Thursday, April 28, 2016

Celebrity Crush Tease Part 2: Son of Rage and Love

"I don't feel any shame, I won't apologize
When there ain't nowhere you can go" - "Jesus of Suburbia" by Green Day

As I mentioned in Part 1, Tony Fo-Hawk's Billie Joe Armstrong act for Tuesday Tease's Celebrity Crush show morphed into something else entirely.  Green Day's American Idiot is one of those albums that has changed my life forever.  It continued to do so through the years as I saw the "Jesus of Suburbia" music video and the Broadway musical.  I connected with the Jesus of Suburbia character (Johnny in the musical) so much that he partly inspired a short story of mine.  

Although my college theatre days were behind me by the time the stage production debuted, I still fantasized about playing Johnny or his alter-ego St. Jimmy, who has been portrayed by women.  I'd been thinking about whether I could do an American Idiot act for one of the Broadway-themed shows that occasionally pop up or even a punk rock show.  Then I found my opportunity with Celebrity Crush.

Photo by Brandy Lynne Photography
Because the Jesus of Suburbia had an alter-ego, I decided that this would be the one time that the Tony and Hana would share the stage in the same number.  While choreographing the routine, I realized that it could not only be about the dissatisfaction I felt with my current identity (outside the glitter world), but it could also explore my complicated relationship with gender.  You see, the musical version of "Jesus of Suburbia" features many cast members, including some of the women.  I decided to work the female vocals in to represent the transition from Tony to Hana.  I drew upon some classic burlesque moves to highlight my attempt to force femininity upon myself, which was what led me to burlesque in the first place.

The transition also reflection my constant questioning of whether my genderqueerness is a result of internalized misogyny or an actual reflection of who I am.  I don't think I'll ever have a definite answer, but I know that I am okay with people seeing me as female as long as they acknowledge that I do have a masculine side and do things that code as "male".  The ending of my act is supposed to reflect that.  As the Jesus of Suburbia leaves town in hopes of finding a better future, I go forward hoping to find acceptance, both from the people around me and myself.

Photo by Brandy Lynne Photography
Once I realized that this routine would represent my truest self, I really threw myself in the rehearsal process (I had the bruises to show for it).  This was also when I was struggling a lot with my new day job so it was nice to have an outlet for the frustration and self-loathing.  Once again, American Idiot has provided some solace for when things just seem to unbearable.  If I ever meet Green Day, I will have to give them so many thanks for giving me so much.

Speaking of giving, I'm making a rare appearance in Denton tomorrow to give Cheyenne and Nephenee a proper send-off to the North in marital bliss.  Cheyenne was one of my Academy of Queerlesque classmates and has always been supportive of my career.  So if you're in the neighborhood, please come celebrate with us at Glitterbomb!

Monday, April 25, 2016

All-con 2016 photos and upcoming show

I've been busy working on a bunch of things lately, but I'll resume blogging in May.  In the meantime I'd like to share some of my cosplay photos from All-con by Neither Noir.

Lois Lane (DC Bombshells)

Flannery (Pokemon anime)

Tuxedo Mask (Sailor Moon)

One of the things I've been working on is producing a new Tuesday Tease.  The show is this Tuesday and is comic book-themed.  Please come by if you're in the area.  We're having a costume contest too!

Flyer by Lisa Brank

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Celeb Crush Tease Part 1: Make Me Wanna Dance Sexy

"Never was a girl with a wicked mind
But everything looks better when the sun goes down" - "Make Me Wanna Die" by The Pretty Reckless

Since the Tuesday Tease Team announced the themes for our winter/spring season, the gears in my head started turning.  The Celebrity Crush show jumped out at me because a lot of my crushes stem from a deep admiration.  I love them because I want to be like them, and this was my opportunity to embody the traits I wish to have while simultaneously highlighting the things we have in common.  The question remained: who would I portray?

Initially I thought it would be amusing to be a fictional character, but people would just think I'm the actor.  I could have Tony Fo-Hawk impersonate another action sports athlete, but the winter months made it hard to train and lack of recognition would make the act a harder sell.  Eventually I settled on two musicians: Taylor Momsen of The Pretty Reckless and Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day.  My Billie Joe act grew into a bigger monster due the influence American Idiot and the corresponding Broadway musical had on my life.  Therefore I'm saving that for another post.

Photo by Brandy Lynne Photography
One of the ways I express my crushes is through cosplay.  As a sucker for badass rocker girls, I've been a huge fan of The Pretty Reckless and Taylor Momsen.  For a few years now, I've  wanted to cosplays her as her Gossip Girl character, Jenny Humphrey, from the later seasons.  Since that never happened, I could do a routine to The Pretty Reckless, who have some sexy tunes.  Hell, Taylor herself strips in the video for "Make Me Wanna Die".

Taylor is so brazen with her attitude and sexuality that I knew this tribute act would be a challenge.  At the same time, I was excited to truly get down and dirty.  Even if I'm not very sexual in real life, I can create the illusion.  That's what drew me to burlesque in the first place.

Trying to figure out the costume was simultaneously easy and hard.  Taylor's aesthetic crossed over a little bit with Nana Osaki (a rock 'n' roll manga character I love cosplaying), and I saw many photos of her studded white Sex Trash dress, which I could easily replicate.  However, I needed to amp up the sex appeal and get higher heels.  The latter scared me because I wanted to incorporate more complex dance moves, including a transition to the floor that I learned in a workshop with Red Bone.  Thankfully I found some sturdy heels and broke them in at one of the Dallas Burlesque Festival shows.  I also did a lot of practicing in my tiny kitchen to make sure I wouldn't slip.

Photo by Brandy Lynne Photography
Performing as Taylor Momsen gave me a newfound sense of power on-stage.  While The Pretty Reckless' songs always get me amped up, putting on the wig and the make-up was a complete transformation.  The sexy moves I felt awkward when I'm in dance class or practicing on my own doing felt more natural.  I interacted the crowd a lot more (and earned a new fan afterward).  Rock music has always helped me express a side that often gets suppressed, and I'm glad I had the chance to bring that side to the burlesque stage.  I don't have to be an awkward tomboy nerd all the time—I can be bold, naughty, fierce, and wild.  I can be a little bit cool like Taylor.

This new-found attitude will hopefully manifest itself in my next performance.  The Tarantino show is back, which means the return of O-Ren Ishii.  Click here for tickets.