Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Video of the Week

Ditch the stress about the over-indulgence of the holiday season and enjoy a heaping side of Mika and his fabulous burlesque-y background dancers.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Sassy Life

Sparkly Devil reports via Jo Boobs that Life magazine has published much of their photo archives on Google. Here's one shot of Lili St. Cyr.

Monday, November 24, 2008

All The News That's Fit To Strip

Foxy Veronica's Peach Pies draws from the style and substance of the old-school striptease shows, then add some thoroughly modern cheese: '50s beach-bunny flicks, swingin' '60s mod movies, '70s sitcoms and '80s music videos, topped off with high kicks and pasties. There's even a heaping of the shock-and-giggle comedy of South Park and Family Guy. Isthmus recently spoke with the group's ringleader, Foxy Veronica about how Peach Pies are made and what goes into producing an over-the-top performance nearly every week.

In other news ...

In his new memoirs,, Christopher Plummer -- also known as Captain Von Trapp -- dishes on his tawdry side, which includes fond memories of Lili St. Cyr.

The Pussycat Dolls -- the burlesque troupe, not the pop group -- shimmies into The Viper Room.

Star Trek blasts off with a striptease.

Kitty, the head of the Welsh burlesque entertainment agency Kitty’s Dolls, also supplies dancers with their de rigeur curve-hugging uniform -- the corset.

Georgina Baillie, the dancer in the center of the 'Sachsgate' scandal, performs at Erotica 2008 with burlesque group Satanic Sluts.

La Clique, a burlesque-inspired cabaret, extended its run in London through April 2009.

More dirt on The Box.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Candy Gram: Miss Rosie Bitts

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 Miss Rosie Bitts.

What is your hometown?
Thunder Bay Ontario, eh! Although I have lived on Vancouver Island for the last 16 years.

How long have you been interested in burlesque/performing?
I have been a performer for most of my life. I have always wanted to be an actress and starred in my first play when I was eight years old. I became interested in burlesque about five years ago and love how burlesque combines my passion for dance, music, theater and old time glamor!

How many pairs of pasties do you own?
Lots!!!! But I love my Twirly Girls and my Cheesecake pasties the best!

What are your three favorite songs to perform to?
Fujiyama Mama by Wanda Jackson, Glory Box by Portis Head and Don't Leave Me this Way by Thelma Houston.

What three items could you not live without as a performer?
False eyelashes!!!!! Red lipstick and my safety thong.

Who had the biggest influence on your career?
Gosh, there are so many great performers that I have been influenced by. Miss Indigo Blue and Jo Boobs have both been incredibly giving of their knowledge. I had the great joy of talking with a number of Burlesque Legends at MEW 2008 and that has had a huge influence on the direction I am now taking my career. And I so admire the work of Little Brooklyn, Immodesty Blaize, Catherine D'lish and Michelle L'Amour.

Who is your favorite burly queen?
I have a huge crush on Immodesty Blaize, who is riveting!!! But my overall favorite Burly Queen would have to be Zorita. She had such creative flair and seemed like a truly kick-ass woman!

What is your favourite item of clothing?
My Red PVC Corset.

What’s the last movie you saw?
Hell Boy 2 in my hotel room in Vancouver during a weekend of Burlesque Fun!

What’s on your must-see-TV list?
I don't actually watch TV, but I have been known to rent Dexter on DVD.

What book is on your nightstand?
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

If you could go anywhere for vacation, where would you go?
Somewhere warm, quiet and tropical where people are dressed in very little clothing!

If you could have any superpower, which one would you want? Why?
I would have the super power of Reality Warping -- the ability to change or manipulate reality -- because it sounds like it could really come in handy. Although I'm sure if you ask my husband he would say that Reality Warping would be a redundant Super Power for me.

Satisfy your appetite for more Candy Grams: 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.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

All The News That's Fit To Strip

The Daily Mail introduces readers to the new queens of burlesque, Chrys Columbine, Camille O’Sullivan, Roxy Velvet, Ivy Paige and Miss Behave.

"Much of the appeal of the burlesque world is the way the women used to dress in eras such as the 1950s," says Chrys Columbine, left,. "Women today dress in a much more relaxed fashion – in jeans and tracksuits – but I’ve always been drawn to older, glamorous stars such as Bettie Page. I love the effort they put into looking good."

Find out what draws the other women to burlesque here.

In other news ...

A Wink and a Smile steals the show at the Olympian film festival.

X-Rated!: The Power of Mythic Symbolism in Popular Culture tries to answer the question: "If pop culture is so crass and vulgar, why hasn't it disappeared? Is it because we secretly love vulgarity?"

Cointreau will launch a new burlesque-inspired cocktail at an exclusive event this Wednesday.

If you're in Los Angeles, catch Dita Von Teese, Ava Garter and Liz Goldwyn tonight at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Behind The Garter Belt

Today's guest post is brought to you by Tanya Cheex.

Amber Ray hooked me when I first caught her dazzling Goldfish act back in 2005 at the last Mojave Desert Miss Exotic World pageant. She is also well-known for her original and glamorous custom-made costumes. She won The Golden Pastie Award for "Best Dressed" at the New York Burlesque and those who have had the privilege of seeing her light up a stage know it was well deserved. I took some time to ask New York's high priestess of costuming a few questions:

What is the importance of costuming to the burlesque performance? Do you come up with the act or the costume first?

Costuming in any stage performance is the visual key. It's very important, in my opinion, to create an immediately dazzling relationship with the audience. There is so much power in what we wear. The colors and shapes, when layered properly, can really affect someone's first impression of your performance and set the tone for their excitement. It can hypnotize.

My inspiration comes from all places. It could be a color, a song, a piece of an outfit, a picture. Mostly the idea for the act or character comes first but sometimes I get a piece of a costume or a vision of a costume and start creating an outfit. If the costume inspiration is coming first, it's going to be a classic strip with no real theme.

When did you realize that your costumes had to be custom made and not off the rack?

Immediately. I made my Peacock costume first. I wanted to have a major hand in the creation of the whole number.

Where inspirations do you draw from?

It could be anything. A color, a character, a prop. I try not to limit myself and just let my imagination run wild.

Do you get inspired by vintage burlesque photography or performers?

Most definitely. My first idea of a strip club was from retro pictures of women in fishnets, rhinestones, furs, gowns, and fiercely feminine poses.

What are your favorite costumes that you've made? What was the most challenging?

I love my Peacock, my White fluffy outfit. Nothing was terribly challenging. I find some of the things I have to do for others the most challenging. For example taking a beaded and sequined dress and having to revamp it into a new dress or several pieces of a costume can break many sewing machine needles. In general I do love a challenge. It's rewarding to figure out how to make something complicated and succeed.

What materials do you get the most excited about working with?

Trims! Making the structure is never as fun as decorating it! Swarovski crystals especially.

Explain the importance of closures and fastenings on costumes for the burlesque artist?

I think having those details in order is really important because you don't want to struggle on stage. It will hurt your performance. There is a wide variety of them. Hook and eye, snaps, velcro ect. Use them and use them in abundance.

You do custom work for others. What was your most bizarre request?

Nothing too bizarre yet but I did just finish a couple pair of Swarovski encrusted deer antler helmets for a theater show. It was really interesting to figure out how to make them. Sometimes I really surprise myself.

What tips can you offer those who aren't crafty? What one Amber Ray secret can you divulge?

I would say find a group of people or friends to get together for a stitch and bitch. There is nothing more rewarding than getting together with your friends and getting creative. Everyone can share their tricks and it makes for a super fun social and artistic adventure. Everyone has something to share and learn. Also pooling your resources is fun. Everyone should bring extra stuff, or leftovers from previous projects to share. Ask each other's advice and don't be afraid to offer constructive criticism.

I wouldn't say I have too many secrets. Some of my structuring ideas I prefer to share only with people I want to hand my knowledge to as a friend or mentor.

If you had an unlimited budget what would you make?

I'm afraid to say! I have some big ideas but I don't want them taken by other people. It's hard enough to be original with such a huge community of creative people. If I had the money I think I might be interested in opening my own cabaret club and decorating the place. It would be so awesome to have a safe haven for all my creative little honeys.

Where can we contact you for custom work and accessories?

I have an etsy store that I try to keep updated but unfortunately I'm too busy to keep it current. I need an intern!!!

You can always email me -- if you have special ideas for a custom order you want to have made.

If you would like to review my personal or custom work please visit my Myspace photo albums.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Revealing Images: Victoria Vengeance

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

As a photographer I’m proud that I can use a camera and lighting and not rely on digital effects to fix it in post, so the more I shoot with my digital cameras the more I like to practice with film. I have a collection of vintage cameras and thought it would be fun to shoot some large format this past summer.

I broke out a few of my 4 x 5 press cameras, the kind that have the bellows in the front and you look at the image upside in the back with a hood over your head. I had been shooting burlesque performers and love to have them model, so I started tacking on a few shots with the press cameras at each photo session. I had always liked the imagery of A.E. Johnston (nudes of Ziegfield Follies stars) and a book of his work had just been published, so I decided a similar look with black and white film would be a perfect use of the larger format. I even bought some photo chemicals to do Platinum and Palladium processing, century old film processing techniques.

One of my favorite burlesque dancers, Victoria Vengeance, asked me to do a photo shoot inspired by old Playboy photography, which suited her perfectly. After the shoot I set up two cameras, one as a prop, and one to shoot the portraits. She accentuated the retro style with two tone shoes and black stockings.

I loaded some film holders with some Ilford HP5, a 400 ISO black and white film stock, and some Polaroid 55 with a Polaroid. This type of Polaroid provided not only 4 x 5 prints, but matching 4 x 5 negatives, which look beautiful when printed or scanned.

I had been shooting with strobe lights, only the press camera can’t hook up to my strobes. Sometimes I use hot lights (continuous lighting), which require slower shutter speeds, but that means asking my subjects to stay motionless while the shutter is open. I decided to continue using the strobes by firing them remotely when the shutter was open. I set my lights high and with soft reflectors, emulating an old time studio with sky lights on an overcast day. I set the camera on a tripod and attached a cable release so that it would stay steady, then put the shutter on T, which allowed me to keep the shutter open until I closed it with the release. I loaded the film in the camera, opened the shutter, fired the strobes, and closed the shutter.

I scanned a few of the images as samples, but I still plan to print the negatives with the old time techniques. I’ll still shoot with negative film but, sadly, Polaroid went out of business, so this image may be one of the last you ever see. I have very little stock left, so if you want to be part of history and are interested in this kind of rare vintage style large format nude black and white photography, let me know before it’s all gone!

~ Don Spiro

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Talking with Dita: Part Four

In the October issue of the Canadian magazine Glow, I wrote a piece about the history and revival of burlesque. Not all of my interview with Dita Von Teese made it into the story so I've been serving up occasional outtakes. Here's the final one.

How can women look to burlesque in order to tap into their sassier side?
Play dress up. Try new things like garterbelts and seamed stockings, and lingerie with a bit of red and black lace.

Try performing a striptease at home for your lover.

Have fun with sex. Burlesque was fun! Get in touch with the playful and fun side of sex! Laugh a little, tease a little, and don't take it all so seriously (except when it comes to safe sex, of course!)

Have fun with glamour. Try a bit of red lipstick, a sexy full lash, and put some sexy Veronica Lake waves in your hair. Play!

Dance around your house to your favorite music for 30 minutes as exercise. I do it all the time! I even bounce around on a little trampoline in my underwear, and that's a heck of a workout!

Have a burlesque-themed party. Everyone loves an excuse to wear a feather boa to a party, trust me.

Think about this. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so that means what makes you unique and different is what makes you sexy and beautiful. To me, this is an important aspect of burlesque. Don't think about what you think other people perceive as being sexy. You can only be sexy when YOU are confident and happy, so do what it takes to make you feel that way.

~Part One of Talking with Dita
~Part Two of Talking with Dita
~ Part Three of Talking with Dita

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Video of the Week

Having spent four years researching and writing about Lili St. Cyr, it is rare for me to uncover something new and exciting. So, I was thrilled to discover this Video of the Week. There's a tiny bit of controversy over whether it's really Lili or not, but watch the video and then I'll dish below.

After reading the comments on YouTube disputing whether or not the video is of Lili, I studied the film and suspect it is indeed her. I've seen a few rare pictures of Lili from the mid- to late- Sixties and that is what she looked like including the hairdo. The costume is also similar to one Lili wore regularly.

Also, at this time, Lili was involved with a man she called Lorenzo Holmes. According to Lorenzo's sister, after Lili retired the couple entertained themselves with extravagant private parties. “It could be Arabian week or whatever else they cooked up,” Lorenzo's sister told me. “They would have someone come in and set their whole backyard up as an Arabian tent. Lili would sew costumes for them both. They would dress up in these outfits and have a Scheherazade party." Clearly this was not filmed in Lili's backyard, but it fits her Arabian fascination. And, I wonder if the mysterious man on horseback in the video could be Lorenzo.

Of course, my speculation means little. So, I got in touch with the man behind the film -- Brutallo. Apparently, in the '60s Scopitones, a type of jukebox that showed short, 16 mm films, were all the rage in bars. You'd pop a quarter in and stand around watching these movies on a small screen. According to Brutallo, who began collecting these now orphaned shorts, they were primarily films of stars who were no longer at the top of their game. He suspects this film was shot in the mid-Sixties, which was just a few years before Lili retired. He can't be 100% certain that this film is Lili, but the original recording company, Color-Sonics, had not mis-labeled any of the other films.

I suspect it is Lili St. Cyr. Any other Lili-philes have an opinion?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

All The News That's Fit To Strip

Tanya Cheex and Sauci Calla Horra, left, of Skin Tight Outta Sight chat with Toro Magazine about wardrobe malfunctions, punk burlesque and retro and revisionist burlesque.

"When I started collecting vintage men's stag magazines and watching stag reels in my late teens, I was fascinated by the fierceness of the strippers, they didn't look like mainstream women," Tanya told the magazine. "They had an edge, all those trappings of hyper-feminism – the stylized makeup and hair, the heavily constructed foundation garments, the curvier bodies."

Sauci added, "In some ways, I see revisionist burlesque ... as a more accurate portrayal of what classic burlesque was doing in its prime. This doesn't seem to make sense until you think about how the narratives of burlesque in its heyday were very much about challenging the status quo. The performance was a send-up of the upper classes. ... [Today,] we attempt to go one step further, and capture the spirit of old school burlesque by being theatrical provocateurs. Those women back then were fierce, independent and what they were doing onstage was challenging the mainstream."

In other news ...

Meet Little Miss Risk.

Say hello to Miss PussyKatt.