Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I work at a very “proper” office and while I’m getting more and more successful at burlesque I sometimes face a problem if I want an event in the paper since I’m afraid a co worker will find out and suddenly burst out “hey, isn’t you??!" Any

Odds are that they'll find out. Decide how you want to address that. I don't think this is a line of work for people who want to hide their participation in it. In fact, I know strip joint strippers who are interested in burlesque but won't do it because they need or prefer the anonymity of strip joint stripping. But maybe others will have other ideas! Avoiding exposure isn't one of my skills.

Ask me anything about Burlesque!

What are your tips for rehearsing burlesque routines?

Do your final undress rehearsal in the shoes and jewelry and hairpieces and headpieces you'll be wearing for the number. And remember to show them what you're showing them--present whatever it is you're uncovering! If you're taking off your gloves, do it on the side the viewer can see, unless you have a specific reason to do it on the other side, because otherwise they can't tell what you're doing.

Also--if you find a problem during your rehearsal, be willing to change your choreography.

Ask me anything about Burlesque!

Monday, March 29, 2010

What's your approach on burlesque which is less about the stripping and more about the performance art/theatre? (EG many queer, minority, political acts) Some love it, some think it shouldn't be considered burlesque at all!

This is a tough question to answer because it's really the start of a conversation, not just a QnA. But the short version is...I talk a little bit about identity politics in burlesque in my book, even though my book is a how-to and not at all a survey or history of burlesque. As a visible sex worker I've had people treat me with disregard and contempt, sometimes deliberately and sometimes unconsciously, and this informs some of my performances. I think that framing striptease, a "woman's art," as an art form, is powerful. Striptease was left behind when the burlesque circuit was shut down; the comedians and variety performers had the option of trying to make it in radio, film, and television, while the stripteasers were othered. However, I think it really hurts the development of this aspect of burlesque when performers use "having a cause" as an excuse to produce mediocre or sloppy numbers. I appreciate performance if it's confrontational but I do think it's a shame when it's overly literal, or when the execution isn't on a par with the concept. I'm not a fan of people "deconstructing" burlesque without really knowing how it's constructed. Theater is most moving and affective when it communicates through entertainment, which means to engage the audience rather than to pander to it. Passion for a cause isn't necessarily enough. Duende is in the details!

It's interesting to me when people who do political burlesque disregard it when women who did burlesque in the 40s and 50s don't like their reinterpretations of burlesque. Are we appropriating their art form? If so, how do we respond to that? And which ones do we respond to the most--the ones who hate it, or the ones who love it?

Ask me anything about Burlesque!

Are there any straight boylesque performers, or are they all gay?

Ah, straight is a relative term. But they're not all gay, no. I've checked.

Ask me anything about Burlesque!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Thousands of Burlesque Photos on Flickr

Evie Lovelle

Photo by Don Spiro

Sabrina Kemble

Check out our Burlesque Group on Flickr, with nearly ten thousand images of burlesque! We want your pictures of live performance, so feel free to join and add your own shots!

What affect do you think the film "Burlesque" will have on the burlesque scene?

The burlesque scene with which I'm involved and burlesque in its entirety overlap, but they aren't the same thing. I'm not sure what effect the movie will have on the burlesque community, since we mostly affect each other and our own media. Over the past decade I feel that burlesque as part of cabaret and intimate theater has become less a trend than an actual development in the performing arts; I don't think the movie will change that. I don't think the movie will depict burlesque that much like what we do, but I'm not worried that it will destroy burlesque. I'm happy to have the word "Burlesque" in the media, and I love both Cher and Christina Aguilera!

Ask me anything about Burlesque!

* You have been hired to do an act based on a sci fi character. Who do you choose and why?

I already do it--I'm Godzilla! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4-xMSqIXDY

Ask me anything about Burlesque!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I Guess We Won't be Marketing My Book in Iceland!

"Iceland's parliament has voted to ban striptease shows, making it an offence for any business to profit from the nudity of its employees."
Iceland gives stripping the cold shoulder

"Kolbrun Halldorsdottir, a former lawmaker who was the first to propose the legislation, told broadcaster RUV on Wednesday that "it is not acceptable that women, or people in general, are a product to be sold." "
Photo by Gerry Visco
Me in the Sex Workers' Art Show at Mo Pitkins, demonstrating my tip jar shoes. Photo by Gerry Visco.

I hate it when people say stripping or any other kind of sex work is "selling your body." When I was touring with the Sex Workers' Art Show, I did a call and response piece in which I brought up an audience member to read off of cards things customers in strip joints said to me, and I would fire off my stock response. For instance:
Customer: Don't you feel bad about selling your body?
Me: I don't sell it. I take it home very night.

I feel that since there are people whose bodies really are forcibly sold, we need to keep our language about sex work without such hyperbole.
Photo by Don Spiro.

If you use this blog post you must include the following footer, including links:
Posted by Jo Weldon, Headmistress of The New York School of Burlesque, for burlesquedaily.blogspot.com.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Burlesque Handbook

The Burlesque Handbook
See what's in it!

Me teaching at Tease-O-Rama in a clip from the documentary "No Strings Attached" by Lisa Whitmer. See the trailer (which shows me as a bumping grinding Godzilla among the goddesses) at http://www.lisawhitmer.com

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I am interested in taking beginner classes, what I wanted to ask is this, if I continually study burlesque are there any career opportunities in performing? I am an actress, model,former Playboy bunny,ballroom dancer.

For career purposes, being a burlesque performer is more like being a professional dancer or actor for live theater, or a member of an unsigned band, as far as income is concerned. In other words, of course you can make a living, but most pro dancers and actors have other jobs, and most burlesque performers have other sources of income besides performing, as do I. Also, there isn't a particular big-time to make--there isn't an equivalent of a record contract, for instance, or of being a movie star. This question will go to my facebook, where I imagine there will be comments from people who have different experiences, so check there for more input. http://www.facebook.com/joweldon

Ask me anything about Burlesque!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Any book tours in the works?

I'm putting together my own tour, and it's still comng together. I do know that I'll do my first book signing May 27 at Book Expo America (http://www.bookexpoamerica.com/) in NYC, then go to Vegas, and then I'll be joining Miss Indigo Blue for at least a few weeks in Seattle and on the West coast. She'll also be promoting the film A Wink and a Smile, so we'll be multimedia!

Ask me anything about Burlesque!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Pictorial History of Striptease: 100 Years of Undressing to Music (Book Review)

A Pictorial History of Striptease: 100 Years of Undressing to Music
By Richard Wortley, 1976
Click images to view larger.
A Pictorial History of Striptease, By Richard WortleyA Pictorial History of Striptease, By Richard Wortley
I am a huge fan of striptease--not just burlesque striptease as it developed on the burlesque circuit in the mid-twentieth century, but all striptease, stripping, and exotic dance. It's my favorite, favorite thing.

In the title of this book, Richard Wortly defines striptease as "Undressing to Music," and while he certainly shows what that can look like, he also shows a parade of other public representations of creatively unclothed women. While this isn't the strongest resource for burlesque research, it's a very entertaining look at women undressing, or simply appearing undressed, in glamourous and playful ways.

A Pictorial History of Striptease, By Richard Wortley A Pictorial History of Striptease, By Richard Wortley A Pictorial History of Striptease, By Richard Wortley A Pictorial History of Striptease, By Richard Wortley A Pictorial History of Striptease, By Richard Wortley

I love this book and have given it to other students of burlesque (I consider myself a student as well as a teacher) who have already seen books more familiar to burlesque aficianados. It's a fun addition to a stripteaser's library, and a different aesthetic than the 30s-50s burlesque striptease we see so often. While that is the era that most inspires me, I like to draw on every era and every attitude to show my appreciation not just for an aesthetic but for the energy women who are undressing onstage bring to the audience. I'm for ALL the naked ladies!

This book is out of print, but may be purchased on EBay and Amazon, as well as other outlets for used books.

If you use this blog post you must include the following footer, including links:
Posted by Jo Weldon, Headmistress of The New York School of Burlesque, for burlesquedaily.blogspot.com.

What is the most annoying thing you see when you watch beginning burlesque performers on the stage?

I don't necessarily get annoyed--it doesn't make sense to design your whole life around working with beginners and then be annoyed when they don't do things like developed performers--but there are a few things I notice that are easy to fix. 1) Dancing on top of their clothes; they need to leave their clothes at the back or side of the stage, not in the middle of it. 2) Not knowing how to get out of a garment onstage in a way that suggests they didn't rehearse and didn't know that was going to happen, like having a tight dress pull on a shimmy belt. 3) Not finishing the song. This, I admit, is a bit of a peeve. Walking off waving and hoping the DJ sees you leaving and stops the song for you isn't a strong ending.

Ask me anything about Burlesque!

What is your best beauty tip/secret?

It's important to use cosmetic glitter on your face rather than craft glitter. Craft glitter is usually made of metal and is likely to scratch delicate skin and eyes, while cosmetic glitter is usually made out of mylar and is fairly safe. Great brands of cosmetic glitter are Ben Nye, Mac, Matesse, and Wet N Wild.

Ask me anything about Burlesque!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Burlesque V Stripping

Q What's the difference between burlesque and stripping? Aren't they essentially the same thing?
A Context. Style. Intention. But mainly, the relationship to the audience. http://burlesquedaily.blogspot.com/2008/03/whats-diff-request-your-input.html

Did you perform at any strip clubs in NYC? What ones?

Yes. i was in so many of them! Flashdancers, Goldfingers, Stringfellows, Scores, Pussycat, etc. I made the most money at a little hole in the wall called Shenanigans.

Ask me anything about Burlesque!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Queens of Burlesque in NYC, March 11, 2010

I saw a burlesque show produced by the Pontani Sisters and hosted by Murray Hill at the Slipper Room in 2002, when the current burlesque scene was just a sparkle in all our eyes. Now it's a worldwide phenomenon producing some of the most spectacular performers burlesque has ever known, and Murray and Angie brought together a group of those fabulous performers in New York City, where burlesque striptease once flourished, was outlawed, and has bloomed all over again.

The Queens of Burlesque show on March 11 was held at Le Poisson Rouge, a gorgeous red and black venue with great sightlines. Featuring Murray and Angie as well as Immodesty Blaize , Dirty Martini , Michelle L’amour , Julie Atlas Muz , Miss Indigo Blue , Perle Noire and Catherine D’Lish , it was properly touted as the burlesque show not to miss.

All of the performers were award-winners in the Exotic World/Burlesque Hall of Fame pageants, and they proved that these awards go to the most glamourous, charismatic, dedicated performers in the scene. The bar was high, as were the audience's expectations, and the crowd's anticipation was rewarded with one spectacular vision after another!

The Set List On The Stage Before the Show
Immodesty Blaize's shoes during rehearsal.

Pearle Noir blowing up the stage!
Photograph copyright by Allen Lee. All rights reserved.
Perle teaches Murray a move. Photography by Allen Lee.

Julie Atlas Muz begins her "Waiting for the Sun" number.

Photograph copyright by Allen Lee. All rights reserved.
Photo by Allen Lee.

Michelle L'Amour performing her tribute to Sally Rand.
Murray Hill interviews Michelle while prone.

Photograph copyright by Allen Lee. All rights reserved.
Indigo Blue tributes Wild Cherry of New Orleans. Photograph by Allen Lee.
Indigo bends over backward to tease.

Angie Pontani in her tribute to Blaze Starr.

Dirty Martini pulls it off.

Catherine D'Lish "lets" Murray Hill take her panties down.

Immodesty Blaize lives up to both parts of her name

Photograph copyright by Allen Lee. All rights reserved.
Peeling to please. Photograph by Allen Lee.

View video and bios of the performers

If you use this blog post you must include the following footer, including links:
Posted by Jo Weldon, Headmistress of The New York School of Burlesque, for burlesquedaily.blogspot.com.