Burlesque Beginners Dos and Donts

Aug16th2015-13

I’ve finally begun performing burlesque, and it’s been super hard work and a hell of a lot of fun. It’s had me somewhat creatively distracted for a while too, so it’s about time I check in with you guys here to teach you something new, in my usual by beginners for beginners format, with the help of my new partner Riley Strange!

So you’re intrigued by burlesque and you’ve never done it before, so you want to give it a shot. To go to shows and see the finished product on stage can feel pretty overwhelming when you have plans to try it out yourself. Just how does it all come together? If you don’t have a mentor to guide you you might be totally lost. Let us lay down a few simple dos and donts to get you started.

Riley prepared to go on stage for her Alice in Wonderland routine

Do…

-Your research. Learn by taking a class if there are any in your area, watching youtube videos, going to shows, reading up on burlesque history, and perusing informative websites such as 21stcenturyburlesque.com. Jo Weldon also has an awesome book on the subject that covers way more than I can here in a puny little blog article.

-Cut the damn tags off your clothes. As a performer you are delivering a fantasy. Tags and other flaws like stains, wrinkles and tears take the audience out of the moment.

-Be creative with your costume. Even if you must wear something off-the-rack, try to alter it in some way to make it one-of-a-kind. The last thing you want is someone in the audience pointing and going “Hey, I have that same bra at home!”

Adding rhinestones to these Victoria’s Secret panties add a little special sparkle

-Choose a song you absolutely love. With rehearsals you’ll have to listen to it a hundred times, so if you don’t love it, it’s going to be a nightmare to perform to once show day arrives.

-Be aware of what your audience will enjoy while not compromising your own tastes.

-Go big or go home. This is not a movie or a photoshoot, and there are no close-ups. Makeup and movements need to be seen from the back row. You WILL feel silly, at least in the beginning. You’ll get used to it.

-Make sure your stage name isn’t already taken by somebody else. A Google search should be pretty much all you need here.

-Make the most of your abilities. Any abilities. Dancing, acting, costuming, comedy, acrobatics, the list is endless.

-Be prepared for people to have misconceptions. Don’t get offended, it’s part of the deal. It’s up to you if you want to work towards changing their mind or not.

-Try to find a mentor if you can, to guide you through this stuff or just keep you company while you’re gluing on rhinestones.

-Consider the length and pacing of your song. You don’t want to feel rushed, or end up with nothing to do because the song was too long or slow.

-Be reliable and professional. This might be a fun job, but it is a job. It deserves to be taken seriously.

-Come to your show prepared. Remember not only the elements of your costume but makeup, pastie tape, a Tide stick, etc. This is the huge packing list Riley and I had last time we did a show, and this is only for three acts between us.

All this shit for less than 15 minutes total stage time. Also handy to make sure you leave nothing behind at the venue at the end of the night.

-Plan something achievable. This is something me and Riley have personal experience with. We kept coming up with extremely ambitious routines that were just way above our level. If you keep doing that you’ll never be able to complete the process to see it come to life on stage. You can keep having ambitious ideas, just tuck them away for a future date. A routine does not have to be difficult in order to be entertaining.

April 1 2016 - Heart-Shaped Box

Don’t…

-Think that the performances you see are the rules. This is art, there are no rules. You don’t have to wear a corset, you don’t have to choose a jazz song, you don’t have to know how to dance (although it helps) and believe it or not you don’t even have to be sexy. Let this be an expression of who you are, even if it only relates to one of your many facets. Well ok, there is one rule, and that is that you must be entertaining.

-Wear anything flat black unless your character depends on it. It’s too drab and somber. Either add some sparkle and shine or choose something more lively. Or better yet, both.

-Limit yourself. Explore new horizons and keep things fresh.

Just a backstage selfie with Adore Delano. No big deal 😛

-Focus on reasons why you “shouldn’t” do burlesque because it’s just not true. Any adult age, any gender, any body type, and any ability level (there are even burlesque performers who use wheelchairs in their acts) is accepted. This is the real beauty of this art form. It’s about celebrating what makes you you.

-Forget your face in your choreography. It just won’t look good if you look like you’re taking a shit while you get undressed.

-Be a diva. Ok this isn’t just a burlesque tip, this is a life tip. There’s a difference between honestly expressing something that’s important to you and acting like a spoiled child about it. You’re not above anyone.

-Panic if something goes wrong. Because it will, even to seasoned performers. But guess what, the audience probably doesn’t know, and if they do they’ll think highly of you for being able to just move on with the act instead of freezing in a panic. Riley and I have both performed to the wrong track when the DJ made a mistake, and neither time could anyone in the audience tell. Keep in mind we are both still beginners. It happened to Riley on her second day.

-Make excuses! You’ll just keep missing out.

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The Roots of King Cabernet

If you find yourself in Winnipeg one night and there’s one show you don’t want to miss, it’s a King Cabernet show. Boasting the best music, striking visuals, frequent performances, and King Cabernet’s own outsized personality, they stand apart from any other events out there. For anyone beyond the point where typical clubbing is the go-to form of entertainment, but a quiet night in just isn’t a valid option, these events offer the perfect elixir. With shows like this, with such tangible motivation and drive, it’s impossible for a curious party-goer not to wonder how it all got started.

King Cabernet started DJing on Saturday late night radio for CKUW ten years ago, at the time also attending Mod Club at the Pyramid every Thursday. Wanting the opportunity to DJ in public, the moment came 6 years later when he chanced to speak with DJ Aaron “The Invisible Man” Young, a Mod Club DJ who was bar manager at the late great pub J. Fox’s. Aaron was then DJing “It’s a Mod Mod Mod World” nights, during which 8-10 people would play 10 favourite songs. King Cabernet, who’s real name is Kevin, expressed an interest in doing a mini set at one of these events, but Aaron did him one better and offered to let him do events monthly. After working out the concept of playing old 60s movies while playing retro music, CINEMA GO GO was born, featuring Kevin billed as DJ Cabernet

“Aaron chose that name because, he said, ‘Kevin, you’re always the best dressed man in the room, you have the best taste in movies and the best taste in music. You are, in short, a cabernet,’ ” says Kevin. “Personally, I think he just wanted to watch some movies on a slow night.”

Over time it became evident that Sunday nights weren’t ideal for the emerging events, but a friend, Evan Quiring – writer and artist for the comic book Los Luchadores Mysterioso – had reunited his lucha mask-wearing surf guitar band The Rockdoras and were slated to play J. Fox’s one Saturday.

“I decided if we couldn’t bring people to Cinema Go Go maybe we could bring Cinema Go Go to the people, and DJed between their sets while projecting the whole time old drive-in trailers onto the screen behind the stage. At this point Aaron said it clicked for him: A crowd that enjoyed the kitschy visuals and enjoyed my taste in music made him want to push and promote me more, and I ended up doing a gig there with short lived 50s rockers The Blackbirds one night in early October.”

During this time the then DJ Cabernet was teaching himself the rudiments of film editing and taking intriguing high impact scenes from old filmes noires and 30s exploitation films like Reefer Madness, to play these essential parts of the films while the music played. Somehow, it all synced up. “I realized once and for all the whole ‘Pink Floyd recorded Dark Side of the Moon as an alternate soundtrack to Wizard of OZ’ was complete bullshit. The brain naturally syncs up visuals and sound no matter what. One could swear what’s projected on screen is a music video for the song and it isn’t. I realized then I now had a gimmick to distinguish me from other DJs: I had an encyclopedic knowledge of bizarre & obscure films and a means to take clips from said movies and show it as well as just play music.”

That night turned out to be key in a number of ways. Amongst the crowd were The Blackbirds, comprised of Andrew Maxwell, an early supporter of DJ Cabernet, and two people he’d end up teaming up with at various points in the future: local rockabilly sensation Greg Arcade, and Rafael Reyes, guitarist for the Mexican folk/spaghetti western/prog rock band Mariachi Ghost. Also in attendance was Greg Ash, bar manager for the Yellow Dog tavern who was there enjoying his night off. Ash enjoyed DJ Cabernet’s set so much that he asked if he would play at the Yellow Dog. Cabernet leapt at the chance. The first SHINDIG! event was held there in November 2010, just a few months before the closure of J. Fox’s.

King Cabernet (right) and Mod Marty at Bond and Burlesque

At first, DJ Cabernet considered SHINDIG! little more than a hobby. But little did he know about the impact that the shows would start to generate. It soon became clear that SHINDIG! was the most stable ongoing event around, and before long DJ Mod Marty, another dapper guy who looks like he stepped right out of an episode of Mad Men, asked if he could do a guest spot. Since DJ Cabernet was starting to get a little too burned out and doubting whether or not he should continue, this was perfect timing.

Working with Mod Marty turned out to be just what DJ Cabernet needed. When Marty was playing he had the freedom to socialize with the crowd. That night, the two became partners. In a remarkably fortuitous turn of events, it became obvious immediately that Marty understood perfectly the vibe he was trying to achieve with the music: scuzzy garage rock, gritty soul, and sleazy sax jazz. Along with the movie clips DJ Cabernet began to incorporate featuring GoGo dancers, LSD dream sequences, and car chases, all the elements combined to help make a night at the Yellow Dog (which is actually a very nice place) seem to be a night at some trashy dive bar circa 1967.

From that point on the success of SHINDIG! continued to rise, but Kevin remained aware that the shows were still falling under the radar. Something had to be done. So he decided to team up with the Rockdoras at Pop Soda’s Coffeehouse & Venue. Since the place had such a bohemian air about it, and since Keyboard player Vanda liked promoting shows with themes, he suggested making it an Andy Warhol themed event. The group loved it, and a date was immediately set.

Image from the MOTOWN GETDOWN!

At which point the Rockdoras broke up, and DJ Cabernet was left with a date but no band to play with.

“I could have just given up the date to someone else, but I kept mulling over the idea of doing a Warhol event and in what was either a moment of inspiration or possibly desperation, I called up Rafael and asked if he’d be interested in putting together a Velvet Underground tribute band. In what I now see was an EXTREME stroke of luck, I was apparently talking one of the city’s biggest Velvet Underground fans who leapt at the chance to form such a band.”

From there the project became more and more elaborate; Warhol ran three movies at a time at his parties so there needed to be three projectors running his movies at the party. He had dancers so DJ Cabernet and Mod Marty had dancers. Warhol decorated his loft in silver so they used silver tinfoil to cover the stage. They even recruited some local pop artists to display their wares as well.

King Cabernet considers this theme for a first-time event the kind of thing which is both the best and the worst to do. The enormous challenge in channeling an artist with such broad forms of expression necessitated reaching out to many types of creative people to help pull it off.  But once you’ve gotten over such a big hurdle, all other challenges seem small my comparison. It was a baptism by fire, and subsequent events have proven to be significantly easier.

“Looking back, I know why I poured so much blood, sweat & tears into organizing and promoting the event. I was extremely frustrated with my day job, and being turned down a promotion at work after years of working in an in-between capacity made me seriously wonder if I was any good at management. Actively organizing such a large-scale event that ended up filling up Pop Soda’s to capacity and that had rave reviews from everyone who attended was a vindication for me,” he says. And he’s right. There are some things that the 9-5 working world just can’t teach you that your passions can. Indulging in these passions isn’t just a luxury, but a necessity. Some say they do it to stay sane, but I believe it’s about even more than that. These are the things that complete you, that help you to become more of who you really are.

Of course, by this point DJ Cabernet was more than just a DJ, as his best friend Craig pointed out. He offered up an idea for a new name, something that would roll off the tongue. Kevin liked the idea, as it played with his own initials and he felt it sounded like that of an obscure Batman villain.

King Cabernet was born.

To be continued…

Drawn and Plastered Toys With Your Head

I was going to post about wardrobe essentials today, but I’m putting that off. Because I just saw the promo photos for our next event based on the nutcracker and holy shit this is going to be goddamn freakin amazing. I dare you to see this and not want to go. So yeah, come, or you suck. http://www.drawnandplastered.com

Body painting and our model for the Nutcracker Prince supplied by the incredibly talented Kim Brennen of http://www.mardigrasfaceart.com/, with the Sugar Plum Fairy’s outfit and rat tails by Chelsea Moir who is also playing the Sugar Plum Fairy. Check out our most talented group yet in person on December 20th at Pop Soda’s in Winnipeg. You won’t want to miss this!

Drawn and Plastered Grows More Than Ever at Pet Sematary!

It was a dark and stormy night, but all was warm and convivial inside our newest venue, Pop Soda’s Coffee House and Gallery! The venue was absolutely perfect, providing more space for the artists to work, and a gorgeous environment for our photographers to shoot in. With paintings on the walls, books on the shelves, comfy couches all around and the usual delicious drink specials, we couldn’t imagine a better place. We even had an art studio as a dressing room!
The most notable feature of all brings us to an exciting announcement. Drawn and Plastered will now be a primarily all ages event, the very first of its kind! Because we feel no one should be excluded, and young people have a lot to offer to the art community, we couldn’t be happier, and you don’t even have to give up the booze (that part still just for those over 18 of course). This should not only allow a whole new group of people to participate, but also makes it easier for those with kids who would like to bring them along. Win-win for the win!
Animals were of course included as well, so there certainly wasn’t anyone missing. A beautifully plumed bird perched on a swing, a cat and werewolf prowled together among the artists, a spider queen ruled over her domain, a lizard planked, and the evil Dr. Lazarus did her best to make their lives a nightmare, turning the event into an artist’s dream. And while our models were beautiful on the outside, you were ALL beautiful on the inside, raising money for animals in need at the Winnipeg Humane Society. Jennifer Swan won her second prize since we first began, and is now the proud recipient of a photoshoot with True Charisma Photography. We can’t wait to present the WHS with their donation later this week.
Speaking of the evil Dr. Lazarus, Drawn and Plastered has a second announcement: The addition of our fourth core family member, Sarah Putnam as model manager! She’ll be helping us take on the duties of assisting the models throughout the night, so it’s easier for them to do their jobs, and therefor easier for you to make use of them. Thanks to her and our new MC Chloe, the modelling was absolutely the best we’ve ever had, so we can’t wait to have them back on a regular basis.
And finally, the announcement of November’s theme. It may be getting cold out, but get out your bathing suits and start teasing those beehives, because this November Drawn and Plastered Stars in Pink Hawaii!

Drawn and Plastered: Victorian Asylum, Part 2

Ok, so WordPress did not like me uploading that many photos. My browser is STILL recovering. So anyway, on with the rest! And I suppose I should also be including the list of credits.

Holly Halftone – Co-founder, photographer, promotion guru

Me – Co-founder, wardrobe, music, model “Penny Dreadful”

Sarah Putnam – Character model “Ophilia Opiate”

Pam McMillan – Character model “Patricia Pillbocks”

Alicia May – Model “Lilly Longbottom”

Angela Sutherland – model, and she sewed Sarah’s apron

Lovern Kindzierski – Artistic consultant, Holly’s dad

Todd Rema – DJ

Michael Dyck – Accounting, and my husband

On with the show!

Things start to get heated between Ophilia Opiate and Patricia Pillbocks

Patricia gets pantsed! It was impossible to keep my eyes off their antics.

My dad called this sketch "masculine" :S

I can't figure out how Angela managed to keep a straight face during the staged fights. She's good!

Oh no!

The doctor steps in to break it up.

Patricia is dutifully hauled off stage.

Ophilia weeps for the loss of her skirt.

This couple got engaged! How's THAT for creating inspiration?

Wow, what a great turnout!

This young lady with the camera was the lucky winner of our door prize.

 

This really makes me wish we had a group shot of the whole team.

Let the after party commence!

Woo! See you next month!

Drawn and Plastered: Victorian Asylum

The following was written by my business partner Holly Halftone for http://drawnandplastered.com/

“I had so much fun, and the atmosphere was fantastic!”
-Samantha Rech

“Cool event, nice of you to let the photographers have a go! Gotta keep an eye out for the next one”
-Brandon Greer (The Tune Podcast)

Yes – it really did happen! The first Drawn and Plastered ever took place last night (July 23rd) and was welcomed with open arms by our amazing patrons.

From 10pm-midnight we were serenaded by eerie and sometime electric violin music, ramping up to even include a few Alice Cooper songs from his asylum album, “From the Inside”.
Emilie Autumn was also heard frequently.
25 attendees took home our beautiful mix of choice music from the night, with CD cover art by Holly Halftone herself.

Sarah Putnam and Pamela McMillan, as Ophelia Opiate and Patricia Pillbocks were crowd favourites, nagging at each other on the floor and even running up on stage a couple times to rip clothing off of each other – the final time resulting in Patricia being carried off stage by our Doctor in residence, played by Lovern Kindzierski.

When Alicia and Meg (as Lily Longbottom and Penny Dreadful) finished their last pose on the stage, we did a draw for the $30 door prize from Cre8ive Supplies, which was won by Jennifer Swan – congrats! 🙂

It was so great to see so many happy and creative people enjoying the show we put on. It was exactly how we imagined it, thanks to everyone involved! So that being said, here are a nice big batch of photos from the night!

These lovely cupcakes were a gift sent to us by a future Drawn and Plastered model, Victoria Karras

 

The hat display on Rockband drums in the makeshift dressing room. I made the one in the middle, which was worn by Sarah Putnam as Ophilia Opiate.

The hair and makeup table, though the lighting was too dark to actually do the hair and makeup there.

Holly's dad Lovern, who was an amazing help to us along the way.

I was raving all night about how delicious these were. You really must try them!

The fabulous Holly

Pam getting the crazy started!

 

The ballots for our door prize from Cr8ive Supplies

 

My very good friend Jesi, of Jesi's Full Moon Gifts

Holly's mom helps Sarah with her makeup "back stage."

The always gorgeous Alicia May

Pam greets our very first guest.

Wut?

 

Sarah entertains our guests.

This guy's work actually reminded me of DaVinci.

Photographers welcome!

 

And now WordPress is REALLY starting to act up on me because of all the photos, so this is to be continued in part 2…

The Burlesque Show Was Great!

Not so much an article, just a regular ol’ blog post.

So we went to The Best of Burlesque tonight and let me tell you it was an AWESOME show. It was super sexy, super fun, and wow do those girls ever have talent! It had so much great stuff to offer I would probably forget some if I tried to tell you about all of it, but as far as the highlights go there were fire performers  outside the theatre, a hilarious 50s housewife performance by Heather Witherden, and an awesome finale by guest performer Miss Rosie Bitts in which she pops a huge balloon and gets showered in gold glitter. It was positively ethereal. We met her after the show and she is so sweet and so much fun to watch on stage, I instantly became a fan. I must also say that I am a huge fan of the house band Johnny Pancreas and the Diabetics, too. Do they have CDs? Because I want one.

It was so cool to see everybody in the lobby all dressed up in their vintage gear. Everybody looked fabulous. And just as I said in the Stop Staring! post, I did have people asking where I got my dress, including a guy, and had my picture taken by a stranger who wondered if it was custom made! Didn’t I tell you the tailoring on these babies is perfection? If anybody is interested I’ll post some pics for you all of our great time out.

Coming soon will be another guest post about wardrobe in the film industry. It’s going to be really interesting so I hope you all keep checking back so you can check it out.

Don’t miss the next show! I’ll see you there!