Sunday, 27 October 2013

Gilding the Lili

I am absolutely covered in bruises this week! Sparkly showgirl, magic rehearsal, ice-skating bruises admittedly, but bruises nonetheless!


I had a week off from 'real life' work this week, ostensibly to have a bit of a break, yet I ended up with more to do than I would have done if I'd have stayed on! But it has been fabulous fun, so I'm not complaining at all!

Skates on!

On Monday and Tuesday I took myself off to the ice-rink for Burlesque On Ice rehearsals. And, not to get ahead of myself or anything, but I think I'm *finally* starting to get the hang of this ice-skating malarkey! In the past I've had the issue that, when I look at a move, I know I can do it - my brain goes 'yep, I can totally see how that needs to be done', but my feet go 'nope!' Like my body didn't get the memo from my brain. However, in the last week or so I've started to get my head around some of the moves I was having mental blocks on (i.e. all of them) and work on some new, slightly harder things. Which is all good! Full credit for this definitely goes to Hollie Deller (who is playing the lead in the show!) who doesn't take any crap and just forces me to try things that I think I'd usually try and wiggle out of!

What wasn't so great was me throwing my hip out like an old lady! All the skating is exacerbating old issues I first encountered during college when I was dancing all-day, every-day, but thanks to having these things happen before I know what to do to try and make sure it doesn't happen again! Fingers Crossed!

Monday evening was an event I had been looking forward to for a while - a Cabaratiparti!! In honour of the unveiling of the Cabarevolution video, that I blogged about a few weeks ago, the organisers of the London Cabaret Festival hauled half of the performers in London to Proud Cabaret for a party! And it was wonderful!


On Tuesday evening I was in rehearsals for the amazing Simon Drake's House of Magic! I'm making my debut in this incredible show on the 2nd November and although my role is quite small it's insanely physical and takes split-second timing to get right. I felt like I'd been put through a Navy Seals bootcamp on Wednesday morning!
I'm so excited to be in this show - I have always been fascinated by magic and illusion and to be a part of such a renowned show is terrifying and wonderful at the same time!

So excited for this show!

Wednesday was a day of tending to my injuries and working on two new acts - one that I have the music and choreography for and just need to get the costume finished, and another that I have a complete costume for and no idea for music or movement!
My wonderful boy bought me a bunch of roses to help me recover from my bruises; roses are my favourite flower and the birth flower for June, which is nice! I also got new slippers! I know that's not really blog-worthy but I love them and it's my blog so deal with it.
I mentioned last week that I had signed up for NaNoWriMo and I got to work on the story planning and structure, ready to begin in earnest on the 1st November! I have the story and development all set out now, and a chapter plan as well so I'm excited to begin writing!

Roses! ** Sleepy Cat

NaNoWriMo ** Leopard PJ's and Slippers!

On Thursday, after a morning skating session, I headed off to the beautiful city of Canterbury for The Gilded Lili in the gorgeous Speigeltent at the Canterbury Festival. I did Lili's show at the Milton Keynes Festival last year and it's always a fabulous night. We were in a gorgeous venue and an amazing show - created, curated and hosted by the wonderful Lili La Scala the line-up was incredible, featuring The Boy With Tape On His Face, Mat Ricardo, Abi Collins, Ash Frith and Chantilly Lace. Just lovely! Apart from me having a little bit of a brain fart regarding my act and not even realising I hadn't finished it properly until I had left the stage! What is wrong with me?! Must be getting old :P

Gorgeous Speigeltent at Canterbury Festival

Two Mirror Pictures! With Ash Frith, Mat Ricardo, Lili La Scala, The Boy With Tape On His Face, Chantilly Lace and Abi Collins!

I don't know why it amused me that hotels *still* put bibles in the bedside tables.

I stayed over in Canterbury on Thursday night in a lovely little hotel and, after a *huge* breakfast headed back to London for an exciting interview at lunchtime. I spent the afternoon on the ice, trying to avoid kids on half-term and kamikaze hockey skaters - seriously I hate those guys.

Quote from Kristi Yamaguchi

Friday and Saturday I was back at Proud Cabaret for a lovely couple of shows with a whole lot of the usual Proud suspects (literally, as Friday night is Murder Mystery night!) It was a fabulous way to round off a stellar week!

The Silencing of Miss Scarlet

Friday Mirror Pictures! Mat wants to be the centre of attention! ** With Taz Zebrowski, Mat Ricardo, Beau Rocks, Teddy Boylesque and Jolie Papillon!

Saturday Mirror Picture! With Dee Riley, Helen Orford, Lili La Scala, Taz Zebrowski and Jolie Papillon!

Saturday, 19 October 2013

What Does A Showgirl Do On A Week Off?

What does a showgirl do on a week off?

This week I have had a much needed week off and it's been blissful! I went out with some friends (and suffered from one of *the* worst hangovers I've ever had!), caught up on some admin, worked on new acts and projects and generally chilled out! Lovely!

I'm excited to announce I'll be joining the cast of 'Chrystal Cabaret' next month with the gorgeous Chrys Columbine - and I get to perform in the historic Matcham Rooms at the Hippodrome Casino! I'm working on a kinkier version of one of my acts for the show, so if you fancy coming to check it out, alongside a stellar cast, tickets can be found *here*

I've also been skating almost every day; even though Burlesque On Ice isn't until February, I know it's going to be here sooner than anyone expects and the show will sneak up and take us all by surprise!

Finally: I signed up for a challenge - NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month! The aim is to write 50,000 words, i.e. a short novel, in the month of November. I don't know whether I'll find the time, to be honest, and I only have the barest bones of an outline at the moment, but I have another week or so to work on synopsis and storyline before the writing challenge begins on the 1st November - wish me luck!

Here are some snapshots that pretty much sum up my week - in the absence of a *real* blog...



Costuming, Skating and Cats - welcome to my life off stage!

Friday, 11 October 2013

A Weighty Issue

This week I encountered a situation that has a) taken me by surprise and b) never happened to me in over six years of performing burlesque and cabaret.

I was told that in order to continue performing at a venue I needed to loose weight.

I have been working there regularly for a while and always received excellent feedback from customers, staff and fellow performers. However it seems to be that on this one particular occasion a manager decided I was too fat and asked the poor show booker to call me and tell me I needed to drop some weight in order to continue working there. I can only imagine how she must have felt before delivering the news!

Apparently he had been watching the show with some of his friends and they thought I needed to loose a few pounds. I was also told that there had been comments from some of the audience members as well.

Below are some quotes from feedback on the venue page on various review websites, pertaining to nights I know I was performing:

"The burlesque girl had an amazing voice and only did one burlesque song where we got what we could consider entertainment. I truly thought she was wasted in that place. She looked the part and put her heart into it but I think she was restricted to what she was able to do."

"...a delightful solo singer/dancer."

"...the show was great (more cabaret than burlesque) and probably one of the better shows I've seen."

"We loved the burlesque dancer, she was so fabulously sexy and very playful with the audience, she had everyone smiling."

Now, given the propensity of the internet to go overboard on bitchiness when protected by anonymity, this does not seem, to me, to reflect the opinion that audience members think I am overweight; more the opinion of one man and his mates.

I am not. I am a size 8 to 10 - with perhaps a little extra junk in my trunk than a commercial size ten model.

I admit this next part is going to sound a little 'girl-crazy': I often get audience members, after a show, telling how nice it is to see a 'real' woman on stage, or saying how I make them feel good because I'm not a skinny minnie. Things like that. I have issues with those statements on many levels (because I *am* girl-crazy!) but what they are basically saying is that it's nice to see that a woman doesn't have to conform to a certain look, weight or body shape in order to be fabulous, sexy and an entertaining performer.

And that's one of the many problems I have with this whole thing: I have never, ever been told that I need to loose weight in order to perform at a venue or show. I am good at my job and my lack of commercially aesthetic perfection has never been an issue. I am hired because of my acts, my performance standard and my work ethic; not because of how I do or do not look.

I sent a very polite, very reasonable (under the circumstances) email back, explaining that I was no longer prepared to work at the venue. I refuse to work for someone who has such a misogynistic viewpoint and would not feel comfortable performing there any more.

Also: how would they propose to police it? Are they going to weigh all their performers and not hire those who do not fall within certain, pre-defined limits? Are measurements going to have be sent with CV's with weekly sessions with a tape measure to check each girl doesn't creep over a set waist to hip ratio?! What the hell? 

Admittedly, performing burlesque, I realise I invite a certain amount of critique. Performing to audiences raised on a diet of airbrushed page three girls or waif-like catwalk models, anything deviating from this supposed ideal is going to get a raised eyebrow or two. However I am healthy, I am fit, and I know my body and its limitations. 

Coming from a dance background I have heard horror stories of weigh-ins at auditions (even auditions for colleges and schools), of students being told to loose weight throughout their time training, of dancers not being hired because their body shape is not suitable for a particular job. And obviously in the modelling world this kind of discrimination is also rife. However I am happy to say I have never before encountered any of this sort of thing: I come from a very supportive family and went to a wonderful college where the focus was on training each student to be the best they can be, not on forcing them to fit into an identikit mould. I am, and always will be grateful for this.

It has taken me a long, long time to become comfortable with my body shape and natural size. Throughout my late teens and early twenties I struggled with an eating disorder and I have tipped the scales at both ends of the spectrum. I have dieted off and on and my weight fluctuates on an almost daily basis. Now, if I decide to diet it's usually based on how my costumes feel - I don't own scales and refuse to weigh myself - and if they're getting a little snug I loose a little weight. Purely because I need my costumes in order to do my job; if they don't fit I can't afford to buy new ones!!

If I was a newbie, or less mentally strong than I am, or even still in the throws of disordered eating, this could have potentially been devastating. As it is, I got angry, got a bit ranty and wrote this blog.

Burlesque is, or should be, first and foremost about entertainment. If a performer is entertaining I'm usually not looking at whether or not they have a twenty-six inch waist, I'm enjoying their act. There are so many burlesque artists who do not have a so-called 'perfect' body, but that doesn't detract from the impact of their performances. Burlesque embraces all shapes and sizes and celebrates femininity in all its forms - it is through burlesque that I have learned to, if not love, at least appreciate my body (cheesy but true!) and I will never, ever allow someone to make me feel less than wonderful about myself.

Monday, 7 October 2013

I'm Cabaret...

It's been a busy couple of weeks here at Casa Mia! I wasn't very well last week, hence the lack of blog however there is no rest for the wicked and I've been back on it with a whole host of exciting activities and projects...

First off, I was visited by the gorgeous Elle Amour; one of my best burlesque friends, who is now a momma! I've not seen her for an age and it was lovely to have her and beautiful baby over to stay.

Elle Amour and baby

Last Christmas I bought Taz a racing day experience and he finally got around to booking it so I spent a windy morning watching him tear super-cars around a race-track!

Lydden Hill

I followed this by several shows at beautiful Privee in Knightsbridge and the glorious Proud Cabaret with a whole host of Cabarati...

Unimpressed Mirror Picture! With Missy Fatale, Joe Morose, Betsy Rose, Taz Zebrowski and a photobomb by Abi Collins!

For Cabarevolution - The London Cabaret Festival

Cabaret Hobo!

While I was feeling under the weather, I took some much needed time to work on a new act: I'm really excited about this one as it's been a long time in the development stages and it'll be finally ready at the end of the month!

Sneak preview of my forthcoming act, 'Psyche'...

Finally; I've been hard at work rehearsing for the 2014 production 'Burlesque On Ice' and tickets are on sale now!! To whet your appetites here are some behind the scenes shots of us getting our showgirl on...!


So all-in-all, a busy couple of weeks!