Saturday, June 25, 2011

Go New York! or Marriage; The Foundation of Civilization?

Allow me to take a moment and deviate from the purpose of this blog. 

Yay New York! :-)

Ok, so same sex marriage doesn't have much to do with burlesque but a lot of burlesquers would like to have something to do with it, so I guess there is a connection.  Where there will be a disconnect in this post is that my message is not to fans of burlesque but to the detractors of same sex marriage... a largely useless exercise because none of them read my blog.  Meh.  Still here we go.

Having grown up in a Christian home, and for a good part of my life having planned on becoming a Pastor, I have had a lot of contact with all sorts of people who lay claim to the title of Christian.  Some are hate filled, biggoted jerks.  Some are open minded, loving, and truly Christ-like individuals.  Most are some where between those two.  Unfortunately the biggoted jerks tend to be louder than the Christ-like Christians so guess where the majority lean towards?  Well we all know this.  The media is full of it.  Even liberal Democrats get hung up on the rehtoric of some of these hard liners, at least where it comes to same-sex marriage.

"Oh it is fine if they want to be together..." (or in more vulgar terms - "I have no problem when boys or girls f*king each other...") "...but marriage is sacred and should be between a man and a woman!"

A number of these voice have shouted out in the wake of NY's legalization of same-sex marriage; Sen. Ruben Diaz for one (a Dem).  The Catholic bishops of NY went so far as to release a statement saying that the law changes "radically and forever humanity's historic understanding of marriage."  (Thank you NPR)

My response to them, as a gay man, an individual who grew up in a Christian home, AND and student who has studied Christian doctrine and theology for most of my life is a resounding: WTF mate?!

Seriously, do people have any idea what the historic understanding of marriage is?  Hell, if it wasn't for Paul, Christianity would have died out years ago because Christians by the earliest tenants of the faith should be celibate.  During the day of Jesus and before, marriage could exist between a man and really as many women as he could financially support.  True custom (not doctrine) often limited this in some groups, but really the contemporary view of one man one woman marriage is less than two-thousand years old... hardly an historic view for "humanity".

And more where Christianity is concerened, Jesus openly distanced himself from marriage, claiming that marriage has no place in the Kingdom of Heaven.  Why? Because when it boils down to it, marriage was, has been, and is still about property.  Who owns what?  Who owns whom? And according to Jesus, ownership is not part of Heaven.

The Church adopted a concession uttered by Paul in his regards to marriage and made it into divine edict, and now considers it God's design for marriage.  Really Paul was just saying "not everyone is as good as me, so I guess you can get married... BUT keep it to one person, so as not to be ruled by lust." (He was SO a closested homosexual but that is a whole other discussion.)

Ok, so this is not an academic paper, more like an emotional rant, so forgive my all caps when I say, seriously guys, Christianity HAS NO CLAIM TO MARRIAGE! Get it?  Marriage is a thing of the Earth, not of Heaven and as such keep theology out of it.  If you want to live like God in Heaven, be as "the angels, who neither marry nor are given in marriage."  Go join a convent, or monastery, or live in a hippie commune.  (Strangely Jesus didn't talk much about sex... he just had issues with marriage.)

If gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders, etc. want to enter into the marriage contract, than it is purely a thing of the state... and if the canonization of divorice, multi-racial unions, women wearing pants etc. haven't ruined "forever, humanity's historic understanding of marriage" than a bunch of gays and lesbians tying the knot, certainly will not.

Go New York! Go every state that has taken this step toward equality.  Go God for wiring my brain to go nuts over cock.  Go every one of my brothers and sisters who takes the opportunity that has been given them to tie yourself to pre-nuptials, joint tax filing, and all of the other sordid things that go into a contemporary marriage.  Most of all, go out and be who you are; love who you love; and don't be a douche.  To quote, Santa Gaga (Our Lady of Freedom), "baby, you were born this way."

~ Fosse Jack

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Rock'N Roll, An Alumni Spectacular

Finishing a year of Alumni Shows, the power house production team of Bella Bijoux, Wiggy Stardust, and Juniper Gin, presented Rock'N Roll, An Alumni Spectacular.  This, like other AoB, alumni shows, was equal parts class reunion, talent showcase, and ongoing education.  Over a dozen former students of Miss Indigo Blue's Academy of Burlesque appeared on the stage of West Hall last night, and they brought with them acts based on the rock roll themes of rebellion, independence, and "not your grandmother"'s brand of entertainment.

The performance ranged in type, style, extravagence, and production polish, but all benefited from the granduer of West Hall.  Performances just feel more epic on that stage.  With the great blue curtains, good sound, better lighting then most venues can boast, and a full sized stage, it gives performers the opportunity to be bigger and challenges them to really fill the space.  That being said, some fill the space better than others.

While all of the performer reached the bar a few were ahead of the class in their concepts, choreography and performance values.

Flirty Sanchez, the evening's emcee, was the performer I enjoyed the most.  With quirky charm, and a clever tongue, Flirty made good use of innuendo, 'tat for tit' tactics, and self depracating humor.  Many hosts beat you over the head with boobs, but Flirty was just that... a flirt and it worked beautifully.

Lila Dread and Sir Eddie Van Glam made a great duo, as a sexy school marm, and a horny juvenile delinquent.  Sir Eddie, brings a certain sexy camp to anything he does, and Lila's serious, dom energy provided a nice contrast.  I would have liked to see this number go a little further, a good sign as the pair left the audience wanting more.

Piston Chambers roots for the underdog, and in his number last night he brought a comedic underdog back into the spot light.  In a parody of the "Where are they now?" style television show, Piston portrayed the character made famous by Will Ferrel on SNL (cowbell anyone?)... that being said Piston is a far sexier man then Ferrel has ever been; and was surprisingly good on the makeshift set of drums.  You got to love multi talented performers.  Piston's prop heavy performance are best suited to larger venues like West Hall, so when you have a chance, check this Guy out.

Donatella MeLies is one of the few performers I've seen turn trash into art.  This lady made Hefty bags haute.  Her initial emergence, tearing her way out of a big black trash bag was particularly brilliant.  This number is a bit impractical (as she seemed to destroy her costume), and would probably make recycling nuts cringe, but as a one shot performance piece it was spectacular!

Iva Handfull is proof that with dedication, and drive you can go far, having recently competed at Exotic World and won some much deserved acclaim.  While practicing for her performance in Las Vegas, Iva, a legendarily meticulous performer, discovered that her Firestarter fan dance sinched up comically well with very different song.  While I can't remember the name of the song, I will say that watching Iva perform this rather intense act, to a power ballad was ridiculously awesome.

I could go on, and on, commenting on each and every performer but for the time being will stick with this highlights.  It was a good show, and I applaud each of the performers, and the producers who put it together.  I look forward to seeing more of the alumni shows, and to seeing each of these performers again sometime.

~ Fosse Jack

Disney After Dark

In previous reviews I have made comments concerning "themed shows." They either work, or they fall apart. While most of the shows I've seen come close to falling apart, Stripped Screw Burlesque's current production, Disney After Dark, does not. 

Techincally speaking the show has a few weak points.  The sound track, though clever, is roughly cut together and sudden breaks in the music seem accidental, and can be distracting... especially when they land in the middle of a performaner's train of thought (action).  The disembodied narrator is inconsistent, introducing some but not all numbers; and when the voice of "Granny Screw" is present it doesn't add much.

That being said the remaining production values, and performance standards of this show are fairly high; good burlesque with a few truly outstanding pieces woven in.  The show is built on the journey of an "unconventional princess" and the search for true love.  With anchor points, begining, middle and end, bringing you back to the main plot line, and the character of the "princess" and her guide, the Blue Fairy, serving as pick-up artists, you are fully immersed in the story no matter what the next performance is. 

Each act is based on a classic (or new) work of Disney, which is promptly turned on its head, revealing the naughty bits hidden beneath the fluff.  Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, Alice in Wonderland, Bambi, Pinnochio, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, Winnie the Pooh (seriously!), Beauty & The Beast, and even an Award Winning Pixar Film (I won't ruin the surprise!) are featured in this show.  No childhood memory is sacred.

Stripped Screw's Primaries and Guest performers, bring a wide variety of performance styles.  While Minetta Lane, Kylie Koyote, Bella Bijoux and Roxie Moxie each provide their own take on classic and neo strip tease, Randi Rascal brings some electric fun, Stella D'Letto explores shoe lust, and newcommer Kutie LaBootie thumps the audience good with her charming blend of cuteness and filth.  Violet Tendencies pairs up with The Trojan Original to bring you a beautifully executed, and terribly depraved pas de deux (giggity). The Paris Original, rocks the stage en pointe, lending his usual comedic charm, and incomparable grace to the show (swoon).  Wiggy Stardust ... is ... Brilliant!

Saying more would give away some really fun twists and surprises, so let me finish by saying that, Disney After Dark is a great show and one that I strongly encourage my readers to see.  It will be playing one more weekend, June 24th (8pm) and 25th (7pm AND 8:30pm) at The Rendezvous/Jewelbox Theater.

$15 at

Fosse Jack

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The "BGB" and The Cog Days of Summer

Some time ago the world experienced what could be described as a Big 'Glitter' Bang, an explosion of creativity and sparkles that dazzled and delighted.  Today, as the material of the BGB continues to spread, and coalesce into new performers and pieces, we are nearing the time when performers will need to solidify and become true celestial bodies if they are going to survive.  We won't all be stars, but we can become satellites of these giants, both reflecting and being nourished by their radiance.  Hey planets are pretty amazing things even if they aren't seen as clearly or prominently as stars.  Until the time when these things take shape however, we will have to deal with the debris of the BGB and the often unfinished products that emerge from it.

Ok, setting the astronomical metaphor aside, my point is this.  There are a LOT of new burlesque artists out there.  They have some good ideas, some talent, and some moxy.  What they often lack is guidance (yes I do hold to an Intelligent Design Theory of Burlesque), and the direction needed to move from proto-performer to artist.  Here in Seattle, we are lucky to have Miss Indigo Blue (congratz luvs!!!!) and the incomparable Academy of Burlesque to get things started, but after graduation many performers start to fray around the edges.  New works are not polished, and sometimes not fully thought through.

Last night I had the opportunity to see a show produced by the delightful Violet DeVille, called the Cog Days of Summer, a steampunk themed show.  First, let me say that I love the steampunk aesthetic, and the play on words is clever.  Second, allow me to remind you of my feelings on themed shows.  They are either awesome and mesh up well together, or they feel thrown together.  It is HARD to do a themed show, which is why I avoided it at all cost with Jack & Wood.  It takes careful planning, and a lot of artistic jimmying to make it work.  If your seques aren't planned to the letter, to help things fit... it just kind of falls apart.

Cog Days... skirted the line of falling apart; awkward scene changes, technical difficulties (juggling cds... also HARD), and a new emcee who while entertaining didn't quite know the genre well enough to guide us down the back alleys of the a steampunk world.  That being said, it had a lot of potential... it just needed a week of dress/tech rehearsals.

I feel so guilty saying this because I can't tell you how many times I have put on shows without enough rehearsal, and I work with actors who volunteer there time!  It is exspensive to pay artist rehearsal time.  It is expensive to rent rehearsal space.  It is expensive to hire a sound egineer to design your run list.  It is a damn shame that new producers with clever ideas have to settle for unfinished products because they don't have the capital to build something more exceptional.  And often times it boils down to that.  Burlesque artists are broke.

My general feelings expressed, I want to offer a few pieces of constructive criticism to the artists I saw last night.  Take these with a grain of salt, and know that I truly want you to excel.

  1. The Guitarist of Deseo Carmin... chill dude! Getting angry at the sound tech on stage detracts from the fact that you have some skill with that instrument of yours and your flamenco inspired vocalist is working her little tush off to be heard.  The aucousitics of the Jewelbox are wonky, and there is no real moniter on the stage, deal with it.
  2. Chesty LaRue, sweetie you were funny.  I loved the clowning, and the alcoholic stashes where cleverly placed.  But why are you taking your clothes off?  What is your character's motivation? Strippers take their clothes off because it is expected of them, burlesque artists have to find the reason beyond of the audience desire for T&A.
  3. Scarlet O'Hairdye, I really enjoyed your act.  It was clever, and it fit the theme very well.  The music was a rough choice though.  It looked like there were jokes written into your choreo that were lyric based and the audience couldn't really hear or understand the lyrics.  I've run into this problem before.   There is nothing wrong with the music itself, and in an ideal world it would work beautifully.  Just be aware that the audience will only rarely get lyrics based jokes.  Especially since your vivacious glitter soaked bod is distracting. :-)
  4. Dahlia Ste. Cyr, honey, you have a great idea!  You might want to approach it from a different angle.  Also, have you considered revealing the device itself?  Teasing the audience by slowly revealing an industrial strength vibrator?  It could be really good.  Let's talk sometime!
  5. La Petit Mort, this is the strongest burlesque piece that I've seen you do, and I LOVED the science trick.  Science is sexy!  My one piece of advice is don't stop using those feminine wiles when your lover makes his entrance.  You are standing there in next to nothing... seduce him!  Play up the kink of waiting to pounce and pleasure your lover when they get home from work (or wherever).  Work with that stud of an assistant to add a little duet movement or stage acting to the finish of the act.... (also having him collaps upstage of the table would probably be a good idea... easier to clean up. :-)
  6. Beatrice Belladona, darling, I love you.  I love the contrast of prim and proper mistress and down and dirty Mistress.  I love the contrast of Victorian meets Rammstein (is that right?).  I just want to pass on a note that directors have given me for years... stillness can be powerful.  You have very clear movements in your reveals, and a lot of strength, but the constant back and forth lessens your power.  Use that imperious statuesque majesty that you generate and really dominate the audience.
  7. Violet DeVille, I loved your act.  You make use of the most graceful parts of your range of movement.  You know your body and you use it well.  You are clever (the gear wheel pasties... BRILLIANT), and are a natural performer.  Also, having danced the automaton before, waiting for music to start can be excruciating and you handled it like a pro.  That's all. 
And with those pretentious two-cents comements, I am all but through with this article.  One parting remark however.  Burlesque is entering the mainstream theatrical world.  It is reaching a broader audience base, and as such we will have to clean up our acts a little to keep those audience members coming back.  Yes T&A are awesome, but we have to give them more than that, we don't have to give them high art, (most of them don't want high art) but we have to start offering more polished pieces.

If any of this is helpful use it.  If it isn't then ignore it.  In either case know that I love you all.

~ Fosse Jack

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Gorejess Mimi Montgomery Presents: A Celebration of Pride

This evening I had the opportunity to guest on a show produced by The Gorejess Mimi Montgomery, featuring her Gorejess Gals at The Syndicate (formerly Vela) downtown.  The performers; Cherry "Killer" Tomatoes, Pixie Parcelle, Flirty Sanchez and Flora Burns brought a mix of performance concepts and styles, but each one focused on an aspect of Pride; self pride, geek pride, pride in ones appearance, and of course gay pride.

The evening began with a piece by Cherry "Killer" Tomatoes.  Cherry's performance as a Bible-thumping, sign toting, closested lesbian who finds self acceptance and a new take on life was an upbeat and comedic first act.  Cherry's use of the picketing signs as fans was innovative and fun.  The one thing I would recommend is that during the opening number/introductions, she appeared in only half of her costume.  Having already given away part of the prize, the reveal was less powerful. Maybe add a robe or overcoat to the costume?  Just a thought.  Cherry would return at the end of the show with a classic balloon number.  These acts are hard to sell because the concept behind the act is not one many people get today.  Cherry did very well by emphasizing the pleasure and enjoyment she got out of popping the balloons or better yet having some one else pop them.

The pocket sized performer Pixie Parcelle performed a number as a geeky science girl, who through the use of a chemical cocktail finds the courage to let go and become the woman she longs to be.  Pixie's physical performance was beautifully awkward, and her facial expressions priceless.  I want to see this number again, as I see a lot of potential in it.  Unfortunately I think it suffered from the rather small space, for even though Pixie is pocket sized herself, she has a LOT of energy and would benefit from a slightly bigger playing field.

The Gorejess Mimi Montgomery would offer up her own piece of pride, and that is pride in a job well done and in making a difference going from housewife to empowered WWII riveter.  I have seen several Rosie themed acts, and each in its way has been good.  I particularly liked that Mimi explored the psychology of the "woman at home" and the "woman at work".  We all want to make a difference, and feeling that we actually can and do leaves us stronger for it.  Mimi would also emcee the show, exuding a bubbly charisma and light hearted sex appeal.  As a host, Mimi played well with the audience.  She was not too easily distracted but not so focused on the next thing in the lineup that she couldn't banter a little.  From experience I can tell you that it is a difficult balancing act, and I am happy to say she did it well.

Flora Burns, provided an abosolutely fantastic piece to Bannana Phone.  I had never heard the song before, but now I want to look it up.  With corded telephone (that she later peels) and a dress that came undone in a similair manner, Flora was funny, sexy, and she rocked this neo-take on the classic housewife act.  I especially liked her pasties which used telephone cord instead of tassles... and she still spun them rather deftly.  Brava!

The final performer of the evening was Flirty Sanchez.  Like most of the ladies tonight, I had not had the opportunity to see Flirty perform before this show.  I want to see her again.  Her first act was a lovely classic piece, a strip tease out of an evening gown, that had a final twist when she first removed the false breasts from her bra and second revealed a hidden package in her underwear.  I thought it interesting that she did not go down to pasties for this one but it made sense when I realized she was playing a man, playing a woman.  Very Victor/Victoria.  Her second number was another gender bender.  Entering stage as a Spanish matador, Flirty reveals that she is not the man she appears to be.  Removing facial hair, false 'junk' and adding earring and lipstick, she unveiled her feminity.  The crown of this number however was the unbinding of her breasts.  Wrapped tight, and in many layers, Flirty shows the audience just what a woman once had to do be accepted in a male dominate world.  The rhinestone nipple pasties where a nice touch, though it was the thought "behind the pasties" that I was most impressed with.

Over all the Gorejess Gals provided a nice variety of acts, and the audience seemed very well pleased.  I was honored to be able to perform with these talented young ladies, and would be happy to attend another of their shows either on stage or in the audience. Their next show July 1st will have a USA theme and I am curious to see what these clever ladies come up with for that show.

Fosse Jack