Black Humor Thought of the Day

Monday, June 29, 2009

This image just popped into my head: Cheryl Hickey, at my door, saying, "This whole year and a half of crap that was your life?...It was all a ploy for ET Canada's "'Celebrity Makeover'!" Or worse, Ashton Kutcher pops up around the corner and screams, "You've been PUNKED!"

Oh well. Either way, I still got to look pretty and take home shoes.


I was a least for one day. I have to say, it was pretty sweet--probably one of the best days I've had in the last year and a half. If life for celebrities is like this all the time, sign me up! It was exactly what I needed (and more) to pick me up from the gutter I was drowning in.

My celebrity makeover extravaganza began at 9 in the morning at Holt Renfrew in downtown Vancouver. My buddy Chris dropped me off, and I was promptly whisked upstairs to the store, which wasn't yet open. Rebecca, my stylist, put me into a dressing room with four armfuls of clothes. Thus began my dream come true.

Here I am, looking frightened. It took a little while getting used to putting on clothes and having a small crowd of producers, hosts, Holt Renfrew people, and camera crew giving their opinions about what I was wearing.

I kinda knew right away that this dress was a keeper. It's a Tory Burch dress with Prada heels. I never thought I'd be using the word "prada" so casually, but yeah, I guess I am.

This dress was pretty dope too. But it kinda made me feel like my Meemaw (godmother). I think it was the texture of the material that reminded me of Meemaw's muumuus (try saying that five times).

I almost took this outfit home. It was a freakin' leather pleated skirt! Talk about hotttt...

Jenn really liked this outfit. It was her favourite. It was nice enough, but perhaps too nice, if you know what I mean. And I wasn't really going for "nice"...

Here I am getting my hair cut off. Cut it off! Cut it off!

Makeup and nails. Between the haircut and the makeup and manicure, I ate lobster sushi and drank champagne while getting a pedicure. Oh yeah...

Weeeeeee! I'm pretty!

Here's Mr. Fussypants attacking a stray hair that was resistant to his industrial hairspray. My photog is in the background. He was nice too.

Do you like that necklace I'm wearing? It can be yours for $900.

Surprise! My buddy Chris shows up. The expression on his face means, "I thought I was looking at a mannequin, but holy crap! It's Brandy!" Yep.

This cowl neck thing I'm wearing here was super comfy and soft. Kinda like a Slanket, except way more expensive.

You might be surprised to know that I hadn't had much practice straddling a chair until that day.

What do you do when you have a buttload of people working on you? Stand very still.

My. Shoes. Are. Awesome.

Me and ET Canada host Cheryl Hickey talking about the radness of the makeover.

My lying, scheming friends and me. Without their deception, none of this would have been possible. Thanks, guys!

Jenn would make a lovely ET Canada host, doncha think?

And I do believe that Chris should give up his job as English prof. and switch careers.

Me, Cheryl, and my super stylist, Rebecca.

Guest Blogger: Susie Caboose

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Caboose.

A delightful pseudonym conspicuously chosen for a lady with a rear-end of particularly ample proportions. It took me awhile to decide on a name which would represent my alter-ego; which would pervade the dirty, delicious ass-pects lurking in the perverted corner of the brain, located in part of the hypothalamus (You know, that part...responsible for sexual behaviour. See, I knew we were on the same page!)

It didn’t always occur to me that my name should focus on an epic region of my body. After all, it is behind me. I also wondered if that was the message I wanted to send out. Did I want to use the art form as a tool of manipulation against hyper female objectification or did I wish to flaunt it with a splash of liberation in a pool party of emancipating exhibitionists?

Burlesque has caused me to have several feminist debates with myself. I can go in circles for hours (but at least I always win.) The point is, you can do both, or neither. Burlesque is like the clay of theatre genres. You can shape it into whatever you desire. No pun needed.

Once I chose my angle, my roommate and I practically went through the entire directory of cutesy monikers for ones bottom.

And that’s where the tale begins, of a little ol’ bootylicious-betty who takes her rump to the stage. Since then, the Burlesque Sea has raged with many perils. As many of us sexy sailors have lived to tell their stories. A gig will probably never turn out exactly how you planned. Unless you have super powers (like in my next show! Wink, wink!)

A great example of that is the night I hosted my first show. After a ridiculous amount of time fussing over a self-edited track for one of the nights performances, I decided last minute it would be easier to literally just bring my computer to the venue. And this is no portable laptop. This is a heavy G4 Mac desktop wrapped up in Styrofoam in a massive box. I entered the bar looking like I brought my entire apartment with me.

Fortunately, I was able to set it up on the bar without much of a problem. No, because those came later. After disregarding a lot of odd behaviour from the bar manager and the bartender (I’m talking excessive laughing, weird comments etc.) the show went on relatively smoothly. Until one of our lovely guest performers was on stage in the middle of her routine and the music just cuts out! I turn in a snap to see what happened.

When I hear someone inquisitively murmur, “Why’d you unplug it?!” The bar manager had accidentally unplugged the computer. How could that be, I wondered to myself. Luckily, the dancer on stage did an adorable and compelling job of keeping her poise in the face of Oops! Shortly after that little doozy, the bar guy pulls me aside, and asks me if I’d like some mushrooms. “What?” I reply. “You know, some ‘shrooms! The bartender and I have some.” “You’re on ‘shrooms?!” Persistent laughing. Oh my. And then it all makes sense. Hallucinogens. Right. Okay. I get it.

After that, you just learn to roll with the punches. And there’s quite a few. But this isn’t boxing, this is burlesque! And I’m going to look pretty darn it! No matter what happens.

Susie Caboose is performing with The Dirty Dollar Dollies at Good Handy's in Toronto on the evening of July 10th, in aid of Women's Shelter.

Make Me Over

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

If there's one thing I haven't been able to complain about during the past four months, it's been boredom in my life. Actually, there are a lot of things I can complain about, yet at this moment I find myself slightly smiling. A grin, perhaps.

I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop, even though I've had about 50 pairs dropped on my head already. And I tell myself to NEVER say that it can't get any worse, because frankly, it can.

Now that I'm all out of cryptic aphorisms, I will report some exciting yet extremely odd news. I was nonchalantly chilling with my buddy C., waiting for our buddy J. to show up to go out to lunch, waiting, waiting, waiting...Now, J. isn't the type of person you would call "flaky," but she was being kinda flaky today--which I found to be odd behavior. Actually, she and C. were both acting goofy, but I blamed C.'s jetlag for his goofiness.

Anyway, after waiting for J. for almost 90 minutes, the doorbell rang. And who is standing on the other side of the door but a cameradude, a producer, and Cheryl Hickey, of Entertainment Tonight Canada! Freakin' WEIRD. Like, not something you expect to happen to you on a random Tuesday afternoon, while waiting for your friend to come to your house so you can go get lunch at a Korean restaurant (which was a total set-up, obviously, and so after Cheryl and the gang departed, C. and I went for schwarma on Main). So yeah, Cheryl is there at MY house--which, by the way, is totally chaotic from remnants of my craft-fest on Saturday night--telling me that I'm going to have a "celebrity makeover" tomorrow--complete with clothes, hair, make-up and photoshoot! What?! Yes!

Um, okay.

So there you go.

It's the middle of June, the middle of 2009, and it's time for a whole new me (with some of the good-ol'-me thrown in for good measure).

Guest Blogger: Miss Dolly Rose

Hello! I’m Miss Dolly Rose, a London based burlesque performer who’s been performing for about ten months now.

I thought first I should do an initial blog to introduce myself a bit and also, as I’m quite a new performer and I thought it might interest people thinking about getting into it, I’d write a blog about how I got into burlesque and the experience of my first performance last August!

Like quite a lot of performers, I come from a background of doing a lot of dancing. I’ve done ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary, Arabic, Irish and ballroom to name a few!

One of the main reasons behind my desire to get into burlesque was that I absolutely loved dancing and performing, but I’m not really physically cut out to become a classical dancer, so I love being able to perform a form of dance where one can play to one’s own strengths. Especially the choosing whatever style and blend of dance, humour, acting etc one wants!

I also love anything creative and fashion related, so planning costumes, choreographing routines etc is so much fun, although I rather fear I’m going to discover my uni grades have gone downhill since I started performing, as pretty much all my spare time seems to go into burlesque related activities these days!

I think I was sixteen or seventeen when I saw my first burlesque show in Bristol and I’ve wanted to do it ever since then, but didn’t get round to it as moving from Bath to London and starting uni etc, somehow got in the way and it got rather put to the back of my mind as one of those ‘one day I’ll do that’ type of things.

However, during my second year at uni, it finally started turning into more of a ‘one day soon I’ll do that’ type of thing and I booked myself on Jo King’s course (which was brilliant) and really changed my views on what sort of performance I wanted to do. Originally, I was quite interested in the more classic side of burlesque, but Jo’s course really opened my eyes as to the fun of doing more comedy based routines and having routines with a plot, gimmicks etc.

Although one can obviously teach oneself the technical basics of burlesque like tassel twirling etc, I’d really recommend going on a course as it really helped me learn how to develop a routine and I think I would be quite a different (and very likely, worse) performer if I hadn’t learnt from Jo King. Plus Gypsy Charms at The Ministry of Burlesque, who I take improvers classes with now.

My first show was in August last year, at a night my friend Tom was putting on in Bath. He mentioned on a night out that they wanted burlesque performers for the night and I rashly asked if I could do it!

This seemed like a great idea until the reality of what I had said I would do hit and I realised I really didn’t have that long to think up a routine, let alone find the right music, plan/make/buy the costume and do the choreography.

The routine I performed is still the one I do most often and I still love doing it, but creating a routine for the first time involved so much more work than I would initially have imagined. My main memory of this time was naively assuming finding a 1950s song, of the right length and speed to dance to, which lyrics suitable to a routine about weight loss would be relatively easy.

No, no it really wasn’t!

In fact, I think I have pretty much an entire shelf of obscure 1950s music now from my struggle to find that song.

However, eventually I came across ‘Plenty of Love and 20 Calories’ by Jayne Mansfield, which was perfect!

Costume was another thing which I assumed would be easier than it was. Anyone who’s ever been shopping with a mental image of a certain type of dress or top in their mind will know what it’s like, nothing is ever quite what you imagined.

It only took a few days of frantically searching the internet for me to realise that I was going to have to make it myself. Thankfully however, my wonderful mother (who is an awful lot better at sewing than me) helped me out at this point and saved me from the horror of what would have been the results of me trying to make it myself.

On the subject, I would say to anyone thinking of getting into burlesque, learn to sew, it’ll make your life a lot easier!

Choreography I found the easiest aspect of putting it all together, but I’m so glad I filmed it a lot before I ever performed it. More than once I thought I’d come up with an absolutely awesome bit of choreography only to discover that nothing could be further from the truth. But yes, so now I had my routine all put together with costume and music and props and everything, so onto my first performing experience. I can say pretty safely, probably the most nervous I have ever been in my entire life.

I pretty much didn’t eat all day I was so nervous, but then worried that might make me faint, so ate chocolate to up my blood sugar and then just ended up feeling faintly sick. Well done me. I have a very clear memory of standing by the side of the stage before I went on thinking to myself,

‘Why am I doing this?!’, but once I actually got on stage I really needn’t have worried. I had so much fun and the bouncy adrenaline filled feeling of being on stage more than made up for the 'oh dear god what am I doing moment' beforehand. I’m always so happy and energetic after a show, which generally lasts a lot longer than the terrified feeling beforehand, thankfully...

The routine all went pretty smoothly other than my bra almost getting stuck, but thankfully, this was an opportunity for me to learn the fact that little costume problems and mistakes are generally a much, much bigger deal to you than they are to the audience. Most of my ‘oh my god, was the bit with the bra really noticeable?’ type comments were met with the response that people didn’t even know which bit I meant, so whilst I think it’s always important to try and learn from messing up on stage, one can take comfort in the fact that, as a general rule, the audience is not going to notice tiny things like that if the routine is generally entertaining, and there’s no point in beating yourself up over it.

So yes, that’s pretty much a summary of how I first got into burlesque. I’m so happy I got up the courage to do it as I’ve had so many amazing experiences both onstage and offstage in the last ten months, performing at some brilliant events and meeting some really lovely people. Fingers crossed there are many more amazing things to come...
Miss Dolly Rose will be performing at the Burlesque Against Breast Cancer Breast Awareness Night at Dick's Bar, in Romilly Street, Soho on the evening of the 6th of July from about 8pm, with lots of other lovely people, plus a few surprises. She can be found at

Guest Blogger: Tempest Rose

Monday, June 22, 2009

Firstly, I would like to thank Burlesque against Breast Cancer for kindly inviting me to contribute to this wonderful blog and to show my support for this worthwhile cause, and secondly to thank all those who have supported my work over the last few years. And lastly I’d like to dedicate this story to Scott – a Good Samaritan!

I came to burlesque through a career in traditional theatre and musical theatre as do many burlesquers and burlesque will always be to me a wonderful form of entertainment with a long proud history. It allowed me as a performer to find a creative freedom that as a ‘jobbing actress’ was previously unavailable to me and to bring together the many skills and talents I had acquired over the years.

I am always flattered when girls fascinated and entranced by the spectacle of burlesque come to me and say ‘I want to do that!’ but always feel obliged to gently probe their reasons behind wanting to take it up and to give an insight into the realities of the job. We live in a society where the years of hard work put into art and entertainment are often overlooked and the common perception is that being a performer is an easy way to glamour, riches and adoration.

Being a burlesque performer uses almost every skill I have ever acquired in my life and takes up every spare bit of time I have. I am performer, director, producer, costume designer, script writer, musical director, PR representative, press agent, technician, negotiator, business woman and teacher all rolled into one!

The job requires not only extreme organisation but extreme flexibility to cope with any situation. Colleagues of mine have often whiled away the hours laughing about the ridiculous situations we have found ourselves in. From blowing up balloons in full make up and costumes on a packed Friday night tube train rushing from one gig to another; keeping a full West End audience entertained as the sound desk malfunctioned during one our Kitten Club troupe numbers; standing under a freezing cold shower soaking my outfit to go onstage looking as if I have been caught in a rain storm; to having to walk through crowded venues with people dancing with drinks in their hands in hundreds of pounds worth of costuming.

I have performed on stages that I haven’t ever seen before until I have stepped onto them in front of an audience to perform. I’ve used my wits to cleverly put down a member of the audience who seemed to feel that a ticket to a burlesque show entitled you to touch the performers. I’ve woken up with swollen eyes due to constantly using false eyelashes and most recently, been stranded at 11.30pm in Southampton having missed the last train to London due to a delayed ferry connection.

It is to this last situation that I must extend my thanks to ‘Scott’, who saw it in his heart to offer three stranded cabaret performers with three suitcases and a bicycle a lift to London and spared us a night stuck at the rail station! I have performed to packed houses and celebrities and shared stages with them which was utterly thrilling, but also wanted to cry when tickets for other shows would not sell no matter what we did. Glitter, fabulous costuming, technical malfunctions, law suits, full houses, television appearances, praise and criticism… it’s been an incredible few years!

These types of stories will be familiar to most burlesque and cabaret performers for whom performance is in their blood and who strive everyday to become better at what they do. I can honestly say I have loved (nearly!) every second of it and would not do anything else.

Burlesque is wonderfully inclusive and performers come from all walks of life and backgrounds and each bring their own wonderful unique style and experience. It’s not for any one person to dictate who can and can’t be a performer but for each person to be honest about whether it’s really for them. If you can change in to full make up and costume in a tiny, dirty room with no sink and no mirror and no help and emerge to perform looking like a million dollars with a smile on your face…then come join the family!

Tempest Rose is a singer, performer and dancer. She has her own revue show currently in Oxford. She has twirled at all the major London venues, as well as appeared on national tv, radio and West End theatre. You can find out more at

Mental Well-being during Breast Cancer and Beyond

Having a good mental attitude while dealing with breast cancer is crucial. No doubt when people discover that they have breast cancer or any life threatening illness it is a shock. I always found the times of not knowing what was next to be the hardest part to handle.

But, once you have an idea what you are dealing with moving forward is easier. This is not to say you should be looking forward with great gleeful anticipation to surgeries, chemo and radiation, but at least you can start making some decisions as to how you are going to live with all of the trauma that is going to be a part of your daily life for a few months or many years.

Knowing somewhat what lies ahead, but taking things one step at a time is a little contradictory, but it is the best way I found to cope with the many aspects of breast cancer.

Now, I am going to rant for a minute about some of the breast cancer forums and blogs. This is my own personal opinion and you don't have to agree with me. Stop the whining!!! It does no good whatsoever to join a group that continually bitches about all their problems. Negativity breeds more negativity. This does NO ONE any good at all.

The last thing you need right now is a 'poor me victim mentality.' You have cancer. Nobody made you get it. You didn't get it because you are a bad person. You got it because someone had to and your number was up. So there is no person or entity that you should be mad at. Stuff just happens.

Here are your choices as I see it. You can either BUCK UP! or let breast cancer define you. You do not have to be a breast cancer victim. You are a person that happens to have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

I'm sure people will say 'well how about when I feel so bad very part of my body hurts' or 'the medicine is making me so sick', or 'I can't stand another surgery' or 'What about the future, will I die?' My answer to that is; have a little or big cry, have a pity party or whatever you do but then wipe the tears and snot off your face and get on with your life. This is no time to be wishy-washy you have decisions to make and a life to live.

Being around negativity will not help with your mental well-being. If you do go to breast cancer blogs and forums for information good for you. Use them for the information. If you go to bitch, moan and groan then you are not helping yourself whatsoever. There are some positive blogs out there and I will make a list this week so that you can check on those sites.

If you want to really help yourself than be as active as you can whenever you can. This will not only keep your body stronger, it will also improve your mood. This doesn't mean you have to go out and run or even walk, if you have never done so before, this is probably not the best time to start. What you can do is some gentle stretching, yoga or pilates. Stroll around your neighbor or at the mall. Hang out on your porch or backward and listen to the sounds of nature. Try some deep breathing to helpf relax the tension in you body. Just do something. There will be days when you really can't and that is absolutely okay. If you weren't in touch with your body before now is a good time to get aquainted with it.

In closing just know that your mental well-being affects your physical self. So having the best attitude possible is going to help boost your recovery.

Please check out for comfortable clothing designed especially for women going through breast cancer.

You can e-mail me directly at

When BABC came to Brixton

BABC events organiser and 'Ultimate Burlesque' contributor, Mark Farley:

One of the great things about taking BABC out on the road has been the sheer enthusiasm and support from the burlesquers who have dedicated their time and effort to raising money for Macmillan. This was no more than evident than when we brought BABC to Brixton last October.

I contacted Sharon Kay on Facebook in the hope that she would come and perform for us and knowing that she ran a great series of instructional tutorials and lessons in performance, she would know one or two people that would step up and twirl for charidee.

I took a punt and trusted her judgment that it would only take a show from one other person she had in mind to put on a great show. Initially, I was skeptical. I'd put on at least three or four other ladies on at other shows. But I needn't have worried. As we pitched up at the boutique pub, pushing through the colourful and dubious folk in Brixton market, I was greeted with a much smaller venue than I expected and started to get very nervous indeed. Myself and my partner started to fool around with the DJ equipment, wondering how it worked and soon enough we were joined by Sharon, who performs as Indiana Belle, who came with the stunning and beautiful Annette Bette Kellow.

Annette had recently won the Best Newcomer title at the London Burlesque Festival and was part of Sharon's stable of lovelies and immediately, I realised what Sharon said was true. She really did completely embody the world of glamour and burlesque. Even before the performance kicked off, she perched on a stool and sucked on a straw seductively as she told me about her life. She was wearing a gorgeous red satin dress and beamed a glowing smile, as well as narrowing her gorgeous eyes in the most coy way. I looked down her gorgeous long stockinged legs and her vintage, velvet pumps and a pang of eternal love rushed through me.

What they went on to do was show a textbook display of traditional burlesque dance that would rival the greatest earners in Vegas. Annette took on major stool and stocking tease as she peeled out of her sleek layers, while Indiana gave us an expert fan routine, complete with a very fabulous hat and cane display.

If that wasn't enough, the small intrigued crowd at The Dogstar were also treated to renditions of their stories, including the very mysterious Wanda Von Mittens, myself and my 19th Century tale of saloon whores and the brilliant and rousing actor, mat Fraser with quite possibly the best written story in 'Ultimate Burlesque', set in a club in New York called The Slipper Room.

But possibly the best part of the night was when Chris Manby rose to her feet, spoke passionately about her cousin Claire dying of breast cancer at the age of 35. She treated us from a reading from an old Stephanie Ash novel she wrote for X-Libris, something that I was quite excited about for a start.

It was a great night and despite low crowd numbers, people in attendance were both impressed and full of enthusiam for what we were doing for Macmillan.

Sharon Kay runs the venture Burlesque Baby.
Annette Bette Kellow is currently working on the film, A 1940s fable.

Guest Blogger: Pussy Velour

I currently reside in Gloucester (sadly) after having moved from country to county to city and I have been a performer for 11 years now. Although not always in Burlesque.

I initially started out in my late teens/early 20's when I was at Bristol University studying a Law degree. I worked in The Rummer Basement as a dancer for a resident Fetish club company. Funnily enough this is how I also got into my modelling career. I cage danced in various fetish outfits, from the non-existant to the down right uncomfortable. But this did allow me to live the 'life of reilly' while at Uni.

While others struggled on student loans, hand outs from the bank and parent's hard earned cash, I was earning a nice little wage cash in hand, which is good as a Law degree was one of the more expensive ones.

The hours were great, I made some wonderful friends and learned a LOT of new things. It showed me a side of life I had never known about and never seen but only heard of through living near Brighton when growing up in my teenage years. I had danced since I was a child, with my parents sending me to every dance class possible, so it was natural for me to gravitate towards a club to dance. I loved it so much, I always felt free and happy-go-lucky and alive when dancing, so I enjoyed this immensely and getting paid was a bonus.

As soon as you mention fetish club, most people assume dirty, grimey room with sleazy people. It could not be further from the truth. Everyone was always lovely, no one ever tried to force anyone into doing anything they were not comfortable with and the men were gentlemen. Unlike some of the guys I have met in normal high street dance clubs.

From here, I danced at other clubs around the country for different sponsors and events. But then I moved away from Bristol and eventually ended up in small town called Gloucester and thought I would never be able to dance properly again. I started to teach myself other forms of dance, such as Latin, and Ballroom.

I was always fascinated by anything from the 1900's up to the 1960's (I was sooo born in the wrong decade) so it naturally followed that I started to investigate burlesque dancing techniques. I was a massive Dita fan, but I wanted to learn where it all came from and how it developed across the world, so I started to study. That's when I started to mix up the Latin, Ballroom, gymnastic and acrobatic movements, circus styles, street style and break dancing along with pole dancing moves to come up with my own burlesque style.

I didnt want to be 'the next Dita', we had a beautiful lady who was already famous for being an amazing traditional 50's Burlesque performer, so I didn't feel the need to try to be something I could never be. I wanted to make my own form of burlesque routines. I didnt want to copy anyone else and I didnt want anyone copying me either.

I'd practiced these moves in my bedroom and on the dancefloors of every club I could persuade my friends to come with me to. It was not until 2 years ago when a tattooist friend of mine decided that Gloucester, where I had moved to, needed some decent entertainment. He decided to put on a burlesque cabaret show. I was the main performer and it went down a storm, we were turning people away at the door. Gloucester had never seen anything like it before. The crowd went wild. I loved it.

I got my spirit back and the boost I needed. I was alive again. I decided that was it, I was actively going to seek out dance work no matter where it was. If I could get a train to the location, I would take the job. A company called The Lollipop Lounge started up a year later in Cheltenham and I was asked to be a regular dancer for them, I was not goingto say no. Once again, the audience were new to this form of entertainment. Half of them had never even heard of burlesque, let alone seen it. They were hungry to be entertained.

All the girls who danced for The Lollipop Lounge got on great, like a family. Like a circus, I suppose. Each of us were very different in our styles and the audience loved that. I sided towards comedy and circus styles, which the others went the route of Cheesecake and traditional mixed with modern or neo comedy burlesque. Ladies always ask me... It is as glitzy and glamourous as it appears and I always say , YES, Yes it is :-)

The costumes are superb and beautiful. The dancers are graceful and amazingly talented, the background and history of this entertainment is fabulous and colourful just like the props we dancers use. It is magical and fun and lighthearted and enjoyable for all who come and for those who participate.Dont get me wrong, I have worked all over the UK in the last 2 years from the grotty back street clubs where the audience have no idea what they are in for or what to expect - with changing rooms you could not swing a corset in, shared with groups of girls on top of each other clambering for some mirror space, not quite the glamour facade the industry paints to the observer, to the beautiful comfy ornate changing rooms of big hotels and clubs. The sort of treatment you would expect a dancer of the burlesque calibre to be rewarded with.

But one thing that I have always found everywhere I have gone to work, is a warm welcome from those who have invited me to perform, a smile on every audience members face, a cool drink from every helper, a bag carrying young man who is more than happy to help and a HUGE hug and kiss from every perform I have ever had the joy to meet and work along side.

The burlesque and performance industry to me has been one big family, where we have all looked out for each other, helped each other and supported each other when needed. I have made some of my best friends in the last few years on the burlesque circut and I would not change that for all the Camden Council petition's to the government to regulate this wonderful, beautiful form of entertainment.

I now run burlesque events myself in Gloucester at The Gloucester Guildhall - an old Victorian ballroom restored to its original beauty. I love all the girls I work with and they are all regulars who want to come back and work for me again. I perform at all my own events as well as compere at them. My mum even bakes cakes that we give to all audience members.

Burlesque is a family to me and I want the audience to feel that too, like in the 1940's where everyone pulled together and created their own entertainment for their community. The audience members are regulars to every event. They know all the dancers by name and are friends with each of them on Facebook and keep in regular contact with them and how they are doing. This is what it is all about. Good entertainment, happy punters, friendly atmosphere, the desire to come back again, a closer community through the events and the appreciation of the effort all performers make.

These events in Gloucester have opened the eyes of many of those who have attended who are amazed by the talents of the dancers, and the costume makers. These audience members have thanked me for bringing them something beautiful that they can share with they friends and partners and provides them with education about history, entertainment and the empowerment of women. It has taught a lot of girls not to be so self-concious and that they are beautiful no matter what their size.

However on the flip side, being a performer has caused be problems, not with day jobs or with managers of venues, but instead with my personal life.Burlesque performing has caused issues with every relationship I have had over the last few years. Partners have either not cared and not bothered to watch me performing because they were not interested in the art form. Or they have been so bored by burlesque from working in the industry that they see the performances as 'same old same old'. Or worst case, partners have been appalled by me taking my clothing off on stage, seeing the entertainment as nothing more than stripping. Either way, it has caused massive arguments and heartache and anguish. I wish it did not have to be this way, but a lot of the girls I have worked with have had similar experiences with partners, which makes me wonder if it is all worth while.

My boyfriend was ‘chatting’ to me the other day, basically telling me how unimpressed he was with the fact that I am still a Burlesque performer – it was nothing to do with my age – as I am 31, but I would like to point out I do not look it, I have taken care of myself – oh no, it was more to do with the fact that he thinks I am up on stage being a ‘cock tease’. I was horrified.

Don’t get me wrong my friends I like a little flirt as much as the next woman, it shows me I am still alive and not a droopy old minger just yet, but to think I am going on stage on purpose to spite him and show off my muff to all and sundry because I am a cock tease was just a little too much. Basically he sees me as nothing more than a stripper in a cheap club, which saddened me greatly.

Firstly, there is nothing wrong with being a stripper – a lot of Burlesque performers have started out this way, including some of the Moulin Rogue girls, who are among the best dancers in the world. Most strippers work very hard for their money and they are very fit ladies. It can be a hard world to be in and you have to tolerate a lot from some of the punters, I have seen girls being treated very badly for no reason at all and it by no means should be like that with anyone who is offering a service that shows their talents. They certainly should not fear for their safety. So please do not any of you think I am saying that strippers are lower class entertainers, that is not what I think, if anything of recent from being a dancer for 11 years I have noticed it is men who mainly think a stripper is a lower form of the entertainment and they don’t appreciate how hard some of those girls work and how fit they have to be to entertain.

The reason it saddened me, apart from the fact most of the strippers I know earn a lot more than me for dancing, I spend a fortune on decadent costumes to thrill and excite the inner magpie in all of us, I spend hours sorting music, arranging the timings and hours coming up with story lines for my routines and then choreographing them to depict the story line in the movements. For example, one of my routines is a based on a Japanese ritual dance and I perform with live blade Japanese swords, I wear a traditional Japanese outfit as well that I take off using Geisha movements prior to dancing with the swords, not something I have seen many strippers do – but apparently despite the effort as far as he is concerned, I am just getting my knockers out and thrusting my cock in men’s faces’ to get them erect!

Personally, I have yet to find a member of the audience who is sexually excited by a woman throwing swords about – I think the emotion they are feeling at that point is more fear for their lives.

Apparently, all the hours I put into sorting the routines out is pointless, as I am just stripping at the end of the day like some lude woman of the night to see men drool, etc. What he fails to notice on the occasions he has seen me perform is that 80% of the audience is FEMALE, not male. The men who do come are not aroused in fact if anything they are blinded by sparkly sequins and choking on feathers. The men in the audience do like it, but not in a dirty sordid way, they like the fact the dancers have put in so much effort, they appreciate a pretty girl, they enjoy the fact we are good dancers and put thought into the ideas behind the routines.

But more than anything it is the LADIES who come to watch that get the most enjoyment out of it. It is mostly THEM we are doing it for. To show them you need not be ashamed of your bodies no matter of your size, to show you are never too old, to show you can be fit and dance well with a little bit of practice. The women who come to the shows LOVE the glitz and glamour, they enjoy getting dressed up and drinking cocktails with their friends, meeting new people, having a chat to those with common interests, having a laugh with the dancers afterwards and talking costumes ad sequins and ‘Ooh, where DID you get that hat, I must have one’ – it is all about ALL the women, dancers included dressing up and feeling special and praising each other and supporting each other as a community. How does that make me cheap or a cock tease?

Why do I do perform burlesque?

Well, apart from the fact I have always danced since I was a child, I fell into performing when I was at Uni. I love to dance, it makes me feel free as a bird and keeps me fit. I do perform burlesque instead of stripping because I LOVE the costumes. It is all about the costumes and getting dressed up.

I got bullied as a child, all the way up till I was 17 for being ugly. I was called ugly every day, had chewing gum put in my hair, clothing ripped or had shit smeared on it, things thrown at me. The boys at my school never really spoke to me as I was unattractive and unpopular – now, I get to stand up on a stage and no one takes the piss anymore and that is a great boost to the self esteem I have snatched away when I was growing up – THAT is what performing burlesque is about. The confidence, the social scene, the dressing up, the friends you make and the family you all become through the events.

As I said, this is just my opinion and how it all feels to me, I am not making assumptions that all performers see it the same way – but for those of you who have had similar ‘cock tease’ comments made at you I would love to know what you think of it all. Anyway, as this topic touched me I thought I would share it with you all as some of my burlesque beauties out there will know where I am coming from on this. Others may disagree.

Who knows? It may spark a really interesting debate.

Pussy Velour will be running a traditional Victorian burlesque show at The Gloucester Guildhall, Westgate Street on Saturday August 1st. Tickets available on line from the Gloucester Guildhall Box Office or The Velour Palace website -

Guest Blogger: Bella De Jac

Saturday, June 20, 2009

I hope everyone that came along on Saturday had a fantastic time.

Festival of Sins. Gluttony was a riot!

My favourite part (I have to say) was Nathan Shame dressed like Ronald MacDonald how he would really look after scoffing all those cheese burgers. Very evil!

I get up to London quite frequently as so much of the burlesque work is centered there. What doesn't always happen is that I have enough spare time before the show to get in something to eat that isn't picked up from Victoria station between National Rail and the tube.

Last weekend, I was lucky enough to fit in a quick catch up with my friend and burlesque performer Duchess Divine at The Diner in Camden. Diners are a bit of a weakness of mine and friend of mine introduced me to this gem late last year. There is something fabulously kitsch, American and comforting about diner food. I mean American diner food, not truck stop diner food. It fuels my ever increasing fascination with certain elements of the vintage US culture.

I figured an enormous milkshake before a performance was not such a hot idea so I ordered a soda float and hot dog as we babbled about the hot topic of the moment. Camden Council and their determination to stomp out low budget burlesque night. See any of the online communities for the full story, in particular Burlesque Women's Institute is documenting it pretty well.


The curious part, I find in English buildings and transport is as Summer slowly creeps in, the temperature inside soars up. Backstage areas particularly become little sweatboxes. Trust me, trying to pat translucent shimmer powder over your entire body when you're as sticky as the inside of a toasted marshmallow proves counterproductive at best.

Aside from the relentless heat, the atmosphere backstage was friendly and fun and I took comfort in the fact that at least I didn't have to lie down starkers while being covered in prosthetic makeup and sweets to look like a garroted victim of some evil sweetie fairy, like one brave lass was.

My other distinct pleasure of the evening was getting to meet the unfairly gorgeous Mr Mistress, and Vicky Butterfly with her divine costume. My act went off with a few minor hitches, in fact it was the first time I'd ever had my music stop dead in the middle of my act before. Not to worry, the audience didn't seem to be bothered and after a bit of cheesecaking from myself the DJ got the music back on before too long.
Burlesque tip: there is nothing that can go wrong on stage that can't be handled. If the music stops just ham it up until it comes back on.

As it stands, everyone I spoke to after I did my bit was gushing in their praise so it can't have been too bad!

Bella de Jac can be found at and has performed for BABC in Brighton.

Guest Blogger: Jubilee Swoon

Autumn 2008

I reply to a shout out from the delectable Wet Spot proprietor and burlesque performer Ryvita Von Cheese on MySpace. She’s looking for local burlesque performers to work with actress Kitty McGeever (who plays Lizzy Lakely on ITV's Emmerdale) on her upcoming charity stage show at The Carriageworks Theatre Leeds for Macmillan Cancer Care.

‘Hey Ms Cheese, are you looking for nubile young lovelies for this show or will clapped out old mums do?’

‘Shut yer face you old sauce pot, you’d be perfect.’ She retorts.

I’m in and it gets better! Calender local news want to film some of the rehearsals at the now dearly departed Yorkshire Television Studios.

Oh the glamour!

We meet RADA trained actress Kitty McGeever at YTV a few days later. Kitty explains some of her ideas for her show ‘Luvvie’s Blind’ while her friendly guide dog snuffles around the table looking for cream cakes to pinch. Oh yes, I neglected to mention Kitty is also completely blind – the show is a humorous take on Kitty’s own experiences of blindness including sketches and songs. The proceeds from the show are to go to Macmillan after Kitty helped to support her sister, script writer Caroline Mitchell with her own battle with breast cancer.

We (that’s me, ‘Vita, Ruby Buttons and Bam Bam Blue from The Boneshakers and Lexi Sexx and Lily Von Lush from rival Leeds burlesque troupe The Dagger Dames) rush off to change into our assorted corsets/bras/stockings and suspenders. We are filmed shimmying about a bit behind Kitty as she wows the cameraman dancing with her white stick in a most unusual manner to the strains of ‘Hey Big Spender.’

The six of us appear on Calender’s teatime edition the following evening after Kitty’s studio interview. My dad phones to congratulate me on my five seconds of fame. He must have been so proud seeing his half-naked daughter jiggling away on telly whilst eating his shepherd’s pie.

Rehearsals for the show continue on a weekly basis and Ryvita and I somehow find ourselves in a short comedy burlesque routine that we choreograph between the three of us. Kitty dancing with her white cane, ‘Vita and I with our top hats and canes. We practice a lot. None of us are us are used to performing in a troupe and when one of your troupe members is completely blind you’d better get your timing spot on.

Over the coming weeks I’m lucky enough to meet some fantastic people and watch them at work. Unsurprisingly ‘Luvvie’s Blind’ is a resounding success. Our small segment goes without a hitch and we’re relieved that we did a good job for Kitty and our pasties didn’t fly off in front of half of the cast of Emmerdale who are in the audience. From the wings we hear the roar of applause that greets the finale and I notice Kitty’s sister Caroline shed a tear and go off to compose herself behind the scenes. It had been a long journey for Kitty and Caroline and one that Macmillan had helped to make possible.

Jubilee Swoon is a resident of West Yorkshire and has been performing burlesque for over a year at events all over the U.K including The Slippery Belle, The Wet Spot and The London Burlesque Festival where she won the Best U.K Solo Newcomer category at the Battle Royale. You can see more about her on her Myspace.

Guest Blogger: Pussy Velour

Friday, June 19, 2009

My name is Mary Lynch. By day I work as an IT security engineer and on weekends I am a burlesque performer and events organiser. About 15 years ago, my mum was diagnosed with bowel cancer.

At first it didnt really register with me. I was reasonably young, had led a sheltered life up till then. I was not particularly close to either of my parents and my mum was the hardest woman I knew.

She was invincible. She had me late on in life (at 42 years old) and gone straight back to work months later. She worked in the catering industry as a manager and took no shit from anyone. She was physically stronger than most men I knew and mentally stronger than anyone else. So it was odd seeing her weak and sick.

It was quite confusing as she became someone else, she was no longer my mum. She was a sick, complaining old woman. I hated it and sadly did not show her the love and support I should have done.

She went into hospital to have that part of the bowel removed, my dad went to pieces as he was used to her looking after him and I was the same, except I showed no emotion at all on the matter, I didnt know how to - a trait I got from my mum who never showed any kind of emotion as she viewed it as a sign of weakness.

The operation was successful, the doctors believed they had removed all the cancer. They kept her in for a few days, then let her come home. She was in a LOT of pain, but refused to take pain killers. She was given a diet sheet as there was certain foods she was no longer allowed to eat and there were some foods deemed as being good for cancer and for keeping it at bay.

She was given medication to take which she hated doing, as she didnt believe in being weak enough to need medication. It took her a while to get back to herself and get back on her feet - she was told to rest for at least 1 month, within 2 weeks she was back going on day trips with me to Brighton on weekends - slowly tottering along, but she needed to do it, she felt she was letting herself down more than anything by not 'beating' what had happened to her.

She was meant to stay off work for at least 4-6 months, however she was back at the hotel working within 2 months, cycling the 10 miles to work at 5am every morning.

A few years later, she had another relapse and had to go back for a second operation - at 65 years old they were not hopeful for her as more bowel was being removed. But as I said ,she was a hard lady and nothing had ever beat her before, so she once again pulled through. But this second operation really took its toll. She had to retire from work - which really pissed her off and she had start taking things easier. She was weak and shakey for longer.

She had now become a carer for my dad who was slowly becoming crippled by arthritis, so she was stuck in the house with a husband who had to be waited on hand and foot - which has only got worse over the years.

Every 6 months she went for her check-ups - most of the time on her own as I was not always able to get time off work - I cannot even begin to imagine how this must have made her feel. Because she was always so emotionless and hard I never even considered she may have had feelings on the matter and the fact she had to be intruded every 6 months to make sure 'The Cancer' had not come back. All was good though, after 3 years, her check-ups were dropped to every year.

It is odd how neither her nor I cried about any of it, yet my dad bawled like a 3 year old every day over it all for years and he was petrified that she would relapse. I think mother wanted to block out what was going on to help her get on with life and work, rather than dwelling on it and perhaps I was doing something similar or maybe I am just that heartless - I really dont know.

Mother and I now holiday with each other twice a year, I go out with her every other Saturday and we go for regular weekends away - making the most of time. She comes to all my events that I dance at and often helps me organise them as well.

But of recent, she has started to have bad stomach pains and difficulty keeping food down. She says she feels the same as she did when she was first ill. Her GP does not know what is wrong with her, so has set up an appointment with the cancer specialist at the local hospital. Mother is just waiting for a date to come through and the medicine she has to take for 48 hours before the examination.

She is very anxious - at 72 another operation is unlikely - so we are just hoping that it is a stomach bug or her ulcers playing up. But we will have to wait and see.
I think if she is ill again, we might both finally show some emotion on the situation. The doctors and nurses have always been great and helpful and we are really grateful to them all for doing such amazing and difficult jobs. My mum always donates to Cancer charities and I have taken part in fundraising thruogh burlesque events for cancer research and will always continue to support them when I can in their amazing work.

Pussy Velour is a burlesque performer and runs the Velour Palace in Gloucester, who do themed monthly events of a very decadent and elegant manner. She's also the face of Red Rabbit Books.

Special Offer From Self Symmetry To Spirit Jumpers

Thursday, June 18, 2009

There are many wonderful Spirit Jumpers who also have beautiful shops where they sell items. As many of you know a large number of these shops offer special discounts for Jumpers when they are purchasing as a Spirit Jump gift.

I wanted to share one of these shops with all of you - Self Symmetry

The owner of Self Symmetry makes beautiful bracelets and sends them as Spirit Jumps. Because I think these pieces would make a wonderful Spirit Jump gift I asked her if Spirit Jump could share her shops information with all the jumpers.

In fact Kat made special braceletes inspired by Spirit Jump. They are bracelets that lift spirits, make a statement, and remind you to celebrate life! Kat thought they'd make great gifts and is offering a very special deal for Spirit Jumpers. Spirit Jumpers can order these from Kat online and she will send them directly to the person needing a jump. She will attach a note with it as well.

To receive a 15% discount, please enter "SpiritJump" as the coupon code.

You can also visit Kat/Self Symmetry on Twitter: @selfsymmetry