Dieselpunk: Because Steam Wasn't Dirty Enough!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

12 Reasons To Attend a Burlesque Show in 2014

Never been to a burlesque show? Here's a web site that gives 12 reasons why you should make this part of your New Year's resolutions for 2014. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Lab teching my way through striptease school: I did it! (blog version)

Over on my Tumblr, I made a post titled "I did it!" when I submitted the video of my routine to the Dallas Burlesque Festival.  A couple days ago, I followed it up with a second "I did it!" post upon receiving news that I was accepted.  Yes, you heard right: I am performing in the Dallas Burlesque Festival!

post-filming shot
On filming day, I was both really nervous and excited.  It wound up being a weird evening as my classmates were absent for various reasons and a fire alarm had gone off in the complex when I arrived.  While we waited for the firefighters to shut it off, I asked The Dirty Blonde about shows that I ought to submit my routine to.  After naming a couple, she brought up the Dallas Burlesque Festival.  I was hesitant because it is such a big event and I have no experience with dancing burlesque solo.  Dirty said that it couldn't hurt to apply.

After waffling on the subject (and actually being so hesitant to see myself on camera that I had to wait until my partner came home to watch the video), I eventually realized what she meant.  Yeah rejection sucks, but I face that as a writer all the time.  I didn't think I would be accepted as a stage kitten with no experience last year, but it happened because I gave it a shot.  Go big or go home, right? 

That mentality has gotten me really far with burlesque, and looking back at the past year, I am impressed with all the chances I've taken, as well as the work I've put in.  Not to say that I've always had it easy, but I do tend to pursue hobbies that I happen to be good at.  I've had to work for this; even if the dance steps were easy to learn, getting them to look effortlessly sensual took effort.  I'm proud of myself, and I've learned to not be afraid to say it.

My resolution to be more naked has been beyond successful.  It's transformed me, and I hope that burlesque continues to have that impact.  I'm super excited to see what 2014 has in store and to be in the Dallas Burlesque Festival!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Lab teching my way through striptease school: More Than Just Stripping

Now that I've filmed my routine (it got moved to last Wednesday because of Thanksgiving), I can resume blogging.  How many times have you used the qualifier "more than just stripping" when talking about burlesque?  I know I have, and while I mean no insult to my stripper sisters, burlesque does have a history that involves zero clothes being shed.  Last month I got to be part of a variety show that evoked the old time burlesque performances that had comedy, music, and sideshow acts along with the striptease.

Oops the Clown and The Famous Mr. Cheeze
By Josh B.

Because I work in a lab with early birds, I generally avoid burlesque shows that are on Sundays through Thursdays.  I've come to realized that I'm missing future opportunities and have decided to make exceptions. The first was Look What I Can Do Variety Hour, which was presented in partnership with Clever Girl Cabaret.  In addition to wanting to stage kitten for the lovely ladies of Clever Girl and to see a different side of burlesque, I saw that the cast included a cute little dog named Mr. Cheeze. How could I resist?

Black Mariah told me to go circus for my outfit. At first I wasn't sure I had anything, but I started throwing together pieces from my closet.  I wound up using the bra i made for the pride parade, these whimsical shorts I bought in Taiwan that have been the subject of many butt shots, striped tights, and a mini top hat. It definitely was not practical for the cold front that had moved in, but stripper life isn't always glamorous. . . or comfortable.

One of the aforementioned butt shots
By Josh B.
The folks from Look What I Can Do were extremely friendly and helpful.  Oops the Clown and Kitty Kaos actually wrote out a setlist (when we couldn't find a spare copy) and marked when they would need me to pick up. I was also impressed by their ability to adapt to many unexpected variables. When you have a tiny animal and audience volunteers, you need to be able to think quickly on your feet.  It's something I've talked about before, and I discovered that there's definite room for improvement.  Mr. Cheeze was just way too fast.

Ratty Scurvics doing curtain call
Photo by Josh B.
Look What I Can Do Variety Hour was a huge hit because everyone was over-the-top and had the crowd enthralled.  Since my classes focus a lot on choreography and technique, I've been trying to approach burlesque from a theatre perspective. Despite doing drama in college, acting is one of my weaker points, and I started to worry about that aspect of my solo routine.

Fortunately the Ruby Room held a workshop by Paco Fish that tackled character development and expressing emotions. It was just what I needed. Even though the exercises seemed simple, they managed to convey all the things I learned in theatre classes and doing plays in a way that made so much more sense to me. I needed something more tangible than thinking sad or happy thoughts for the emotion to come across on my face. Paco gave me a whole new way to view theatre, and it helped me approach my routine in a different light. I'm still working on making my facial expressions and gestures bigger, but I think the emotions translate across my face and body a lot better now. I'm also thinking that his workshop will also be useful in conveying emotions on paper when I get back in the habit of writing fiction again (which I plan on doing as I take a breather).

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Zaza: as scanned from the May 1942 issue of It magazine. 

Zaza hailed from Dunkirk, New York and was a talented dancer in revue style shows of the 1940s. She specialized in what was then termed ‘Oriental’, hula, jive and acrobatic dancing. (Source: Vintage Burlesque Photos)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Lab teching my way through striptease school: Going Solo and a Hairy Predicament

Over the summer, I realized that I had to start thinking about whether I wanted to join a troupe or strike out on my own.  Belonging to a troupe provides a lot of resources and opportunities that may be hard to find.  On the other hand, I’ve always been a loner, one with a unique approach that might not fit a group’s aesthetic.  Plus my schedule and lack of car doesn’t always work with rehearsal times.

Then the question became: what would be my debut solo act?  I won’t reveal too much, but one of my favorite J-pop artists has a song that I really identify with.  It has moments perfect for both striptease and poking fun at nerdy tropes.  However, I didn’t want to fall into clich├ęs, and I wasn’t sure my one plan to prevent that would work.

a sneak peek
I decided to sign up for The Dirty Blonde’s “Create Your Own Burlesque Routine” class, and it was the best thing I could’ve done.  Not only did I have another perspective on my vision, the class forced me to actually choreograph a routine and make a costume.  The latter was particularly important because I am a huge procrastinator and this costume wound up being a monster of a project.

My obsessive tendency to never want to waste anything, including a few inches of thread, has made sewing a terrible task to undergo.  In my attempts to avoid it, I wound up making some things more difficult.  Iron-on transfers are not the way to go.  I really have to thank my friend Tina and costuming goddess Black Mariah for all their help.  Also deserving of my gratitude is my partner who has shown me how to sew more than five times now and dealt with a few meltdowns over botched construction.  I did discover a love of rhinestoning.  My technique is messy, but I always feel accomplished after I glue a few stones down.  I also don’t find E6000 noxious at all.  Yay sparklies!

my first rhinestone job
As for choreography, the song’s looseness proved to be a challenge.  I’m so used to eight-counts and marking every single step that I got a little lost at first.  While there are still kinks to work out, I’ve learned that giving myself some leeway is important for when a stocking gets stuck or I forget a step.

This act has turned out to be really “cute”, a word I hate being called.  I just associate with bad memories and condescending attitudes of people who think I’m 15.  With this routine, I’ve learned to embrace my inner cuteness, but I’m redefining the adjective to better fit my identity. Nobody is going to confuse my burlesque for being an innocent little girl, and I want to challenge people’s ideas.

That being said, I came across another issue: body hair.  I had assumed I would shave, like I do for cosplay.  However, I really loathe the process and how women are expected to be hair-free.  It’s ridiculous, and if I want my performances to be satirical and provocative, what better way to do this than to defy beauty standards?  I don’t want to be conventionally pretty, and this routine isn’t classic.  At the same time, I know body hair is distracting (which is why I shave when I wear tank tops to dance class).  I don’t want to squash opportunities on such a trivial matter even though my sensitive skin is beginning to make this problem much bigger.  The community overall seems okay, but I don’t know about Dallas specifically.  I’m reminded of a quote from Ender’s Game that really kept me going during my rough adolescent years: “There's only one thing that will make them stop hating you. And that's being so good at what you do that they can't ignore you.”  The question is: as a newbie, am I good enough?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ava Dahl Darth Vader Burlesque

Ava Dahl, co-host of the dieselpunk podcast Diesel Powered Podcast, performance at the Music City Burlesque BOOlesque spectacular

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Honey Hula-la - Flapper

Honey Hula-la channels the roaring 20s as Charli the Flapper while utilizing some of her signature Polynesian dance moves at Cirque du Burlesque's October 2013 show.  Video by Ben Britt.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Look What I Can Do Variety Hour

Clever Girl Cabaret has teamed up with some friends from New Orleans to present a variety show featuring burlesque, comedy, music, magic, circus acts, and a tiny dog who does tricks!  The show is this Sunday, November 10 at Three Links.  It starts at 9 PM, and tickets are $10 pre-sale at Ticketfly and $15 at the door.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend 2013 Videos

The web site 21st Century Burlesque has posted videos from the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend 2013. Check them out!


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Lab teching my way through striptease school: Toons,Tease, and Childhood Dreams

After the pride parade, Carmen St. Cloud and I decided to ask Black Mariah if we could stage kitten for a cartoon-themed show she was producing.  I had already planned on going to Toons N Tease, but helping out would be a lot of fun.  Mariah not only said "yes", but she also had a spectacular costume idea.

Earlier I had posted on the facebook event page that I wish I had a Sailor Mars costume because Sailor Moon was my favorite Saturday morning cartoon growing up.  In fact, my nine-year-old self had sketched out plans for a Sailor Mars costume that sadly never came to fruition (even after I became a cosplayer).  Carmen had a Sailor Moon wig and a dress similar to the character's so Mariah asked us if we wanted to be Sailor Moon and Mars for her show.  There was no doubt what our answers would be.

The costumes she ordered came with the accessories so that save me from stressing out over how to make a tiara.  I did, however, need red pumps.  I thought they would be easy to find, but having small but wide feet is as inconvenient as the small band size + large cup size combo in bra shopping.  Thankfully Payless had a pair that fit (and were cheap), but since I found them the morning of the show, I forgot that I'm half a size smaller there.  I didn't notice until my foot kept slipping out when I walked off the stage, but they still worked (and I was able to exchange for the correct size later on).

As everyone was getting ready, Carmen and I went over our characters' signature poses.  The dancers advised me to start introducing myself by my stage name.  It seems like common sense, but when a lot of people in the community call you by your real name, making the switch is a bit tricky.  Since we had a bit of downtime, Carmen and I went to go catch up with some old friends and wish Appaloosa Red a happy birthday.

Being a stage kitten has taught me to think on my feet.  I used to put a lot of pressure on myself to clean up quickly and get everything set up perfectly on the first try.  However, as prepared as we try to be, things pop up last minute, and I'm learning that it's okay to get a little help from fellow kitten, the emcee, and the dancers themselves.  When all else fails, shake your butt.  Many thanks to everyone who gave me a hand, a minute, or a thumbs up.  Small gestures help when I get a little insecure.

The crowd in Three Links was fantastic, as were all the routines.  It was a nice mix of old faves and new surprises.  I loved how much nerdiness and nostalgia flowed on-stage and behind the scenes.  Taffeta Darling called me and Carmen and up for curtain call, which made us happy.  We love getting the love.

After the show, we joined the birthday girl, along with the rest of the Fangirls: Dames of the Round Table, and got Fuzzy's Tacos from next door.  It was fun seeing the surprised reactions of restuarant-goers.  Growing up, I thought I was the only kid who knew about Sailor Moon.  I was pleasantly surprised to hear how people were thrilled to see their childhood cartoon characters come to life and to learn that Jerry Fedora came across the series before it crossed over the States.  Giving people joy is the best thing about both cosplay and burlesque, and I'm glad I was able to contribute.  What made it even better was having my childhood cosplay dream finally come true.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Lab teching my way through stripper school: Workshops and Pride

When the Dallas School of Burlesque opened in May, I was eager to check out the classes.  I still wanted to study at the Ruby Room, but it was time to expand my repertoire with the different styles DSB offered.  Plus it’s nice to get a different perspective on old bump and grind moves.

Over the summer, DSB offered two workshops: chair dance with Stephan and tassel twirling with Black Mariah.  In my many years of dance classes, I’d never had a male teacher until Stephan, the Southern Fried King of Burlesque.  He had a very free-spirited approach, which was just what I needed.  I’d been spending so much time focusing on being sexy, and I’ve always been a counter.  Both were holding me back, and I was happy to work on improvising and just feeling the music.  I could use some work on strength and flexibility, but I still learned a few chair tricks for a future routine.

my first pair of assels and tassles
made by Black Mariah
Tassel twirling was something I’ve always thought was cool even before I knew that they were part of burlesque.  I went into Black Mariah’s class a little bit cocky.  All that shimmying I did in Ginger Valentine’s classes must account for something, right?  Well, it turned out that my technique could use some work.  I had also placed the tassels too low at first, but I was also trying too hard to make my boobs move.  Ironically I discovered that I was better at shimmying with my arms held straight up, which is a more difficult position than with your arms held out.  As with hula and belly dance, I always seem to master a harder move before getting the basics down.  Black Mariah also taught us how to twirl assels, which was equally challenging and fun.

During the latter half of the summer, I started to wonder if I was rushing into things too quickly.  My double weekend of shows with the Ruby Revue and Lemme Addams’ Stardust Revue wore me out.  I also didn’t want to come on too strongly in my eagerness to stage kitten.  As a result, I decided to take the time to focus on classes and figuring out who Hana Li is.

Bellilona Fatin, me, Carmen St. Cloud, and Raven
By Lecroix Photography

That didn’t mean I wasn’t involved in other community activities.  When I learned that the Dallas School of Burlesque was invited to march in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, I knew had to participate.  I’d never been to a pride parade, and I really wanted to show my. . . well, pride in being queer and my support.  What better way than to march with friends in fabulous showgirl costumes?  The Dirty Blonde made costuming really easy for those of us who were busy.  We just had to pick a color of a rainbow, get a swimsuit (or in my case, a bra) the color of the rainbow, and embellish.  I picked red because I already had bottoms of that color from my Wonder Girl costume (and because it’s a common bra color).  However, I wanted to wear my socks that are the colors of the asexual pride flag: black, grey, white, and purple.  With some advice from Lily Lecroix and fringe from Black Mariah, I was able to add a bit of purple to my bra.  I also learned how to rhinestone.

Through both the costuming sessions and the parade itself, I got to know more members of the burlesque community.  It was hot and a long walk, but the energy and enthusiasm was unbelievable.  My only regret came from my feet, which did not like the long walk in my gold wedge sneakers.  Still, that was nothing compared to Jade Vivian and MayMay walking in real heels.  They definitely get my admiration.  Pride was a nice way to end the summer, and I even got a stage kittening gig out of it.  That’s a story for another post.  In the meantime, you can check out more photos over on my facebook page.
By Susan Migdol, EDGE Dallas

Friday, September 20, 2013

Toons & Tease

Tickets are $15 advanced
$20 day of the show

You are encouraged to wear your favorite Saturday morning cartoon show costume or your comfy jammies.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Lab teching my way through striptease school: A Spectacular Spectacular Birthday Show for Lemme Addams

The day after performing at the Ruby Revue show, I had another gig on the other side of the Metroplex: stage kittening at Lemme Addams Stardust Revue.  Lemme, who also produces Whiskey Tongue Burlesque, is a good burlesque buddy so when she was casting for her birthday show, I jumped at the opportunity to pick up panties.  The theme, “A Night at the Moulin Rouge”, made me even more excited.  I love the music, and there was a ton of costuming potential.  I had something in mind that I hoped would work.

My neo-Victorian burlesque
costume, taken at All-con
by David Scott

Lily LeCroix, the stage manager, liked my neo-Victorian burlesque costume, which I originally wore at All-con.  Because of the time crunch (it was a busy weekend), I planned to show up already dressed.  I had spent the day with my family so I was trying to find a way to explain to my mother, who doesn’t know about my burlesque endeavors and is the more vocal parent, what kind of birthday celebration this was.  She was okay with the costume though so that bullet was dodged.  In fact, she had more to say about my show make-up because she’s a fan of the more natural look.

I’ve learned that each production operates differently, just as each venue has its own stage set-up.  Slowly I’m cultivating my ability to adapt and think on my feet.  However, at the show, I found out that some venues might not be for me.  Although Lemme had said that the venue allowed smoking, I assumed that I would be far enough away from the audience to be able to handle it.  Unfortunately, it was almost showtime when I discovered that my lungs are not as strong as I thought.

To make things worse, I learned that you shouldn’t eat a big meal the day of a show, especially if you’re going to squeeze into a corset.  My brother was in town so my parents took us out for a gigantic brunch.  I guess I was still full from the strippers’ breaksfast ten hours earlier, but I wasn’t going to pass up on good (and free) food.  On top of that, because I’m a creature of habit and didn’t want to be hungry in the middle of the show, I ate a small dinner before I left my parents’ house.  After being okay for an hour, stomach pains hit.  I thought I could power through it all, but I should’ve remember that Satine didn’t fare so well (sorry if I spoiled Moulin Rouge for anyone).  Thankfully there were two other kittens, but it was stupid of me to not let someone know where I was disappearing off to before the show began and to just communicate more.  Lesson learned, and I'm going to try to work on my bad habit of not telling people when I need help.

me and the birthday girl,
who made the lovely fascinator
Despite being ill, the show was really fun.  I got to see so many interesting interpretations of songs I loved, and I got an up-close view of how much work goes into burlesque costumes– and getting into them.  I was in awe of the creativity in the show and thrilled to have been able to celebrate Lemme’s birthday.  The atmosphere was wonderful.  Burlesque dancers sure do know how to throw a birthday party.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Interview with Andy Silvers on Dieselpunks.org

Andy Silvers Photography: Stories
I recently had the opportunity to interview photographer Andy Silvers for Dieselpunks.org. His work has been posted here before and I thought the interview would be of interest to the followers of this blog. Enjoy! Cap'n...

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Dieselpunk Photo Shoot

We’re proud to post a set of erotic photographs featuring dieselpunk dancer, model and a co-host of the Diesel Powered Podcast Ava Dahl taken with Gwendolyn Sweet. The photographer is Craig Evensen of pulpretro.com. You can visit Eversen's web store here.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Lab teching my way through striptease school: Ruby Revue Pink Panthers Invade the House of Blues

Still catching up on entries here, but I got this one done just in time for the next Ruby Revue shows– tonight at 8:30 PM and 11 PM.  I won’t be at the shows, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out. ^_~  Last month, I had the chance to perform with them as a member of Ginger Valentine’s Advanced Burlesque Tease class.  Now I admit that I partly elected to that this upper-level class for the chance to perform in their July show.  The limelight is addicting, especially when you are doing something you seriously love.  I did want a more challenging class though, and that’s what I got.

By Burles Co. Photography
Our routine was set to a jazzy version of the Pink Panther theme.  The choreography wasn’t too difficult, but we only had a month to learn it and there were some quick glove peels.  I was so worried that I wasn’t going to master one of them that I must have practiced 50 times.  Getting better gloves that didn’t threaten to rip (and then actually do so) when I tugged on the fingers helped immensely.  Because I focused on the moves, I didn’t really have much time to work on facial expressions.  In my head, sexy equals not smiling or half smiling because a big grin makes my eyes small and overall look too cute (and I hate being called “cute”).

With my costume, I truly lucked out minus the realization that Electrique Boutique was closed on Sundays and having to use my lunch break to get the gloves .  The Burlesque Experience held a garage sale a week before the show, and I wound up getting a faux leather corseted top.  At first I was afraid it wouldn’t go with the classic burlesque look that Ruby Revue is generally known for, but I discovered that a leather-and-lace theme with pin-up style hair and make-up worked very well.  Furthermore, Carmen St. Cloud loaned me some leopard print accessories to add color (and a surprise) to my outfit.  If there was one thing I could change, it would be my robe, which I won from the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Giveaway earlier in the year.  Luckily we didn’t keep the robes on for long so the logo wasn’t in everyone’s faces.  Plus it provided even more color and sparkle.

By Karlo X. Ramos
Although I was getting better at doing my make-up, my rigid gas permeable contacts decided to hurt really badly and ruin what I had done half an hour before call time.  This always seems to happen before a show, which makes me run late.  Maybe next time I should double the amount of time I set aside for getting ready.  Renee Holiday had recommended getting a false eyelash set that included an applicator.  That definitely helped as I was practicing, but in the end, I still needed to adjust the lashes by hand.  I was happy that I got them on by myself for the first time.

I wound up doing double duty as performer and stage kitten.  My experience with being involved in an act at Clever Girl Cabaret while stage kittening gave me the confidence to figure in a costume change between picking up.  When we rehearsed on the stage, I realized that I had to be super cognizant of space and where I tossed my costume pieces.  Everything went smoothly, but I was still intimidated by all the lights and the audience being so close.  It was really thrilling, and I guess I got caught in the moment because suddenly we finished the routine.

Normally I’m too much of an awkward turtle to stay at the after-party for very long, but I figured it was appropriate to engage in the tradition of a stripper’s breakfast with my teachers, classmates, and sempai (I can’t think of a better English word that “seniors” which sounds a little odd).  We went to Pop Diner, a quirky restaurant/bar with 80s pop culture references everywhere and free arcade games.  I wish I had talked more, but I was tired and had exhausted all my anti-shyness fuel.  Nevertheless, it was a wonderful way cap off a successful (and sold-out!) show, plus a great learning experience.

By Marleana Mahoozi