Monday, 25 April 2011

Photographic Fun

Yesterday I hauled half of my costume wardrobe (or at least, it felt that way!) down to sunny Chester to pose for some pictures by burlesque photographer extraordinaire and super lovely chap Neil Kendall.

I had so much fun in his gorgeous home studio and loved having a peek at all of his lovely burlesque memorabilia. It was a really super day! Here's a sneaky peek at what we shot. I am so pleased with them I just had to blog!
Please remember all photos are copyright of Neil Kendall and please don't pinch them for any purpose without the express permission of the photographer.

Baba Yaga

The Last Jackalope

The Octopus Woman

I'm really pleased with the photos and I had a great time!

'Til next time

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Costuming Fun!

I am back after a busy week or so. Between gigging and the day job I have started work on my costume for my brand new act 'Foam'.

Since I am going to show you some sneaky pictures of my work in progress, I feel now is probably as good a time as any to let the cat out of the bag about the nature of the act. I won't tell too much though, just enough to give some context to what I've been working on.

So Foam is going to be the third in my Dark Forest triptych, along with the Jackalope and Baba Yaga. Just like the other two, the act has its roots in folklore, fairytale and myth. While the Jackalope is really about vulnerability and Baba Yaga is about strength and acceptance of one's own destiny, with Foam I wanted to try and characterise bitterness and a destructive nature.

The idea behind Foam was a combination of two mermaid/water spirit stories. I know mermaids are a very well used trope in burlesque and have been performed in many styles from the earliest performers right up to the modern day. Mermaid performers that spring to mind include Diva Hollywood who uses puppetry and veil fans to create an adorably comic sea-she and Khandie Khisses who is currently pushing the boundaries of the genre by working on an underwater burlesque act with a monofin tail. I wanted, in the way these performers have, to approach this ubiquitous theme with my own unique stamp.

The stories that I was interested in were the traditional tales of mermaids and sea sirens singing to sailors, tempting them and calling them to an untimely end dashed on the rocks. While looking at this I was also thinking about the REAL ending of the Hans Christian Anderson story, The Little Mermaid. Obviously, according to Disney and the like The Little Mermaid wins her prince and lives happily ever after, but in the version I knew from childhood, the little mermaid fails to win her prince and instead is doomed to a sort of soulless limbo-life as foam on the sea. Looking at these two ideas together I came up with the idea that perhaps sirens were just thwarted Little Mermaids, who had risked themselves to win their prince and failed. Now they were just foam on the sea, semi-human balls of pain and bitterness whose only consolation was to lure others to the same fate they had suffered.

So with this in mind, the perfect music track selected and choreography started, I have started working on the costume (Yay!). Personally, I love reading about people's creative process. Both their thoughts and ideas behind the acts and how they physically made costume and prop items, I find it interesting and inspiring. So I thought I'd do a little photo-blog of how I put together my costume for this act. Now, for regular readers and followers, you know the etiquette of burlesque act creation but if anyone has just stumbled upon these blogs from outside the burlesque world - this isn't a tutorial to make a costume exactly the same (so please don't!) it's just to show people what I've been working on. So here goes - in this edition - the undergarments!

Here's a big pile of stuff I picked up, normally I get a lot of bits online but I've been quite lucky this time to find most of it in and around Nottingham. The fabric is from Victoria Market and it's raw silk - you can't see in this pic but I also have another shade of pale green and a sort of greeny-goldy-brown. I didn't end up using the silk on the undergarments but it is being used on my outer dress (which I will hopefully talk about in the next blog). The trimmings are mainly from the local haberdashery stall on the market. Where possible I like to buy trims locally, because if we don't support these stalls, in a few years they could be gone. Plus the market haberdashery is very reasonably priced for great quality stuff! Also, in my craft pile are a couple of items that started life as hair flowers and hair bands - but I'll tell you a bit more about those as we go along.

As well as all my crafting odds and ends I started out with a pale gray (in the picture they have come out more violet but they were gray) bra and pair of pants. I find it tricky to find reasonably priced bras that fit me, places like Bravissimo do my size but they are much too pretty (and expensive) to go customising, so I went instead to Primark as their bras are plain, which leaves me freedom to go a bit crazy with trimmings etc, and they come in my, rather busty, size. I loved this pale gray colour as I felt it was reminiscent of a cold, foamy sea - just the look I was going for.

After the absolutely essential first task of cutting out all the tags (nothing looks more unsightly!) I began with work on the bra. Those hair flowers you can see in my craft pile were gray shading to lilac and I loved their slightly slippery looking texture. I peeled the petals off carefully and sewed them on to the top edge of the bra to give it a full, poofed out look.

I had found these hairbands with lovely silver and gray appliques on them while I was out picking up my craft bits. The hair bands were probably cheaper than if I had just found the appliques on their own so I cannibalised them and used them as the central feature on each bra cup. I love it when you find great bits for customisation in unusual places! (PS They look a little wonky in the pic but that's just my crummy camera work!)

Finally I used my lovely pale sea green beaded trim from the haberdashery stall. As I won't be wearing a corset in this act, and I'm hardly the slimmest of girls, I wanted to make sure the costume was flattering to my figure. I have found that trims that hang just to my waist tend to accentuate the waist and make me look a little more curvaceous. I had planned to use some of the pale peach beaded trim too but in the end I didn't think it needed it.

A lot of burlesque performers change the straps on their bras, often to a halter, something that ties or something simple to fasten but I tend not to do that as, once again, the big bust strikes and I need something sturdy to keep me up! I did think about decorating the straps or covering them, which I usually do, but in this instance I felt I didn't want the costume to be too frilly or over fussy so I have left them plain.

I then moved on to the pants. Because of this style of pant and the fact that it's quite sheer I actually bought two pairs; one to customise and the other to wear underneath so that you can't see anything through. I tend to wear a 'safety thong' underneath my costumes anyway but still, better to be safe than flash the audience something you'd rather not!

With these pants I started off by trimming the waistband (well, I say waistband, but really these sit more on the hip) with the same green beaded trim. In the past I have tried different techniques for trimming stretchy pants with non-stretchy trimmings. I'm sure there's a trick to it, but as yet I haven't found anything foolproof! I used to stretch my pants over the back of a chair but the method I have tried this time is just to stitch the trim at pre measured key points. This is why in the photo it appears to hang a little loosely - but when it's on it fits just nice!

The final thing I did with the pants was to sew over the 'merkin area' some more of the petals from the hair flowers I took apart earlier. I did consider putting some more green trim hanging down from the pants but again I didn't want to make it over fussy. I may change my mind nearer the time, but for the moment I'm happy enough with them as they are.

The next thing I have started work on is the outer dress. At the moment that is still a work in progress that looks like it may take me some time to complete but when I am finished with it I'll post up another blog like this one showing you all how I put it together.

Hopefully some of you found this interesting, I know hearing about how others do their costumes is always interesting to me!

'Til next time

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

The Month Too Busy To Blog!

Well! March was certainly a busy month for me. I had meant to blog a little sooner but as the month wore on I found I had so little time to do it!
March saw me performing or posing at five events, including three in one particularly busy week! Normally I book two to three shows a month so this was a rather active month for me.

As well as Black Country Burlesque, which I blogged about recently as the debut of my Baba Yaga themed act, 'What She Will Become', I also posed for burlesque life drawing at Pencils and Pin Ups in Leaminton Spa, did a second performance of Baba and did my old favourite, The Octopus Woman at Burlesque! in Manchester (which was also the lovely Duke Wayward's last show), went to one of my furthest south gigs to date at The Hundred Watt Club in Aldershot and performed as a guest performer at a burlesque workshop in Birmingham. In between all this I also found time to meet a local photographer for an interview about burlesque and to have a fun sleepover at Burlesque pal Cherryfox's place. Phew!

My plans for April are a little quieter so it means I can finally crack on with working on one of my new act ideas. At the moment I have been working on choreography for another straight act that will be third in my triptych along with Baba and the Jackalope so I have decided to begin costuming on that one. Yesterday I went and raided the haberdashery, as well as ordering some bits on ebay, so this weekend is full steam ahead on costuming. I don't like to say too much to early when it comes to acts in case something goes wrong and it doesn't get finished but since it looks like this new act may very soon be a reality I shall reveal a little (however, we all know a burlesquer doesn't like to reveal all too soon!). My new act, is in a similar mood and style to the Jackalope and Baba Yaga and is set in the same 'dark forest' world that I mentioned in earlier blogs. It is called 'Foam' and, like Baba Yaga, will be semi-abstract but loosely based on a particular fairy/folk tale. At this stage that's all I am going to say but I hope to post up some pics of my costuming process and as I do I'll reveal a little more about what I'm working on.

For those of you who like my lighter, more comedic acts - don't worry! There's more funny ha-ha to come, in fact, I had hoped to work on a funny one next but the two ideas I have in mind are both, at the moment, not coming together for one reason or another (one has hit a costuming block, the other a performance block) and I need to work them out a little more before I start.

'Til next time

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Faves from the Art Monkeys!

Back in late February my adventures in burlesque took me to my old University town and Dr Sketchys Manchester. I had a lovely time there and can't recommend it enough if you're in the area.
Here is a link to their Facebook Page if you want to attend one of their events.

I have just recently seen that they have some images up of my session with them so I thought I'd share a few of my faves with you all!

I have tried to credit all of the artists accordingly but if any of you are reading this and would like me to post up links to your website/feacebook etc just give me a shout!

Photo by Air Adam Photography - Visit his website here!

Also by Air Adam Photography

Drawing by Chris Doherty

Drawing by Courtney Maddison

Drawing by Dave Merrell

Drawing by Dave Merrell (left handed in this one! Wow!)

Drawing by Mark Hibbert

So these are some of my faves - it's so fun to see yourself drawn in so many different styles - plus the photographs are lovely too!

'Til next time

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Baba's First Outing

So Saturday was my first outing debuting my Baba Yaga themed act, 'What She Will Become'.
I decided to call it by that name as the act is based around the idea of the young woman who will become Baba Yaga and her precognitive dreams of the future power she will hold and, as the name says, What She Will Become. I used loose feathers and wings of Isis in the act to represent the idea of the character being overwhelmed by, and eventually accepting and embracing her destiny. I chose feathers as a reference to the house on chicken legs in which Baba Yaga lives.

So on Saturday I performed as the headliner at Black Country Burlesque's newbie show final in West Bromwich and performed this act for the first time

Me as Baba Yaga - see those feathers fly! (Photo by Robin Lowe)

I always get rather nervous performing a new act for the first time, and this one was no exception. I also, I'm a little ashamed to say, was nervous about my costume. This is the first time I have performed an act where I take my corset off where my figure wasn't something of a joke in the act. I'm not ashamed of my flabby tum but on the other hand I'm not normally keen to show it off, however, I felt in the context of this act taking the corset off was a must. I wanted the final part of the act to symbolise abandon and the character throwing herself full force into her future and I felt that taking off the corset was a visual metaphor for this. To keep restrained and covered I feel would not have worked as well.

All in all, I feel that the act went respectably well for a first outing. Having now done it in front of an audience I think there are parts that could do with tightening up or tweaking but that's normal for a new performance. Compared to my first performance of the Jackalope I feel as though this one's a lot closer to where I want it to be that when I performed that act for the first time. In order to improve the act I am planning to watch the video with my performer/photographer/costumier/general busy-pants pal Cherryfox and take a little friendly critique.

Relieved, taking a bow (photo by Robin Lowe)

So with the first performance done and dusted I'm feeling pretty happy. I'm really looking forward to bringing Baba out again soon. In fact, it's going to be very soon - next Friday in Manchester at Bella Besame's 'Burlesque!' show. I'm feeling pretty excited!

'Til next time

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Oddball - Pics from the Show

so, now that the post-Oddball dust has settled I have received some lovely photos from Emma of Miss Rain Photography of the show. Here's a selection of some of my faves from the night. To see the whole set please visit Oddball Burlesque's facebook group.

All photos are copyright Miss Rain photography and unauthorised use is not allowed! (So there!)

British Heart encouraging the audience to flash him!

British Heart playing with fire...

Elle Amour surveys the cakes...

Me - making a funny (or more accurately, dying on my proverbial!)

Glorian Gray jumps for joy!

Mama Jenufa has her act down Pat!

Marnie Scarlett is wild in purple!

Thanks so much to the lovely Miss Rain - to see more of her brilliant photography visit her here.

'Til next time

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

An ODD(BALL) experience

I have finally emerged from the self imposed cocoon that is planning and organising my own show. It's been a massive project that has gradually eaten more of my life, time, attention and money. But I'm back now, and it's probably a good time to reflect.

The night of the show had its ups and downs, including the issues with the venue and a compere who never turned up but on the whole it was a learning experience if nothing else! I firstly want to say thank you to all the people who were involved. All the performers were amazing and I feel really pleased with how well the lineup turned out. I have to credit my co-promoter, stage manager and sister Alex P, for her calm head and hard work and her other half Chris for his wonderful work on the website and the flyers and for his work on the door on the night. Also on the door was Owen, who got roped into it - I can't say thanks enough!

The Maids, Katy (aka Miss B Poppin) and Karen (aka Lusty Dust) were tireless in their hard work and Miss Rain kindly came, braved the crowds and took pictures. Thanks to you all ladies.

I want to thank all my friends who supported me either online or by coming to the event (some even from out of town). And finally, and most importantly, I want to thank the people who came along in the audience, tolerated the lack of space with good humour and generally made the fantastic atmosphere on the night. Without you guys there'd be no point doing it.

I learned that, at a push I can compere a show. However, it was a baptism of fire and I don't feel like I really got into the swing of it until the second act. It was fun though, but let's put it this way... I don't think I should ever attempt stand-up comedy!

The long and the short of it is, as a first show, Oddball wasn't perfect, but the spirit was there and I still had fun (between bouts of pulling my hair out). If we do another one we will definitely be looking at a seated venue as the all standing space just didn't work properly. I'm still glad we did it though and I really feel I have learned a lot about running an event, and about myself as a person. Also, being on the bill with so many people I admire has really inspired me to think about burlesque in different ways, try different approaches and try to think outside the box a little more - always a good thing in my book!

Now with Oddball finished and put to bed for the time being I am back to focusing on act creation, costuming and devising. This afternoon I have been trawling the internet for the final bits and bobs I need to finish my costume for my Baba Yaga act. In a way it feels a bit strange to be thinking about Baba again as she has been on the back burner for so many weeks but hopefully once I start work on the act again it will start to fall into place. I can't wait for my bits and bobs to come so I can start sewing - an afternoon with a needle and thread always leaves me feeling productive and I always feel like the best way to counteract the inevitable crash at the end of a big project is to throw yourself into another.

Hopefully the next time you hear from me I will have some Baba Yaga related news for you... not long now and I'll find out if my concept works or not.

'Til next time

Friday, 21 January 2011

Oddball Burlesque - Win our pants!


Think ODDBALL BURLESQUE's slogans are pants? Come up with your own Oddball Burlesque slogan and WIN OUR PANTS!

That's right! Come up with a slogan in the form of:
"If burlesque is X, Oddball Burlesque is Y" (see our Facebook group or our twitter feed for some examples)
and post it on the Facebook group page or tweet to @oddball_burly . The best slogan will win a pair of pants (clean of course) signed by the whole Oddball cast.
If you win we'll post your prize out to you so everyone can enter - not just those who are coming to the show!
So get your thinking caps on and win our pants!

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Follow me into the dark forest...

For a few blogs now I have been talking cryptically about the ‘new act’ that I am working on and I’m quite aware that I’ve not given much away. There are a few reasons for this, it’s nice to come out and surprise people and there’s always the worry that someone more talented will see the idea and end up producing a better act than me on the same theme (I know this is unlikely as, as much as people huff and puff about act stealing it seems to happen very rarely, in reality). The biggest reason for holding back on my ideas though, is that I have many more of them than I ever have time or money to bring to a finished act. And not all the ideas are good. Some of them are totally unworkable, or boring or generic and a lot of the time you don’t know which is really going to be a goodie until you get to a certain point in the process. In the past I talked on this blog about the idea of doing a crash fetish themed act and this is one example of an act I was really keen on, but which has ended up being shelved (at least for the time being). I just didn’t have a strong enough concept to turn it into a viable act and, although I could have kept flogging the horse, I ended up being consumed by other ideas which I felt more passionate about because the concepts were stronger. That’s not to say that the idea couldn’t resurface if I found myself inspired by or interested in it again. But at the moment it is one of many little seeds of acts that are hibernating until something kicks them into germination (or they just get forgotten all together).

With this in mind, I really didn’t want to jump the gun and talk too openly about my new act in the works until I was sure it would get past the preliminary stages, but it looks like it has. Aside from the concept (which is usually where I tend to start act wise, but I know other people work in different orders) I have my music selected and the best part of my costume finished. The choreography is loosely blocked but still needs work. I am hoping that this act will debut in the spring. In reality, if it wasn’t for Oddball taking up so much of my time and money I would probably have it ready by the end of February. So, I figured it’s time to stop being so secretive and to let you, my dear readers, know what I have been pottering away at.

I mentioned a few blogs back that I was considering making my performances more split down the middle as I love doing funny, bright coloured, silly acts but I also really loved the emotional process of creating the Jackalope and was blown over by the response to it. I didn’t want to have to pick a team and stick to it as I can see common factors to both styles, even if they are more to do with the way my imagination works rather than things that are immediately obvious. So rather than have the two styles together under one umbrella I have decide to mine the same rough area of influences that spawned the Jackalope and make two more in a similar mood/style so that the set can be viewed kind of as a triptych. That way, they relate to and make sense with each other for promoters booking me and audiences viewing. Or people can choose to contrast and pick one from that set and one from my more comic repertoire.

The idea of the triptych came to me in a surprisingly organic way. After producing the Jackalope I was bubbling to do something else in a similar style (once I had got over the initial exhaustion) so the idea for my new one sprang out of that and the third soon followed. They all had a strong running feel to them, in my minds eye I pictured a dark, murky wood or forest with little characters living little lives that were neither mundane nor particularly special. I have always been a huge fan of fairytales (the proper ones with blood and teeth and feathers rather than the sanitised versions modern parents offer their children), I even did my degree dissertation on the different forms and psychological interpretations of the Cinderella story, so it was these old stories that I found calling me to produce my next act. The act will be quite abstract, rather than the more narrative approach I used for the Jackalope and it is inspired by the Slavic and Russian folktales about Baba Yaga.

Depending on which sources you read Baba Yaga is sometimes used as a generic term for a hag-like witch but more often the stories refer to a particular character. And old witch with an impatient temper (in some stories cruel, in others more like a sage) and iron teeth who pushes herself along the forest floor in a pestle and mortar and lives in a hut that walks around on chicken’s legs. Ever since I first heard about Baba Yaga she haunted my subconscious mind and suddenly, like when I began working on the Jackalope act, I found I saw her everywhere (I don’t mean literally in the flesh!). I ran through many different ideas, even at one point toying with the idea of seeing if I could get a hut on chicken legs made (I didn’t go for this for obvious reasons!). In the end I decided I wanted to look at Yaga in terms of the woman who would become her (as I felt it would spill out from burlesque and into performance art if I played an old hag with none of the sensual qualities that I feel are an integral part of burlesque). I wanted to explore the idea of a woman having the power to see glimpses of her future and the powerful but terrifying creature that she would become. Essentially, the act is as much about the idea of destiny and bitter acceptance of oneself as it is about my folktale heroine.

I won’t go into all the details as I don’t want to spoil it and give it all away too soon, but I can say that the mood of the act I am hoping to create will be oppressive, slightly creepy but with a stubborn strength to the character. I want to make reference to Baba Yaga’s future in a metaphorical way and the hope is that, if people know my starting point, they will understand why I have used that particular imagery but if they don’t, I’m hoping they’ll still get a sense of the feel of the act and that it will stand as something interesting to watch even without that frame of reference.

At the same time as I am working on this one I have started work on the third and final piece of the triptych. I normally only ever work on one thing at a time but it has happened quite organically this time that while I have been working on costuming and choreography for Baba Yaga I also found my inspiration (and the perfect music track) for the third part of the puzzle so I have started loosely working on choreography (budget constraints mean the costume will come later!) and, as I mentioned in my last proper blog, filming it as I go. It’s amazing how much this is helping me and I’ve only been working this way for less than a week! I won’t say what the concept behind my third piece is just yet, for the same reasons I mentioned above. It’s still possible it could change or evolve so I’ll keep it under my hat until it gets closer to fruition.

So, with all this work on my dark forest of characters, what’s happened to the funny, silly, rubber-faced Emerald that you all know? Well, I’m still going to be making funny acts. In a way, I wanted to produce these three so that I am free to make my other acts as silly as possible, rather than trying to shoehorn the two styles together to make an amalgam which could end up having the best points of neither. I am working on an idea for my next comedic act, although it’s still in the very early stages of development, where it is still a funny thought in my head and some different ideas about how to progress it. It’s actually an idea I came up with ages ago but then abandoned because I had got fixated on all the props and kit I’d need for it and lost the point of why I originally wanted to do it. Now though, the character has re-emerged in my mind and this time I can see ways of making it funny without all the unnecessary bells and whistles, using my performance skills instead of leaning too heavily on big props. This one however is definitely a way off yet so there’s still a world of room for me to change my mind or move on to something else. One thing’s for certain though, I never want to completely abandon doing comedic acts. They are my wife (or should that be husband) and these dark and more artistic acts are more like a long standing mistress.

If you’ve read this far and waded through my wafflings then I must commend your fortitude. I have missed writing my blog and it’s great to get back into it properly.

‘Til next time

Tickets on sale now!


Friday, 14 January 2011

Tickets on sale now!

Just a quickie to say to all you ODDBALLS out there that tickets for ODDBALL BURLESQUE - 'more fruitcake than cheesecake' are now on sale!
Book them here

NB. For reasons best known to themselves the venue have decided to temporarily re-christen the event Emmerald Ace Burlesque and Live Music Event. We assume this is a test so that only the super cool and in the know get in. Don't be out of the loop! :P

'Til next time

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Girl on Film

just a brief blog this time to tell you all about the fun and games I have been having with my boyfriend's new video camera - no not the Paris Hilton kind of fun and games!
For Christmas my other half's family clubbed together to buy he and I a video camera. He generously said that I could hang onto it as I have been after one for ages and have never got round to buying one and I have wasted no time in using it to try and improve my burlesque chops, as recommended by many an awesome performer on the circuit.

I am not known for my dance or movement skills. I have a poor memory for choreography, I'm not very graceful and I don't tend to know what shapes or movements look attractive on my body. It usually takes me heaps of trial and error to produce anything movement based and for my new act, in fact, for this one and the other new one I am working on (more info on that another time) my movement is more of a focus than perhaps it has been in the past. So I have resolved to record all the stages of my devising and rehearsal progress and watch them back with a critical eye. The hope is that I can quickly eliminate any movements that don't work, better avoid too much repetition (I'm terrible for repetitive choreography) and get a real sense of what my body can and can't do. Hopefully it will also help me to remember and reproduce the stuff that does work.

As part of my blog I may consider posting up some of the later rehearsal footage (you cheeky devils aren't seeing the devising stages though, so far they've been shocking!) to display the evolution of my work if it looks like people are interested. On the other hand, I may wait 'til after the acts are released just so that I don't ruin the final piece ahead of time for those who want to see it.

So far it's quite cringy watching footage of myself at these early, uncoordinated stages but I'm hoping that in the long run it will pay off in more interesting, graceful and stage-present acts.

Quite exciting really,

'Til next time

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

An Update for the Oddballs

not a real blog post, more a post-ette just to let all you kooky bastards, weird beards and general reprobates that the website for my show ODDBALL BURLESQUE - 'more fruitcake than cheesecake' is now live.

Hugs thanks to Chris Phelps for his tireless work and to my sister Alex for her helping hands behind the scenes.

Go take a look - it really does look rather super!


'Til next time

Monday, 3 January 2011

Goodbye 2010 - Hello 2011

2010 has been a funny old year. As a burlesque performer it has probably been one of my better years; the acts I am producing are stronger, I am driving so getting to gigs is less of a stress, I have had some great bookings this year and I feel I am gradually learning more about what sort of work I want to produce. Unfortunately, outside of the world of burlesque it has been a tough, exhausting and frustrating year and this has encroached into my life as a performer, leaving me with less energy to do the things I love.
Still, 2011 is a new year and a new start, and I thought it might be apt to look at some of the interesting goings on in my burlesque world and to talk about a few of my hopes for 2011. Plus, I get to do it in list form! (I love lists)

The Good
- Finally debuting the finished and updated version of my Jackalope and realising that I CAN do straight acts.
- Driving to gigs. Or more importantly, driving home. I really cherished those 1am drives home listening to Radio 2 on a quiet road. It gave me time to think about my performance that night and really became a little ritual for me.
- Seeing some truly amazing acts from other performers I admire. Some really special ones that stood out include Vicky Butterfly, Joe Black, Missy Malone, Amelie Soleil and Ed Muir, Beatrix von Bourbon, Owen Niblock, Lexi Sexx and Marnie Scarlett (to name the ones that leap to mind right now - there are definitely others that were just as awesome).
- Making my first performance in front of the folks from Ministry of Burlesque. It inspires me how much they have built and I really feel there is a lot I can learn from them. Plus it was a hilarious, boozy night and I had a wonderful time.
- Creating my Emotional Strip act on a tight deadline and realising that it forced me to cut out procrastination, rather than lowering the quality of my work.
- Spending time with some amazing, inspiring and above all fun members of the burlesque community. I'm not a social person by nature but I have had fun being around other burlesque bods this year.

The Bad
- Real-life constraints meant I had to leave my ballet class, at least for the time being. Even though I was the worst in the class I really enjoyed it and I do hope I'll be able to get back to it when my situation improves.
- A lot of people seemed to fall away from burlesque this year. It made me sad to see some familiar and friendly faces move on. I wish you all the best in whatever you do next, if you're reading this, folks.
- The big one for me, especially in the later half of this year has been the result of the resurgent interest in burlesque generated by the film of the same name. It is nice that the media is interested in our artform, and I feel the film could be positive and draw people in, even if it isn't entirely accurate of what most of us here in the UK do. What has upset me is all the sniping, snarking articles online (including on online versions of major newspapers) - 'is burlesque just stripping?', 'is burlesque just middle class stripping?', 'is burlesque really empowering?' etc. These articles more often than not seem to be just an excuse to not watch burlesque, not be involved in that community, but to speak with authority about what a damaging non-artform it is. And that's just the original articles. The comments that follow are usually worse. This year I have found myself getting sucked back in to these debates, even though I know that it is a losing battle. I have decided that in 2011, rather than getting sucked into these slanging matches with people who don't care and just like to troll, I will put what I have to say on this blog instead. That way anyone who gives a bibble can read it and everyone else doesn't have to.

The Inspiring
- Taking a workshop with Beatrix von Bourbon. While officially about branding it felt more like a cross between going to confession or therapy and working with a mentor. I left that workshop with a stronger sense of who I am (and can become) as a performer and with new vigour and excitement for what I do.
- Khandie Khisses. This woman is always on the go! I haven't had the pleasure of working with her this year but her online presence is a constant inspiration as someone who holds down a nine to five but is still one of the best in the game. I swear to god, she must never sleep! Plus, she is one of the nicest people in burlesque.
- My pal Cherryfox, who lives the dream by making a living doing burlesque, photography, costuming and other creative things. I'm not sure I could live that way but I sure do admire it.
- Promoters out there putting on top notch nights like The Wet Spot, Dr Sketchy's Nottingham, and Carnival Divine (all the others I forgot to list). As I will be putting on my own show in February I have been carefully observing how the shows I love performing at most make the experience so pleasant for performers and audience alike.

For 2001
- I hope to make my show ODDBALL BURLESQUE as much fun and as professionally ran as possible.
- I want to finish my new act and possibly release two more besides in 2011. One more straight one (to make a triptych with the one I'm currently working on and the Jackalope) and a funny one. At the moment there are two possible contenders for this but I am unsure which I will choose.
- I want to improve my costuming skills and my grace and economy of movement onstage. Some of my acts still have parts that feel a little 'fannying about-ish'. I hope to go back and tighten and rework these parts.
- To see more live performance in burlesque and other genres.
- To blog more. This year my blogging has come in fits and starts, it would be nice to get this more consistent.
- To enjoy burlesque in 2011!

So that's my rundown of 2010. Wishing you all the best for 2011.
'Til next time