I was nervous going to Boston – and the nervousness grew. I have performed at several festivals — and, while the festival atmosphere and the excellent caliber of performers at said festivals certainly can increase the ‘nerve factor,” this was the worst. I was excited – truly! I had been accepted back at The Great Burlesque Exposition (GBE) to perform a solo – I won most humorous there in 2014, which meant I got to perform in the showcase and judge the competition in 2015. This year I was going back – performing a solo, performing with my cancan group The Velvettes, and performing with the Flaunt Follies out of Denver (led by the fabulous Chakra Tease) who needed an extra performer. Wow! So much performing!
And I love the GBE. They have an array of classes, everything is self-contained at the hotel, I like Boston (although I rarely make it out of the building after the first day), the organizers are great, the classes are interesting and diverse, and the people are really nice and honestly caring. Oh – and the shopping… So, win win win! And I was rooming with the fabulous CoCo Jewelle (best roomie ever… Except for my husband…).
So, why was I nervous? Well, normally at festivals I am a goof. Festival numbers I have performed so far include Shaving, Crazy Housewife, Danse Macabre, and my Cat Showgirl act. All of these numbers are on the funny or “out there” perspective. GBE is the first time I submitted a classic burlesque act to a festival. And I got accepted. And classic burlesque makes me more nervous anyway because I am so afraid I am…. Boring. So – big nervous. Besides, if I am doing a silly or dramatic act and something goes wrong – what do I do? Make it sillier or even more crazy dramatic. When something goes wrong in a classic number you can’t really make it MORE classic. (Sigh…)
So, the things that kept me sane were crazy busy things. Taking classes, moderating on a couple of panels, practicing with my groups, feeding my face… I took an awesome master class from reigning King of Burlesque Matt Finish where he kicked my butt in shape, or at least tried to. I managed all the crunches and leg lifts, but did like 6 push-ups compared to his 100 or so. It was an awesome class, though, once I got over the inferiority of my arms and pecs. Oh and there was more stuff I did- like practicing standing on a cushy hotel chair because I stand on a chair in my act in heels. Except these hotel chairs are really really cushy. Oh, and then tech rehearsal, and hair, and warming up and stretching because the Flaunt Follies number was the same night as my solo and we did a Vegas style kick line. Wheee! All the things.
So, with all the numbers in the show, and two large sets with a whole intermission and everything, I found out I had four (4) numbers to change between the Flaunt Follies kick line number and my hella complicated solo outfit. (Eep!). More to be nervous about…
Before the Saturday night show started, the delightful and energetic Private Tails made a pep talk/speech and I got even more nervous. I did not cry (not after all that work on the makeup) but my eyes got really wet. I got lots of hugs from the performers, which helped. Love me some hugs!
So, had a blast performing with the Flaunt Follies and then as I am walking back to the dressing room through the hotel passageway maze I start stripping off the rest of my costume. Four of my cancan ladies came back stage and pit-crewed me. We got me stripped and dressed in just over two numbers so I even had time to breathe and have a little water before heading back on stage.
Getting ready to go on stage and the MC Scratch mentions I won most humorous – I think, bad move because now they will want something funny. (Argghhhh!). But I go out on stage, do my thing. It feels good – not perfect, but good and I make audience eye contact and pour myself out into the audience. (Figuratively, not literally.) Okay -! Nothing went wrong! I survived! Whew!
Time to put on clothes for curtain call so I am in the green room when Matt Finish comes back to get ready for his end-of-show number. He tells me (so sweet of him) that I did a great job and should be proud of myself. (Thank you Matt Finish!!). I watch the last of the show and head back for curtain call feeling a little shaky but proud that I got through my first classic number at a festival without being a total fuck up! And Matt Finish said I did a good job! (Yay me!)
We are called out on stage in performance order, but the MC skips my name and has to back track to introduce me with the stage crew (and my cancan ladies) insistently yelling my name. “Was I that forgettable?” I think to myself.
All onstage for what seems like forever as Scratch (the MC, rememeber) thanks the crew and the this and the that and blah blah. And then the judges come up to give the awards. And I glaze over a bit as they introduce the winners. And then, most classic, blah blah blah “and she wore my favorite colors of red and black,” and I think “I wore red and black.” And then my name. Me – most classic. Wow! Flying in the fucking air excited. And my ladies there to be excited with me! Yiiiiiiiii! Jumping up and down happy. Literally. Many hugs, pictures, talking, stuff, the ladies help me carry my stuff upstairs, plans to go to the pool party. “Did you post it on Facebook yet?” “I haven’t even told Mr. Velvet.” So, I put the trophy on the bed, take a picture, and hit send to the Mr. No words, just the photo. And then I post it on Facebook.
Pool party, dancing, food, more hugs, congrats to the other winners. And then 2:30am and bedtime. My body is exhausted but my brain will not shut off. The two pieces of music I performed to that night keep playing through my head. At one point the cancan starts playing in my head and I think “Well, I am performing that Sunday night so at least THAT is helpful.” Finally, at one point my brain started going over every detail of everything that went wrong in my solo. My brain is telling me things like, “This took too long, You should have made more eye contact here, the boa wasn’t managed well there,” blah blah blah. And I had to tell myself “Stop it! You won! How bad could it have possibly been?” Sometimes the brain is NOT your friend.
So tired on Sunday, but breakfast (so important) and classes and shopping (I bought two amazing corsets.) Had a lovely dinner with The Velvettes before performing (we were the closing number for the Festival!). So proud of my group – the dancers all did a great job and we got so many compliments. Home Monday, travel, unpacking, laundry, all the mundane things. But then I got a little sparkle back with rehearsal for the opening skit for the big February Hubba Hubba Review (I got to get hit by a “car” and do a pratfall off the stage.) Then I headed to teaching at my burlesque class and they had been Facebook stalking me and my weekend! (More sparkle moments!)
It was good to get home after my trip and be with Mr. Velvet and get back to rehearsal on Hotel Burlesque (we open March 4.). But the glitter high has worn off and I am trying hard not to crash and burn.
The good news is: well, there is so much! I won most classic – that area of burlesque which I doubt myself the most. Well, maybe the most except the singing… :). I’ll work on that too… And it was an awesome amazing weekend and I will never lose that. And I get to go back next year and perform and judge. And I learned stuff, made new friends and became closer to friends I already had. All fucking amazing. But for me, it is something I can come back to – the win, the triumph, and the love and support of my fellow burlesque performers – when I am feeling less than special, less than good, less than those around me. Like many performers, I can vacillate between pride and shame, so now I have a little bit bigger kernel to brighten myself in those moments when I need a boost. Mr. Velvet asked me “Do you need an award to be happy?” I replied, “No, but it sure doesn’t hurt.” But what I do really need to be happy is the love and support of those around me – from Mr. Velvet, to my pit-crew cancan ladies, to my friends, fellow performers, and colleagues on the stage and behind the scenes. I couldn’t be what I am or who I am without all of the people in my life who love me, support me, challenge me, and inspire me. Thanks to all of you!!