A Page from Caramel Knowledge’s Diary: Southwest Burlesque Festival 2014

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Caramel Knowledge

Caramel Knowledge

Wednesday February 12

Having just barely thawed out from the Great Burlesque Exposition in Boston, I found myself on an 8 am flight heading to Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment.  My Avengers inspired piece, Nicki Fury, was accepted as part of the 8th Annual Southwest Burlesque Showcase and I would be lighting up the stage during the pre-party.  I arrived a day early to get settled and hopefully take in some of the local flavor.  I was lucky enough to be hosted for the event by my dear friend and fellow burlesque performer Ri Ri CynSyr who picked me up from the local airport, unfazed by the cow slippers that graced my feet.  Pooped from way too much air travel in the in the span of 72 hours, I crashed on a comfy futon and woke several hours to find my gracious host cooking a traditional Southwestern dish of green chile chicken enchiladas and calabacitas that was to die for! We wrapped the night watch the Walking Dead and picking up Ri Ri’s other guest, the spectacular Ms. Ginger Snaps. Before heading to bed there was talk of burlesque, Blue Sky donuts and extreme excitement over the weekend’s coming events.

Ginger Snaps and Caramel Knowledge sporting their dress score from Free Radicals

Ginger Snaps and Caramel Knowledge sporting their dress score from Free Radicals

Thursday February 13

The next morning we did as tourists do: took pictures in front of Walter White’s house (sans pizza) and car wash, and had delicious gourmet donuts from Rebel Donuts.  Having sufficiently filled my sugar limit for they day, we headed out to some of the local stores including Off Broadway, where I was tempted to spend my rent money on a gorgeous pink peignoir, Larry’s Hats, who had sublime vintage jewelry and hats, and Masks y Mas which had fantastic Dia de los Muertos art work and sculptures. But I saved my money for Free Radicals run by Nan Morningstar.  The locally owned rockabilly, psychobilly, punk rock, goth and more store, Free Radicals was going to open its doors for SWBF performers on Sunday for a special sale.  But as Ginger and I were leaving Sunday, Nan extended the sale to us on Thursday and we walked away with the same cute Pinup Couture dress!  Later that afternoon we hit the venue for the show, Low Spirits Bar & Stage, for a quick tech then went home to get ready!

Local performer Paris-a-GoGo was the emcee for the Thursday night pre-party which set a high bar for the weekend’s events.  From Damian Wonderluv’s smooth vocals and Ginger Snaps crazy cat lady to Joy Coy’s gorgeous point work and Shan de Leer’s Wonder Woman, the show had something for every one and the crowd was very appreciative. I was nervous about my Nicki Fury act as my tesseract can be temperamental and surprisingly not everyone has seen the movie, the Marvel’s The Avengers! However, after my performance a burlesque virgin bought me a drink and said was enjoying himself, so I must have done something right. The evening went way too fast and before I knew it I found myself having breakfast at ungodly o’clock at a local IHOP. It was a miracle I managed to take off my make-up once we got home and I slept like the dead.

The Thursday night cast at SWBF

The Thursday night cast at SWBF

 

Friday February 14

Dr. Lucky & audience member

Dr. Lucky & audience member

With the pressure performing gone, Friday was a leisure day with more sight seeing and shopping before the evening’s big event.  Ri Ri, her husband, Gigi and I brunched at another Breaking Bad hot spot, Java Joe’s, because you can’t get enough chiles when you are in New Mexico, and enjoyed walking around Albuquerque’s Old Town where I picked up some souvenirs for my main squeeze, General Knowledge, and my sister. We had been following Dr. Lucky’s saga trying to escape the polar vortex as she posted on Facebook.  While the four of us were at an awesome art shop, Stranger Factory, Dr. Lucky was battling the airline trying to locate some very important luggage.  We wrapped up our afternoon eating ice cream at I Scream. Before we headed home Ri Ri took up Dr. Lucky’s cause, and by show time, Dr. Lucky had a fantastically coiffed head of hair thanks to the talented Ginger Snaps.

This being my first time to the Kimo, I was enthralled and made a vow to come back next year to dance on the stage. The historic theatre was filled near capcity and charged with excitement from an eager audience.  Dr. Lucky and Devin D. hosted the all-star show that just kept getting better.  I was pleased that So Cal’s own Scarlett Letter and Bobby Burlesque impressed the audience with their individual performances. Albuquerque represented hard with group acts from both Burlesque Noir and the Boys of Burlesque Noir with the Sons of Perdition.  Red Rum left most of us speechless with her act.  She made horror both sexy and funny, and you could not take your eyes off of her. Dr. Lucky nearly stole the show with where she tucked an audience member’s glasses. Her stage presence made me even more exited to take her class the following day.   Shannon Doah was flawless and Ray Gunn, left us wanting more. I’m certain there was a party to celebrate the wonderful evening, but we ended up at another local

Carne Asada Fries

Carne Asada Fries

spot for carne asada fries. My bed was calling as the first class was at 9 am and I was not going to be late for my first meeting with Jett Adore!

Saturday, February 15

Whenever I attend festivals I try to take as many classes as possible. Not only are you supporting the local scene, but you are helping performers travel and share their wisdom which makes the whole business better.  Plus, it isn’t every day you get to spend quality time with burlesque innovators and legends, and Kitty Irreverent and Holly Rebelle put together a fantastic line up.  I started my morning at the Flying Star soaking up as much as I could about stage presence from Jett Adore and his “5 S’s of Burlesque”. The class was too short and I really hope that he teaches again at another event I attend!  Next up was an intimate Q&A with the Grand Beaver herself, Judith Stein who I have had the pleasure of spending time with on several occasions. I loved hearing her stories and how she connects with her audience. I walked away with an autographed photo and an

Group Grope!

Group Grope!

even deeper admiration.  I regrettably had to miss Shannon Doah’s panel skirt and dusters class, but from the reports I heard, all in attendance had a fantastic time with a wonderful legend. Dr. Lucky’s class on “Connecting to the Audience” was full of clowning and buffoonery, and even if we didn’t have a group grope, I felt like I connected with my classmates and had more tools to confidently seduce my audience. It was a tough call as I was very interested in Dustin Wax’s Sassy Lassies Unite: The History of the Exotic Dancers League.  Dustin and The Burlesque Hall of Fame had a table set up at the Kimo Theatre and it showcased a few costumes, but there is nothing like hearing the stories told by a knowledgeable expert.  However, I ended my day of classes with the joy that is Bazuka Joe.  By the end of the movement class I told him I was going to steal the choreography he taught; it was fun and jazzy, and the perfect way to wrap up a day of learning.

Jett Adore at SWBF

Jett Adore at SWBF

Saturday night: After watching the evening’s performances, I left a pen for Bobby –the ghost who haunts the Kimo!- as tribute for *next* year.  If I had socks they would have been blown away.  My LA family: Madeline Sinclair, Ruby Champagne and Red Snapper & Mr. Snapper all delivered delicious performances; local performer General Blackery left it on the stage as an Eartha Kitt inspired Catwoman. Jett Adore did his peacock act, and having taken his class, it was wonderful to see his lesson in action; I watched as Judith Stein seemed to connect with every audience member, steal our hearts. I’m sure the Stage Door Johnnies are tired of hearing how fantastic they are, but every time they hit the stage, they put on an unforgettable performance. I had never seen the act they presented, but one of the things I always admire is how they are able to play up to each of the members strengths allowing each dance a moment to shine as a solo performer and still work as a group.

The After-party was at the Black Bird Bouvette brought to you by Close Contact 80s Night.  There were burlesque performances, burlesque inspired drinks, and plenty of dancing!  It was packed that night and that didn’t stop me from catch up with a few gals. I couldn’t tell you what time I got home, but there were plenty of shenanigans by all.

The next morning was the performer brunch at Scalo Northern Italian Grill with their famous Bloody Marys with bacon in them!  I opted for a quieter brunch before heading out.  I knew I would be saying good-bye to all my friends until way past my departure time, so I brunched with my hosts at Standard Diner (featured on Food Network!) before flying home.  The atmosphere was pleasant, the service great, and the food scrumptious.  While waiting to board my flight home, I was the crazy person grinning her to herself, happy to have spent time with old friends, and excited about adventures with new ones.  I have taken to heart the best advice about festivals that I was ever given by Ms. Red Snapper, which is to make friends, not impressions.  If you perform your best, people will notice, but making friends will provide a life time of joy and this past weekend was a perfect example of it.

My next festival appearance will be at Austin’s Texas Burlesque Festival, and I already know that a few of the folks I met in New Mexico will be there as well and I’m pleased as punch!

Heading to TXBF?  Check out: Ruby Joule’s Glamma Gal’s Guide to Austin, TX

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