Stripper Talk #4: how do I approach a producer?

Author of Stripper Talk, Sydni Deveraux

Hello world! It’s Stripper Talk time again! This is a place where I field questions and answer them to the best of my ability, hopefully giving anyone who’s interested in burlesque some insight.

This week’s question comes from last weeks inquisitor Atlanta Summer, from Seattle WA: 

“As a hobbyist and a soloist (not a troupe member), I’d love to get in on shows that have “special guests” but I have no idea how to start, how to approach a producer (occasionally not even WHO to approach), how to be noticed and get on the performance radar. Do you have advice?”

This is ridiculously excellent question, and a hard one. I think it’s important to get your “business” right when approaching a producer or a show about your interest in working with them. Having video and photos are imperative, as well as a performance resume. When I was just beginning, I went to a lot of auditions, and after the audition was done, I would email those doing the session, thank them for their time and ask for any constructive criticism that they would be willing to impart to me. This is how I worked on growing my act and my skills as a performer. When I wouldn’t get called back (not everyone does all the time) I had to reach deep inside myself to know that not every show is right for me, and not every producer is going to want my style of performance for whatever reason. That’s why it’s important to contact all levels of shows you think might be possible for you and also to get some solid opinions from people you respect in the community. You might not like what you hear, you might be pleasantly surprised at the feedback, but it’s only information- the information is something you can leave or take but in my opinion it shouldn’t be simply ignored.

I will have to note that there seems to be a lot of coddling in the community when you ask for an opinion. Have your bullshit meter on. Everyone LOVES to be told their excellent and beautiful (and I do believe we all are in our own ways at many things) but not everyone will excel enough at this thing that is burlesque (or anything else for that matter) that will get them booked into the shows that they might desire to be a part of.

Re-evaluating your shows is key. Video yourself and take notes. Watch videos of those who inspire you- and take note of the differences, comparing is ok- so long as you don’t take it too far. Note stage presence, aesthetic, makeup application, costumes, movement, use of space, etc. to see what you can be working on until the next opportunity comes your way.

Approaching producers with confidence and respect is key. You’d be surprised by how many performers simply tell me to put them in their show, never even offering up information about themselves. To be honest, if someone tells me what to do (hey- I’m a Taurus) with my show and they aren’t my boss, I simply ignore them. I love getting requests from performers to perform in my show when it’s accompanied by a well worded email (spelling correct) that has a picture, a link to video and a bit about their accomplishments. A website is also great. Know what the producer books too. Always keep that in mind.

As for getting on radar, a lot of it is about being out there. Stage kittening, stage managing, volunteer shifts for festivals and big shows, all while working on your craft and putting out good video can help you as well. A lot of this is about applying for things and showing up, regardless of the outcome.

Many might not get into the shows they want, ever. Many will have to wait months, years even to be apart of the type of show they’ve only dreamed of. The key is just to work hard at it, (only if you want to of course) and to have as much fun as you can while you’re in the process.

Sydni Deveraux

*Would you like your burlesque question answered in Stripper Talk? Email me at GlitterWonderland@gmail.comWant to see more of me? Check out

5 thoughts on “Stripper Talk #4: how do I approach a producer?

  1. Hi Sydni,

    Love that your talking about these issues. I wanted to chime in on a couple of points for your readers as well.

    Sydni knows this but you all may not, and I’d like to give some context before I start spewing forth my opinions ;o) …I’m the Casting Manager and a Producer of some of our Special Projects at Teatro ZinZanni, here in Seattle. To be fair and honest, I haven’t been at this side of the business for all that long – about a year and a half – but I’ve seen a LOT of artist submissions in that year and a half, and I like to consider myself a pretty savvy producer.

    Don’t ever be intimidated to send an introductory email to a producer. We work so hard finding the best talent we can for our shows, but it’s a happy sunshine day when that talent just lands itself conveniently in our inbox. BUT make sure, as Sydni pointed out, that it’s a carefully crafted email. Here’s what I like to see in an email submission (especially a “cold call” submission….meaning I didn’t reach out to you requesting more info). And remember, this is just my take on it…..

    1. Please tell me your real name and your stage name. I’m personally not a big fan of having to refer to someone by a pretend name. (Some performers may take offense to that, but I like to deal with real people, not fictional ones, and your stage name is the character you play on stage when you are in performance).

    2. Attach a professional looking resume to the email, but also highlight a few points in the body of the email:

    — how long you’ve been performing
    — a select few highlights of venues/festivals/etc you’ve performed at or burlesque “celebs” that have hired you or been your co-stars (locally, nationally, and internationally if you’ve got ’em). DON’T go on and on and on, and DO try to pick venues that even the slightly uninitiated will know or give me a very brief description of why I should be impressed at the two or three you chose.

    3. Get a website or a Facebook page, and make sure it’s got current, professional looking content. Nothing is more irritating than seeing an “under construction” message when you’re trying to research someone.

    4. Demo reels are fine to whet my appetite, but I will always want to see at least one example of live, in performance, footage with the actual audio of the evening…..not a track overlay, and not just excerpts. I want to see how you handle an entire performance. I want to see your arc, your connection to the music, your connection to the audience. I want to hear and see the audience react to you….don’t edit out the applause at the end. AND DO NOT attach a quicktime video or send me to your deeply embedded, slow loading video on a hidden website. I don’t have time to wait for the download and/or buffering time from giant files. Post your videos on either youtube or Vimeo….it’s super easy to make them “unlisted” on youtube or “password protected” on Vimeo.

    **Be careful about “protecting” your work too much. I will tell you right now….I ALWAYS do a google search on you if you have tweaked my interest. If I can’t find anything on you, I’ll probably move on. Or at least, I’ll be really frustrated that I have to reach out to you with my request for more info, which means I’ll have to wait for you to get back to me, and honestly I’ll probably have lost a little bit of interest the next time I hear back from you. I know people steal ideas and routines from videos posted online, and that sucks. But people like me need to see you in action, and the more the better. I’d like to find at least 3 different videos of you performing online using a simple google video search. And I’d like them to be contrasting pieces. Title your videos with your stage name, and fill out that description box. Include the venue, the month/year of your performance, and your contact info at the very least.

    5. include a full-body photo….after all you are a burlesque performer, and the end result of your act is you standing on stage almost naked. Everyone has their own tastes, guidelines and agendas regarding body size, shape, color, tone, sass, etc. You can’t change what you’ve got, and I have to know what you’re selling to me.

    6. ALWAYS include your phone number, email, website/Facebook page, twitter handle, etc in your email signature. DON’T make me go searching through my email messages to find out how to contact you. You wrote to me hoping that I would contact you, right? Make it easy for me to do so.

    7. And then contrary to how long this reply has been, please be succinct. Try to keep your email fitting on one screen’s height (i.e., this reply I’m leaving here is twice as long as any intro email you should ever send a producer/casting director).

    Sorry to soapbox on your blog, Sydni. ;o) Again, great post. Obviously, you really got me inspired.


    • Hey Tim – the stage name caveat may be true within other realms of performance, but it doesn’t really apply to burlesque performers. Sparkly Devil isn’t some character that I play – it’s me, and I’m not fictional. Within the burlesque community we all almost exclusively go by our stage names amongst our peers. Not only is is customary, it’s for very real reasons like privacy and online safety. The only time I will ever ask a performer for her legal name is for the guest list, if the venue requires legal name + ID at the door.

  2. Good read, Sydni – I’d also add that if before approaching the producer, you should first attend their show as an audience member. Go up to the producer afterwards and briefly say hello if they’re not swamped (don’t ask them to be booked then) and then send a followup email, indicating you’ve seen the show and why you think your act would work there. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people ask to be booked in my show when they’ve never even been to one! And if you’re an out-of-towner, at least look at the show’s website first to get a feel for what they do, past themes, pics, etc – and indicate that in your email to the producer.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: