Sunday, July 13, 2014

My First BHoF Weekender - Days 0 to 2

aboard The High Roller
Last year I had passed up the invited to go to BHoF because I had already committed to A-kon.  Before the anime convention was even over, I had made up my mind to go to Vegas the next year.  Despite my determination, I was apprehensive.  I knew BHoF had the potential to make my social anxiety skyrocket the same way A-kon had.  I arrived at the airport wondering what I had gotten myself into, but then Carmen St. Cloud, my BHoF roommate, showed up and I saw the sun.  We were going to have a lot of fun that weekend.

Since we arrived a day earlier, we explored the Strip and saw Criss Angel's Believe.  The show was entertaining but not the best I've seen in Las Vegas.  Afterward, we rode The High Roller, a new attraction that took us over the entire city.  The view was gorgeous and a good way to cap off a night of doing non-burlesque things.

The official first day of BHoF began early due to the time difference and us being early risers (for burlesquers).  I had bought an afternoon ticket for the Shimmy Shuttle to the Burlesque Hall of Fame museum so Carmen and I staked out a spot by the pool.  The Shimmy Shuttle was fun although I wish I had a travel buddy since everyone else seemed to have one.  Tiny as it was, the museum was wonderful.  The featured exhibit outlined the history of burlesque, beginning with The Black Crook and Lydia Thompson's British Blondes.  Having researched the history for my All-con panel, there wasn't much I hadn't all ready known, but it was cool seeing those flyers and photos in real life.  Plus we got to admire the exquisite details of the costumes up close.

I don't think I've been as excited
to see a G-string.
By the time I returned to The Orleans, the pool had been taken over by burlesquers.  Again I couldn't stay for every long because Carmen and I had to change, get dinner, meet up for the Texas photo op, and find our seats.  Sadly we couldn't really enjoy the buffet due to the time crunch.  At least we had a decent sized group for the photo op.

Photo by Ed Barnas
Day 1's show was Movers, Shakers, and Innovators which highlighted dancers at their most creative.  My three favorite acts were: Sizzle Dizzle whose tribute to her friend with cancer brought tears to all our eyes (never thought that would happen at a burlesque show), Rubensque Burlesque who fiercely embraced their curves and gave a big F-U to modern day beauty standards, and Ray Gunn's Jabberwocky which made the English major in me squee with delight.  His attention to all the aspects of staging is really admirable.  I was super inspired by everyone that night.

The highlight of Day 2 was the Finishing School class, "Latin Moves with Tai Ping".  I was nervous about not being skilled enough of a dancer, but the class turned out to be easy-going and fun.  Tai Ping and Kristina Nekyia made a great team, and I came away with more knowledge of Latin dance and how to create drama.  A bonus was our mini Q&A session with Tai Ping and learning how she got started in burlesque.

Photo by James Lester
After browsing the Burlesque Bazaar, Carmen and I wound up checking out the Barecats Bowling Invitational because we knew it would be wild.  Some of the Ruby Revue ladies were participating so we got to cheer them on.  There were a lot of fun costumes and wild moments.  It made me want to participate even though the game ended so close to when the doors for the Titans of Tease Reunion Showcase would open.  Maybe one year…

Blaze, me, and Carmen
Being a newcomer, I know my opinions don't carry much weight.  However, I shared The World Famous *BOB*'s disappointment at the number of empty seats.  This was the legends' night!  I thought that was what BHoF was about, and the competition was just a bonus.  I felt terrible that my exhaustion and an increasingly upset stomach (most likely from dinner) prevented me from being less attentive than I could have been because the legends deserve all the props.  It was hard to pick a top three, but mine were: Lovey Goldmine who made us green like our outfits with her rockin' body and then shocked us by going down in her splits (and this was her return to the stage!), Holiday O'Hara whose commanding seated performance culminated with her standing (and the rest of us followed suit), and Gabriella Maze who impressed the belly dancer in me by fiercely moving to Beats Antique.  Toni Elling received Legend of the Year, and she was the embody of grace both on- and off-stage.

World Famous *BOB* told us to "become what you see tonight".  Seeing all the legends on-stage really hammered that message home.  Regardless of the fact that this is really a hobby for me, I wanted to work harder and be someone worthy of carrying on the legacy of burlesque.

Carmen, the legendary Dee Milo, me, and Lily LeCroix
Photo from Lily LeCroix

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