Stripper Talk #18: Unwelcome Criticism

 

 

 

Author of Stripper Talk: Sydni Deveraux “The Golden Glamazon”.Kaylin14

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 Anonymous:

“Hello Sydni! Huge fan of your blog and Stripper Talk. Thank you for all that you do!

I have a question that’s been weighing on me for some time now. I frequently work with someone who is becoming well known and admired in the community on a national level and beyond. We started burlesque around the same time and often travel together and perform duets though we are not a troupe or group. Since earlier this year as this person’s star rises- so does their ego. They consistently talk down to me in a condescending tone as if because I don’t have as many credentials that I know nothing. They are constantly name-dropping when we’re in the presence of others and have also tried to pass along all of the grunt work to me (sew my costume, fix my wig, etc). If I do a good job onstage they offer a snarky “well, that was ok” in a joking manner. But after the 12th time it gets to me. 

They are constantly telling me that I need to step it up, what acts I need to do, what type of costumes I need to wear, etc. It’s not even constructive criticism at this point, its just petty and mean. They even went so far as to tell me that they would love to help me produce my next show because they can “see what I’m going for”.

On the surface, we would seem to have a loving and functional relationship but no one truly knows how much this person’s attitude is bugging me. I thought it was just me- and wondered if I harbored some unknown jealously, but speaking to other performers it sounds like they are being treated the same way. 

Help?! How do I continue a professional relationship and also a personal one without seeming overly sensitive? Its getting to a point where I’m seriously considering ending our professional relationship.

Thank you!”

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The Suitcase and the Showgirl: Wasabassco’s 8th Anniversary EXTRAVAGANZA!

Wasabassco’s 8th Anniversary Extravaganza
NYC
11/9 and 11/10 (City Winery and the Bell House)
Starring 78,000 strippers. (Just kidding. Kind of)

I recently had the extraordinary pleasure of getting flown to NYC by Doc Wasabassco for Wasabassco Burlesque’s 8th Anniversary. I had been waiting for it for months and was not disappointed! The 3rd time I’ve come to NY to perform (the previous being the New York Burlesque Festival just a month prior) and since this time I was staying with my friends and fellow performers, I fell in love a little bit more with NY and it’s city than the last time.

    The anniversary consisted of 2 giant shows- the first at City Winery (where I premiered my new gold act) and the second at the Bell House. Each show had more than 15 performers in each showing just 1 act, and many of them were premiers. I was super excited to perform at the City Winery and simply watch the second show, front and center- which I have to tell you is a particular treat when Michelle L’amour decides to flash her cat eyes at you.

Premiering a new act is often a little stressful- no matter how many times you’ve practiced, the addition of a new stage and an audience creates a whole new environment. I closed the show with my 20+ pound dress made of gold beads, and I LOVED the sound of them as I danced across the stage. I believe J.D Oxblood (writer/creator of Burlesque Beat Magazine) called it “Mardi Gras in a dress”.

    The beautiful curation of this show was very apparent- and the audience was certainly in for a treat! From Bettina May’s Bagpipes (yes- you read that correctly), Medianoche’s tango inspired act, Boo Bess’ whimsical drama, to GoGo harder’s cowboy act I loved getting to actually WATCH this show- a rare treat indeed.

I should definitely mention that it was so lovely to see three very different hosts on the stage for the three-set nightl. Bastard Keith started us off correct with his dashing dance moves, Gigi LaFemme coquettishly flirted with us during the second, and Sapphire Jones sassily shut it down in the third.

Fellow headliner and Miss Exotic World/Burlesque Hall of Fame winner Michelle L’amour “The Ass that goes POW!” was also flown in to celebrate the anniversary and on this first night she received a well-deserved standing ovation for her “Butthoven’s 5th” performance. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFjk2Grd_lw) I’ve certainly never seen an ass move so precisely…and I’m IMMENSELY thankful for it.

The end of a super fun show is always a bit of a mixed bag for me- I always want to do it all over again immediately! Thankfully people stuck around to have cocktails and I shared a fun time with performer Boo Bess and people watched as the night faded away. Heading back to Doc and Nasty’s on the subway, I was ready for a delightful night of sleep…and I was not disappointed.

After teaching “Strutting” at Jo Boob’s NY School of Burlesque the following day (Saturday), I hopped on a subway and headed to the Bell House to watch the 2nd installment of the anniversary. Settled in on 1 of the 3 couches set for VIP’s (the rest of the house was standing room only- and nearly 500 of them!), I enjoyed the show with the L’Amour’s, J.D Oxblood, Melody Mudd and a little bit of bourbon.

This show certainly had everything! Striptease, magic, fire, piercing, and aerial! Hosting this night was Albert Cadabra, Nasty Canasta and Doc Wasabassco and each one delivered some hearty laughs and heart-filled moments of love for their cast. Albert Cadabra’s wrangling of the “Slutty (and very drunk) Cowgirl” during his magic act was one of the highlights of the evening, completed with the peeking at Mr. Cadabra’s pecker!

Michelle L’Amour treated us with her “Whole Lotta Love” act- which is one of my favorites of hers. Besides using one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite bands (Led Zeppelin)- Michelle is one of the finest in musicality and a wide range of expressions both in her face and her body-the sign of a world-class entertainer. The show ended with one of the most ridiculous and awesome acts of all time- “Titanic” by The Kissing Cousins- Gigi LaFemme and her (real!) cousin Scarlet Sinclair. It showed at the Burlesque Hall of Fame a few years back and hadn’t been performed since, the original boat was sunk in the Sunday pool party- It is exactly what Doc called it “Brill-tarded”. The night ended with a pinning of all of Doc Wasabassco’s agents and then a nightcap with the cast around the corner. Sitting on a pool table with Gal Friday, I again had a moment of extreme gratitude- this is my life! Sparkly and brilliant strippers pepper my life, all over the world.

Leaving NY was harder this time- I was ready to go home, but not ready to leave my new NY family. I was sent off nice a proper though- a lovely brunch made by Legs Malone, movies with Bastard Keith and Mme. Rosebud and one final lunch with Doc and Nasty- my heart is bursting with all kinds of gooey love for the other coast. I can’t wait to get back!

 

The Suitcase and the Showgirl: Burlesque Behind the Pink Door 11/3/2012

Burlesque and Cabaret Behind the Pink Door
Seattle, WA
11/3
Starring: Foxy Tann, Legs Malone, Bella Jovan, Kaleb Kerr and Sydni Deveraux

    As the producer of this show, one of my main goals to to create a lovely balance both onstage and backstage for my performers. The dressing room is small; like many dressing rooms in major cities all over the country- and this means that the performers are often dressing and undressing with limbs and therefore their energy touching. This show was no exception- since BurlyCon was happening the weekend of this installation of the show, I got to have 2 of the most lovely artists I know- Legs Malone and Foxy Tann to join me. To round of the cast we also had the abundantly effervescent Bella Jovan and one of the nicest (and silliest) men in my in industry- Kaleb Kerr. The backstage was a puddle of love- and it’s almost certain that when it feels like that the audience will have a great time too.

Foxy brought her “daddy” act, which was delightfully disturbing, and the lovely Legs’ lengthy gams enthralled our audience, her smile showering us with love! One of my favorite things about Bella’s performances is her expert use of finger cymbals and her choice of pop music. The night ends with a cocktail- an exquisitely made Manhattan, a little bit of conversation and a million hugs. I can’t wait until they come visit us again!

The Suitcase and the Showgirl: Theatre Bizarre! (part 2)

THEATRE BIZARRE and BOOM BOOM BURLESQUE (part 2 of 2)
Detroit, Michigan
A giant party in the largest Masonic temple in the world
10/20/2012

In the middle of our continent lies a city that has seen better days- and that city is Detroit. Crossing the bridge and the border from Windsor to a once booming city was a bit of a shock- I’ve seen photos and documentaries for sure about the deterioration and the attempts to resuscitate, but it didn’t prepare me for the hollowed out and broken down buildings that were at one time glorious. The streets are quiet- not many people driving or walking, which is a major difference from my home in Seattle or my recent trip to New York, I almost feel like I’m waiting for something to happen. However- there are signs of rebuilding and hope sprinkled around, P-patches and the remodeling of houses, a couple of murals here and there. Hipsters have been relocating recently, hoping to breathe life into this dying city and chances are they’re going to do it.

In what seems like the center of the city lies a MASSIVE Masonic temple. It’s where our gig is tonight- Theatre Bizarre, and I’m overwhelmed by the structure of the building- the molding decorating everything, the Latin phrases on ceremonial chairs and stands, labyrinthine hallways, locked doors, marble floors….and then of course the incredible art that has been hosted by the building, the art that beckons to carnies and dark revelers everywhere. Around 5,000 people are projected to attend this party, spanning over 6 floors and who knows how many rooms. The burlesque portion is nestled on the 5th floor in the Peepshow- across from the ominously named: FISTATORIUM. But more on the Fistatorium later…


The dressing room winds behind the devil-mouthed stage- a long line of suitcases, makeup stations and strip-artists litter the room. It’s a journey just to get in and out of the backstage to get to the party, happily tripping over ladies and gents telling stories of their travels, cackling laughter, naked bodies being adorned in glitter and fishnets, and some rehearsing quietly to themselves.

There’s 6 sets consisting of around 6 performers in each for the night in the peepshow and it runs like a well-oiled train, teaser after pleaser exiting the mouth of the devil, dancing up to the ramp to the platform in the center of a room teeming with costumed party-goers. When you’re up there you especially feel like you’re on museum display being THISCLOSE to a man dressed as a vampire and a lady dressed as Leeloo (there’s always one!) taking in your performance. By the end of the night, the room will be sweaty and filled to the brim- packed like sardines that desire to stare at flesh.

Before the crowds really start to arrive in droves though- I donned my catsuit (all performers had to be in costume too) and placed myself in one of the Masonic thrones conveniently stationed front and center to the devil’s mouth and was able to enjoy an entire set before doing some quick exploring while the party was happening (we got to explore earlier in the day without guests being about, which I was thankful for) and then popping back to the backstage to prepare myself for my first show.

A performance that I must tell you about is by the man called Sexy Mark Brown from Toronto- I watched from behind the curtain, and even from the back, it was incredible! All of the talent at this show was top notch to be certain, but there’s a certain spark of awesome that happened when Sexy Mark stepped onstage as a preacher and left the crowd quaking- a frenzy of well laid energy, a true pro, entertainment at it’s best. A fantastic performance by a very fascinating man indeed!

I have to tell you, being at a venue for 12 hours can be exhausting, for sure, but I never felt that way at Theatre Bizarre- I think because it wasn’t just a show, and there was always something to go look at, some strange oddity to discover- fire performers, suspension, bands, dancing, intricate art, and wandering people. After the sets were over and there was still a couple of hours left in the night, we formed a big group and went to Ghost Train- which stands as my favorite part of the evening.

Picture this- walking through doors into darkness and fog all you hear is heavy metal and you lay eyes on a line of costumed people, standing in line for what- you can’t tell. Roxi and D’arcy arranged for us all to take a ride on this “Ghost Train”, walking through the fog you finally come up to a miniature train with many cars, like the one you rode on as a child, driven by someone who is clearly having way too much fun at their job for the evening. Weaving in and out, doing donuts (in what HAS to be a giant auditorium) we screamed and laughed as we were whipped through the fog. The crazy thing to me is that for all of those people standing in line- they never heard us! The crew at Theatre Bizarre had set up a perfect illusion that I only hope to encounter again at some point. We then headed back to the Fistatorium to see if the show we were promised was going to begin- a man was to meet his match with someone else’s foot, and we were all dying to see it.

It is with disappointment that I have to admit that we missed the “foosting” (what we affectionately called it), but somehow I feel it might have been to my benefit as some things cannot be unseen. It was a secret thrill to explain what BDSM and the Fistatorium were all about to a “virgin”- though it made it very clear that I’ve read and seen some very strange things in my 20 some odd years on this planet. C’est la vie!  It is both to my pleasure and detriment that I’m curious about everyone’s sexual proclivities and the Fistatorium was certainly host to a few unconventional desires.

Our last adventure for the night was to get ourselves back over the border BY TAXI to Roxi’s house. It was a bit of a shock to find out that taxi’s do indeed go back and forth over the border and with hilarious results sometimes- a car full of made-up and costumed creatures asking to be let into another country. I don’t think I’ve laughed as hard or been as amused by a car ride in years- it really is all about the company that you keep, and  thank goodness my company is delightful and strange.

My visit with Roxi and D’arcy ended too quickly- they were the loveliest of hosts! Eating homemade cupcakes made to look like brains (super cute and delicious!), walking by a river, watching Tigger! climb a train, 2 fantastic show experiences and at the end eating takeout and watching “Burlesque” in our jammies (what a ridiculous movie- but I’ll always love Cher), I can’t wait to get back to Windsor to play with them again!

http://theatrebizarre.com
http://www.roxidlite.com

The Suitcase and the Showgirl: Boom Boom Burlesque!

BOOM BOOM BURLESQUE and THEATRE BIZARRE (Part 1 of 2 part review)
Windsor, CA
Produced by Roxi D’Lite and D’arcy Bresson

I met the 2010 Burlesque Hall of Fame’s Queen of Burlesque Roxi D’Lite the same year that she won with her giant cigar and we’ve become fast friends ever since. When the opportunity arose to visit her in her hometown, to stay with her and to perform in what was going to be 2 incredibly fun shows- I jumped at the chance.

Anyone who has met Roxi knows of her effervescent, bubbly-charm and her dedication to being a performer deserving of her Queen title. I arrived a couple days early and left a couple days after the event to be able to hang out with my friend and in between I had the pleasure of dancing in 2 of the most fun shows I’ve gotten to do this year.


    Undertaking producing 2 major shows consisting of over 15 performers is a feat in itself and Roxi and D’arcy (her partner in producing and life) made sure that not only was the balance in performers backstage absolutely lovely, but the shows that were presented had a little bit of everything for everyone. Seeing friends from all over the country (and meeting new ones) is something usually only occurring in festival circumstances, which can be really hectic and often overwhelming with hundreds of performers all trying to get to know each other. Because of this unusual circumstance, we all were thrilled to get to have a bit of time to really enjoy the backstage and hang out vibe created from the crazy combination of international talent!

Arriving the day before Boom Boom was Tigger! Burlesque’s first King of Boylesque and Eric Powell, the artist behind incredible comic- The Goon (http://www.thegoon.com). Eric was along for the ride- coming to see the shows and experience Theatre Bizarre, and whether he liked it or not (of course he liked it!) be barraged by crazy kooky strippers- and he fit right in. When traveling, my favorite part is that you never know what interesting mix of artist you’ll be sitting at dinner with, and I feel super blessed to have met some crazy people, and to have cuddled next to the artists that have influenced my career over time.

The night of Boom Boom I got to fulfill a dream of performing for one of my Legends, Miss Toni Elling. The day before Boom Boom, an article in the Windsor star had provided tribute to her (http://blogs.windsorstar.com/2012/10/18/burlesque-legend-toni-elling-to-visit-windsor), and so the opportunity to extend Miss Toni’s legacy as a performer of color felt like an incredible honor. We all watched the video of the interview, huddled on Roxi’s couch smiling and tearing up at the beautiful moment where we see one of our incredible women in burlesque being brought back out into the light. I only wish to see more of it in our current publications….meeting and talking to these legends has the transformative ability to change your life.

For the show, the stage was low to the ground and surrounded by the audience and a huddle of performers off to stage right- bright eyed and smiling watching their peers bring their art to a unique moment in time. It’s time like these, like watching Julie Atlas Muz admire her husband, Matt Fraser charmingly host the show that you feel enveloped in a moment, hugged by the reality that this is the life you’ve happily worked so hard to create. In one moment, you see a newly blonde Midnight Martini masked and swathed in a robe and the next she’s flying high on her silks, mesmerizing the crowd with her grace up high. Roxi brought her Fetish Feline act complete with a decadent giant bowl of creamer for her to bathe in- and it was certainly decadent and delicious to watch!

There were so many lovely moments from this show, like Trixie and Monkey’s new magic act, Lola Spitfire ROCKING people’s faces off despite her broken ankle (I know right?) and Tigger and Julie’s spring time act with a dramatic twist- I tried my best to not miss a moment that was happening on that stage. Lola VanElla and Sammich provided the show with a sweetness that many burlesque shows can miss- their vaudeville performances being mini-plays for the audience to get lost in for a moment, their love story apparent and very real. Wrapping the show into a gorgeous package with Matt Fraser, the seal boy- armed with his British wit and utterly disarming personality!

After the show ends, the entire space was transformed into a dance club and many of the performers let loose, posing for photographs and generally being stared at like aliens by those who had just arrived, thinking that they were going to see the typical fare offered at their dancing establishment. It’s moments like these where I realize a showgirl’s reality is dramatically different from many peoples- and often the difference can create hilarious situations. I slept like a baby cuddled in bed next to Tigger!, and we were definitely going to need our sleep- the next day is Theatre Bizarre in Detroit, which will have us crossing borders and delving deep into the land of carnies!

http://www.roxidlite.com/