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 Bunny!
” Hi Sydni!
I’d love to read about the best way to go from a local performer to one who travels. While I know it’s not an overnight thing, I’d love to learn those steps that you’ve taken or have observed from others.
This is an excellent question, and something that I’ve been working on really deliberately for the past couple of years.
Let’s assume, in order to get down to the nitty-gritty (and also to avoid a super lengthy post) that you’ve been rehearsing and honing your craft in your town, doing as many shows as you can get fairly paid for, and you conduct your business in a professional manner.
Here’s some of the steps that I have taken, and am still taking in order to go and do more gigs around the world. I just came back from a little tour of Europe, (Helsinki, Stockholm and Basel) so I’ve had some time to think about this.
1. Online marketing: Do you have a website, twitter, good video and strong, beautiful photos floating around on the world wide web? How are you engaging your audience? If not, how are they going to see you? More and more of our time and business is spent online. A potential booker needs to see what they’re getting from you. As a producer, I look at everything I can to see if a performer is a good fit for my show. Are they talking about the shows that they’re in? Do they pick good photos to post from their shows and photo shoots so I have a great idea of what they look like and what their stage shows look like? Do they have good video? These are things to consider.
2. Apply to festivals: What festivals are near you? If you can, try to afford to go to a few, even if you haven’t been picked to perform yet. You need to see what they’re booking, and meet people in your local and wider scenes. I HIGHLY suggest attending the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend in Las Vegas, Nevada. It really is a festival that features the best of the best of all types of burlesque. It’s inspirational and you have an excellent opportunity to make connections with people from all over the world. Festival videos go viral quickly- and people that weren’t able to go to the festival are wanting to see what went on. Have a strong act, get filmed, get views. You never know who will see you and offer you a gig.
3. Figure out what makes you special: A potential booker will want to know that what they’re getting from you is uniquely special. Maybe you have a special skill or a certain type of movement that makes you the top pick for a certain type of show. This is different for each performer- this is what I would call the *it* factor. Maybe it’s your aesthetic, level of fitness, flexibility, training in a circus art, your voice….. I think that many of the performers that we look up to in this art have a special something, something that makes them a unique personality. For instance, there can only be one Scotty the Blue Bunny with his outrageous antics, blue suits and sky-high heels, Miss Astrid’s wit, Michelle L’amour’s incredible body awareness punched up with awesome ass tricks, Catherine D’Lish’s exquisite personality and grace, Satan’s Angel’s ferociousness, Inga Ingenue’s intricate choreography and coquettishness, Waxie Moon’s utter joy and power onstage, Miss Indigo Blue’s comedic stylings paired with ultimate tassel twirling action…the list goes on and on.
4. Intent: Know what you want to do when you get the opportunity to travel. What kinds of shows do you want to be a part of?
5. Be willing to work: No matter what, keep working on your craft. Practice, get new skills, get better promo, go to festivals, apply for festivals, get better video and photos….and believe in yourself.
6. Study: Read books about burlesque and theater. Look up the performers who inspire you and are traveling and are making a good impression online. Take classes of all kinds, watch movies that showcase true artistry in performance. Get inspired.
7. Tour: Do a mini tour of your surrounding area and gradually work wider and wider. Be able to have the promo materials to send to shows wherever you want to go in order to get booked. A lucky few get by on word of mouth, but it’s usually not the case. Be ready with the info they need in order to make a tour worth your while. Many tours aren’t lucrative in this business. Breaking even is an admirable goal- coming home with a little bit of money gets easier as you get a little more notoriety.
It’s not an overnight process, for sure. I’ve been at this for 7 years and feel like I’ve barely touched the tip of my traveling potential, but I feel so very blessed that people want to give me the opportunity to rock their stages. I look up to those performers that I know that seem to constantly travel all over the world, because traveling seems to be what I’m best suited for. It’s not easy work though- long travel days, missing your loved ones, interrupted sleep patterns, language barriers, long tech-times, money exchange rates, flying with costumes and props, working with people you’ve never met before- it’s part of the job that truly keeps you on your toes.
Set goals, and work to achieve them, is what I would prescribe! I hope that this helps!