Wednesday, 28 April 2010

The Last Push

Well, it has been a busy couple of weeks and between day job dramas, family commitments and extensive watching of King of the Hill I haven’t found a minute to blog until now.

I do however, have plenty to be cheerful about as I am now approaching the last push on my Jackalope act. When last I wrote I had finally faced my fears about dying my corset. Since then, costuming has come on steadily. I have finished my bra, which turned out to be no mean feat. I wanted to exchange the standard back clasp for a front fastening closure (I probably should have done that before I covered the cups of the bra – just incase I botched it up and put my hard work to waste). I began with this just being fastened by ribbon but I soon realised that my mighty bosom was not going to be contained by something as flimsy as a pretty bow. So I ended up adding a small hook and eye closure to the bra and using the ribbon to hide it. I then covered the back strap and I have to say I am delighted with the results. I am still hoping to add a halter strap to the bra for a little extra support but haven’t yet found any ribbon or other material that would be suitable so I am going to wait and see how that pans out.

My music is also now finished and edited. Music selection for me is always a relatively complex process. Unless the music was the original starting point or inspiration for the act I often find I am choosy to the point of being pedantic. Originally, back many, many months ago I had about a week where all I did in my spare time was listen to and compare potential tracks for this act. I probably listened to a couple of hundred easily (no exaggerating) and made shortlists and pared those lists down and re-listened again. Back in November I finally chose a track which I really liked and another track which I cut into a one minute section to precede it. However, I found that, although I liked the track and the overall mood was appropriate, I just couldn’t make the choreography and narrative fit to it. A couple of months ago I resigned myself to search for another track and perhaps cut down my main track and still have a little of it at the end. I found something that worked really nicely but it fit better at the end of the act, much better than my original selection. So this left me in a position of having a little short intro bit that worked and an end bit that worked but no middle! Finally, about six weeks ago I found the perfect track for the middle part of my act. The music describes the action so perfectly that the choreography for that part of the act has almost written itself as the music holds all the cues. So, after running my final line up past a couple of people whose opinion I value I went ahead and edited the three together. What music did I pick? Well, you’ll have to wait ‘til the act is debuted to find that out but lets just say it has been a labour of love choosing!

As well as getting the work done on my bra, on Saturday I also received my finished antlers from Haus of Emerald (aka my sister). Unlike the last pair (the less said about them the better – I’m going to wait till December and then try to ebay them for Christmas purposes) these are light as a cloud and they look superb. I spent some time on Sunday mounting them into my wig (to my delight I didn’t have to cut the wig after all as they just threaded in the gaps between wefts– one less thing to worry about) and then moulded the base inside the wig to hold them steady. They look great although they still need a little tweaking to get the angle right – it’s hard mounting two tall antlers into a wig when you only have two pairs of hands and a limited time before the plastic sets!

So… just the last push left to go now. I am waiting on my gloves which are on order and will need tea dying when they arrive. I need to get hold of an old chest or trunk. My local car boot has stuff like this all the time but it would be just my luck that they won’t have one now for ages as now I need one! I still need to work on my choreography but that is getting there steadily. The last real making jobs are making my pasties, doing my ears, which I want to look aged and ratty and not ‘party costume’ looking, and covering my skirt. This one is going to be a pretty big job due to the size of the skirt and the fact that I want to cover at least some of it with home felted raw wool. I’ll let you into a secret: The people who say that felting is a fun hobby are fibbing! Felting is a big pain in the butt and it takes ages and your hands go all pruney in the process. So the skirt is probably going to take a while longer yet, but I am trying to do a bit at a time to make a dent in it.

So I am hoping that my Jackalope might be in the finishing stages sometime in June at which point I hope to get some promo photos done and then start pimping it out. Keep your eyes peeled because no doubt any Jackalope news will be here first!

‘Til next time

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Corsets, Tea-Dying and More Fetish Thoughts

This week has been a fairly quiet one day job wise so I have managed to get a little more done burlesque-wise than usual.

The biggest achievement for me this week has been facing my fears, biting the bullet and working on my Jackalope corset. I bought a gorgeous ‘Morticia’ underbust corset some time ago now from What Katie Did (see older posts for the fun and games that I had obtaining it!). WKD are my corset people of choice as they make such gorgeous stuff (not to mention their bras, undies and what have you!) at really reasonable prices. The Morticia style is perfect for my figure as it has gored hips – I find when I wear corsets without the goring that there is not much room as I have a 28” waist to 37” hips.

Originally, I had considered getting a custom corset made as I wanted something in a yellowed out white, so that it looked aged, and most of the off the peg corsets I found came in white or ivory. However, I know and trust What Katie Did and know their corsets fit my body shape well so I decided to go with them and if need be dye the corset (NB – Disclaimer – What Katie Did do not recommend dying any of their corsets except for their ‘Music Hall’ range. I dyed mine totally off my own steam and cannot guarantee that the results I had would be the same for anyone else).

When I received the corset it was so beautiful that I didn’t dare risk dying it. I was so worried that I would accidentally shrink it, cause it to rust or do it some other sort of damage. I decided instead to embellish the corset using lace appliqués. I spent hours trawling the web looking for something that would be the right shape, size and colour and come in two symmetrical parts (as the corset is in two parts) but nothing was quite right. Then I had a light bulb moment – why buy pre-made appliqués that aren’t quite right when you can make your own? I found instructions on Google for making appliqués at home and was pleasantly surprised by how simple it was. So I ended up going to the fabric market and buying beautiful beaded bridal lace, in a light tea colour – I bought a half metre, the fabric was £120 for a whole one!!! After I had made the appliqués and sewed them on, a painstaking process that shredded the skin on my thumbs and fingers, I was delighted with the result.

So why didn’t I leave it at that? Well, I’ve never been the kind of girl to leave well enough alone. After a long conversation with my other half, he told me that in his minds eye the costume would not be white at all and that the whole thing would be a yellowish, brownish cream again aged looking but still beautiful. I agreed that that was what I had wanted to do, but that WKD had advised against dying their corset as they couldn’t predict the results. I didn’t dare bugger it up, especially as I had gone to all the work and expense with the appliqués. But the more I thought about it, the more the thought wouldn’t go away. So I decided to take the plunge and risk it in the hope of getting closer to my original vision of what the costume should look like.

I dyed the corset, and also my bloomers and bra in a tea bath. Nothing scary happened during the dying process but I was like a broody bantam fussing and checking and turning the two halves of the corset as it dried. Reputable sources had told me that if you absolutely must dye a corset you should leave it to dry flat and try and get it dry as quickly as possible. Leaving it flat was a bit of an issue because of the goring in the hips – it just isn’t cut to sit in one flat piece, but I did my best. I put it near the radiator on a drying rack and hoped for the best.
In the end I was absolutely delighted with the results for the corset. It has come out a light brownish cream and does look as though it was something that used to be white but is very old. There is a little inconsistency in the colour in a couple of places but it kind of adds to the flawed, aged effect and I don’t regret taking the risk (NB another disclaimer! I am not suggesting anyone else follow my lead and dye their own corset – mine turned out great but I can’t guarantee whether other people’s would.).

The bloomers, being made of cotton, took the colour a little darker and have come out slightly more yellow in tone which gives a nice contrast to the corset but the bra – made from mainly synthetic stuff – didn’t take the colour as strongly. It came out more like a pale brownish peach. This wasn’t a big problem though as I only wanted it dyed as a base so there would be no bright white peeking through when I covered it. I have started covering the cups of the bra with vintage lace fabric bought from my local car boot sale and then trimmed it with a cream and brown lace edging. I still need to work on the side sections and add a little more trimming and then the bra will be done.

Here’s a snapshot of my bra-in-progress and my finished corset – apologies for the rubbish phone photo.

So the Jackalope costume is now coming on in leaps and bounds. There is still lots more work to do before I can put costuming to bed, the skirt alone is going to be a mammoth task, not to mention I still need to get myself my prop and finish music editing and choreography. It looks like I will not meet my self imposed deadline I had hoped for but I think the extra time I have spent on it will pay off in the end.

In other developments – I have been thinking more about my fetish idea (see the previous post) and have decided to produce a simple version of my idea and trial it at a few burlesque events. If people seem to respond to it I’ll keep it and upgrade the costume etc (I have some very exciting – very complex ideas) to bring it in line production-wise with my other acts. If people hate it or don’t get it I’ll retire it knowing I didn’t break my back (or the bank!). It will be good, after working on my Jackalope, to do something with a quicker turnaround time and with less of my heart and soul invested. Not that I plan to just slapdash this idea out, but it would be nice to produce an act that doesn’t involve too much over-thinking, and that can be done as a bit of fun. My other half (who among his many talents, paint beautiful abstract canvasses) talked to me at great length about letting the chips fall where they may, playing, experimenting and not being too precious and trying to control everything so I am going to try and take that approach with this new piece. And apparently the universe or what have you agrees because this Sunday at the car boot (my own personal treasure trove of amazing finds) I stumbled upon something (or should I say two matching somethings?) that were exactly what I needed for a part of this new act’s costume.

I now have a couple of busy weeks vanilla life-wise but hopefully I will still be able to make time to get some burlesquey stuff done. Also, ballet starts again tomorrow after the Easter break – I feel rusty just thinking about it!

‘Til next time



Monday, 5 April 2010

Fetish Thoughts

It seems an idea has dropped into my lap - and quite neatly formed at that - for a new act. Something a hundred miles from my Jackalope (which is exactly what I will need by the time this is over).
The question is, is it workable? The concept I have in mind is downright fetishistic and fetish is absolutley not my area of expertise.
I have seen quite a few acts over the years that the artiste has described as 'fetish' but which, to me, looked like a straight down the middle burlesque/cabaret or performance art act that simply borrowed from fetish with either leather/latex/bondage clothing or a quite alty soundtrack. But, as fetish is not something I am overly familiar with, it's hard to know whether a fetish audience would view these acts as fetish or not. I'm not sure where the line is. I wouldn't want to go around doing an act that I though was fetishistic but audiences just felt was creepy or worse, crappy.

The other question is, how sexual does a fetish act have to be? By its very nature fetish is related to sexuality in a way that my burlesque performances never are. Yes, I may wear skimpy costumes and show bosoms but sexual thoughts are the last thing I hope to inspire in my audience. Does a fetish act have to be arousing? Or, because it is performed in a burlesque context does it become more about studying and questioning the particular fetish - even burlesquing it? And if it is about burlesquing it, parodying it - is it appropriate for one to perform an act about a fetish one doesn't personally hold?

Finally, in the performances I currently do my body type is not a hinderance. It adds to the humour in a couple of my acts and is often disguised by a corset in the ones where it doesn't. I associate fetish performance with women of a traditionally desirable body type, unless of course the fetish is related to the body directly. Would a non-body related fetish performance be more coherent from someone with a more conventionally attractive body? Would a less conventionally attractive body distract from the theme and mix messages? (NB - I have not mentioned the body part to ask for anyone to validate me or compliment my figure. I am what I am and I only worry [usually] about my body in a burlesque context in relation to whether it would detract from what I am trying to say in my narrative.)

Anyway, these are all things I am wondering as an outsider looking into fetish and wondering whether to dip a toe in the water for the sake of a fun act idea. Any thoughts on the subject would be greatfully received...

'Til next time