Dieselpunk: Because Steam Wasn't Dirty Enough!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Lab teching my way through striptease school: A Clotheless Homecoming

Panty Raid will always hold a special place in my heart, and not just because it was the setting for my bust-out.  The producers/Academy of Queerlesque teachers created an atmosphere that made me feel as though burlesque really did have a place for me as a performer.  Therefore, when Lily Lovely offered the opportunity to perform my comic book girl number in their "Crimson and Clothesless" show, my answer was a resounding "Hell yes!".  Actually I had a more subdued response, but I was stoked at another chance to do my routine.

Johnny Genevive and Ashley Boucher
However, since I had taken a big break after the Dallas Burlesque Festival to recover and focus on my upcoming lab meeting presentation and All-con, I didn't have much time to rehearse.  There were definitely a few points that could use some more refining.  Even though Panty Raid is a more laid-back show, I felt more nervous than I did at DBF.  I really hoped that night wasn't a fluke.

On the bright side, The Companion and two of our friends were going to be there.  Going out to dinner helped to clear my mind a bit.  Unfortunately that also led to me being late due to underestimating driving time.  I got to Sue Ellen's with enough time to get ready and check in on my friends.  Despite the welcoming environment, I still worried that they, three straight guys (two of whom aren't involved with burlesque in any way), would feel out of place.  It turned out that my worries were all for naught because Johnny Genevieve, who was also performing in the show, took the time to chat with them.

I didn't want to spoil the key part of my costume, but I also wanted to see the other acts, particularly Jerry Fedora's infamous Darth Gaga number so I wound up hiding in the corner by Luscious Peach Boutique's stall.  I enjoyed being among familiar faces and seeing performers—some burlesque, some not— I didn't know.  Pretty soon, it was my turn.

Minxie Molotov
Whenever I get in my zone, I tune out everything.  It kind of bums me out of bit because I'm curious about what the emcees have to say whenever I don't have a set intro (and it gives me a better idea of what to write when asked for one).  I was not prepared for the smooth wood floor and wound up slipping a bit in the beginning.  Despite the shaky start, the performance went spectacularly well again.  Later in the evening, I would analyze little details and tried to figure out what needed adjustment, but in the meantime I wanted to quickly get dressed and see the rest of the show.

"Crimson and Clothesless" was a super fun show.  I really appreciate the fact that Lily wanted me to be a part of it and that my friends came out of their element to show their support.  Doing Panty Raid again felt like a homecoming.  Even though I didn't know many fellow performers this time and the first time, I always got the sense that anybody who is part of the queer community or an ally can belong (which is ironic considering that I used to fear not being queer enough to participate in such events).  Upon leaving Sue Ellen's, I reminded myself that I needed to visit more because it's a great place and I want to be part of the support network that helped me get off my feet.

post-show selfie

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Lab teching my way through stripper school: Dallas Burlesque Festival '14 Night 3

The big DBF show was Saturday night, but I was already busy during the day.  The Ruby Room hosted workshop from some of the festival's performers.  Unfortunately, being car-less in a city with less than ideal public transport options and a stage kitten for that night, I could only pick one to attend.  I chose Gloves & Stockings, Basics and Beyond! with Midnite Martini.  Paco Fish's mention of her in his essay, "On Innovation and Creativity", had sparked my interest, which was further bolstered by the videos I found on-line.  Plus I was already thinking of ways to switch up my stocking (or sock) removals.

Photo by Renee Holiday

I have to admit that I was a little intimidated by Midnite Martini's bold personality because I'm the exact opposite.  Maybe that was what I needed to start experimenting a bit more.  The class was super fun, and everybody had a good laugh over the ideas generated.  I think I was a bit hungry at one point because I started listing food-related items.  After the brainstorming session, we played around with removing gloves and stockings in unusual ways.  Midnite encouraged us to just go for the wildest idea even if it didn't work out.  At one point, I focused on taking a stocking off with my other foot while stretching my legs into a split, no awareness of the rest of my body.  The casual vibe I unconsciously gave off worked, and everybody loved it.  I'm such an overthinker that this little bit of positive feedback was refreshing.

I got home in time to pack my things, put in my contacts, and make a sandwich to go.  This weekend has tested my on-the-bus make-up application skills, which have been steadily improving in the past year.  When I got to the House of Blues' main stage, I was caught off guard by how big it was from a performer's point of view.  The task of being in the right place was daunting, but with four of us working backstage, I think everybody got the help they needed.

Before the show, I took the time to introduce myself to Calamity Chang.  She's a dancer I will unapologetically fangirl over because she was the first Asian burlesque dancer I found on-line (incidentally it was a picture of the last time she was at DBF). Seeing her picture got the gears turning in my head about possibly doing burlesque, and her Asiance article about navigating body image and sexuality as a well-endowed Asian girl was something I could relate to and inspired me to start looking at myself differently.  I also told her how much I loved her signature RED Burlesque lipstick especially since I've struggled to find the perfect red to work with my skintone.

me and Calamity Chang - Taiwan represent!
All of the performers throughout the weekend have been spectacular, and I feel like every time I kitten, I experience something new.  I got to see Eva Strangelove and Justin F. Credible's bullwhip tango act up close in the wings, and it was both exciting and a little scary.  Of course, it was an honor— and a riot—to be backstage with Dallas' legendary Tammi True.  She has not lost a bit of that sassiness.  Unfortunately I didn't get to talk to our special guest, Claire Sinclair, beyond checking up on what she needed, but we did bump butts and dance during one of the musical numbers backstage.  Despite the hectic rush, there was still fun to be had behind the curtain.

with my fellow stage kitten Penny Ruffles
The Companion had come to the show directly after a video game tournament so he dozed off somewhere in the after-party while I tried to mingle.  We discovered that Pelvis Costello knew what Project M was (a Smash Brothers mod and what The Companion was playing), which made  both of us happy.  Because I know what it's like to feel out of place in a crowd, I’m always overly conscious of accidentally ditching my date and boring him.  At a certain point, MayMay and I tried to find people to get food, but it wasn't until last call that we officially decided to head out.  That led to a hilarious attempt at finding the parking lot (drunk people + tired Companion + directionally challenged Hana = no idea where's the exit).  Thankfully Donna Denise led us out, and after divvying the passengers up, we invaded a taqueria that Femme Vivre La Rouge and Dr. Q recommended with in all our glittery glory.  It was late so once everybody was done eating, we decided to call it a night.

My Dallas Burlesque Festival experience was one of the best weekend of my life.  I made my solo debut and had a blast kittening the other nights and hanging out with fellow performers.  Even though I know that burlesque, like everything else in life, is not all sunshine and butterflies (despite the glitter), I rode that high for weeks afterward.  I'm proud of myself and I hope to continue to work hard for weekends like DBF.  Thank you to the producers for giving me the opportunity to strut my stuff and help out, my teachers for giving me the tools for my solo routine, and everybody who has supported me at the festival and the journey there.

Here are the previous nights' recaps: Night 1 and Night 2.
More photos can be found on my facebook page.
For those of you who didn't get to see the routine, here's the video by Michael Sauer.  It's much better live though so keep an eye out for show annoucements!

dbf14 day 1 hana li from Ruby Revue on Vimeo.