Saturday, August 24, 2013

Maus box

I've been reading some articles lately about shitty burlesque, and class wars in burlesque, and what you should be doing in burlesque. I'll be honest, I couldn't get through the entire article about class wars in burlesque. I have a very short internet attention span. These articles have got me thinking. Yikes! I should be gluing rhinestones to things, not thinking! But here I am, thinking. These articles say so many things. Don't work out your body image issues on stage. Work it out onstage! That's what burlesque is for! You don't need to be trained in dance or drama to be on stage. You absolutely must be trained in dance or drama to be onstage. It leaves me wondering what to think. When I get down to the meat and potatoes of it, I just want to be entertained. I mean, really. I've been saying this a lot in the last few days. It's burlesque, nobody is gonna die. I don't mean to dismiss anyone's feelings about burlesque or their performances. But why did we get into this in the first place? And why do people pay to see the shows? I don't care if you are working out your body issues on stage, or you've never danced a day in your life. ENTERTAIN ME. Connect with me. Show me that you care about me, the audience member, because ultimately I'm selfish and I want you to perform for me, not for yourself. Even if you are, which I am, when I'm performing. But a big part of my performances are connecting with the audience. I hope, I've never been in the audience while I'm performing. Heh. While I'm on this thought train, lets talk about body issues. Just a little. I only have a little something to say about it. We all see these memes on Facebook about how much you should like thick women, or curvy women, and we see these photos of women who are not the "norm." They are basically the same picture. Just larger or smaller. Big hips, small waists, big boobs. Of COURSE we love women who look like that. Why can't we post the pictures of women with small boobs, small waists and big hips? Or women with big boobs, no waists and stomachs that aren't flat? To me, these photos are saying love your hourglass figure! That's ok! It doesn't matter how big your hourglass figure is, as long as it's hourglass. I also recently saw that plus size pin up thing that was going around. Did anyone else notice that almost none of those photos were in an actual pin up pose? The model was posed in funny ways, like chasing chickens, or fishing, or chasing her papers that had blown away in the wind, making her look like she was stupid. It's ok to be fat, as long as you're funny. I'm not overweight, and I'm also sensitive, so I probably have no right to talk about this. (Actually, according to the medical definition of obesity, I am overweight. So there.) So I'm just saying, go ahead, work out your body issues onstage. Start doing burlesque despite the fact that you've never taken a dance or drama class in your life. Just entertain me. That's all I want. If you feel differently than me, that's great. One of the beautiful things about the human race is we all feel differently about things. Your opinion is correct, but so is mine. I love you all no matter what! So that's that, I'll step off my Maus box and get back to gluing rhinestones on things. Love and Cheese Danger Maus

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Yes, there is burlesque in Alaska. Along with most other things. Not ALL other things. Just like those other things, burlesque is more difficult in Alaska. I wrote about this in a previous post, that everything we are today, we've earned. We pretty much taught ourselves everything we know. When we started in 2005, we tried searching for burlesque on the internet, and we came up with some scanned newspaper articles and one poster for Tease-O-Rama. We also had some old Betty Page and Tempest Storm VHS videos. So we made it up as we went along. And it was HARD! It took me awhile to realize that underwear isn't a costume. (GASP!) Unfortunately, to get the stuff I wanted to put on a costume, I had to look at our very limited craft and fabric stores and look online. We all know that online shopping, while fun, isn't the best way to buy fringe. Sometimes it's the cheap stuff that wrinkles easily and doesn't move as well, and other times it's the good stuff. Sometimes you order it from one place and it's great, so you buy it again and it's not. Or different colors are different weights. And to add insult to injury, you have to pay double to get it up here, because it's not in the continental US. Or they won't even ship it up here, which you don't find out until you have it all in the cart to check out, and after you put in your shipping address it says the company doesn't ship to AK. Hawaii, are you feelin' me? However, in Hawaii, you don't have to keep your snow boots in the car so you don't break your ass by walking on ice in your heels. Canada, are you feelin' me? So when you see our costumes, know that not only have we worked long and hard to sew them, but we have worked long and hard to find the supplies. Add that to rehearsal time, and you've got yourself a full time job. Not only do we work hard to find costuming supplies, we have worked hard to get ourselves out of the state to experience what burlesque is like out there. It costs a good $500 to do that, but it's worth it. I wish we could host more out of town performers, but when people see the prices of plane tickets, it's pretty daunting. But it's worth it. Don't mind my bitching. Living in Alaska is a choice I made and intend to stick with. Along with the difficulties, there are many more good things that balance it out. Like no traffic. I can drive 20 minutes in any direction, park the car and go for a walk completely alone. If I go out on a weekday, I can successfully not have to talk to anyone. I look out my bedroom window and see only trees, not neighbors or cars, and I live in the middle of Anchorage. I get 19 hours of light during the summer and 19 hours of darkness in winter. I love both. I can drive 2 hours and get world class skiing. I get to perform in front of some of the most wonderful and appreciative audiences. Not only do we not have mainstream craft/fabric stores, we also don't get mainstream entertainment. That being said, when we do get entertainment, our patrons are incredibly supportive and welcoming! I recently read an article about things to expect at a concert (burlesque show) in Alaska. The beard clubs and the shared marijuana are a given. But everyone is just so excited to be there enjoying themselves, that no matter what everyone has a good time. I love that. So yes, living in Alaska is a choice, but one I will never regret.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Summer comings and goings

Hello all! It's been awhile. Sorry, the Maus has been so busy! First was Sinner Saint Burlesque from Seattle, and WOW, what an amazing, smart, beautiful, wonderful group of people! I hope you all caught the show. In addition, VivaVoom has only just recently returned from The Burlesque Hall of Fame Pageant in Las Vegas. What a whirlwind of love, glitter, and inspiration! I think I speak for all of our troupe members when I say I'm ready to work harder than ever to improve my burlesque performance. I hope you all are watching for it as our season begins in September! For those of you who are unfamiliar with Burlesque Hall of Fame, it started as a collection of stripper memorabilia by Jennie Lee. It was originally called Exotic World, and it was located at an abandoned goat farm in the desert between Las Vegas and Los Angeles. When Jennie died, her friend Dixie Evans took over and she started the Miss Exotic World, now known as the Burlesque Hall of Fame pageant, to draw attention to the museum. The winner is crowned the Reigning Queen of Burlesque. This has grown over the years to become what it is today, one of the largest gatherings in the community of burlesque and one of the best parties I have ever been to. This fantastic weekend supports the Burlesque Hall of Fame Museum, which documents the history of American Burlesque. We took a troupe field trip to the museum, and it was unbelievable. So many amazing women, and men, have come before us to pave the way for us to perform and express ourselves in this way. It's truly mind blowing. One of my favorite things about the weekend, besides the rhinestones, is the community. You all know what happens when a group of women get together. Not here. Every person I met was kind, considerate, supportive and genuine. I'm not sure if this is the type of person burlesque attracts, or if taking your clothes off makes you a nicer person, but I have never felt more loved and supported than when I am with burlesque performers. I love that there is a community out there that has my back. And my panties. The warmth and love I felt was unbelievable. So, after this crazy inspirational love fest, VivaVoom is back to bring this love and inspiration to the masses. I hope when you see any of us perform, you feel this love for yourself. At the core of any of my performances, there is love. Love for my audience, love for my troupe members, love for myself. This feeling of love is my greatest inspiration. Without it, I can't say where I'd be. Until next time, lovers!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

burlesque, inspiration and failure

So, I was told at the last show by a wonderful, beautiful patron that she enjoyed my performances because I seemed to be very well versed in everything I did. If I'm going to bump and grind, I'm going to BUMP AND GRIND. If I'm going to put on a C-3PO mask, I'm going to BE C-3PO. I remember telling her that we don't half ass our shit, because every last member of that audience has paid to get in to see the show, and we are going to put on a SHOW. I don't care if you are center front row or corner last row, you are going to get what you paid for. Yes, I have failed, and performed dances that didn't work. That's part of the learning process. I was told once not to call mistakes mistakes, call them opportunities. Opportunities to learn something. Fortunately, making a burlesque mistake doesn't result in death, so I can make all the mistakes I want. Not that I like it. I'm always frustrated when I feel like I fucked up the dance and I didn't give the audience what they deserved. My main concern is the audience. ALWAYS. Did I screw up my dance so much that the audience feels cheated? I hope not. As we as a troupe have discussed many times, the audience also appreciates when we make a mistake. They love to see that we are human and we also have trouble getting our bras off, or getting our zippers stuck. You know when they screw up their lines on Saturday Night Live? Those moments are always my favorites. You just need to know how to cover for them. Master improv mistake coverer? Master of Improv in general? Strawberry Stems. That woman is a genius! She has so many fantastic tricks up her sleeve, she could entertain just walking on stage not knowing the song, costume, props, stage, anything. Another trick I use is audience reaction. I plan, choreograph, practice a dance, but if the audience responds well to one move more than another, I'll use that one. I use the audience reaction to guide what I do next. I can practice a dance all I want, but sometimes I'll get an idea from audience reaction about what to do next while I'm onstage. I suppose I should stop giving out all my secrets, I like everything to look so seamless! Ha. My favorite trick is to absolutely LOVE the song I'm performing to. Every burlesque performer gets inspiration in different ways. Some from color, some from costuming, nature, other stage performances, dancing, many different things. I'm inspired by music. Most of my dances are created from a song. And every song I've ever performed to is a song that I love to dance to. That way, if I forget every step I've choreographed, I can at least look like I'm having a good time. Because I am. And just watching someone have a really good time, and take off their clothes, is entertaining. I hope! That's all for now, my lovelies! Until next time... Love and cheese Danger Maus

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Yes. There is Burlesque in Alaska. Well, it's actually Brr-Lesque. Hi. I'm Danger Maus with VivaVoom Brr-Lesque. I am an original member and co-producer of VivaVoom Brr-Lesque, along with Lola Pistola. Originally the brain child of Lola Pistola and Cuba Libra, VivaVoom was founded in 2005 one stormy, drunken night. Oh, we thought we were so clever, "inventing" burlesque. Being so isolated from the rest of the world, all interwebs aside, we thought we were the first to do neo-burlesque. HA! Little did we know! However, for us, it was like we were the first to do neo-burlesque. We had no schools. We had no wild ladies that paved the bumpy road before us to teach us all the tricks of bumps and grinds. We had NO burlesque in Alaska. We had some old videos of Tempest Storm and Bettie Page and some music and other inebriates to inspire us. As well as each other. And there was no better inspiration than ourselves, these women, THESE WOMEN, comfortable, beautiful, powerful in their skins.
Myself, I was (still am) a painfully shy 25 year woman who was unsure of my body and uncomfortable with any type of sexuality. What a release burlesque was! I didn't have to be a professional, likeable, quiet, part of the background, perfectly mannered lady. I was Danger Maus (then mouse). I could crawl on the floor, drink, curse, wrestle with an alligator, and be proud of the body that I have and work so hard to keep. And especially not worry about what other people were thinking about me.
So, from the beginning we had nothing. We had no teachers. We had no specialty costuming stores. Why we didn't get on the internet and google "burlesque" is beyond me. Everything we learned, everything we have today is because we EARNED it. We taught ourselves. We hit every bump and figured out how to plow it down or go around it. Want an inspirational woman who knows what she wants and can figure out how to get it? Lola Pistola. She will plow down any obstacle in her way, but leave that obstacle feeling valued, beautiful, and honored to be flattened. Yes, this is the woman who started the troupe. Are we lucky or what? She has taken this town (and yes, it is small, around 300,000 people) and wrung it dry for venues, patrons, the most creative set designers, advertising and poster designers, dancers, and people you could find. Imagine doing this without help? No one to tell you to cut the tags out of your costumes! No one to make your costumes! No one to tell you which venues to work with! She figured it all out.
We've learned a thing or two since the beginning. Find help. It's out there. If you are isolated, it's on the internet. Costuming, books, videos, etc. Look for a legend, there is probably one around you. Find her quickly, you don't want to run out of time. If you can attend a festival or convention. They are worth every penny. We've also hosted a few out of town troupes and dancers, and they have taught us a lot. I am incredibly lucky to have fallen into one of the most wonderful, supportive, sparkly communities I could imagine.
Until next time...
Danger Maus