Monday, October 24, 2011

How to burlesque "connecting with your audience"

Someone once said 'there are two types of performers: presentation and cathartic'. Those performers who see burlesque as a fashion show will fit more in the category of presentation. No matter how the audience reacts, the presentation performer will continue with their act without the ability to interact. And then there are cathartic performers. They will follow a routine but always leave a possibility open for elevating the intensity of their routine by taking advantage of pique audience interaction moments. Over the years I've been involved in so many different club, social events, presentations, conventions, shows, and festivities, ranging in tone from formal, to big band swing, to bawdy burlesque show, to wedding.
When I think about all the performers I've seen, which sometimes come back in bits as memories tend to do, some rise above all the others. The talent rises above, but also so do the cathartic performers. Those who interacted with their audiences and made a special connection somehow stand out.
In burlesque we are entertaining audiences that are much more vocal and interactive than any theater crowd would be. The tradition of burlesque itself extends from vaudeville which was the working man's opera. The manners in a vaudeville hall are by no means that of the opera. "If a local manager decided to fire an act due to audience displeasure or disinterest, a damning report was sent back to the United Booking Office. So it is no exaggeration to say that from Broadway to Boise, audiences had tremendous influence in shaping vaudeville .[]. This is no different today unless in the case where producers are hiring their friends who are 'just doing it for fun' so they work for next to nothing or free just to get stage time, and are valueless as a draw to a show.
In theater and traditional forms of stage, the audience is discouraged from participating in the ongoing show. so that it can be a presentation. Unlike the theater, it is my theory that the most famous burlesque acts through time have all been cathartic. Whether a strip-tease act, a comedy act, or a stand-up comedy monologue, if the audiences element of surprise is tantalized or they are filled with a sense of wonder, the performer is leaving the audience with something they will never forget. It is great cathartic acts such as "Sally Rand", "Lily St. Cyr", "Abbott & Costello", "Gypsy Rose Lee" who pushed boundaries, made audiences expect more from their performer, and raise the bar of the genre that allows any size, age, or talent to get up for five to fifteen minutes and win the audience over, say something, make the audience have an experience. or open the imagination of the audience where it wasn't in existence. In essence, the burlesque performer should never leave the audience out of the choreography in burlesque, it is a long standing tradition to play to the crowd and give them something they never expected to see in their lifetime. It will be remembered. Many have said that burlesque is all about the personality and originality, not about body size or traditional classifications for stage. This is very old, when vaudeville loved it's curvy and bawdy.
Check out a local show and decide for yourself who are cathartic and who are presentation performers. I wish there was an all-incluse list or website to offer you but each one I view omits the other side of town's events, so just google search events in portland oregon, or contact me directly for my top picks of the week, via

Saturday, October 22, 2011

My first Vegas show preview will be of a protest, not a show...

As some of you might have heard there are record numbers participating in a protest movement called Occupy Wall Street. I've written a small synopsis and it is a bit lengthy but pretty interesting, and you should go ahead and read it so you can explain it to your neighbor, because this is going to be very large news.
History of origin is debatable: on September 17, 2011 a group of people responded to a magazine ad put out by Adbusters, a magazine collective made up of people from all walks of life who want to “advance the new social activist movement of the information age... to forge a major shift in the way we live in the 21st century.” Not your average profile bio quote. The collective is based in Vancouver B.C., Canada, according to their website,
The movement and protest started at the doors of Wall Street, but when NYC police pushed the crowd out, they settled in Zuccati Park, known to protesters as Liberty Plaza. On September 26th, the media finally began to arrive at the "Occupy Wall Street" movement, after social networking users flooded the internet with video and photos of police violence toward fed-up but peaceful protesters. The video was shocking. Arrests were made in volume and the conditions didn't sound good, according to reports made by the detainees themselves upon release []. The most up-to-date information anyone can get on what's happening in New York is at , where a daily report is blogged, information is shared, but most importantly, an almost 24/7 live video feed has been going and archived since day one. Let's face it, this ain’t the 60's anymore.
"Occupy Wall Street" has dubbed regular people the 99% who have experienced foreclosures, seen benefits dwindle, had work hours and jobs cut, and suffered massive under- and unemployment. Some of the points people have made is that Wall Street, big business, and corporations have corrupted the financial state of our nation, impoverishing the 99% of workers who made it possible. The New York group, who have been camped out in Liberty Plaza for over ten days, saw the beginning of the end of the media blackout when Michael Moore visited and spoke to everyone directly though the people's mic (amplification by people near repeating to others).Lupe Fisasco, a famous rapper performing at the Palms in Las Vegas, has been a supporter and presence in NYC. Actress Susan Sarandon ( a long-time activist) stopped by, did interviews, and said she was "there to learn" what was going on and show her support. And there have now been several others. The movement is resonating around the nation and around the world--and here, in fabulous Las Vegas.
Occupy Las Vegas, like Occupy Wall Street, is a leaderless movement using a system of general meetings and assemblies. The first meeting was held on Tuesday, September 27th, at UNLV’s Pida Plaza. About 40 people attended, and teams were formed to to take care of the many details involved in planning an event of this sort. About 50 people attended the second meeting, also held at Pida Plaza on September 29th, and teams reported their progress. The next meeting will be held on October 1st at 5:00 PM in the the SEIU Union Hall at 3785 East Sunset Road Las Vegas, NV 89120-6259 (corner of Sandhill). Anyone and everyone is welcome—and needed.
On October 6th, Las Vegans will begin protesting. The Occupy Las Vegas website is, and links to other links to social media are available there. Also on the site, members may vote on whether they would like to imitate the Wall Street camp-out model with an extended occupation of a single site or undertake multiple actions at multiple locations. There are also places to vote on proposed locations for actions and to volunteer for teams.
Follow the live feed and get involved in what's happening, if just for a couple of hours. Each and every one of us has been affected by the greed of the 1%. We are the 99%, and we will not remain silent.
So what happens when a bunch of people get together to protest that maybe never have before or have nothing in common? Find out for yourself. Of course there are several seasoned technical and activist experts lending their support to the group so you're in good hands. But do note, this is a peaceful resistance to occupy our nation in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Details Times Locations
When: Thursday Oct. 6 (a nationally recognized day of rage).
What time: Meet 3pm, March 4pm
What to bring: Wear comfortable shoes, bring water, cameras or cell phone to document. While the marchers haven't decided where to 'permanently occupy' a unanimous decision was made to march. There is a General Assembly that will follow the guidelines of the New York General Assembly who's amazing notes can be read here., for 8pm at the end of the march.
Want to get involved? Just watch what has been going on in New York, here: .
Spread the word with links and tweets
Tell a friend to view the Occupy Las Vegas website
and Twitter: @occupylasvegas where you will find constant updates. The information is being updated by a group of volunteers, and everything is being done by grass roots organizing. (apologies for not putting up the facebook link but it is too difficult for non facebook users to access).
Press and public are requested to attend the March , Oct. 6, 3pm meet, 4pm March!
Banks got bailed out, We got sold out.
See you in front of the Statue of Liberty!
Occupy Las Vegas Live Stream
There is a commitment to filming all activities streaming live via this channel, watch if you are physically unable to attend, and media help is needed to support 24/7 stream just ask for Jose'.
View the Occupy Wall Street live stream channel here
written by Entertainment writer
Frankie Tease 503 560-7427

Dita Von Teese, Strip Strip Hooray touring U.S. July and August 2011

Everyone can agree on one single point of inspiration for the resurgence of Burlesque in America: high profile 'go-to' girl: Dita Von Teese has done charities and galas alike all over the world, bringing the high glamour of vintage mid-century strip-tease burlesque into the spotlight of today. Beginning as a sexy fetish film model, and gaining notoriety when she married and then divorced famed rocker Marilyn MansonDita is now recognizable by her one-word name, after years of groundbreaking as the leading 'Strip Tease' artist of this time.
After fund-raising pin-up campaigns for P.E.T.A., and launching her own fragrance, Dita has a new project and tour she is revealing that is the first of its kind.Though Dita Von Teese is slated to appear September 10th at Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego, it appears a two set show will not be the full variety show that has graced parts of the U.S in July and August 2011, to sold-out crowds.The ultra-glamorous mega sparkly Swarovski crystal-filled night of mind-blowing world-class entertainment that has been known as Strip Strip Hooray has been touring from Los Angeles at the Roxy Theater starting in December of 2010, with stops at the House of Blues in Dallas and Houston, as well as New Orleans. Future dates are not known but stay up-to-date via the official Dita Von Teese website here: 
According to , “Burlesque: Strip Strip Hooray!” is a 90-minute spectacle starring burlesque’s brightest star Dita Von Teese, alongside a brilliant cast of Dita’s favorite burlesque acts. Von Teese is taking this show on the road for the very first time. The International Queen of Burlesque will perform three of her world renowned acts, including her brand new Swarovski Martini Glass show.
Sold out shows were the delight of attendees and we hope there will be more.To wet your whistle, view this photo slideshow of the 'Strip Strip Hooray' Burelsque and Variety Show here hooray-july-shows/ by Kavlin Idora and Josh Brasta. Hopefully we will hear soon if the Strip Strip Hooray Variety Show tour will continue with new dates and venues. 
No one has combined high fashion with burlesque and strip-tease like Dita Von Teese, and though she now resides in France, there have been many stateside appearances throughout 2010. Dita now also has an official Twitter and you can follow her @ditavonteese.

Burlesque Reigning "Queen" of 2011 Miss Indigo Blue - and her Seattle Burlesque Academy in 'Gypsy' country

Seattle has long been a point of interest when it comes to the art form of American burlesque. After all, the Vaudeville to burlesque transition practically took place in Washington with the birth of Gypsy Rose Lee (1911-2011 R.I.P.), who spoke to and teased her fans while she disrobed on stage. The contemporary revival took hold pretty strong in Seattle due to the persistence and excellence of Miss Indigo Blue. As a performer, she includes all types of skills including: world class tasseling, comedy, theatrics, exotic dance and firey choreography. She has performed all over the world, and her bio can be seen on her website for those looking to be truly impressed []. Miss Indigo Blue is also the Executive Director, Co-Curator, and Team Relations Chair of the world annual Seattle festival "Burly Con". This festival is the only one of its kind and brings expertise, training and discussion of all things related to burlesque performance and history to a weekend open-to-the-public event. Burly Con will be from Oct. 20-23 in 2011 and the fourth year's presenters have already been announced. This year is very exciting for the veteran performer and instructor, as she was also just announced as Miss Exotic World 2011-2012, after her award winning performance in Las Vegas at the Miss Exotic World Pageant. This is the highest honor in the world one can currently achieve in Strip Tease and Burlesque performance. Just view one of her videos here (for ages 18+ only please). There are few performers with so many tricks up their proverbial sleeves as Indigo Blue, who is always an audience delight. This self-titled 'Nouveau Burlesque' entertainer is a powerhouse in the Pacific Northwest, the Nation, and the world.
In 2007, she was involved in a documentary on the Academy of Burlesque she runs in Seattle, a release in 2010. Not only does it address the fundamentals of why, how, and who does burlesque, but the film delves deep into the psyche of a performer deeply motivated by personal reasons for performing,or not.The film is truly amazing, and shows just what Indigo has been doing at the Academy for going on eight years. A Wink & A Smile is reviewed and profiled here in an article by Linnea Covington of the NY Times, and more information is available via at : It is most readily available to Netflix viewers on their 'watch instantly' feature or by DVD, and may be purchased on iTunes, available now.
Director Deidra Allen Timmons shows ten students beginning and nine students completing the Academy of burlesque 101 class, and the performance recital that is the finale', I loved this movie. To her credit, the academy has inspired such amazing National burlesque acts such as Waxie Moon and The Shanghai Pearl, who are also instructors. Though many schools are opening regionally and world wide, few besides this and the NY School of Burlesque will have what it takes to produce the likes of talent that the Academy of Burlesque has. 
It's getting time to go 'back to school', so why not make the Academy of Burlesque part of your curriculum? Burlesque and Boylesque are taught in the Burlesque 101 course, and you will be brushing with stardom and seeing what stellar international performers are made of. The next session starts September 19th, and can be registered via the website.
Find all things related to Miss Indigo Blue via her website at
Find everything about the Academy of Burlesqe at this URL

Burlesque film Tournee' to hit DVD soon

'Tournee' or 'On Tour' which was released world wide in 2010 is soon being released on DVD [release date unknown]. This film is heralded by serious burlesque fans all over the world, this time mainly for the massive underground current working burlesque stage stars that are in it. The Director is Mathieu Amalric, and the stars are Miranda Colclasure (Mimi Le Meaux), Suzanne Ramsey (Kitten on the Keys), Dirty Martini (as Linda Marraccini), Julie Atlas Muz (as Julie Ann Muz), Angela de Lorenzo (as Evie Lovelle) to name a few. []
While 2010 was the year of the major mainstream studio release film "Burlesque", Tournee' (also a 2010 release) was a Cannes Film Festival and underground sensation that will be cherished by those in the strip-tease industry and rabid burlesque genre fans world wide. 
The stars who've made it around the U.S. who I have seen personally from this roster include: Dirty Martini at the 'Tease-O-Rama live show tour in the Pacific Northwest, and Kitten on the Keys at the same show in 2009. The performers here are without rivals in the style of dance they perform, and of course like most dance movies it's rumored you'll wish there were more stage performances and less story.'On Tour' was also criticized mildly for its self-indulgent plot focusing on the difficult character of the Director who tours the gang around France against all odds, but to me it sounds pretty realistic.
For fun, here are some of the trailers I found available to view online. 

Burlesque Legend Jo Weldon of New York City

While there is no one expert about Burlesque, Jo Weldon aka 'Jo Boobs' has been a massive contributor as the head mistress of the New York School of Burlesque which reigns as the world's most acknowledged, prolific, and prestigious school of this genre since 2003. Jo states on the school's website that "Classes include movement, history, costuming, makeup, choreography, fitness, theatrical skill building, circus training, and confidence building" [].
Jo has been an intrinsic member of the Miss Exotic World pageant (annually in Las Vegas), as well as running the New York school. This forerunner has an amazing online handbook and a full in-print burlesque handbook available. You can purchase your print copy online via Harper Collins directly, or visit her site for the online edition on the School of Burlesque website. The book's release date was over a year ago, June of 2010, but this is a book that is so fundamental, it will never go out of style. She even includes a forward from Margaret Cho a long standing supporter of burlesque, and amazing quotes from famous people she's performed with. 
The handbook covers topics of all nature that would interest both patrons of the arts, and serious performers of strip-tease and burlesque. As burlesque steps out of the shadow of the past, and and finds it's place in today's society as a a part of the performing arts, women like Jo Weldon have been instrumental in adding grace and splendor to an art form that once enjoyed a very long heyday here in the United States. Visit for everything about the New York School of Burlesque, and all things Jo Weldon.

Portland, Oregon Burlesque Venue List 2011

After three years of producing burlesque shows in various venues and bar rooms here in Portland Oregon, I still have never seen a cohesive unbiased list of venues that encourage and house burlesque.
Here is to you, the 'burlesque show goer'. Save time and save my handy dandy where to see shows list, and pick which is best based upon your party needs. Bachellorette party, date, birthday party, whatever, here is a list to help you sort out the expanding Portland options for burlesque shows. Photos will be added to this article of each venue later, so check back.I have included venues that have hosted shows over a year, or new clubs that have just opened with burlesque on their menu. I have placed the venues producing the most shows with the largest capacity at the top of the list, and those with the longest history are also up top. Sorry if any pertinent venues were omitted from this list. That's easy to fix just email me a note via anytime.

Frankie's Portland, Oregon Burlesque Venue list 

VENUE: Dante's
STREET ADDRESS: 350 W. Burnside
TYPE OF BURLESQUE SHOWS: Classic, Neo, Professional, Live Rock N' Roll Music, Stripper, Go Go, Fire, Themed, Circus, Freakshow, Sideshow, Aerials
TYPE OF AUDIENCE: All, Swingers, Strippers, Locals, Rock fans, Freaks, Tourists, 21+
NOTES: This venue is modern and has had an 11pm Sunday Burlesque show weekly for ten years, and has a pole.

VENUE: Bossanova Ballroom
STREET ADDRESS: 722 E. Burnside
TYPE OF BURLESQUE SHOWS: Classic, Neo, Live Music/ Orchestra, Recital, Vintage, Theatrical, Fire, Aerials
TYPE OF AUDIENCE: All, Straight, Swingers, Theatrical, Vintage, Modern, Trendy, Local, 21+
NOTES: This venue is a historic ballroom with high ceilings and a theatrical stage.

VENUE: Hawthorne Theater Lounge / Hawthorne Theater
STREET ADDRESS: 3862 SE Hawthorne
TYPE OF BURLESQUE SHOWS: Classic, Neo, Debut/Amateur, Straight, Gay, Hip Hop, Alternative
TYPE OF AUDIENCE: All, Straight, Gay, Swingers, Eccentric, Recital, 18+
NOTES: This venue is famous for having housed Burlesque shows in their heyday circa 1950's. It has a lounge and a theater which hold shows.

VENUE: Someday Lounge
TYPE OF SHOWS: Classic, Neo, Professional, Circus, Live Music
TYPE OF AUDIENCE: All, Trendy, Gay, Straight, Tourist. 21+
NOTE: This venue holds approximately 300 people and opened less than ten years ago, has a high ceiling and theatrical stage.
VENUE: Star Theater
TYPE OF AUDIENCE: unknown, 21+
NOTES: This venue is famous for having housed Burlesque in it's heyday circa 1950's, and is just reopening after being remodeled, and the vintage marquee is being preserved.
VENUE: Barracuda 
TYPE OF BURLESQUE SHOWS: Lesbian, Queer, Neo, Hip Hop, Corporate
TYPE OF AUDIENCE: Lesbian, Nightclub, Trendy, Modern, 21+
NOTES: This bar is part of 'Concept Entertainment' a local bar conglomerate.
VENUE: Devil's Point
STREET ADDRESS: 5305 SE Foster Rd.
TYPE OF BURLESQUE SHOWS: Rock N' Roll, Stripper, Neo, Alternative
TYPE OF AUDIENCE: rock music fans, strip club guys, bachelor and bachelorette parties, locals, strippers, 21+
NOTES: This venue is primarily a rock n' roll strip club shares the same owners as  Dante's and Star Theater, and has a pole.
VENUE: Crush
STREET ADDRESS: 1400 SE Morrison
TYPE OF BURLESQUE SHOWS: Classic, Neo, Debut/Amateur, Straight, Gay, Hip Hop, Alternative, Recital, Drag
TYPE OF AUDIENCE: parties, gay, straight, theatrical, local, 21+ after 10pm
NOTE: This is a small supper club and primarily gay cocktail bar with a small room and stage. 
VENUE: Kelly's Olympian
STREET ADDRESS: 426 SW Washington
TYPE OF BURLESQUE SHOWS: Classic, Neo, Debut/Amateur, Straight, Gay, Hip Hop, Alternative, Recital, Drag
TYPE OF AUDIENCE: local, gay, straight, tourist, 21+
NOTE: The first history making show was "Big Top Bottoms Up" i'm proud to say I was its producer, December 2008.
VENUE: Ted's
NOTE: This venue just reopened under the name Ted's previously Berbati's Pan.
VENUE: Tiger Bar
TYPE OF BURLESQUE SHOWS: Rock N' Roll, Neo, Amateur/Recital, 
TYPE OF AUDIENCE: All, Straight, Trendy, 21+
NOTE: This bar is a long room with a small amount of seating so get a seat early. 
This venue list may be the best way to stay abreast on  your Burlesque entertainment choices. Go directly to their website for complete calendar listings and details, and tell a friend about Portland Burlesque shows. 

Jo Boobs Weldon, 'How To' Author, Legendary NY Talent

While there is no one expert about Burlesque, Jo Weldon aka 'Jo Boobs' has been a massive contributor as the head mistress of the New York School of Burlesque which reigns as the world's most acknowledged, prolific, and prestigious school of this genre since 2003. Jo states on the school's website that "Classes include movement, history, costuming, makeup, choreography, fitness, theatrical skill building, circus training, and confidence building" [].
Jo has been an intrinsic member of the Miss Exotic World pageant (annually in Las Vegas), as well as running the New York school. This forerunner has an amazing online handbook and a full in-print burlesque handbook available. You can purchase your print copy online via Harper Collins directly, or visit her site for the online edition on the School of Burlesque website. The book's release date was over a year ago, June of 2010, but this is a book that is so fundamental, it will never go out of style. She even includes a forward from Margaret Cho a long standing supporter of Burlesque, and amazing quotes from famous people she's performed with. 
The handbook covers topics of all nature that would interest both patrons of the arts, and serious performers of strip-tease and burlesque. As burlesque steps out of the shadow of the past, and and finds it's place in today's society as a a part of the performing arts, women like Jo Weldon have been instrumental in adding grace and splendor to an art form that once enjoyed a very long heyday here in the United States. Visit for everything about the New York School of Burlesque, and all things Jo Weldon.

Updated 2013, Read My full interview with Jo Weldon in The Best of Frankie Tease Magazine Vol.2 on iTunes, Amazon, or Nook

Burlesque and the Bijou Gruop of Australia

There is a new confidence in the world of the burlesque revival. The annual Burlesque Hall of Fame which  took place June 2-5th in Las Vegas, and the Miss Exotic World which took place the same weekend in Las Vegas show no signs of slowing down. There are at least four movies that involve burlesque as a topic in post-production or theaters right now, and we can all agree this genre isn't going anywhere. But more than this, the first major-hitting burlesque 'agency' has just expanded from production and booking to instruction. 
The worlds' first Burlesque Entertainment agency, The Bijou Group was formed in 2010 and is growing strong. The agency carries the most highly recognized artists in burlesque entertainment today with the likes of: Catherine D'Lish ( Miss Exotic World '94 and '92 coach to Dita Von Teese ), Dirty Martini (Tournee', Tease-O-Rama, Vogue Curvy) and Roxy D'Lite ( Miss Exotic World 2010 ) to name a few. This power-packed bevy of artists shows the presence of burlesque expanding between Australia, Canada , United States, and Europe. The majority of artists on their roster are Australian but they seem to handle a very robust list of U.S., Canada, and European artists as well
The Bijou Group is based out of Australia, and their website is housed at . Jac Bowie is the Creative Director with co-director Cassandra Atkins. The two are at a veritable center of 'who's who' in the best of current world-wide burlesque entertainers. 
Burlesque sustains its life by existing in world-wide competitions, festivals, and pageants mainly inspired by the revival of the original Burlesque Hall of Fame Museum chronicled in the upcoming release Exotic World and the Burlesque Revival. [ ]. The art, history, and costuming of burlesque has roots in many eras and cultures. It's fitting that the first agency of this sort is not only chalk full of talent that has connections to the real revival that is in progress world-wide since the year 2000, it is also international just as burlesque has always been.
Burlesque is 'here to stay'. The glamorous splendor and beauty on stage of the genre that loves to do a satire on life is back. Ironically this sense of security that the revival is here to stay is taking place the very year that we have lost one of the most dedicated, beloved, and life-long  contributors to the craft: Gypsy Rose Lee 1911-2011. R.I.P. Gypsy.

How to burlesque "toxic talc" powder

I was wondering what every day beauty tip I could write about for the upcoming July fourth holiday weekend, and then I remembered the old argument I have about oils versus talcs. Little did I know with a small amount of research that it would turn up kind of an important fashion decision. Let me explain.
When i lived in Pasadena and worked at a horse ranch in the La Canada hills, it was my first time encountering mountain scorching heat. Being around the horse riders I began using talc powder to keep the moister inside of riding boots to a minimum during major heat waves. We are pretty fortunate to be blessed with moderate weather here in the Pacific Northwest, but a few months out of the year it can get pretty hot. If 2011's July fourth is a scorcher, here is a few beauty tips I recommend for anti-chafing.
Sometimes people think only the heavy-set has to deal with chafing, but that's not necessarily true. The combination of perspiration and rubbing skin can happen in various parts of the body on anyone. Often as children we may have been taught to run for the talc powder. I would like to argue against it here today. I was a major talc user during my time in the Pasadena California area, and when I lived in Arizona. Little did I know that every sprinkle of talc I put on my heels, groin, armpit, and inner thigh could be mixed with asbestos particles. [Double take]. 'What's that you say poisonous particles are uber common in talk powders?' Yes I say, yes.
While considering writing this article on talc versus natural oils (which I will expound upon later here), I did a little bit of online searching to find out what the contents in talc powder are. I haven't used it in years and when I was younger I also rarely read labels. I'm glad I do so now. Well I found a pretty informative article about how talc powder is packaged and processed According to and article by the Cancer Prevention Coalition, .."talc is closely related to the potent carcinogen Asbestos ". Now that is a shock to me. I mean isn't this the same body friendly talc powder we sprinkle on sensitive baby parts? Yes, it is.
For years I have switched to unscented oil from The Body Shop [ Lloyd Center Mall in Portland, Location 939 ]. When it was no longer available I went through a long road of experimenting and came up with actual vegetable oil. I usually have a small travel-size squirt bottle with me for when I do life drawing modeling, am laying out in the sun, am performing burlesque, or am planning on doing any long walk on summer days. Having a tiny bit of oil which is absorbed into the skin eventually, puts on a protective layer, and sooths any area that is threatening irritation like the bikini line where we apply hair removal techniques.
A friend of mine used to tell me he used petrolium jelly to break in real cowboy boots, but we know that petroleum jelly, is completely an oil by product, so why even consider that?
What does this have to do with burlesque? Well models and burlesque dancers definatelely have no luxury of cuts bruises burns of chafing. Taking a preventative approach is the only way to go to keeping your skin the glorious luminous beautiful piece of art that it is.
Vegetable oils are available for a few bucks at your grocery store such as my favorite Fred Meyer 3805 SE Hawthorne here in Portland, and the travel section will have small spray bottles. Imagine that all this time you could have avoided white talc powder sprinkles on your shoes pants or precious favorite clothing item.

Burlesque and International star: The Shanghai Pearl

Shanghai Pearl by POC Photo

One of the most impressive performers I have ever seen once came on stage in a gorilla suit, and high heels (as seen on America's Got Talent). By the time she took that suit off she was in a bikini eating a banana. Who could I be talking about? None other than jet- setting, world class international burlesque instructor, performer, and costume-maker extraordinaire: The Shanghai Pearl. Below is the interview I conducted by chat, long-distance, with this amazing individual, June 27, 2011.

FT: Where are you originally from?
SP: I was born in Taipei, Taiwan.

FT: What year did you come to U.S., was it first Seattle?
SP: I came to this country with my mom when I was three, and grew up in Arizona. I've lived in Seattle for almost nine years now.

FT: What year did you begin performing burlesque , and what or who was your inspiration?
SP: I graduated from Miss Indigo Blue's academy of Burlesque in 2006. Before that I was a painter and theater major so I was always involved with some kind of burlesque although I didn't know it at the time. I am inspired by so many things, super powerful and gorgeous ladies, especially our burlesque grandmothers. Some contemporary performers that inspire me are Catherine D'lish, Miss Indigo Blue, Julie Atlas Muz, World Famous BOB, Tigger, Dirty Martini...really, I am inspired by so many people and and so many things. The range of things that inspire me is really broad, from soda, to art, to a funny color or curve on some object. Often it starts with a weird cartoon or kooky joke in my in my head.

FT: The comedy in your act is always just amazing. So how did you then become a part of the courses taught at Miss Indigo's Academy of Burlesque?
SP: My first year of performing I also started interning for Miss Indigo's School of Burlesque, and one thing led to another. It's the most fulfilling and amazing work- working at that school. I love it.

FT: So when did you first travel to perform in Portland?
SP: A few years ago my first show in Portland was at Dante's with The Can Can Castaways and Armitage Shanks.

FT: What year?
SP: 2007 or 2008

FT: I first met you via Meghan Mayhem in 2009 when you were our star at one of the Tease Time shows I had at Crush. It seems you have been coming a couple times a year since 2007?
SP: Yes

FT: So is this around the same time 2007 that you became an instructor as well?
SP: Or on my way to being one, yes. I interned and assisted for many years before I became a lead instructor.

FT: I hope some of our beginners are reading this. Obviously Miss Indigo has many talents.
SP: She's amazing and reigning queen of burlesque, baby!

FT: How then have you become involved in the Vegas scene with the Burlesque Hall of Fame?
SP: I think my first Burlesque Hall of Fame (BHOF) weekend was 2007 as well. I've been participating in one way or another since then. Whether performing, volunteering, or both.

FT: Since when have you become a full time teacher/ performer of burlesque?
SP: So I've been a burlesque performer for five plus years, instructor for four, and costume designer for 10+ years (five of which has been in burlesque). The first few years I would work day jobs here and there, to help pay for costumes as burlesque is expensive and doesn't pay much. But last year I made a commitment to really focus on my business so far it's working. It's really hard work, but I'm doing it. I was 'full-time' from the very beginning though, when it took over my life, it *really* took over my life.

FT: Were you a prop costumer for the theater then?
SP: I was always a quirky D.I.Y. type. I would make new strange outfits to go to concerts in, that sort of thing.

FT: What era were you making fun stuff in? Was the style vintage?
SP: Early 2000s, maybe the late 90s. They were a little bit vintage, a little bit goth, kind of a little bit of everything, whatever tickled my fancy really. I would troll the thrift stores obsessively, take things apart, and put things together. I am not a trained seamstress, I was and still am very D.I.Y.

FT: We have great shops for that here. We are also lucky you like to perform here!
SP: I love Portland so much.

FT: How much? Why?
SP: Well, my awesome burlesque family down there for one and it's just a rad city! Good food, sweet people, fun shops, it's so great- and the best strip clubs in the world.

FT: How often do you travel now as a full-time Burlesque artist?
SP: I've been traveling at least once a month every month this year so far.
FT: Just like the comedians.

FT:What is the largest place you have ever performed burlesque?
SP: Apparently one of the world's largest stages is in Reno and I just performed there a few months ago for the 'Reno Rockabilly Riot'. But I think that as far as attendance and audience, it was probably at The Orleans for the 'Burlesque Hall of Fame' weekend the year before last, or the Washington Center for the Performing Arts for the 'Sex Workers Art Show' in 2008, there was 600 people there for that, that was pretty big and amazing. It was the first time I got to share the stage with World Famous BOB and Dirty Martini. It was so amazing: the show was sold out and we received a standing ovation.

FT: Wow. Seattle is way ahead of us in Burlesque. This is a point of curiosity for me, how do people find and book you? How does the modern A-level burlesque star do it?
SP: Most of my bookings happen over email. I am also pretty active in the community so I think that is how most people first meet me, in person- at shows, classes, or events. Bookings usually start with an email inquiry or in person. I don't advertise exactly, but I do keep abreast of Facebook and Twitter.

FT: Your performances make fun of sexuality, and seem to poke fun at asian typecasts. How did this start?
SP: Sexuality and Asian stereotypes: How did this start? The second I was born an Asian female. It's unavoidable, we are always exploring our sexuality, our gender, our faces, whether we are doing it consciously or unconsciously, we are doing it, always.

FT: That's deep.
SP: The poking fun was always there as well, for a long time privately and recently publicly, via burlesque.

FT: So you were developing your point of view long before it came to a stage near us?
SP: Yes. Gender, sex, race- all big topics - it needs humor. I think we all are (developing our points of view), wether we know it or not or wether we feel confident or safe enough to share it. We are always developing our opinion of ourselves and each other.

FT: Tell us about making the film documentary "A Wink and a Smile" Was this your first film production? how did you enjoy it?
SP: It was my first documentary with these circumstances.

FT: Were you in other films?
SP: I was more concerned about the students' well-being than the actual filming. I've done a few indie films

FT: Oh what films can we look for?
SP: that's private. 

FT: You're a tease!
SP: In Burlesque I'm in the Waxie Moon documentary as well as Waxie Moon: 'Fallen Jewel' from 'Ouch My Eye Films'. I don't think any of the indie stuff was ever distributed beyond their initial showing.

FT: You guys are doing amazing things about body image and performing as well as teaching stage and costuming, what is your role and what is the most outstanding experience you've had as a teacher so far in the last 4 or so years you've been doing it?
SP: I love teaching. My journey as a teacher with The Academy of Burlesque has been and continues to be an amazing journey. I've learned so much and I feel SO honored to be a part of so many amazing people's journeys in this potent and powerful art form.My role is currently a lead instructor with the school. I also travel widely to perform and teach some of my own curriculum (as well as the Academy's). As far as outstanding experiences...every recital is too amazing for words.

FT: Oh god and the tears right?
SP: It's really something else.

FT: How many original burlesque routines and costumes have you created to date?
SP: Thirty four. I just counted.

SP: I Know, woah.

FT: that's eight a year. And I know your costumes are stellar top notch level. That's incredibly impressive.
SP: Some of the acts are now retired.

FT: So what constitutes retiring an act?
SP: Some of my acts from my early years, I may have gotten tired of them or sold the costumes. Nothing formal.

FT: If there is one more thing I could ask you, it's this... "who belongs in burlesque" in your opinion? Who should be doing this?
SP: I think the great thing about Burlesque is that everyone has a place if they want it. Anyone can do it. Really, honestly, truly. If you have a gender, a sex, if you have something to say about it, get it. That's one of the reasons it's so potent, you make it yours.

FT: You're an inspiration for women and an amazing complex performer. Thank you so much for sitting down to talk with me today .
The Shanghai Pearl is one of the most well-traveled, fore-running performers in this genre we call burlesque. I hope that some of you will now become her fan and be as inspired as I am by her many views and talents. Please check out the following links for all things Shanghai Pearl.

Related Links

Check out the longest running burlesque show in Portland OR. at Dante's via their website 11pm each Sunday, or locally at 350 W. Burnside, Portland OR.