Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Video of the Week

Love this song. Really love the burlesque-ishness to the video.

Monday, July 27, 2009

All The News That's Fit To Strip

After a two-year absence, Dita Von Teese finally returns to L.A. with a sold-out show at the Avalon last week. Blackbookmag.com reports:

"She did three sets — two of which she performs at the Crazy Horse in Paris: one set to her own remake of a Mae West tune, A Guy What Takes His Time that ended with her in a black bathtub giving herself a very luxurious bath; a second one put a twist on her classic martini glass act (it’s been altered to signify a Cointreau cocktail — they were the night’s sponsor). And her final act was brand new. It was dubbed "The Opium Den” and was set partially to the Cure’s Lullaby, and it featured an elaborate red and orange glowing "Oriental' set. "

In other news...

Dr. Lucky, professor at both New York University and the New York School of Burlesque, breaks down the fundamental differences between burlesque and conventional stripping.

Companies like Hendricks Gin hope to attract the art crowd by sponsoring such events as the New York Burlesque Festival, and most recently the Toronto Burlesque Festival this past weekend.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Candy Gram: Miss C.

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 Tanya Cheex a line at t.cheex AT gmail DOT com. Today, say hello to Miss C.

What is your hometown?
Halifax, "Good Times in the Maritimes!" Nova Scotia Canada

How long have you been interested in burlesque/performing?
I have been performing pretty much my whole life with my debut being the time I got to wear the highly coveted tea towel on my head as the Virgin Mary in my grade three Christmas play. I also did ballet, tap, jazz, and drama at school. As I got older I was "Club Kid" known around town for my over the top outfits/wigs/shoes which landed me some gigs as a GoGo dancer at night clubs/raves, etc. It was through these events that I ended up getting involved in the beginning of the burlesque scene here in 2004. I'd always been a rockabilly girl at heart and had been familiar to burlesque since I was a kid (my mother even used to hum The Stripper if I so much as began to take off my sweater!) so performing burlesque felt like a natural progression.

How many pairs of pasties do you own?
Well I have a pasty making business (Pretty Titty Pasties) so I've always got LOTS of pasties around. I wouldn't even know how many I personally have. They are everywhere in my house. You can't open a junk drawer or go in the bathroom or even sit on my couch without finding a pair.

What are your three favorite songs to perform to?
I don't know if I have specific favorites because it depends on my mood and the show. Any song by Herb Alpert or Artie Shaw, and of course, my favorite music of all time to perform to would be by Earl Bostic; his song Jungle Drums is a pretty good measure of the kind of music I like to perform to and very fitting for my burlesque persona.

What three items could you not live without as a performer?
Three? Only THREE? Ok, well then I will cheat if I can.
1) My makeup bag full of red lip sticks, glitter, liquid eye liner,and false eye lashes
2) My Glue Gun
3) Super Strength Water Proof Band Aids (when the pasties WONT stick for whatever reason or you don't have time between costume changes for spirit gum to dry a couple of those bad boys hot glue gunned to the back of a pair of pasties will help save what little modesty you have left!)

Who had the biggest influence on your career?
The seeds of my burlesque love affair were planted when I was just a small child by Tex Avery cartoons. But without a doubt, hands-down Dixie Evans has been my biggest inspiration. I hope to some day meet her - it would be such an honor.

Who is your favorite burly queen?
Dixie Evans will always be my number one but I am in awe of so many modern burlesque dancers like Dirty Martini, Kitten Deville, AngiePontani, Michelle L'Amour, Bambi The Mermaid...the list goes on!

What is your favorite item of clothing?
Sadly, my flannel PJs. Much to my boyfriend's disappointment I'm a jammie girl when I get home.

What’s the last movie you saw?
In the movie theater, Jurassic Park 35mm screening a few weeks ago. I watch a lot of movies at home especially independent weird stuff my film buff boy friend brings home.

What’s on your must-see-TV list?
Mad Men, Dexter, True Blood (vampire Bill is so dreamy!), Family Guy,and I was totally digging Dollhouse for a while too.

What book is on your nightstand?
I don't have much time for reading but I'm sure there's a candy bar wrapper on the night stand. It has writing on it. Does that count?

If you could go anywhere for vacation, where would you go?
The UK, I grew up there and haven't been back since we moved to Canada when I was in my early teens.

If you could have any superpower, which one would you want? Why?
Well, with super power comes super responsibilities. I have enough responsibilities as it is so I might pass on this one lest I end up making more work for myself!

Satisfy your appetite for more Candy Grams: Immodesty Blaize, Nasty Canasta, Vivienne Vermuth, Scarlett James, Tura Santana, Tatah DuJour, Susie Caboose, Gigi La Femme, Kitten on the Keys, Virginia D'Vine, 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, July 22, 2009

Monday, July 20, 2009

All The News That's Fit To Strip

The Toronto Burlesque Festival kicks off this Thursday at the Gladstone Hotel. Festivities include a meet-and-greet of Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art Show, a burlesque bra auction for breast cancer and plenty of sexy, sassy, tease-licious performances. Headliners include Miss Exotic World 2002, Kitten Deville, Miss Exotic World 2005, Michelle L'amour, Jo "Boobs" Weldon, Mr. Exotic World 2009, Hot Toddy, Gravity Plays Favorites, Dr. Lucky, Amber Ray, Kellita, and "The Reigning Princess of Burlesque," Roxi Dlite.

In other news...

Walter Cronkite, who died on Friday, once said that one of his most memorable interviews was with Hinda Wassau, the burlesque star who invented the stripper pole. When asked about the role of burlesque in boosting wartime morale, Wassau grabbed him by the lapels of his jacket and said, "Let me tell you something. The morals behind a burlesque stage are just as good as the morals at Radio City."

A burlesque workshop in the Boston area hopes to strip women of their body fears.

Later this year, a proposed Policing and Crime Bill in England could see burlesque categorized as sexual entertainment, forcing producers to apply for a sexual entertainment license.

Striptease aerobics isn't just in L.A. and New York anymore. The trend has hit Charleston, N.C., and ladies are learning from an unlikely source: a nineteen-year-old young man who studies theater student at West Virgina University.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Purr-fect Pages

Don't miss Kitten on the Keys in this month's Bizarre magazine.

Monday, July 13, 2009

All The News That's Fit To Strip

Model and former Baywatch babe Carmen Electra bared all for Crazy Horse in Las Vegas last weekend. This is Electra's first stint as a Vegas showgirl, but perhaps not the last. She said:

"I have so much respect for the beauty and history of Crazy Horse. I am honored to be able to do this. So much of it is based on classical ballet. I hope I can come back to Vegas. For this show, I want to come early to rehearsal and stay late and perform longer. I love doing this and I love live audiences. I really want to perform in Vegas more permanently.”

In other news...

This year the Old Pasadena Film Festival in California is presenting a free screening of Gypsy.

Australian singer Paul Caspis is getting in touch with his saucier side by joining the cast of Moira Finucane's The Burlesque Hour.

The Boston Babydolls premiere a new show tonight. The Wrathskellar, set in the dark underworld of 19th century London, presents a bit of a departure from the usual glitz and glam world of burlesque.

BlackBook chats with Scrappy.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Candy Gram: Immodesty Blaize

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 Tanya Cheex a line at t.cheex AT gmail DOT com. Today, say hello to Miss Exotic World 2007 and the author of Tease, Miss Immodesty Blaize.

How long have you been interested in burlesque/performing?
From about the age of 5

How many pairs of pasties do you own?
I’ve never counted. I tend to wear the same few pairs as I have them custom made by my jeweler, but I do seem to have accumulated plenty of novelty, wholly impractical ones.

What are your three favorite songs to perform to?
I get bored easily. It changes. Let’s say Blues In the Night, Stairway to the Stars, and Chivas Regal. I’m determined to work out a way to do classic to ZZ Top some day though.

What three items could you not live without as a performer?
Hot rollers, rhinestones, heels. Oh that’s so unoriginal. But the basics are best!

Who had the biggest influence on your career?
No one has influenced my career. But I have personally been inspired by many things. Everyone knows my main performance muse is Liberace. And then Ava Gardner, Grace Jones, Jayne Mansfield, Divine, Irving Berlin, Claude Cahun, Evelyn Waugh, Russ Meyer, Beardsley, Roy Orbison, French chateaus, Russian orthodox churches, Chinoiserie….so many things.

Who is your favorite burly queen?
You want me to choose? Just one? No way. Obviously our 2009 reigning queen Kalani Kokonuts. Lilly Christine. (The heat!) Zorita. (She’s the reason I have a streak in my hair) Lili St Cyr. Liz Renay. Satan's Angel. April March. Dirty Martini. This is a mean question, choosing only one indeed.

What is your favorite item of clothing?
A simple black Dolce Gabana dress. I can wear it in any country, any time of day, any occasion, TV show, press interview, fashion party, funeral, wedding; it packs down to the size of a pair of Wolford stockings, doesn’t need ironing.

What’s the last movie you saw?
Mommie Dearest. Actually it reminded me of someone I know.

What’s on your must-see-TV list?
I don’t watch much TV. Flight of The Concords, The Wire, Mad Men, I’ll make the effort to watch those. I did a chat show with David Simon (The Wire) recently, I was a little lost for words.

What book is on your nightstand?
Me Cheeta, the autobiography.

If you could go anywhere for vacation, where would you go?
Capri maybe. I can wear diamonds in the sun and sip a mean dry martini, and us Europeans don’t freak out about topless sunbathing. I can’t have tan lines, now can I?

If you could have any superpower, which one would you want? Why?
Time travel. Apart from being able to source the best wardrobe ever, learn the dance of the seven veils first hand, and dine with Robert Mitchum, I wouldn’t mind taking out a few evil dictators with an AK47.

Satisfy your appetite for more Candy Grams: Nasty Canasta, Vivienne Vermuth, Scarlett James, Tura Santana, Tatah DuJour, Susie Caboose, Gigi La Femme, Kitten on the Keys, Virginia D'Vine, 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.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Revealing Images: The Bad, Bad Men

In Revealing Images, photographer Don Spiro dishes up sweet photographic treats and the stories behind them. Today, Don aims his lens at 2008's Miss Exotic World The Bad, Bad Men.



In 2004 the Velvet Hammer added yet another photographer to its alumni list, the amazing Austin Young. He shot a photo session at my place on Sunset Boulevard, the Studio With No Name, and the producers asked me to shoot behind the scenes of Austin working. One of his shots from that night became the cover of the photo book, “The Velvet Hammer Burlesque,” which also contains quite a bit of my own work.

Besides shooting Austin working I also shot the performers who were in the back of the room getting ready to go before the camera. There were a few industrial clip lights set up as work lights so I started using them to illuminate my photos.

The house band, the former “Millionaire and His Maharajahs of Melody,” had tired of their turnbans and decided on a vintage criminal look, thereby becoming “The Millionaire and his Bad, Bad Men.” The band included bandleader Millionaire, whose prior band was the influential Combustible Edison. On drums was Joe Berardi of the Eastside Sinfonettia, Non Credo, and Double Naught Spy Car, who has played with nearly every avante garde musician in Los Angeles and writes soundtracks for film and tv. (At a Velvet Hammer show at the Mayan Theatre he collaborated with Tura Satana: he on snare under a single spotlight while she worked the cymbal with a tassel from her pastie.)

The keyboard player was Kristian Hoffman, formerly of the New York 70’s punk band the Mumps, who had been the writer and arranger for Klaus Nomi and was working with Ann Magnuson and Abby Travis. These three were incredibly influential artists in the subculture music scene and to have them together in the same room, in the same band, was inspiring. I had shot them before and it was always fun.

I took the brightest light and clamped it at a distance from them, off far to the right of camera and just below eye level. The distance would ensure that when the three of them posed the light would illuminate them evenly. I adjusted their pose so that they weren’t throwing shadows on each other and added a second, smaller light further below to bring light to the dark side of their faces and give them a moody, somewhat conspiring tone. If you look into Millionaire’s eyes, you can see the reflection of both lights.

Somehow these three needed little direction: they each found their light and knew exactly what pose to do, as if each could read the others’ thoughts and body language without looking. It made for one of my favorite behind-the-scenes photos.

~Don Spiro

Monday, July 6, 2009

All The News That's Fit To Strip

The Crescent City welcomes a new burlesque festival. In September, producer Rick Delaup will celebrate all things burlesque with striptease showcases, workshops, vendors and more. The New Orleans Burlesque Festival takes place on September 11-13 at the Harrah's Casino in New Orleans. Rick says this is the only festival dedicated to classic burlesque:

"The nightly showcases recall the New Orleans of the Forties and Fifties, when New Orleans was known as "The Most Interesting City in America." Bourbon Street was its epicenter, and it became world famous for its concentration of nightclub shows, and the New Orleans Burlesque Festival brings back all of the excitement and glamour of the period."

The line up includes performers from around the country including Michelle L'amour, Jo "Boobs" Weldon and Catherine D'lish.

In other news...

Burlesque troupes aren't just for the east and west coasts anymore. Troupes and soloists are springing up everywhere and Greensboro, N. C. is no exception.


Small-town Pennsylvania fails at their attempt to shut down aerobic striptease classes

Friday, July 3, 2009

Candy Gram: Nasty Canasta

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 Tanya Cheex a line at t.cheex AT gmail DOT com. Today, say hello to Nasty Canasta of Pinchbottom Burlesque.

What is your hometown?
Brooklyn, NY

How long have you been interested in burlesque/performing?
I've been in theatre for most of my life; I gave up acting for burlesque about five years ago.

How many pairs of pasties do you own?
My pasties tend to be specific to each act, so I have a different pair for pretty much every number - probably in the double-digits by now. I also can't really help but collect random things to glue to my boobs; friends go on trips and instead of bringing back t-shirts and things as souvenirs, they're like, "Here are two ashtrays from Graceland, I thought you could use them as pasties."

What are your three favorite songs to perform to?
It changes a lot, but right now I'm really having fun with Ice Cream by New Young Pony Club, Queen's theme song to the Flash Gordon movie, and You Light Up My Life.

What three items could you not live without as a performer?
Ziploc bags, Static Gard and red nail polish.

Who had the biggest influence on your career?
Probably my grandmother, who's been incredibly supportive of my performing habit no matter what form it's taken. She gave me my first box of dress-up clothes and ran lines with me for school plays, and when I was in college studying theatre she would send me postcards from shows in Vegas - a few years ago she even made it out to Vegas for Miss Exotic World.

Who is your favorite burly queen?
Julie Atlas Muz. She's a constant inspiration and I want to spend a day living in her brain.

What is your favorite item of clothing?
My 6" black platform stripper heels. It took months to learn how to walk in them, and now I never want to take them off - I've actually done tribute numbers to these shoes.

What’s the last movie you saw?
Little Miss Sunshine -- on DVD. I never seem to make it out to the movie theatre, somehow.

What’s on your must-see-TV list?
Doctor Who. Classic ones, new ones, all of them - it's an obsession. I also finally limped into the digital age and just discovered Hulu, and recently I've been watching my way through old episodes of Barney Miller. It's fabulous.

What book is on your nightstand?
I just finished Lord Of The Flies, which I haven't picked up since high school. It's totally made me want to go back through the old summer reading lists.

If you could go anywhere for vacation, where would you go?
I'd like to say I'd be all adventurous and go whitewater rafting and defy death on a mountaintop, but really all I ever want to do is sit on a beach. With a drink. Naked, if possible.

If you could have any superpower, which one would you want? Why?
Time travel, definitely. It'd be the ultimate costume research, wouldn't it?

Satisfy your appetite for more Candy Grams: Vivienne Vermuth, Scarlett James, Tura Santana, Tatah DuJour, Susie Caboose, Gigi La Femme, Kitten on the Keys, Virginia D'Vine, 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, July 1, 2009