Monday, April 28, 2008

Saturday, April 26, 2008

CBS Sunday Morning Burlesque

Many of my friends and I were interviewed for a piece scheduled to run on tomorrow's CBS Sunday Morning. I'm told they taped about 80 hours for a 5-10 minute segment, so there's no telling what will make it in, but the CBS people I encountered during the interviews were so awesome that I feel confident it'll be a great piece whatever they feature.

Julie Atlas Muz, CBS Camera Crew
Above: The camera crew with Julie during our benefit for the Burlesque Hall of Fame.

CBS Sunday Morning Showtimes by Area

The Business of Burlesque in Fortune Magazine

You might have to be a ridiculous burlesque fanatic to enjoy this post, but here goes.

I recently got this copy of Fortune Magazine from February, 1935, that features an article called "The Business of Burlesque." Sadly, the first half of the article is missing from the magazine, and I have no idea who the author is, but the writing is actually quite tangy and good, so I suspect it might have been Somebody.

If you're obsessed like me, you'll be able to tolerate my terrible scans enough to click on these images to read some of this fantastic stuff. I never get tired of reading old stuff where the demise of burlesque is direly predicted, or looked back upon--I think the death of burlesque has been predicted every year since anybody ever reviewed it. And I suspect also the revival of burlesque was predicted or described shortly thereafter, burlesque being so frequently brought back.

Burlesque Article in Fortune Magazine, February 1935
Burlesque Article in Fortune Magazine, February 1935
Burlesque Article in Fortune Magazine, February 1935

If you know anything about this article, please contact me!

And if you ever want to get on my good side, give me stuff like this. Old Cabaret magazines, old clippings...I've had people give me old nudist magazines from the 70s with people with big bushes playing volleyball, and while I certainly enjoy that sort of thing from time to time, it doesn't really pump my nerdy nads the way pieces like this article do.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Remember the Bouffants?

Loving the Bouffant

It's not just me--check out this fabulous bouff!

Edited April 26 to add youtube footage that doesn't automatically start when the page loads.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Graduate

I saw this when I was a kid and even though I was pretty repelled by Dustin Hoffman's character (I never liked him at any point in the movie) and felt sorry for both the mother and the daughter in the film, I have to admit the stripper left more of an impression on me than anything else about The Graduate. I am a very single-minded girl.

Brought to my attention in the Burlesque Atlanta Blog.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Interview: Selene Luna

Selene Luna Photographed by Peter Palladino
Above: Selene Luna. Photo by Peter Palladino.

“Selene Luna lives in a building once inhabited by Lucille Ball, and whatever magic Ball left in the walls seems to have rubbed off. Luna radiates old Hollywood glamour, and it's not just the kitten heels or the torpedo bra. She's got a quirky humor reminiscent of the red-haired comedian, made naughty by a touch of Bettie Page sensuality and the girlish charm of Betty Boop. It's that kind of presence that has made Luna one of the most recognizable faces in the city's burlesque-revival scene”.

Selene is pretty irresistible, I must say. I’ve known her for years, but I really got to know her while performing with her in Margaret Cho’s Sensuous Woman show, and she has as much charisma and charm backstage as she does onstage. Besides being one of my favorite performers and an intensely glamourous lady and an all-around lovely person, she makes me pee laughing.

Selene backstage at the Sensuous Woman. Photo by Me.
Above: Selene backstage at the Zipper Theatre, hamming it up for the cellphones.

How did you get interested in burlesque?
I feel a bit like a cheater because it kind of fell in my lap! It happened really fast and I wasn't even expecting to have any sort of career in it. I've dabbled in everything in the interest of surviving as an artist, in LA the whole time. I was born in Mexico but grew up in LA from the age of 3. I had been going to Velvet Hammer shows but I never thought I wanted to be up there. Out of the blue, Michelle called me about a show in San Diego and asked me if I wanted to do it. I like to scare myself so I did it. I would say that my first couple performances sucked! but I think I got the hang of it, mainly because I had amazing influences around me, with my friends who had already been doing it for five years. I had great mentors. And I got hooked.

What does burlesque mean to you?
Off the cuff, it means anything goes, let's have fun, and that's what got me hooked. We had such a blast, one of the greatest times in my life, so many adventures! Nobody took it seriously. We were just good friends who felt the same about makeup and costumes and just wanted to play.

Selene Luna Photographed by Chris Voelker
Above: Selene at play. Photo by Chris Voelker.

What was your first experience with live burlesque?
Right before the Velvet Hammer formed I saw the International Girls of the World at Kate Valentine’s cabaret in the early 90s in LA. I was a magicians assistant at the time. That was my first sighting of the neo-burlesque movement, as opposed to an old movie of burlesque. Shortly after that Michelle and members of IGW became The Velvet Hammer.

What is one of your favorite experiences so far?
I am very very fortunate to be able to say I've had many amazing experiences! One that stands out is when I got to share the stage with Tura Satana in a VH show. At that point I was like, I can quit now, what else is there? I was starstruck like a little kid. She held my hand, and we took a bow together and I was trying not to lose it. When I planned my tribute to her at Exotic World I was so freaked out and nervous about it that I couldn't even talk to her about it even though we had had a friendly relationship. After I did it she came backstage to congratulate and hug me and was really nurturing about it and I realized I could have gone to her for input!

Selene Luna Photographed by Mark Berry
Above: Selene in her Varla outfit. Photo by Mark Berry.

Do you travel to perform?
Yes and this ties in with memorable burlesque experiences. Because of burlesque I have been able to travel a lot, which is something I never considered would be a part of this little burlesque career. I've performed on international stages wicih has been a dream come true. I never imagined I would have that opportunity in my life. It's pretty amazing how it has caught on internationally—like, you actually want to see what WE do? Cool!

Who inspires you most, and why?
I've met so many people who inspire me. This is a little bit out there but an inspiration that really stands out in my mind is Vaginal Davis. Vag is absolutely one of the early performers in my life who really inspired me to be clever and entertaining and generous onstage, and really taught me about stage presence and letting go and being as wrong as I want to be, to have an artistic experience. Whenever Vag comes to the stage it’s unlike what anyone else can do, totally outside the box.

What is your favorite aspect of burlesque as it is now?
Tough question, but I can say one aspect I like is the awareness in people appreciating such an old art form and bringing it to life again. Really, it's been sweet watching people come together globally. The best part about it is the new generation of people being exposed to this old art form that was really edgy and racy in its day and, the women who did are finally getting their props, better late than never. They’re getting a second wave of celebrity.

What would you like to do or see next in burlesque?
I actually am semi-retired. If some incredible show comes up of course I'll go for it, but I've moved on in a way. Iv'e had the great fortune to see just about every show possible; I can't think of what hasn't been done. I'd love to see more consistent attention to production quality and lots of innovation. There’s a core group of gals who can do that "having a case of the fuck-its turn out to be entertaining."

Can you tell me a bit about your best-known act?
My most well-known act is one I really do like to share the story behind. It’s my baby number where I come out of a vintage baby pram. One of the reasons I have so much fun with burlesque is that the flip side of my life is that I pursue a conventional acting career and burlesque allowed me to really express myself and experiment and make little statement without shoving stuff down their throats in a way you never can with conventional acting. I was inspired by silent movies. I was doing a lot of research for my one-woman show focusing on the history of little people in show biz. During the silent movie era little people were employed in films a lot more than they are now because you could be more politically incorrect. In some films they’d have a little person dressed as a baby tportraying a burglar or jewel thief in a wacky Keystone Cop type of thing. The ongoing theme in these movies, which were cranked out like crazy, was that a little person would team up with an average size lady, they'd pretend he was her baby and he'd be smoking a cigar. Those bits cracked me up. So that burlesque numer was my play on that. I come out of the carriage with the cigar. I really wanted to tap into that aesthetic. It's my tribute to little people's contribution to films. It still can be fun for people who don't get the reference. It really tickles me when people are offended. I just thought it was cute and enchanting, but there's always someone in the audience that doesn't know how to react to me and I kind of get a rise out of it like I'm punking them. The first time I did that number an entire table of people walked out. Did they think I was tricked into doing it or something? isn't that more much insulting than anything about the number could be? As far as I'm concerned we're making lemonade! I feel lucky to be doing what I do. I've had more positive reactions than negative and that's what matters.

What's next?
I'm working on a new TV Series with Margaret Cho which will be on VH1 in July. It’s just Margaret and her eccentric friends having adventures! It includes three guys called the Glam Squad: Jon Stapleton, Charlie Altuna, and Jon Blaine. It's the five of us running around getting into hijinks and I've never had more fun in my life. Margaret could not be a more fun and easy person to work with. She's really taken me under her wing.
I am taking a break from my one-woman show. It’s hard producing independently, even with the great support system I have. Margaret is really encouraging me to do standup, which it something I used to do at the Melrose Improv in the early 90s. It was the wrong time for me—it was like the ultimate boys’ club, like a used car dealership, so gross and weird. Now Margaret has come into my life at just the right time and made things happen. I can't wait to see what happens next!

Selene's Website

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Bambi's Blacklight Spectacular

New Yorkers often bring their most inventive A-Games to Coney Island's Burlesque at the Beach, a series which has been taking place at Sideshows at the Seashore for nearly fifteen years. A theme show at Coney Island is a whole other kind of magical world.

Bambi the Mermaid, for many years the co-producer of the BOTB series, has created some outrageous theme shows there, and one of my favorites so far was the Blacklight Spectacular. She begins planning some of her theme shows years in advance, and they're just not like anything else.

All photos courtesy Norman Blake.

Bambi's Blacklight Spectacular
Bambi Represents the Blacklight

Bambi's Blacklight Spectacular
The Great Fredini, Co-Producer of BOTB.

Bambi's Blacklight Spectacular
Amber Ray, Professional Sensationalist.

Bambi's Blacklight Spectacular
Me, pulling out an old strip joint number for the occasion.

Bambi's Blacklight Spectacular
Julie Atlas Muz goes radioactive.

Bambi's Blacklight Spectacular
Velocity Chyalld does Badass Blacklight Burlesque.

Also amazing was Amber Ray's second number featuring her with Muffinhead, in which she came out covered with balloons filled with neon paint, which Muffinhead popped until she was covered with the paint. I can't even begin to describe Bambi's number with her giant snailshell.

Right now we're gearing up for the new season, and I'll be presenting the students from my Coney Island Master Class there, as well as producing a show about breakfast cereal. Snap, Crackle, Strip!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

An Article on Sherry in Today's NY Daily News

Burlesque Legend Sherry Britton Dies

With Sherry at The National Arts Club
Above: Sherry and me at the National Arts Club, with one of her favorite pictures on the wall behind us. She loved socializing with her friends and that was a very appropriate picture to be her fave. I know I'm not the only one who's going to miss her like crazy.

Sherry's obituary in The NY Times:
Sherry Britton, 89, a Star of the Burlesque Stage, Dies

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sherry Britton

Sherry Britton

Sherry has been a fine, fine friend to me over the past several years, and she has been coaching me on working on a tribute number to her for the past few months.

I just found out that she passed yesterday and I want to acknowledge her charm and magic, and send good thoughts to everyone who adored her as I did (and still do).

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

My Article on NY Neo-Burlesque from Tease! Magazine

Sorry about the uncropped scans, my Photoshop recently stopped functioning.

Tease! Magazine, #8

You'll definitely have to click to view the larger version to be able to read it:

An Article I Wrote Several Years Ago

Here's a fab story--when I first moved permanently to New York in the late 1990s, I was writing for a fetish magazine. Basically, the entire magazine was written and photographed by my friends Kate and Misa, and me. I wanted to write about some of the amazing paper memorabilia I was seeing around New York related to pulp and vintage men's magazines; the dumb (one day he asked me what my alter ego's name would be and I said, "Dick Van Dyke," and he didn't get it, sitting there surrounded by strap-on experts) publisher at the fetish magazine wasn't interested. I contacted Tease!, a magazine I greatly admired, asking if they needed any writers or photographers in the city. My call was returned by Eve Wynn, who is no other than Torchy Taboo, with whom I had gone to film classes in college. A few years later she and the publisher, artist Greg Theakston, encouraged me to write this article on New York burlesque. I think this issue came out in 2003.

If you want to read the rest of the article, let me know and I'll scan the rest of it and post it on flicker, and I'll add a link here.

And wait until you see the vintage magazine clips I'm posting this week! Holy Moly and Hubba Hubba!! From Fortune Magazine in 1935!!!