Monday, December 28, 2015

Creating Tony: Debuting Tony, as Sage

"I'm not going to succumb to to just doing normal stuff, and not how I really snowboard, because I think that's wacked.  I kept going and I kept it weird." - Sage Kotsenburg, 2014 Men's Snowboard Slopestyle Olympic gold medalist
Apologies for taking so long to write Part 2 of this series (click here for Part 1).  The past month has been extremely hectic with major happenings in with my lab teching and my striptease.  One of them I would like to share as my first-ever show as co-producer.  Lillith and I are bringing a very special Tuesday Tease, and I will also be debuting a new routine.  I hope you can make it out.
Flyer by Lillith Grey
Okay now back to your regularly scheduled programming.  Once upon a time, I had an idea of a sick burlesque routine where I would strip while skateboarding.  My dream was to incorporate two things I really love: action sports and burlesque.  One problem: I hadn't skateboarded in years.  Although that could be remedied,  I read about Leticia Bufoni's struggles with skating nude for ESPN The Magazine's "The Body Issue" and started to have second thoughts.  Plus I had discarded clothes to worry about.  As I started contemplating drag, I realized that this routine would be perfect for my king alter-ego.

The opportunity to make this reality came much sooner than expected.  Tuesday Tease put out a call for all things involving a ring.  I had submitted an idea for a burlesque routine playing off a telephone ringing and would have left it at that.  However, no one had claimed the Olympic rings, and basically my train of thought was, "Hmm, snowboarding is in the Olympics.  That's kind of like skateboarding.  I can do this."  Granted, it was a lot sooner than expected, but if there was a time to "go big or go home", it was here.

I based the act on Sage Kotsenburg's victory in the first snowboard slopestyle competition in the Olympics.  "Favorite Son" from American Idiot the Musical is not a positive song so I initially did not want to use it.  However, it was so catchy, and it fit with the cocky alter-ego I had created.  Sage may be America's raddest sweetheart, but Tony Fo-Hawk is the person I would be if I didn't have to worry about getting along with others.

Having created someone who absolutely did not give a damn saved me from the real world stresses creeping into all aspects of my life.  There were evenings when I just got on my skateboard after work and felt so much better.  I re-learned the basic skills and tried to see if I could spin on the tail and maybe finally figure out how to ollie (even though you don't do those on snowboards).  Tony gave me the resolve to start skating again, and I'm thankful for it.  I think I’m a lot closer to ollie-ing than I ever was when I was a teenager.

Unfortunately the real world worries did creep into my mind on show day.  Having to go first was nerve-wracking even if it was as Hana.  At least that got me into show mode.  However, another nightmarish contact scenario happened right as I was going from female to male.  I went into major panic mode trying to find a missing contact (which equals losing $200 and the ability to perform without glasses), and I am forever appreciative of my fellow performers and the Tease team for helping out.  Thankfully it was just hiding behind my bag.  There were some other hiccups that kept me from my best performance.  I know we all can't be perfect, but I don't like knowing that I could have done better, even if some things were not in my control.

Hana's act for The Ring
Photo by Brandy Barham
Tony's debut as Sage Kotsenburg
Photo by Brandy Barham

At the end of the evening though, and in Tony's eyes, I had fun and that's all that matters.  I was excited to share this part of me, which sometimes feels more like the real me than any side of Hana Li you see on-stage.  On top of this, freeskiier and Sage's fellow Olympian, Gus Kenworthy, had come out the previous week.  It was the first time an action sports athlete had made such an open declaration, and that contributed to the fire within.  Action sports needed some queerness, and I'd like to think that queerlesque could use some action sports.

 Thank you to Musico Roots for taking video!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Creating Tony: From Tuxedo Mask to James Dean

"Being a good actor isn’t easy. Being a man is even harder. I want to be both before I’m done." - James Dean

Tuesday Tease: StripToons
By Brandy Lynne Photography
One day, I posted on Facebook about how I probably should be doing drag rather than burlesque, given my penchant for cross-dressing, but then I wouldn't enjoy the fun of striptease.  A couple friends asked why I couldn't do both, and Lillith Grey reminded me that this is why queerlesque exists.  Although Tuxedo Mask was not my first attempt at androgyny, it was the act that got me re-thinkingmy aesthetic.  I never intended the routine to be full-on drag, just convincing enough to portray the character.  Nevertheless, at times, I wish I didn't wear a push-up bra underneath or sparkly ballroom heels so that I could look more like a man in the beginning.  Other times, I wonder how I got to this point when burlesque was supposed to be an expression of my feminine side.

Accepting that goals can change—evident with my shift from wanting to cosplay Sailor Mars to Tuxedo Mask— gave me a new perspective.  Over the summer, I was thinking about a new act and noticed a few shows centered on classic movie stars.  The glamorous screen siren did not interest to me unless it was Anna May Wong, but even then, I didn't feel inspired.  One night, I was listening to the radio and Taylor Swift's "Style" came on.  In the song, she mentioned James Dean, and I got the idea that he would be my Hollywood icon.

All the cards fell into place with the next No Mija Productions/Fuego Danza Company show.  You see, around the time Ricky Martin was huge and everyone wanted to do a Latin-inspired song, the singer/actor Jacob Young had a minor hit with his James Dean tribute, "Life Is Good".  With LilyLeCroix's help, I added some salsa elements into my routine.  I've spent so much time in recent years, focusing on a feminine dance style that trying to salsa like a guy was harder than expected.  I was also able to use the lessons from Miss Indigo Blue's workshop during the San Antonio BurlesqueFestival to better convey angst and anguish.

No Mija Productions:  ¡Ritmo Caliente!
By Mr. Photopix
Despite the simplicity of his Rebel Without a Cause outfit, assembling the costume took some work.  I accidentally bought the wrong size jacket, but with advice from The Companion and my drag king/fashion designer friend Corvin Rose, I altered it as best as I can.  The breakaway jeans were made by Threads by Mayhem, and after searching for the right red bottoms, I happened upon the perfect thong by Calamity Chang.  Everything fell into place…except the actual performance.

No Mija Productions:  ¡Ritmo Caliente!
By Mr. Photopix
One of my greatest fears used to be popping a pastie.  I had prudishly drawn a metaphorical line of what I allowed myself to expose at the nipple.  It's silly, I know.  When it happened, I wound up being more frustrated than mortified because it was a completely preventable accident.  Thankfully I had assels so the audience got more booty than usual.

Oh well, you live and learn.  The important part is that I had fun.  I really enjoyed adopting James Dean's attitude and returning to a more masculine dance style.  The early concepts for the act had been more drag in nature, and I wondered what the experience would have been like had I went that direction.  Thus, a seed was planted in my mind…