Denver’s Mile High Flying Tease, Midnite Martini, talks adoption, Disney princesses, body image, Bob Fosse, eating disorders, and rope burns. Midnite is headlining Viva Dallas Burlesque’s Cirque du Burlesque show on Friday, February 4th at Lakewood Theater.
Interview: Divertida Devotchka
You were born in Seoul, South Korea, correct? When did you come to the States? Did you find it to be a difficult adjustment?
I was adopted from Seoul when I was just 4 months old and grew up in a Coloradan suburb. Since I was so young the adjustment wasn’t noticeably difficult. I grew up like any other red-blooded American kid on TV dinners, Disney Princesses, and Apple Pie! I had extremely caring parents and an outgoing family, yet oddly enough I was painfully shy and self-conscious as a child.
It was not until my adult life that I became more interested in Korea, Adoption Culture, and how being adopted psychologically and emotionally influences kids and how it might have influenced me as a child. There were a few other minorities growing up, but white suburbia never really spoke about race (besides the sporadic playground teasing or kids pulling their eyes back at me).
Now that I can take a look back at my life with a different perspective I can see how being adopted and adjustment are things that I struggled with and frankly continue to struggle with. I am trying to embrace it in all its loveliness and complexity. That’s what’s made me who I am today.
Your performance repertoire is quite remarkable! You started as a figure skater, and according to your bio, you “realized that martinis are better served off ice” and you began extensive training in musical theater, ballet, jazz, modern, tap, ballroom, and several other types of dance. What made you decide to pursue dance and theater?
Well I was a pretty awkward figure skater (despite what my mother tells you!) I started taking dance lessons to help my figure skating and found that I’m actually much better moving on land than I am on ice! The love I had for skating where I could artistically express myself while physically challenging my body was still there in dance. I was especially drawn to dance in musical theatre. My dad raised me on old movies with Gene Kelly and Danny Kaye, and my idol growing up was Vera Ellen. I took a lot of jazz dance and joined a community theatre in Middle School. That opened up my world to Bob Fosse, who from middle school through high school was my favorite choreographer and Fosse is still one of my favorite styles of dance. But really any type of artful or expressive movement captured me. I think it’s because growing up I was so shy that dance gave me a way to communicate my emotions without having to say anything.
In 2003 you attended UNC to study musical theatre dance, but you’ve stated that you were “turned off by the cut throat environment and negative body images,” which led you to seek other creative pursuits. Care to share a little more about that realization?
University of Northern Colorado, when I went there, had one of the best musical theatre programs in the nation. I was so excited to get into the program, which only accepted 20 incoming students my freshman year. On the first day of classes, our core faculty welcomed us, congratulated us, then promptly told us all that we would need to hit the gym and lose weight. I felt like I was in some old black and white movie where a big cigar smoking New York City agent tells the ingénue, “You’re never gonna make it kid, you just don’t have the stuff!” This advice infested my head like a disease! It triggered my pre-disposed body self worth issues into a downward spiral. Over my freshman year I became obsessed, and developed a starving, binging, and purging pattern that plagued me for about 2 years. I became depressed, lonely, and lost almost all of my passion and heart for dance and theatre. I no longer really enjoyed dancing, acting, or singing and flat out hated myself. So, I swore off performance art all together and transferred to another college to study psychology. Thankfully when I transferred I started seeing a university therapist and nutritionist and I was able to overcome my destructive behaviors and have done so for 5 years.
2005 was a big year for your development as a performer. Not only did you begin your training in aerial performance and circus arts, but you also started dabbling in burlesque at that time. Please tell us all about how you got started.
I saw an ad that Frequent Flyers Productions of Boulder, CO needed volunteers to help them for their annual Aerial Dance Festival. I volunteered in their office during the festival and got to know the Artistic Director, Nancy Smith. Nancy informed me that the company was going to have auditions for new dancers the following month. I took it as a sign from the Universe and went to the auditions. Fortunately, you did not have to have any previous aerial experience; the audition was based mainly on dance and floor movement. I made it into the company and since then Frequent Flyers has basically given me wings, training me in almost everything I know! Becoming a member was such an amazing opportunity, not only did it give me a creative outlet, but it also gave me an environment where artistry and creativity wasn’t attached to how you looked. It was and continues to be such a nurturing space where looks and appearance are not a concern; the focus is on the dance.
This made me discover that I could still perform but do it on my terms! Burlesque has been something that I’ve heard of growing up in the theatre world, but I wanted to find out more. I searched online for Burlesque in Denver and found the troupe Burlesque as it Was. I contacted the troupe director, Vivienne VaVoom, watched their show on New Year’s Eve 2005, and was gratefully offered the chance to audition by performing in their next show in February. I am very happy to say that I became a troupe member after that show and performed with Burlesque as it Was until 2009. I feel extremely fortunate to have had the chance to get into this scene the way I did, and am forever thankful to all the amazing performers who inspired, shared the stage with, and befriended me along the way.
This past July you teamed up with Lola Spitfire, Fannie Spankings, and Honey Touche to produce the first Colorado Burlesque Festival. How did it go and what did you learn from the experience?
Oh what an undertaking, headache, and blessing all wrapped into one glorious glitter ball! We learned so much and know that there is much more to discover. Something I definitely will do differently this year is to streamline the communication between the CBF producers and performers. I was responsible for sending out much of the information to performers and I must have sent out 10 different emails in one day as the event got closer. I know it was frustrating to me and I’m sure all of our lovely performers felt bombarded with all the separate emails of info!
We did not emphasize education last year, but will certainly focus more on that this year! Another new addition is Bunny Bee, our festival lawyer from last year and official producer this year. She is a shrewd intelligent legal aid and a hot playboy model all rolled into one amazing woman! CBF was more successful than Lola, Fannie, Honey, and I ever imagined the first year, so we are so grateful that we did enough right to pull it all off! From here we’ll only learn, grow, create, and share more. Please check us out at www.coloradoburlesquefestival.com!
In March you’re heading to Montreal to perform in the Grand Burlesque Show. What aspect of that show is the most exciting for you?
Oh what isn’t exciting! I was incredibly honored to have Scarlett James ask me to participate in the show and am just twitter-patted to dance along the sides of her, Michelle L’Amour, Renea Le Roux, Gentry de Paris, and all the other amazing entertainers on the lineup. I’ve never had the pleasure of visiting Montreal or performing in Canada before and have heard such lovely things about the city and people. Plus my partner in business and love, Jason (stagename Buster), gets to come along with me this time, so we will make a full vacation getaway of it!
What projects do you have in the works for 2011?
2011 is shaping up to be packed full of fun and excitement! I am still performing weekly at Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret in Denver and producing my own show “Midnite Martini’s Sexy Circus Sideshow” every Friday night. I will also be producing a brand new burlesque production in May called “Midnite Martini’s Nursery Bump & Grinds,” where all of our childhood memories get a sexy tongue-in-cheek spin! We also will have other shows I’ve produced (Ladies of the 80′s Burlesque, Halloween Boo-lesque, and Burlescapades) return for their annual run later on in the year. I’ll be applying to many festivals in the hopes of continuing to receive opportunities to perform out of state.
Do you have any stories of injuries, accidents or other performance malfunctions?
My most horrific injury was when I was rehearsing on rope and harness and was suspended 20 feet above ground. The belay device I was using somehow got stuck and malfunctioned, which caused me to plunge. I grabbed onto the small rope trying to slow my fall down and my flesh started to burn off from the friction. The skin on my hands was toast- burn marks and open wounds. I couldn’t use my hands or fingers for at least 2 months. I needed help dressing myself, couldn’t drive or dance, and showering was horribly painful. But I’m a dancer masochist at heart, so I wore my wounds and battle scars proudly and though it was an annoyance, I felt like a badass the whole time!
Is there anything you’d like to add?
I’d just like to thank Fannie Spankings and Honey Touche for being my supports, friends, and teachers in burlesque. Thanks to Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret for believing in burlesque and giving us an amazing home to perform and produce. Love to Momma Martini who comes to support her daughter at all the shows and Jason-Bot/Buster for being my soul mate, best friend, business advisor, and the funniest person I know.
California’s Red Snapper talks performing for Tarantino, going all the way, continuing education, and doodlebugs.
Interview: Vivienne Vermuth
Q: In your three years as a performer, you’ve had some amazing experiences (including
performing for Quentin Tarantino!) Can you share some with us?
I’ve performed in some amazing and strange places, including a dive boat and a former bowling alley. I performed in San Diego twice as part of Penny Starr, Jr.’s Supernova A Go-Go during Comic-Con weekend. That audience loved seeing their favorite sci-fi characters strip. I also produced my own burlesque show for about a year, writing burlesque sketches with modern sensibilities.
The Quentin Tarantino experience has been the most amazing so far in my career. I’ve been performing in the Quentin Tarantino-themed burlesque show that is the brainchild of Monday Night Tease! producer and dear friend, Lili vonSchtupp. Tarantino knew of our show and invited us to perform for him and his friends at a private event last fall. Mr. Snapper and I do a burlesque version of Jack Rabbit Slim’s Twist Contest from Pulp Fiction. Tarantino called our performance “spot on.” It was phenomenal to have the opportunity to perform for someone who had such an impact on my aesthetic tastes with his films. It’s not every day that one gets to do that.
Q: You are known as Red Snapper, the “Go All the Way Girl.” What’s the story behind your name and tagline? What would you say you are best known for?
I was named by my father and my husband, which is funny since many people talk about female empowerment in burlesque. My dad has always called me Red as I’m the only redhead out of six children. When the time came to pick a name, my husband suggested Red Snapper because it sounds fun, peppy and a little naughty.
The tagline came from my fearlessness in life and performance. When I decide to go for something, I’m all in. As a child I’d leap and ask questions later. As a performer I take risks and they tend to pay off. And I’m naked a lot. The “Go All the Way Girl” just seemed to fit.
I’d say I’m best known for my education. I’ve studied with many incredible burlesque instructors from all over the United States. I spent eight months studying burlesque before making my professional debut, and it’s been a whirlwind since.
Q: So, anyone who knows you/has met you knows your extreme love for John Mayer and your pup Doodlebug! What are some of your other loves?
I love my husband dearly. We’ve been together since we were teens, and he’s extremely supportive and enthusiastic about what I do. He’s an active participant in the Los Angeles burlesque community as a host, comedian and striptease artist. He’s pretty swell.
I also love food. I grew up in Arkansas and I really miss Waffle House and Cracker Barrel. I spend a nice chunk of time studying menus and imagining how delicious each dish must be. My husband knows the best way to get me to go somewhere new is to show me the menu first.
I love listening to my parents’ old LPs on Sunday mornings. I remember listening to these albums as a child. The sound quality is different, other parts of the music pop on a record than on a compact disc. Music was a huge factor in my house growing up that all six kids can play at least one instrument.
Q: On your website, you have written that continuing education is extremely important to you as a dancer. I know you have set some amazing goals for yourself this year, what are they, and how do you plan to achieve them? How do you feel achieving these goals will help you grow as an artist?
My educational goal is to take at least 100 dance classes this year. I have to take about two classes a week to achieve this goal. I take classes with my pole teacher covering floor and pole work. I also take classes at the Moose Lodge as my schedule permits. I may enroll in a few series classes for weeks so I can keep up the momentum. I plan to slip in Pilates and yoga classes as well since they complement dance training. I didn’t start intense training as a dancer until 2006, so I have a lot of catching up to do when my colleagues have been studying for decades. My 100 dance class challenge will improve my dance technique and inspire future acts.
My touring goal is to dance in six states and four festivals this year. Texas was my January trip. I’m performing and teaching at the Southwest Burlesque Showcase in February. I’m dancing in Las Vegas with Mr. Snapper in March. I’ll be in Boston for the Great Burlesque Expo in April. I’m hoping to hit my birth state of Arkansas this year and a couple other places. I love meeting new people and finding out about their burlesque scenes.
I spent a nice chunk of December working on my five-year plan so I can better focus on my career. I’m in it for the long haul.
Q: At time of press, you have performed over 213 times all over the country! Longevity is rare in this business, any words of wisdom to burlyq gals and guys wanting to continue and nurture a career in this path? Anything to avoid?
Study as much as you can to contribute to your career: dance classes, costume construction, theatre. I took a class on law and media last fall so I’d know my First Amendment rights as a dancer. Find mentors and learn from them. Be generous when newer performers seek guidance.
Don’t be a diva. Treat fellow performers and producers with kindness and respect. Don’t act like a crazy person backstage. Don’t work drunk and don’t bring drugs to the venue. You’re still being paid to work and you want to be booked again.
Love your audience. They’re the ones ultimately employing you. Above all else, entertain the hell out of them. Every performance opportunity is a unique intercourse between performer and audience. It’s a blessing to do this for a living.
Q: What can your fans expect to see from Red Snapper in the future?
I’m returning as the official poster girl for Burlesqueland, the Los Angeles festival based around a certain Southern California theme park. I’m also bringing Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride to the burlesque stage.
Mr. Snapper and I are cooking up some new takes on classic numbers. I’m teaching independently in Los Angeles, and I’m taking my Brolesque class (just for dudes) to Albuquerque and Boston this year.
New York’s Ruby Valentine, The Alabaster Beauty, talks huge props, Mad Men, The Slipper Room, Bruce Lee, and Valentine’s Day.
Q: Your name, Ruby Valentine, how did you choose it? Does it perchance have anything to do with either the book or the old radio show?
The Ruby part of my name is in reference to my red hair, even though I went Platinum for many years. As for the Valentine, I always thought it was a great last name. It reminds me of an old 1930′s mob boss, or a detective or something along those lines. I just put them together and came up with a great stage name. I think there are two books out with the name Ruby Valentine in them, one being a children’s book, however believe I was performing before they came out.
Q: New York has a burlesque scene unique to any other in the country. In your travels, what are the regional differences you have found in the burlesque circuits?
The scene here is a bit different. When you see a show in NYC you can expect to see something you’ve never seen before, never thought you’d ever see, and your mind might possibly explode. I’m not saying you won’t get that kind of excitement elsewhere though, in NY you know you will. One difference I always notice is big huge props. In NYC it’s hard to have a huge prop, there’s never anywhere to put that sort of thing.
Q: I describe your style as classic, with a neo twist. How do you describe your burlesque style, and do you feel its important for entertainers to create a niche- or a trademark style, or be more versatile as performers?
If someone asks I will say that I mostly do a classic striptease, it’s just what comes naturally to me. I do so love to do the unexpected and ridiculous though. For me I really get a thrill from a nice, slow, sensual grind. I think it is always good to be versatile. A performer may fall into a certain style category without even thinking about it. The important thing is to do things the way you want to do them. Just remember the audience loves a surprise!
Q: In 2006, you appeared on the first episode of AMC’s Mad Men, how did you land the role, and could you describe your experience for us?
That scene was filmed in 2005, and aired in 2006, so it really seems like that happened forever ago. I was blonde then. The one very long day I spent filming that scene was fun. I hung out with the band for that scene, even sitting in the horn players car with them all for an hour or so… or was it the drummer. The whole thing was filmed at the Slipper Room, one of the best places for Burlesque (it is currently being re-built). I can’t exactly remember how I found out about the role, someone contacted me, told me the details and I went to the audition. For that I performed a slow sexy bump and grind. I remember they really really loved the way I took off my gloves, I think that may have landed the part for me.
Q: Your famous Bruce Lee inspired Nunchuck routine- we know the inspiration, but how did this act come to be? Was this a still you already had, or did the idea for the number come first and the training later?
The act really came from watching the movie “Black Dynamite”. After seeing that movie I realized how much I had always wanted to be skilled in the art of the Nunchucks and kick ass like Black Dynamite. I went to a Ninja store in midtown to get myself a pair of nunchucks, and ended up buying two pairs. I’m a huge Bruce Lee fan (in fact I’m watching The Green Hornet right now). I watched a lot of Bruce Lee movies, the thing is he is really fast. I ended up watching YouTube videos, bought one VHS tape from the 80′s and taught myself that way. Once I learned the basics I was able to go back to Bruce and pick up a few extra kick-ass moves, like the double nunchucks.
Q: Miss Valentine: What was your most memorable Valentine’s Day & what would be your perfect Valentine’s Day gift?
To be very honest, I really don’t go for Valentine’s day. I prefer to be adored and showered with gifts everyday.
Sex Toys, a History
By: Femme Vivre LaRouge
Depictions of sexual devices have been found in the art of cultures worldwide from as far back as 30,000 years ago. Ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians all had their own inventions and don’t appear to have been shy about using them. What the Greeks called olisbos, the Renaissance Italians termed diletto, meaning delight, and that is what we now know as the dildo. Of course, they’ve come along way – they are no longer made of dried camel dung coated in hardened resin (as in the ancient Middle East) or bronze (as in ancient China) and olive oil is no longer the lube of choice.
Then came the Victorians, a group riddled with dichotomy. Repression was the word of the day, especially when it came to sexuality and even more so when it came to women. However, it was during this time period that rubber made its debut, not only for tires, but also dildos, and butt plugs were no longer just carved ginger root or frightening medical devices made of glass. These newfangled wooden eggs were designed and prescribed by doctors to prevent the loss of sperm by forcing it back towards the female reproductive organs. At least that was the theory. In those days, many practices or contraptions that we now consider sexual cloaked themselves as medicinal. Talk about your sexual healing! The steam age also made health spas popular with both men and women, who visited these establishments for therapeutic water jet massage made possible by steam power.
And then there was the hysteria craze. Both psychological and physical in nature, this affliction had many symptoms, including convulsions, choking sensations, heart palpitations, fainting, and sudden, violent mood swings. In this era, women were thought to not only be quite simple, but governed almost entirely by their uterus, and the term hysteria is derived from hustera, the Greek for womb. Neurologist Horatio Bryan Donkin, a man ahead of his time, wrote the description of hysteria for the 1892 Dictionary of Psychological Medicine, in which he pointed out that the suppression of activity in girls and the enforcement of sexual inhibition was a contributor to the disorder. Indeed, it became a quite popular ailment, along with anorexia, especially for aristocratic and intelligent young girls, perhaps because they lacked many avenues of control over their lives and were expected to be completely devoid of libido. Young hysterics even became celebrities of a sort, ‘performing’ their attacks, under hypnosis, in front of audiences and for medical study. They were photographed extensively and would often copy the poses of tragic heroines and figures in Romantic art, as well as influencing the aesthetic their time.
One of the more prominent treatments for hysteria was clitoral massage, performed by a physician, to induce ‘paroxysm,’ or as we know it, orgasm. This was meant to calm the patient and it wasn’t long before the first (steam-powered) vibrator was invented, by an American doctor, George Taylor, in 1869. Then, in 1883, the first electromechanical version was patented and it began to be marketed as a cure-all for women. Advertisements described how much happier, healthier, and more vivacious women would be if they bought these massagers for their face and head; and these ads often described more than healing properties, if one read between the lines. Woman’s Home Companion and Needlecraft magazine sold them by mail order and, in 1918, Sears Roebuck advertised their product as a ‘marital aid’ that no woman should be without. Men were even encouraged to buy vibrators for their wives in order to keep them young and pretty, relaxed and content. In the 1930s, however, the sexual nature of these ‘health aids’ was made more obvious through erotic cinema and without the cover of medicine, vibrators went underground until the sixties.
Sex toys began to flourish again in the sixties, fitting in nicely with the atmosphere of free love. Then, in 1983, Patty Brisben opened Pure Romance, based on the in-home sales party plan, so that women would have a way to comfortably talk about and research sex toys and other erotic goods. The company now does sixty million in sales, annually. As Brisben asserts, “When another woman explains something in a group of women, it becomes ok; they can ask questions without feeling inadequate. Parties are a great place for women to empower themselves to take control in the bedroom.” In the nineties, advances in internet commerce made it even easier to shop for bedroom gadgets anonymously. These instruments became more varied, finally taking into account the specifics of the female anatomy and capitalizing on it. Now all sorts of colors, sizes, rabbits, dolphins, pearls, and even ‘the Cadillac of vibrators,’ the Hitachi Magic Wand are up for sale at a Condoms to Go near you.
The booming sex toy industry has suffered no losses due to the state of the economy, either. Sales are up, from Amazon to independent shop owners. As more couples stay at home to save money, they seem to be spending their time, and a little money, getting more adventurous in the bedroom. The 2010 Venus adult toys exhibition in Berlin broke records, with 273 vendors offering millions of products to nearly 30,000 attendees. And, yep, there’s an app for that. The iPhone now offers an Apple approved application, MyVibe, with adjustable vibration speeds.
Building a Successful Portfolio: Vol II
There are “pin-up models” and Pin-Up Models. The biggest difference between the two? Professionalism and a killer portfolio. Here’s a list of tips and tricks to build a portfolio that gets you noticed!
The Do’s and Don’ts for Pin-Up Portfolios
1. Do invest in your first impression. If you are taking your pin-up modeling seriously, you should take your image and likeness seriously as well. You are creating a persona that will be your calling card- represent it well. Pay for your first photoshoot, and get the best photographer possible. Just as you want to be paid for your time, quality, and professionalism; photographers deserved to be paid for theirs as well. Remember, you get what you pay for.
If you can only afford one photo shoot start, that’s ok- make it count! Get the highest quality and most variety you can out of your first paid shoot. If you have a great session under your belt, many more will follow. Having one fabulous photo shoot on your pages will do so much more for you than a hundred crappy shoots. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
2. Do: Be careful who you shoot with. Outside of the obvious safety concerns- there is the obvious truth that your image matters in this business! Shooting with sub-par photographers and hobbyists can hurt you. (Now there are plenty of talented photographers who choose to make photography their hobby as opposed to full time work. I respect that- those guys & gals are not who my comment is directed at.) In a digital age where anything and everything can be found with a few clicks, you do not want sub-par images of you floating around. Poorly lit, unflattering, or “cheap looking”, photos can hurt the professionalism you are trying to convey. You’ve seen ‘em- you know what I’m talking about. Does this mean you can’t seek out free photo shoots? No, it just means a lot of research on your part to make sure the project is one you want to be a part of and the photographer is worth working with.
3. Don’t: Post more than two images from a series.
Choose the absolute best from a shooting series to post. It’s sometimes very hard to narrow down, but it’s important to do so to prevent it becoming tedious for the viewer, and to make sure you are putting your best foot forward.
4. Do: make your portfolio as diverse as possible!
Shoot with as many talented photographers as possible. Shoot different concepts, characters, themes, and lighting styles. Shoot as much as you are comfortable with; avoid being pigeon- holed by shooting fetish and fashion, pin-up and conceptual.
5. Do get real high resolution images of your shoots- Size Matters! I cannot tell you how important this is. In the digital age, it is very easy to tag & snag images from sites like Facebook, or live shots from online media sources. This is not the same as having a high resolution image. A high resolution image is at least 300 dpi/ppi, AND either 1000 pixels (or 8 inches) in at least one direction. It must meet both of these criteria to be high res.
You cannot artificially make a low res image into a high res image simply by changing the numbers in a photo editing program. The print quality still sucks, because even though your numbers are correct, you have taken that small amount of digital information and spread it over a larger area, making the image grainy or pixilated. The original source file must be large enough to qualify as high res. in order to have good print quality – period.
Do Not Shrink Them to Email!- The bigger the better! If sending them one at a time is still too much- try zipping them, or use an external free program such as Dropbox or You Send It.
Only High Resolution Images are print worthy!
6. Do Get your own website as soon as possible. No matter how useful and essential they are for marketing purposes, sites like MySpace, Face Book, Twitter, and Model Mayhem, and anyone else we forgot- do not replace a real website!
Why? Go to a random computer and Google or Bing Yourself. Follow those links and you’ll see how many things are not visible. If you are not logged in, or not a friend, or a member- or whatever other criteria are established for that site- you won’t be able to research you- period.
Example (True Story): A major national advertising sent me an email asking me as the editor of Pin Curl, to help him locate a model we featured. He found her on our site, knew her name, but couldn’t find contact information and wasn’t going to create a Facebook or MySpace page simply to find her. She ended up landing the major contract because I put them in touch, however, if he hadn’t been willing or able to reach out to me, she could have just as easily missed out on that contract- all because she didn’t have a website.
A personal website also allows you to properly represent yourself. Instead of every single image you’ve ever been tagged in showing up- drunken club nights, etc. This allows you to control your brand (You are your brand) fully. You don’t have to worry about bad snapshots of you making the rounds, or random thoughts about last night’s dinner party leaking out into your professional persona.
7. Do: Choose an online portfolio viewer that’s easy for website visitors to navigate.
You want it to be as easy as possible to be your fan- and that means looking at your images! Don’t force people to sift through pop up viewers or download to view your work, or sift through countless folders. I like simple viewer- it’s just what it sounds like- a simple and efficient way to organize a portfolio- and it’s free!
8. Don’t have more than two or three portfolios. Have clear organization.
In following the same easy to use theme- be organized. Have your portfolios listed by the time of images therein – I.E. pin-up, fetish, conceptual. Don’t list them by photographer, or anything else; it results in too many folders to go through and becomes cluttered.
9. Do: Update your portfolio on your website often.
I know it is often easier just to update your social media sites (IE Facebook), but if you only update those, before you know it your official website has become outdated and it defeats the purpose of even having one. Remember: Your website is the official representation of you!
10. Do: Have permission. Make sure your photographer knows you want the images for promotional purposes and that you will be sending/posting them everywhere. You can run into serious legal trouble using images without permission. Do not assume that because you paid for the shoot that you own the images- because you don’t. For more on the laws regarding photography, usage, and copyright; check out our Copyright Law: Myths vs. Facts article. Also, make sure you always give credit where credit is due. A simple caption with the photographer, make-up artist, hair stylist, and stylist is a great way to help out people you enjoy working with, while simultaneously covering your ass!
By: Femme Vivre LaRouge
This month’s installation of Burlesque Arrests illustrates the ongoing decency debate through the life and trials of Lili St. Cyr, billed as the Anatomic Bomb. Lili, a sophisticated chanteuse, played quite a part in elevating the art of the striptease from a solely burlesque house existence to one on the glitzy new stages of Las Vegas. Miss St. Cyr dressed and undressed herself very finely, testifying in 1951that she currently had $4,200 invested in her costumes and $11,750 in her props! After retiring from the stage, she went on to open her own line of high-end, mail-order lingerie like the garments she wore onstage; packages were delivered tantalizingly marked “Intimate Secrets by Lili St. Cyr.”
As a burlesque queen, Lili St. Cyr reigned over Montreal’s thriving nightclub scene for most of the 1940s, but in the early 1950s, a campaign to clean up the nightlife was sweeping the city. Religious groups began protesting about Lili’s show, claiming that “a stench of sexual frenzy plagues the theater the whole time this dancer’s exhibition lasts” and demanding that the authorities ban any shows given by her in the city of Montreal. Although the police initially observed her performances at The Gayety and decided there was no cause for action, public pressure eventually drove officials to re-examine the existing laws dealing with performance and public morality. As a result, Lili received a summons to appear in court to “answer charges under a section of the Criminal Code dealing with offensive, immoral, or indecent exhibitions,” in 1951. The evidence offered against her was rather flimsy and Miss St. Cyr was acquitted, with the judge noting, “It seems to me that those who made the most noise here today were persons who didn’t even see the performance complained of.” As Lili herself told a reporter, “everyone has a right to his opinion, but a lot of people are prejudiced who would not be if they could see my act. I don’t like vulgarity – I think it is ugly – and on the burlesque circuit they think I’m high-hat.”
Naturally, the brouhaha only served as publicity for her, as is usually the case with these matters. The victory was celebrated in an article from Commerce Montreal, which described Lili’s performance thusly: “With a sparkling light she executes the most fantastic dances of eternal theme…She gives a wake-up to adolescence, a stimulant to the young man, comfort to the middle-aged man, sweet memory to the old man…Lili is the goddess of love reincarnate.” The article also warned that if the reformers triumphed the city would not only lose its reputation as the capital of nightlife, but millions of tourist dollars as well. Unfortunately, the Commerce’s advice went unheeded, The Gayety was shut down, and Lili St. Cyr moved on…to Las Vegas.
That same year, the Special Committee on Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce led an investigation on political corruption, the Mafia, and its connection with strip joints. As the U.S. drifted out of war times and into the family-focused fifties, public consensus about decency took a conservative swing and the pin-ups and burlesque dancers who had been praised for helping to win the war were now being told to cover up. Even Sin City wasn’t yet ready for St. Cyr; her act was in interrupted at El Rancho and she was arrested in September of 1951. She was let out on $1,000 bail, skipped her hearing, and hoofed it to Los Angeles.
In L.A. Lili had been headlining a swanky Hollywood club, Ciro’s, where she entertained the likes of Dean Martin, Ronald Reagan, and Humphrey Bogart with her famous bubble bath, even selling her own line of bubble bath in the gift shop. Although Lili kept herself covered by bubbles, a bath towel, or her ladies’ maid, there were those who took umbrage to her act. In October 1951, club owner Herbert Hover and Lili St. Cyr were arrested, and her g-string and net bra seized for evidence. The charges were giving an indecent performance and lewdly exposing her person. Despite the insistence of the club’s publicist that the whole debacle had been an orchestrated media stunt, the D.A. pursued the case and Lili hired renowned defense attorney Jerry Giesler. Giesler had already successfully defended Charlie Chaplin, Errol Flynn, and gangster Bugsy Siegel, just to name a few. He noted, of his tendency to take cases revolving around sex, “It’s because sex is not only one of the facts of life, it’s also – at least in my experience – one of the most prevalent bases of legal strife.” Giesler insisted that Lili’s act was artistic and refined and requested that her jurors be made up of “people capable of judging such things on their artistic merit.” Accusations against Lili included that her towel was see-through, which was refuted by examination of the towel in question, and that her dance involved a pelvic bump. Captain Walker Hannon described this hip motion as “Mae West wiggles” and the short, rotund Hover, when asked to demonstrate a bump, shyly sent the courtroom into fits of laughter. Captain Sutton testified that he had not seen either bumps or grinds and the jury soon acquitted Lili, after which she stated, “This is a real victory for the profession.” Once again, the trial increased her fame and the Hollywood Report gossip column ranked her with Lana Turner and Ava Gardner in their Pucker-Up Poll, while an ad for Ciro’s touted, “See What Hollywood Saw! – Was the Jury Right?”
Lili, whom journalist Walter Winchell said outstripped even Gypsy Rose Lee, stated, “If I do demoralize an audience, as some people say, then I’m glad I do it. People need a loosening up. Most of the people in this country are hypocritical, too many put on a front of being shocked at certain kinds of behavior. It’s a joke to think I could demoralize anyone with this little act. If one has morals, then they can’t be taken away by me or anyone else.” As the line goes in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, “God bless Lili St. Cyr!”
Chocolate Covered Strawberries
That’s right, it’s Valentine’s Day. You can tell by the Isaac Hayes playing in the background and the soft pink glow on everything. Okay I sometimes forget that reality and television are not the same thing. But there is one Valentine’s Day television staple that is easy for you to make a reality on your own, chocolate covered strawberries (now made with real love!).
- 1 pound strawberries with stems (about 20 berries)
- 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
- Rinse the strawberries well but leave the stems attached. Drain them and pat them completely dry. Put the chopped semisweet chocolate in a heatproof medium bowl. Fill a medium sized saucepan with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off the heat and set the bowl of chocolate over the hot water to melt. Remember to keep stirring the chocolate until it is smooth. Once the chocolate is melted and smooth remove it from the heat. Line a sheet pan with parchment or waxed paper. Holding the strawberry by the stem, dip the bottom half into the melted chocolate and twist to that to chocolate covers the strawberry. Set the chocolate covered strawberries on the parchment paper to allow the chocolate to set. Do not eat them all during the preparation process!
When people in love think of things to consume on Valentine’s Day strawberries and champagne are high on the list. People not in love tend to think about pizza and a beer or whatever may be left in that bottle of wine in the fridge. Let’s stick with the love theme and try sprucing up a glass of champagne with a classic champagne cocktail.
- 3 drops bitters
- 1 sugar cube
- 1 ounce Cognac
- 4 ounces chilled Champagne
- In a small glass, soak the sugar cube in bitters. Place the soaked sugar cube in a Champagne flute and add Cognac and Champagne. Let the romance ignite…