Sunday, April 19, 2015

Making a Man Out of Myself

I have a lot of catching up to do.  Since the beginning of March, I've been preoccupied with shows, conventions, lab teching, and a nasty injury.   I'm mostly healed, but I still can't type with two fingers so blogging has been very low on my list priorities.  However, now that I have some down time, I decided that it was time to start catching up here.

By Robert Hold

Remember when I said that I was going to focus on refining old routines rather than work on new ones?  Well, that plan went out the door pretty quickly.  Sometimes inspiration and opportunity come together in a perfect storm that you can't escape.  It's what ­­­happened with my "I'll Make a Man Out of You" act for Panty Raid's Bare Necessities show.

I had gotten the idea­ a few months ago for another show.  Although I'd never really wanted to do Disney burlesque, the song was too catchy to resist.  However, the popularity meant that I really had to think this routine out.  It sat in the back of my mind until I saw that Panty Raid was looking for Disney acts.  I'd been wanting to return to Sue Ellen's so the timing was perfect.

Sort of.  Because I wanted to pay tribute to the training scene, I needed to brush up on both my drag and martial arts skills.  Although I had done drag only once, I wasn't too unfamiliar with adopting a masculine persona due to my crossplay background.  However, this time I wasn't portraying a youthful pretty boy—I needed to be a man.  Thank goodness for on-line tutorials. 

By Robert Hold
As for the martial arts, my younger brother was a black belt in taekwondo so I used to watch and mimic his practicing.  I joined him for camp one summer and took a semester of it in college.  Once you learn those moves, they don't go away.  Unfortunately, taekwondo didn't meld with dance so I studied kung-fu and tai chi videos.  Now I wouldn't recommend doing this to seriously learn martial arts, but it worked well for creating the illusion of a martial artist.  While I was practicing, I couldn't help but feel a desire to take classes.  It was interesting to see how my attitudes has changed since as a kid, I was "too busy" to join my brother in classes and thought my grandpa's tai chi was weird and boring.  I definitely have a new-found appreciation. 

The show changed my mind about Disney burlesque.  I'd always had an irrational fear of corrupting childhood memories, but now I know that burlesque just created new ones.  I gained a new fan with my martial skills so I was happy that the training paid off. 

Doing this act gave me insight on who Hana Li was as a performer.  It felt so natural to be in drag at first, and I enjoyed presenting dichotomies of masculine and feminine, serious and silly.  Panty Raid was the perfect place for me to explore this, and I'm thankful for that opportunity.

I also acquired a new sense of creativity from combining the two different forms of movement.  While I might not have been able to do a flying front kick stocking peel (things in your head don't always translate into real life once you consider skill level and physics), I came up with some new tricks that I hope to bring into other acts.  And I did learn a flying front kick, which is a great way to keep the audience members alert.

Check out some highlights by Kevin Huckabee: