rail. The gentlemen, on their feet at this point, rushed the stage, throwing handfuls of dollar bills. Press quipped, “So she steals HIS beer, and then he pays HER. That takes talent.”

3. The Kit Kat Club

Tagline: Like burlesque, but naked and with poles!

Why it Sparkles: upscale and vintage, feature dancing, accepts BitCoin

Pros: high production value burlesque and pole performances

Cons: parking downtown is tough

The Kit Kat Club topped my list of “Sexy Things to See in Portland” for quite some time before I ever had the opportunity to visit. Owned and managed by local smut mogul Frank Faillace, who also owns Lucky Devil Lounge, Devil’s Point, and Sassy’s among others, Kit Kat offers a high-quality mix of burlesque-y striptease, pole dance, and rail humping. Many of the strippers are also famous burlesque stars, including headmistress of All That Glitters Burlesque Academy Tana the Tattooed Lady and electrifying danseuse Sandria Doré, who is also Russell Bruner’s duet partner. The club is right in the heart of Old Town Portland, next to Voodoo Doughnuts. Tucked beneath street level, the club is spacious with surprisingly high ceilings and an enormous main stage complete with smoke and stage lights. A smaller, mirror-backed second stage lit entirely in red takes up a small corner, and curtains above the booth seating reveal an elevated, backlit catwalk with multiple stripper poles for additional drama and ogling. The club was a bit mellow when we arrived at 11:30, but the crowds trickled in after midnight and the atmosphere changed palpably.

Kit Kat is known for doing themed performance nights, including their weekly Nerdgasm cosplay feature. Our strip club tour happened to commence on Friday the 13th, so the Kit Kat was celebrating with a night of horror-themed feature dances. As we got our drinks, a dexterous stripper wound up and down the pole to tune of “Suddenly Seymour” from the musical Little Shop of Horrors. Keeping with the theme was the ever-evocative Layne Fawkes, who appeared in a disheveled Victorian gown and trussed herself to the pole with a slender rope that ended in a noose around her neck. She revolved effortlessly around the pole, miming her own slow death. At the close of Layne’s macabre work of art, the emcee came on stage and bellowed, “Give it up for these hotties on stage!” While I was more than willing to “give it up,” something about his announcement irked me, as though this guy was oblivious the level of artistry that we had just witnessed. His comment snapped me out of Layne’s entrancing act and brought me back to the strip club I was in, where skilled performance runs the risk of being boiled down to mere “hotness”.

Crystal at the Kit Kat Club

4. Casa Diablo

Tagline: More gimmicks than a used car lot

Why it Sparkles: all vegan strip club (no fur/feathers/leather/silk)

Pros: the food is actually pretty tasty

Cons: remote location, expensive, interior looks like a 1990’s Roy Rogers

When you enter Casa Diablo, the long, ski lodge-looking interior comes to a point up near the rafters, where a giant painted portrait of the proprietor hangs beneath the vaulted ceiling. With his long, scraggly grey hair and pointed goatee up in lights, Diablo’s creepy portrait sets the mood for this oasis of sleaze in the otherwise deserted Northwest Industrial District. Casa Diablo is exceptionally gimmicky. Everything is strictly vegan both on the menu and on stage, so no feather, silk, leather, or fur costumes or props are allowed. All change is doled out in $2 bills, and the prices for dancer interactions reflect that. At $2 per song at the rack and $40 for a private dance, Casa Diablo is exactly twice as expensive as all of the other clubs we visited on our tour (with the exception of Diablo’s other venue, The Black Cauldron).

Our visits to both of Senor Diablo’s clubs were timed poorly, as we arrived just as the clubs were opening around 11:00 AM. I’ll admit that although it was lovely to eat breakfast in the presence of several undulating naked women, the lack of crowds and lineup of burgeoning dancers looking for practice time really did the clubs no justice. (Especially considering that Autostraddle dubbed Casa Diabo, “The Cadillac of Strip Clubs.”) We slid in behind a greasy wooden table and watched a dancer straddle the lone man at the rail to Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse.” We ordered food ($4 vegan burgers and house-made tortilla chips) and watched the inexperienced but enthusiastic dancers practice pole tricks, do yoga, and try and entice the few patrons eating breakfast to step up to the rack. At one point, a dancer straddled the head of a woman at the rail and was swiveling her vagina around her face when the Lana Del Rey song that had been playing abruptly ended. The dancer continued swiveling for an awkward 15 seconds of silence as another dancer fumbled with the iPhone plugged into the speakers. I’m sure that had we come in the evening, we would have seen a very different show.

5. Union Jacks

Tagline: Something for everyone

Why it Sparkles: diverse range of dancer aesthetics and abilities

Pros: leather captain’s chairs, no gimmicks

Cons: not a lot of seating that’s not at the rack, inexperienced performers during prime hours

Walking into Union Jacks from the bright of day is kind of like entering the red-lit harem grotto of a cave-dwelling ‘70s playboy. The club is comfortable, and the well-worn leather captain’s chairs and copper-topped tables give the impression of being in someone’s living room (especially if your friends are like mine and often have naked ladies prancing around). The most striking feature about the place was the range of ability and presentation seen in the dancers. The club prides itself on maintaining a variety of aesthetics and styles in the dancers it hires, unlike many other clubs that tend to focus on a particular “type” (i.e., tattooed and pierced Suicide Girls, garter-clad vintage vixens, etc.). This makes Union Jacks an excellent destination for large groups with a range of personal tastes or affinities.

I did, however, find it odd that there was such a dichotomy of physical and dance abilities in the dancers we saw. One performer, clearly an expert and lover of her craft, socialized merrily as she flipped upside-down, spinning by her ankles, before landing fluidly in a full split. (With gracious politesse, she placed her own spectacles on the face of a man at the rack before this inverted trick. Very inspiring.) Moments later came a slim performer with hunched shoulders, minimal makeup, and lank, straight hair. She was clearly anxious as she stepped up to the stage, her eyes shifting to and from the faces seated around the rack. She clambered up to the top the pole, then reached behind with her left hand and tried to unclasp her bra. Unable to get the thing off, she slid back down and used both hands to unhook it as she bowed her shoulders, giggling nervously. Why book such an inexperienced performer on a Saturday night?

IMG_0075

6. Hawthorne Strip

Tagline: Your local watering hole, with strippers!

Why it Sparkles: friendly establishment close to the hip Hawthorne neighborhood

Pros: pinball in the back, very casual, easy to talk to dancers

Cons: ghastly bathroom, dive-y place

Flanked by smudged mirrors and Christmas lights, the one tiny stage at Hawthorne Strip is shoved into the far corner of the bar and surrounded by rack with space for eight. The bar was mostly empty when Press and I arrived at 9:30 on Saturday night. A few arcade games took up one corner on the other side of the bar, and several beer-sipping patrons watched a soccer game on a plasma screen instead of watching the dancers. The strippers themselves were energetic, serene but not bored looking, and happy to chat with us while going through their circuits of intermediate pole moves. (The most common: spinning around the pole while holding on with one hand, arm extended, then ending the spin and starting to strut towards the rack with a compact pas de bourée.) Hawthorne Strip was the least fussy of all the clubs we visited, and although that was relaxing, I wouldn’t go out of my way to drop in again.

7. Devil’s Point

Tagline: Like the circus, if the circus oozed sex

Why it Sparkles: rock and roll theme, Stripparoake Sundays

Pros: pole gymnasts and acrobats with serious skills

Cons: gets crowded and the rack is often full

Of all the places we visited on our safari of smut, Press and I agreed that Devil’s Point was the juiciest. That isn’t to say that it was the most explicit, but it had a certain decadence that carried it from merely sexy to Dripping (with a capital ‘D’). The performers that we saw here were among the most skilled acrobats and pole artists of the weekend. Though the performances didn’t possess the storytelling elements or costumes that we saw in the feature dances of the Kit Kat Club, the gymnastic musicality and sheer muscle control made for a riveting show. The dancers spun and swung in every possible direction, often landing in splits or backbends. One lithe, tattooed dancer walked the length of the stage on her hands before spilling her body over backwards in a perfect arc. An enthusiastic crowd filled every seat at the rack surrounding the single stage as we watched from a high cocktail table. The punk and classic rock blaring out of the speakers complemented several Bettie Page posters and (unsurprisingly) retro red and black décor. On Sunday nights, Devil’s Point hosts Stripparaoke, where audience members sing karaoke and the club’s talented dancers work their magic on the pole next to them. We were told repeatedly that we should have extended our time in Portland to include this unique and totally fun event.

8. Black Cauldron

Tagline: Fake fur, painted castles, and witch on witch action

Why it Sparkles: live witch sex, racy raffles, and free (vegan) tacos

Pros: silly medieval witch theme, dancing, witch sex

Cons: rack and private dances are twice as much as other places

As I mentioned earlier, Press and I visited both of Johnny Diablo’s establishments far too early in the day to do the clubs justice. We arrived at the log cabin-looking Black Cauldron at 11:15 AM and found the place deserted except for one bartender and the lemony reek of disinfectant. Taking the opportunity to look around, we found the club to be sprawling, much larger than Casa Diablo, with a long corridor of private dance rooms, a separate space for private pole dances, two central pole stages, a poker table, and multiple platforms for dancing or other nefarious activities. In the center of the main dance hall is a wide, round platform topped with green faux fur. When the morning’s sole dancer arrived – a spritely thing called Neptune – she explained that the ‘witch on witch sex shows’ happen on top of this ‘cauldron’. Although our stop at Black Cauldron was poorly timed, I was able to enjoy a cup of tea and a fairly tasty taco (free with any drink purchase) for breakfast. Adding to Diablo’s usual litany of gimmicks, the club raffles off a free lap dance from one of its “nude bewitching beauties” every hour. As resistant as I am to cheap marketing ploys, I’d like to give Diablo’s two shtick-laden clubs another go during a more appropriate time of day.

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9. Club 205

Tagline: Your average American strip club

Why it Sparkles: blue collar club with “the hottest young strippers in PDX”

Pros: $1.75 well drinks and drafts during happy hour

Cons: not really anything special, lots of Lynryd Skynryd

After exploring the deserted Black Cauldron, we were about ready to pack up and bring our exploration to a close. As luck would have it, we wound up driving right by Club 205, which the Cauldron’s bartender described to us as “a rough joint, biker bar.” Inside the grey rectangle of a building are three stages, each a freestanding octagon with lots of neon up-lighting and diamond plated steel finishes. When we dropped by, it was noon on Sunday and the bar was packed with middle-aged men. Only one of the stages was occupied by a dancer, but there were several men sitting at the rack. The dancer smiled politely down at them from the height of her impressively tall heels (seven inches, and yes I asked) before slamming her slim pelvis down onto the rail, looking dreamily off into space. The atmosphere in the bar was polite and jovial; not at all what I was expecting after the description we had heard. The blaring classic rock was complemented by the truck stop glamour of corrugated metal and neon, and the dancers themselves were cheerful and vigorous girl-next-door types with tans and curled hair. Although it was a bit run of the mill after our other strip club adventures, Club 205 was a pleasant Sunday morning stopover.

*****

Thus ended our adventure through the best of undressed Portland. On the ride back to Seattle, we tried to estimate how many dancers we saw through the course of the weekend. Our best guess is 40, which means that we had the pleasure of being exposed to 80 individual breasts. If that’s not a weekend well spent, I don’t know what is.

(Author’s Note: A HUGE thank you to all the performers, bartenders, and club owners that we met and interviewed during our trip. You are all gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous.)

POC takes on Tassel Talk.

•07/28/2014 • Leave a Comment
Sara Dipity, one of the duo which started the peer review sessions "Tassel Talk"  (Photo by Dawndra Budd)

Sara Dipity, one of the duo which started the peer review sessions “Tassel Talk” (Photo by Dawndra Budd)

~ Written by Paul O’Connell (POC Photo)

Last month I was excited to be part of Tassel Talk, a peer review of burlesque acts in the works at Annex Theatre that began in January and meets every month. Peer reviews like this in burlesque usually consist of a performer (in this case six performers) presenting acts they would like feedback on and an audience of peers giving constructive criticism. It was such a positive and fun experience because of the sense of community I felt (not to mention the very yummy brunch that was provided), that I decided to get the lowdown on the origins of Tassel Talk by the women behind it: Sara Dipity and Bunny Von Bunsmore. Both women have been performing and involved in theater years before they ever hit the burlesque stage. Sara, who moved to Seattle in 2009, holds a bachelor’s in Musical Theater with a minor in Dance and Human Sexuality. Bunny went to Cornell for Theater and Feminist Studies and moved to Seattle in 2010 after graduation. She is currently working at Annex Theatre as a staff member, actor, and director. Sara and Bunny got their burlesque start at Miss Indigo Blue’s Academy of Burlesque in 2011 and 2012 respectively.

We conducted the interview at Bunny’s apartment while her lovely cat Sage kept us company:

POC: How did you get into burlesque?

Sara: Well honestly I had been fascinated with dancing naked since I was a little, little girl, like just kind of precociously loved that.

POC: That’s funny, a lot of people say that.

Sara: Yeah I had kind of been locked up in church ideals and stuff for a very long time and when I got to Seattle I kind of let go of that. I felt like I needed to go back to who I was and what I loved and it felt like a really good way to explore my own creativity and my body and my sexuality, so that is why I started doing it [burlesque], and then I just seriously googled ‘burlesque class’. Miss Indigo Blue. Perfect. Here, $600. There you go.

Bunny: Before I moved to Seattle I had watched the documentary A Wink and a Smile…I watched that and kind of just filed it away. Like…ha, this is really cool. This is a very cool part of this place where I’m moving. And it was actually with Cocktails at the Center of the Earth (a play at the Annex Theater) that I decided to pursue burlesque because Sailor St. Claire was in the show and I just asked her “How did you start this? How?” and she said, “Well I was moving here from California and it was something I had never done so I did it.” So I took the Academy class in 2012 and it’s been lovely.

POC: For the Academy 101 performance, did you have any feelings about how this was a different type of performance than what you had done in the past and was there any type of nervousness about getting naked on stage?

Bunny: I was nervous but it was kind of like normal performance nervousness for me. It was, “Okay I’m gonna go do this thing that I know I know how to do. I’m just gonna trust that I’m gonna do it. I wasn’t nervous about getting naked. It’s funny some of the other girls in my class put it really well. You’re busy doing so much stuff during a performance. Is this gonna come off the right way? Am I going to remember the right steps? Am I gonna give good face? You’re so busy with other things, thinking about your own nakedness is really the last thing on your mind.

Sara: You know I’d say that I still get that level of nervousness. Ugh, I’m going to perform and get naked, and the second you step on the stage that just goes away. You have to focus on doing your job and getting your stuff done. Self-editing and criticizing is completely unhelpful at that point.

Bunny Von Bunsmore (Photo by Ian Johnston)

Bunny Von Bunsmore (Photo by Ian Johnston)

 

POC: I guess that brings us to someone else helping you. So what is Tassel Talk?

Sara: Tassel Talk is amazing. Tassel Talk is a baby from BurlyCon where we were sitting around thinking, man, I have no idea if I’m making good work because I’m not getting a lot of feedback about that. And there was a peer review at the time but it wasn’t consistent…So we decided that we wanted to provide that. Tassel Talk is a morning where a bunch of community members sit down and get together and have brunch and drink mimosas and then six brave people get up on a stage – with full lighting and full sound and all the tech we can give them – and perform for us and then we give about 10 minutes of constructive feedback.

Bunny: We thought really hard about how we could make it the safest, happiest experience possible because it’s a scary thing to get up in front of…

Sara: People you respect.

Bunny: Yeah, it’s scary to do that so we wanted to take the bite out of it. Because BurlyCon peer reviews… I haven’t done one personally. But it’s like, oh so you go into a room, there could be people that you don’t know from other cities sitting there and you just kind of go in and you have your time.

Sara: You get feedback there and that is absolutely valuable but I wanted feedback from people that I am working with every single week. I wanted feedback from people that I’d performed with and understand. We wanted to make it as show-like as possible to benefit the people performing but also to benefit the people watching it. We figured if we added a stage, we added lighting, we added sound that wasn’t coming out of a boom box, you know sound coming out of big stage speakers, people would feel more comfortable performing and people would feel more comfortable to ‘woo’ and such.

Bunny: And Annex has been really generous. They’ve provided our space for free.

POC: So you asked them ‘can I do this thing?’

Bunny: Yeah I asked them and you know it’s half because I’m on staff, they know me. They want to keep me happy. And half because Tassel Talk really aligns with their mission, which is creating bold new work. So we stole a lot of our moderation technique from what Annex does from their progress showings where we have people come in to see a production that’s barely on its feet or hasn’t had tech added in yet, and give feedback.

POC: How do you choose performers to perform in a particular month?

Sara: To get the six, I post on the Facebook event page: “Hello we have open sign-ups.” And then on my own personal Sara page: “Hello we have open sign-ups. Please send me a message.” And generally within the first hour I’ve got six people. Then over the course of two weeks or so someone drops out. People drop out because they have other commitments. And that’s why we have alternates. Every single time, one or two alternates have gone. So that’s how we get the six. I’d love for it to be more but we don’t have that kind of time.

Bunny: We can get it done in less than two hours. We do about 10 minutes of talkback after each one, for a five minute act. It’s plenty of time to really hit everything.

POC: Plus you get to take home the notes.

Bunny: Yeah, we have everybody fill out forms so if they don’t necessarily share in the verbal talk back , they can still write down what they thought. And the performer can take that and they can burn them or they can read them. Whatever they want.

POC: So the first one was in January so now six months later can you share your experience on what it’s been like?

Sara: Honestly it has fed me so much as a person in a community and as an artist where every time I go, even if it’s early in the morning. Every time I go I see at least something incredible and often times many incredible things and it inspires me to go work on my stuff. And the Tassel Talk that I was reviewed in inspired me to make it [my act] better because I walked in thinking “I don’t know if this is good or not. I don’t actually know if this is a cohesive, good piece” but getting that kind of feedback made me think, “Oh OK, it’s alright. It’s a good place to start” and I can go much further with it.

Bunny: And you have a direction.

Sara: We create these things in just a little bubble, in our living room. Gluing stuff to stuff.

POC: Or you just have any idea in your head…

Sara: Exactly. And you hope it comes out cohesive. But then you do it [at a show] and you get a bunch of people saying, “Oh good job.” You don’t know if that’s real…

Bunny: Only in a peer review do you find out. And I’ve been surprised and delighted at the way that people have responded to getting very difficult critic of their work. They’ve been delighted and so excited to go and take it away and work on it. And there haven’t been too many hurt feelings, which is incredible.

POC: Well the idea is that there are certain rules on how you can critique someone, right? Let’s say someone’s on stage and the person watching thinks “I don’t like this at all.” They’ve got to find a way to articulate it, so that’s part of the process for the reviewer as well.

Bunny: We’re very specific with the questions we ask. We start with, “What did you like?” So then it’s love-fest,“Hello, these are the good things. Don’t make those good things go away”. And then we move on to “What was confusing? What was unclear? What do we want to see more of?” So that leads people to think very specifically about what it is that they were missing if they really hated an act or really weren’t jazzed about it. They have to be very specific about what it is that made them have that reaction. And that’s helpful because general negativity is just not helpful.

POC: So let’s talk about the hospitality aspect of it…

Bunny & Sara: Mini Bobbins!!!

Sara: She’s great. She got invited to the first Tassel Talk and wrote me and said, “I want to help. How can I help?” And she completely took over food. And it’s the best food. For Valentine’s Day she made chocolate dripped strawberries because she’s adorable. You were a partaker of the food. Did you enjoy it?

POC: I did partake of the food. It was very good. And there’s a jar for donations which goes to her for the food?

Sara: It costs about $50 for the food. So any donations go to her basically and then Bunny and I make up the difference out of our pocket. Which I look at it as a community giving thing.

Bunny: It’s really important to us that the event stay free for the performers because there are lots of opportunities to go and take classes, but they tend to be pricey and that’s fine, and they’re so valuable, but we wanted to have a place where people could come and show their work and not have to spend money in order to make their work better. Annex is donating their space which obviously is such a huge boon to us because space is so difficult to find in the city. And our technician, Alex King is an angel.

Sara: And he’s a professional technician who’s donating his time which is beautiful and I want to hug him all the time.

Bunny: Right. He’s wonderful. He’ll come and tell the performers, “Oh you can just tell your tech to backlight you during this part and it will look great.”

POC: So he’s giving feedback as well?

Sara: Yes. He designed a prop for me. He just gave me a sketch last time and said, “This is how you do that.”

Bunny: He’s one of the best people in the world. Anyway it’s because of donations that we’re running [this]. Annex is donating space, the donated tech, the donated Mini’s time and effort, and people who show up are putting in for food. But we want to make this a little more formalized as far as funding goes for the snacks. So we’re trying to put together a show in December (date and time TBD), showing acts from Tassel Talk that have been reviewed as a fundraiser for next year and to give some money back to Annex…so details forthcoming on that one. It should be a really fun show.

Sara: One thing I do want to say is I wish more people would utilize Tassel Talk. I wish producers would come and audition talent that way. I know I have. I feel like a few other producers have come and said “I’m casting that person now because I know they are fierce”.

Bunny: It’s a place where a completely new performer can come and show themselves and a producer could also come and see, and I think that is really exciting because often you know, the application process for shows is an idea online, but you’re not likely to cast someone that you don’t know or have never seen. So it’s a great opportunity because it’s free and because you just have to sign up. Anybody can get in and be seen.

POC: Well it was a wonderful experience for me… And first of all who doesn’t like socializing around food anyway? It’s people talking and enjoying good food and then they go inside the theater and watch the acts. So it’s a fellowship is what it is.

Sara: It’s burly church. It’s time to go and commune

Bunny: Yeah that’s what makes it less intimidating. You come and you have food and it’s relaxed and casual and you’re just chatting about ideas.

Sara: This a really great way to get to know people you don’t know. There are circles within our community of people that work together all of the time. And this is a good way to make those circles into Venn diagrams. 101 students that are just graduating, if you want to keep performing, come to this. You’ll see so much for free. I mean Iva Handfull did a review once….Crazy. So 101 students, come. Producers, come. Headliners, come give us feedback, if you wouldn’t mind donating your time…

Bunny: …There’s brunch in it for you…

Sara: There’s brunch in it and mimosas and if you gave us the time to tell us how to be better, everyone would get better. Rise all the ships.

 ******

You can see Sara Dipity next in Star Trek: The Sexed Generation in September. Visit her at:

www.songbirdandraven.com

www.facebook.com/songbirdandraven

You can see Bunny (Katherine Karaus) in Balconies opening August 1.

http://www.annextheatre.org/2014-season/main-stage/balconies/

For info about future Tassel Talk sessions, like them on Facebook.

http://www.facebook.com/peerreviewswithlove

And… check Annex Theatre’s schedule of performances and go to their support page where you can make a donation to a wonderful theater.

www.annextheatre.org/support-us/

 

Sara Dipity (Photo by Ralph Gayle)

Sara Dipity (Photo by Ralph Gayle)

 

Bunny Von Bunsmore (Photo by John Cornicello)

Bunny Von Bunsmore (Photo by John Cornicello)

 

Pick of the Glitter: Relentless.

•07/25/2014 • Leave a Comment
he baddest of the bad: the ladies of IvaFiero Productions

The baddest of the bad: the ladies of IvaFiero Productions

IvaFiero Productions brings two of burlesque’s most untamed hearts together for shows of a slightly different palate than our already wide world of Seattle burlesque.  “Relentless” is the adjective that many have used to describe the individual performance styles of Iva Handfull and Seraphina Fiero; Relentless is the name they’ve chosen for the annual showcase of some of their favorite performers.  Anyone who has seen Seraphina or Iva on stage will know that high-octane musicality is high on their priority list. It’s hard not to notice that these women are positively vibrating with energy when given the chance to strip to some of their favorite songs.  Nine Inch Nails-inspired burlesque? Hell yes.  (That show is coming in January 2015).

Back in 2012, the newly christened IvaFiero Productions launched with Glitter Friday, a Burlesque Hall of Fame fundraiser highlighting fashion designers from the burlesque community (costumes, day wear, fetishwear, accessories…you name it).  The following year the first Relentless arrived, featuring Seattle’s Rainbow & Jonny Boy from the Can Can Castaways and Lady Jack from Chicago. Next up was 2014’s Better Off Nude, a burlesque tribute to ’80s flicks.

“Every act in Relentless oozes individuality, the love of the artform, and epicness in the eyes of the performer (yep, I said epic),” Iva explained to me this week while getting that trademark platinum hair coiffed.  “We aim to make the audience hold their breath during our acts, scoot to the edge of their chair, and be inspired to attack the art they love. It allows us to highlight other Seattle area performers who we think are also relentless in their performances, as well as invite an out-of town relentless guest performer to introduce our Seattle audience to.”

Attacking the art they love? Words to burlesque by…and voraciously, in BSP’s humble opinion.

Relentless 2014 brings together Bolt Action, Tootsie Spangles, Flirty Sanchez, Iva, Seraphina, and 2013 King of Burlesque Ray Gunn (Chicago).  I asked Iva how they met Ray:  “Where do we begin?  We start by saying that Seraphina Fiero has the hugest crush on Ray, to the point where it’s hard for her to speak with, stand next to, or act normal around.  She literally has to change her panties every time she talks to him. Ray hails from Chicago (seems like Chicago is hoarding all the relentless performers) and is one-third of the award-winning Stage Door Johnnies,” she explained.  Since meeting Ray in 2010 at the 1st Annual Windy City Burlesque Festival, Iva has performed with him on numerous other stages around the country.  “I love that Ray hits beats you didn’t know were there and then creates his own waves when there’s no beat there.  He slithers, creeps, and flexes each muscle individually,  oozes sexuality, and makes audiences lose their minds.”

Ray will be debuting a new act for this show, as well as his fabulous step-down number for BHoF as well as one other number that Iva herself deems “perfectly relentless.”

******

Relentless runs July 26-27 at Theatre Off Jackson. For tickets and more info, click HERE and HERE.

Ray Gunn

Ray Gunn

Bolt Action

Bolt Action

Tootsie Spangles

Tootsie Spangles

Flirty Sanchez

Flirty Sanchez

Undressed To Kill returns July 11-12.

•07/09/2014 • Leave a Comment
A sneak peek from Stripped Screw's recent shoot with Meneldor Photography

A sneak peek from Stripped Screw’s recent shoot with Meneldor Photography

Violet Tendencies and her sisters-in-crime Stripped Screw Burlesque seem to get exponentially busier every year. At home they’ve boasted a hardcore following for quite a few years now; recently though, Stripped Screw has been growing their national presence through blood, sweat, and a whole lot of pastie glue. You might have spotted them poolside at the Burlesque Hall Of Fame Weekender looking hot and menacing (always a winning combo) at the “Screw’d Cabana”, rocking itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny-shiny-matching-black-bikinis…or you might have seen Violet’s “Raven” act as she threw down with the best of the best in the prestigious “Movers, Shakers, & Innovators” show on BHOF kickoff night.

Of that performance, Violet told me recently, “The most important thing I can say is that it was such an intense honor to perform for a house full of my peers and idols. It was great fun to be able to bring an act that I am passionate about and that feels so outside of the usual competitive ilk and I was thrilled to see some amazingly innovative acts on stage in the competition (hello Aurora Galore, Lisa Fa’alafi and reigning Queen Midnite Martini!!!)”

If you didn’t go to Vegas this summer for the annual Weekender, there’s always this weekend here in Seattle to make amends. Catch the gang of bad, bad girls that is Stripped Screw Burlesque as they remount the murder mystery Undressed To Kill at the Columbia City Theater July 11 and 12.  Bravado and badassery have always ranked high among their charms- crystallized perfectly by the amusingly direct teasers they’ve posted recently concerning the upcoming show:

“Need a little sex and violence in your life? The Screws’ murder mystery is back and it’s better than ever…

or how about…

“It looks like someone has come to the end of their rope! But is Seraphina Fiero in a bind or did another Screw fall victim to the dangerous joys of jute? Find out July 11 and 12 at Columbia City Theater as we present Undressed to Kill

We couldn’t possibly have come up with a more intriguing set of teasers.

Undressed To Kill is Violet’s personal favorite among their rotating repertoire. With a storyline not as rigid as their annual monster-hit Disney After Dark, the refined set of acts making up Undressed plays to the ladies’ natural proclivities in a way you might not have seen before. Get tickets HERE. And don’t forget to check out the profile we posted on Violet pre-BHOF, over HERE.

Kutie LaBootie (Meneldor Photography)

Kutie LaBootie (Meneldor Photography)

 

Stella D'Letto (Meneldor Photography)

Stella D’Letto (Meneldor Photography)

 

Violet Tendencies (Meneldor Photography)

Violet Tendencies (Meneldor Photography)

 

Lady Drew Blood (Meneldor Photography)

Lady Drew Blood (Meneldor Photography)

 

Seraphina Fiero (Meneldor Photography)

Seraphina Fiero (Meneldor Photography)

 

 

Kitten N’ Lou: July’s City Arts cover stars.

•07/01/2014 • Leave a Comment

July 2014 City Arts

Seattle’s Pride weekend was marked by more than a few surreal occurrences: Cher emerged from a Trojan Horse over at Key Arena, Mama Tits fiercely faced off with religious protestors near the start of the parade (resulting in this awesome photoscroll down, you’ll know the one), and Kitten N’ Lou popped up on the cover of City Arts. And that’s only the beginning…photos are still rolling in online.

The City Arts piece on Kitten N’ Lou was written prior to their “Most Comedic” title win in Vegas at the Burlesque Hall of Fame’s “Tournament of Tease” and also shy of their performance at World Pride Toronto and the closing of Lou’s There Once Was A Man.  Grab a copy of City Arts over at Pretty Parlor or on most street corners downtown, or you can read online HERE. The article touches on the formation of The Atomic Bombshells, how that n’ came to be in the first place, and sheds some light on how Lou went from in-demand dance teacher to feature performer in the worldwide burlesque/boylesque community.

Catch Kitten N’ Lou and BFF BenDeLaCreme (hot off his star turn on RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 6, in case you haven’t heard) this week at The Triple Door – July 2 & 3 to be exact – for Freedom Fantasia. For tickets and more information click HERE.

(Psst…for photos of the BurlyCon brigade marching at Seattle Pride taken by BSP’s very own POC, click HERE!)

FFhandbillweb

A farewell to Wild Cherry.

•06/26/2014 • 1 Comment
Burlesque legend Wild Cherry

Burlesque legend Wild Cherry

Today many of us are deeply saddened by the news of the death of New Orleans burlesque legend Wild Cherry. Some of the most touching tributes we’ve seen have been firsthand accounts from performers that grew to know and love her in recent years (Trixie Little posted some beautiful memories early this morning, as have many, many others).

Back in 2013, Coco Lectric did a tribute act to Wild Cherry at the Texas Burlesque Festival and POC was in attendance.  In looking back, we wanted to share an excerpt from that story, in which Coco sums up what the experience of working with her was like and how intense and physical she was.  (We also encourage you to read THIS excellent biographical piece on Wild Cherry by Rick Delaup, which many of us have read and re-read many times over the years, as information on her was so hard to find).

As Coco recounted to POC in April 2013…

“I don’t really know where to begin when it comes to my Wild Cherry tribute performance. When Cherry and I spoke about it this past September, I immediately became thrilled and nervous! Hailing from New Orleans, Wild Cherry worked the touring circuit from the late 1950s through the 70s. There are no videos of her during her touring years, but her incredible performance style and before-her-time abilities made me want to share her career with audiences and fellow performers. She was such a physical performer, using tumbling techniques, balance and exotic floor work. The first day we met for her to train me she had abdominal isolations and foot work ready to go. The gracefulness of her arms was the first thing I noticed about her when I saw her perform for the first time, and there she was teaching me to do it! She was very sure to include her signature moves from her signature piece, a number in which she spun, gyrated, isolated her movements and traveled across the stage in the splits in a teal costume.

I met with Wild Cherry a few times, but each time was packed with so much knowledge that I had to take notes and run home to practice. Through the year I learned to invest in a good set of knee pads, a thicker yoga mat and some really good gel to keep my own signature Bettie bangs slicked back so I could wear Cherry’s signature ponytail.

In my attempt to truly do justice to Cherry’s tribute, I did my best to maintain her style and personality. She didn’t smile often, she would zone out at times during this piece and really get into the music; she was tiny and tough…”

Legend Wild Cherry, and Coco's brilliant recreation of that famous photo with the help of photographer Steve DeMent.

Legend Wild Cherry, and Coco’s tribute to that famous photo with the help of photographer Steve DeMent.

 
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