Hey folks! A lot of my students are asking about stage kitten duties. I'm creating a handout, and one of our former students will be conducting a workshop. I'd appreciate your thoughts on what I've written. Most of the shows I produce are workshop showcases, so I've gotten input from regular producers and kittens who work for them.
Ray Ray Sunshine kittening after my Godzilla act at Michelle L'Amour's Speakeasy in Chicago.
FOR THE KITTENS
It’s crucial to understand first of all that each producer will have their own guidelines, some of which may be different than these. However, these will let you know some of the things stage kittens need to think about, with the questions they most frequently ask.
Q: What is a stage kitten?
A: A stage kitten is the person who picks up the costume pieces and props after a burlesque number. They get lots of stage time! When you're kittening, be sure to watch the performers undress to help you know what to pick up and get every piece. Remember, there are usually two gloves! If one is missing, wait until after the show to find it rather than rummaging around in the crack between the stage and the wall during the show.
Will I also have to set up the stage for the act?
It depends on the show, but it’s very common for stage kittens to also set out props such as fans, chairs, and tables with props.
What should I wear?
Ask the producer, but if they don’t specify, wear something fun and flirty and sexy. Not a party dress, but perhaps a go-go costume with fringe and some high heels. Wear makeup and hair as if you were performing. You can often be a character if you like, but be sure to check with the show producer about that. Depending on the show, you may need to be lowkey.
What else will they need?
A stage name. Do a search on this blog for stage name tips. Remember, names like Kitten, Kitty, Kat, etc., tend to be taken and it will be hard for you to get gigs if you're getting confused with someone with a similar name.
Will I get paid?
It depends on the show and on your level of experience. Some shows just don't have a budget, and you can kitten for them based on how you feel about that--it's always fun. Most of the time you will not get paid the first several times you do it. After that, you will probably get something along the lines of tips, $20-$50. It isn’t fair for people to ask you to do it for free if you’ve been doing it a lot and they are making money. If you become a very good and adept stage kitten and highly in demand, you may get more, especially if you really dress for it and use your stage time wisely. If everyone else is getting paid, you should probably get paid too. If you are selling things for the show during intermission or before or after the show, you may get a percentage of sales.
What will I get out of it?
It’s one of the best ways to find out what really goes on in a show. You’ll learn a lot about costuming as you pick up the costume pieces and about staging as you handle the props. You’ll learn backstage etiquette quickly. You’ll get to network and meet a lot of people and get to know a lot of venues. There may be other perks as well--free dinners, free shows, swag, and other treats!
Also read my interview with Fleur De Lys about her experiences as a stage kitten!