International Burlesque Life diary – Show Me Burlesque and Vaudeville Festival 2014
Friday was the day that the dream became reality and things really kicked in. I woke up refreshed and ready to go as I had two workshops to go to and a performance to prepare for. Before heading off, myself and the neon hula-hooper Tea, did a bit of a tourist session accidently crossing the Mississippi and visiting Illinois, and then checking out the massive structure that is the Saint Louis Arch.
The first workshop of the day was Embodying Emotion with Paco Fish. I was so nervous and still feeling introverted. I probably didn’t participate as much as I could of, but I still got so much out of it. This workshop has really changed my performance life and cannot recommend it enough to anyone who has the chance to do it. Afterwards I went and grabbed a notebook and pen, sat down at Melt (a waffle cafe and one of the Sponsors of Show Me), and wrote down my choreography, applying Paco’s teachings to it. The result was… well read a little more and you’ll find out.
After lunch, 20000 miles and 6 months I finally got to do Bazuka Joe’s Movement and Musicality workshop. He brought it to NZBF last year, but I was too busy being producer to attend. Once we had finished rolling around on the couch together having a mutual love fest, the workshop got underway. I knew there was even more learnt that day I could apply to my act thanks to the genius of Joe.
I was fortunate enough to catch a ride to the Ivory Theatre straight after the workshops. This was the venue for the nights performance, and was an amazing classic theatre with red velvet stage curtains. As I started to prepare for the night ahead backstage I got to meet some of the amazing performers, with a stand out being Kay Sera. Amazingly sweet, she had appeared to forgotten her cocktail dress. When I replied “well I have a spare dress” she made me feel like a superhero. Or Macgyver at least! She later joined me in doing press ups in her actual cocktail dress that had been lingering in another bag.
I got to go on as part of the opening number with Kay, Paco Fish, Bettina May, Lola, Sammy and a raft of other performers all performing to a live jazz band. It was AMAZING and inspires me to perform to live bands more. I then had to rush back stage and get cracking on ‘that’ makeup. Unfortunately it meant I didn’t get to see anyone’s act from the Friday Spectacular but the backstage area was jovial. Usually I am so quiet before a performance, but this night I felt relaxed and couldn’t wait until I could perform and then get into party time.
By the time I needed to be side stage ready to step out, the nerves and shakes had kicked in. It was not helped by wanting to bawl when Lola introduced me. She gave me the most amazing introduction, the best I have ever had, and she honoured me with the beautiful words she spoke to the crowd. Shit I better live up to this! Taking all that Paco had inspired me with earlier in the day, I performed what I felt was the best performance of my life. As I came to my final position I held still until it was almost uncomfortable before I took a bow (thanks Bazuka Joe!). I then looked to Lola standing side stage and gave her a nod and she gave me a look of pride. It was a humbling an emotional moment for me.
As I walked off stage I held it together long enough to get behind the curtain, where I fell against a wall. My legs couldn’t hold me up any longer as I was shaking so much. There I cried with all the emotion the act and the experience of performing it at Show Me Burlesque had held for me. It was a proud and soul filling moment. I came off stage and I received many compliments. The two that stayed were after hugging Paco and thanking him, he told me it was beautiful and I took him with me during the act. And the other was from my new burlyq sister, Red Bone. “ya killed it” She was right. I did kill it. It was an experience I will never forget.
After coming off stage and tidying up, I was ready to get my Wagon Wheel Watusi on (the Show Me code work for drink.). I partied hard backstage watching some of the acts. I got to scream at the Red Light District Revue and introduce someone to the beauty of comedic classic through Deb Delicious’s Devil act. I got to scream and beam with pride as I watch Ruby Ruin wow the crowd with her award winning Anti-Marilyn Act, and shoot her confetti cannon in a celebration of kiwi burlesque She did the New Zealand Burlesque community proud . It was a thrilling evening of emotional highs, smiles and laughter.
Saturday waking up a tad hungover, I knew it was going to be a tough day as I was going to be doing Gin Minsky’s roaring 20’s Charleston workshop. I haven’t felt this awkward and uncoordinated since I started burlesque! It was sweaty, butt busting awesomeness, and such a pleasure to meet her. After the most amazing Mexican food in the afternoon, I was looking forward to The Beggars Carnivale that night at the Casa Ballroom.
Beggars is hard to describe. It was dream-like and inspirational. It had Mermaids, carnies, bearded ladies, fire eaters, roaming performances, a side show and that was just in between the acts. During the show itself there was no MC and the show flowed like a dream. The Victorian bordello stage set up was entrancing as it was entertaining. The panty thief stage kitten was entertaining, comedic and well conceived. Sammy Tramp and her rag-tag-bag of performers made it an incredibly old word spectacle. There were so many physical energetic acts including Sweet Pea who I found out later performed with a 3-inch splinter in her foot. You would have never have known as she was spectacular. The whole night was PHENOMENAL!.
I shed tears for 3 acts that night. The first Jett Adore and his Peacock. I have had the pleasure of bringing this to NZ and no matter how many times I see it, it still gets me. A single tear rolled as I smiled and this beautiful man and his creativity. The 2nd was Lola Van Ella singing her original songs. They were heartfelt, honest and beautiful. I was so honoured to have been there for this and proud of Lola and to have her as part of my Burly Q family. The last tears fell during Ray Gunn’s act. The intense chase and heartbreak and reuniting during this routine as his stage partner, Rob Racine, sung to the backing track was intense. Rob didn’t miss a beat even in the most physical of acrobalance. It was stunning and emotional. It made many, including myself, rise to their feet and cheer long after they had left the stage.
The show was seen out by Foxy Tann and The Wamm Bams. As Foxy says “if you have to ask, your hair isn’t big enough”. This was definitely big enough. It was an amazing act featuring Jeez Loueez and Red Bone. They all move so well, and are so engaging and took on the challenge of Tina Turner’s Proud Mary with grace, energy and the sizzling fire of fierce sexiness that are these three ladies!
Afterwards we headed to Lola’s studio, where along the way I was accosted with moonshine, and whisky… and I wasn’t even there yet. There’s only so much you can say about the Hot Mess after party, as like Vegas, some things should not be shared. I did see a confused lap dance (I’m not sure who were more confused them, or us), performed the most terrible haka and recall at least 3 pairs of boobs as I sat down in the now-deemed lap dance chair. After being the last to leave I headed off to the after-after party to watch Dusk to Dawn, and by the time the sun rose it was time for bed.
4 hours sleeps and a wake up call for brunch, I was surprisingly peppy. I highly recommend ordering a waffle and asking them to hold the waffle while hungover/possibly still drunk. There’s a sense of satisfaction of doing that in a waffle joint, if for nothing than the amusement factor. After lunch it was off to the City Museum. Not so much a museum as an “oversized playground for hungover adults’. Provided you don’t wear a dress and take knee pads. A 10 Storey slide (I walked 3 stories and thought no way am I sliding down there), old sideshow posters, large ball pit, and aeroplane and bus hanging off the side of the building and twirly chairs. Do not sit in the twirly chairs if you are hungover. Not recommended, but funny to watch others do it. Unfortunately my trust phone battery had dies, do I have no photos of the museum.
I had a skype session with my family on the other side of the world before heading to a Chinese Buffet for the post-festival-breakdown dinner and to say goodbye to many of the Show Me crew who had opened their hearts to me that weekend. Tiny, Megan, Shawn, Joe, Lola, Sammy, Jeez and others. These people are amazing. They put on an amazing event and didn’t lose their minds. They all looked exhausted but happy and they should be very proud of this event. I wish I could come back every year for it. Despite my own exhaustion and heading to bed at 8 pm it still took me to 2 am to get to sleep. The excitement of the last few days was just too much awesome to not re-live.
Next episode – Delayed flights, San Francisco and the grief police.