Tuesday, March 31, 2009

All The News That's Fit To Strip

Michelle L'Amour opens up Studio L'Amour, the Dojo for your Mojo, where she teaches the art of burlesque dancing to students of all ages and skill levels. Of burlesque, she told North by Northwestern, "It’s loud, dumb, in your face and not what people are looking for. Burlesque brings some realness to sexuality, and I try to make it a very genuine experience on both ends."

In other news ...

Vegas gets a little less sexy.

Are former Wall Streeters turning to the pole? Or is it all just a promotional ploy?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Video of the Week

Take a peek at even more of Jo Boobs' costumes with the video of the week.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Behind The Garter Belt with Jo Boobs

Tanya Cheex shares this interview with Jo "Boobs" Weldon, head mistress of The New York School of Burlesque and "Queen Bee mentor to the nearly naked." Can't make it to New York? Jo's got a new instructional video out.

What is the importance of costuming to the burlesque performance.? Do you come up with the act or the costume first?
It depends. With characters I usually come up with the act first, but with classic numbers it's often a costume idea that originates the number.

When did you realize that your costumes had to be custom made and not off the rack?
I made costumes for feature dancers in the 1990s, and when I was a feature dancer I made my own. We weren't allowed to wear things that came off the rack. so I've always known.

What inspirations do you draw from?
Lounge and heavy metal music, cartoons, and political agendas.

Do you get inspired from vintage burlesque photography or performers?
Absolutely! The white costume for my Honey Harlow Tribute is based on the clip from the film Lenny. My Sherry Britton tribute number was made with her consulting on the design and Garo Sparo working out the details. But I like to see classic bits in even the most neo-numbers. It connects us to our filthy-minded forebears and the history we are fortunate to repeat.

What are your favorite costumes that you've made? What was the most challenging?
Godzilla, by far. Making the tail was the best part. I was working on it while I was bartending at a place called Bellevue in Hell's Kitchen, and one day a guy named Troy came in and gave me a mask he'd made for the owner. I started talking to him and it turned out he was involved in major costuming. We ended up designing the tail surrounded by the heads of the rats from the Nutcracker and the actual wings from Victoria's Secret fashion shows. Always accept help when it's offered!

What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you while making something?
Making Bambi's lobster costume, I laughed continuously.

What materials do you get the most excited about working with?
Weird fabrics and beaded fringe.

Explain the importance of closures and fastenings on costumes for the burlesque artist?
It has to work. It has to be fun for the audience to watch you undo it. And you have to rehearse it, and you have to check every time before you go on to make sure all your fasteners are in good working order.

What tips can you offer those who aren't crafty? What one Jo Boobs secret can you divulge?
Always carry a sewing kit, repairing costumes is part of the gig.

If you had an unlimited budget what would you make? The sky's the limit!
Something like Mistinguette

What batteries fuel an outfit? Charisma? Smile?
Sometimes batteries -- but understanding that costuming IS choreography is a plus.

Where can we learn to make our own costumes?
You can learn from my handbook which is coming out this year!

Monday, March 23, 2009

All The News That's Fit To Strip

Dita Von Teese is glad the Pussycat Dolls turned to music. She told Inked that "I think it's really great they decided to become a pop group and they've left the pseudo-burlesque alone. It drives me crazy when the media or groups like the Pussycat Dolls try to sanitize and take away the sexual and nudity aspects of burlesque. I'm sorry, but if you're not up there taking your clothes off and dancing around in pasties and a G-string, it's not burlesque."

In other news ...

In Denver, Reyna Von Vett and Michelle Baldwin presenting two distinct burlesque shows in tandem, using mostly the same chorus girls.

Mmmmm.... Showgirl cupcakes.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

How To Burlesque

In our monthly column How To Burlesque, Miss Frankie Tease brings you tips and advice on a mishmash of burly topics. Today, she dishes on how to warm-up while on stage.

After a major injury to my hamstring, I can tell you that warming up is the most important thing you can do for yourself before performing. Take 30 seconds to do this right before going on stage.

Breathe deeply through your nose and think about your four major muscle groups -- the chest, legs, back and stomach. Here are a couple warm-ups per muscle group to get you started.

Chest warm-ups: Hold your arms straight out and do mini circles, put arms straight overhead while clasping hands and wiggling your middle.

Leg warms-ups: Go down into a complete squat. Watch that your knees are pointed the same direction of your toes. Standing in place, bend one knee fully while straightening the other (this also hits the hip flexors). Do this at least 10 times per side.

Back warm-ups: Make a figure 8 with your hips. Try reaching with your shoulders while doing this.

Stomach warm-ups: Roll your stomach while tucking your pelvis in, and then tailbone out do this about 10 times.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Video of the Week

This week's a double feature with two tribute videos to Lili St. Cyr.



Monday, March 16, 2009

All The News That's Fit To Strip

"What goes together better than cupcakes and boobies?" wondered Silona Bonewald, one of the organizers of the Pastries and Pasties cupcake contest and burlesque show at the technology conference South by Southwest Interactive. Apparently not much. The pairing was a sweet-and-sassy hit and the line to get in wrapped around the block.

In other news ...

Lady GaGa, who used to work as a burlesque dancer, keeps getting in trouble for her skimpy outfits.

OnMilwaukee.com celebrates their first-ever Sex Week with the top 10 stripper songs.

Portland rediscovers pasties.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Candy Gram: Virginia D'Vine

In our ongoing Q&A series --"The Candy Gram"-- we ask the same quirky questions of burlesque's various performers. If you want to be added to the mix, drop us a line at kellydinardo AT gmail DOT com. Today, say hello to Virginia D'Vine.

What is your hometown?
I was born in Welland, Ontario but I spent a good portion of my life in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. I'm currently living in Toronto, Ontario.

How long have you been interested in burlesque/performing?
I'm only 20 but I have been interested and madly in love with burlesque for five years. I saw a documentary called Pretty Things by Liz Goldwyn on HBO in 2005. I was 15 and I had just discovered rockabilly, I was also just getting into swing dancing so it seemed natural that I would become fascinated with the art of burlesque.

From the age of 15 I started devoting my life to collecting vintage artifacts, clothing, lingerie, records, and my passion for burlesque only grew. Three years later I had just turned 18 and twelve days later I did my first show. I cannot imagine living a life without glitter and pasties.

How many pairs of pasties do you own?
I generally have a pair for every act and I make them myself. I suppose I have about seven or eight good pairs of crystal pasties, the sequined ones tend to fall apart due to frequent touring and performances, so I won't count those.

What three items could you not live without as a performer?
My hot glue gun has saved me in a pinch on more occasions than I can count, spirit gum for it's devotion and for never allowing my pasties to fall off (even my heavy fire tassels!) and last but not least my hairspray encrusted hot rollers which allow me to do my hair while applying makeup.

Who had the biggest influence on your career?
I cannot simply name one performer or person but if I had to keep it down to eleven people, my biggest influences are Lucille Ball, Zorita, Bettie Page, Betty Grable, Marilyn Monroe, Tempest Storm, Sally Rand, Lili St. Cyr, Gypsy Rose Lee, Jenny Lee, and my great great Roma grandmother for putting performance in my blood.

Who is your favorite burly queen?
Zorita, she was so beautiful and creative. I wish that I could find more footage of her.

What is your favorite item of clothing?
Oh gosh, my vintage dress collection is getting a bit ridiculous so it's very hard to say. I really love my faux fox stole that Bettina May made, it makes me feel super glamorous.

What's the last movie you saw?
Let's Make Love

What's on your must-see-TV list?
I am a huge sucker for reality TV, especially ones about models or dancers. I love Americas Next Top Model, She's Got the Look and various other mindless television programs. As for real TV, I don't watch anything really other than old box-sets or Deja View. I love to watch I Love Lucy and The Lucy Show.

What book is on your nightstand?
I just finished reading Chuck Palinchucks Choke, so that should still be there.

If you could go anywhere for vacation, where would you go?
The Samoan Islands. I really want to see some genuine Hula Gals!

If you could have any superpower, which one would you want? Why?
If there is such a thing as a superpower where you can suck up everyone's knowledge - that's the one I want. Imagine being able to do every kind of dance style just by grabbing someones head.

Satisfy your appetite for more Candy Grams: Tamara the Trapeze Lady, Champagne Sparkles, Selia Carmichael, Pyra Sutra, Roxi Dlite, Scarlet O'Gasm, Bombshell Betty, Foxy Moxy, Bambi Galore, Mis Rosie Bitts, Sahara Dunes, Mimi Rockafellar, Baby Le Strange, Rose Darling, Satan's Angel, Ophelia Flame, Panache La Plume, Ginger Valentine, Madame Rosebud, Little Brooklyn, Victoria Veneance, Sauci Calla Horra, Penny Starr Jr., Gemma Parker, Darla DeVine, Sparkly Devil, Vivienne VaVoom, Lux LaCroix, Charlotte La Belle Araignee, Bunny Love, Amber Topaz, Amelie Soleil, Red Hot Annie, HoneyLu, Kimberlee Rose, Vicky Butterfly, Dominique Immora, Yasmine Vine, Cherry Bomb, Millie Dollar, Joanie Gyoza, Bonbon Vivant, Lola Martinet, Frankie Boudoir, Vixen Violette, Ravenna Black, Veronica Lashe, Amber Ray, Beatrix von Bourbon, Angie Pontani, Tanya Cheex, Bloody Belle, Clams Casino, Trixie Little, Michelle L'Amour, Margaret Cho, Miss Dirty Martini, Princess Farhana, Miss Delirium Tremens, Paris Green, Jo Boobs, Jack Midnight, Heidi Von Haught, Diamond Minx, The Titillation Twins, Scratch, Creamy Stevens and Gina Louise.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Revealing Images: Barracuda Magazine

In Revealing Images, photographer Don Spiro dishes up sweet photographic treats and the stories behind them. Today, Don aims his lens at Barracuda Magazine.




I had been involved with the retro-pin up revival in Southern California in the mid-nineties, and one of the promoters at the forefront was Barracuda Magazine. Published by a college friend of mine who was heavily influenced by vintage magazines and who had a thing for doing-it-yourself, Barracuda was filled with informative articles, editorials, and (best of all) astounding examples of modern pin ups. There were few models in those days who specialized in pin up. Barracuda had to enlist women in the local rockabilly and burlesque scenes and their friends to pose as pin up models, thereby doing a lot to create the subculture that is so popular today.

One of the regular feature photographers was Paget Brewster, whose sensibilities and artistic style perfectly complemented those of the magazine and went a long way to defining the look of modern pin up. When Barracuda decided to profile her within the magazine they asked me to shoot both the layout and the cover.

I’ve always admired Paget, she is passionate about and excels at anything she sets her mind to do. She is as beautiful as any model she has shot, a kind of modern mix of Bunny Yeager and Lee Miller (two of my favorite photographers). An actress by profession, I am sure she could have a successful career as a professional photographer if she chose. But wait … there’s more!

The feature article would be the history of the original Batmobile from the 1960s TV series. As luck would have it, I live nearby Barris Kustom Industries where the Batmobile was created and is still displayed. George Barris created three replicas from Ford Galaxies for stunts and promotion, but the article was about the original, which Barris had built in three weeks from the 1954 Lincoln Futura concept car. The cover shot would feature Paget in a leopard two piece bathing suit in front of the actual, original Batmobile.

Since the image needed to be digitized to combine it with text and graphics, and I was still shooting film at this point, I borrowed Paget’s Fuji S camera with Nikon lens. The shoot was determined by our location: the crew at Barris drove the car into their parking lot and we based our angles on that. Barracuda’s editor, Jeff Fox, was on hand to direct the shoot, and I stood on a ladder above the left corner of the car, looking down as Paget posed for the lens.

I held the camera vertically to get all of Paget and the car in the frame. Since this was for the cover, Jeff made sure that I framed the composition to let room for the masthead, UPC symbol, and other text that he would within the finished work. Many people don’t realize that these are all elements that must be taken into consideration when shooting for a magazine: the final art is not the photo alone, it is a combination of graphic elements that must coexist in harmony and must be taken into account even before one frame is shot. The background, the Barris lot, would be replaced, but the lens choice, exposure, framing and composition had to be perfect to work as a cover image.

Fortunately, the weather was agreeable that day and the sun was in our favor. Paget, of course, was a natural model and every pose she did was in perfect pin up form. With a model like her in the set that we had it would have been hard not to have a fun shoot, our only distraction being the fact that we were all working with history (besides the Batmobile the Monsters Mobile, Drag-ula, and KITT were all nearby).

If you want to believe we treated the Batmobile like of a museum piece, giving it the respect due to an icon of American pop culture that is the most famous car in the entire world, stop reading. If you’re wondering if we took awed turns sitting in the driver’s seat, hesitant to touch anything in case we would cause a seat to eject or an oil slick to spray, well hell yes. Did I call one of my friends to say “Guess what, I’m calling you from the driver’s seat of the Batmobile?” Sure did. And yes, I sat in Robin’s seat, too.

~Don Spiro

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Candy Gram: Tamara the Trapeze Lady

In our ongoing Q&A series --"The Candy Gram"-- we ask the same quirky questions of burlesque's various performers. If you want to be added to the mix, drop us a line at kellydinardo AT gmail DOT com. Today, say hello to Tamara the Trapeze Lady

What is your hometown?
Seattle

How long have you been interested in burlesque/performing?
Since I was about 5 years old. My mom was a fan of old classic movies and I loved the campy dance numbers.

How many pairs of pasties do you own?
30 or 40

What are your three favorite songs to perform to?
Woody Herman's Woodchopper's Ball, Ella Fitzgerald's Lucky So And So and Harlem Nocturne by anyone.

What three items could you not live without as a performer?
Spirit gum -- nothing else keeps pasties on while I'm on the trapeze -- my sewing kit and Swarovski rhinestones.

Who had the biggest influence on your career?
My mom. She was bellydancer in the 1970s.

Who is your favorite burly queen?
Gypsy

What is your favorite item of clothing?
My father's lingerie collection. Many pieces of which I wear in my act called "My Father's Lingerie"

What's the last movie you saw?
A documentary about fractiles the name of which I forget.

What book is on your nightstand?
I don't read anymore. I'm too busy sewing costumes and producing shows.

If you could go anywhere for vacation, where would you go?
The Belearic islands in Spain.

If you could have any superpower, which one would you want? Why?
I would command world peace, for obvious reasons.

Satisfy your appetite for more Candy Grams: Champagne Sparkles, Selia Carmichael, Pyra Sutra, Roxi Dlite, Scarlet O'Gasm, Bombshell Betty, Foxy Moxy, Bambi Galore, Mis Rosie Bitts, Sahara Dunes, Mimi Rockafellar, Baby Le Strange, Rose Darling, Satan's Angel, Ophelia Flame, Panache La Plume, Ginger Valentine, Madame Rosebud, Little Brooklyn, Victoria Veneance, Sauci Calla Horra, Penny Starr Jr., Gemma Parker, Darla DeVine, Sparkly Devil, Vivienne VaVoom, Lux LaCroix, Charlotte La Belle Araignee, Bunny Love, Amber Topaz, Amelie Soleil, Red Hot Annie, HoneyLu, Kimberlee Rose, Vicky Butterfly, Dominique Immora, Yasmine Vine, Cherry Bomb, Millie Dollar, Joanie Gyoza, Bonbon Vivant, Lola Martinet, Frankie Boudoir, Vixen Violette, Ravenna Black, Veronica Lashe, Amber Ray, Beatrix von Bourbon, Angie Pontani, Tanya Cheex, Bloody Belle, Clams Casino, Trixie Little, Michelle L'Amour, Margaret Cho, Miss Dirty Martini, Princess Farhana, Miss Delirium Tremens, Paris Green, Jo Boobs, Jack Midnight, Heidi Von Haught, Diamond Minx, The Titillation Twins, Scratch, Creamy Stevens and Gina Louise.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Hot Off the Presses

Sure, she's twirled her tassels for you, but now what? The latest issue of Bachelor Pad Magazine serves up a new feature, "Your First Drink with a Burlesque Dancer" as a how-to guide in impressing your burly queen on a first date. The latest issue also features an interview with Tura Satana, a tribute to Bettie Page and teases with Cardinal Cyn, Roxi Dlite and Lulu Bell.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Video of the Week

Get a sneak peek at Big Apple Burlesque's show or head to the Starliner Lounge at Corio in New York every Wednesday night to catch the neo-burlesque noir musical in person.

Monday, March 2, 2009

All The News That's Fit To Strip

Dita Von Teese singing a new note. The burlesque dancer plans to release a pop album. Rumor has it her first release will be a cover of Irving Berlin's Lazy. Burly fans have no need to worry. Dita promises she'll keep dancing as well.

In other news...

The New York Times chats with burlesque dancer turned actress and comedian, Harriet Halloway.

The Village Voice unearths a 1962 interview with stripper Libby Jones.

A burlesque theater opens in Denver.

Hula-hooping burlesque dancer spins through Grand Rapids.