Oodles of Feelings and a Cupcake Dentata: The Libertinis’ Dinner with Death Comedy Hour.

•11/30/2013 • Leave a Comment
Hattie HellKat of The Libertinis (Ryan Adams Photography, 2013)

Hattie HellKat of The Libertinis (Ryan Adams Photography, 2013)

~ Written by Crystal Tassels

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the boundary-pushing, genre-melding arts collective known as The Libertinis, you’re missing out. A small but talented group, the self-proclaimed “interarts gang” combines burlesque, clowning, theater, sound engineering and remarkable amounts of glitter in their original performance art. Last weekend, I caught the group’s latest production, The Dinner with Death Comedy Hour, at the Blackbox of Theater Puget Sound.

Armed with a basic working knowledge of The Libertinis but no firsthand experience, I knew this show would include silly costumes, pounds of craft glitter, and probably even a dash of politics. I sat down ready for what I thought would be a clown-y cabaret laced with narrative, some sexy striptease and quirky dialogue.

While the costumes, quirkiness and glitter (have I mentioned the glitter?) were all there, I was unprepared for the work’s arrestingly poignant – even tragic – commentary on depression, complacency, alcoholism, and loneliness. Also present, and equally intense, was a sparkly, dancing cupcake that giggled delightedly as it revealed a set of fangs and disturbingly long, red fingers.

Somehow, all of this made sense. Every last bit of this show was treated with a brazen sincerity that made it both heartbreaking and comical, a balance that The Libertinis carry off exceedingly well.

Dinner with Death follows the lives of a tight-knit collegiate foursome whose magical ringleader, played by the endlessly fierce Kiki Cosmosis, mysteriously disappears. Grieving the loss of their friend, the remaining characters go their separate ways and spend the next several years grappling with the chagrins of adulthood, which are displayed through a series of strip soliloquies and vignettes.

Woody Shticks (Ryan Adams Photography, 2013)

Woody Shticks (Ryan Adams Photography, 2013)

Yes, that’s right. Strip soliloquies. One for each character. The stripping brought fresh intimacy to the already deeply personal problems presented on stage. And since this was performed in a theater sans alcohol (thanks Washington State), the three left-behind friends were literally stripped bare. Cosmic Kiki was, fittingly, the only character to reveal body parts covered in rhinestones.

The story of Karen Timmons (played by Hattie Hellkat) exemplifies The Libertinis’ penchant for the creepy/funny/sad triple-punch combo. After dropping out of college due to an unplanned pregnancy, Karen struggles to escape her wretched unhappiness. Alone on the stage, she removes her clothes with weary disappointment as she slugs down MD 2020, telling the audience about her adulterous husband, her body issues, and the joy she finds in gluing googly eyes onto citrus fruits and photographing them, “because they just look so friendly.” At the close of her soliloquy, Karen, wearing only an apron, laughs as she poses with her silly-faced limes and oranges, then smashes them to smithereens with a hammer, sobbing into the pulp as the lights come down.

Tootsie Spangles, Hattie HellKat, Woody Shticks (Ryan Adams Photography,2013)

Tootsie Spangles, Hattie HellKat, Woody Shticks (Ryan Adams Photography, 2013)

Genius aside, there were a few small hiccups in the story’s continuity. Did the opening scene take place at Kiki’s apartment, as she said? Or at Kiki’s parents’ house, as someone mentions later? Did the friends meet in college, as the characters maintain? Or in high school, as the program indicates? At times, it was also a struggle to see what was going on, as the Blackbox’s lack of an elevated stage made it difficult to see floor work that happened too far downstage. Though I will admit that this may be my own fault for (a.) being so very short and (b.) insisting on sitting next to goth-goddess Seraphina Fiero, who was seated in the second-to-last row.

Overall, Dinner with Death was an invigorating, sexy emotional jaunt. It’s rare that people actually use the phrase, “I laughed! I cried!” and mean it, but really. The rampant ridiculousness of the characters, the magic and the show’s general eccentricity made for a highly entertaining night of theater.

I am extremely curious (and confusingly aroused) at the thought of The Libertinis’ next adventure: a reprise of Gone Wild: A Savage Romp Through the Animal Kingdom produced by Annex Theater.

Tootsie Spangles (Ryan Adams Photography, 2013)

Tootsie Spangles (Ryan Adams Photography, 2013)

Tootsie Spangles, Hattie HellKat, Woody Shticks (Ryan Adams Photography, 2013)

Tootsie Spangles, Hattie HellKat, Woody Shticks (Ryan Adams Photography, 2013)

*****

For more information on The Libertinis and when you can catch their next show, visit their Facebook page over HERE.

Crystal Tassels untangles BurlyCon.

•11/19/2013 • 3 Comments

Editor’s note: Burlesque Seattle Press welcomes special guest author Crystal Tassels, whose passion for burlesque brought her all the way to Seattle from South Korea – and whose fresh voice, perspective, and enthusiasm brought her to BSP. Here Crystal recounts her first time attending this year’s BurlyCon, and we’re excited to share her sparkly musings with you. So without further ado…

~Written by Crystal Tassels

My burlesque career started in Seoul, South Korea as a member of what was, in 2011, the only burlesque troupe performing in the country. Looking for resources and inspiration, I rifled high and low through the internet to see how the art form was developing in North America. I watched hours of festival footage, tore through articles and blogs, and quietly stalked the cast of New York’s Wasabassco Burlesque on Facebook (I swear that one of these days I’ll finally work up the courage to friend Sapphire Jones). As one of about ten active sparkle tarts on the Korean peninsula, this was like standing on the street looking in on a fabulous party through somebody’s window.

Last weekend, surrounded by six-hundred sparkled, coiffed, graceful people, I felt firmly on the inside of the festivities.

This was BurlyCon: dance academy, history lesson, slumber party, love fest. Burlesquers from far and wide gather in Seattle once a year to hone their craft, network, and learn from one another for four community-oriented days. The event brings talent to the Emerald City from across the world. It’s fairly common, though nonetheless electrifying, to have the stars and legends of contemporary burlesque in class right next to you. During our “Advanced Chair Dancing” class, Ray Gunn, in all his splendor, stepped on my toe and I just about hit the ceiling.

Perle Noire (Photo by Don Spiro)

Perle Noire (Photo by Don Spiro)

I arrived on Friday night just in time for the Burly Prom. This parade of poofy skirts, bow ties and glitter came complete with hours of dancing, Iva Handfull as a very convincing Napoleon Dynamite, and huge hair as far as the eye could see. There were sequins, silks and extremely sheer organzas in every color imaginable filling the ballroom and spilling out into the lobby bar, where people socialized when dancing under so much fabric became tiresome. At the stroke of midnight, Seattle’s own Sir Eddie Van Glam and San Francisco’s cosmic minx Laika Fox were crowned BurlyCon’s Prom King and Queen. During their coronation dance, the couple dove across the room, peeling and revealing with every lunge and whirl. The delighted crowd, knowing very well the wonder of spontaneous theater, applauded as Prom King and Queen pulled their royal strip completely out of thin air.

"Go-Go Dancing” with Vancouver BC’s Burgundy Brixx (Photo by Don Spiro)

“Go-Go Dancing” with Vancouver BC’s Burgundy Brixx (Photo by Don Spiro)

My Saturday classes started early and were stacked back-to-back throughout the day (though I did leave time enough for an invigorating dip in the hotel’s hot tub that afternoon). My first course was “Go-Go Dancing” with Vancouver, BC’s Burgundy Brixx, who encouraged her sleepy, 9am class to give it their bubbly all by telling stories of The Slipper Room in Manhattan, where she used to go-go nonstop for 45 minutes at a time. Next was “Stripping Behind the Fans”, a seminar taught by sultry danseuse Michelle L’amour. After an hour of deftly maneuvering huge, graceful ostrich fans around her slender frame, Ms. L’amour spoke at length about the screwdrivers, hardware, and (for international air travel) veterinary certifications that are required to maintain them. For an art form that often appears so effortless and delicate, it’s always striking to hear about the hardcore, industrial mechanisms holding everything together.

Michelle L'amour "Stripping Behind the Fans" (Photo by Don Spiro)

Michelle L’amour “Stripping Behind the Fans” (Photo by Don Spiro)

Later that night, the sparkly citizenry gathered for “Peer Reviews” to watch and workshop one another’s performances. The audience, some in full face, some in footed pajamas, scrawled feedback for each brave performer on white index cards and offered constructive comments and criticism following each act. One of the evening’s standout performances was presented by the incredibly stylish Lola Lesoleil, who was recently crowned Queen of the Alabama Burlesque Festival. Ms. Lesoleil, a vision in royal blue floor-length fringe, rippled weightlessly from one end of the stage to the other while the room bit its knuckles, unable to look away.

 Fast & Furious Silk Fans with Agent Asian (Photo by Don Spiro)

“Fast & Furious Silk Fans” with Agent Asian (Photo by Don Spiro)

Alas, all good, racy fun must someday come to an end. Sunday dawned cool and drizzly as the BurlyCon contingent took its final classes, frantically bought up everything left in the vending booths, and converted new friends to Facebook friends (because Facebook is forever). Here are a few of bits of trivia that I learned this weekend* :

  • Sally Rand invented the weather balloon
  • Black tattoo ink is often made of animal bone char
  • Hermes leather was originally stretched out in men’s restrooms and tanned using human urine
  • Ostrich feathers may be cleaned by steaming them
  • If the TSA stops you at airport security because of your feather fans, you can tell them they are (very large) cat toys
  • When I moved back to the US from Asia, I made a strategic decision to move to Seattle not because I had friends here, or because I had professional contacts. I moved to Seattle for the glitter. In addition to the magic of BurlyCon, consider the city’s enthusiastic audiences, smart-as-a-whip performers, artistic risk-taking, and supportive community. It should come as no surprise that Seattle is a burlesque destination known across the world.

    ___

    *Are these statements true? Can I verify their sources? I can’t say whether these are facts, myths, or hearsay,  so I’ll just mischievously leave their validity open for you, reader, to untangle if you wish.

    Ray Gun and Shanghai Pearl in between classes (Photo by Don Spiro)

    Ray Gunn and Shanghai Pearl in between classes (Photo by Don Spiro)

    Iva Handfull and Sir Eddie Van Glam (Photo by POC)

    Iva Handfull and Sir Eddie Van Glam at The Burly Prom (Photo by POC)

    Burly Prom Conga Line (Photo by POC)

    Burly Prom Conga Line (Photo by POC)

    Billy Corazon (Photo by POC)

    Billy Corazon (Photo by POC)

    The Naked Show!

    •11/13/2013 • 1 Comment

    ~ Written by Paul O’Connell (POC Photo)

    NakedShowV4

    This Friday and Saturday, November 16th & 17th at Theatre Off Jackson, Clown Stripper Productions presents The Naked Show. Why is it called The Naked Show, you might ask? Well, the entire cast will be naked (what else did you expect?); because of Seattle’s obscenity laws, no alcohol will be allowed in the same space as the nakedness.

    “Although I find pasties and merkins compelling, I just think they’re the biggest slap in the face to obscenity laws,” says producer Randi Rascal. “I find this hilarious because they’ve told us we can’t show something and so we’ve said, ‘Okay well if we can’t show it, we’ll cover it, we’ll bedazzle it, put tassels on it and we’ll light it on fire.’ Now it’s way more attention grabbing than a nipple could ever be. Which I think is a brilliant demonstration of non-compliance and fuck you to these silly obscenity laws,” Randi quips.

    Randi Rascal (POC Photo)

    Randi Rascal performing in Boom Boom L’Roux’s Late Nite Review

    Heidi Von Haught teamed up with Jesse Belle-Jones

    Heidi Von Haught from Sinner Saint Burlesque’s Special Feelings Show

    I met with Randi Rascal and Heidi Von Haught, the two ladies of Clown Stripper Productions – the duo responsible for the show – to disrobe to the sweet, supple details of The Naked Show. (Full disclosure, I am in this show as Man Johnson because when Randi Rascal asks you to get naked on stage… you fucking do it) Individually, Heidi and Randi have both had illustrious and varied careers in the burlesque world. Heidi and her former troupe The Von Foxies won “Best Troupe” at Burlesque Hall of Fame weekend in 2007, and Randi competed for “Best Debut” at BHoF 2011. More recently, Heidi and Randi are known for producing the show That’s F*cked up!

    POC: Why The Naked Show?

    Randi: We like to be naked.

    Heidi: I’m pretty much a nudist.

    Randi: We both really like to be nude. When did we start talking about this?

    Heidi: I don’t know.

    Randi: It’s been a back burner idea for a long time. Then we just got sort of galvanized to do it. Jonny Porkpie has a shirt with a cupcake leaping out if its wrapper screaming “Nuuuuuude”, which really kind of captures both our feelings on nudity and our intent of this show.

    POC: What were some of the hurdles you came across in combining nudity and performance during the production of this show?

    Heidi: One of the difficult things we dealt with was trying to figure out who’d be the host because we didn’t want to fall into the clothed male host/naked lady paradigm. Or the clothed host/naked cast paradigm in general. We thought about having Ernie [Von Schmaltz] host it but Ernie has a vibe that is a little sleazy, that’s part of his thing. Finding a way to do a show that was more naked that we usually get in burlesque without being more pornographic necessarily or sleazy…

    Randi: Although a certain amount of sleaze is kind of good fun. One of the biggest troubles we had to figure out was…a lot of vice laws in Seattle were written for strip clubs. Well all of them were. They’re all written with strip clubs in mind. You know, certain distances with no alcohol is the big one. No alcohol in the same space as…

    POC: As a naked nipple.

    Randi: Yes a naked nipple. So there is a very uncomfortable grey area between nudity for strictly titillation reasons and nudity for artistic reasons. Artistically speaking, our show kind of lands between these two. It’s low art, naked low art but kind of high art sometimes. But also kind of trying to get you hard sometimes.

    Heidi: We wanted for all of those things to be options.

    Randi: We want confused art boners.

    Heidi: So we have some numbers that are really performance arty.

    POC: What was the criteria for submissions?

    Randi: We told people that we wanted anything that uses nudity to make a statement about culture, art obscenity and vulnerability. We don’t just want people to do their usual numbers, but naked.

    Heidi: That’s kind of what most of our shows are about at this point. Like, sure it’s supposed to be fucked up but it’s not just supposed to be fucked up for the sake of being fucked up. It’s supposed to be fucked up for a purpose. Although their certainly is going to be nude for the sake of nude or fucked up for the sake of being fucked up in there because that’s part of people’s experience.

    Randi: It makes it fun to throw in a little nude for the sake of nude.

    POC: What’s it like to put a show like this together, book the place and get all the people together? Was it like another notch on your belt?

    Heidi: So this next summer will be my tenth year in burlesque. I feel like after ten years of burlesque you really kind have seen everything that there is. It’s just harder to get me excited about things and this feels like a challenge that is scaring me and that’s exciting to me. I’m a junkie for new things. I can’t do things too many times before I start getting bored.

    Randi: We’ve both been seeing kind of the same tropes over and over again in burlesque. Which is not to say you can’t do an old thing, do it really well and have it be incredibly entertaining to watch but the type of art that it seems like we’re both interested in and moving towards is a little bit different than what you would usually associate with burlesque. We’ve always been interested in doing things that are boundary-pushing. Obviously That’s F*cked Up! is a compendium of what is boundary pushing. Boundary blurring is also compelling and I think that the next stuff we do is definitely going to have even more elements of ‘what does it mean to tease or do sexual performance in 2014’.

    POC: What about the idea of nudity being uncomfortable and keeping things behind closed doors?

    Randi: You don’t want to make your privates public.

    POC: Yes. I think a lot of people react in certain ways when they see it out there.

    Heidi: Even in doing this show the number that I’m doing makes me really uncomfortable because it is naked in a way where I feel like I’m showing way more than I am comfortable with and it’s not just because I’m nude, it’s the way in which I’m going to be nude. That’s been really interesting for me to experience.

    POC: What type of feelings are you having with this?

    Heidi: Shame and embarrassment. I’ve been saying that Heidi is an asshole and she keeps making Megan do things that Megan is totally mortified by. [Heidi's real name is Megan]. But Heidi is obsessed with what will make a good show and Megan is just like, “Goddamnit. Really? You’re going to make me do this. This is fucking horrible.” But I told my friend Kat that I’m afraid I’m going to chicken out. And she said “Oh great, those are the numbers of yours I like the best, the ones where you say you might chicken out.” That’s why this feels like an important challenge to me. We’re already doing something that’s boundary pushing, sexual art in an era where there is still sexual repression. But then what this show is trying to do is push the boundaries of the boundaries already being pushed. How could we take this thing that’s already pushed really far even further? How could we make the nudist strippers explore their edges of discomfort?

    To see how the nudist strippers explore their edges of discomfort this weekend, get tix here.

    That's Fucked Up

    Heidi & Randi performing together in the very first That’s F*cked Up! show

    Happy anniversary, Bombshells!

    •11/10/2013 • Leave a Comment

    Image.axd

    ~ Written by Jessica Price

    The supertroupe that first put the sparkle in many a future burlesquer’s eye celebrates a milestone anniversary this year-  The Atomic Bombshells have been strutting their stuff for ten dazzling years now.  Kitten LaRue started the Bombshells in 2003 with Fanny N’ Flames, fresh from New Orleans where they’d been members of the legendary Shim Sham Revue (from 2001 to 2003).  New Orleans legends Kitty West and Wild Cherry were brought in to workshop with the Shim Shamettes, sharing the secrets of their bump and grinds, finely nuanced hand gestures, and other tricks of the trade. It was quite an education. “In some ways, this set the stage and really allowed me to dream big for The Bombshells,” Kitten explained when we sat down to talk about her long and winding performance career back in 2011. A now legendary Cinderella story ensued-  Kitten and Fanny managed to talk their way into a performance at The Showbox opening for Dita Von Teese before they had even finalized a cast or show. But they did have a crystal clear vision of a poised and cheeky group of girls that could charm the proverbial pants off a wide audience – The Atomic Bombshells.

    Kitten and Fanny quickly connected with the best of the best: Miss Indigo Blue, Honey D. Luxe, Ivy St. Spectre, and the formidable talents of a newcomer soon to make a name for herself as a producer and choreographer as well, Lily Verlaine. Kitten also scooped up the incredible talents of host Jasper McCann, Ruby Mimosa, Inga Ingenue, and today the troupe includes Lou Henry Hoover (the troupe’s first boyshell and Kitten’s real life wife), and glamour girl BenDeLaCreme.  A jaw-dropping all-star cast from end to end.

    With each member a vital part of their success, The Atomic Bombshells set the gold standard for over the top glamour and burlesque done the old fashioned way, with plenty of unconventional tricks up their collective sleeves. In the process, the Bombshells have helped to bring burlesque to a wider audience and solidify its place on professional stages such as the Triple Door.

    This week, The Atomic Bombshells celebrate ten years with a remounting of their most grandiose spectacle of all, the sci-fi adventure Lost In Space (November 13-16 at the Triple Door).  Here’s a look back at some of the show’s most memorable moments:

    Bombshells-LIS-Doucette

    KittenLaRue-Saturn-MichaelDoucette

    Atomic Bombshells - Lost in Space @ Triple Door

    LostInSpace-kick

    LIS-ChristopherNelson-Ihearanewworld

    Want to see a little more?  Get your tickets NOW.  And don’t forget to wish them a happy, happy anniversary.

    November 13th at 7:30pm (17+)
    November 14th, 15th, and 16th at 7pm (17+) and 10pm (21+)
    The Triple Door
    216 Union St., Downtown Seattle

    Tickets: $22-$35, priority seating given to advance purchase
    www.tripledoor.net or call 206-838-4333

    BurlyCon VI.

    •11/05/2013 • Leave a Comment

    burlycon6

         Written by Paul O’Connell (POC Photo)

    BurlyCon comes but once a year
    and when it comes you’ll know it’s here
    a magical glittery cloud does appear
    rising above and spreading good cheer

    Rising above and spreading good cheer at the Doubletree Hotel at SeaTac that is. That’s right, BurlyCon VI kicks off this week and is poised to be the most-attended BurlyCon yet. Each year gets bigger and bigger…how will they take the group photo this year, I don’t know. It was quite a feat to accomplish that task last year; however we did manage to set a Guinness World Record for the largest fan dance.

    Once again burlesquers will converge on The Doubletree. It’s always great to meet people you’ve heard about as well as reconnect with those you met at last year’s Con or perhaps another burlesque festival around the country.  At BurlyCon the worldwide community gets to come together under this burlesque umbrella to have a little fun and learn from each other.

    Says the BurlyCon website:  “BurlyCon is a community-oriented professional growth and educational convention for Burlesque performers, fans, and aficionados.” Last year I made sure to take as many of the different types of educational classes as I could.  Some of the ones that stood out for me: Slow Burn with Lola Frost, Eye Contact with Peekaboo Pointe, This is Your Stage with Alotta Boutté, The Cheeky Reveal with Coco Lectric , Strip Hop with Angelique DeVil (very early in the morning mind you) Also there were many interesting panels such as The Nerdlesque Panel and Size and Body Panel.

    Guest of Honor-Wild Cherry

    Guest of Honor-Wild Cherry

    This year BurlyCon’s Guest of Honor is Wild Cherry from New Orleans, whom I had the honor of seeing perform at New Orleans Burlesque Festival a few years back. This year also boasts an amazing group of presenters, including first time presenters Ray Gunn (our current “King of Boylesque” from this year’s BHoF), Kitten de Ville, and Perle Noire, as well as returning presenter Michelle L’amour (Have you seen her “Butthoven’s 5th Symphony” yet?) So. Many. Classes.

    Check the schedule and I’m sure you’ll wish there were two of you because you just won’t be able to choose between which awesome class that you want to take at 2:15.  While you’re at it, download the brand new Guidebook mobile app for your phone or tablet.

    Ray Gunn-Current King of Boylesque

    Ray Gunn-Current King of Boylesque (photo by Kaylin Idora)

    Michelle L'amour

    Michelle L’amour (photo by Bruno O’Hara)

    In addition to the classes, panels, dances, peer reviews and meet & greets, there is BurlyCon after dark. That’s what I call the unofficial exploits of the BurlyCon attendees once the final events are done each day. (Incidentally, that’s where I learned about Cards Against Humanity for the first time at 2am in the morning at Ed Maloney’s crazy, swingin’ suite). And don’t forgot about the special, burlesque hot tub action (unfortunately there’s a limit on how many of us can be in there at one time).

    Perle Noire

    Perle Noire (photo by David Woodley)

    Kitten de Ville

    Kitten de Ville (photo by POC Photo)

    If I can stress one little piece of advice, it’s make sure you have plenty of vitamin C, zinc, Purell or whatever your miracle shield is to stave off colds. The BurlyCon Bug is a vicious flu that can inflict a world of hurt.  This is Seattle in November, after all.

    I hope you all have a magical time over these 4 days. Can you imagine what a Burlycon summer camp would be like?

    Check out Burlycon for more info.

    Jezebel Express who lead last year's record breaking fans dance (photo by Don Spiro)

    Jezebel Express who lead last year’s record breaking fans dance (photo by Don Spiro)

    The Bishop of Burlesque (photo by Don Spiro)

    The Bishop of Burlesque (photo by Don Spiro)

    Slow Burn with Lola Frost  (photo by Don Spiro)

    Slow Burn with Lola Frost
    (photo by Don Spiro)

    Meet & Greet with Velvet Ice & Ellion Ness (photo by POC)

    Meet & Greet with Velvet Ice & Ellion Ness (photo by POC)

    meet & greet with Eve Harmony, Jeez Loueez & Cora Vette (photo by POC)

    Meet & Greet with Eve Harmony, Jeez Loueez & Cora Vette (photo by POC)

    Meet & Greet with the lovely ladies from BC (photo by POC)

    Meet & Greet with the lovely ladies from BC (photo by POC)

    Meet & Greet with Polly Wood & Jesse Belle-Jones (photo by POC)

    Meet & Greet with Polly Wood & Jesse Belle-Jones (photo by POC)

    One to watch: Meneldor Photography.

    •11/03/2013 • 1 Comment

    Violet2

    The visually striking images of Meneldor Photography have been popping up all over the place recently.  Rick Priest has been hard at work, quietly building up a formidable portfolio that moves between subjects quite comfortably- burlesquers, dancers, actors and beyond.  The images are vivid, lush…each one capturing a moment of stillness so exquisite that it feels as though your eyes are drinking in a painting, rather than a photograph.

    “As far as my photographic vision and focus, I tend towards the darker and moodier for sure.  I strive to make each photo that I work on its own individual piece of art,”  Rick explained. Though he has only been taking photos in a serious way since February 2013, with every shoot he is pushing himself to be better and continue to learn.  He credits fellow photographer (and Burlesque Seattle Press co-conspirator) Paul O’Connell as an inspiration, as well as many familiar faces from the Seattle burlesque community.

    “As far as performers that move me the ones that come to mind are Seraphina Fiero (of course FIERCE and SEXY. She isn’t afraid to ‘go there’ with her art), Iva Handfull (the first performer that I saw perform on stage and I can never get enough of her sneer and the mohawk. Her energy is amazing, and she’s one of the most driven and nicest people that I have met), Bolt Action (his versatility and stage presence is amazing), Bella Bijoux (LOVE HER. She brings the slow and sexy like no other), Tootsie Spangles (brings the drama to the stage and her acts always tell a story. Her facial expressions make her a pleasure to shoot), and the gentlemen of Mod Carousel (they always amaze me on and off stage. Their attention to their craft is inspiring). Also, I love the Screws and Paul. They have all been very supportive of my photography.”

    Currently, Rick is concentrating on event and studio work, and you may well bump into him at shows around town.  You’ll definitely know Meneldor’s photos when you see them.

    For this posting, Rick selected a handful of his favorite shots (all are credited below):

    Darkness

    129WMHR

    5LoRezWM

    Mikehope4a

    SeraViolet

    DOS1FB

    Mushroom

    541818_466379050137042_491937885_n

    Credits, from top of page:

    Violet Tendencies, Founder of Stripped Screw Burlesque

    Seraphina Fiero, performance shot of her “Demoness” act

    Sailor St. Claire “Vintage Goddess” (MakeUp Artist Seraphina Fiero)

    Arlene Kosters, in her first ever photo shoot (MakeUp Artist Seraphina Fiero)

    Mike Hope, Actor

    Seraphina Fiero and Violet Tendencies from the Stripped Screw ‘Vintage Slip’ photo shoot

    Seraphina Fiero “Death of Summer”

    Mushroom, shot at the Everett Arboretum

    Seraphina Fiero

    ******

    For bookings and information, please contact meneldorphotography@gmail.com

    https://www.facebook.com/MeneldorPhotography

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/91804640@N02/

    http://500px.com/priestrick

    Shakespeare never saw this coming: Boobs and the Bard.

    •10/28/2013 • Leave a Comment
    Scarlett O'Hairdye of Unnatural Redhead Productions (JLD Imagery)

    Scarlett O’Hairdye of Unnatural Redhead Productions (JLD Imagery)

    “The sparkly influx into my life has been really delightful.” – Scarlett O’Hairdye

    ~ Written by Paul O’Connell (POC Photo)

    Scarlett O’Hairdye of Unnatural Redhead Productions brings us a new themed burlesque show this Friday and Saturday (November 1-2) at The Jewelbox Theater at The Rendezvous: Boobs and the Bard – A Shakespeare Burlesque!

    Scarlett is definitely no stranger to themed tribute and nerdlesque shows. In the past year alone she’s performed in The Burl-X-Files, JOYStick! Level 2, Behind the Blue Door: A Dr. Who-Inspired Cabaret, Accio Burlesque! A Burlesque Tribute to Harry Potter, An Evening at Merlotte’s: Burlesque Inspired by True Blood, I Love the 80’s! A Totally Gnarly Burlesque Tribute as well as her last production The Sugar Frosted Crunchy Flake Friday Evening Cartoon Hour and just a few weeks ago, Bechdel Test Burlesque. Due to her keen appreciation of Shakespeare and absolute passion for burlesque sparkliness, it was only a matter of time before she brought Boobs and the Bard to the burlesque stage.

    Boobs and the Bard was something that came up about a year and half into my burlesque producing and performing career. There is just a lot you can draw from with Shakespeare, and doing a Shakespeare themed show.” Scarlett says.

    Before we talk about stripping to Shakespeare, I like to get into the history of how ordinary citizens succumb to the sparkly and irresistible world of burlesque. So I met Scarlett at Cafe Pettirosso amongst the very loud clinking and clanking of silverware and coffee cups. We both had mint tea (don’t print interviews always make it a point to tell you what the subjects are drinking/eating?) and I set out to get the lowdown on Scarlett’s burlesque origins and glittery associations.

    POC: What was your introduction to burlesque?

    Scarlett: I actually went to a friend’s recital (at Miss Indigo Blue’s Academy of Burlesque 101) in the fall of 2010, and I saw everybody perform and I was like, “I need to do this, this is a thing I need to do.” I couldn’t sign up for winter at that point so I registered for spring of 2011… I registered for spring real early; and then I was thinking about it a lot. My first [non-recital] burlesque show was Stripped Screw’s Christmas show that year. I started going to more shows and I signed up for a variety of dance classes too because I was just really excited about wanting to do everything I could to prepare for it. It was also kind of trying to do something that would distract me from the fact that I wasn’t taking the burlesque class yet.

    POC: Did you have any previous experience with performance?

    Scarlett: I actually grew up doing community musical theater. My very first play was Showboat and I had the line “Momma, momma, here come the captain.” So I had a lot of theater experience. Also, in early high school I got into going to Anime conventions and cosplaying. So I was sewing a lot of my own costumes and going out in somewhat public venues in crazy outfits and uncomfortable footwear for a couple a weekends a month. I was comfortable onstage and I was comfortable with the idea of wearing weird costumes in front of people. There’s definitely a certain hurdle to get over the idea of actually taking off that weird costume in front of other humans, but I like to joke that I traded my dignity for some magic beans when I was a little kid and that the beans weren’t actually magic. I find life’s a lot more fun if you don’t worry about embarrassing yourself.

    POC: What excites you about burlesque/nerdlesque?

    Scarlett: I really enjoy getting to self-cast. I think it’s great that in burlesque you can choose to play a character you wouldn’t normally get cast for in a play if you were auditioning for somebody else. I really enjoy just the whole DIY aesthetic. You can do everything from the ground up. You have complete creative control over something you’re creating. Having done art professionally for other people for a really long time, it’s really refreshing to do things entirely like just what you want to do and not necessarily concerned with whether it’s going to please the client. And I really like seeing people use their 3-5 minutes on the stage to do something new and interesting and maybe tell me a story that I didn’t know I was going to be told when I came in.

    Mod Carousel (Jazzy Photo)

    Mod Carousel (Jazzy Photo)

    Scarlett: I think that applies to nerdlesque just as much as it applies to regular burlesque. I feel that nerdlesque is useful as a marketing term; a themed show just tells people what direction the show is going to go once you’re in there. But there’s nothing inherently different from a Star Wars themed show than there is to a show that’s just a mix of classic and neo-burlesque. It’s just the Star Wars one probably has some in-jokes in it.

    I want to do acts that I can perform anywhere that don’t require a backstory for the audience; that’s one of my goals for 2014. I want to do acts that you wouldn’t look to qualify them as a nerdlesque act but I want to do them without giving up my nerdiness and my awkwardness and my enjoyment of being funny and a little bit silly on stage.

    Hattie Hellkat and Tootsie Spangles (Photo by Amanda Jane)

    Hattie Hellkat and Tootsie Spangles (Photo by Amanda Jane)

    POC: You mentioned that you fell into producing by accident. How did that happen?

    Scarlett: My 101 class actually decided that we wanted to create a troupe. We all really liked performing so much [that troupe, Sass Boom Bang Burlesque, had two shows in the summer and fall of 2011]. After the fall show most of the people in the troupe were like, “I just don’t really have the time for this, I can’t devote as much time to this as this needs.” But by the time we made that decision I had already booked Iva Handfull for what was going to be our February show and I didn’t want to cancel that booking. So I had these dates and I had this headliner… I’ll just open this up and produce a show. It went pretty well and then people started asking me when my next show was going to be and I was like, “Oh ummmmmm, May?” and then I kind of just kept producing.

    POC: It looks like you will be very busy in 2014…

    Scarlett: I’m moving into producing on a bi-monthly basis for my own shows in 2014. I felt that once I got to the point that I was selling out single night shows, then I can do a double night show. If I’m selling out my single night shows this consistently then I can produce bi-monthly instead of quarterly. I will have 5 shows that are going to be solely Unnatural Redhead Productions in 2014. The December show is going to be in association with Jo Jo Stiletto Events and then me and Sailor St. Claire are talking about co-producing a show (potentially in November) and then me and Randi Rascal are thinking about doing something together for May.

    POC: You’re also quite the costumer to the burlesque crowd.

    Scarlett: I was reluctant at first to actually make costumes for other people because I wasn’t sure my sewing chops were up to the task. But people would ask and I would look at what they wanted and I would break it down in my head and say “Okay, I think I could actually do that.” Then people would hear that I did costuming and would come to me and I would just look at what they wanted and I would say “Yeah, I think I can do that.” And I have turned “Yeah, I think I can do that” into an actual…something that is making the majority of my income now. That was unexpected but delightful.

    POC: What’s it like performing with your husband, Bolt Action (who you met at an Anime convention right)?

    Scarlett: Yes. Working together has been really great. He’s just always up for whatever I kind of need him to be up for. And basically that started out because for the first troupe show that my 101 class did, I wanted to do this personal trainer act but I needed a personal trainee and nobody in the troupe could really do it because they were working on their own acts, so I was like, “Sweetie, do you want to let me manhandle you on stage?” and he was like, “yeah I guess.” And then he had a good time and somebody asked him to do a solo act for a nerd theme show that fall. He had this idea to do an Aquaman routine and it’s probably become his signature act.

    Bolt Action & Scarlett (JLD Imagery)

    Bolt Action & Scarlett (JLD Imagery)

    POC: Your wedding back in May was a burlesque extravaganza.

    Scarlett: It was. My wedding was attended half by family, friends, and knitters, which is my other big group here in Seattle, and half by sparkle people. The sparkly influx into my life has been really delightful.

    POC: Back to Boobs and The Bard, can you tell me a little about your fondness for Shakespeare?

    Scarlett: We all had to read Shakespeare and there were definitely some plays I was more interested in reading than others. My favorite was probably “A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream”. I read it willingly and on multiple occasions. My next favorite is “Twelfth Night”. I have an appreciation for somebody who has written so much and written with such a variety of characters. For the show, I’m super excited that I was able to arrange Iris Explosion to come out from New York to be my headliner. I actually contacted her on a recommendation from Jo Jo Stiletto who said she had an awesome speak and strip from the end of “Much Ado About Nothing”. She has three Shakespeare pieces so I said to her, “You’re closing the show, here’s the feeling I would like the end of the show to have. Which one do you want to do?”

    New York's Iris Explosion (Photo by Steve Olender)

    New York’s Iris Explosion (Photo by Steve Olender)

    *****

    To find out which one Iris chose, you must come to the show. In addition to Iris Explosion, the cast includes: Jesus la Pinga, Scarlett O’Hairdye, Bolt Action, Queenie O’Hart, Tootsie Spangles, Hattie Hellkat, Solange Corbeau, Olatsa Assassin, Sailor St. Claire, Trojan Original, Paris Original, The Luminous Pariah, and will be hosted by Rebecca Mmm Davis.

    Man, if only Shakespeare were like this in high school.

    Get tickets HERE.

    This weekend!

    This weekend!

     
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