Monday, June 29, 2009

Party's Over

Tracing Sonny closed yesterday. It's strange because I was so tired and scatterbrained from life that I didn't get to properly bid my show goodbye.

This show was an absolute delight from the beginning of the process to the very end. My designers were great. My cast was amazing. My crew was dedicated. The theatre company was so supportive and I got some good reviews. (I'll post those blurbs later.)

I applied my knowledge of dancing and composition to directing. I tried to create a welcoming and fun creative environment for my actors. Most of our rehearsals seemed like fucking around time. We'd share stories and talk about our days and tell horrible jokes, then get a lot done in a short period. Because it was a small cast, I could work around the last minute work and illnesses. I went to almost every show, started giving ridiculous pep talks before the shows and hanging out with them during intermission. In fact, one of my ridiculous pep talks led to the art on my thank you card from the cast.

You see, I wanted to entertain them and distract them so any pre-show nerves would be forgotten. (My dad tried the same tactic before walking me down the aisle, declaring that he was gassy. Of course, I wasn't nervous but it was hilarious just the same.) The story was about a random statue that I saw at a store on Melrose. The story sounded obscene so I brought it around and gave them some "the moral of the story is" bullshit. So the ever gifted Sebastian Kadlecik (one of my cast members and the artist who cranks out awesome Snapper art for me) drew the cover of the card based on my description. The custom card and the messages inside validated my work far more than any reviews.

It was fun, kids. Let's do it again sometimes.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Under the Influence


There's a new documentary out that stars one of my earliest burlesque instructors, Miss Indigo Blue. The film, A Wink and a Smile, follows some girls as they pursue a six-week education in burlesque and striptease that culminates in their performance debut.

Indigo is pretty, shapely and hammy. She performed the night before the film opened in Los Angeles, and I was there to do pick up. She's an amazing comedienne and makes such great faces. I realized how much she's influenced me. I make big faces. It's amazing.

If you find yourself in Seattle, take her classes. She's a very patient and caring teacher.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Becoming a Better Dancer #4

I'm always trying to improve my skill. It's challenging to step into the dance world when one is no longer a pup, especially when everyone else it seems has been at it since they learned to walk.

Christopher Walken is better known these days for his speech pattern than his dancing skill. Old fella still had moves a few years back.


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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Cat People

I don't hate cats. I'm just very allergic to them. I recognize that many people get cats because they don't feel they have the lifestyles to accommodate dogs. (Cats really are no substitute for dogs, but I digress.) I have dogs and I love dogs and I'm not allergic to dogs.

My neighbor has cats. He's pretty good about keeping his cats inside. Over three years, I can't say I've ever actually seen his cats. I've seen cats, but they were too mangy to be his cats. Neighborhood animals crawl into my yard and think it's their home. Our dogs have chased off bunnies, neighborhood small dogs (not strays) and cats o' plenty in the time we've been here. Piper caught the neighbor's tiny dog once and shook the hell out of it, and Felicity caught a random kitten, shook it and frightened it to death. We check our yard before we let the dogs outside because we don't want to deal with another dead body, and we want to remain on good terms with our neighbors even if they're the ones not properly managing their pets.

We've had an abundance of cats in our yard lately. We check the yard, but sometimes they hide under the car or on the back stoop. Hell, a couple cats in heat fought on our front porch last week while we were sleeping. It was as if we suddenly grew a bunch of cats. Where the hell did all these cats come from? Couldn't they tell that our yard wasn't a safe haven for them when my big dogs with fangs came out to run around? What would attract them to my yard?

My neighbor has been putting out food for the strays. I discovered it Thursday and I was pissed. I saw a cute little kitten that was probably from the same litter as the one Felicity scared to death. The cats walk through my yard to get to the viddles. Damn it! I'm trying to chase the cats away for their own safety, and my neighbor is luring them in. Fucking cat people.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Substituting

I helped a friend co-produce a show last night. The regular co-producer was out of town so I stepped in to help. I was surprisingly calm through all the glitches -- the oil puddle on stage, the music issues, the accidental redistribution of pay because of a misunderstanding, the unnecessary apologies to the audience. The show went well and people loved it, so that's what's important in the end.

I did learn more about myself as a producer. Generally, it's better for me to produce something myself or with Andrew. I know exactly what is going on, what's done and what's not done when it's all being run out of my household. I do ask for help and I delegated tasks for the really big show, but I was running it so I knew things were getting done. It wasn't clear exactly what parts of the producer hat I was responsible for, but I probably should've made a checklist for this show. I do work well with Theatre Unleashed since I know exactly who handles what part of the production, and I know they know they're responsible for that part just as I'm responsible for my part of the production. I guess the trick to co-producing is knowing what the other person is doing and thinking, and knowing what parts of the producer hat need to be covered.

Kids, take a lesson from me on this one. Know what's expected of you. (I probably should've pestered the real co-producer I was replacing for this show what tasks she covers. Oops.) But at least we didn't burn the place down, right?

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

As you know, dear reader, I decided to make the jump from my day job of seven plus years into the world of temping. I enjoyed school this spring and have already paid for my fall classes. I'm very busy with the theatre company and my burlesque career, and I try to have some semblance of a normal home life.

Knowing my services weren't needed as much and that I'd tapped out my earning potential at that job, I gave notice over six weeks ago that I was leaving. The people are very nice at that job and they do good things, but it was time for me to mosey. I gave a nice, long runway to my departure so there was plenty of time to train a replacement for the tasks that were still needed.

Last Monday I was offered to continue with this office doing very limited functions for a set pay rate each week. I had intended last week to be my final week and made myself available to temp agencies starting this week. While the money was appealing, I was going to continue just to help them out. One day of pay at this rate was still less than a week full of temp work, even if the hourly rate was higher.

Now that I have work lined up, it's going to be difficult for me to continue to help in the hours I have available. I put in my notice to leave. I want to help as they're good people, but it feels more like an obligation ... or an albatross. I think it will be better for everyone if I just leave completely and move on with my life.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Snapper Toons

I was very fortunate to get to perform and model for Dr. Sketchy's Anti Art School in Las Vegas this weekend during the Burlesque Hall of Fame Reunion. (Thanks to Cha Cha Velour for having me. What a sweetie!) It was great to perform for new people. I did my Tiki Room dance, then I posed for 20 minutes so I could be sketched and photographed.

We each got to create our own contest for the artists. Since I just finished directing a play about a cartoon artists, I made my contest best comic strip. There were some incredible images. Here's the winner's comic strip:



















She managed to see right into my soul. I love "Lost." (Since my camera is broken, I had to shoot these with my camera phone. The comic is three panels.)

I didn't get to see all of the artwork when I judged the contest. This gem was made by T.J. Rappel of KrusherVision. Wowza. It's incredible. I was two seats away from him at Saturday night's Exotic World competition, and I found out he had the sketch for me to see at his booth. I saw it Sunday morning and fell in love with it, begging him to let me take it. The camera phone photo doesn't do it justice. I can't wait to frame it and put it on my wall.

It was such a joy to participate in Dr. Sketchy's Las Vegas. I really hope I'm invited back next year.

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How to Survive in Vegas for Three Days Without Deodorant

Wow. I just typed that title. Hilarious.

Let me first explain myself because the premise sounds pretty disgusting. I'm very particular about my deodorant. I can't wear the stuff that feels waxy. I don't like mixing scents so I stay away from powder-scented spray deodorant or surf-scented roll on. The deodorant stones say to dampen them but they don't really work unless you douse them and re-wet for your second application. I use unscented roll on deodorant that isn't full of chemicals, and it works fairly well when I'm not too distracted in the morning to apply it. My roll on deodorant doesn't travel well; it has a tendency to leak on everything. I couldn't put it in my single carry on suitcase and risk it leaking all over my costume for Burlesque Hall of Fame Reunion Weekend.

As I've proven before, antibacterial gel works as a great deodorant substitute in a pinch. My plan was to get a travel bottle between the opening of my show and the airport. Didn't happen. When I reached the hotel/casino, I checked the gift shop for some antibacterial gel. They were out. They had wipes but I suspect those wouldn't work the same. I was still fine from my Saturday morning application of deodorant at home when I wandered the casino. To my surprise, they had antibacterial gel dispensers in the huge bathrooms on the casino floor. So for the remainder of Saturday, Sunday and early Monday, I used the antibacterial gel from the dispensers to smell fresh for free. I didn't smell like a chili dog once.

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Open


My play opens tonight. It's nice to see something come to fruition after investing months of work into it. I'm very proud of the work I've done directing this show, the work Andrew did writing it, and the work of all of my actors. I have some great designers, and the members of Theatre Unleashed have all given their support.

The opening of a show is bittersweet. I'm glad the rehearsals are through so my evenings are opened up again. I'm glad I won't have to spend the majority of my days and nights in the theatre making sure the technical elements are ready to go. I'm glad I'm done fighting with the multimedia element. It will be nice to deliver a final product to an audience.

The sad part is sending the five year-old off to school for the first day. Rehearsals have been so fun. My actors are awesome. The material has been a joy to direct. I have to take my hands off it now.

I leave you with the above photo from our early rehearsals. We blocked the play at an office in the Valley so we didn't have proper platforms. We tamed the sea of pink rolling chairs and black tables to create our set for rehearsals. I think we were blocking part of the first act that night. You can see my entire cast in this crappy cell phone photo: (L-R) Sylvia Anderson, Vanessa Hurd, Jacob Smith and Sebastian Kadlecik. If you're near L.A., you have to see this show. It'll make you laugh and cry.

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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

My Recycling Attempt

When I was a kid, we would stake out territories for aluminum can recycling. I think I got one garbage can in the house and my brother got a can in the shop, and my other brother probably got the outside garbage can. I remember all three of us would load up the car with our individual trash bags of aluminum for recycling, maybe once a month or so. We could keep the money from our efforts, so it felt really rewarding to get between $2 and $5 per trash bag of cans.

We started recycling when we moved into this house. We have the blue recycling trash can, so we would throw our cans, plastic and glass bottles into it and wheel it out whenever it was full. Of course, our back porch was always packed with empty recyclables until we made the time to fill the can. A couple months ago, Andrew had the bright idea to sort our recyclables. The people who pilfer the garbage cans on trash day eve would probably leave our cans alone if they knew we didn't put anything of value in them. We set up boxes for cardboard and newsprint, plastic bottles and containers, and aluminum and glass. We had this idea that we could take our glass and aluminum to the local recycler and make some moolah.

Our internet was out over the weekend, so we found we had the time to see if the experiment paid off. We separated our aluminum (2 cans, some foil wads and a Jiffy Pop pan) from our glass (about 50 beer bottles, 3 pickle jars, 3 spaghetti sauce jars and a Jack Daniels bottle). The aluminum wouldn't even fill a plastic grocery bag so we threw it in our blue can. We filled two kitchen garbage bags with the bottles and headed to the plant. I figured that if we made at least $5, it was worth 20 minutes of our lives.

I now understand why people steal grocery carts and haunt the streets for recyclables. We got $2.50 for all that glass. Wow. We may continue taking our glass to the recycler, but only when we have at least 50 bottles. The rest is too much sugar for a nickel.

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The Importance of Mentors


I've had the good fortune to study with a number of successful and talented burlesque performers. There's a lot to be said about having good teachers. There's also a lot to be said about having good mentors. My mentors have always been open to answering any questions I had about the business, generously telling me what I wanted to know.

When I was in Boston, I had the pleasure of having lunch with Jo Boobs. I love Jo. She's had more influence over my artistic choices than I'm sure she knows. Back in 2007, I bought her e-book (soon to be a for-realsies book) after a burlesque pole class, and it sent me down the path. I love Jo. Love her. She's smart and has so much artistic integrity.

Anyway, there are things you learn about the world of burlesque (touring, competitions, choices) when you sit down with someone who knows. Those aren't things you typically get out of a class. Those candid conversations are validating and educational. Sit down with a mentor in your field if you get the chance. I felt so good about my pursuits after that lunch. Also, I love Jo.

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