Show-Me Burlesque

Show-Me Burlesque & Vaudeville Festival

This was my my most fun festival experience thus far, however it was the only festival I actually stayed for its entirety. And I’m so glad I did!

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It was a 3-night circus of events, and what a circus it was! I liked this festival because it tastefully included the classic vaudeville aspect of burlesque. So the line up of unique acts was so intriguing to watch. There was just no time to Instagram dat shet, ’cause your eyes were glued to the performers to see what kind of tricks they had up their sleeve!

I was lucky to make friends with Jeez Loouez earlier this year that I was able to stay at her St Louis apartment for the weekend. It was a full house at Twerkington Towers; a slumber party with Nashville’s Shan de Leers, Freya West, Bebe McQueen, and Kisa Von Teasa from Knoxville. Oh, and Jeezy’s house cat named Gucci. As much as I claim to be a “Caburlesque Kitten” I’m still deathly allergic to actual cats. Ugh, talk about misery in Missouri! I loaded up on meds, tough but funny times. Hahah!! Sorry Gucci for kicking you out of the main rooms of the house.

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Friday was a long night of two shows. I performed my signature blue boa piece for the late-night, Red Light District Revue. I was excited to be included in this especially sultry showcase, and even honored to be the last soloist just before the headliners performed! By the time I graced the stage it was just after 1:00 AM, and I really felt the exhaustion on stage. I can’t even imagine how headliners do this all the time. I tried hiding it, and hoped I’d managed doing so.

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Throughout the weekend there were several workshops offered from the experts performing at the festival. There was such a fantastic array of classes it was tough to choose from! This is my favorite part of being involved with the burlesque community. No matter how long a performer has been on stage, she must always make the effort to continuously train and learn from the best! It always makes it so much more rewarding when I attend workshops from performers I admire. I know always something to improve on. And what better way to get in the studio and dance alongside (and be critiqued by) performers who I aspire to be like?! It’s very challenging to say the least. We tend to make it look easy when we’re on stage. But when we get the chance to sit back and break things down, we could still very well be shy and insecure about a lot of things!

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The last event of the weekend was Beggar’s Carnivale and it was so fantastic I hadn’t had that much fun in a very long time, as simply an audience member. It was intriguing to see all the special acts that are performed on a larger scale, whether it be props or costumes. My lawd, that Jett Adore and his huge… Butt –butterfly wings! Sadie Hawkins as an aerial mermaid, Midnite Martini wrapped up and stripped down in her aerial silks act. Sweetpea, Perle Noire, Peekaboo Pointe, need I say more?! Oh and Sammich the Tramp acting up with several other mime friends. Then to top off the night at the after party, the performers gathered at Lola Van Ella’s dance studio for the Hot Mess Talent Show! And must I admit, that Russell Bruner has such pillowy lips to kiss–though all the other ladies there that night would agree. Hahaha!!

So! Much! FUN!! I definitely want to try to get back to St. Louis for this festival again & again.

Di’ Lovely Does Dallas

I remember the moment I received my acceptance letter to the Dallas Burlesque Fest. I just got done with work in Tucson, Arizona. I plopped onto the bed with my iPad and there it was in my inbox. A brief wave of cold sweat rushed through my body, in such anxiety. No doubt, excited but nerve wracking because I had no idea what I was getting into. This was my very first festival I applied to and I got in! I get to perform at the House of Blues in Dallas, Texas!

This felt really great because I wasn’t sure how well I’d do, pursuing this type of performance career. I’m a relative newbie to the game but this acceptance letter was more of a validation that I’m doing something right. I really wasn’t sure if they liked my particular dance style. Nor even my appearance, since I don’t wear the typical pale-skinned, doe-eyed, pin-up doll look.

Anyway, Little D arrives in the Big D… Di’ Lovely Does Dallas. I came alone which was a last minute bummer, but I travel alone all the time so no biggie. Though I was anxious because I came to this festival without really knowing anybody. It was exciting to meet performers I’ve only seen in online videos. But even more exciting to formally meet the ones I’d seen perform live at Michelle L’amour’s “Strippers’ Holiday” so I ended up having a couple starstruck moments.

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It was fun to recognize people who had recently added me on Facebook, or liked my fan page. Of course, I only have a few friends on there anyway. But there was one I knew from before, Minxie, who was another BurlyCon attendee last November. It was kind of a proud moment to see us on the bill, as if we had just graduated from burlesque college. Hahaha!

Turns out that four of the eight contestants for Miss Viva Las Vegas were at DBF. It was so nice to meet them before the big competition this spring. It’s amazing how performers’ character changes on and off stage. I’d say a lot of burly girls tend to be intimidating on stage with our strong sexual prowess. But off stage, I was so so relieved to see that everybody is just so damn NICE!!

One thing I love most about DBF weekend was that every one introduced themselves with genuine HUGS. I’ve never felt so welcome in a dance social atmosphere. I appreciate everybody being so open and loving of one another, all because we share this same passion for burlesque. We are all so different too, showing what burlesque means to us individually through our own performance interpretation. But it always feels like we’re still on the same playing field.

Conversations in the dressing room were a hoot. That was probably the best part of course. Getting to know each other, while clouds of glitter fill the green room, champagne flowing, and a great peripheral view of Missy Lisa’s assel spinning–in the same mirror I’m putting on makeup with. There was some serious shit going on in that one bathroom.

I really do hope it’s like this at other festivals I attend in the future. I was a bit overwhelmed, and only a few knew that. But I swear every one made it seem like it was no big deal! Perhaps it wasn’t to the pros at this point. But they all made me feel so much more at ease. Performing on the Sunday industry night was a little pressure, but their confidence in me made me feel at ease. And it was great to get positive feedback from several audience members, including the House of Blues venue staff. Haha! I think the best compliment was that they really thought I was quite LOVELY on stage, and how my name resonates with me.

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So THANK YOU, Dallas for showing this newbie how wonderful the burlesque community can really be. To the Ruby Revue, you know how to find me…and I’ll fly to you baby–Dallas or Houston, I’m there!

Luck be a Lady

OVERWHELMED… is an understatement of how I feel right now.

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I cannot believe I’ve been selected as a finalist for Miss Viva Las Vegas!! Out of applicants worldwide, I am one of the Top 8 to perform at the live competition for the coveted title. I will be performing on Saturday, March 30th at The Orleans, as part of the world’s largest rockabilly party.

It really is a dream since I’m a rookie on the big scene. And slowly learning & adopting this subculture/lifestyle. I am a bit apprehensive, worried that people will talk smack. I don’t have tattoos. I don’t wear victory rolls in my hair. And I don’t wear polkadots on a daily basis…okay, maybe every other day. But you know what?! I’ve been dancing all my life, and performing is my passion. So whether or not I’m a “rockabilly girl” I am still grateful for this challenge. I must have been chosen for good reason right?! And so I will take the stage, as my true self and just hope the audience simply enjoys my lovely presentation!

It’s an honor to have this opportunity as I grace the stage with beautiful women I look up to. Missy Lisa–I’ve seen perform live in Chicago (OMG so cute!), RedBone–I’ve gained as a friend at BurlyCon Seattle, and the others I’ve merely watched on YouTube!

This is the first burlesque competition I’ve applied to, and I’ve made it to the finals! Amazing! I feel like I’ve already won. But hey, let’s just call this beginner’s luck.

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Con Artist (parte tres)

The hotel was not only full of international glitterati, but the shining stars of the weekend were a few guests of honor who helped push us for more in our art, and well…pushed some tears out of us too.

Julie Atlas Muz is THE force to be reckoned with. No one can do what she does. She is such a smart & sexy performer, she’ll make you cry. Most of the time, with unbelievable laughter. I’ve seen her perform in (Chicago) and she was an absolute riot. I was a bit intimidated when I saw her workshops on the schedule, but I chose to take her class for that reason. I needed to be challenged. I’m not so much the actor, nor a comedic clown as she’s known to be. Though with her interactive exercises spinning off of childhood nostalgia, I learned the most important lesson she brought: Be genuine. No, for real. We may often take the stage acting as a particular character. But capturing that true skill of becoming the character rather than acting like one is the essence of performing. Being able to make your audience believe, understand, and appreciate what you are conveying is the utmost success. Anyway, Julie’s class was one I will always remember. Especially for the fact that she likes mye cnI name, and agreed with its fit saying that I am, indeed, Lovely ūüôā ……..and then Dirty Martini called me charming. Just had to throw that in!

Well, while I’m sharing “that’s what she said!” ….here are some quotes of the key note speakers that seemed to have resonated with me especially after this BurlyCon experience:

Julie Atlas Muz

“Create your performance opportunity. If no one shows up, who cares?!”
“Don’t be identi-kits. Create your own character.”
“Be inspired. Don’t steal….. Okay, but if you do–make it your own!”
“Say YES. People who say yes, say yes to Adventure.”

Dirty Martini

“Listen to the Yes people.”
“Bring burlesque to the people.”
“The most important reward was [not the opportunity to travel and wear glamorous costumes… But] to be in the dressing room with such crazy people” [sharing the experience and building lifelong friendships.]
“Women have to call each other, other names before they call them their sister.” –Oscar Wilde

Lottie the Body

(To Julie Atlas Muz) “You are the epitome of burlesque.”
“Be careful. Be safe.”
“Get on stage and say to yourself, I am the maker of this house.”
“Let this be a world of roses and cheap wine!”

Con Artist (Part Deux)

When you initially think of BurlyCon, you would probably imagine 300 women dancing around in pasties for days on end. Okay well, of course dancing was had but everybody was fully clothed, much like we were in our casual, yoga lounge wear… Ooookay, except not exactly for me of course. I’m sure you’d guessed right I turned something into a pre-conceived “cute outfit” to simply stretch in, but I was clothed like the rest of my burly sisters!

Actually, most of my time was spent taking lecture classes. Things I needed personally, since I don’t have these resources at home. Not anything catered to the burlesque business anyway! A lot of the lectures were reminiscent of college….I do have a bachelors degree in advertising, mind you. But hey, it’s been a while and as much as I love dancing, these classes were still of genuine interest. It was fun to sit down and really think about creating a brand, producing shows, and cultivating my artistic talents to offer a strong product. It’s amazing how our audience doesn’t really know how much we invest in this. Burlesque isn’t just a hobby for us. There is so much more to it.

In this burlesque world, there is no right or wrong way to this lifestyle. No cookie-cutter shape or size of one’s body, so with that in mind we find it liberating to celebrate and embrace what we have been given. It is a process for all, and we are constantly growing into our bodies and character each day. Finding what works–personally, to create that comfortable, perfect niche as we take on the stage each night. We live to entertain. We send out so much love through simply a flick of a glove to the soft blink of eyelashes. More importantly, the challenge is genuinely taking in that same love for ourselves. It was quite apparent that we BurlyCon attendees take burlesque seriously. As we should, so others can take US seriously! In attending this event this was the most rewarding lesson I’ve taken home with me…. You see, burlesque is not just the slow burn of a dancing striptease, nor even a comical skit. Burlesque is a token of appreciation for the human form & unique talents. It has become a practice of spirituality.

Con Artist (part 1)

Made it to Seattle for the time of my life! BurlyCon 2012!

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You can’t help but bear an ear to ear smile, endearingly tilting your head, with your eyes fixated on Coco Lectric. There’s just that something about this woman who keeps you entranced!

Taking her workshops was the initial treat I looked forward to, attending this convention. But little did I know that being at this this 4 day event, would I be wining & dining among burlesque royalty!

She, among several of the workshop presenters, was so amiable welcoming us in sincere conversation during our down time. I have to admit, I was a bit starstruck and she was just so friendly in conversation as if we were homegirls…okay, at least ones that knew each other for about a week. Ha!

The Big Bad Boa workshop was a great introduction as I take on the challenge of performing classical burlesque. I had no idea you can do such clever tricks with the fabulous feathery accessory!

Days later I took another workshop of hers, The Cheeky Reveal, which focused on her other signature antics as a renowned performer. We focused on the important tips in taunting the audience with a slow striptease. After following along, dancing with her to the song ‘Harlem Nocturne’ on repeat… I found myself sitting on the floor at the side of the small room, to simply revel in her presence watching her move.

Superstars of Burlesque

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How lucky are we, to have Michelle L’amour and Franky Vivid as Chicagoans?! For a third year, they along with Studio L’amour brought us a fantastic show that is, Superstars of Burlesque. With a star-studded cast of International Burlesque title holders, lots of rhinestones, tassels, and skin graced the stage at the Music Box Theater. Twice, might I add! Presenting two shows on Friday, September 21st, whereas I attended the encore presentation. And by that time the champagne was flowin’ and inhibitions were lost.

Hosted by none other than “the hardest working middle-aged man in showbiz,” was Mr. Showbiz himself, Murray Hill. Donned in the most ill-fitted custom made suit, Murray performed his signature opening “showbiz” number, this time joined by a slew of Murray lookalikes dancing next to him. But they weren’t just any mini-Murrays (even though they’re taller than him), these were the Chicago Starlets dressed in drag! Complete with tight suits, mustaches, eyeglasses, and dark parted wigs, they pretty much outshined him for a moment as they mocked him, walking off with broken backs screaming “That’s Showbiz!”

Entering through the house aisle, was a too cute performance by the Dolls of Doom dressed as a dragon, a costume we all recognize for Chinese New Year parades. The dragon stripped down for us to find Lola Martinet & Teddy Bear, as they proceeded to display what the flexy bendy Dolls of Doom are known for: Burly Cirque!

Hailing from Windsor, Canada was Roxi D’Lite, wearing a sequined gown with a tiger print, that fearlessly came off to reveal her best assets. Also known as the Bad Girl of Burlesque, whooda thunk she could make a mere piece of sheer fabric, be so damn sexy!

La Frenchie Kiss & Jett Adore, Chicago’s recent pride & joy, proved why they deserved the Best Duo win at at this year’s Burlesque Hall of Fame. Frenchie gave us a hell of a spin with her tassel skills, while seducing Jett in a comedic tango. Jett Adore, notorious for his facial expressions showed what it’s like to be shocked and satisfied at the same time. Ahh, and their specialty trick of a simultaneous straddle & tassel twirling–don’t understand what I’m describing? Then you gotta see it for yourself.

Las Vegas showgirl, Kalani Kokonuts definitely gave us a sultry earful with her rendition of a sing-talking performance in the likes of Jessica Rabbit. In true cartoony fashion, she slowly revealed her unbelievably hourglass figure! You could only imagine all the wolves in the audience howling, with their tongues wagging and eyes popping out of their sockets.

Julie Atlas Muz of New York is known as a triple threat, but better known as simply a threat. You really never know what she’ll bring to the stage, or rather to the house. Perhaps, half eaten powdered donuts spit and thrown at the audience?! Yes. Oh yes, she did. I can’t even try to describe the rest of her act: police uniform, head stocking, guns, dancing the running man in heels, robbery, smuggling a bag of coke… Ahem, you just HAD to be there.

Ohh and the Chicago Starlets, all dressed as Carmen Miranda, revealing colorful pasties while balancing fruity headdresses; you can’t help but smile from ear to ear, throughout watching their entire number.

Dirty Martini, a handful to drink in, was definitely something shaken–not stirred. She really is quite a beauty, with a tease of her glove she had us screaming for more. And boy did we get more! More gold, more tassel twirling, and more funbags!

The King of Boylesque, Russell Bruner was quite the treat. Wiggling his signature handlebar mustache and dancing with a spinning coat rack, he gave us a truly comical boylesque number at its very best. Not only did he reveal his huge cock…tattoo of a rooster, he displayed his tucking skills, belly dancing, and well, how he wears nothing but his bowler hat on his head–the other one.

The Twin Cities brought down a whole lotta woman, that is Foxy Tann. Accompanied by the Wham Bam Thank You Ma’ams, Foxy gave us a 70’s glam burlesque feel of glittery afros, and the love for green. I mean, who else can wear marijuana leaf shaped pasties, and have her foot licked on stage?

Coming to us from down under, Imogen Kelly of Australia, presented a fun flamingo number with a bit of puppetry and a ton of feathers! The best part was watching her body roll to an opera song.

Guest of Honor, Kitten Natividad graced the stage, showing she still got the moves to strip and shimmy. Projected on the screen behind her were images of her glory days as an exploitation film star & exotic dancer, who actually went to jail for doing what she loves! It didn’t take much for her to receive a standing ovation from the house.

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As usual, the show came to a close by Chicago’s own Queen of Burlesque, Michelle L’amour. It was quite a surprise for myself as I first spotted her panther cage sitting aside the stage, as I anticipated seeing this all night. This was the first number I’ve seen online, when I stumbled upon the name with such clout. I remember sitting at my monitor, breathless in such awe. And it was no different seeing her perform live! She revamped her costume a bit, with a velour leotard and adding sparkly nails to her paws. But that signature paw print vajazzle job was definitely a fave among her fans, other than that famous “ass that goes pow!”

Franky Vivid deserves a standing ovation just as much as the performers did. You gotta give it up to the man who put this show together. He helps provide the backbone to the mogul that is Viv’amour. I mean, it’s gotta be so tough to feed and provide a roof over naked women for a couple days. Not to mention, build and produce stage sets, lighting, security, show marketing; the man does it all!

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The Superstars have descended upon our city, and we can’t wait to experience this again. Perhaps it won’t be another year til the stars align, for a show to come with this stature. Be sure to keep up with events thrown by http://www.StudioLamour.com, as they keep bringing the best to town throughout the year at various venues, including their own at the Everleigh Social Club.

Chicago Teases for the Strip

Check out what I did last Friday!!

I have contributed a show recap piece to www.ChicagoBurlesque.org

The¬†Burlesque Hall of Fame¬†(BHoF) in Las Vegas, Nevada is something too rare that this community as a whole cannot lose. Sin City would seem to make the perfect archival home for keeping the rich history of burlesque alive, however its specific location has been overrun with the construction of the adjacent transit highway. And so, what is the BHoF to do, in order to properly preserve its precious gems? Well, those¬†assels gotta get movin’!¬†With the ever growing burlesque community and with room to spare for legends in the making, it is only fitting that the BHoF be relocated to an even lovelier and most of all, secure place to call home.

The organization’s goal was to raise¬†$20,000 to cover relocation & memorabilia preservation¬†expenses, with the deadline of September 1st. For months, various burlesque troupes worldwide have been producing shows with proceeds going to BHoF. On Friday night–the last day’til deadline, five shows across the continent were gracing the stage in BHoF’s honor. Though Chicago boasted the largest production of the fundraiser’s final night!

The Kiss Kiss Cabaret, along with its sponsors put on a fabulous show at their resident stage, the¬†Greenhouse Theater. It was a great turnout of hootin’ and hollerin’ spectators to enjoy what was close to a 3 hour show. And what better way to high-kick off the Labor Day festivities.

Every seat is a great seat but if you want the performers to interact with you, get there early to grab the front row at stage level. ¬†However, sitting up front doesn’t always get the attention you want drawn to yourself. Ahem… especially if you show up late, or if you get up to pee during the show. It probably doesn’t matter where you sit with the intimate setting. The host will rip at you and so, no one is safe. This is a burlesque show after all.

Only the chosen ones would know, but backstage must have been a better view. We could only imagine what it’s like to be surrounded by Chicago’s best of burlesque! And we thank you, beauties of: the Kiss Kiss Coquettes, Gorilla Tango Burlesque, Michelle L’amour’s Chicago Starlets, Belmont Bombshells, Hot & Heavy Burlesque, the Dolls of Doom, Plan 9, Angel Burlesque (Indianapolis), and other local independent artists devoting their time and talents.

All of the dancers were a joy to watch, but there were a few who left quite an impression on me…

Chicago Starlet, Honey Halfpint,¬†spun her feather boa ring through her gyrating body. And I loved the surprise of her song choice, an R&B track taking myself back to middle school singing along. Indeed, her dancing “was like whoa!”

The ever so delightful Ray Ray Sun-shine, certainly delivered. She created a scene waiting for her lover, only to find a sparkly dildo sent to her door! She danced with it, stripped down for it, and happily ran away with her love into the sunset!

Tila Von Twirl¬†teased the audience, hiding her sweet body with big feathered fans. Dancing to a number called “Hot Crossed Buns” she later revealed to us a very tasty treat…big, delectable, cinnamon buns!

Gorilla Tango Burlesque’s¬†MsPixy¬†thrilled everyone as a nerd girl and gigantic spider. I liked their comedic twist to the show!

Southern belle, Angela Eve, was incredibly sharp with her choreography. Spinning around in her beautiful gown, peeling off layers of beads and coins, she tore up the stage stronger than Hurricane Isaac ever could!

Nearly naked women weren’t the only entertainment of the night. We laughed the night away with comedic performances of:Brad French¬†the Silver Fox Juggler,¬†The Amazing Tomas¬†the magician with hilarious impersonations, and¬†Ken Raabe¬†of the¬†Claptrap Band¬†singing about a dinosaur orgy?!

Marie Curieosity presented a super clever piece of Batgirl having an identity crisis. And with the magic of makeup, she turned into the Joker right before our eyes!

Hosting the show was¬†Max Flattery, soliciting more donations for the BHoF, asking audience members to throw money on stage …to keep his clothes ON! But as any burlesque show goes, he dutily stripped down to heart printed boxers and red sequin tassels.

Ticket sales and dollar tossing weren’t the only ways to donate. A silent auction was held in the theater lobby, presenting an array of coveted items such as signed photos of burlesque legends to beautifully beaded costumes.

It was a definitive night for the city, with an eccentric collection of Chicago’s greatest burlesque troupes: from classic, to nerdy, rocker to comical…. And what do they all have in common?! The love for BOOBIES!

The finale number was a dream scene, with all the ladies on the stage. Jack Midnight sang of all the great things about Chicago, with the glamorous visual of sparkly costumes flying and titty tassels twirling!

Even before the show started, the Burlesque Hall of Fame had already reached its goal. By the end of the night,¬†$5000¬†of which was presented on a giant check signed by the¬†Kiss Kiss Cabaret, representing the generous donors of Chicago! At time of print, the BHoF has collected over $23,500! ¬†Now, Chicago wasn’t “teasing for the strip.” I think we got down to business when it came to reaching BHoF’s fundraising goal!

For more info on the Burlesque Hall of Fame and how you can donate, please visit http://burlesquehall.com/2012/08/pleasegive/

About the contributor,¬†Di’ Lovely
Hailing from San Diego, California, Di’ Lovely (of The Caburlesque Kittens) is a recent transplant to Chicago. ¬†With her move to a city of rich history in burlesque, this exotic beach Babe is enjoying a sort of burlesque reawakening in her journey as a performer. Keep up with Di’ Lovely and ‘LIKE’ her profile at¬†www.Facebook.com/MissDiLovely.