Tuesday, 16 March 2010

The Gig and The Wig

This week has been taken up with a lot of boring vanilla-life day job tedium, but inbetween the drudge have been two rather pleasant interludes.

First and foremost I performed at Hull's Ringside Review on Saturday night. This was a challenge for me in more ways than I expected! The first big hurdle was getting there - it was my first time driving to a whole other city and my first proper motorway drive (had to go on a tiny bit of motorway when I picked up my car but my Dad supervised me). It was an exhilerating experience (if a little terrifying at times) but I made it there in one piece without incident and even managed to drive back the same night (on empty roads as it was after midnight - bliss!). I made a couple of peppy 80s CDs to keep me alert, energetic and on the ball and it really felt like a bit of an adventure! Definately a hundred times less stressful than taking the coach or train - especially with my huge suitcase!

The second, more unexpected challenge was of a more theatrical nature. I arrived with my music on CD and a spare copy just incase but for some reason the venue's CD player would not accept either of the CDs I had for my Strongwoman act. My Octopus CD played just fine but the others: No way Jose! Anna (Fox - promotor of the night) tried to help me source another copy of my track but it's a fairly unusual one - it's an instrumental recording of "Don't Dilly Dally on the Way" so it was nothing doing. Cut to me sitting in my car rifling through my CD collection looking for something of a similar mood to perform to!

I eventually came up with a nice Charleston with lots of brass. Not a million miles away from my original choice in mood. Unfortunately, by this point the audience were already in and seated so there was no time to try a run through. All I could do was wing it! In the car when I sat and listened I realised that the new track was a little longer than my original choice so I made a mental note to draw the act out a little and also asked Anna to fade the track out if I finished noticeably early. However, when it was time to perform, finishing too early was not a problem. I spent so long hamming it up to fill the extra music that I ended up with the music ending just before I was about to do the final reveal - missing the punchline of the act! Luckily the audience and my fellow performers didn't seem to notice or if they did they didn't mind as the reception I got for it was still very positive. Oddly enough though it did make me consider changing tracks permanently as I really enjoyed doing it to my substitute music!

Me Hamming it up as my Strongwoman (for a little too long!) - photo by Kate Rush

Apart from my minor mishap in the first half, the second half went smoothly and I adored meeting the other performers. Billie Rae was graceful and elegant, Pinny Lace was adorable and natural (and I could not believe how good she was for someone so very new!) and Milan was hilarious and had the most amazing comic timing. All the performers were really friendly and the atmosphere backstage was lovely. Anna herself (along with her maid for the night, Kelly and the compere Neil)ran a really professional night and Anna is one of the most warm and huggable people I have met on the circuit. I am dying to work with the other performers and Anna again - they were all so fun, friendly and talented! Also, on a little aside, Pinny Lace went up for the Delicious Burlesque newcomers competition (heat one was Saturday and the final will be at the show in June) and I know I will be rooting for her from the audience!

The other exciting development has been finally seeing the fruits of my wiggy labours. I received my wigs two weeks ago and since then I have been beavering away with my tailcomb and a can of Tresseme hoping to realise my wig-dreams.

Me in my Jackalope wig - apologies for the lack of makeup and crappy phone photo!

I have not done much in the way of wig styling before – I made an updo hairpiece out of a pony tail one that had got a bit ratty and I put a simple roll into my Octopus wig but I had not attempted to do anything more complicated than that before. However, I have been researching wig styling for months and months – swotting up on tips and technique until I could get my hands on a wig to try it out on.

The style I chose for my Jackalope wig is quite a simple one (especially compared to some of the elaborate, structural styles I have seen people working on on the Cosplay forum) great for a beginner. As it is backcombed and boofy there is less need for precision and accuracy – the messiness of it is pretty forgiving. As a first attempt at proper wig styling I am pretty pleased with it!

If I had to make an estimate I would say I probably spent more than 10 hours backcombing this wig, but what a result! It’s absolutely huge! I had (originally, almost a year ago) wanted to buy a drag queen wig from somewhere like Empress Bianca or Vegas Girl Wigs but I was put off by how expensive they were. Now, having styled my own I can see why the drag wigs cost what they do; it takes a lot of styling time to get a boof that big!

I still have a little to do to the wig, I need to sew in my antlers and rabbit ears (once they are finished) and I want to dress the wig a little more with pine cones, teasels, bulrushes or other similar plant matter. But I will post up another pic when it is done.

At some point I thought about doing a step by step photo blog of how I styled the wig (wig styling resources are few and far between and I thought people might be interested in the process I used to do mine) but as I took the photos on my phone it’s a pain in the bum to upload them so it might have to wait until I have a quiet afternoon with a bit of free time to do it.

Next on the Jackalope list is to carry on felting for my skirt (this is probably going to be the most time consuming part of the costuming process) and to start work customising my bra. Hopefully I will have more to show in a couple of weeks!

‘Til next time

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