Sound minds and bodies: a week in photos.

•08/25/2011 • Leave a Comment

rePRODUCTION!'s host, Ernie Von Schmaltz (POC Photo)

Producers Heidi Von Haught, Wiggy Stardust, and Randi Rascal nailed some (political) action last weekend with some of their closest friends and NARAL Pro-Choice, the leading grassroots pro-choice advocacy organization in Washington state. In the spirit and immediacy of the cause, the performers brought their most dazzling acts and controversial satire to rePRODUCTION! A Burlesque Benefit.

The variety show brought burlesque, belly dance, aerial, puppeteering, and some rather hyper-sensitive paper-mache to the Theatre Off Jackson. Madeline Rider got a little personal with the producers before the show HERE, and photographer Paul O’Connell generously shared some images originally posted in his set HERE which capture a cross-section of the unblushing performances:

The enchanting Evilyn Sin Claire (POC Photo)

Heidi Von Haught, one of the evening's reProducers (POC Photo)

Heidi Von Haught giving a little guidance. (POC Photo)

Queen of Burlesque, Miss Indigo Blue (POC Photo)

Iva Handfull In the examine room (POC Photo)

Jenny Penny (POC Photo)

Wiggy Stardust (POC Photo)

Sylvester Stiffbreeze (POC Photo)

Hyper-sensitive indeed: Tiny Reedlet's Sexy Puppet Parade.

There will be blood: Heidi Von Haught and Randi Rascal (POC Photo)

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Also last week and across town at the Jewelbox, Paul captured these fantastic shots of the ladies of Tempting Tarts in summer road (s)trip show Tarts Across America:

Black Cherry & the Cherry Bombs (POC Photo)

Jezebel Vandersnatch (POC Photo)

Sailor St. Claire (POC Photo)

Not bad for one week out on the town in Seattle. Check out the full menu of Tarts and watch for updates on their monthly shows HERE.

Seattle performers featured at London’s Brickhouse.

•08/22/2011 • Leave a Comment

Life Interrupted: Paris Original (a new print by Greg Holloway)

Audacious London supperclub The Brickhouse finished its second run of Electric Burlesque in July. The month-long residency combined burlesque with a photo exhibition, as it did when Sinner Saint took London by storm a few months back. Only this time, Seattle boylesque performers were featured alongside their female counterparts. The Luminous Pariah and Paris Original shared the stage with Sassy Delure (formerly of Seattle, now based in Austin) and Ophelia Moore. The supperclub doubles as a gallery space, and the stylized prints of Seattle photographer Greg Holloway lined the walls. Incidentally, the forward-thinking Greg was also the chief promoter behind the two Seattle-London residencies.

By all accounts, working in London was a life-changing experience for the four performers, as well as for Greg, who has traveled and shown his work abroad previously. Rumor has it the London-Seattle connection may continue in the near future, though nothing has been firmed up or published at this time.

Here are a few photos from the July shows:

Paris Original and The Luminous Pariah performing in London (Photo Greg Holloway)

Ophelia Moore (Photo by Greg Holloway)

The Luminous Pariah on stage in London (Photo by Greg Holloway)

Sassy Delure (Photo by Greg Holloway)

Greg Holloway’s prints (available for purchase on his website) are elegantly stylized photographs taken during live performances. Read the individual stories behind the photos HERE and purchase Electric Burlesque in book form, HERE.

In addition to the shot of Paris Original above, I’m also still in love with this image of belly dance dynamo Fuchsia FoXXX:

"Bang" Electric Burlesque (By Greg Holloway)

Show the world what a unique snowflake you are with Lily Verlaine & Jasper McCann.

•08/17/2011 • Leave a Comment

Producers Lily Verlaine & Jasper McCann would like to make your acquaintance. (Photo by Christopher Nelson)

While summer is still in full bloom (relatively speaking), producers Lily Verlaine and Jasper McCann are already in the planning stages of the upcoming sixth season of Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker. The ecdysiastic pageantry has grown to epic proportions at their home base of The Triple Door, selling out night after night for roughly two weeks during the holidays. The show incorporates jazz, traditional ballet, burlesque, swing dance and song. In a very rare opportunity this year, auditions will be held for paid principal roles with the cast:

CALL FOR DANCERS/PERFORMERS:

Producers Lily Verlaine & Jasper McCann are seeking dancers and comics of any gender for principal roles in the December 2011 run of Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker at the Triple Door. Performers in other disciplines (acrobatics, aerial, etc.) will gladly be considered on a case-by-case basis.

DANCERS:

Dance experience is necessary, classical training is preferred. Pointe, jazz and tap experience are major bonuses. Please arrive at audition warm and ready to dance. Dancers will learn segments of choreography. If you would like to showcase additional talent, time will be allotted to you at the end of the audition. There is a changing area/bathroom area available to you if you arrive in street clothes, but please bring clothing that you can MOVE in! Also, character shoes, pointe or tap shoes if you have them and dance sneakers if you are sensitive to hard floors. The floors are a bit slick, so please be advised that rubber soles on your character shoes will be very helpful.

As this is a burlesque show, be advised that roles may include striptease. While some burlesque experience is preferred, it is not mandatory and the audition will not require stripping.

COMICS:

Please come prepared with a one minute monologue and be prepared for a cold reading and short segment of movement in character shoes or high heels. Comic roles are character-trpe and will involve some physical/pratfall comedy.

These are paid positions.

Tentative show schedule is:
December 1st, 8th-10th, 13th-18th, and 20th-24th
Rehearsals will begin in mid-October, primarily on Sundays.

You will need daytime availability for 2 full-cast dress/tech rehearsals.

Auditions will be held in the multi-purpose room of the Hiawatha Artists’ Lofts building:
843 Hiawatha Place So. Seattle, WA 98144

Dancers Auditions:
12:00 noon-2:30pm August 27th and 6:00-8:30pm August 29th.
Comics Auditions:
2:30-4:00pm August 27th and 8:30-9:30pm August 29th

Dancers and comics, please RSVP (please send resume/bio and photo) for either audition date:
sweets.audition.2011@gmail.com

Performers in other disciplines, please send a resume, photo and links to video to: sweets.audition.2011@gmail.com

Imagine yourself as part of this….

What’s in a theme: from Sci-fi to Road Strip to… Kate Bush?

•08/16/2011 • Leave a Comment

TUSH! by Dineaphoto.com

In what may be the most amusing show title of the month: It Came From Planet TUSH! lands at Olympia’s Capitol Theater August 20. The show stars the ladies of TUSH! serving it up sci-fi style with special guests including Mercury Troy (the Seattle starlet who was featured in A Wink and a Smile performing her creepy “Little Red Riding Hood” number). Most recently mademoiselle Mercury played a cheeky usherette in Valkyrie’s Sideshow Sirens, where she melted hearts as well as butter. TUSH! Burlesque is a collective of brash and creative women formed in Olympia, Washington in 2009 for the purpose of rebelling against the status quo’s standards of beauty and behavior. They present regular burlesque shows in our sister city of Olympia and also perform in diverse cabaret and circus events regionally. It Came From Planet TUSH! promises dance, trapeze, and risqué material- all of which sounds like a Saturday night well spent. Tickets and more information HERE.

Mercury Troy in "Film Shot" by Daniela Dusak.

TUSH! in Olympia August 20.

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Sailor St. Claire by ELD Images

Also this week, Tempting Tarts present Tarts Across America August 18 at the Jewelbox Theatre. The Tarts have been together in one form or another since 2007, and they’ve been quietly staging successful monthly revues at the Jewelbox since 2008. The lovely Sailor St. Claire and the rest of the ladies will show you some Americana that you never expected from a road trip before. Check out the Tarted-up ladies HERE, and get tickets over HERE.

Tempting Tarts: Emerald Dollies by Pixel Reflex

Tempting Tarts in Seattle August 18.

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Darlinda Just Darlinda by Cat Feral

Also happening this weekend, but far, far away: the incredibly imaginative, absolutely genius themed show In the Bush: Kate Bush Burlesque takes place in NYC August 20, presented by Poison Eve and Darlinda Just Darlinda and also featuring Jo Boobs. One can only wonder what songs will be selected for burlesque interpretations, but I’d kill to see an uber-dramatic version of “Wuthering Heights” or “Running Up That Hill”. If you’ll be in NYC, click HERE for info. If not, console yourself by voting for Darlinda Just Darlinda for a 2011 Golden Pastie Award HERE- if not because she’s brilliant, then because of the genius concept that is Kate Bush burlesque.

A brilliant theme show: Kate Bush Burlesque in NYC August 20. Image by Jeff Silverman Photography.

A Round Table Discussion on reProduction.

•08/12/2011 • Leave a Comment

reProduction: August 19 at Seattle's Theatre Off Jackson

- Written by Madeline Rider (Contributor, Seattle)

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Heidi Von Haught, Randi Rascal, and Wiggy Stardust to discuss their upcoming “reProduction”, a benefit for NARAL Pro-Choice, one of Washington State’s leading pro-choice advocacy groups. In the current political and economic landscape, budget cuts loom around the corner of every legislative session and the presidential debates have just now gone underway. The producers’ decision to focus on a topic of much national contention appealed to me as an excellent juncture to examine the relationship between burlesque and politics.

Our conversation began slowly with details of the show’s inspirations. It was apparent as we progressed that each woman’s personal experience with “choice” fueled their desire to bring the discussion to a public forum. Their passion for the advancement of reproductive rights in this country incited the creation of this show and the sentiment behind that passion- the desire to potentially alter the political landscape- motivates not only this work, but much of neo-burlesque in general.

Madeline: So how long have you been working on reProduction?

Wiggy: The initial conversation with Sasha Summer Cousineau [of NARAL] was in February when I was given the opportunity to see the documentary “Twelfth and Delaware”. I was kind of busy so I kept checking in with her: “I’m still going to do this thing, I promise!” We really started working on it after Heidi and Randi did the Vancouver Burlesque Festival in May.

Madeline: I wanted bring up the fact that this is a political production. There’s a very clear agenda and it’s quite apparent what your ideas are. Part of why burlesque is appealing to me is its ability to communicate things in a way that other mediums may not necessarily be able to. I wanted to ask you your opinion on why you feel burlesque is an appropriate medium for this discussion. I know you, Wiggy, had mentioned in passing that you didn’t want to label reProduction as feminist, but…

Wiggy: But, it totally is. I think people have a hard time with the word feminist. I don’t personally but my sixteen year old sister was offended when someone called her a feminist. There’s this idea that you don’t shave your legs or shave your armpits, which is… whatever. I feel like as far as burlesque and politics goes, there is a humor in the way things are talked about which make them a little more palatable and light-hearted and funny, to which people can relate… [Normal political] conversation can get heated and angry and if you can use humor to diffuse that, you can more easily communicate ideas.

Randi: Burlesque is already a transgressive medium, inherently. We’re already doing something with our bodies that is, at a minimum, frowned upon by most of the people around us if not outright denounced as terrible. I think that this medium is particularly poignant to make statements about the body and about sexuality. Although burlesque is not always sexy, usually the stripping and the revealing of the body is done in a provocative way and that kind of makes it ideal. We are using our bodies to make statements about our bodies.

Heidi: I would say that neo-burlesque movement, not the burlesque movement itself but the neo-burlesque movement, has taken from drag and performance art which are two mediums that have always been pretty political and are about challenging social norms, certainly drag more than performance art… It’s about using your body but it’s not necessarily about dance, it’s not necessarily about stripping, but it is about sexuality, human relationships, and the relationship with your body which are all, especially as women in this society, like you said Randi, inherently political.

Madeline: You talk about in your press release “the legal redefinition of rape and incest, changes in legislation that encourage violence against abortion providers and allow for misinformation about birth control options” and earlier you spoke about how the potential defunding of Planned Parenthood inspired the creation of reProduction. What if any anything from the current political landscape can we expect to see on stage?

Randi: We specifically used acts that we already knew about or performers that we knew would be exceptional at creating acts that have to do with reproduction itself, reproductive rights, the body, and essentially everything that has to do with sexual health.

Wiggy: I think that Randi’s abortion act is kind of a take on the Westboro Baptist Church protesters, right?

Randi: I created the abortion act for “That’s Fucked Up” and there aren’t a lot of venues that I can perform it at, but it’s about a protester who gets herself into a sticky situation. It’s directly inspired by people like Sarah Palin’s daughter. Even in high school, I had friend’s that were Christian and Pro-Life, yet found themselves in a situation where they were unable to keep a pregnancy… The whole act is about the hypocrisy of this and the unwillingness to cultivate empathy for other people and imagine that other people might be in a hard situation. That it’s not an easy choice for anyone.

Heidi: We have this country where the people on the right are attempting to narrow the choices you can make about reproduction but there’s also no support for sex education. So it’s like not only do we not want you to be intelligent enough to make the decisions on your own, we also want you to have fewer decisions.

Randi: Their answer to all of that is “Just don’t have sex.” And that’s worked 100% of the time? My mom had seven kids in a time that she had no money, yet she kept having children. Everyone was like “Why do you keep having kids, what are you doing?” and it was because sex and pregnancy were important to her and what made her feel human and part of the experience.

Madeline: An idea that I’ve been struggling with recently is that as a woman, am I suppose to associate my identity with motherhood? Is that my purpose in life?

Wiggy: Yes, you should be ashamed of your body and ashamed of your sexuality but you should very much want a baby. But you’re not going to enjoy the sex that makes the baby or the relationship with the person who helps make the baby.

Madeline: So we’re talking a lot about how burlesque and politics mesh so well together. Often what I fear is that I am just as evangelical in my leftist beliefs as the rights are in their conservative beliefs. I find it beneficial for me to be critical about what it is that I am saying and how it is that I am communicating. In producing a burlesque show, where is the line between entertainment and preaching your beliefs at someone? Is there a line and do you feel like it is ever crossed, or is what we do not enough? Should we be more vocal?

Randi: I’m a little bit concerned about that with my act. It’s kind of unpalatable. It’s pretty gross so I am a little worried about the potential for pushing people beyond their ability to identify with the act and with my character. With “That’s Fucked Up”, that was the point. Anybody who came to that show knew what they were in for. This is different so I do think about whether I’m going to gross everyone out and they’re not going to be able to listen to what I have to say.

Madeline: You’re bringing up the audience’s ability to identify with the performance. In previous discussion, Wiggy mentioned that you decided male performers would be beneficial to the production. So, in what ways can a man identify with what it is that you’re talking about? Obviously, us sitting at this table and many of women we surround ourselves with in the burlesque community understand and agree with your beliefs on reproductive rights, but there is this whole other gender that doesn’t take birth control and can’t get pregnant.

Heidi: Coming from working around HIV [in her day job at Lifelong AIDS Alliance], I think that potentially some guys don’t understand that the attack on women’s reproductive rights crosses into their rights as well. I think that guys have had the long struggle with condoms and how shitty condoms are and that being the only the birth control method they have control of and that being a crappy birth control method that nobody likes.

Randi: One thing that we did talk about when developing this and one of the reasons why we were seeking male performers is that places like Planned Parenthood do not just provide services for women.

Heidi: It’s interesting that many people are under the impression that Planned Parenthood is just for women. It’s indicative of the greater problem: the assumption that reproductive rights are just a “woman’s issue”.

Wiggy: With my birth control act, it’s like an inside joke for women and unless the men had personal experience with a partner who was on birth control they didn’t quite understand what was going on. That was something we took into consideration. We definitely wanted a male perspective because they have their own reproductive health issues.

Randi: In some ways, we are very different but I tend to think of men and women as not from different planets. We’re just two different physical manifestations of the same species and all of our health as it relates to our reproduction is interrelated.

Madeline: How can people contribute to NARAL and the campaign for reproductive rights? Are there going to be opportunities to donate at the event?

Heidi: It’s so simple to give them money. They were like “However you want to do it! You can write us a check, you can use PayPal, you can come in and give us cash, you can do anything.” All the proceeds from the show going NARAL so just by being there you’re contributing. Buy raffle tickets because all that money will go to NARAL. You can give money on both the NARAL and Planned Parenthood websites.

Wiggy: Sasha Summer Cousineau will be there from NARAL, we were also talking about doing some kind of merchandise. [This has been confirmed. reProduction t-shirts will be available at the show.] I do believe that there are lots of ways to contribute, however one of the most important is just to be educated and up to date on what’s shifting in our political landscape. Just be educated!

*****

reProduction: A Burlesque Benefit for NARAL Pro-Choice Washington features Bella Bijoux, Evilyn Sin Claire, Heidi Von Haught, Iva Handfull, Jenny Penny, Randi Rascal, The Shanghai Pearl, Sylvester Stiffbreeze, Tiny Reedlet’s Sexy Puppet Parade, Wiggy Stardust, and Reigning Queen of Burlesque 2011, Miss Indigo Blue. Hosted by lover of ladybits everywhere, Ernie Von Schmaltz. Show is at 8:00pm on August 19th at Theatre Off Jackson. Purchase your tickets now at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/190010.

In Search of Aqua Darlings.

•08/09/2011 • 2 Comments

The majestic Aqua Follies at Green Lake.

Aquatic-themed cabarets are my current summer research obsession- in particular, Green Lake’s Aqua Follies here in Seattle.

In a typically grand but poorly executed Seattle plan, the Aqua Theatre was built in 1950 to host water ballet “swimusicals” for the first Seafair. A floating orchestra pit and synchronized swimmers (cleverly called the Aqua Darlings) were star attractions for summer productions. These ran until 1964, the theater itself lurching along until it was dismantled in 1970 (just after Led Zeppelin and the Grateful Dead played there). Parts of the original structure and grandstand remain along Green Lake to this day, barely hinting at the short-lived but spectacular past of the Aqua Theatre and its glamourous Aqua Darlings.

While I desperately try to locate former Aqua Darlings that might still be around, you can read more about the sadly forgotten Aqua Theatre HERE.

1957 Poster taken from historylink,org, courtesy of Peter Blecha.

To be continued…

Coco Lectric and some Bachelor Pad surprises.

•08/04/2011 • Leave a Comment

Coco Lectric in Bachleor Pad Issue 16

The last issue of Bachelor Pad Magazine featured cover star and centerfold Coco Lectric, hailing from Austin, Texas. This week the lady herself visits Olympia and Seattle, performing and workshopping at Johansen Olympia Dance Center (August 6) and Miss Indigo Blue’s Academy of Burlesque in Seattle (August 7). Not only is Coco the Headmistress of the Austin Academy of Burlesque, she’s also one of the founding members of award-winning troupe The Jigglewatts, and has performed in festivals and burlesque showcases across the country including Cointreau’s Dita Von Teese: Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans back in 2010.

Coco’s sizzling moves and signature bombshell looks have earned her multiple titles, including Texas Performer of the Year 2010, Troupe of the Year (Jigglewatts Burlesque, 2010 & 2011), and 3rd place at Viva Las Vegas 2011. She’s also the assistant producer of the Texas Burlesque Festival and has been a regular in multiple pinup magazines. Coco does it all, and does it with style.

Learn a few secrets of the bump n’ grind from one of the Lone Star State’s best by clicking on one of three classes available HERE. Next up Coco travels westward to San Francisco, where among other events she will perform with Satan’s Angel in Barbary Coast Burlesque.

A while back, multi-talented photographer Kaylin Idora shared this drop dead gorgeous portrait of Coco in New Orleans with Burlesque Seattle Press, and it’s so fantastic it calls for reposting:

Coco Lectric (Photo by Kaylin Idora, used w/ permission)

For more photos from the shoot, check out Kaylin’s Facebook page HERE or visit www.kaylinidora.com

Speaking of Bachelor Pad Magazine, some may have noticed in Coco’s issue several Seattle performers were also featured. Inga Ingénue, Miss Kitty Baby, and The Shanghai Pearl (photographed by POC) also livened up mailboxes coast to coast.

Guess who is featured in the current issue?

Queen of Burlesque Miss Indigo Blue on the cover of Bachelor Pad 17 (Photographed by POC)

And last but not least in news for today- our friends at NY’s Burlesque Beat have syndicated Madeline Rider’s heartfelt recent review of the hit Whedonesque Burlesque show. Look for future collaborations between Burlesque Seattle Press and Burlesque Beat, and visit Madeline’s featured posting HERE.

 
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