In the dressing room, half-dressed, waiting my turn for lipstick and hair. (We waited on the lipstick so that I could eat.)
Lipstick, crown, and antennae on – I’m ready to great my public!
I shimmied, stroked, and teased. I smiled, winked, and pointed. I rocked that show!
Sure, I was nervous. But when I looked into the audience and saw my friends cheering me on, I smiled and relaxed a little. I shook it just a little harder. Burlesque is fun!
“WHOO-HOO!” Ophelia and Holden Wood shouted. Andrew was right behind them, then my friend Gabby Gumbo.
I strutted over to the other side of the stage. I OWNED it!
“SHAKE THAT ASS!” Roxy Reck shouted. I smiled big and complied, showing off my tail.
Oh yes, I had a tail: purple, sparkly monkey-turned-alien tail.
Behind Roxy, her boyfriend Mr. Hands (he gives great foot rubs), and my friend the Marine sat watching. I had met him at the Hot and Sweaty show.
And somewhere behind him, another Marine was there cheering for me, too. I had met him after the Popcorn and Pasties show.
What are the chances that I’d meet two Marines at two different burlesque shows?! And what are the chances that they’d both come out to see me?! Most importantly, are either of them going to take me on a date now that they’ve seen me naked?
That’s weird, I usually have the date first.
Andrew had a VIP ticket, but he’s vertically challenged (short), so he still missed a few things. He told me that his talent was being in the right place at the right time, but missing the good parts.
“I can be watching a beautiful woman bend over, about to show off her panties, and my wife will call my name. She wanted to make sure that I didn’t miss it, but when I turn back around, the moment had passed. That’s my talent,” he said.
Well there were enough good moments last night, that I hope he caught some of ‘em!
Lipstick, crown, and antennae on – I’m ready to greet my guests!
The Burlesque Experience Bust Out was the finale of the class. My classmates and I had learned to dance, assembled our costumes, and choreographed acts in about 6 weeks. We had a LOT of help! The BE community came together to lend support and offer advice: alumni and coaches were with us every step of the way.
Need help blinging a costume piece? Scarlet Peach, Chordella Smash, and Molly Macabre are happy to help. Need help with choreography? Carmen Diablo, Sweet Darla Danger, and Molly Macabre will coach you for a small fee. Want professional-grade stage makeup? Vivienne Vermuth is available for hire. Want the memory to last with sensational photos? Dee Hill will document your beauty on film and provide professional polish to those pics. Need a hand to hold or a question answered? Any member of the community is happy to help, and every student has an assigned mentor.
My mentor, Minxie Molotov, was definitely there for me last night. She performed as the shadow dancer for an hour before the show started. That is, she danced behind a thin curtain with the light behind her, so that her shadow on the curtain was all that was visible to the audience. IT WAS AWESOME. (Example of shadow dancing.) She waved around a scarf, casting ghostly shadows that rippled like waves. She utilized every inch of the stage: coming closer to the curtain, dancing further away. It was mesmerizing.
She came up to me after, smiling and as emotional as a proud mama. “You were amazing! That thing you did with the staff—wow!” She gave me a big hug.
“I couldn’t have done it without you. The scepter was all you!” I said, honestly. Minxie is the best!
At intermission I ran upstairs to change. In the excitement, I forgot to put on my bracelets and rings. Oh, well, no one noticed! I did remember to remove my necklace, which had gotten tangled in my hair at two different rehearsals. And I remembered to put on my pasties and tail, so overall, I dressed myself ok.
Waiting for my turn on stage, I felt that odd sensation again. It must have been nerves. I’m a professional, a single mother, and an author: an accomplished, brave woman. I am often the only woman in meetings. I stand up to men who are taller and sometimes older than me in professional and personal situations. In short, I don’t feel nervous very often. I may get anxious before I present at a big meeting, but that’s just a weak emotion compared to what I felt last night.
I haven’t been that nervous since my wedding day in 1996.
Have you ever been so nervous that the sound of your heart beat filled your ears, drowning out the rest of the world? It’s a very strange sensation in a room with a cheering crowd: you can see them, but you can’t hear them. Then there’s the muscle weakness, which felt like my limbs were going to fail and leave me kissing the ground. The world looked far away, and the edges of my vision faded.
I shook it off and took deep breaths. Frauline Ingrid Funtime (kitten) was there, coaching me to breathe. Sinn La Vie (stage manager) reassured me that I’d do great, ran back to help Sinnamon Sizzle off the stage, then returned to help me on. Ingrid Nox (our other kitten) was there, moving props and telling me that I’d do great. I concentrated on Ingrid: breathe in, breathe out. Thank you, Ingrid!! Thank you, Indigo and Sinn!
Roxy came and gave me a hug. “Pop a pastie!” she said. Or, at least, I assume she said that. It’s the burlesque equivalent of telling an actor to “break a leg” or telling a person, “good luck.” I was too nervous to register her words.
I took another deep breath, heard my music start, and stepped out onto the stage.
After My Act
When the music ended, and I raised my scepter high, I felt triumphant! I DID IT! I completed my act without losing an earring, knocking off my antennae, or dropping my scepter. I did it while having fun and feeling the support of the crowd.
I didn’t want to leave the stage! I wanted to dance MORE!
Violet O’Hara, hostess extraordinaire, joined me on stage. I hugged her and wrapped a leg around her.
“Just saying hello,” I told her, referring to my back story that I was from Venus.
She played along, then handed me some handcuffs.
I didn’t understand the gift, but they had soft covers, so I rubbed them over my chest and thanked her. Someone told me later that she was advertising a fetish ball. OHHH! In retrospect, it made sense.
Stepping off the stage, Ophelia met me with a glass of wine. OMG I love that woman so much! She told me, “You did great!” My adrenaline was high, so I didn’t need wine for that; however, I appreciated the gift very much. At that moment, there was nothing that I wanted more!
The other ladies in my class had AMAZING sets. Of course, I didn’t get to see them all, since I had to go upstairs to change before and after my act. But the ones that I saw—WOW.
Aly-Sin Asylum had been shy and nervous at dress rehearsal. My friend told me, “She’s danced before. You can’t tell me that she put that act together in 6 weeks.”
Wow. What a transformation! She really did put on a professional act!
Francesca laughed and had fun in her role as a private investigator, based on Agent Carter from Captain America. The show was a surprise to her husband, who had been told that she was taking dance classes.
Well, she was, sort of.
I asked her how he took it.
“I haven’t talked to him yet,” she told me, “But he was sitting in the front row grinning from ear to ear.”
He should be! She looked FABULOUS!!
Daddy’s Little Voodoo Doll also looked like a seasoned professional. Her outfit was almost all custom made or altered by the performer herself. She even made the voodoo doll, which broke tore apart to shower red glitter on the stage. What a great neo performance!
Suki took the stage twirling a blinged-out Asian-inspired parasol. Her legs and ass teased the audience, a true strip tease, with emphasis on the tease! And then she did the splits. I am ALWAYS impressed by the flexibility of people who can do the splits; I’m doing good to get halfway. Great job, Suki! Happy Birthday! What a way to spend it. : – )
The act by four BE alumni was captivating. Sinn La Vie, Sweet Darla Danger, Foxy, and Zerlina began with traditional burlesque music. They worked their boas and teased off their gloves. Darla’s expressions were priceless! She truly is a joy to watch. Sinn has cute expressions, too – her “Oh!” of surprise” when the music changed was great. Prince started singing a sexy song with suggestive lyrics as the ladies started to strip. Foxy pulled down the zipper on her little black dress. Zerlina wiggled out of hers. You know, with four gorgeous women on the stage, it was hard to decide where to look; but there wasn’t a wrong answer, either. They ended with a pasties twirling. OMG that one act was worth the price of admission.
Sinnamon Sizzle, Mysti Inque, and Chickadee Lee performed while I was changing or waiting in the wings. They performed kickass shows at the dress rehearsal, though, and I heard that they killed it. Their costumes were a-maze-ing!!
Sinnamon portrayed a cubical worker whose sexuality burst forth. She shook her long red hair out from a hair clip and removed not one, but two masks during her act. Sizzling, indeed!
Mysti portrayed a villain from the Batman comic book series. A cardboard cutout of Batman stood on the stage and his voice started the show. She put a scarf around his neck and pushed him over at one point. It was so cool!
Chickadee Lee had a skimpy costume covered in feathers. Oh my. I hope the crowd appreciated every thin strip of feathers that she removed; she certainly held me captivated at rehearsal. Oh my.
Chantilly Vixen ended the show with a fun, sexy tease with a chair dance and a boa. Oh la la la!
Lisa Carmen announced that she was stepping down as director of the Burlesque Experience and handed the reigns to Sweet Darla Danger. Darla is a nurturing, talent woman and a patient teacher. She will be a great director.
Wow. We were Lisa’s last class. What an honor!
The class presented her with flowers, some journals (since she loves to write) and some office supplies (scented markers! Cocktail glass tape dispenser! Colorful post it notes! 30 pack of colorful gen pens!). I hope that she gets a lot of use out of ‘em!
She presented us with red roses made from feathers. I stuck mine in my corset. Mysti followed suite, then pretended to lick the top. Several times. Daddy’s Little Voodoo Doll joined in and I laughed. Then I tried to be a grown up and scold them (while I was laughing). It was hard to concentrate on the raffle!
Gabby won three different prizes from the raffle: a rainbow boa, two tickets to the next Hump Day show, and a necklace. She cleaned up! Since she has two girls at home, she was grateful for the boa. She turned around and bought one more, to avoid fights at home, and then spent a little more money. Gabby, just remember, you got in on a comp ticket, so you had extra money to spend, right? Right? : – )
On the Way Home
I hated for the night to end. However, I hadn’t slept well the night before and had arisen at 4:30 a.m. for my workout. I was struggling to keep my eyes open while I drove.
I dropped off Andrew off at his hotel at DFW. I had removed my antennae, but I still wore the rest of my stage makeup and crown.
“You are coming from an event?” the toll booth operator asked me. His shirt said, “Jose,” but he sounded and looked like he was from India. Not that it mattered, but it was a bit confusing, especially since I was half asleep. Like, when someone calls you by your real name when you’re expecting to hear your burlesque name. Or, when you think you’re driving north and you discover that you’re headed south.
“Yes,” I said, smiling. “I danced tonight.” I handed him my ticket and money.
He held onto it and said, “What kind of dance do you do?”
“Burlesque,” I answered, smile wavering. Just take the money and let me go home, I thought.
“What is it?” he said, not understanding.
“Burlesque. It’s similar to stripping,” I said, hoping that that would end the conversation.
Um, no. That just made him smile.
“You live alone?” he asked. “You are single?”
“Uh, no, I don’t live alone…” I said. Jack and Ed live with me, but he doesn’t need to know that.
“I am alone. You want to go out sometime?” he asked.
Oh. My. Goodness. The toll booth operator just asked me out.
“Um, no, look, I really need to go,” I said, nodding toward the money in his hand.
He smiled and pushed the button to life the toll booth arm.
What an odd way to end the night. But then, it was flattering. Just one look at the Queen of Venus, and he was mesmerized.
Thank you to all my classmates, for being part of this experience with me, and offering love and support. I hope that we have a reunion soon!
Thank you to Lisa Carmen, Sinn La Vie, Sweet Darla Danger, Minxie Molotov, Chordella Smash, Molly Macabre, Ophelia Wood, Roxy Reck, and the other instructors and mentors of the Burlesque Experience. Thank you to Frauline Ingrid Funtime and Indigo Nox for being there for us and offering reassuring words when we needed it the most.
And thank you to all the people who came out to the show, knowing it was amateur night, and cheered us on. It literally would not have been the same without you. Gabby and Andrew, I am deeply grateful that you took the time to share this experience with me.
And thank you to my two Marines, who made my heart beat a little faster because I knew that you were watching. I’ll see you again soon! ; – )
Next weekend: I’ll take a mini-vaca to Colorado to see Gala Pear. We’re going to hike ‘til we drop, party like rock stars, then repeat. Woot!
A rose made of feathers and the handcuffs that Violet gave me.