Saturday, October 26, 2013

Toons,Tease, and Childhood Dreams

After the pride parade, Carmen St. Cloud and I decided to ask Black Mariah if we could stage kitten for a cartoon-themed show she was producing.  I had already planned on going to Toons N Tease, but helping out would be a lot of fun.  Mariah not only said "yes", but she also had a spectacular costume idea.

Earlier I had posted on the facebook event page that I wish I had a Sailor Mars costume because Sailor Moon was my favorite Saturday morning cartoon growing up.  In fact, my nine-year-old self had sketched out plans for a Sailor Mars costume that sadly never came to fruition (even after I became a cosplayer).  Carmen had a Sailor Moon wig and a dress similar to the character's so Mariah asked us if we wanted to be Sailor Moon and Mars for her show.  There was no doubt what our answers would be.

The costumes she ordered came with the accessories so that save me from stressing out over how to make a tiara.  I did, however, need red pumps.  I thought they would be easy to find, but having small but wide feet is as inconvenient as the small band size + large cup size combo in bra shopping.  Thankfully Payless had a pair that fit (and were cheap), but since I found them the morning of the show, I forgot that I'm half a size smaller there.  I didn't notice until my foot kept slipping out when I walked off the stage, but they still worked (and I was able to exchange for the correct size later on).

As everyone was getting ready, Carmen and I went over our characters' signature poses.  The dancers advised me to start introducing myself by my stage name.  It seems like common sense, but when a lot of people in the community call you by your real name, making the switch is a bit tricky.  Since we had a bit of downtime, Carmen and I went to go catch up with some old friends and wish Appaloosa Red a happy birthday.

Being a stage kitten has taught me to think on my feet.  I used to put a lot of pressure on myself to clean up quickly and get everything set up perfectly on the first try.  However, as prepared as we try to be, things pop up last minute, and I'm learning that it's okay to get a little help from fellow kitten, the emcee, and the dancers themselves.  When all else fails, shake your butt.  Many thanks to everyone who gave me a hand, a minute, or a thumbs up.  Small gestures help when I get a little insecure.

The crowd in Three Links was fantastic, as were all the routines.  It was a nice mix of old faves and new surprises.  I loved how much nerdiness and nostalgia flowed on-stage and behind the scenes.  Taffeta Darling called me and Carmen and up for curtain call, which made us happy.  We love getting the love.

After the show, we joined the birthday girl, along with the rest of the Fangirls: Dames of the Round Table, and got Fuzzy's Tacos from next door.  It was fun seeing the surprised reactions of restaurant-goers.  Growing up, I thought I was the only kid who knew about Sailor Moon.  I was pleasantly surprised to hear how people were thrilled to see their childhood cartoon characters come to life and to learn that Jerry Fedora came across the series before it crossed over the States.  Giving people joy is the best thing about both cosplay and burlesque, and I'm glad I was able to contribute.  What made it even better was having my childhood cosplay dream finally come true.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Workshops and Pride

When the Dallas School of Burlesque opened in May, I was eager to check out the classes.  I still wanted to study at the Ruby Room, but it was time to expand my repertoire with the different styles DSB offered.  Plus it’s nice to get a different perspective on old bump and grind moves.

Over the summer, DSB offered two workshops: chair dance with Stephan and tassel twirling with Black Mariah.  In my many years of dance classes, I’d never had a male teacher until Stephan, the Southern Fried King of Burlesque.  He had a very free-spirited approach, which was just what I needed.  I’d been spending so much time focusing on being sexy, and I’ve always been a counter.  Both were holding me back, and I was happy to work on improvising and just feeling the music.  I could use some work on strength and flexibility, but I still learned a few chair tricks for a future routine.

my first pair of assels and tassles
made by Black Mariah
Tassel twirling was something I’ve always thought was cool even before I knew that they were part of burlesque.  I went into Black Mariah’s class a little bit cocky.  All that shimmying I did in Ginger Valentine’s classes must account for something, right?  Well, it turned out that my technique could use some work.  I had also placed the tassels too low at first, but I was also trying too hard to make my boobs move.  Ironically I discovered that I was better at shimmying with my arms held straight up, which is a more difficult position than with your arms held out.  As with hula and belly dance, I always seem to master a harder move before getting the basics down.  Black Mariah also taught us how to twirl assels, which was equally challenging and fun.

During the latter half of the summer, I started to wonder if I was rushing into things too quickly.  My double weekend of shows with the Ruby Revue and Lemme Addams’ Stardust Revue wore me out.  I also didn’t want to come on too strongly in my eagerness to stage kitten.  As a result, I decided to take the time to focus on classes and figuring out who Hana Li is.

Bellilona Fatin, me, Carmen St. Cloud, and Raven
By Lecroix Photography

That didn’t mean I wasn’t involved in other community activities.  When I learned that the Dallas School of Burlesque was invited to march in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, I knew had to participate.  I’d never been to a pride parade, and I really wanted to show my. . . well, pride in being queer and my support.  What better way than to march with friends in fabulous showgirl costumes?  The Dirty Blonde made costuming really easy for those of us who were busy.  We just had to pick a color of a rainbow, get a swimsuit (or in my case, a bra) the color of the rainbow, and embellish.  I picked red because I already had bottoms of that color from my Wonder Girl costume (and because it’s a common bra color).  However, I wanted to wear my socks that are the colors of the asexual pride flag: black, grey, white, and purple.  With some advice from Lily Lecroix and fringe from Black Mariah, I was able to add a bit of purple to my bra.  I also learned how to rhinestone.

Through both the costuming sessions and the parade itself, I got to know more members of the burlesque community.  It was hot and a long walk, but the energy and enthusiasm was unbelievable.  My only regret came from my feet, which did not like the long walk in my gold wedge sneakers.  Still, that was nothing compared to Jade Vivian and MayMay walking in real heels.  They definitely get my admiration.  Pride was a nice way to end the summer, and I even got a stage kittening gig out of it.  That’s a story for another post.  In the meantime, you can check out more photos over on my facebook page.
By Susan Migdol, EDGE Dallas