Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Revealing Images: Ursulina

In Revealing Images, photographer Don Spiro dishes up sweet photographic treats and the stories behind them. Today, Don aims his lens at Ursulina of the Velvet Hammer.



This was another photo from the first shoot I did for the Velvet Hammer program, back in 2001. Rita d’Albert, who now co-produces Lucha Va Voom, was a co-producer of the Velvet Hammer Burlesque troupe and performed in it as well, as Ursulina. The number she was doing at this particular show was inspired by Marie Antoinette, and she had an intricate, period style costume to accomplish it.

For the photo she wore the costume with metal panniers and an extremely large hat with ostrich plumes. It reminded me of Norma Shearer in the 1938 film “Marie Antoinette,” and I knew Rita also loved old Hollywood glamour, so that’s how we decided to shoot it.

She sat on a stool against a black backdrop, angled slightly to the side with her feet together, holding a small cane. Her confident expression was directed right into the camera lens.

Since Rita has great natural features and good cheekbones, I placed the key light very high and to the left of camera. The direction of the beam was in line with her face so a small shadow of her nose was placed directly above her lips, reminiscent of how Sternberg lit Dietrich in the thirties. The light was hard and created great texture, with crisp shadow lines and plenty of contrast. I added a snoot to create more of a pool of light, allowing the edges by the top of her hat and her legs below the knew too fade slowly into the darkness.

I wanted to make her glow like in old glamour stills, so I added a second light to the right of frame, just at her shoulder level. This created the glow I wanted, blowing out the highlights in her hair, hand, and parts of her ruffled dress. It also accentuated her cleavage, which had been already enhanced by the corset she wore.

I set the lens so that her face would be two stops over exposed, and the highlights would be four stops overexposed. This let me see into the shadows but keep the background dark. I wanted it to be perfect because the image would not only be used in programs, but also as 8 x 10s, and this was the day before digital, when the negative had to be duped and blown up to 8 x 10 to create prints.

Rita has been one of my most critical models, both of my work and her own, and I really think it raises the bar. This was actually our second shoot for the program, she had looked at tests from the first shoot and decided the make up wasn’t up to her standards.

I miss those days, when we had to be conservative with film and try to make every picture count, then wait several days to receive and examine every frame of a contact sheet, debating which image to circle with a grease pencil and pick for printing. You never knew if you really had the shot until then so you had to rely on your talent, skill and experience. I’m grateful that I started in that era: I think it makes my current digital work better and informs my style.

~Don Spiro

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Candy Gram: Chastity Chaos

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 Chastity Chaos.

What is your hometown?
Oxnard, Ca and Jacksonville, FL

How long have you been interested in burlesque/performing?
I became interested in performing burlesque around three years ago. I started going to shows and I rarely saw women of color performing. I wanted to rep for us.

How many pairs of pasties do you own?
Oh wow! I dunno! I make them myself. I have too many to count.

What are your three favorite songs to perform to?
C’est Lui by Josephene Baker, Boulevard of Broken Dreams by the Nat King Trio and The Stripper by any big band.

What three items could you not live without as a performer?
My creativity

Who had the biggest influence on your career?
Dorothy Dandridge. Her classic beauty and her sex appeal. The lack of a solid representation of classic Hollywood glamour among women of color inspires me to represent.

Who is your favorite burly queen?
Catherine D’Lish

What is your favorite item of clothing?
Thigh-high stockings

What’s the last movie you saw?
Temple Grandin… Loved it!

What’s on your must-see-TV list?
RuPaul’s Drag Race

What book is on your nightstand?
Right now I don’t have any books on my nightstand, but I have a few zines there…

If you could go anywhere for vacation, where would you go?
OMG! Everywhere… I want to see everything. But if I had to pick one place right now, Paris!

If you could have any superpower, which one would you want? Why?
The power to freeze time, so I can sleep.

Satisfy your appetite for more Candy Grams: Maria May I, La Cholita, Gentry de Paris, Jade Pearl, Kitten DeVille, Miss C, 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, December 22, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Revealing Images: Gigi La Femme

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


Gigi La Femme recently posed for a series I’ve been working on using vintage 4 x 5 cameras and black and white Polaroid film, which has since been discontinued. She has the perfect pin-up figure, so in addition to this, I also shot some digital color pin-ups with a vintage flavor.

We had just shot some photos of Gigi with white ostrich plume fans and a pale blond wig, and when she changed into her red and white lingerie she kept the wig. I took the vintage press camera I had been using and set it up on an antique tripod as a prop, using a small rug as a tripod spreader. The set was a pale goldenrod wall and a hardwood floor.

I used a simple cross-light of two lights at forty-five degree angles to Gigi, bounced into reflective umbrellas. The one to the right of camera was a little below eye level, the one to the left was a little above, bouncing off the white ceiling and flooding the room with soft light, but still modeling the curves of her body.

I kept my camera distant and at the level of her waist to make her seem long and leggy. Having her pose with one knee crossed over the other to show off the lines of her legs, I asked her to place one hand on her hip, raise the camera cable release and smile at the camera as if she was taking a picture of me. Simple and elegant without any retouching, it is one of my favorite recent pin-ups.

~Don Spiro

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Dirty's Ditty

Did you know Dirty Martini can sing too? The burly queen partnered with the Baron of Weird for Naked Time, which you can listen to here. And don't miss them performing at Vandam in NYC tomorrow night.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Candy Gram: Sydni Deveraux

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 Sydni Devaraux.

What is your hometown?
Seattle, Washington

How long have you been interested in burlesque/performing?
I performed in plays and did recitals as flutist in childhood until I hit high school and found the wonderful world of Jazz. I'd always been interested in singing and did behind closed doors, though it wasn't until I sang the National Anthem at an assembly and a wonderful teacher by the name of Mr. Brown came up to me and suggested that I perform in his vocal jazz group-did I think being on a stage expressing myself was really possible. From the world of singing jazz I found burlesque. I think I always knew what burlesque was in the back of my head-but it wasn't until I heard that beautiful women in lovely costumes and jewelery were dancing to the music that I was having a love affair with did I actually seek it out. I mean, to me, burlesque was everything I loved-music, movement, glamour and wit. Finding that those all existed in this world was ecstasy.

How many pairs of pasties do you own?
Probably about 15 though I favor about 5 pairs that are completely covered in rhinestones. Rhinestones really make pasties fantastic!

What are your three favorite songs to perform to?
Anything with an excellent beat and a dynamic melody! I mean, my three most well known acts are to Shake Your Lovemaker by Cherry Poppin' Daddies, Magdalenha by Sergio Mendez and Fat Bottom Girls by Queen. I love to have diverse acts.

What three items could you not live without as a performer?
Fake eyelashes, my music, and perhaps a shimmy belt. When I'm cranky or in a bad mood it's a lot of fun to slip one on and bop around the house to some music. I'm happy in no time!

Who had the biggest influence on your career?
I think it's a tie between 4 people: Catherine D'Lish, Dirty Martini, Tigger!, and Julie Atlas Muz. Watching them perform is so wonderful, and they make everything look so easy-it's very clear that they enjoy what they do. I love to see performers where personalities shine, and their stage presence is larger than life. Seeing these performers made it clear I needed to stay true to the things I love, no matter how wacky my ideas can be.


Who is your favorite burly queen?
This question is simply unfair! But I'll play your game and name a legend from the past, as clearly she's still a diva: Tiffany Carter. That woman simply blows my mind. Seeing her perform at BHOF 2009 was simply divine. Her movements are so smooth, her smile so bright-I have a mad crush on her. It's probably a good thing I didn't know her when she was younger. I probably would have said something improper!

What is your favorite item of clothing?
I have this red wiggle dress that I can wear and instantly feel sexy and wonderful. It doesn't even matter if I'm in my show makeup or date makeup-that dress looks smashing on me.

What’s the last movie you saw?
The documentary on Metallica. So fascinating.

What’s on your must-see-TV list?
Pretty much everything on the Bravo channel. It has Top Chef, the Real Housewives series, Rachel Zoe.... That channel rocks my world.

What book is on your nightstand?
2 books: Horrible Prettiness by Robert Allen, and Surviving your Saturn Return by Schostak and Weiss.

If you could go anywhere for vacation, where would you go?
Pretty much anywhere with a great dance party, a delicious Manhattan and an intoxicating city scape. Those twinkling lights full of possibilities are so magical! Exploring cities is one of my favorite things to do when I'm not performing.

If you could have any superpower, which one would you want? Why?
The power of persuasion. I mean, then you could just walk into Tiffany's and convince someone that they should give you a diamond ring and then go to Louis Vuitton and persuade them to sponsor a fabulous burlesque tour around the world-with their luggage, of course! I suppose this power could get out of hand...but I'm capable of having some restraint!

Satisfy your appetite for more Candy Grams: Maria May I, La Cholita, Gentry de Paris, Jade Pearl, Kitten DeVille, Miss C, 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.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

How To Burlesque: Approach Basic Choreography

In our column How To Burlesque, Miss Frankie Tease, left, brings you tips and advice on a mishmash of burly topics. Today, she dishes on how to approach basic choreography.

There are two approaches to choreography: one is to have the music first, the other is to have the costume and then find music to fit. This all depends upon the nature of the situation. If you are preparing for a show, they may ask you to choreograph to specific music. In this case the costume will be tailored to the music assignment. If you have your costume or prop first, then you will be searching for the tunes that accompany your idea. Mainly go in search of the mood that you want to convey with your prop, find music to match it. Many advanced and successful performers tend to use music without words, so that they are actually the star of the song, not the words, but this is by no means a rule. Just something I've noticed through time. This allows some tight and some looser choreography. In other words, the audience wouldn't know if you missed a cue, because there are no lyrics, just instruments.

I like to take things in simple sections: beginning, middle, and end. If you have a prop that you need to work into your act then listen to the song with intent to discover how it works in. Is there a natural point where it goes together? If you have a reveal or strip tease trick that you want to accomplish, make this toward the end way after the middle.

Treat the three sections as: ONE: Warm-Up/Strut TWO: Surprise or trick THREE: Reveal/Finale'. Keeping things simple will make your act remembered. Making sure the audience can follow you and not going too fast is an important part of choreography. If it's too fancy or fast, they might actually miss what you're doing, and it's for them so that's not good. Complicated is good, but make sure you've established a little rapport with your audience before launching anything too tricky. It allows them to warm up to you and gets them ready to really take in what you have to show!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Revealing Images: Selene Luna

In Revealing Images, photographer Don Spiro dishes up sweet photographic treats and the stories behind them. Today, Don aims his lens at Selene Luna, currently of the Margaret Cho show

One of my favorite shots I’ve done was of Selena Luna for Augusta’s Velvet Hammer documentary. Augusta directed her as her burlesque persona, Bobby Pinz, in a humorous homage to Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman.

Because of the requirements of the shoot everything was based around a location that would work, and we found one in the hills of Burbank that was both secluded and offered a low horizon line. This was critical because we intended to use forced perspective to make Selene appear gigantic, which depended on having a background clear of objects that would destroy the illusion. The angle was chosen carefully to exploit the natural advantages of the set. The crew was small, just Selene, Augusta, our make up artist and myself.

The position of the sun was up to frame left at the time we chose to shoot, and its arc would stay on that side all day, so I used that as the key light. While Selene got into make up and wardrobe Augusta designed the set: small, scale toy buildings and lichen from a model railroad, which Selene would walk amongst and occasionally crush. I set the camera down near ground level, which would simulate eye level of the buildings, and put on a wide angle lens to shoot looking up at Selene as she posed. I kept the camera mostly horizontal to emulate the aspect ratio of movies and tv.

The way Augusta had placed the set enabled us to incorporate actual elements in the distance, including far away trees, hills, and even telephone poles. Due to the angle they didn’t appear so much far away as they did small in comparison to Selene. They seemed the same scale as our small model buildings.

Because there were no clouds, just a bright blue sky, the sun threw hard shadows in high contrast. To make the image more flattering a large white bounce-board filled in from the right side of the frame. The image was taken with 400 speed color film exposed at 320 to reduce grain a bit, but the fast speed let me to shoot at an aperture of f/22, allowing for maximum depth of field. I wanted everything to be in focus from the ground at Selene’s feet to the far distant tree tops.

During the video sequence a helicopter slowly crossed the frame, very far away. At our angle it appeared to be near Selene’s waistline, further extending the illusion of her as a giant. Because of the video aspect of the shoot everything had to be done in-camera, and I am glad that the stills were done the same way, without benefit of post production. To me, the illusion is best when a model can interact with an actual environment.

~Don Spiro

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Candy Gram: Stormy Leigh

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 Tucson's Stormy Leigh.

What is your hometown?

Tucson, Arizona.

How long have you been interested in burlesque/performing?

As a little girl I always enjoyed playing dress-up with a collection of vintage 50's and eccentric 60' era clothing my mom gave me. I think that must have stirred something in me! When burlesque came to Tucson in 2006 I had to give it a try, even though the thought of being nearly naked in a room full of strangers absolutely terrified me.

How many pairs of pasties do you own?

Probably close to twenty pair, including a few pair of ass tassels. I've coated them all in rhinestones and many of them also have hand-strung beaded tassels. They're truly boob (and butt) jewelry!

What are your three favorite songs to perform to?

Zorba the Greek by Herb Alpert
I'll Have What She's Having by The Millionaire
La Cucaracha by Manual Rivera and His Orchestra

What three items could you not live without as a performer?

False eyelashes, a sparkly costume, and my pasties.

Who had the biggest influence on your career?

My influences are all over the map! Comedians such as Benny Hill, Carol Burnett, Gilda Radner, Lucille Ball, and Bob Newhart are probably my biggest influences though. Then there were the countless musicals and old movies my dad and I watched together when I was little, with stars such as Cyd Charrise, Mae West, Fred Astaire, Carol Channing, Liza Minnelli, Gene Kelley, Ann Miller... I could go on and on! Also, all my fellow Black Cherry Burlesque troupe members, past and present have been, and continue to be an incredible inspiration to me as well.

Who is your favorite burly queen?

Past: Ricci Cortez. Present: Dirty Martini.

What is your favorite item of clothing?

Burlesque: My gold bra and hip wrap coated with pearl beads and mini tassels from my Greek Statue costume. Daily wear: Jeans, a t-shirt, and practical shoes.

What's the last movie you saw?

The 40-Year-Old Virgin, again! I like to put that one on while I cook dinner/sort laundry/be domestic around the house.

What's on your must-see-TV list?

I don't watch tv like I used to but still take time to catch David Letterman every now and then.

What book is on your nightstand?

Pretty Things by Liz Goldwyn. I really love this book.

If you could go anywhere for vacation, where would you go?

Someday I'd love to visit Italy and Greece, it would thrill me to no end to be able to see the Roman Colosseum and the Greek Temples in person.

If you could have any superpower, which one would you want? Why?

Time/space travel in a Delorean just like in Back to the Future! Imagine the possibilities... Getting to truly experience what life was like in simpler times, witnessing historic events, playing winning lottery numbers, ha ha...

Satisfy your appetite for more Candy Grams: Maria May I, La Cholita, Gentry de Paris, Jade Pearl, Kitten DeVille, Miss C, 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.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

How To Burlesque

In our column How To Burlesque, Miss Frankie Tease, left, brings you tips and advice on a mishmash of burly topics. Today, she dishes on how to get booked.

You might have a great act, but what if no one sees? Here are a few ways to get booked, and booked again as a performer.

1. Be easy to reach once you're contacted. It's not a deal until it's a done deal. It's cool to be professional and answer show planning questions. This means no drama the night of the show. Changes happen and you'll want as much notice from the producer, so be reachable once you've made the commitment.

2. Have requested bio and photo information accessible on your website, or ready to send to the booker or producer. If they don't have the materials to promote you they may go searching and use a photo you have posted online and aren't fond of. Be sure to take control of your destiny by providing this material very quickly after you are booked, so as not to hold up the promotion team who's marketing your performance.

3. Let them know your staging or dressing room requests or requirements without being a diva.

4. Be prepared for anything - bring a back-up costume in case you have a wardrobe malfunction. You just never know what might happen en route, so just be as prepared as possible for with a contingency plan.

5. Follow up after the show. If you have been mailed a check, email or call to let them know you received it. Let them know you'd like to be a part of the show in the future, or are available for other bookings.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Revealing Images: Gigi and Pop

In Revealing Images, photographer Don Spiro dishes up sweet photographic treats and the stories behind them. Today, Don aims his lens at New York City based band Gigi and Pop
Gigi and Pop are a band based in New York City that is popular in the burlesque scene, it’s individual members have been performing burlesque for years and as a combo have taken home the trophy for the “Best Variety Act” category at the 2009 Burlesque Hall of Fame pageant. Taro, Anita Cookie and Ken Ball truly define variety, they can perform in any scene in any category.

When they asked me to do a photo shoot with them I knew it would be just as varied. Dark and moody or light and comic? Straightforward representation or fantastic and whimsical? The answer to everything is yes.

Taking a cue from album cover art, several possible looks were discussed. The idea was to shoot plates for compositing into different images. Taro and crew had definite ideas as to the style of the final design of each image, but each would be unique and portray the group in different fashions. Shooting plates is fairly easy, I do it all the time, but usually with a specific final composition pre-visualized and all I would need to do would be to match something already designed. This would be a different challenge, mainly for Taro, who would have to combine the elements into a new whole.

The first set up was to shoot them naked with their instruments and the trophy against a pure white background. Their own trophy was being engraved so they borrowed Julie Atlas Muz’s from 2006. I positioned the lights they way I do for pin up or for shooting Lucha Va Voom, very flattering and good for group shots with little shading and plenty of fill. I shot one test shot to check the exposure. After adjusting my lens I took the first shot and that shot was the lucky one, it ended up the one being used. A simple set up, Taro only had to digitally remove a piece of tape that was holding up the seamless backdrop and change the date on the trophy.

~Don Spiro

Monday, December 6, 2010

All the News that's Fit to Strip

Dita Von Teese would rather be a "racy" burlesque dancer than star in her own sex tape.

She said: "When they go to the movies, people want to see a little nudity. With burlesque, I show what I want to show. It's not related to my real sex life at all. It's like make-up, body make-up, spotlights, rhinestones, feathers. It's sensual, but nothing close to the real sex. And meanwhile, I'm considered racy. But I'm in control as a woman. Is it when you're out of control, and your sex tape comes out, and you're like 'Whoa, whoa, I didn't mean it, I'm apologising' [that you're accepted]? I think maybe because I am giving it to people in a way, and I'm not apologising, there's this whole thing."

In other news ...

According to the L.A. Times Stanley Tucci is the best part of Burlesque.

Photographer uses a touch of burlesque in her portraits.

Pee-O-Rama returns to New York City. Kind of.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

All the News that's Fit to Strip

Just because the movie Burlesque is now on the big screen, doesn't mean the art of striptease will make a comeback. In fact, burlesque has been growing in popularity for a long time. "The movie has sparked mainstream interest," says Cleveland burlesque performer Danielle Squeal. "But burlesque has been an underground phenomenon on the East and West coasts for years -- and it's starting to catch on here."

Tempest Storm, Lili St. Cyr, and now Dita Von Tease have all helped the popularity of burlesque rise in the United States. Take a look at the Striptease Timeline.

In other news ...

The Bada Bing Babes bring burlesque back to Jacksonville, Florida.

Didn't like Burlesque? BlogHer offers six alternatives for your Cher, Christina, musical theater fix.

The L.A. Times looks at the opening weekend box office figures for Burlesque and says it's "not an unmitigated disaster, but hardly a blockbuster success either."

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

All the News that's Fit to Strip

It wasn't easy to get Burlesque on the big screen. This $55-million movie is a big risk for its production studio, Screen Gems.

In other Burlesque news, the film's star Christina Aguilera planted her hands in the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Then later kicked off the LA premiere last night.

In other news...

Tempest Storm is still dancing.

Dita Von Teese doesn't mind being called a stripper.

Wonderwall counts down famous striptease moments.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

All the News that's Fit to Strip

Katy Perry is a tease. In an article from People.com, she admits that she is a "burlesque girl" at heart and would prefer to tease, than to go completely bare.


In other news...

Burlesque isn't the only striptease movie coming to theaters.

A brief history of burlesque.

Rachel Zoe shows you how to get the Burlesque look.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

All the News That's Fit to Strip

The men of Australia are proving that burlesque is not strictly for females. Briefs is a new take on the classic burlesque show.

In other news...

Read about the inspiration behind the costumes of Burlesque and star Christina Aguilera's style evolution.

A documentary featuring Ann Corio, a classic in Striptease, will be featured at the Hartford International Film Festival.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

All the News that's Fit to Strip

Listen to a sample of one of Christina Aguilera's songs off of the Burlesque soundtrack. "Beautiful People" will be featured as the lead single from the album.

In other news...

An ex- convent schoolgirl returns to her hometown as a burlesque dancer.

The host of Wicked Women, a comedy and burlesque act, sits down for an interview.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

All the News that's Fit to Strip

The Sacramento Press has an interview with Lizzy D. Vine. Not only is she a pin-up model, burlesque performer, and actress, she's an event promoter, photographer, and all around busy girl.

In other news...

Want to look like a burlesque star? Get pointers from Christina and Us Magazine.

Cher admits her age is catching up with her.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

All the News that's Fit to Strip

Christinia Aguilera bares some info on Burlesque'ssoundtrack. Aguilera dominates the soundtrack, but her fellow co-stars also make appearances on the album.

In other news...

Demi Moore's role in Striptease won a reader's poll for best guilty pleasure.

This is no average class for attendees in Philly.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Monday, October 4, 2010

All the News That's Fit to Strip

There's still almost two months before Burlesque shimmies into theaters, but the film makers are all about the tease. A second version of the trailer and more stills were just released. And, MTV launched a contest should you want to give burly-q a whirl.

In other news…

Dita Von Teese is set to guest star in an episode of CSI, she will play a Hollywood femme fatale.

This restaurant’s dinners are a little saucier than most.

New pin-up magazines are a throwback to the '60s.

Meet burlesque entrepreneur and actor Josh Lucas.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

All the News that's Fit to Strip

Christina Aquilera and Kristen Bell warn that their upcoming movie, Burlesque, will not feature nudity. "There's lot of sexiness and I show a lot of skin but there is no nudity", says Bell.
The movie will be rated PG-13, and will show the more playful teasing side of burlesque.

In other news...

Buddy Collette, who provided music for Lili St. Cyr, passed away at the age of 89.

Baton Rouge, LA needs to change some of their city laws to allow for burlesque shows.

Scarlett James brings back burlesque to Montreal.

A Chicago theatre celebrates the 30th year anniversary of Super Mario Brothers with a burlesque version of the game.

Seattle hosts burlesque show, House of The UnHoly, an all-star line up of dancers, singers, and musicians.

Group gives new meaning to dinner and a show.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

All the News that's Fit to Strip

The Second Annual New Orleans Burlesque Festival took place this weekend. Events included the Queen of Burlesque competition and “Ready, Set Strip”, a show featuring comical acts of burlesque.

The festival featured past and present stars of burlesque including Bambi Jones, pictured left, Wild Cherry, and Georgette Dante.

In other news ...

Dita Von Teese, who is busy promoting her show, Be Cointreauversial, talks about her personal life -- being tied up in bondage is nothing new for this girl.

New book, Banned in Boston, looks at the city's efforts to boot burlesque, books and more.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

All The News That's Fit Strip

Christina Aguilera covers the Etta James song Something's Gotta Hold of Me in Burlesque and the HitFix has the video.

Burlesque is busting out on Main Street.

Las Cruces troupe shows "real women who are being sexy and confident."

Runaround Sue believes, "This is the age of burlesque ... I think 20 or 30 years from now, people are going to look back and say, 'That was the golden era for neo-burlesque.'"

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Monday, August 9, 2010

All The News That's Fit Strip

The Burlesque trailer hits the web. And it's garnering some ouch-able feedback.

"It's sexy, it's sensual," Aguilera said of the film last month. "The whole idea of burlesque has always intrigued me. The art of the tease, the dance, beautiful women — need I say more?"

In other news ...

Neo-burlesque revivals thrive in Vegas.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

All The News That's Fit Strip

SheKnows.com dishes up some still from Burlesque. And USA Today talks to director Steven Antin, who said:

"People think burlesque shows are rooted in some overtly sexual striptease with G-strings and pasties. But originally it was parody entertainment meant for the middle classes that was provocative, funny and always based in comedy. That's not to say the movie isn't really sexy. But it's PG-13 sexy."

In other news

Dita Von Teese struts her stuff for Jean Paul Gaultier and gets wet for Perrier.

Here are ten ways to give burlesque a whirl.

Take a peak backstage at the Colorado Burlesque Festival.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Monday, June 28, 2010

All the News That's Fit to Strip

Inspired by Jo Weldon's new book The Burlesque Handbook Frisky readers share ideas on how to entice their partner.

The annual calvacade of flesh and fantasy, Burlesque-A-Pades kicks off its summer tour July 16.

The stars of Burlesque throw a party.

The Candy Pitch now has a video channel on YouTube where you can share videos with us and see our favorites.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Revealing Images: The Poubelle Twins

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

This shot is a little bit of history. I’m proud to say that I was the first person to do a studio shoot with Bibi and Fifi, the Poubelle Twins. At the time, they were French maids in the Velvet Hammer burlesque troupe, the first troupe to continue the form and promote traditional American burlesque as a folk art. The Poubelles interacted with the audience and emcee, policed the stage after each act, and mutely served as aloof eye candy to draw in the fans. Before they came on the scene the performers, stage manager or the emcee were usually the ones to gather performers costumes from the stage. Not anymore!

This was my first shoot for the Velvet Hammer, at their rehearsal space on Sunset Boulevard, the Studio With No Name, which would eventually become my photo studio. The twins are actually the Duffy sisters, identical twin sisters who are well known in the Los Angeles animation industry. Their inspiration for the Velvet Hammer was the drawings of John Willie, a mid century writer and illustrator famed for “Bizarre” and “Diary of a French Maid,” who has probably influences late twentieth century fashion more than most haute couture design houses.

We shot with black and white film, 400ASA, using my Nikon camera. I like 400 speed film, I always over expose it by about a third of a stop to keep grain at a minimum, aiming to get detail in the shadows on the negative and then printing for the highlights, controlling how rich I want the blacks. We shot in Freon of a grey seamless backdrop, shooting full body shots, medium shots and close-ups. I used four open faced lights, two 1000 watt DP lights and two 650 watt Omni lights with white diffusion, from 216 full white down to light opal, repositioning them depending on the pose and composition.

This close up is one of my favorites. The twins’ faces were almost touching, Bibi on the left and Fifi on the right, leaving a small gap between them of grey background, lit by ambient light. I placed one DP light behind the seamless, shooting over the top of it on a boom arm as a backlight, putting a glow on their white lace. A second DP light was covered with 250 half white diffusion and placed high to camera left, lighting Fifi’s face and eyes and casting her nose shadow down to the right. I placed a flag to the left of the light to keep it off of Bibi on the left of frame. I then took an Omni light to the right hand side and covered it with 216 full diffusion to create a bit of fill, aiming it at both twins. It softly lit Bibi’s face, keeping her eyes dark in relation to Fifi’s, and creating softer shadows. It also filled in the shadow areas of Fifi’s face. I bounced the other Omni light into a white card on the floor for even more ambient fill, barely noticeable but still there.

This and one full body photo of the Poubelles from this shoot were used to promote upcoming Velvet Hammer shows that year. At the time I had no idea how involved I would get in the burlesque community, or that there even would be a community as strong as it is now.

It’s been almost eight years since I shot this photo. It was my first burlesque studio shoot and the Poubelle twins first studio portrait session. It seems like a lifetime ago but when I look at this picture I can remember that day like it just happened.

~Don Spiro

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Video of the Week

Ghostbusters burly revival.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

All the News That's Fit to Strip

Dita Von Teese helps Richard Branson fly the friendly skies. The burlesque beauty is now emblazoned on the side of his 747. Something to celebrate, but not with Bombay Saphire.

In other news:

Get a glimpse inside a burlesque queen's closet.

Festival director wants a statue of Lili St. Cyr to grace Montreal streets.

Ghostbusters gets a burly makeover.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Monday, June 7, 2010

All the News That's Fit to Strip



Holly Madison and Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman opened the official Burlesque Hall of Fame Museum on Fremont Street in downtown during Burlesque Hall of Fame weekend. Associate director of the museum, Laurenn McCubbin said:

"This is where we'd like to start. We've had shows here before, but this is the first time we've had a public space that's so accessible."


In other news...

Canadian Roxi Dlite wins at Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend.

Jo "Boobs" Weldon, one of the premiere names in modern burlesque and founder of the NYC School of Burlesque, offers tips and tricks in her new book, "The Burlesque Handbook."

Burlesque legend, Tempest Storm fell and fractured her hip during her performance Friday night at the Burlesque Hall of Fame in Las Vegas. She is on the mend and starting physical therapy this week.