Post archive

Silken Burlesque Varietease

Last night I was over in Leek, performing in Silken Burlesque Varietease.  Organised and promoted by Mina Von Vixen, as part of the Leek Arts Festival, the show was the first of its type in town.  There was a good mix of performers, showing a huge range of burlesque, from the comedic to the sexy, from cutesy to character driven.  And a contortionist!

Mina had asked me to perform 'The Big Sleaze', and so that was the first act I did.  As always, it was a hit with the audience, and even a slight wardrobe malfunction couldn't take away from the fun I was having.  The audience were a great crowd, really enthusiastic and energetic.  Mina's promotion had paid off!  Here are a couple of my favourite shots, by Cat Marie Photographer:

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The second act I did was my newest act.  If you've been following my Tumblr, you'll have seen me creating the costume for it.  Usually I would have made a longer blog post about the creation of the act, but this time I'm waiting.  The act is called 'I Adore', and is a striptease and fan dance combo.  It's very glamorous and showgirl in look, but is quite dark and sexual in feel, as are most of my acts nowadays.  Here are some tasters:

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The night was a great success, and well enjoyed by cast and audience alike.  Here's the line up (Mina Von Vixen, me with my pasties still out (!), Lux De Lioux, Pansy Cheung, Venus Velvet, Adora Tickle, and Samara Casewell - our compere, Cherry Lace, isn't here for some reason):

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Creativity with Luna

The lovely Emma, of Luna Photography, is a photographer I've known for several years now, but seen and worked with not nearly enough.  Yesterday I went to her studio in Nottingham for a very creative shoot.  Sophie, a make up artist, was putting together a project based on avant garde fashion designers, which meant I got to be used as a crazy canvas.  Fellow burlesquer Rose Desire was also a model, and we were transformed with extravagant make up and as many accessories as we could pile on!  And being performers, Rose and I managed to bring lots of accessories between us.

The look Sophie created on me was slightly Bowie influenced, which of course made me happy.  While shooting, I gave my best strong and attitude filled looks.  The unedited shots looked great on the back of the camera:

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The Alliance shoots

Yesterday, Simon and I popped over to Birmingham.  Specifically, we went to Studio 197 to see Keigo Kato.  I'd last been here all that time ago when I shot my Fetish Leia shots.  This time, we were shooting Uneasy Alliance's new look.  Soon, we'll have some shiny new publicity photos!  Here's a sneaky peek at my side of the look:

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Our aesthetic for the Alliance is a 1920s inspired look with a modern twist.  And so I've been working on my fingerwaves.  As you can see, my ridges are sharp!  I'm pairing them with a sculpted black smoky-ish eye, sparkly eyelashes, and a vampy red lip.  Simon has also taken on a bit of a 20s look, and we're channelling silent movie style.  Our outfits for this shoot were co-ordinating black and gold ensembles.  I can't wait to show off the finished shots!

Sketchy at the Alt Fair

Yesterday I went to Leicester, for the Alternative and Burlesque Fair.  It was the first time in ages I'd actually been to one of the Fairs, and I was looking forward to seeing the Heresy crew again after last year's Skin Two Midlands show.  Liberty Pink was hosting a taster session for Dr Sketchy's Leicester, and I was serving as model and performer for this section.

For most of the time I was there I simply got to relax and enjoy the fair.  I browsed stalls, watched the other performers (Ellie Deville and Florence Fontaine, who I'd never seen before and was impressed by, and Slinky Sparkles who is always wonderful), and eat extravagant cake with the hospitality team.  When it came to time to perform, I decided to go a little androgynous for the occasion.  I was performing 'The Dancing Serpent', with its minimal costume, and this time instead of the long curly ponytail I favoured last year, I slicked my hair back.  I also used a strong bronze shimmer powder to contour my face strongly, and the overall effect was a very severe 1980s-reminiscent look.  Once the act was over, I slipped back into my costume and stood for a pose while the attendees sketched, and I got to choose a winner.  It was an afternoon well spent, and this wonderful picture (by Mark A. Hood) shows the act off beautifully:

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Tallula's Cabaret

The past few weeks have been a little quiet.  There have been a few interesting things happen, but none with enough content for their own blog post.  I put in an appearance at a charity fundraising night with a Take Me Out theme, organised by students at Derby University, which was a fun night out (which raised more than their goal amount as well).  And there have been a couple of other projects I can't say much about.  But then this weekend I've been up in Merseyside again, and last night I performed at Tallula's Cabaret.

The show is an intimate evening of performances, put on by Tallula's in New Brighton.  Simon had performed for them a couple of times, and showed them my work.  And so they asked me to perform my Fairytale act.  The venue was lovely, a beautifully decorated bar with a very burlesque feel to it, and the owners were very friendly and welcoming.  The other acts (fellow burlesquer Roxie Royale, a juggler, and a singing compere with an eclectic set) were all nice as well, which is always a bonus.  My act was well received, and as a bonus I stuck around to do a bit of dancing afterwards!  It was the first gig I've done with my hair short, and I attempted a hairstyle I've been calling the 'faux fingerwave':

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Monday at Tip Top

On Monday it was back to my old haunt, Tip Top Studios (I swear I'll be paying rent there soon, I'm there so often) for their Monday night model session.  I'd dropped in for one of these workshops last year - around the same time actually - and they're always good fun.  This was to be my first professional shoot with my new hairstyle, and I was looking forward to it.

We shot four different sets, including a pretty white lingerie set, an edgy black bodysuit set, a pinup set with a bathtub, and finished with simple headshots.  The photographers were all lovely, and there was a lovely atmosphere all round.  Here are a couple of the shots from Steve:

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Vampire Metamorphosising

With a little help from me (over his shoulder), Simon's been at the video editing again.  This time he's stitched together a few clips of me performing 'The Vampire's Metamorphosis' over Halloween.  The clips are taken from The Cheeky Devils' Club in Ipswich and from Embraced Burlesque in Birmingham. I think they show the character pretty nicely.

 

'The Vampire's Metamorphosis' Teaser Video

Spirit Models relaunch

After a quiet Christmas and New Year, with a few interesting private engagements here and there and a bit of actual time to myself, it's time to get back into the swing of things.  To kick off this year in style, I went over to Birmingham yesterday for an intriguing little gig.  Spirit Models, an agency to which I belong, were relaunching their agency in their new premises, and having a little party to celebrate.  Sapphira, the owner, had wanted some entertainment, and asked if I'd oblige.  So I packed up a couple of acts and wandered over, wondering all the time who the advertised 'special guest' would be!

The party was being held in a beautiful salon near the agency offices, quite alternative (as befits Spirit's aesthetic) and decorated in black and bling.  The guests were various people who were working with the agency, including photographers and event organisers, and I was happy to see people I knew there, including Cinnamon Stewart, and a contingent of the Heresy'n'Heelz team.  Other models were also in attendance providing hospitality, and it was lovely to meet a few new people.  I was also, unofficially, using the party as the public unveiling of my new look:

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As for who the special guest was, well ...

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Captain Jack, who gave the whole event a slightly piratical theme, was being followed for a possible documentary on lookalikes.  He hosted the evening, headed up some games, and co-opted guests into his crew (including myself).  His mannerisms and speech were spot on!

My performances were my classic combination of 'Fairytale' and 'The Big Sleaze'.  Of course, performing with short hair is a bit of a challenge now.  For some of my acts (e.g. 'The Dancing Serpent') it will look fine and in fact add to a particular look, but for many others, it simply won't.  For 'The Big Sleaze', I used my Morticia wig to add to the femme fatale look, and to add drama to the part where I take off my snood and literally let my hair down.  For 'Fairytale', which I want to have a very feminine and pretty feel, I busted out a new hairpiece, which I have christened Paloma:

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After my performances were done, I was free to mingle, chat, and generally have a nice time.  It was a lovely evening, spent with friends old and new.

Rogue!

Yesterday I went back to Tip Top Studios for the second time in a week.  This time, I was shooting with Mark Wood.  I was finally doing the shoot I'd been aiming towards for ages, but never got around to doing.  But since I am planning on getting rid of this hairstyle (again, but I suspect more permanently this time) it was 'now or never'.  I was shooting my Rogue cosplay!

The first outfit we shot was my classic 90s Rogue outfit, which I had cosplayed at the London Super Comic Con back in 2012, and which I had been wearing when I met Stan Lee!  I discussed the costume in more detail in the linked blog post, so I won't repeat it here.  All I will say is that the jumpsuit was created by fellow model Anansie, and I put the rest of the accessories together to create the iconic look:

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I definitely think my hair styling has improved!  The big bouncy skunk-streaked hair is a Rogue trademark, and I think I definitely rocked it.  Even more so in the second outfit though!  This was my 'casual' Rogue look, the kind of thing she wears when she's off duty, as influenced by illustrations from maybe three different issues.  I had the bright yellow bustier custom made by pinup seamstress Lorena B Rodriguez, and again I put the rest of the accessories together to complete the look.  I chose Daisy Dukes, vintage bright green gloves I'd picked up from eBay, and of course the heeled cowboy boots, X belt, and green plastic hoops.  Although it's less canon, I love this look because it's instantly recognisable as Rogue to anyone who knows the character, and it captures her fun side:

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Latex and hairpieces

Yesterday I was back in Tip Top Studios, for not quite the last time this year.  I was shooting with Steve again, beautiful pieces from Shhh! Couture latex.  Steve and I have collaborated on producing product images for Shhh! Couture several times now, and the results are always pretty darn good.  We'd done dark and fetish, we'd done sweet and girly, and this time, we were going bright and cartoony!

Shoshanna, the designer, makes a lot of cosplay inspired latex pieces, and the pieces she had sent over this time were all based on the costumes of characters from The Flintstones.  The cut, as always, was fabulous and figure flattering in the extreme, and we had a lot of fun trying to capture the characters associated with each outfit:

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Wilma Flintstone

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Betty Rubble

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Pebbles Flintstone

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Bamm Bamm Rubble

We also shot a lovely smoky grey and lilac pearlescent dress with cutouts and a geometric pattern:

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As well as the shiny rubber, I also modelled a couple of hairpieces.  The first was a Red Rose flower crown, made by pinup Frankii Wilde,  She makes all sorts of flower crowns and clips with foam roses in various colours.  For this shot, I moved the roses from the centre of the headband to one side:

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And finally, a custom kanzashi made to resemble my logo, by another fellow model Maz, who also set up Yume Kanzashi.  She makes these by hand, crafting each individual element from fabric.  The detail involved is phenomenal!

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Back to Cabaret Noir

On Saturday I went back up to Chester to perform at Cabaret Noir for the second time.  The first time, back in June, had been a fairly standard cabaret show, with burlesque, musical acts, and magic.  This time, however, the show was themed.  Set in a Weimar-esque club, the musical acts were linked by short sketches.  And I was the only burlesque act!  Roger Stephens and Phoebe Dodd returned as pianist and singer respectively, and compere duty was taken over by Jack Malone, who also sang.  The entire cast pitched in with the skits, and the show as a whole had a feeling of cohesion - unsurprising really, seeing as they had been rehearsing it as an entire theatrical production.  I, on the other hand, turned up on the day and just did my bit!  I performed 'Fairytale', using my blue and white lily costume, and 'The Dancing Serpent'.

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Afterwards, we all mingled in the bar and chatted to the audience, whilst Roger played some ambient music.  it had been a wonderful show, and something really different for me to be involved in.  And I got to rock my goth dress again:

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Shooting with Neal

On Saturday I went to Wolverhampton to shoot with Neal Shaw.  I first shot with Neal years ago, when I was in my early days of shooting nudes, in the same studio.  That shoot had yielded one of my best images, which to this day remains one of my most popular.  And so I was looking forward to seeing what we would come up with this time.

I had packed a wardrobe of sheer lace, bright colours, and bodysuits.  We were going for soft glamour and subtle sexiness.  Neal likes to use natural lighting, and I love the effect it gives.  He also likes to shoot models with big hair, which I was more than happy to oblige!

Catching up with Neal was great fun, and it was interesting to see how my work has progressed since we last worked together.  Here are some of my favourites:

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Skin Two Midlands

On Friday I performed at the Skin Two Midlands event in Birmingham.  This was the first event of the Midlands Fetish Weekend, and the first Skin two event to be staged in the Midlands in quite sometime. The stage shows were being produced by Heresy'n'Heelz, which meant that I was being reunited with old friends!

As well as HnH head honchos Jules and Shazzie, there was also compere Kieron and stage manager Morticiaa to catch up with, and a whole host of others I got to hang out with again.  Other performers were Liberty Pink and Natsumi Scarlett, both of whom are wonderful!  We also had Maria, an aerial hoop artist, and RockIt dance, who performed bellydance to metal music.

Liberty opened the show with a live singing set, and threw in a bit of flinging while she was at it - and why not?  I was next up with the debut performance of my revamped act 'Restricted'; although I have been performing an act of this name for years, I have changed the music, completely remade the costume, and re-done the choreography.  It's still a striptease performed completely whilst handcuffed, but it's much more intense and all-out sexy now!  Debuts of routines are always tricky - you're always worried if it will go right.  But I needn't have worried; the audience seemed to love it!  I had many a complimentary comment, and even a few spectators singing along (which is always a good sign).  There were a few costume issues, but as always, a debut performance is what is needed to know what works and what should be changed.

After this act, I stuck around to see Natsumi's newest act, which is a beautiful performance piece with elements of clowning.  It's very difficult to describe, but suffice to say it left Liberty and me both speechless!  Then it was time for me to get into my alternate blue and white costume to perform 'Fairytale'. It's an old favourite, and such a different mood and feel to 'Restricted', that it felt nice to show some versatility.

Once my performances were over, I got changed into a lovely piece of rubber.  Skin Two is well known for its latex features, and there was lots of lovely latex fashion being shown off at the event.  I decided to use my time to showcase a piece by my favourite designer, Shhh! Couture, for whom I've modelled a few times now:

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The performances were closed by Natsumi's infamous Marie Antoinette routine.  I've worked on many a HnH event where this act has been the headline, but since I've been working I've never actually seen it.  This time round, I refused to miss it, and made sure I was front and centre.  It was definitely worth the effort!  Natsumi is a true pro, and the performance she gave looked effortlessly polished.  You can absolutely see why she's a resident of so many events.

I ended my night with some bonding with the HnH crew, chatting to Tim from Skin Two, and dancing at Simon.  Hopefully I'll be working more with the Heresy team next year, and then there'll be more nights like this one!

Intimate Images

On Saturday I went over to Birmingham for a shoot with Mark of Intimate Images.  We were aiming to shoot something new for both of us, a little out of our respective comfort zones, but something we both wanted to try and to do more of.  We started out with a challenge for me, with some traditional magazine-style glamour.  I love this style, but have always thought I'd be no good at it, and it was fun to finally give it a try. This is all in the face, which has always been my bugbear!

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After this we moved into territory which was much more erotica.  This was where my acting and expression skills were really pushed, as we went for our take on the selfie:

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And finally, I got to put on my ballet heels for the first time in years (and really stretch my legs in the process) and play on a piano ...

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Embraced Showcase

On Saturday I did my last Halloween gig of the year, in Wolverhampton at Embraced Showcase.  No pictures from this one, I'm afraid.  I did my two usual Halloween acts, plus 'Fairytale'.  There were so many other performers on the bill I may forget one if I try to list them all, so it may be safer to not try and make sure I don't inadvertently offend anyone!  But everyone was lovely and backstage the atmosphere was lots of fun.  The audience loved the show, and it was nice to see regulars supporting everyone - this was the third birthday special!  It was also lovely to see Maria Moreish (who I met at a private event last year) and Lux de Lioux (who I met at the last Alternative and Burlesque Fair I stage managed) again.

Apologies for the short update on this one!  Normal service will be resumed soon.

Halloween Pinups

Halloween is traditionally a busy time of the year for us burlesquers.  And also for us models.  As well as shows, this year I was asked to do a Halloween shoot.  It was a group workshop, focusing on old school glamour, organised by photographer Michael Lau at his Nottingham studio.  I was asked to think pinup, vampish, etc., and as a result I put together these three looks:

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This is the red velvet dress Fi of Adixxtion Designs made for me, originally for my 'Vampire's Metamorphosis' act.  it's photographed black, but in reality it's a deep, rich red shot through with green.  It's a very 1950s cut and I always wear it with a corset underneath to give me an even more pronounced waist.  It gives a very classic sultry vamp look, close to the Elvira vibe Michael was looking for (it was originally based on Valeria Watt's dress from Carry On Screaming).

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I adored this outfit!  I was channelling the classic Gil Elvgren painting 'Riding High' and the pouting pinup witch portrayed.  All it took was my old faithful corselette and a witch's hat, plus a mini broom provided by Michael.  There were a lot of pinup faces being pulled in this set!

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This outfit is another old faithful, and one I made myself.  It's quite reminiscent of 1950s B movie cavegirls, but I decided it should be a Halloween kitty ...

The shoot went wonderfully, and all the photographers were lovely to work with.  Some of the work that has come out of the session is fantastic!

The Cheeky Devils' Club

On Saturday I travelled down to Ipswich to perform at the Halloween event put on by the Cheeky Devils' Club.  The Alliance performed at the CDC back in April, at their old venue.  This time, they'd moved to a new venue, with a bigger stage and bigger audience capacity.  This show, 'Things That go Bump & Grind in the Night', was the first in this venue.

Also on the bill were Carrie Couture (who performed an act with an animal skull and real seaweed - that's dedication), Carmen Mon Oxide (who pulled off a straitjacket escape whilst singing), and CDC promoter himself Lou Safire (who covered the audience with fake blood during his Jack the Ripper act), as well as compere Miss Jones, who showed off her own magic and escapology skills.  I performed my two most Halloween-worthy acts - 'The Vampire's Metamorphosis' and 'The Dancing Serpent'.  On photo duty was Flash in the Can photography, who got some beautiful shots:

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The acts went down a treat with the audience, who all seemed to really enjoy the show.  We even wrapped things up with a Time Warp!

Shooting with Gary

On Thursday I headed over to Nottingham to shoot with Gary Phillip.  I last shot with Gary a few years ago, where we got some beautiful shots together.  This time around, my body is a lot different, and I'd not shot nudes since going out in the snow with Dee Elegia.  So it was definitely going to be a challenge!

We tried a few different sets, including using a set of lingerie I recently customised (and posted about on my Tumblr) for an upcoming act revamp, and some fashion inspired nudes.  We got some stuff that was very different to my usual styles, and it wasn't long until I got back some edits:

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This shows the new lingerie I'd customised with chains and spikes (I'm sure there will be more detail in an upcoming blog post).  I think it worked really nicely with this lighting setup.

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For this set we just decided to play around and see what we came up with.  It's a bit more dynamic than the usual work I do, and we wanted to catch the feeling of movement.  And surprisingly, there's even a half-smile!

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This is my absolute favourite shot from the session (probably my favourite in a long time).  I love the mood and the subtle sensuality, and the colours are beautiful - the browns are so warm and rich, and I'm in love with the drop-off in colour along the body.

Enchanted Burlesque Tribute

On Saturday Simon and I headed over to Birmingham to perform as part of Enchanted Burlesque's Tribute show.  Enchanted is a large theatre show, mainly burlesque based, and each event is themed.  This show, Tribute, was so named because all of the performers were bringing acts which paid homage to people or characters who had influenced them and their careers.  And of course, our headliner was Miss Carrie-Ann, the Dita von Teese tribute act.

I've worked with Angel and James, the promoters of Enchanted, several times in the past.  I was at their first show, back in its Silk Stocking Striptease Show incarnation, and performed for various events as the show got bigger and bigger.  But this was my first time on their big stage at The Old Rep theatre, and the first time as part of the Alliance.  Working in theatres is like a different world; don't get me wrong, I love working in smaller venues just as much as the bigger ones.  But there is just something about walking into your own dressing room which has your name on the door that makes you feel like a proper professional!  And don't even get me started on the headset microphones.  During our tech rehearsal we got fitted up with these little beauties ... and no, I wasn't Vogueing in the dressing room, why would you think that?

The other performers were all lovely, and there was a nice mix of old friends and new acquaintances.  As well as Carrie-Ann, who had the most wonderful sparkly dresses that set off severe costume envy, there was Miss Cherry Blossoms (performing her new Elvira tribute), Flixx Démontrant (a bizarre sounding Captain Hook), the Moreorlesque sisters (Star Wars Stormtroopers and Care Bears), Angel LaVey (Wilma Flintstone) and Red Sarah (Miss Piggy and a latex-encased Betty Boop).  Compére was Mister Meredith, who I had met at Edinburgh's Magic Faraway Cabaret, and who is wonderful.

For our first set, we weren't using a tribute theme.  Costume-wise, I was determined to have us co-ordinated as much as possible (our widely different styles has been a thorn in my side since we started - I believe that aesthetics are very important, and that if we're a double act then we need to look the part!) and I decided to wear my beautiful orange vintage dress I'd worn at An Evening of Unease.  Simon wore his dapper new suit and picked up an orange tie, which I customised with similar embellishments to those on the dress:

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To start with, we used our usual cabaret set of balloon freak tricks.  We were experimenting with a very deadpan, stilted delivery which we had used to great effect at Marcel Lucont's Cabaret Fantastique in Edinburgh.  It seemed to work - it's always a good thing when the audience is laughing before you even deliver your first line.  We also did our cardboard box trick, which we had done before at Dr Sketchy Leicester and at the Bingo Lounge in Sheffield, back in March.  But this time, there was a subtle difference. 

Now for a bit of background: I love working with Simon.  I love doing the magic act.  But one of the very first things we decided about the act was that it would be a double act.  I would not be his assistant; I would be his equal. In fact, Simon, who is undoubtedly the more talented and skilled of the two of us when it comes to magic and who has taught me nearly everything I know, prefers to give me the most impressive tricks to do.  This is partly because he thinks it fits better with our respective personae to have me with the actual magic 'powers' (and him with the more comedy stuff), and partly so I don't get cast in the role of 'assistant'.  Now, I love magic assistants.  It's a bloody hard job and one that often gets absolutely no credit.  I have played the part of one with Simon in many a gig, and it's fun and wonderful but frustrating at times.  We are the ones who (often) do the work that makes the trick look good, but viewed as fluff and stage dressing.  This usually has to be the case, to add to the misdirection.  And it's all good - if that's what you're aiming for.  But with us, it's not.  We're aiming for both of us to be seen as performers.  Yet I am nearly always assumed to be the 'glamorous assistant', and often dismissed because of it.  Obviously this is because of years of convention - and it's a convention and an assumption we're determined to circumvent.  I love messing around with gender stereotypes in general (see my attempt at an androgyny shoot), and so we have changed one little detail of our cardboard box trick.  Simon went in the box.  It was beautifully received, with the audience all joining in and shouting at him to climb in.  The subtle subversion of having the male performer assume the 'assistant' role and the female assume the more powerful 'magician' role was extremely satisfying!

For our second act, we brought out our new themed set, Uneasy Addams.  This is our tribute to our favourite fictional couple, and was born when a friend of mine commented 'You two are so Gomez and Morticia!'  I'd gone a little further with my make up, to make the eyes and the contouring much more dramatic, and although you can't see it too well here it worked very nicely:

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This act, as a debut, didn't work as well as the earlier set.  But it was still a well received act, and the moment we heard the audience realise who we were portraying was beautiful.  Although Gomez's cigar caused a few heckles!

After the show, most of the performers and some of the audience went out for a drink or two and a mingle.  Which was a very nice way to end the evening.

Snake Dancing

Another short but sweet post with a video update.  Simon has been working hard at the editing again, and has this time done me a rather saucy teaser video for my newest act 'The Dancing Serpent'.  The clips are all taken from my various performances of the act at the Edinburgh Fringe (Magic Faraway Cabaret, Tiny Tea Time Tassel Off, and a couple of Sweet Releases) and a few from our duo Uneasy Alliance show An Evening of Unease.  I really think you can see the evolution of the act, from the debut at Cabaret Nouveau up to now, in terms of styling and of polish.  And I'm rather pleased with that progress!

 

'The Dancing Serpent' Teaser Video

Really? Really! Review

During our run at Edinburgh with our show Really? Really! we filmed audience members as they left the show.  We asked them what they'd thought of the show.  Their thoughts were ... illuminating:

 

Really? Really! Audience Reaction Video

 

Fringe Final Week

Heads up!  If you've not been following this blog regularly, you might not realise that this update is Part Three, or a three part series no less!  So back up and read Part One and Part Two first, then come back.  Now that you're all up to speed, here goes ...

August 19th saw my favourite show of the Fringe.  Since the first day we arrived and looked through the programme for shows to go see in our precious free time, I had been determined to see this one.  It was a show that, in an earlier incarnation, pretty much defined my childhood and set me on the path to nerd-dom and fantasy-building at an early age.  I couldn't miss it.  So I give you ... Knightmare Live:

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That's right - it may have taken me twenty years, but I finally got my hands on Treguard's helmet!  And yes, the existence of this picture is a massive source of pride. 

But anyway, the show itself was awesome.  It must have been a challenge to translate a TV show that relied so heavily on the use of early CGI to a static set, but with the clever use of props and occasional re-jigging, it worked.  There were plenty of references to the TV show for us veterans, with the use of familiar characters, well-known rooms and traps, and of course liberal use of catchphrases.  Guiding the Dungeoneer were comedy troupe The Beta Males, who swapped in and out like a tag team of advisors, and were happy to listen to (and sometimes use) shouted out advice and encouragement from the audience.  They even beat the odds, and won their quest!  For me, the whole thing was like a warm snuggly bubble of nostalgia.  Quite literally actually - we were packed into a venue with little to no airflow, and it was a horribly humid day, so 'warm' is an understatement.  But right from the first moment that Lord Fear stepped out and told an audience member that his name was 'not as good as mine', there was a smile on my face that didn't budge until the next day.  It made it quite difficult to get into character as slightly murderous for Really? Really! later on, but it was worth it!

On the 20th we took a trip over to the comedy side of things and headed to a stand-up gig.  We did a spot at a night run by stand-up and freestyle rapper Chris Turner (who looks the least likely rapper in history, but pulls it off quite well).  Also appearing was a woman called Andrea Cooper, who had me in stitches.  We were the middle act of the night, and performed our freaky balloon tricks, managing to horrify a few rowdy punters in the process.  Also of interest was the fact that the show before this one, in the same venue, was being run by Dr Ettrick-Hogg and Wudwud, a pair I met years ago in Birmingham at the Silk Stocking Striptease Show (now in a new incarnation as Enchanted Burlesque), and whose paths I have crossed a few times since.  We arrived just as they were leaving, so we had a little catch up.

The 21st was a night off for me.  After Really? Really! Simon went to perform at Free Samples comedy, and then at Cabaret Nova, while I caught up with my beauty sleep.  But we got back on track on the 22nd.  Before Really? Really! we headed to see Piff the Magic Dragon.  Other than his appearance on Penn & Teller: Fool Us, I knew very little of Piff, so I was interested to see how his show worked.  I loved the dynamic between him and his assistant Amy Sunshine (who I know to be a lovely girl even if she comes across a bit moody ...), and it was good for us to see how another male/female duo interacted on stage.  But Mr Piffles the Magic Chihuahua is possibly the most adorable little critter I've ever seen, certainly on a stage.

Later the same night I headed back to the Sweet Release, to again perform my Dancing Serpent.  This time I also got to see sketch troupe Thunderbards, Claire Healy (who did her wonderful nerd song again), Slap & Giggle (who roped me into appearing in their documentary video), and Alex the Mind Reader (I also got to meet his partner, aerialist Daisy Black, with whom he performs a freakshow double act we chatted about - unfortunately we never got to see them performing in this guise, but I would definitely like to).  I also finally got to see Peter Antoniou doing his blindfold routine, which I'd heard a lot about but never actually witnessed.

On the 23rd I went back to the Magic Faraway Cabaret to perform my final burlesque act of the Fringe.  I took my Dancing Serpent, which is fast becoming my favourite act to perform, and it was well received.  I was second on, unfortunately missing Ria Lina with her ukulele, although I did get to see Joan Shepard (oldest performer at the Fringe) regale the audience with tales of old Hollywood, David Mills' take on comedy, and of course Dave the Bear's boylesque.  I think I'm still finding Dave's glitter in various shoes!

Our final night, the 24th, we performed our final show and headed out for the night, inadvertently recreating many a night out I had at my first excursion at the Fringe, in my student days.  We went to the Tron, and were persuaded by a comedian called Shelby Bond to go see his show (called 'People Pleaser', and covering topics from passive aggression to dating a cocaine addict), before ending up in Espionage, a club I only have vague memories of, even now.

And that was that.  Three and a half weeks of hard work and sheer fatigue.  Now it's onto the next eleven months of working and refining and using everything we've learned to go forward.  I'm aware that yet again, this blog is very wordy and skimpy on the pictures.  But I leave you with this, taken at one of our last shows by a lovely audience member; the one existing picture of the Alliance not about to kill each other:

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More fun at the Fringe

If you've not read my last post, my first update on my Fringe adventures, it's probably wise to do so before carrying on with this post.  I'll just be carrying on and picking up where I left off.  Are we ready?  Good.  Then let's go ...

Back on the 10th, we headed over to Glasgow to perform at Enterteasement.  This is a show run by magician Chris Dinwoodie, combining magic, comedy, and burlesque.  On the bill that night were Go-Go Amy, a New York burlesquer, and local dancer Miss Hell's Belle, and the compere was Anna Devitt, a hilarious woman with light up shoes and a singing belly.  We did a short freak show set with balloons and nails, which went down surprisingly well!

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The 11th saw the Sweet Release Burlesque Takeover.  Compered as usual by Peter Antoniou, we had Gilda Lily headlining, and support came from myself, Scarlett Flame, Aurora Winterborn, Minnie Melons, Roxy Stardust, Pearly Merkin, and a wonderful hula hooper called Loz Because.  I opened the show with Fairytale, which, as a classic fan dance, eased the audience into things nicely.

On the 12th, I had a much deserved night off, while Simon headed off to perform at another Magical Mixtures show.  But on the 13th, we performed at Magic Faraway Cabaret.  We did our balloon set, and I was pleased to hear that compere Dave the Bear liked it!  We also got to see Mister Meredith and Aurora Galore, as well as Elsie Diamond (who burlesqued to a wonderful electronic yet oriental soundtrack), Frank Sanazi, and the Creative Martyrs, whose apocalypse song was strangely beautiful.

On the evening of the 14th, I headed back up to Faraway for the second night in a row, although I stayed in the audience this time.  I got to see Pete Antoniou doing his mind-reading thing, Duncan Donut with his Sledgehammer (and Crimson Skye afterwards, of course), and Owen Niblock with his dulcimer.  After this show, we stayed in the bar a little too long, and realised a small ambition which had stayed with me since the first time I came to the Fringe as a student ... we tackled the deep fried Mars bar:

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On the morning of the 15th, I surprisingly felt OK.  Which was just as well, because I had possibly the busiest day of my Fringe so far (or in fact, since).  Before our show, I headed over to the Jekyll and Hyde to compete in the Tiny Tassel Off, run by Morning Star from Leeds.  I got there too early, and caught the end of Spontanaetease, seeing improvised performances by Vendetta Vain, Duke de Milo, Pearly Merkin, and organisers Kin Khaos and Magenta Lust, as well as seeing Minnie Melons and Tom Harlow.  Then it was time to prepare for the Tassel Off.  Morning Star compered the show, with a very endearing comedic style, and introduced acts by Betty Rogers, Magenta Lust, Lady V, Rosie Wine, and Roxy Stardust.  I performed my Dancing Serpent.  For competing, I won a trophy!  Here I am tipsily modelling it, along with my newly acquired vintage top:

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Still on the 15th, I met Simon and we headed off to do Really? Really! as we do every day, and then we went downstairs to perform in Marcel Lucont's Cabaret Fantastique.  We were the last of the guest acts to perform, and although we didn't get to watch we got to hear character comedy from Jasper Cromwell Jones, music from double act Sugar and Vice, and music again from Stuart Boden.  We then did our usual balloon set, to confusion and amusement, and the bemused comment from Marcel himself, 'I don't know why they bother leaving the house to do a show ...'

On the 16th, we went to see another magic double act, Young and Strange.  Those two also do the hating each other thing on stage, so we were wanting to make sure we weren't too similar.  Nothing to worry about; we're really not.  After some dinner, it was on to Really? Really! and then on to Sweet Release for me, to perform my Dancing Serpent again.  It went down very well today, including with the other acts.  There were some wonderful stand up and musical comedy acts: David Mulholland, Claire Healy, Slap and Giggle, Hiroshi Shimizu, and Light Relief, a double act (of which Pearly Merkin is one half).  The compere tonight was Ian Gordon, who is very funny, but due to whom the show ran over quite a lot!

On the 17th we had no other shows to do, and so we sat in to watch the last Cabaret Fantastique.  But before this, we caught Ginger Nation, a one-man show by Canadian comedian Shawn Hitchens, in which he tells the story of how he became a sperm donor.  It's a lovely show, very funny but with some very poignant moments too.  Fantastique saw the usual poetry, song and rap from Marcel, plus Australian cabaret singer Tomas Ford (who is insane in a very good way), and Le Foulard, an artist who seems to have a split personality.

Yesterday, the 18th, Simon had an early start by performing at another Free Samples show at 11am, and then shooting off after Really? Really! to perform at a comedy Symposium show at 11pm.  I, on the other hand, went over to Sweet Release at 11pm, as we were performing as part of their Magic Night.  We were alongside Pete Antoniou as compere, Scarlett Flame adding burlesque, psychic psychologist Rob Bailey, scientist Oliver Meech, angry comic book nerd David Alnwick (who I bonded with over a shared love of Sherlock and X-Men), and freaky double act Griffin & Jones (who had come to our show last week and were keen to make sure we didn't cross over - we didn't).  Every act was fabulous, and the audience were slightly unhinged.  I've never been at a show with more hugging, more flirting, and more of an atmosphere of love and appreciation before.  It's going to take something unbelievable to top it.

So there's my second week at the Fringe.  Picture-light this time, because it's so hectic I keep forgetting to take them.  But adventure-heavy still.  More next week!

Edinburgh Fringe: First update!

If you've been following me on Facebook you'll know that for the last week and a half I've been in Edinburgh for the Fringe.  Unfortunately, as the flat I'm staying in has no internet access, I've been unable to blog about it.  What that means is that now I'm in a café with Wi-Fi capabilities, you're about to get a monstrously large update on all of my adventures!

So I arrived a little over a week ago, before Simon did, and settled myself in a bit.  My first performance was at The Sweet Release, a cabaret revue show which showcases up-and-coming acts, at Sweet Venues.  It was compered by Peter Antoniou, psychic comedian (who is also running his own show here), and staffed by the Sweet staff, who are all lovely.  I did my Fairytale fan dance, and it was a really nice way to kick off the festival:

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That was on August 1st.  The next day, Simon arrived, and the day after that, the Fringe started proper for us.  Simon is performing two solo shows daily (Simon in Wonderland, a kid-friendly show based on Alice's story, and Catflap of Opportunity, a follow-up to last year's show), but the big show is the Alliance show.  We're performing our own full length show (being a Fringe show, that full length is less than an hour, but it counts), which we've called Really? Really! after a common exclamation between the two of us when we see something interesting.  Our flyers are fun, using this picture from our shoot with Scott Chalmers (which was an outtake, but we liked it better than some of the posed shots):

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Our venue is the Dram House, on Guthrie Street, just off Cowgate which is nicely central.  It's a very pretty venue, and it's got some wonderful shows running in it, in five different rooms:

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You can't really read it, but trust me, we're on that banner!  Our room is called the Sneekit bar, which is a nice room with a good stage space, and it's perfect for our style.  It looks like this:

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My styling for this run has been problematic.  My hair has decided not to curl, so the big Uneasy hair has made a comeback.  I've been sticking with evening dresses (with Simon looking flamboyant and thoroughly magician-like in suits), rotating between the pink sequinned number from the flyer picture, the red dress from the first Alliance publicity picture, the orange vintage I acquired from Mia Merode for our Evening of Unease, and this new teal fishtailed gown, which once belonged to another burlesquer friend, Vendetta Vain:

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The show is going really well so far.  Our audiences are calling us everything from 'brilliant' to 'unhinged' and anything in between.  We're taking both as compliments.  Our repertoire during the show ranges from simple magic with big props to our glasswalking (in which I mean Simon lies with is face in glass and then I walk on him), so the mood changes as we go along.  Our chemistry on stage is really coming along, and audiences have been complimenting me on my deadpan contrast to Simon's bouncy puppy-dog demeanour. 

We haven't just been working though.  We have managed to fit in other shows too, and have seen some of the best cabaret shows up here already.  On the 3rd, after our first show, we wandered over to the Voodoo Rooms to see the Magic Faraway Cabaret.  It's run by Dave the Bear and Mister Meredith, who are both fantastic performers, and that night it featured Lady Wildflower, Heidi Bang Tidy, and Aurora Galore.  Straight afterwards was Myra Dubois' Service With a Sneer, which was sheer hilarity from beginning to end, with no theme.

The 4th saw us heading to Dead Cat Comedy for some stand up (which bizarrely included one man stripping topless after I sort-of dared him to ... I think he hadn't realised I didn't see it as a threat).  On the 5th, I headed over to the Sweet Release again, and got to see some wonderful acts including a southern preacher called Pastor Owen, scientist magician Oliver Meech, and singer/guitarist and beatbox duo Jamie MacDowell and Tom Thum, who just about blew me away.  Finally I got up and performed my Dancing Serpent act. I experimented again with slightly new styling for this performance, and I think it worked:

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On the 6th, we stayed in the Dram House and saw The House Always Wins, a magic show mainly using cards which is themed around hustling and gambling, and which is very good.  After that we wandered into Marcel Lucont's Cabaret Fantastique, to catch comedienne Chastity Butterworth, and (for my first time) the infamous Frank Sanazi, who was an education to say the least.

For the 7th we went back up to the Voodoo Rooms and caught the end of Paul Dabek's show, the highlight of which (for me) was his very pretty and unexpected shadow puppet routine.  Next we managed to get front row seats for Magic Faraway, during which Simon introduced me to magicians Young and Strange, who he'd run into at the bar.  This time was an even better show than last time, with the same three burlesque girls, Dave the Bear and Mister Meredith each doing different routines, comedienne Margaret Younger, and Peter Antoniou doing some mind reading.  After the show we decamped upstairs to the bar and had a few drinks with Dave the Bear, Mister Meredith, and Pete:

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On the 8th, we went back to Cabaret Fantastique, and saw Victorian time travelling magicians Morgan and West performing a quite beautiful cup and ball routine with a teacup and sugar cube, plus added 'True' and 'False' sound effects, and bonus Schrodinger and Heisenberg references (which will always endear you to me).  I can't decide whether I enjoyed them or Marcel Lucont more that night.

Yesterday (the 9th, in case you've lost track) Simon got up early and did a quick guest spot at Free Samples, a comedy showcase of Fringe acts, before he did his two daily solo shows.  And then after our show, we performed our mind reading act at Magical Mixtures, another showcase featuring magic acts from around the Fringe.  And then we decided we needed a relatively early night before todays adventures.

Phew!  That's all for now.  Tonight we're having a night off of sorts, moving venues and cities for one night only!  Keep checking back for updates!

Bea Duboir: Sheer Wrap

As I posted a while ago, I've been blogging for Bea Duboir, reviewing their lingerie products and customising them.  For my latest review, I was looking at the Leg Avenue Sheer Wrap.  It's a cute little mesh robe, and I've taken to wearing it backstage when I do burlesque gigs:

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The first thing I did to this robe was to add some real retro glamour with a black marabou trimmed hem.  I have always loved the classic 50s and 60s lounging lingerie look from old movies, with glamorous housewives and femmes fatale who flounced around in their fluffy babydolls, long before modern culture invented the onesie.  I already have some marabou trimmed mules (which I acquired from Mia Merode, much like the beautiful vintage dress I wore to An Evening of Unease), so I couldn't resist making the robe match!  I decided that sewing the feathery trim around the bottom hem would be enough; any more would be overkill.  The trim was actually quite difficult to deal with, and the circle cut of the robe means that there is a lot more material to it than you initially think, meaning the hem is a lot longer than expected.  Sewing it on to the fine mesh fabric took ages!  but once it was done, it looked fabulous.  The slightly stiffness in the marabou boas really adds to the floaty look, making the hem stand further out and add a swingy feel:

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The large black satin ribbon rose on the front closure of this robe is a beautiful detail, and it was a feature I wanted to echo in my customisation.  To this end, I bought some small ribbon roses, again, in black.  These come with a green ribbon 'leaf' effect on the back, but I didn't want that on the robe, so I cut these off.  I then sewed five roses onto each sleeve, around the elasticated cuff.  Since I used very small stitches perpendicular to the line of stitches which attach the mesh to the elastic, this does not in any way affect the stretch.  This adds a cute but subtle bit of interest in the sleeves, which I definitely wanted to embellish in some way because their shape is so lovely:

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As a final touch, I got out my trusty rhinestone wand and some black stones.  I didn't want to go overboard with the rhinestones, because my last customisation used nothing but, and I wanted to show different techniques with this piece.  However, I couldn't resist adding a little sparkle!  I used 3mm stones, and placed one in the centre of each small ribbon rose.  Finally I applied more stones to the large central rose, placing one in each corner created by the detailed folds, and one more in each corner of the flat folded ribbons it is mounted on:

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I'm quite proud of how this project turned out.  It looks very cute, but not overdone in any way.  It's the perfect addition to a burlesque wardrobe, and evokes the romantic feel of old Hollywood glamour.

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I even added a small ribbon rose (with rhinestone accent, of course) to my marabou mules!

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Uneasy Addams

On Tuesday this week, Simon and I took another little rail trip over to Tip Top Studios in Birmingham to see Steve again.  Honestly, that place will become our second home!  We've been working on themed act to launch around Halloween, the theme of which has been a bit of a secret until the pictures were ready to release.  It involves us playing specific fictional characters, and doing magic themed around their personalities and interests, and we're really looking forward to being able to perform it!  So I'd been creating costumes, including making a dress from scratch, and Simon had been working on props.  We knew exactly what the shots we wanted to capture were, and so the shoot itself took a little over ten minutes.

Steve immediately grasped our concept, and knew what kind of look we were going for, and lit the shots perfectly to create the atmosphere we wanted.  And then yesterday, the edited shots appeared in my inbox, ready for us to launch.  And so, may I present to you, the Uneasy Addams':

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I've been looking forward to this shoot and to being able to release this act concept for ages.  These characters are perfect for us.  Gomez is bouncy and enthusiastic and passionate, and Morticia is cool and even tempered.  Their personalities are so similar to our own stage personas that we're able to portray them well without even having to try too hard.  We'll be debuting this act at Enchanted Burlesque in Birmingham at the end of September, but as of now, it's available for booking - it will be perfect for Halloween!

Americana and MD's

This weekend saw the Americana festival in Newark.  This is a huge event that runs every summer and is a celebration of American culture, with live music, car shows, stalls, and more.  Two years ago I was asked by Laura Fortune of Miss Fortune to take part in a catwalk show she was organising for pinup and rockabilly clothing brands who were attending.  I did, and had a great time.  Unfortunately I missed the show last year, but earlier this year I signed up to take part again.  This year the show was being run by Aislinn of Boo Boo Kitty Couture, and was bigger than the first, with more brands and more models taking part.  I was excited to see that the brands I was modelling for were all companies I'd never worked with before, but whose clothes were beautiful!

Saturday saw the hottest day of the year so far - and if I'm honest, it's going to take some beating.  At the festival, the models were put in a portakabin, and there were roughly eighteen of us all getting changed hectically in a very small space.  I can't say it was the most pleasant environment to be in!  But we all made the best of it, kept our hair and make up from slipping as best we could, and everyone was sweet and considerate, which made what could have been an overbearing environment into a fun one.

The first thing to do was to find the outfits we would be wearing, and try them on to make sure they fitted.  Once that was done, we had some free time in which to get ready and explore the festival if we wanted, before it was time to get ready to walk.  My modelling group was going first, and our first brand was Lady K Loves.  I'd chatted to Kessie, the owner, beforehand, and she'd put me in a bright pink bustier and pencil skirt set with silver trim, and given me a pink coconut-shaped cocktail holder to accessorise as I walked down the runway (which was lots of fun to pose with!).  Once all six of us had shown our outfits, it was back to change into our dresses for Darlings Vintage.  Ellie had given us a selection of pretty dresses and separates to look at and choose from, and I'd chosen a pale pink satin dress with a swing skirt and a fitted waist, which buttoned all the way down and had a black patent belt.  It fitted perfectly and gave a lovely swish as I walked.  Then it was back to the kabin for a short interval, during which time I had just enough time for a quick make up change (pink lipstick to red) and our group got into our outfits for Betty Blue's Loungerie.  Betty makes vintage style lingerie and nightwear for glamorous lounging, and I'd been put in a black slip which was made from lace with satin panels at the sides.  A lot of these outfits were see through and could have been scandalous, had we not been firmly instructed to wear nude underwear (it was a family show after all), and my slip caused much amusement among the girls in that when I turned around my bottom was clearly on show!  Our final outfits were by Recoco Rock, which is owned by pinup model Zara Ann, who joined us to model on the second day.  I got to wear a beautifully fitted bright red wiggle dress with strappy shoulders, which I adored.  Frankii Wilde, who was also in our group, gave us all flower crowns from her range, By Frankii, to wear with our Recoco outfits:

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This was our group: Zara Ann, Rose Desire, me, Frankii Wilde, Jezebel de Ville, and Jodie Leigh Wild.  We also had Kiki Marie in our group on the Saturday, but sadly we were in so much of a hurry we didn't get to take pictures that day.

Once the show was over we were able to escape the stifling heat of the portakabin and enjoy the rest of the ridiculously sunny day at the festival.  Not for me though; I had to hurry back to the train station and return to Derby.  I had a gig that night at MD's Lounge, a bar I work with regularly.  The guys who own the bar are great, and their staff are all lovely, and it's always nice to work there.  There was a Moulin Rouge themed event running, and so I came in to do some burlesque.  I broke out an old favourite which I have semi-retired but which is always a crowd pleaser, The Purple Rose:

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After the Rose, which is an upbeat chair dance (which I performed on one of the bar's leopard print high stools, which gave my layback a wonderfully dramatic look), I changed into my alternate blue and white costume to perform my Fairytale fan dance.  My two acts were very well received by the audience, and I had a lot of fun doing them, as I always do when I'm at MD's.  But alas, I had to shoot off again, to get as much sleep as possible before another early start.

Sunday was, thankfully, cooler than Saturday, so our models' kabin was less stifling.  We performed our catwalk in roughly the same outfits as we had done the previous day, though there were a few changes.  The biggest of these for us was that Betty changed around what a few of us were wearing, meaning that a few of us were now in babydolls, frothy concoctions which were truly retro styled.  Mine was black and see through, with a matching jacket (which I was able to take off on the catwalk), and it was so much fun to prance around in!

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The second day was, as is apparently usual, much calmer and less rushed.  We all knew what we were doing by this point, so we had more of a chance to relax and enjoy it.  So it was even more fun this day, and we got to socialise more and have fun taking pictures and videos (which I'm sure will surface soon).  There were a great group of girls, every single one was lovely, and I can't wait for next year if it's going to be this good!

An Evening of Unease

Saturday saw the first (hopefully) full length show by Uneasy Alliance.  We called it 'An Evening of Unease', and held it in the Chester Music Theatre.  We'd attended the venue when I'd been involved in Dr Sketchy Chester's 'Miss Out of This World' space vixen beauty pageant, and realised it was ideal for us.  With its lovely wide arched stage and its gothic décor of huge wrought iron candelabra and chandeliers, it was perfect for hosting a darker themed show.  So we came up with the idea of putting on a show in which the aim was to make the audience feel slightly unsettled whilst being entertained.  I would do my two Baudelaire-inspired burlesque routines, both of which are not exactly the standard fare and which tend to throw an audience out of their comfort zone, Simon would do magic tricks chosen to confuse (more than they usually do), and finally we would perform some joint freakshow weirdness.

It was incredibly daunting holding a show with just two people on stage (three if you count our lovely stage manager Matt, who proved himself more than suitable for the role by responding to the job description of 'sweeping, tidying, carrying props, picking up lingerie, and bring a large pineapple' without batting an eyelid, and who made a couple of onstage appearances throughout the night).  After a short introduction from Simon, I brought out my revamped 'Vampire's Metamorphosis':

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Since the last time I performed this act, I'd made a couple of changes to the costume (as described on my Tumblr page) and changed the choreography as well.  This picture shows everything I wear underneath the dress - it was extremely warm in Chester that day and I was waiting as long as possible before I put on a heavy, full length velvet dress - and my hair and make up styling for the act.  Although the picture doesn't show it particularly well, I liked how my hair had turned out: I had used a simple hot roller set and ended up with a structured curly style.

Straight after I was done with this act I had to start getting ready to perform my next act, while Simon did some magic.  He was debuting some tricks he's going to use in his Alice in Wonderland themed show which he'll be performing at the Edinburgh Fringe, and I was a little upset I didn't get to see them.  But they seemed to go down very well, and before long it was time for me to take 'The Dancing Serpent' on stage:

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I'd also made a few changes to this costume, in accordance with what some of the judges at Cabaret Nouveau had suggested at its debut.  I'd played with some hairstyling, intending to create my old rolled pompadour hairstyle I used to do before I re-dyed my white streak back in, but it naturally fell into this larger roll.  It seemed to work nicely, so I kept it.  I also tried to create some scaly effects at the temples, but they didn't show up too well, so again, more work is needed.

Finally, after a bit of an interval, we decided to go formal for Uneasy Alliance's entrance:

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This dress is a recent acquisition, having been formerly owned by friend and performer Mia Merode.  The burlesque community is a thrifty one, and we often pass props and costumes between us - what one showgirl no longer has a use for, another will deem perfect for her new act.  It's vintage, heavily beaded, and seems to be decorated with an entire jewellery set, meaning it sparkles amazingly.  I was a little wary of the colour, as I usually avoid orange, but it looked much better than I'd expected it to.  Simon's outfit was also new, a tailcoat and cummerbund he'd been gifted and which he thought made him look very dapper.  We'd decided (read: I'd decided) that a bowtie wouldn't be the right option for him, with the smart but slightly effeminate look he's been favouring recently, and tried a cravat as an alternative, topped off with a sparkly brooch.

For our set, we continued our theme of unsettling the audience by doing some sideshow stunts, using our usual storyline of one-upmanship and seeing who could do the most dangerous one.  We managed to fit in hammering nails into the face, balloon swallowing, nasal flossing, glass eating, glass walking, Russian roulette, and our signature ending of double razorblade swallowing.  All in all, I'd say that we reached our goal of making our audience feel very Uneasy!

Bea Duboir: First review

If you've been following my Facebook page postings or my Tumblr offerings, you'll know that I recently started a stint as a guest blogger on lingerie site Bea Duboir.  From now on I'll be reviewing lingerie pieces sold on the site, and then customising said pieces into something unique.  This is pretty ideal for me - I get to play with lingerie and hone my costuming skills at the same time!  All the reviews and projects I carry out will be posted here, on my Tumblr, and on the Bea Duboir blog.

Last week I posted my first review, of the Naughty Set.  It's a cute little three piece set (bra, thong, and suspender belt) in black mesh with flock polka dots with a red trim in velvet ribbon and pleated tulle:

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I kept the customisation very simple, just using black and red rhinestones to pick out details.  I applied a black stone to each flock polka dot on the black mesh, and red stones along the length of the red velvet ribbon.  The fuzzy texture helped to absorb glue, making the stones adhere securely to the pieces.  I embellished each piece of the set in the same way:

The final result is simple and pretty.  There's just a subtle sparkle added to the set, which already had quite a bit of detail to it that did not need overwhelming with too much extra embellishment.  Here's the finished bra being worn - there's not much that can be seen, but in real life it's very cute!

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Shhh! again!

Yesterday over to Tip Top Studios yet again to have a little shoot with Steve.  Shoshanna of Shhh! Couture had sent me over a few new outfits to model.  Our last collaboration turned out so well, but this time we were going for something very different.  Usually when I shoot latex it's a bit dark, slightly fetishy, and fits in with my femme fatale image.  This mini-collection is very summery, and it's all about pastel colours and flowers.  It's much more cute and girly than I'm used to shooting, but it was nice to do something different for a change!

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There were three different outfits to shoot in all; a pencil minidress with an open back, a bustier top and frilled miniskirt, and a bodysuit with a peplum belt.  They were all made in the same colour scheme: white with lilac trim (including translucent lilac in parts) and floral appliqués in blues, pinks, yellows, greens, and even orange.  I kept my make up the same for each set, using similar colours - I went for a lilac smoky eye with purple liner, pink lips, and bright blue nails.  Shoshanna's designs are always lovely, and her eye for detail really shone in these pieces, with little extras such as dangling super-slim strips over the bustline of the dress and bustier, and buckled straps across the open back of the dress and bodysuit.  The way she cuts her outfits is perfect for my body shape and her pieces always sculpt me into a perfect figure!  I can't wait to see the finished pictures.

At the end of the shoot, I changed back into my green summery outfit and did some simple posing while Steve experimented with a new setup in the studio and some dramatic lighting.  It turned out wonderfully, and we got a great shot that really captured the 'film still' effect Steve was looking for:

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Cabaret Noir

Last night I went up to Chester to perform at the inaugural Cabaret Noir.  Although this was the first event, the promoters are hoping to produce more of them in different towns.  Which should be exciting! 

I was performing burlesque, doing my classic 'The Big Sleaze' and 'Fairytale Fan Dance' combination.  Also performing were Suzie Sequin with burlesque and her Marilyn Monroe tribute, Satine di Monte and Animus with their dance double acts (just after having been on Britain's Got Talent, no less), looper artist John-Paul Cumberlidge, and singer/pianist duo Phoebe Dodd and Roger Stephens.  And it was all compered by Simon, who also did his usual magic and freaky stuff:

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When a show is the first event and doesn't yet have a dedicated audience, it can be tricky.  The audience who do turn up often don't know what to expect, or how to react.  As the first act on, performing a straight striptease, I definitely found this!  However, once they settled into it, they soon enjoyed themselves.  And there were a lot of them - we had so many people attend that some were standing at the back!

This was a really great show to work.  I wasn't particularly well that day, and I was really well looked after backstage.  It was also nice to catch up with performers I'd not seen for a while and also to meet new people.  All in all it was a very good night!

Cabaret Nouveau

Saturday night saw the long awaited (by me) debut of my newest act, 'The Dancing Serpent'.  It has been in development for such a long time that it doesn't really feel new to me, even though it had never seen the stage before a few days ago!  I was performing at Cabaret Nouveau, in Leicester, which has been set up by India Starr with the specific aim of showcasing new performers, and new acts by established performers.  There are a panel of judges who are well established on the scene, who give each performer detailed feedback and then choose a 'Best Act' for each of the two categories.  India also hosts speciality workshops with one of the judges, and so the entire event is extremely useful, both to new starters and anyone looking to improve.

I went over to Leicester with Becky of All Girls Are Magpies, a truly wonderful pastie/fascinator/shoe/accessory crafter, who I know through working at Heresy'n'Heelz.  She's worked with India Starr many a time on her more traditional show, The Peacock Lounge, and was to be holding a stall at Cabaret Nouveau selling her wares.  As soon as I arrived I got into costume to do some publicity pictures with the resident photographer, Jonathan.  This is not one of those (which came out wonderfully and which I cannot wait to see the final versions of!), but it shows the final look I decided upon:

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In my previous post about the creation of this act I discussed how simplicity was to be the cornerstone of this act.  Although I was intending to create a sleek updo, reminiscent of a snakelike head, I had choreographed some large, dramatic, head throwing moves, so I left my hair down to emphasise that move.  I even kept it straight so as not to weight it down with styling products, so it would swish more impressively.  I also kept the make up simple, with shimmery green and gold eyeshadow, and shimmery gold toned lipstick.  I had intended to create a more dramatic scaly look, but I got caught up in the idea of simplicity instead.

The first section of the show was the newcomers.  I got to sit and watch this section, along with Becky, and fellow experienced performers Oh! Carolina and Twinkel Pink.  Six lovely ladies performed their acts, along with compere Marjorie Hawkins who sang a lovely song about her cat (I think).  Once this was over, it was backstage to prepare for my act.  I was last on, and so I got to hear 'Starship Trooper' as Twinkel performed her 70s disco homage, Carolina's eponymous Shaggy tune as she did what looked to be a beach paradise themed bump and grind, and final 'Experienced' category performer Lucrezia's 'Frozen' soundtrack to her ethereal wing and fan dance.  And then I went out to show off my simple but sexy moves, which I hoped would have a big impact:

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I don't feel this act went quite as well as I wanted it to.  First night nerves struck, which hindered the start a little.  And, for the first time in all of my years of performing, I lost a pastie.  Nearly every performer had a costume malfunction, and I was no exception.  One simply fell off, and I improvised a quick turn-around move to smoothly scoop it up and replace it before I flashed a little too much to the audience.  After this little bit of quick thinking, it was time to face the judges.  Along with India, these were Glorian Gray, music hall burlesquer and trampoline striptease artist, and Miss Jones, performer of many talents.  They each gave me their thoughts and opinions on my act, which were mostly good.  My movements and musicality were praised, which made me very happy.  They also gave me many constructive points to think about, which was very useful to me.  One of the biggest points made was on my styling, in that my hair and make up could be stronger, and that the idea of the bodystocking as my second skin (which is then shed through the striptease) could be made clearer.  The fact that these were points I had considered but discarded showed me I had made the wrong decision in the end.  Although I was in love with the idea of total simplicity, this idea was not translating, and if your audience is not getting your intention, you're probably not putting it across properly.  So I definitely need to work on my presentation, as well as some movement and choreography points which were raised.  Also, I need to alter my pasties, so they stick better!  Overall though, the judges enjoyed my act - and I later found out I had been voted runner-up in the 'Best New Act' category!  Now I just can't wait to see the video footage of the other girls' performances!

The Serpent's Birth

Dear readers, today I offer you a sister blog entry to one I posted oh so long ago, when I was due to debut The Vampire's Metamorphosis, and wrote a piece to which this entry's title is a mirror.  Sometimes I like to document the creative process behind my act creation, and this is one of those times.  Since I created my seductive vampiress and my strong but restricted submissive, I've not really created any new acts.  Oh I've reworked a couple, and I've been gradually working towards about four new routines.  But this weekend will be the realisation of my first fully new character in some time.

This coming Saturday, at Cabaret Nouveau in Leicester - a showcase for new acts and performers - I will be debuting an act I call 'The Dancing Serpent'.  The inspiration for this act comes again from Charles Baudelaire: the poet who inspired my stage name and my vampiress act.  The particular poem which inspired my snake lady is 'Le Serpent qui Danse', a piece which I was introduced to years back by a fellow performer, and which is wonderfully evocative of beautiful imagery.  Quite simply, it is about a beautiful woman who dances with movements which echo those of a charmed snake.  But this simple image is captured in the most wonderful language, to inspire a scene of decadence and sheer sensuality.  And it is this mood which I aim to capture.

Surprisingly for me, the music came first.  Usually I source the costume first.  I have a rough idea of character, attitude, mood, and some choreography, and I work the costume around that.  Then the tricky part is to find music which fits all of that.  But this time, I had the mood and movements almost immediately upon reading the poem - lots of slow, steady, curving motions with an awful lot of slow hip action and winding head and arm movements, to evoke that classic hypnotic feeling of a charmed cobra swaying.  The music seemed to suggest itself naturally, and I've gone for a song which is quite well known, but still niche enough to not be instantly recognisable.  It is slow enough for me to really draw out my movements beautifully, and builds up from a low start to a rising crescendo.  It's a wonderfully hypnotic song in istelf, managing to build emotional tension with its gradual increase in intensity.  But I won't be revealing what it is just yet.  I don't want to give away everything before I even debut it.

The costuming for this act, I found incredibly difficult.  Costuming is my absolute favourite part of creating a burlesque act.  In fact it's my favourite part of being a burlesque performer full stop.  All the sparkles, the trimming, the customising ... give me some plain lingerie, some fancy fringing, some rhinestones and a hot wand, and I can keep myself happily occupied for hours.  But for the snake lady, I just couldn't work out what would be suitable.  I knew I didn't want a big elaborate showgirl style outfit, because I felt a snakelike character should be sleek and streamlined looking.  For example, I knew right from the start that my usual high volume curly hairstyle would be unsuitable for this character, and will be using a sleeker French pleat style hairdo in order to create a more smooth finish, more reminiscent of a snake's head.  But it took an awfully long time to decide on a suitable costume.  When I did, it was different from any costume I've ever put together before.

Whenever I put toether a costume, no matter how big and sparkly and fancy I originally intend it to be, it always seems to end up with me as nude as possible.  This must just be my style.  But this time I specifically intended the costume to be minimal.  I want this act to be a challenge.  Props can look wonderful, and they can give you plenty of different moves and techniques to explore.  I love playing with my fans of various types, and I intend to create more fan dances this year.  But they can also be hidden behind.  Ditto large costumes.  Many different layers to be removed builds anticipation, keeps the audience visually connected.  But they can also be used to fill time.  So I made a conscious decision very early on to use no props, and as few costume items to be removed as possible.  The aim of this act is to see how entertaining I can be, using nothing but my body.  I shall be going out on to the stage, with just my dancing and stage presence to rely on, and attempting to hold an audience's attention for the duration of the act.  And I'm pretty sure I can do it.  Simplicity is absolute key to this act.

And so the costume ended up incredibly simple.  I simply looked around for items which would inspire me, and then put them together in interesting ways.  I started off with a nude fishnet bodystocking, and intended that to be the only costume piece which I would remove.  I envisioned the removal to look like the shedding of a skin.  but as it turned out, this was impractical, as I had originally intended to sew sequinned appliqués to the bodystocking in strategic places, but the fishnet proved to be almost impossible to stitch anything to.  And so I created a bra and thong to go over the top:

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I've discussed the actual construction of this entire costume, beginning to end, on my Tumblr blog.  That's where I post all my costume creation progress pictures and document how I make things, so make sure to check it out and follow me if you're crafty minded and those things interest you, because I'm constantly working and reworking on projects.  But this is the outer layer of the costume, consisting of a green sequinned bra and thong, made entirely from scratch by my own fair hand.  Although I'm very happy with how these pieces turned out, I'm aware they look slightly amateurish, and although they'll sparkle stunningly under stage lights, I'm afraid they'll lack the impact of more professional looking, elaborate costumes.  But, as I said, simplicity is the underlying principle of this act, and so that worry is something I'll have to get over.  This costume won't look like other costumes, but that's alright, because the motivation for this act is not the same as the motivation for other acts.

Underneath the green sequinned pieces is the fishnet bodystocking.  I've customised this a little with green sequinned backseams n the legs, and green beaded tassels on the back detailing.  I'm still planning to remove this so it echoes skin shedding, to bring home the snake theme.  Other details I'll use to make my dancing lady more serpentine will include scaly make up effects, and possible 'venom' spitting.  To go with this costume, I've embellished some gold sparkly shoes with some gold sequinned appliqués and strung sequins the same shade of green as on the outer layer pieces:

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The final pieces I'm using for this outfit (apart from another green sequinned appliqué I intend to pin into my hair) are made from the same gold sequinned appliqués on the shoes; two small pieces for pasties, and two more sewn onto a nude thong, all placed under the bodystocking and gradually revealed as the layers are removed.  I think the shapes and placements of these pieces look quite Art Deco.  This is an effect which I had not intended, but which makes me very happy (especially as this summer Art Deco is due to be very on-trend indeed):

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Unfortunately there are no professional pictures of this outfit as of yet.  But next weekend should change all of that.  I can't wait to debut this act - it's been in the works for such a long time that I'm incredibly excited about it!

On the Big Screen

You may recall that some time ago I filmed some scenes for the film The Look Of Love.  And that more recently, I found the trailer online and got a little excited about it.  Well, I totally forgot to blog about this at the time, but last week, once I'd come back from York and Chester, I went to see it on the big screen!  So just a quick little blog today, with no pictures, but still an exciting one!

We went to my local cinema, and unbeknownst to us it was being screened in the Director's Hall.  I'd never been in there before, so I wasn't sure what to expect.  What we got was fancy double seats with built in tables, free drinks, free chips, and free chocolates.  So almost like dinner and a movie in one!  Total indulgence, but quite nice as a one off treat.  There were only three other people in the screening, so it was almost a private showing as well.

It was so very surreal to see the places I'd been and the people I'd met up on the big screen!  Seeing scenes and remembering where I'd been standing when they'd been filmed was an odd experience.  It made me very anxious and excited all at once.  And then when I saw myself, it seemed insane!  It was ever so slightly unbelieveable to see my own face up there on that huge screen ... although to be perfectly honest, I think my chest got more screen time than my face did.  I was very surprised to see that a lot of the bigger names who made cameo appearances got very little screen time in the final edit, so I and the other girls in the same scenes got a decent amount in total.

Once the early scenes were over and the film moved on in time, my anxious excitement abated and we settled in to enjoy the rest of the film for its own sake.  It was very interesting to learn about the history of Soho (and in a roundabout way the history of the profession I find myself in), but I'd like to know how true to life the characterisation is.  All in all, it was a surreal experience, but a very good one.  Here's hoping it leads to more in the future!

Busy Bank Holiday

Last weekend was another busy one for the Alliance.  On Saturday we went down to Southampton to perform at Carnival of Carnage, a fetish event run by Roxy Twirls.  This was a really nice event to work at, and we were looked after very well by the Carni Crew, and Roxy and her partner were wonderful hosts.  The other performers were Marvela MaeFayre and Silk Seduction, who performed a blindfolded fan dance and a Men In Black themed striptease respectively.  But I was the first performer, and I revived an old act for the occassion, The Succubus:

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This is an act I've been wanting to do something with for a while.  I made the costume by hand a few years ago - and when I say by hand, I mean I strung every seed bead one by one.  The two piece outfit is made from hundreds of strings of beads, and it took a couple of months to do.  So I'm loath to just retire the act, and this performance was just the impetus I needed to rediscover it.  The audience responded well, and I got some lovely comments afterwards.  I also got to hang at the side of the room and watch the other girls do their thing, which isn't always possible at shows, before Simon and I got ready for our joint act.  For this one, as it was Star Wars day, we decided to channel our favourite sci-fi couple, Han and Leia:

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For this act we did some freakshow stunts, and themed them as much around Star Wars as we could.  The highlights included my swallowing a two and a half foot long modelling balloon, and Simon stopping his pulse before lying in glass and letting me walk on his back and face.  Again, the audience seemed to react really well to these, and the sheer number of times we were asked how we'd done them could only have been a good sign!

The next day we were back on the road again to go to London.  We were performing at Finger In The Pie Cabaret at legendary burlesque and cabaret venue Madame Jojo's, with a fabulous line up of other performers, including (because I'm bound to forget someone) 'Doctor' Ana Esmith, Almond Roca, Leela, Madame Magenta, The Pin-ups, and Oh! Carolina, who I met a while ago when she competed in a Battle of Burlesque I stage managed.  Firstly we performed an Alliance set of mind reading and my pushing my arm through Simon's stomach to retrieve an eaten card, and then after an interval I performed my old faithful 'Big Sleaze'.  Once I was all dressed after this I went out to the front and chatted to Oh! Carolina (whose bed-of-nails incorporating striptease I unfortunately missed, but would have liked to have seen) while I watched Simon performing his solo set of rope tricks and scaring an audience member with his blockhead routine.  After he was done he joined us, and we got to see the rest of the acts in comfort - and they were all fabulous.  We chatted to a few audience members and the promoters, saw some pictures that had been taken, and ran into Tiffany Beau, who I know from our days working at Dr Sketchy's Birmingham, who had come along to see the show, and we had a nice chat and a catch up.  All too soon it was time to leave, and our Bank Holiday weekend concluded with  late coach trip ... but at least on Monday we got a lie in!

The Cherry Pop Affair and celebrations

Last Friday I performed at The Cherry Pop Affair in York.  This is a lovely little event held in a beautiful venue with a nice big stage, and a wonderful team of people behind it including Kitty Noir, Poppy Pout, and Georgia Honey (who could not attend).  The other performers were Cherry Blossoms, Cadillac Arrest, Misty Mina, and Doc Leroc, who Simon and I last saw at The Bingo Lounge in Sheffield.  Rounding off the line up was Duke Wayward, who was acting as compere.

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(Picture is by Cherry Blossoms, and it's wonderful!)

Simon and I were each performing a solo act in the first half, followed by a joint act as Uneasy Alliance in the second.  For the first act, I performed my Film Noir act 'The Big Sleaze', with the new costume (as photographed by Cinnamon Stewart last week and as catalogued on my Tumblr blog).  It was very well received by audience and other performers.  And my hair and make up had turned out nicely for it too, despite my worrying that all the travelling with rollers in was going to ruin it:

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In the second half, as the Alliance, I showed off my mind reading while Simon played with some levitation and transformed a paper flower into a real one.  Again, this seemed to go down quite well, with the usual questions and guesses about how we'd done it.  But we'll never tell!

We were being put up for the night by Doc Leroc and his lovely wife Magdalena, who looked after us very well.  The next day was the York Festival of Vintage, which Doc had very kindly got us passes into.  So we had a nice little morning wandering around looking at displays, watching performers, and of course looking at lots and lots of vintage clothes and accessories!  But all too soon it was time to get back on the train and pop over to Chester, because the next day was Simon's birthday and he wanted to be on his home turf for it.  We were greeted at the station by Mr South Senior, who immediately installed us in a hotel room for the night.  It has to be one of, if not the most quirky little places I've ever stayed in, a huge eccentrically decorated place hidden away behind the street where you'd never know it was there, with a cute little outside terrace done up as a secret garden, and a room that carried on that theme oh so subtly:

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Although if I'm honest, I'm still not sold on the glass door to the bathroom and the completely see through shower cubicle.  Privacy was not on the top of their list when they designed this room!  But after the obligatory exploration and tea out of pink and yellow cups, we got ready to head out to Simon's usual haunt for a little bit of celebration.  I decided to take a bit of a departure from my usual style and go a little 60s inspired for this one:

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Cinnamon and Gemma

Last week I ventured over to Birmingham to shoot with Cinnamon Stewart.  We weren't shooting any particular theme, so I packed up a couple of my revamped burlesque costumes (Fairytale Fan Dance and The Big Sleaze) along with some other outfits.  Also present was make up artist Gemma Clarke, who gave me a couple of different looks (although each one involved killer cheekbones and wonderful eyebrows) and tamed my unruly hair.  I have to say, I'm very happy with the results!

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Miss Out of This World

On Thursday I went up to Chester to compete in a beauty pageant.  Now, I'm not a pageant girl, and this was no ordinary pageant ... this was the first annual 'Miss Out of This World' pageant, whose competitors are all space vixens from planets other than Earth!  It was organised by Madame Ex, headmistress of Dr Sketchy's Chester franchise, who was also compereing the event in a wonderful pink dress of the retrofuturistic style, and judged by Chester burlesque impressario Neil Kendall, and performer Titsalina Bumsquash's alter ego Mavis.  We had all sorts of weird and wonderful spacewomen entering; from Barbarella to alien bounty hunters, from Earthmen with alien brides to actual planets, there was a vast array of styles on display.  I, of course, went as my favourite defiant slave Princess, Leia Organa Solo:

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I was of course, wearing my latex 'metal' bikini by Shhh! Couture, which I styled up with my usual pomp + ponytail hairdo, and metallic make up in the form of a smoky eye in shades of copper and bronze, copper coloured lipstick, and bronze contouring blush.  The lightsabre was borrowed from my Uneasy partner Simon, who was accompanying me (though sadly not in Han Solo guise, but we're working on that for the future).  Once on stage, competitors had five minutes in which to wow judges and audience, either by posing or performing.  I chose to speak a little to the audience, demonstrating my use of the Force by making a flower on the judges' table levitate.  That aspect, I had been a little nervous about, but it worked extremely well.  I then posed, and fielded a question from Mavis, whose response of 'No likey' made me almost drop my lightsabre, it was such an unexpected reference!

Once all the entrants had strutted their stuff, it was time for a final group pose:

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You can see from this picture the sheer amount of effort that everyone had put into their costumes and props.  The winner was the two headed symbiote swamp princess from the unpronouncable planet (the two yellow girls roughly in the middle of the picture), whose performance I had sadly missed.

Once the judging had been completed and prizes awarded, it was time for the afterparty!  Although I took this opportunity to catch up with artists I knew who had attended: Pip Bayley, who is a regular attendee of Sketchy franchises and who has drawn many wonderful pictures of me in the past few years, and Aly Fell, a familiar face from Heresy'n'Heelz and Alternative & Burlesque fair events.  I also took the opportunity to grab a picture with one particular audience member who I'd spotted very early on - it simply had to be done:

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Photos are all by Gwasg Helygain

Easter non-break

Over this Easter weekend the Alliance did not get a break.  No Bank Holidays spent eating chocolate eggs for us.  No, instead we were travelling the country and working hard!  Our first adventure was to Ipswich, where we were performing at the Cheeky Devils club.  The club is run by Lou Safire, a boylesquer who literally plays with fire, and other performers included Sadie Sinner, Bambi Blu, Beulah Bell and Amber Rosia.  I didn't get to see any of the girls perform, though their costumes gave me the envy, and I got to watch Lou's closing fan dance from the wings.

The Alliance were doing our usual thing of standard magic followed by freaky antics, with a comedic twist.  The audience seemed to enjoy our shows, especially our big box illusion which is my favourite trick to perform at the moment.  I was wearing my Vegas showgirl dress, the full length sequinned turquoise number I'd debuted at Sketchy, long with some iridescent white/pink/turquoise sparkly shoes and my usual copious amounts of jewellery:

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It was my first time trying my usual stage hairstyle with the streak, so this was a bit of an experiment that worked out nicely first time.  The hairpiece could use a bit of extra arrangement though, as it appears to be more unruly than my actual hair!  I also went for a pink lipstick rather than my usual red, to reflect the pinky tones in my iridescent shoes.  It was still bright though - when it comes to lipstick I don't do subtle!  I also had a bit of a go at styling up Simon:

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The bronze-gold patterned jacket is one of his classic stage outfits, but he usually puts it with bright or pastel shirts.  I got him to team it with a black shirt and a bronze coloured tie to make it stand out more, and to make the overall look sharper and cleaner.  We also swapped his usual green or purple eyeliner for a more muted brown, and I tried to do something with his huge hair, which is much easier said than done.  The end result was pretty good, so we thought; still dramatic and flamboyant, but more grown up.

After the gig I got to catch up with a model friend of mine, Andromeda X.  Andromeda is another of those people I've known through various avenues for a long time but had never actually hung out with.  She's a wonderful alternative model, known for her impeccable goth styling and her hair and make up skills.  And she's fun to go out drinking with too!

Lou and his husband Matt put us up for the night, and after contending with an over-excited chihuahua the next morning, we embarked on our long extended-because-it's-Easter-Sunday journey home - where we managed to just about get all our preparation for the next day done before we had to go straight to bed!

Monday morning we were up before the birds, and on a coach for 3.50am.  Yep, 3.50.  After a seven hour journey, we arrived in Southampton ready for our shoot with Scott Chalmers.  Scott's slightly goth, very atmospheric style is perfect for showcasing cabaret performers, so when we decided the Alliance needed some publicity photos, he was the obvious choice.  We shot a variety of different outfits and styles, from cheesy magic to fetish to burlesque to freaky fun.  Here's the obligatory backstage shot - not in an actual outfit that was used, but it showed my signature flicked out smoky eye look and how I'd managed to do the hair that day:

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Some of the shots we saw on the back of the camera were wonderful, and I can't wait to see the finished results.  There was one duo pose we'd been working hard to get right (I had planned certain shots down to the last detail - I wanted to make sure we got it right and didn't waste the opportunity!) which worked just as well as I'd been hoping, and some of Simon's solo freak show shots turned out better than I could have ever expected!

After we'd shot everything we wanted we headed out for some food - which was a total bonus as we'd been expecting to have to forage on the run, but we got to have an actual sit down meal - before heading back to the coach for another marathon journey home, which meant we got home almost exactly 24 hours after we'd left.  But the story had a happy ending in that Tuesday was our day off ... and we had belated chocolate eggs and chilling out!

Tattoo shots

Last week I caught up with Jacquie again, after she took the first shots of my tattoo last year.  Well, since then, the tattoo has got a lot bigger!  It was an extended project which now reaches from my ribcage to my ankle, along my right hand side.  And it's finished ... for now at least.  So Jacquie and I teamed up to get some shots which show the whole thing, or at least as much of it as possible! Here are some of my favourites:

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Film Noir fun

As some of you may be aware, I'm a bit of a fan of Film Noir.  The mood, the styling, the dialogue style ... it's all great.  I even do an act as homage.  So when long term collaborators Tip Top Photography asked me and Simon along to their vintage lighting workshop, to pose in Film Noir styled scenes, there was little hesitation!

A while back I had taken part in a similar workshop at Tip Top's previous studio, the whole theme of which was Film Noir.  And there were some cracking pictures taken:

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(By Steve Underhill of Tip Top Photography)

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(By Karl Stevens, with Stephen Leeson)

This time, the workshop was all about vintage lighting, and there were several different themes going on in various spaces in the studio.  But our speciality was Film Noir.  So think stark lighting, lots of moody posing, and Simon and I threatening to kill each other in various ways.  We did enjoy playing the gangster and the Femme Fatale!

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The Look of Love

If you're a regular reader of my little blog, you may recall that a year or so ago I went down to London for a couple of days to record scenes for an upcoming film.  In a nutshell, after successfully attending a casting, I'd been cast as a showgirl in scenes set in 1958 at the Raymond Revuebar, for a biopic of Paul Raymond. 

The exciting news I have for today, is that the film (renamed 'The Look of Love') is due for release next month.  And, even better, the official trailer has been released!  There is a split second glimpse of one of my scenes, at 12 seconds into the video, in which there is a shot of the dancers beginning their show.  I'm on the far right of the line, and you can just about spot my back.  I can't wait to see the finished film and see just how much of what we recorded made the final cut!

 

'The Look of Love' Trailer

More Pretty Pictures

Earlier this year I went to Bedford to work with Dee Elegia and Iain Thomson.  I posted the results of the shoot with Dee a few weeks ago, and today I got some shots back from Iain.  As he's primarily a glamour photographer and I'm not really a glamour model, we tried to create something that was a little different for both of us.  So using a wrdrobe of sequinned leggings and big fur coat, plus some borderline stern expressions, here's what we produced:

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Sunday Sketching and Bingo

Yesterday Simon and I took the Alliance on the road, for two events in one day.  Two different events in two different cities, with an awful lot of train travel in between.  We work hard for our art!

The first event was Dr Sketchy's.  This particular branch, in Leicester, is run by Liberty Pink.  Liberty is the resident compere at Dr Sketchy Birmingham, which I used to stage manage, and a regular compere for Heresy'n'Heelz events, so I know her well and have worked with her often.  She knows how to put on a good show and knows how to make a Sketchy event memorable, so I was looking forward to this one.  The event itself had a Las Vegas theme, and so Simon and I were doing some Vegas-style magic!  Also performing were Talulah Blue, who again I know and have worked with before, and Isabelle L'Amour, who is new to me but was lovely, and who had come all the way from the Isle of Wight.

For our first set, I went for a variation on the casino dealer's outfit I used to wear for my (now reired) casino themed act, 'Dirty Dealing':

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For saying this was the outfit I was least looking forward to, it turned out to be my favourite!  We put on a little set involving tigers, as all good Vegas magicians will do ... though our tigers weren't exactly the kind you'd expect to see with Siegfried and Roy ...

For our second act, I changed into something a little more stereotypically Vegas, and which said a little more traditional 'magician's assistant':

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I'd been looking for an opportunity to wear this dress (which I call my mermaid dress), and it just said 'Vegas' to me.  It's fully sequinned so here was plenty of sparkle, and I swapped all the red, black and silver jewellery I usually wear for Alliance gigs for big blingy gold showgirl style earrings, which picked up the sparkly gold shoes you can just about see at the bottom of this picture (although I kept on my Uneasy '?' and '!' rings, of course - they're our trademark).  In this act we did a very traditional and classic box illusion, wih me in a box which was then skewered with spears, although we of course put a bit of an Uneasy twist on to it!

Sketchy was, as they always are, a lovely event to work.  There were some wonderful artists in attendance and some beautiful work was produced.  There's no more fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  But once it was done, there was no time to hang around, as we had to grab a train up to Sheffield.  Once there we were heading to The Bingo Lounge, a charity event organised by Era Events.  At which I got into my third outfit for the day:

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This is a Lady Luck dress by Miss Fortune, a locally based designer who I've worked with on a runway show a the Americana festival, and whose designs I adore (and own quite a few of).  Once I saw the pattern, I simply had to have it!  With the red, black and silver jewellery all back in place, I gave my make up a quick touch up, and redid my hair into this curled pomp (the detail of which you can just about see in this picture - black hair is not the best for showing detail in photos), and I was ready to go.  We did quite a few tricks in this show, inluding mind reading, Russian Roulette, and finishing with the box again.

This was another nice litle event to work at.  With a 1950s theme, everyone had made some effort in the way they looked, and I love an audience who like to get involved!  I got to play a couple of games of bingo, which was being called by Doc Leroc, a burlesque performer I had first met a few years back when he'd competed in the Battle of Burlesque at a Heresy event in Derby, and who it was nice to have a catch up with.  And when at the end of the night, the organiser, Sarah, showed us to the hotel which would be our crash pad for the night, I just about collapsed into sleep!

Monday night modelling

On Monday I ventured over to Tip Top Photography studios in Birmingham.  I've worked with (and blogged about) Deb and Steve several times in the past, and this time I was working as part of their regular Monday night model sessions.  Every week a model visits the studios and interested photographers come in to shoot them.  My loose theme was geeky chic, so I brought along a couple of outfits and some trusty props to nerd it up with ...

Here's an early edit from Steve:

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Elegia

A couple of weeks ago I braved the snow to go to Bedford, to shoot with Dee Elegia and Iain Thomson.  Well, now the pictures from Dee are back, so I can show them to you!

During the shoot we explored Iain's huge house to see what props we could find.  The first set was a little sleazy, with a vintage typewriter.  I went a little bit vintage with my look to match, keeping my hair straight and my make up subtle, and wearing a pretty lingerie set in shades of peach with rhinestone and pearl embellishments, with a 1920s style pearl headband and a long string of pearl beads to accessorise.

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For the second set, we found a huge vintage record player cabinet, and just had to use it!  So the second set had me dressed in brighter colours, a yellow shirt and a hot pink leopard miniskirt, with co-ordinating hot pink lipstick, draping myself over the cabinet and whipping my hair:Photobucket

For our final set, we left the warm comfort of the house, and found a nice secluded field.  We brought a lovely prop with us, and set up our little scene in the snow.  I was, for the journey, sitting in the back of the car with the huge prop, already nude but wearing my huge furry coat, and wrapped up in a duvet.  Luckily, as a model herself, Dee is no stranger to harsh weather conditions, and managed to get the shots she wanted before my skin turned blue.  Once it was done I was bundled back up and driven back to the house where I got to warm my tootsies in front of the Aga.  Now, I know artistic models who do location work all the time.  I know models who specialise in it.  Models to whom snow is an annual chance to push their limits.  I am not one of these models.  But I did enjoy doing something completely different, and pushing myself not only physically but also artistically.  And I think the results were well worth getting chilly for:

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Working with Dee was fantastic.  The first sets were a little outside my usual comfort zone, which is always fun.  But the snow nude is completely unlike anything I've ever done before.  I love that I had a chance to do something like this.

The Alliance steps out

There hasn't been much to report recently, unfortunately.  I've been working hard, updating costumes and revamping old acts, adding to the tattoo, shooting various new pictures, and suffering from some vague lurgy, and as a result there simply hasn't been much interesting to write about.  On Monday of this week Simon and I took Uneasy Alliance on a venture to an environment which was, to me at least, completely unfamiliar - a stand up comedy club.  We had been asked to open a 'Beat the Gong' talent competition by doing a ten minute set, and so we did a little bit of magic, and some freaky stunts too.  My role in the Alliance is most definitely that of the 'straight man' to Simon's more upbeat, confident, talkative role, and in such an alien space I was more than happy that this was the case!  I'm sure that once I settle in to the idea of talking to and interacting with the audience, a dynamic which I do not engage in during my burlesque performance, I will be more comfortable with it.  But for now I'm happy playing the 'assistant'.  I decided to go slightly more stereotypically burlesque (whilst still casual) with my look for this gig, and broke out the corset for the occasion:

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The detail in this picture isn't very clear (terrible lighting) but the corset is my favourite underbust; black with tiny white polka dots, black lace and white velvet ribbon trims.  It is a 22" waist, giivng me a substantial reduction, but even though I've not worn it for a while, I managed to close it completely on the first go.  Next it's time to try out one of my 20" wonders!  I paired it with a white pussy bow blouse with pearl details on the shoulders, leather look leggings, and a black and white polka dotted hair bow.  I'm enjoying keeping my hair up for Alliance shows, so I went with my vaguely rockabilly quiffy ponytail, and went for subtle smoky eyes and bronze lipstick to pick up the colours in my leopard print shoes. 

Anyway, my style decisions aside, the audience seemed to like us.  Not only that, but the promoter also seemed impressed, which could lead to more work for us in a scene I never expected to be part of.  And after our set, we got to sit down and enjoy watching some stand up, which is always a bonus!

As part of his video editing kick, Simon has put together a few videos of some of Uneasy Alliance's tricks from our show before Christmas.  We have footage of our Three Card Monte with massive cards, my mind reading shenanigans with a normal deck, our game of Russian Roulette with a spike, and his card eating and our subsequent retrieval.  We even have our own youtube channel!

 

Uneasy Alliance Youtube Channel

Big Sleazing

A short but sweet post today.  Simon has been hard at work editing my second teaser video, for my film noir themed classic striptease 'The Big Sleaze'.  As this is possibly my most popular and most requested act, it was about time it got a bit of publicity!

 

'The Big Sleaze' Teaser Video

Elegia and Pretty Pictures

On Saturday I braved the snow and the possible train disruptions to venture south to Bedford.  As it turned out, the only delays were north of me, so it was a nice and easy train journey, if anything made more comfortable by the fact that there were only a few other people choosing to travel that day.

I was travelling there to visit Iain, who shot the most beautiful pictures of me last year, and who has since relocated.  Also visiting was Dee Elegia, a photographer who is also a model in her own right, and who I would also be shooting with.  Dee has a very unique style, and I knew that with her I would produce something completely different to anything I have ever produced before.  And different it certainly was!  After a day of playing with props such as a vintage typewriter, a huge record player, and a floor lamp (in the snow, no less), it was a sudden change of pace to shoot some more glamour style sets with Iain - though these were still very different to my (and his) usual style, incorporating a fur coat and a clock ...

No edits are ready to see as yet, but here's a traditional behind the scenes shot showing how I was going slightly vintage inspired.  It's also got a sneaky glimpse of my lastest tattoo work, though it's not particularly clear:

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Fan Dancing

This week has undoubtedly been a busy one.  On Friday I performed for a second time at MD's Lounge, doing the same two acts as last week, and Simon and I are due there again on February 1st, where I hope to be performing some revamped versions of a couple of older acts.

The first time I performed there, however, Simon managed to film my acts, and has since been tinkering with his video editing again.  As a result I now have a shiny new teaser video for my 'Fairytale Fan Dance' act!

 

'Fairytale Fan Dance' Teaser Video

MD's Lounge

Before Christmas, a new venue opened up in Derby called MD's Lounge.  It's a dedicated burlesque bar, the only one I know of.  And so, of course, I wanted to get involved!

Last Friday Simon and I performed there - not as the Alliance, but in our own separate performing guises - for their 'Tease Party' event.  MD's have their own in-house troupe who do synchronised dance routines, Simon did his freakshow thing and some close up magic, and I got on stage and burlesqued.

First of all I performed my Film Noir act, 'The Big Sleaze', which as always was a real crowd pleaser.  My second act was my classic 'Fairytale Fan Dance', with its traditional nude/gold/pink costume and pink feather fans.  Although I have been making a new costume for this act (the progress of which you may have been following on Tumblr), with a heavily embellished bodysuit, shoes and hairpieces to match the elaborate necklace I wear, I was asked for more nudity.  And so I made myself some new pasties, which were very subtle, matching closely to my skin colour and having a few small crystal flowers as adornment - although neither of these details are particularly visible here:

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As you can see, I'd also curled my hair (which was huge, this is after the curls have actually dropped a little) and was going for a classic 'burlesque' black eyeliner and red lipstick look with my make up.  And after the show, I went for a lovely dramatic asymmetric jumpsuit to wander around in, which I styled up with red accessories:

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The show went very well for all involved, the owners were happy, and - this is the exciting bit - have asked us back.  So we appear to have a nice little regular gig!

Uneasy Showreel

That talented wizard Simon South has been working very hard on the showreel for Uneasy Alliance's first show.  And very good it is too!  Not that I'm biased, or anything ...

Anyway, we're hoping to get more videos in the future, and to be able to show some more of our skills off in them, but this one for now is a nice little teaser showing the overall style and mood of what we get up to on stage:

 

Uneasy Alliance Promotional Video

Shhh-iny

A couple of posts ago I spoke about shooting with Steve of Tip Top Photography in Birmingham, with a wardrobe of rubber dresses by Shoshanna of Shhh! Couture.  And so here are the results, along with some comments about my styling choices for each one:

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This dress is called 'Armour'.  The skinny straps on this one sit in a very unique way which I've never seen before, going across the shoulders in a way that echoes a slash neckline.  As you can see, for this entire shoot I was going for a look which is close to my 'Uneasy Alliance' stage look, with the long hair and the excessive jewellery (especially the rings).  Make up wise I picked pastel pink shades on the eyes to match the semi-transparent pink side panels, and a bright fuchsia lipstick to pick up that same colour on the hip panels.

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This dress is called 'Curves', which I'm guessing is in reference to the curvy shape of the panels.  And this is my favourite shot from the whole shoot, because those curves make my figure look (to my mind at least) wonderful!  I also love the asymmetry of the strap detail - asymmetry is something I enjoy in aesthetics.  For this set I changed my eye colours for strong purples and swapped the bright lipstick for a softer mauve, to gently echo the vibrant purple in those middle sections.

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This final dress is called 'Structure', and was the first of the collection which I saw and fell in love with (which of course made me all the more eager to see the other two!).  Rather than trying to match the beautiful pearlescent pinky lilac and semi-transparent olive green colours of the latex, I went for a traditional black smoky eye and a subtly shimmery pinky lilac lip colour.  One point of note though, is that this dress seemed to fit me so perfectly, in both style and physical fit, that I now own it, and shortly after this was taken I wore it to an excursion to Club Antichrist ...

It's Showtime ...

Last night was the first show by Uneasy Alliance.  Seeing as it was due to be the first time I'd done a show with actual speaking and audience interaction in some time, I was more than a little nervous.  We were performing at Alexanders in Chester, where Simon goes out and hustles regularly, and which is a nice friendly little venue for a first show.  Whereas Simon went for his usual flamboyant and bright coloured style, I'd put together an outfit in black and red, comprising leggings with rhinestone details, a top I'd made from scratch, fully rhinestoned shoes, and plenty of jewellery.  I also went a bit goth with long black hair, smoky eyes, and red lips and nails.  It's not a perfect look yet, but it can be tweaked now I know what works and what doesn't.  I would have gone for the standard magician's assistant look of sparkly dress or even leotard, but since I do a few little tricks on my own and for one of them I need access to my stomach, I needed the cropped top.

Eventually, after much set up, stressing, and last minute run throughs (for my benefit), it was showtime:

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The show itself went rather well, I think.  In my nervous state I was forseeing all sorts of disasters which of course never happened, and the odd little hiccup like me getting my necklace caught in my hair was easily recovered.  Simon's tricks of course went well, but I managed to pull off my own deecently as well, which for saying it was my first time magicking and mind reading, I'm quite proud of.  We got more and more dangerous as we went on, so that though we started with a giant card trick we were soon playing Russian Roulette with a metal spike, swallowing things and pulling them back out of our stomachs.  Eventually our game of freaky one-upmanship reached a peak with my hammering a six inch nail into Simon's nose ... which actually made him bleed (he intends to never let me forget this as long as we perform together, I'm sure of it).  The strange part of this is, the audience reacted more disgustedly to the sight of my pulling the nail back out with my teeth than to the sight of his actual blood when it was in.  But at least we ended on a happy note by kissing and making up - after we'd swallowed razor blades and thread and pulled out the threaded together blades during the kiss.  Because it couldn't be a normal kiss after all of that.

After the show and a bit of feedback (not that having several magicians in the audience put on any extra pressure, of course) it was time to pack up and go home, and I busted out my winter look for this year:

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Shhh!

I was recently contacted by Shoshanna Ani of Shhh! Couture (who you may remember as the designer and maker of the Fetish Leia outfit I shot a while back).  She'd just designed a mini collection and we discussed my modelling it.  So on Tuesday, with three wonderful latex dresses and a whole lot of shiner spray packed in my case, I headed over to Birmingham to shoot them with Steve of Tip Top Photography.  Steve and Deb are photographers I've worked with many a time in the past so I knew we'd get some good shots.

The dresses themselves are lovely, each one being made of differently coloured panels; the front and back panels on each are black and the side panels are various semi-transparent colours, and each has slimmer panels of a contrasting colour in between.  There are also super skinny strap and metal ring details which vary in design between dresses, and each is a slightly different cut.  Although I enjoyed wearing them all, I fell most in love with this one:

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Now, while this is a slightly awkward candid picture, it shows the wonderful workmanship in the dress, the lovely colours, and the downright sexy fit.  What I also love is that you can see my tattoo through that semi-tranparent panel.  Admittedly there's not much visible detail in this picture, but hopefully in some of the professional pictures it will be clearer!

Uneasy Alliance

As I mentioned a few posts back, I've been putting together an act with magician and all-round freak Simon South.  To that end I've been spending most of my time playing with cards, trying to put nails up my nose, and honing my mind reading skills.  It's been a fun couple of weeks!  But last week, we finally got around to doing something I've actually had a bit more practise at than he has, which was getting some pictures taken.  We need them for advertising and publicity purposes, but you know me, I'll take any excuse to bust out a pretty dress ...

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And a very nice dress it is too.  I went for a slight gothic twist on my classic burlesque look make up wise, with dark eyes and red lips, and lots of long black hair.  The idea was to make me look a little dark and mysterious, as befits a femme fatale (and one with freaky new psychic powers, at that), and to contrast that with Simon's more upbeat, dare I say slightly camp and cheesy approach.  And I think it worked:

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The photographer was Ian Southerin - yes, that would indeed be Mr South Senior - and we'd managed to swing a beautiful venue up in Chester who let us have the run of the building.  And there were some strange things in there:

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And finally, we got a wonderful shot which sums up the dynamic between the two of us, and which I think should give you a bit more of an idea of how the act is likely to end up:

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Shiny rubber with InaGlo

Earlier this month I went up to Chester to shoot with the lovely Glo of InaGlo Photography.  I've worked with Glo several times before, and she's produced some of my favourite studio modelling shots and live performance shots as well.  She's one of my favourite photographers to work with and we always produce some beautiful work together.

This time we were shooting some beautiful latex outfits designed by various wonderful and talented ladies.  So, accompanied by much talcum powder and shine spray, here are the results:

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The corset here is leather, but the latex knickers and gloves were made by Eustratia.  I adore the fleur de lys appliqués - I can't resist a cute fleur du lys pattern!

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This bikini (in the most beautiful colour latex I've ever seen, it's a pearlescent lilac) and bow belt is by Hellcat Latex.

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This is possibly my favourite shot from the entire shoot, because I love the attitude in the face and the pose.  The two piece set is by Bellatrixx Capella - I love the lace and jewel detail!

We also got a cute and cheeky little Halloween themed shot, using some cute but spooky knickers by Black Sheep Latex:

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And finally, a nice clean, simple headshot, with only a little rubbery goodness in sight:

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Magic, freakshows, and catwalks ...

It can't have escaped your notice, as it has not escaped mine, that I haven't updated this blog for a while.  Well my friends, the reason for that is very simply that I've had no idea where to start!  Also, I like to give you all something visual to break up the text, and so it's nice to wait until I have my hands on relevant pictures before just throwing a post together.

So the most relevant thing that I've been up to recently is forging a new partnership.  I met magician Simon South last year at the Christmas Alternative and Burlesque Fair in Manchester, and a few weeks ago I agreed to be his assistant.  But what I originally thought would involve nothing more than a spangly leotard and having to sit in a box has morphed into a full blown double act, and he's teaching me all kinds of magic tricks and freaky stunts!  It's all very exciting, and at one of his recent shows in Leeds I joined him on stage to help him perform his razorblade swallowing stunt.  Of course, he also made me hammer a five inch long nail into his nose, which I wasn't preapred for and which wasn't particularly pleasant ...

Last Monday I was in Nottingham doing some live action modelling at the Eclectic fashion show, organised by Show Me events.  I was walking for Catriona Stewart Design, in a sensational black leotard with Catriona's signature countour appliqué, and black stockings with a full length zip, which I fell in love with as soon as I got them on!

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This is me striking a pose at the end of the catwalk and trying to look fierce.  As you can see, I'd had my make up done in vintage style, and my hair styled into a lovely loose up-do the likes of which I've never tried before.

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This is me with my beautiful friend Bea Sinful.  Bea's been a part of the Heresy hospitality team for ages, which is how I know her, and she's a wonderful model too.  The catsuit she's wearing has a heart shaped cut-out on the back, and most of the models there were coveting it more than a little!

Boy-mode upload

In my last post I spoke about my androgyny themed shoot with the wonderful Kirk Schwarz.  Well here are a selection of edits from two of our three sets: slightly 50s greaser-inspired with big hair and minimal make up, and sharp dressing with 80s contouring:

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Perhaps when my internet connection decides to stop playing up I'll be able to post from the third set: our tribute to Brett Anderson ...

Androgyny with Kirk

On Tuesday I was back on a train again, going off to Cambridge to shoot.  Well, I say Cambridge, I was actually travelling to Lincolnshire, and then from there on to Peterborough.  Geography was never my strong point, but catching trains is, so even if I wasn't sure exactly where in the country I was heading to, I at least got there on time.  The photographer for the day was Kirk Schwarz, who I'd asked specifically to do this shoot with.  For a while I've been wanting to try doing an androgyny shoot, and I knew from previous conversations that Kirk was the man for the job.  And so, fully prepared with reference shots and a suitcase for once empty of high heels, I went off excitedly to see if we could realise our ideas.

We knew from our pre-shoot correspondence that we were pretty much on the same page in regards to looks.  I was being very influenced by 90s indie, with my main inspirations being Brett Anderson and Shirley Manson, and Kirk was looking along the lines of Milla Jovovich-esque women in masculine tailoring.  I was doing my own make up and hair styling, which was a bit of a challenge with the strong looks I was aiming for, but I think I managed it.  We managed to get three looks in the time we had, and I'm sure there were some killer shots in amongst the bunch.  So here's the now requisite sneaky peak at the first edit, of me in boy mode:

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Clare and Becky

Last week I ventured up to Leeds to shoot with Clare Chojnowski.  Like Katie, Clare is someone I've been meaning to work with for a long time, and finally got an opportunity to set things up.  Along with her friend Becky acting as make-up artist, we had a nice little shoot.  Our inspirations for the shoot were magazine cover shots of Lily Allen and Dita von Teese, so there was a nice little mish-mash of styles going on - modern styling as well as my usual vintage/burlesque look.  Yesterday Clare sent me over a couple of edits, so here's a little peek at what we got up to:

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Fetish Leia

In my last post I spoke about the shoot I did with Keigo Kato in Birmingham, with my latex Princess Leia outfit.  Well yesterday I received some edits back ... and they look fantastic!  The latex looks amazing (Shoshanna of Shhh! Couture did such a beautiful job of creating the original metal bikini out of rubber), lovely and shiny and glossy, and the jewellery (made to theme by the lovely Devine Delinquents) sets off the outfit perfectly.  Shabana Dhadda's hair and make up skills are really shown off in these shots too ... I've been attempting to copy this hairdo myself for weeks but never quite managed it!

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Now, I love these shots, I really do ... but as all Star Wars fans know, lightsabres make everything more awesome:

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I've mentioned in the last post how excitable I was when I got to play with the lightsabre.  Keigo's really managed to make it pop in this picture - it genuinely looks like a high powered beam.  I also think that we managed to capture the look I was aiming for with the defiance mixed with vulnerability.  Fetish Leia is nobody's slave!

Latex and geekiness at Studio 197

A little while back I got in touch with Shoshanna of Shhh! Couture, a talented designer of custom latex.  She has a whole imagination full of geeky designs, taking inspiration from various fandoms including Star Wars, retro video games, and comic books.  She was on the lookout for models who would shoot the pieces, and being a geeky girl I snapped one up straight away!

Yesterday was the day of the actual shoot, and I went off to Birmingham to Studio 197.  The photographer I was working with was Keigo Kato, who I had met last year on a Film Noir themed group shoot at Tip Top Photography's studio in the Jewellery Quarter.  I was very pleased to be working with Keigo again, as his work is lovely.  Also in attendance was make up artist Shabana Dhadda, whose work I had never seen before but who often works with Keigo.

Instead of jumping right in to the latex, we started out with a more simple set consisting of me in a black one shoulder dress and some quite moody lighting.  Shabana made my make up quite natural and subtle for this one, giving me contouring blush in a bronze colour and a nude lip, with brown toned eyeshadow and nicely defined brows.  She also gave me some lovely false lashes, which were long without being overly thick, and so didn't have an overpowerng effect.  Then she amped up the volume by crimping my hair and then backcombing it until it was huge.  I absolutely love big hair, so as you can imagine, I loved this look!

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The second set was the latex.  And the inspiration for the outfit was possibly the most iconic sex symbol in nerd culture history: Princess Leia's slave bikini.  As soon as I had discussed and confirmed the shoot with Shoshanna, I had been excited about this outfit, and that excitement didn't abate until the shoot was over.  When it arrived, I was taken aback by how wonderful it was.  It's an outfit in several pieces: bra top, panel skirt, bikini bottoms, garter and bracelet.  Each piece is beautifully made and detailed, and the bra especially shows just how good Shoshanna's work is.  I had also spoken to alternative jewellery designer Devine Delinquents who made up and sent me some appropriately Leia-ish pieces, including the obligatory chain necklace and an arm cuff with dangling spikes.  So I thought that this interpretation of Leia, with her rubber outfit and spiky jewellery, was going to end up looking a lot more fetish-inspired than Carrie Fisher's original look!

To complement this idea, Shabana went more intense with the make up.  She darkened and sharpened up my eyebrows, and gave me strong eyes in shades of brown, copper and gold.  She also gave me a stronger lip colour, in a sort of dark nude with an orange/coral tone.  Because in this scene in Return of the Jedi Leia has her very long hair in one long braid, I had brought a hair extension as I thought that my own short-ish hair wouldn't look as good.  I was planning on leaving it as a pony tail rather than plaiting it, as an homage rather than an attempt at accuracy.  Shabana put in the hairpiece and then arranged my own hair around it to create the illusion that the pony tail was all my own hair.  As much as I'd loved the first, big haired look, this was even better:

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This part of the shoot was incredibly fun.  I got to play around with all sorts of poses and expressions, though I was trying to get into character of the defiant feisty princess we all know (and love) Leia to be.  Possibly the best part was the Keigo had brought along a prop - a blue lightsabre.  Not only did it light up, but it made the sound effects as well!  So during the time when Keigo was setting up the lights, I was swishing a lightsabre around with a massive grin on my face, and then trying not to look too excitedly nerdy when we were actually shooting!

I really enjoyed this shoot for many reasons.  It was great to work with Keigo and Shabana, both of whom are awesome at what they do.  And it was very interesting to portray a character who is one of, if not the the most highly fetishised character in popular culture, and make that fetishisation even more overt by adding modern fetish culture imagery such as latex and spikes.  Leia is a slightly controversial character in that she's a strong female - in fact she's the only female in the original trilogy with a decent-sized role (the only other female I can think of is Luke's Aunt Beru, am I forgetting anyone else?) - and yet when we get to Return of the Jedi she ends up playing the 'slave' role and is put into a revealing outfit.  This has often attracted criticism as the inevitable objectification of the token female character, and been lamented as symptomatic of modern film culture as being unable to feature a strong female character without reducing her to sex object status eventually.  But still she is held up as an ideal by both male and female fans, not only physically, but also because she keeps that strength whch made her popular in the first place, even when she's been made a slave by Jabba.  I find the debate which surrounds her, along with the huge fanbase which is devoted to her, absolutely fascinating, and so I enjoyed playing on this by fetishising her even further and attempting to portray her strength with my posing and expressions.  I think the images which come from this shoot will be very interesting for this reason, and I look forward to seeing whether or not I managed to capture the look I was going for!

Catching up with Jacquie

Yesterday I went to see my friend Jacquie.  She's a beautiful model and also a photographer, who I first met last year when I worked with her to get some pretty lifestyle type images.  It having been way too long since that meeting, we met up again for a catch up, which was lovely.  I got to meet her absolutely adorable baby daughter as well as her husband.  And she also got the camera out, and we took the first shots of my new tattoo.  She's sent me over lots of pictures, but I won't post them all here otherwise it will be an obnoxiously long post.  So here are a couple of my favourites:

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I love this shot because somehing about the angle makes my face look a little like Dita von Teese ... whch is never a bad thing!

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This look is one I've wanted to try out for a while.  It's inspired by a fashion shoot I saw in a magazine a few months back and wanted to try putting my own little spin on.

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This is my absolute favourite shot that we got.  The pose was an idea of Jacquie's, and I think her composition is lovely.

Edits

One of my last posts was about the shoot I did in Sheffield with Katie Soze and Carlee.  Well, recently I got back a couple of edited headshots from Katie, both of which I absolutely adore!

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This was our vintage inspired look.  A little Katharine Hepburn around the brows.  And it shows off my new hair colour ... although the Rogue streak appears to be missed, not just by me!

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This was Carlee's 80s look.  She was using Boy George and the New Romantics as her inspiration.  Comments I've had on it so far all say it looks reminiscent of Robert Palmer's 'Addicted to Love' video, so I think her intention worked very well.

Talulah Blue's private event

Yesterday I made my way down to Leamington Spa for a private event.  It was being organised by Talulah Blue, who is one of those performers who I've known through various online routes for a long time, but only just met.  She's a great performer and a wonderful costumier, and a while ago she appeared on Britain's Got Talent ... burlesque on reality TV is getting more prevalent, I tell you! ^_^

My job at the event was to act as a hospitality girl, meet and greet guests, etc.  I had a partner in crime in the lovely Deadly Nightshade, the lady in charge of Sheffield's Secrets of the Boudoir burlesque event.  She brought along her friend Anna, who I have chatted to on Facebook and who is, coincidentally, a good friend of the wonderful Nicki from Take Me Out!

Nightshade and I looked rather good in our cute little outfits, if I do say so myself (and you can just about make out my brand new tattoo in this shot):

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After our job was done, Talulah did some wonderful performances, and I acted as pick-up girl for her.  I have some serious costume envy after doing this!

All in all, it was a rather nice event to work at.  Talulah, Nightshade and Anna are all lovely girls, and the people at the event itself were all very sweet too.

Katie and Carlee

Well as it has been an actual age since I last updated this blog I thought it was probably time to post again!  I've been having a bit of a break and so have had nothing interesting to report, but things are beginning to pick up again now.


I've been having a little bit of a reinvention lately.  I've changed my hair and altered my style slightly.  So as a result I'm wanting to shoot more so I can show off my new look.  And as the first step in this, I worked on Thursday with Katie.  Katie is a photographer I've been wanting to work with for a while, but had never managed to get around to doing.  But we finally managed it, and we teamed up with make up artist Carlee to do some beauty headshots.

First of all we did a vintage inspired look, with heavy brows and pale lips, using Katharine Hepburn as our starting point.  We went for an old Hollywood look with the shots, and Katie really pushed me to emote and use my expressions.  After this, we kept the same look and did some smoking shots with natural light, keeping the same kind of styling.

For our final set of the day, Carlee created an 80s New Romantic inspired look, with even heaver brows, bright colour, and slicked back hair for an androgynous feel:
 

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Because this was a very strong look, I tried to make my expressions very aggressive.  What's challenging though, is that even in headshots, where your face is essentially in close up, some of what is portrayed in real life s lost - your expression is diluted somehow.  So again, Katie pushed me and I tried to go really over the top with my aggressiveness.  Let's hope it came across OK!


It was a lovely shoot, with a nice relaxed feel to it and a real sense of collaboration.  It was great to finally work with Katie, and also to meet Carlee for the first time.  I'm very much looking forward to seeing the finished shots.  It'll take a while, but for now, here's a sneaky peek:


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Showreel

A while back I received a disc in the post from Simon Corby of Darkmedia Productions.  Simon often records performances at Heresy'n'Heelz events (sadly he's never managed to record me performing because I've not yet managed to perform at an event he's been set up at!) and creates promotional videos from this footage.  Last year I managed to get a few of my acts recorded in various venues but hadn't been able to do anything with this footage.  So I passed it on to Simon who managed to edit it into one cohesive showreel for me!

I've added the video to my Repertoire page, although I'm not sure it will play for all viewers.  Unfortunately my website is being a little temperamental and not allowing me to directly embed a Youtube link, so I've had to use a Windows Media Player based application instead.  I am working on this, but for now, if you can't see the video on the Repertoire page, you can watch it directly on Youtube instead.

Onwards and upwards!

The King of Soho

In my last entry, I spoke about the rehearsal I attended for a movie scene I had been cast in.  So on Monday and Tuesday this week I've been back in London, staying with Carrie and the gang in the Take Me Out house, in order to be in the capital for the filming of said scene.

So the movie, The King of Soho, is about the life of Paul Raymond who was given that title due to his setting up the first strip club in London and later moving into the adult magazine publishing industry.  After I worked with him, Iain Thomson had told me about the casting as the film spans several decades, and the casting team were looking for girls who could pull off vintage looks.  As a burlesquer and a 50s loving gal, I was cast as a dancer in the Raymond Revuebar on its opening in 1958.  At the venue, which was dressed beautifully and looked like a proper retro nightclub, I first went into hair and make up, where I ran into Daisy, who'd been one of the hairstylists on Take Me Out.  She sorted out my look, giving me classic winged eyeliner, natural-looking false lashes, and a coral coloured lipstick which I would never have thought to use with my pale skintone, but which looked rather nice.  She also negated my white streak with brown colour mousse, making it look a strange muted bronze colour:

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The first scene we filmed was the dance scene we'd rehearsed.  As one of the topless dancers, my outfit basically consisted of a pair of sequinned shorts and an ostrich feather headpiece.  I have to say, I was very jealous of the other girls, who got more traditional showgirl outfits in blue with silver appliqués, and I felt a little like my outfit was less flattering than theirs.  But we got up on stage and I was given a blue feather fan, which made me feel a little more at home.  We filmed that scene from many different angles, with the band behind us who we were chatting to between recording breaks.  Once it was done, the four girls who had danced on the front row went to have their costumes changed to fim another, more upbeat number, and the remaining three of us were given dresses and sent to be extras in the background.  I'm not sure we were caught by the camera at all, but I fell in love with the dress I was put in, which (although it doesn't look like it in this shot) fitted perfectly, even if it was a fight to get it on:

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After that scene was done we were finished for the day.  A hairstylist who I'm going to call Kat (because I think that was her name, naturally) set my hair in curls and told me to sleep in it, because she had an idea for the style she would give me the next day.  So, looking a little like Shirley Temple, I went to hang out with Carrie for the night - where I was recognised in a random bar in north London, even with my streak barely visible!

The next day when I got in, a make-up artist called Amy gave me the same look as I'd had previously, and Kat gave me a new hairdo, with a wonderful front flick which we felt was reminiscent of something from Strictly Ballroom (a movie I adore).  The scenes we were filming that day were rehearsal scenes, for which I had to wear the sequinned shorts and various vintage bras, cardigans and blouses, to make the distinction between one scene and the next:

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One unexpected scene was a backstage scene, in which the dancers are getting ready in their dressing room.  Which basically involved me putting on the shorts and taking off the bra, and then standing around smoking and talking to the other girls while they put on their more complicated costumes.  But the fun part of this was that we got to ad lib and just talk about random things while the cameras rolled.  I have no idea how much of this chatter will make the final edit, if any, but I can note that when I stood around 'fully dressed' in my shorts and nothing else, I commented that 'I feel very underdressed compared to you ladies' and the director asked me to repeat it on the next take.  I took that as a good sign.  He was also quite keen for someone to be smoking, so I volunteered and he asked the cameraman to take some shots in the mirror of me with the cigarette.  I take these all as good signs and I'm looking forward to seeing the final edit, to see if any of our ad-libs get in.

At the end of this day, I rediscovered my superpower.  It seems that when I consciously try to style my hair, it doesn't do what I want it to.  BUT when I style my hair a certain way and then brush it out, it looks wonderful.  I had noticed that this happens before, but I just want to reiterate it.  Remember that this was an unintentional style (and excuse the weird perspective that makes my arm look so malformed):

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So that was the story of my first role as a movie extra!  I'm hoping this will lead to more, similar experiences.  What I originally thought would be one scene turned out to be four.  I met some lovely girls and got to hang out with them, and caught up with Peggy De Lune again, who had competed in the Delicious Battle of Burlesque last year and who was one of the four front-line dancing girls in the main scene.  All in all, it was great fun!

London Super Comic Convention

Last weekend I attended the London Super Comic Convention in London.  This wasn't anything to do with work, but a personal but of fun.  The reason I include it in this blog is for the unexpected recognition I got once I was there!

It was an early start to get to the venue for opening time, and I ended up getting a coach at a truly ridiculous time of the morning.  Once I got into London, it was time to navigate the tube, which I'm good at doing, but getting from central London to the Docklands was proving to take some time.  Once I got to the venue, I had to join the longest queue I'd ever seen just to gain access to the main hall - it seemed everyone had got there earlier than I'd managed to!  The queue was long, but fast moving, and as an unexpected surprise I noticed that a few people down was none other than the Decadent Gent, a compere I've worked with many a time at mainly Birmingham based shows and a true appreciator of comic books.  Apparently his friend had surprised him with it as a stag weekend ... now that, my friends, is a good best man!

The reason I was getting so antsy in the queue was that this convention was very special, as the first appearance of a certain Mr Stan Lee in the UK for something like forty years ... and I refused to miss it!  Once I was in I went straight to reserve my chance to have my photo taken with Stan the Man, and then went to change into my outfit.  I was, quite obviously (if you have any knowledge of anything comic-related, I grant you), Rogue of the X-Men, my style icon.  I had been made a wonderful catsuit by Anansie, a model friend who makes zentai, and put together various accessories to invoke a classic Rogue incarnation (but not my favourite costume, interestingly), the 90s Jim Lee era, which was also the design used in X-Men: The Animated Series, which was my first introduction to the character:

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As you can see, my hair had gone out of control, but that absolutely suited the trailer trash vibe I was going for.  I was also particularly proud of the green hoop earrings which added a special little touch.  Nerdier readers may notice the cowboy boots in place of the giant OTK yellow monstrosities favoured by Rogue, but in my defence, I ran out of time to source materials (my attendance was all arranged rather last minute), and Rogue has often been depicted wearing cowboy boots so it was all very in character.

What surprised me though, was the sheer number of times throughout the weekend that I was recognised as 'the girl from Take Me Out'.  It was only when I was in the Rogue outfit that I was spotted - before I'd got changed no one had noticed me.  it was all very odd to me that in a mode so different to the one I had been shown in on TV, I was still recognisable.  I had arranged to meet Ben, the cosplayer from show 3, at the convention and spent most of the time hanging around with him, so people who recognised me were inevitably more impressed to see two of us!

The convention itself was an awful lot of fun.  I had my picture taken with Stan the Man, who looked me up and down in my outfit and said 'I see you're bringing some glamour to procedings' (at which I beamed and said 'I try'!) which was a definite highlight.  I entered a cosplay competition and didn't even come close to winning, but had fun trying to act in character (saying 'Hey sugah' to the host was my favourite part), and in which my real streak gained me good comments.  I got to speak to a couple of writers, including Mike Carey who has recently been writing Rogue-centric storylines and approved of my outfit.  In the queue to see him, we ran into George, the man with the snakes from show 1 and had a lovely chat and catch up.  I met lots of lovely people in (and not in) wonderfully creative costumes and generally just had a great time.  Oh, and I spotted one guy in costume who I ran up to with my camera and just said 'we have to!'  He agreed to pose for a picture, but he didn't seem too impressed.  The number of other people who joined in taking pictures of us together backed up my initial assessment though, that it simply had to be done ...

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I stayed in London that weekend, and on the first night I went to meet Lucy and the others on the night out discussed previously.  I stayed for the first night with the glamorous Bec (one of the original line up girls) and her friend and sister, who were in town to film The Gossip, and for the second night with Carrie (the first of my podium buddies to leave), Fabio (the guy she got the date with, on show 4), Jade (a current line up girl) and one other guy whose identity I can't disclose (his show hasn't aired yet and so he's super secret!).  It was lovely to be able to catch up with some of my Take Me Out buddies again, and to meet new ones too.

On the Monday, I went for a rehearsal at the infamous Pineapple Dance Studios.  I had been to a casting a couple of weeks previously and had been offered a role as a dancer in a movie which is currently in production, in a scene set in 1958.  I'm not sure how much I'm allowed to say about the movie itself, as I know the producers don't want many details to be leaked.  But at Pineapple, I was to learn choreography for a group dance routine.  Through various factors I ended up standing in the back row and learning more simplified choreography which consisted of learning mainly pin-up style poses while other girls danced in front.  The aesthetic effect of three girls being more still while four girls moved around them was apparently very period and striking.  What this did mean though, was that I was confirmed as one of the three topless girls for the scene.  Which is slightly daunting!

Coco Studios

Last week I was contacted by local make up artist Adele Coxon, who proposed a collaborative shoot at her new studio in Beeston with photographer Hannah Smith-Chilton.  I'd been aware of Adele's work for some time and had heard of Coco Studios on the local grapevine, so I was happy to accept her proposal.  I checked out Hannah's work and saw that she's mainly a glamour photographer, and shoots the kind of funky, bright coloured glamour that I've always shied away from, because my look tends to be more suited to more retro themes (and photographers generally agree).  But I was interested to see what kind of thing we could all produce together - I was sure it would certainly be new and different, for me at least!

Coco Studio is a lovely space, with lots of different ares and a very modern, fresh feel to it.  The girls were both lovely and friendly and I felt welcomed at once.  They were styling the shoot between then and came up with some outfits that I'd never have thought any photographer or  stylist would suggest for me.  Adele gave me very bright coloured make up, with hot pink and lime green, and heavy black eyeliner.  Since I'm usually restricted to a vintage nude or smoky eye and red or natural lips, this was a huge change for me and it excited me to be trying something new.  Adele originally curled my hair in a more loose style than my usual one, and for later sets Hannah gave me a beautiful updo.  The two girls put together a couple of great outfits for me, incluing a white lace body with hot pink belt and leather gloves (which is a look similar to one I've wanted to experiment with for a while but never had a chance to) and a black corset with gold hot pants and gold sequinned braces (which is an outfit I intend to recreate in the future - it was just the right mix of retro and funky for my eclectic tastes!).  The actual shooting was a great challenge for me, as it gave me a chance to experiment with new poses and expressions.  I tried to move my body into more angular positions and exude more of an attitude than I usually do, and the resulting feel was somewhere between bubblegum glamour and edgy fashion.

In the last couple of days Hannah has uploaded a couple of the shots.  They're so different to my usual style in every way - styling, costuming, posing, even editing.  I love them - what do you think?

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The Gossip

Well.  My Take Me Out journey came to an interesting close this weekend with the airing of my date on show 8, and the subsequent showing of The Gossip.  I went down to London to film The Gossip last Sunday, the day after show 7 aired.  It was wonderful getting to see everyone again, especially Lucy and Steph - we'd flown out there together and all stayed in the same hotel, so we'd bonded quite a bit.  After our dates, all six of us from the show had gone out on a night out together which had descended into tipsy madness, so it was lovely seeing the boys again too - although we weren't really allowed to speak to them before filming started.  We girls were all shown our date highlights, the video clips which were aired on the main show, before we started filming.  I think that mine was quite cute really.  The dreaded boiler suit didn't get much airtime, thankfully, and I loved the black & white conversion of my walking to the dinner date, complete with Marilyn moment!


Then it was time to get changed and into hair and make up for filming.  I'd decided to forgo the red dress I was originally going to wear, and go for an electric blue instead.  It's one of my favourite dresses, which I've had for years and only break out on special occasions, and I like how it makes my waist look.  Plus, for the section at the end of the show when I was fan dancing I was using blue fans and my elaborately rhinestoned blue hair lily, so I stuck with blue shoes and eyelashes with blue rhinestones attached to echo that theme.  For the actual dancing I wore a simple black basque and satin hotpants, and the wardrobe department gave me some fishnets, which made me look a little like a classic Playboy bunny.  The wonderful Sarah was back again doing make up, along with Alex, and my favourite hairstylist Mitch was on hand to sass up our hair.  These guys are some of the best in the business, and they really know what they're doing.  Sarah gave me a wonderful 50s eyeliner flick and gave me some tips on how to do it myself, and tried out a much warmer, 40s style, orange-toned red lipstick than the blue-toned scarlet I generally wear.  I would never have dared wear this shade myself, because I'm so pale, but she said that with the blue the warmth would work better than a cool shade, which might wash me out a little.  And she was right!

We filmed our 'guys vs girls' section first, where we all chatted in groups, which was lovely.  And then it was time to film for our individual dates.  James and I chatted about how things had gone and it all seemed good.  As the videos had shown we'd got on really well on our date and had spent most of the time just laughing with (and most of the time, at) each other.  The they showed the video clip of us on the night out after the dates.  I looked terrible, really bad ... a couple of drinks and then a lot of dancing had meant that my hair was taking on a life of its own!  It started off looking quite cute.  And then he dropped the bomb.  When asked what my worst feature was, he said I shouldn't smile because I looked like a chipmunk.  Now, I have discussed in previous posts the worries I have about my smile, so to me this was my big insecurity not only noticed and pointed out, but broadcast to five million or so viewers.  I told him the comment was out of order and he made excuses about not being able to remember saying it.  But then he kept on digging by calling me schizophrenic and then implying that he'd have been happier if I'd simply stayed quiet on the date to let him talk (his love of his own voice and ego had been picked up by the editors, it seemed, as they were pointed out on the video clip).  Needless to say, I was unimpressed by these revelations and the interview ended with me in frosty mood.  James, on the other hand, seemed completely oblivious to the fact that I might be a little (justifiably, I think) upset and carried on as if we were great friends.

On Saturday night, when the shows were broadcast, I was in London (I'll talk more about this in an upcoming post) and I headed over to meet the lovely Lucy and some of the previous and future Take Me Out contestants for a private viewing of the two shows.  I was having an interesting hair day (for reasons which will become apparent later on) and had decided to wear the red dress I had originally intended for The Gossip.  It was a bit of a mad sleep deprived look, but it kinda worked (the camerawoman, who you can see reflected in the mirror, is Danielle, who won a date with Charlie on the show we were watching):

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We all settled down to watch the show, and three successful dates were broadcast, to choruses of 'awww' and approval from everyone watching.  And then The Gossip was shown.  Watching my section was nerve wracking, I have to say.  When the dreaded moment came, I could see how horrified I'd been - I looked simply furious.  I was amused to see Mark Wright tell James he thought he was crackers though.  The other guys watching gave me a lot of support over it, and the positivity I've received over it on Twitter and Facebook has been overwhelming.  My favourite part was my mini fan dance at the very end of the show - it came out looking great!  Technically it wasn't the most accomplished routine I've ever attempted, and there wasn't much of the actual dancing shown, but I think my facial expressions were much better than I expected.  And seeing myself dismissing him with one fan was quite gratifying.  But what do we think guys and girls?  Am I right or wrong to be offended by James' comments?  Is he an arrogant egotist, or just a funny guy who got taken out of context?  I know what I think, but what do you think?

So, that's it!  My Take Me Out journey is over.  I made some fabulous friends doing it, and I wouldn't have missed out on the experience for the world.  But, barring reunions, my part in the show is done with now.  I'll still be watching to see how the rest of my girls get on with their dates.  And if you want to see some more content, check out our dating tips on the ITV Take Me Out page (where highlights of the shows will be uploaded too) and find out who my not-at-all-secret celebrity crush is!

Success on show 7!

This Saturday saw the broadcast of Take Me Out episode 7.  The series being 14 weeks long, this show was the halfway point.  I'd had a delivery on the day this was filmed, bringing me a truly beautiful Vivien of Holloway dress to wear:

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The man in the background is Paul, who styled my hair that day, and gave me expert advice on creating the beautiful Hollywood style flick.  I've not tried out the tricks yet to see if I can do it myself, but I'm sure I will be doing soon, because I loved it!

So, the show itself.  The first man, lovely Liam, entered from the love lift and did his thing.  He's a very pretty lifeguard from County Durham, very sweet guy but not my type - and I was in fact the first girl to switch her light off.  I know for a fact I'm not his type though, so I don't feel bad about it!  He had a record number of lights to switch off by the end, and won a date with beautiful Lucy A, who walked off hand in hand with him into the sunset. 

And then came out bachelor number 2.  James from Bournemouth.  A slightly geeky looking, slightly eccentric looking man with glasses.  I couldn't switch off for a man who looked like that.  Then his video clip was shown ... and he has a French stage name: James LeRouge.  Why, how coincidental!  For his final round, he played piano.  Beautifully.  The song finished, the round finished, and Paddy announced that he had a date.  I looked around, quite shocked that I was the only one with my light left on.  But it was true - I'd won the date!

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Now, if you think this scene looks awkward ... well, you'd be right.  On bringing me out from behind my podium, Paddy asked me if I was happy to have won the date.  To which I replied that I was never going to switch my light out.  He then asked Mr LeRouge here if he still would have picked me as his date, had he had a choice and not won a date by default.  The very erudite response he got went along the lines of 'Errm, well, it's ..........'  Now, I can understand a man feeling cheated out of the choice he thought he was going to get and being confused when presented with a girl and told 'take this one out now please'.  I can understand a man being a little disappointed that any girls he had his eye on switched their light off and feeling like they got stuck with someone they didn't want to date.  But when someone asks you that question, you say yes!  You don't even think about it!  Am I right girls?  He did try to make it up by complimenting my hair, which goes a good way towards getting back in my good books, but it certainly set up the date on an awkward footing from my end.  And so we walked back up the stairs and into the 'sunset', with me not quite knowing what to think, and a little unable to believe I was leaving, to go and join Lucy backstage.

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Now, when I watched the show back, I saw that in the mini interview they play after the couple have walked away, LeRouge did the whole stumbling and stuttering thing again.  So not a good sign, right?  I gave it the benefit of the doubt and carried on watching ... I needed to see Ben!  He's another great guy, a tall and handsome shipbroker from London, and when he won his date with gorgeous Steph H it brought back my memories of being backstage with Lucy and waiting to see who the next girl who would join us on our little trip to the Isle of Fernando's would be, and the girlish squealing which ensued when Steph walked in.

So that's it!  I won my date, got to jet off with two amazing girls to a tropical island paradise where we had once in a lifetime dates with three very different men awaiting us.  My Take Me Out journey is nearly over, but the results of my date can be seen in this weekend's upcoming shows.  First of all, in the main show on ITV, you'll be able to see highlights of my actual date.  Then straight afterwards, on ITV2, if you watch The Gossip, you'll see what happened after the date, when the Super Six went out on our night time adventures.  If you were watching this week's Gossip show, you'll have seen some clips from this ... including a shot of me looking a little worse for wear talking about James' ego, and one of him talking about my face.  Which didn't sound good, but we shall have to wait and see what that was all about ...

Junction 16

Last Saturday saw me venturing up to Crewe to shoot with three lovely photographers.  They had apparently been looking for a 'real' burlesque performer for some time, who could provide the right kind of wardrobe and who actually performs.  It's a slight irritation with me that there are many models who offer 'burlesque' as one of the styles they work to, without any actual understanding of the performance genre, and many photographers who similarly assume that adding feathers to a shot automatically makes it 'burlesque'.  So I can understand their wanting to seek out an actual performer, and I was more than happy to work with them.

The studio was the helpfully titled J16 Studios, so called because it is situated near junction 16 of the M6 motorway.  It's owned by Marc Byram, who was one of the photographers present at the shoot and also the one who did most of the organisation.  All three though, were very helpful in terms of ideas and inspiration shots, and so I boarded the train with some distinct looks in mind and a suitcase full of black and red outfits.

The weather that day was rather hideous in the usually Glorious Midlands, the snow which had fallen earlier in the week having frozen over, making the streets dangeriously slippery with thick ice.  I was rocking what I like to call my 'winter boho' look, as I'm currently in romantic mood with my wardrobe, favouring softer silhouettes and paler colours than I usually go for.  So white, cream and biscuit shades are in, whereas black and navy are relegated to the back of the wardrobe, and I've given up the skinny jeans and tight figure hugging blouses for the moment to give shoulder exposing batwing jumpers and knitted maxi skirts their day.  As you can see though, no matter how pale and dreamy I'm feeling with my dressing, I can't resist adding in a bit of my favourite colour:

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The shoot itself was broadly burlesque themed, so there were a lot of corsets, suspender straps and stockings involved.  But we also threw in a few other looks, such as a fetish-inspired set with an all black outfit.  I was doing my own make up and hair styling, and in between sets the photographers reset their lights and equipment so they could get the look they wanted on each new set.  The guys were great to work with, and the studio space was lovely.  At the very end we tried out some close up head shots, almost beauty shots, if you will.  And here's one of the results, shot by Marc:

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Take Me Out shows 3-6

Firstly, I must offer up my apologies for not having updated this blog in an age.  I intended to at least update once a week whilst Take Me Out is being broadcast.  However, a fortnight-long trip to China in the middle of this soon put paid to that.  There are many websites I couldn't access from behind the Great Firewall, and this was not one I wanted to risk ...

So, here's a quick update on my progress through the show so far.  The first episode I missed (but managed to catch online, later on) was show 3.  This saw the most eccentric of my looks in the entire series:

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Though this outfit was intended to be strictly monochrome, the white blouse was deemed 'too normal for Fleur' and swapped with a bright red sheer blouse with a pussy bow collar and long sleeves over which my gloves were worn.  This was provided by Wardrobe, and was a fantastic pick by the stylists, as the final look was incredibly striking.  The polka dot corset is one of my favourites that I own, and is by local designer Kaos, the hair flower which gave such a dramatic effect on the show itself was by Diablo Jo's Rockabilly Accessories, and the gloves were hand embellished by yours truly (and yes, I do take commissions!).  I was given quite a bit of airtime in this show, though not as much as I was expecting - I had filmed an introduction which was cut in the final edit.  But I had two rather diva-tastic lines in particular when talking to a couple of the guys, including my favourite line of the entire series 'Oh I don't do minimalist, darling!'

Show 4 saw my absolute favourite hairdo of the series, the rockabilly quiff which morphed into a giant faux-hawk, created by the wonderful Mitch (who I've posted about previously) whilst listening to Imelda May and dancing our little double act ...

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The dress was a lovely little blue embroidered shift dress which I'd bought in a vintage shop in Brighton during the Heresy'n'Heelz road trip back in August.  It's a genuine 1950s and has a matching bolero jacket, but the dress looks pretty enough on its own, and with the high hair it was more than enough.  It fits absolutely perfectly, more so than I would expect from a vintage dress (which simply reaffirms my belief that I have a figure that belongs in the past rather than the present), and wearing it always brings back memories of that happy trip.  Sadly I had no lines in show 4, but I had a fair number of cutaways and reaction shots, including my favourite which was a shot of me and my lovely podium buddy Carrie (who left later that show in the company of Fabio) dancing and shimmying together to 'La Isla Bonita'.

Show 5, by comparison, was a much bigger show for me.  It was at this point that the producers had apparently decreed that I was to get a little makeover.  So the eccentricity was to be toned down, as were the circle skirts, and I was to be given a more figure hugging, slinky wardrobe.  The look they wanted to emulate was 'Jessica Rabbit' - as role models go, I can't really complain!  So my wardrobe was out, and for this show I was dressed in this amazing French Connection 'Spotlight' dress:

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Now, while this is not the most flattering photo in existence, it gives an overall effect.  I certainly had many comments which indicated I looked good enough on the show!  As you can see, Mitch was also becoming more experimental with my hair.  For the first three shows, it was the plan that each girl's hair should stay relatively similar, so that the audience could recognise her easily.  After three shows, it was assumed the audience would have built up an image of the girls, and so we could start to change our looks a little more.  So girls who'd had loose hair for the first three shows were allowed to play with updos, and vice versa.  My style being different to most of the other girls, and my streak being such a prominent feature, Mitch really began to play with styles and see what he could do.  This look was very different for me, different to anything I've ever had before or since.  I played quite a prominent role in show 5, finally leaving my light on for a man, rockabilly boy Jake, who kept me in his final two, but eventually chose my other podium buddy Hollie.  This was quite a surprise to most of us (including me and Hollie!) as it was expected that the 50s boy would choose the 50s girl ... but let's face it, Hollie is a total beauty so I can't really blame him!

Show 6 saw the continuation of my slinkier look, and I was dressed in this 'Mad Men'-esque pencil dress along with tweed shoes, with six inch high skyscraper heels:

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Now, I wasn't a particular fan of this look, as I thought it was a little too dull for me.  I also didn't like the way it displayed certain aspects of my figure whilst hiding others (I enjoy showing off my waist as small, and I felt the wide belt disguised this and made me look thicker around the middle than I am).  But it was certainly something different.  I'd swapped my usual red lips and nails for fuchsia lipstick and acid bright pink nail polish, to really stand out aganst the grey-blue of the dress.  And, as you can see, Mitch's quest to give me standout hair every episode reached a peak with this style.  I really liked the way that simply sweeping the streak over to the other side gave such a different effect, with it starting out narrow and growing into a white flash.  Something so simple can be so effective.  In this show, again I had no lines, but after my large role last week I can't really complain.  Again, I had quite a few cutaways and reaction shots, so I'm certainly getting some good airtime.  I'm sure that means something, but I'm not at all sure what.  One point of note with show 6 was that during the sister show 'The Gossip', which airs immediately afterwards and shows footage of the dates secured the previous week, I got a mention from presenter Zoe Hardman.  She was chatting with Hollie and asked her if she'd been expecting Jake to choose Fleur 'Not a Normal 50s Housewife'.  This was a reference to my answer to Jake's 'killer question', in which he'd asked which era we'd most like to live in, and I'd chosen the 50s, but had said I wasn't a typical housewife type.  I was very happy that Zoe had picked up on this and paraphrased it - I now have a new catchphrase!

So, there you have it.  Four shows in synopsis.  As it stands, I'm still on the line up and still waiting for my date.  Keep watching to find out if and when I get one - or at least what I'll be wearing!

Take Me Out week 2 and picture update

Earlier this evening I sat down to watch the second episode of Take Me Out.  As with last week, I was also updating and conversing with friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter as the show progressed.  In contrast to my opening show look of a 50s polkadot pinup, with my soft curls, Vivien of Holloway red on white polkadot circle dress and petticoat, and personalised Clutterfly double heart necklace, I was rocking a bit more of a Hollywood femme fatale look tonight, in a black clingy Pinup Girl Couture dress, Mad Men style hair with one large reverse roll, and darker lips and nails.  I wasn't featured much this week, having no speech but a close up shot that went on a little too long for personal comfort.  It was an enjoyable show to watch this week, but as I didn't get a date, I'll be on again next week.  Let's hope I get more exposure!

Further to my last blog post, I received the pictures back from my last shoot today.  There are some little crackers in amongst them.  I love them all, but here's a selection of my favourites, including a few that are very much too risqué to post on Facebook:

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And the very tongue in cheek reason why I was in the outfit posted in my last blog, but which yielded a fantastic smile:

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Pretty pictures

Yesterday was quite an exciting day for me.  I made a resolution this year to really push forward with not only my burlesque performance, but also with my modelling.  Although I mainly work within the retro/pinup and art nude genres, I am hoping to explore new styles this year.  And one of my main goals whilst attempting this is to work on my facial expressions.  While within pinup I can go to town on my expressions, ranging from silly pouts and cute 'oops' faces to cheesy grins and my usual femme fatale smoulder, the feeling I'm generally going for is ridiculously contrived and over the top.  Which, while fun, simply will not work in any other style.  My art nude work is at the other end of the spectrum, with the expressions on show usually being ones of calm serenity, rarely with any interaction with the camera.  And so I am aiming to master all those expressions in between - the subtle faces which tell a story, and even *gasp* the smile.  Like many people, I find a natural smile the hardest facial expression to pull off convincingly, especially when a camera is pointed at me.  Childhood (or rather, teenager-hood) insecurities which seem long forgotten suddenly make themselves known.  But I know this is something I need to work on and get over in order to progress.  I'm lucky in that I'm seen as quite a versatile model, and showing more expressiveness can only add to said versatility.

With that in mind, yesterday I hopped on a train to shoot with Iain Thomson.  Well respected amongst the internet modelling/photography community and within the real world industry as well, Iain usually shoots for the adult/glamour market.  However, he does occasionally shoot girls with (most of) their clothes on, and this was the capacity he was shooting me in.  We decided to go totally against type for me, and shoot in a style that was completely different to my usual.  In a word - glamour.  Take a look at this little backstage snap to see just how different I went wardrobe-wise:

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Colour!  Pink!  Girliness!  As well as the wardrobe though, the posing was a total departure for me.  As I'm used to either creating strong shapes with fluid lines, or exaggerated Betty Boop style poses, it was new for me to create something softer and less staged.  The biggest challenge though, was to project an air of sexuality.  Since creating my new acts 'Restricted' and 'The Vampire's Metamorphosis' this seemed to come a lot more easily than I expected it to, but I was aware that creating an atmosphere in a still image is very different to creating an atmosphere in a live action performance.  Iain directed me wonderfully though, and once I got into the shoot I don't think I did half badly.  In fact, after seeing some of the images we got in the back of the camera, I'm feeling quite proud of myself, as there were some great shots.  Keep checking back to see the final edits when they come through ...

My television debut

Tonight saw me making my first ever appearance on a televison show.  Although I'd like to be able to say that this was an appearance related to my burlesque work, it was actually as part of the line up on ITV's dating show Take Me Out.  I'd managed to keep this appearance a secret up until today - for the most part, because eagle eyed friends had spotted me in the official publicity shot which has been doing the rounds:

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That's me, on the far right of the back row.  That streak makes me distinctive enough that a few people picked me out.  The picture has so far been in TV guides, gossip magazines, and news websites.  It's a lovely shot of all of my girls, but I wasn't impressed with the way my hair looked that day.  So as a balance, here's my personal publicity shot, which I'm rather impressed with:

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For those of you unfamiliar with the show, the premise is simple.  Thirty girls stand in a line with lights in front of them.  A single man is brought out, and over a series of rounds, the girls switch off their lights if they're unimpressed.  At the end of the third round, if girls have their lights still on, the man gets to narrow his choices down to two, ask a tiebreak question, and then wins a date with the girl he finally chooses.  Tonight, I didn't get a date, which means I'll be returning next week, and every week after that until I either get a date, or the series ends.  And since the series is 14 weeks long, I could be on your screens for a long time if I don't get lucky!

Although this series of Take Me Out is the third, this year sees the first series of the spinoff show The Gossip.  The sister show will include more footage of the dates and speak to successful ccouples about their experiences.  The first show tonight though, served as an introduction to the remaining line up girls.  This included, for me, a VT showing the two sides of my personality - the glamorous, flirtatious burlesque starlet, and the quiet, introverted nerd.

I would like, on this blog, to be able to show you some of the behind the scenes things that went on.  So here are a couple of my favourite people who help to put the show together:

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This is James.  He's on the girls' team, the group of producers, researchers, runners et al, whose job it is to look after the girls in studio.  James (or JayJay as we rechristened him) is the only boy on the girls' team, and has the unenviable task of putting up with 36 women all teasing him mercilessly.  He certainly gives as good as he gets though!  The amount of times he's laid into me about getting lost in the studio no matter how many times I walk the same route, and not knowing my left from my right!  We love him though, he's like our brother that we tease out of good-natured affection.

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This is Mitch, looking fierce (or trying, I'm not sure either of us got it right!).  Mitch is the head hairstylist and it's his job to make me look fabulous every week.  He's very good at it - the creations he comes up with to show off my streak are awesome!  He's also got great taste in music; there's nothing better than going to get my hair done, Mitch cranking up the 80s tunes or some Imelda May, and us having a little dance and sing along like the weirdest double act in creation.  I intend to smuggle him home with me at some point - I'm a little bit in love with him.

I didn't get featured much on tonight's episode.  I spoke once, which was an interesting experience to watch!  I think I came across well ... the responses I'm getting from social networking seem to be mainly positive.  I had a lovely little interaction session tonight by live Tweeting and conversing on Facebook as the shows aired.  I'm planning to do the same next week, so if you'd like to join in, do drop by!

Photographic updates

So back in October I posted about the Heresy'n'Heelz Halloween Spectacular at which I performed two brand new acts.  This was a tricksy undertaking and one I possibly misjudged in terms of the workload I was taking on!  But during that post I promised to post up pictures of the acts once I had them.  So, with a little delay, here are a couple of pictures of the two acts, all by Heresy's resident photographer Karl Bright.

Restricted:

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I feel that these pictures really captured the feeling of 'subtle sensuality' I was going for in this act, and seeing them has reinforced my confidence that the mood I was trying to create was translated.

The Vampire's Metamorphosis:

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One of the things I was most worried about with this act was how the 'special effects' were going to come across onstage.  From these shots I see that the lighting used helped out an awful lot!  I'm extremely proud of these shots which  feel are a very good advertisement for this act.

Manchester Alternative and Burlesque Fair

Today (Saturday December 10th, as I'm posting after midnight but I still consider it to be part of the same day) was the second Manchester Alternative and Burlesque Fair.  A follow up to the fair Heresy'n'Heelz hosted (and I wrote about) back in September, this fair was bigger and better, spanning three floors and aiming to be a one stop market for Christmas shopping - for those so inclined, anyway.

As we were combining burlesque with fetish themes - a staple for Heresy events, but a little more obviously this time - I decided to go for a goth/fetish inspired vamp look with a dress I have been saving for a special occassion:

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Black velvet bodycon with huge mesh batwing sleeves - what's not to love??  I also decided to break out my wonderful black and broze patent killer heels, matched the bronze with a sparkly eyeshadow, gothed it up with heavy black eyeliner and deep scarlet lips and nails.  I had intended to wear my hair up in a severe sharp style, but it was looking so nice and shiny that I decided to keep it in its natural state of poker-straightness, which I thought looked severe enough.  I was very pleased with how my white streak was looking and I was quite proud of how the look turned out.  And yes, that is my Tinkerbell suitcase and Marvel superheroes make-up bag in the background - my tastes are nothing if not eclectic!

The venue, as last time, was Sound Control, and we took over the entire building with traders and put on shows throughout the day.  The basement floor, known as the Cellar of Sin, hosted the more fetish themed stalls, so it was full of latex clothing, bondage equipment, and even dungeon furniture.  The performances in the Cellar were by pole dancers from Blush Dance Studios, renowned twisted cabaret performer Syban V, and compéred by magician Simon Southerin.  As our stage team was split over two floors, three storeys apart, we simply divided our efforts, and Morticiaa took on the stage management for the Cellar.  This meant I didn't get to see any of the shows, as I was busy on the top floor, but I did get to go and look around the stalls later on in the day. 

I was stage managing the shows on the top floor, the Burlesque Boudoir.  We were hosting a Movers and Shakers event, put on by the fabulous Ministry of Burlesque, who were also holding a stall in their pop-up peep show tent.  Our performers were Kittie Klaw herself, who also compéred for much of the show, Dani California, Glorian Grey, and three lovely newcomers.  Movers and Shakers is a platform for newer performers to play to a larger crowd, and for seasoned performers to test out new material, and having performed in two myself earlier in my career, I was pleased to be able to be involved in the running of one.  All our performances were wonderful and I think we put on a good show.

The stalls in the Boudoir were nothing if not varied.  We had traditional burlesque wares of corsets, fascinators, and pasties, along with steampunk accessories, vintage clothing, and artists.  One of the artists was illustrator Aly Fell, who I've met several times at Heresy events but whose work I hadn't actually seen until today.  I fell in love as soon as I saw his pinup cowgirl with boots to rival my own, and then his portrayal of Emma Frost - an X-Woman in your portfolio is always going to win my heart (Rogue next please Aly!).  His reinterpretation of Barbarella caught my eye ... she looks like me!

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OK, so she doesn't look like me ... it's only the streak that does it!  But I now own a print of her, which Aly kindly signed for me, and which will hopefully soon grace my wall along with my random collection of artworks.

ElectroTease

Yesterday saw my first actual performance at a Christmas themed event this year.  My first, and likely to be my only one.  The event was ElectroTease in Leicester, hosted by Eliza Delite:

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I had never attended an ElectroTease event before, although a couple of the Heresy team have attended a few of their previous nights, and I was very interested to see what it would be like.  What makes the event distinctive is their music, as they stick to reworked swing and jazz, all with an electronic edge.  This, I found, along with the intimate feel of the venue, gave the event a lovely relaxed feel.

Eliza had requested my Holly Fan Dance, as the music I use (Peggy Lee's version of 'Winter Wonderland') fitted in quite nicely with their theme.  It was the first time I'd performed the act in two years, having not done any performing over the Christmas period last year, and I'd forgotten how unwieldy the fans are.  I made them myself, so I only have my own methods to criticise!  But it's definitely time for an improvement to be made on them:

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As the only specifically Christmas-themed act on the bill, I opened the show to set the wintery mood.  I was followed by a shimmy-tastic act from Rose Desirabelle, and Luli Blue, who gave a masterclass in how to hold an audience's attention with only limited movements.  Finally, our hostess Eliza performed a beautifully graceful Isis wing dance which had an Eastern princess feel to it.

I was very pleased to have been asked to perform for the event, and I would definitely recommend ElectroTease as a cute and laid back little night out that's worth checking out in the Midlands, hosted by a wonderfully glamorous lady who really cares about creating the right atmosphere.

Heresy'n'Heelz Kissmas Ball

First of all, my apologies for not having updated in a long time.  I was for a while included in an ongoing project which took up all of my time and energy, and which all but removed me from the real world for three weeks.  I've actully found it very difficult to readjust to normality since then, but I'm slowly getting there.  The nature of the project is, for now at least, super secret ... but it won't stay that way for long, dear readers, so don't worry - you will find out soon enough!

My first foray back into the burlesque based real world (which for most is quite an unreal world, so I am aware of the irony in my saying this!) was last night's Heresy'n'Heelz Kissmas Ball.  This event sort of sneaked up on me, so my outfit was a rather last minute affair.  In my head this event marked the start of real winter, as the first Christmas-themed event I will work on this year.  And the weather didn't disappoint!  To make my way to Derby city centre through the cold icy winds, I decided to break out my truly epic vintage afghan:

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What I love most about this look is that with my minidress underneath it does genuinely look as if I've ventured out with nothing under the coat - which in my book is always a winning look!  The one good thing about winter is being able to bundle up in snuggly fabrics, and I took full advantage of this.

I was, as usual, acting as stage manager for the night.  Our team, as always, was strong and competent.  The show ran off without a hitch from our point of view, and we had a great audience.  The line up was full of regulars, residents, and audience favourites - Cherry Belle (HnH Front of House manager), Miss Pink & Fluffy (making a rare stage appearance), Jezebel de la Luna (Delicious Battle of Burlesque runner up), Kitty Devine, Marnie Scarlet, and of course, our wicked Queen Rosie Lugosi.  From my priveleged position at the side of the stage I get to watch all of the acts with a very critical eye, watching for any potential pitfalls or hazards, to make sure everything runs smoothly and that no performer runs into difficulties.  But I also get to see some great performances close up and I feel I get to learn an awful lot from each performer we get on stage.  Each one has their strengths and their talents, and seeing regular performers grow and improve with every show is quite amazing.  For example, last night, from Kitty I rediscovered the value of a bright facial expression - that woman can switch on a smile that lights up her face and keep it in place for the entire act, which adds a special kind of energy.  From Cherry, I had the certainty that slow considered movements can have as much impact as faster, larger moves reinforced.  And from Marnie, as always, I had emphasised the knowledge that sticking with your own unique take on things, even if you're not completely sure the audience will relate, can be a complete winner.  I also learned that you have not lived until you have seen a woman completely encased in latex, dressed in marigolds, dishcloths and sponges, tearing off her rubber nipples and inflating her body parts like balloons.  But that's quite another matter.

After the show the team had a lovely little bonding session in the form of what seemed to be a random backstage party in our truly glamorous dressing room:

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I have no idea what has happened to my hair in the above picture, but as this was the very end of the night no one can be expected to look perfectly polished, right?

Next week sees the team venturing up to the frozen north for the Manchester Christmas Alternative and Burlesque Fair.  Hopefully this time I shall have enough time to sort out a slightly more elaborate outfit!  But before then, On December 6th, I shall be appearing at Electro-Tease in Leicester, performing my seasonal Holly Fan Dance.  I hope to see some of you there!

Heresy'n'Heelz Halloween Spectacular

So this Saturday saw the Heresy'n'Heelz Halloween Spectacular, the event I've been working up to all year.  I took on a bigger workload than I'd expected, attempting to debut two new acts in one night.  In future, I'll stick to debuting one at a time, and always having an old faithful to fall back on to keep my confidence up.

It was my first show at our newest venue, fittingly called The Venue, in Derby.  Although there had been another Heresy show there, in August, I hadn't been in attendance.  It is a lovely place to put on a show though, with a great stage and plenty of space for the audience and for stalls and installations.

Firstly I performed my reworking of my old act, 'Restricted', a striptease performed completely whilst handcuffed.  I'm quite proud of this little gimmick, which requires some dexterity and which certainly looks impressive.  I was quite happy with how this routine went.  It's often said with performing that you can't know what works in an act until it's been performed in front of an audience.  I think this act has the potential to be a good one; everything worked well and there's nothing that needs changing, but it'll take a few more performances to get it perfectly polished.

Secondly, I performed my risky new act, 'The Vampire's Metamorphosis'.  This was trickier to prepare for, as I had intended to create a specific make up effect which would make me look gaunt and skeletal, so that the more clothing items I removed, the more odd and unsettling I would look.  I was hoping for a grotesque look wich would jar with the overtly sexual attitude I was portraying.  Unfortunately, the effect I was trying for simply didn't work with the limited time and resources I had available between show acts.  So immediately I had something to work on and perfect for the next time this routine is performed.

The costume though, worked very very well:

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I was very happy with how the performance of this act went.  It was quite smooth and I think the attitude came across quite effectively.  I enjoyed performing it very much, and I think this act definitely has the potential to become one of my favourites, and one of my best.  The audience seemed to think so as well; mingling afterwards I got many compliments on my performances, specifically this and its accompanying outfit.  And, as I said to the wonderful Rosie Lugosi (who opened the show with an unexpected rendition of her own version of 'I Will Survive' - 'although I died, I still survived ...), you know you did well when the security guard goes out of his way to compliment your performance!

And now the heavy workload is over, I can concentrate on less demanding work.  I have a few new acts to create, but with no deadlines as yet, so I can take my time with these ones.  And I can work on polishing and promoting these two new ones.  So, still busy, but a little more relaxed with it.  Next weekend I shall be performing with the lovely Liberty Pink and fabulous Frankie Lynn, in what promises to be a very fun little gig.

Keep on reading to see the professional live shots of these two acts when they are officially released... I'm rather looking forward to it myself!

The Vampire's Birth

Dear readers, today I offer you an insight into my creative process.  My newest act creation, my sultry vampiress, is coming along quite nicely.  She has been costumed, she has been choreographed, she has been given an attitude and a personality.  And I'm rather happy with her.  Although she is being unveiled at Halloween, I am hoping she will become the cornerstone of my repertoire and a regular feature in my performances.  She is certainly my most daring creation to date, in terms of both the skin she shows (in more ways than one) and the attitude she displays.  She is unashamedly sensual, attempting to seduce her audience completely.  This is a degree of sexuality my acts have so far shied away from.  But my vampiress is a large character, and she takes over.  Which is rather lovely, really.  I can only hope her confidence drives my performance.

And so, the insight I offered you.  I have been delving deep into my old passion of literature, which had been neglected for a few years when I turned more towards performance.  This is a shame for many reasons, but mainly because my literary passion inspired my very performance name.  And so I began to re-read Baudelaire's legendary collection, 'Les Fleurs du Mal', to see what inspiration I could glean from it.  Where better to find ideas for my performance than to go directly to my original source?  And so I found this piece, 'Les Métamorphoses du Vampire', and in it I found a wealth of imagery I could translate into something visual.

And so with a character discovered, it was time to give her a look and an aesthetic.  The current crop of fashionable vampires don't do much for me.  In fact, when I think of it, although I like the idea of the vampire, I can't think of a single book, film, TV series, etc. which features them heavily, which I would say I enjoy.  At least, not off the top of my head.  So I decided to go just a little further back in time, not even as far as the days of Stoker, to Fenella Fielding's performance as Valeria Watt in that classic movie burlesque, Carry On Screaming:

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Now, although Valeria is never referred to as a vampire, she is most certainly a vamp.  She's wonderfully sensual and incredibly alluring, with her skintight red velvet, her slow assured movements, and her purring voice.  Her look is one I have coveted for years (and stragnely enough, I found the above photograph collection on a website declaring it to be the 'best dress ever' - I have to concur) and modelling my own vampiress on her was something I couldn't resist.  Fiona of Adixxtion Designs rose to the challenge wonderfully, making me a floor length fitted dress of rich wine-red velvet shot through with green, and a matching corset to give me that beautiful 50s wasp waisted look Fenella sports:

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Fi had also added some beautiful black lace appliqués to the corset, which stand out against the red to add to the deep rich look of the entire costume.  When I modelled Jen Seifert's Peek-rets for her website, I noticed that the Charlotte and Christina pieces were similar in style and would match my existing costume pieces seamlessly.  So they became part of the outfit:

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I myself created a couple of pieces for the outfit: a bra, a pair of knickers, and a necklace, all in red velvet with black lace appliques (or black filigreed metal in the case of the necklace) and red rhinestones to match the Peek-rets.  I also added red stones to the corset.  I'd love to upload pictures of these, but I've not been able to get any which really do them justice.  So you'll just have to be patient and wait for live performance shots of these.

Add in the perfect piece of music, which a friend suggested to me when I was looking for something else, and the vampiress was born.  The music and the poem together suggested the attitude, and the attitude suggested the choreography.  Then there are a few little touches, a prop here, a move there, which I intend to keep a secret until the act is unveiled.  And so the metamorphosing vampiress was born, in a routine which aims to show that not everything is what it seems, and that sometimes beauty isn't even skin deep ...

This act, along with the one discussed in my last blog post, will be unveiled at the Heresy'n'Heelz Halloween special this Saturday the 22nd, at The Venue, Derby.  I've done my part for the team by carving the official pumpkin!

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Gearing up for Halloween

So Halloween is on its way, and with it comes one of my most anticipated gigs of the year.  This is one I've been working towards for months now.  It's the Heresy'n'Heelz Halloween special, on October 22nd in Derby.  Because the event is usually a darker themed event than most burlesque shows, Halloween is naturally our biggest time of year.  And to add to the build up for me, I shall be unveiling two new acts.

This is quite a big undertaking for me and I'm working hard to make sure they're both up to scratch before they've debuted.  The first one is a rehash of an old act I did years ago and retired after a short time, called 'Restricted'.  I've combined the idea and theme of that, with this costume:

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This was originally the 'bad girl' costume I used for my transformation act, where a bad girl embraces her true nature and realises she's actually a nice sweet good girl.  I was very proud of the idea behind this act, since the 'good girl becomes bad girl' trope is very common in burlesque, and I liked the idea of 'burlesquing the burlesque' by turning that on its head.  But it didn't seem to fit my persona, so I put it on hold.  It's nice to be able to re-use the costume though, I did enjoy putting it together.  I've had to make a few tweaks, such as removig the bra straps and replacing them with an easy fastening halter style ribbon, which means I've lost the fringing on the shoulders, which is a shame as it was one of my favourite details.  But it was necessary for ease of removal.  And what you can't see in this picture are that the black sections at my thighs aren't stockings or tights, they're thigh high boots.  Which are just wonderful!  And here's a sneaky peek at a couple more accesories I'll be using in this act:

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Any ideas as to what it might involve?

Beauty Beyond Elegance

Yesterday I had a lovely shoot with Lauren of Beauty Beyond Elegance Photography.  Lauren and I have worked together a few times in the past and it's always fun.  The first time I was given a new look by make up artist Razwana, and it yielded some wonderfully unsettling images, as well as the beautiful nude shot in my Nude gallery, which remains one of my favourite shots.  Our second collaboration saw me wandering the city centre in a vintage wedding dress, getting shots in locations like bus shelters, telephone boxes and industrial buildings, and posed in and on such props as Zamboni-esque floor polishing machines and huge wheeled dustbins:

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This time we were aiming for a softer, more vintage style look.  As Lauren had put it, 'think vintage diamonds and feathers'.  So with the last of the unexpected October sunshine (which teased us by disappearing behind rainclouds for some time) we shot some lovely sets with beautiful natural light.  The results came out fabulously - very soft, feminine and vintage looking, exactly what we'd been aiming for.  Here's a peek at my favourite so far:

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One of my favourite things about working with Lauren is that her ideas are always different, so I get to experiment with completely different looks to my usual.  I usually style myself for shoots, and mostly I go for a similar look to my stage styling - curled hair with volume, nude or smoky eyes with bold black liner, strong red lips.  But for this shoot I went for a gentler look with soft waves, gold eyes, and shimmery pink lips.  Plus the tutu knickers made me feel like the ballerina I never was!  But the other good thing about shooting with her is that she's just lovely to work with.  Which is always what makes a good shoot into a great one.

Customisation project.

My favourite thing about performing burlesque, if I'm pushed to choose, is the costuming.  The envisioning, designing and above all, the physical creation of each costume I get to wear is the highlight of act building for me.  That's not to say I make all of my costumes myself - I will often ask much more talented people to create bespoke pieces such as dresses and corsets.  The bit I enjoy most is the customisation.  Give me a plain bra, corset, or pair of shoes and some trims, fringes, ribbons and beads and I'm in heaven.  And the rhinestones.  Goodness me, the rhinestones!  When it comes to these little gems I am a girl to whom more is most definitely more!

I decided not so long ago that it would be nice to have some new general publicity photos of myself.  The promotional shots I currently use tend to be promoting specific acts.  Which is very useful in itself, but a general all-purpose shot showing me as a performer and giving an overall impression of my persona would definitely be a good addition to my publicity materials.

And so I decided to create one specific garment for this one specific shot.  One with the sole purpose of advertising me and my character.  The customisation itself was an easy choice.  My preferred medium will always be that of the rhinestone.  And the image?  My promotional logo, designed for me by the wonderful Charlotte Thomson, of course:

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Now, this is a wonderful image partly because it's so detailed.  So it required quite a bit of simplification in order to convert it to a form which could be built up using rhinestones, each one of which would be individually placed.  I decided to follow the main black lines of the design, although in a simplified fashion, and fill in the gaps with red.  As a last minute decision I decided to use some smaller clear stones to pick out the white highlights, something which I think worked very well and added to the finished piece.

Design chosen, I picked a garment.  I'd bought a black lingerie set some time ago and never used it; I'd intended to use it for 'Dirty Dealing', my casino act, which I subsequently retired before I had a chance to customise the set.  This set included a high waisted black girdle with a deep satin panel at the front.  Satin is the perfect fabric for rhinestoning, and the large plain expanse was absolutely ideal for my fleur design.

I began with the black outline:

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I'm quite pleased with how this turned out.  I initially attempted to transfer the simple lines from the original design onto the fabric so I had a guide to follow, but this hadn't turned out very well.  So I ended up freehanding.  This meant my work wasn't very symmetrical; certain elements ended up higher on one side than the other, or thicker than their opposite equivalent.  But I don't mind that too much, as the original design is freehand, and not perfectly symmetrical to begin with, which I find to be part of its charm.

Outine drawn, I accented with clear stones to create the effect of a white highlight:

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I was using 3mm black rhinestones but had decided to go for 2mm clear stones for the highlights.  I think this decision worked quite well as they give a thinner effect when placed in lines, which contrasted nicely with the thicker black lines.

Finally, I filled in the relevant sections with 3mm red stones:

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Although they look slightly orange in the terrible quality photograph, I can assure you they are in fact bright red.  I initially wanted to use a dark red shade to match the original design better, but on reflection I felt that the brighter colour would stand out more beside the stark black and white.  Believe me, in real life, this contrast worked better than I had expected it to.  I also attempted to balance out some of the asymmetry in the outlining by strategically placing the red stones.  I think it worked well.  Either way, it's certainly a piece of work I'm rather proud of.  Keep checking back to see how looks when worn and photographed by a professional!

Delicious' Intimate Affair

Yesterday, September 24th, saw the return to Derby of the Delicious burlesque event.  Presented by Heresy'n'Heelz Productions, as so many of the events I work and perform at are, it was the big event that the team had been working up to for the majority of the year.  First, a bit of history: last year, Derby's Assembly Rooms theatre saw us produce Delicious, which was probably the biggest burlesque event put on in the country.  Comprising of two shows (a newcomers' contest and a professional evening show), a day market, and numerous workshops, it was a mammoth task.  Although it was a roaring success, this year it was decided that the event should be smaller and have a more exclusive feel to it.  And so the Intimate Affair was born.

Instead of the huge theatre, the event was held at The Spot, a well known venue in Derby.  The market was scaled down, and the show itself included a table seated meal.  The one thing that didn't change was the show setup.  As before, there was the final of the newcomers' contest, now presented in conjunction with the Ministry of Burlesque as the Battle of Burlesque and judged by Kittie Klaw (who turned up with no chariot in sight this time, thankfully).  After dinner was served, the evening show commenced.  The sheer quality of performance in both shows was staggering.

I was again stage managing, organising the backstage area and the transit of props and performers to and fro.  As it was a classy event, I decided to dress the part in my lovely vintage 50s shift dress, a wonderful treasure I'd found on the Heresy roadtrip to Brighton in August:

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As always happens with Heresy events, we had a fabulous team who all worked hard and carried out their jobs to perfection, making the event look slick and effortless.  It's always a joy to work with people who are not only good at what they do, but enjoy it, and with a team that gels well.  And the Heresy guys have worked together for so long over so many different events and locations, that we know we can deal with any challenge that comes our way.  My little stage team are great examples of this, and they're my favourite people to work with for this reason.  Here's me pulling a silly pouty pose with Assistant SM, the lovely Morticiaa:

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Delicious will be one of the last events I stage manage this year.  The final two will be Dr Sketchy Birmingham's Winter Wonderland in November, and Heresy's Kissmas Special in December.  The rest of my burlesque bookings for this year will be performance based, and I'm looking forward to getting back on to the other side of the stage.  You can catch me performing next in Birmingham on October 2nd at Medusa, and after that in Derby, working yet again with Heresy'n'Heelz for their Halloween extravaganza on October 22nd.

Heresy'n'Heelz Manchester Weekend

The last weekend saw me going on a little road trip to Manchester as part of Heresy'n'Heelz.  Earlier this summer we'd gone on a slightly bigger trip to Brighton, but this was our furthest venture north.  On Friday, September 9th, we headed up to our venue, Sound Control, which was in the city centre opposite a lovely old railway bridge, the arches of which were full of street art:

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I had my stage manageress hat on for the evening, meaning I had to oversee getting the performers, their props, and their discarded clothes, on and off the stage in a safe and efficient way.  Which is always a fun job and each performer brings their own challenges.  For example, this show saw the debut of the mechanised chariot used in the winderful Kittie Klaw's 'Rude Britannia' act, which my assistant Morticiaa and I spent a good long time trying to work out how to get off stage in a way which looked slick, practised, and didn't compromise either of our outfits.  I must confess I had a ride on this chariot ... Kittie makes controlling it look easy; I have various cuts and scratches as a result!

Showtime came and went and was enjoyed by all.  I chose to experiment with a 1960s look for the evening, as a change from my usual 40s/50s staple.  As a stage manageress, my job is made significantly easier by professional performers, and this evening featured some of the best in the business, including compére extraordinaire Rosie Lugosi, and the hardest performer in the business to classify, Marnie Scarlet:

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The next day, Saturday, saw the first ever Manchester Alternative and Burlesque Market.  The basement floor of Sound Control was taken over by traders selling all sorts of goods from pasties and fascinators, to latex fashion, to eye-watering fetish gear.  Interspersed throughout the day were various performers on the venue's smaller stage, of which I was one.  I performed my signature Fairytale Fan Dance, but I loved my 60s beehive so much I went with it again:

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Again, it was a day which was enjoyed by all, from traders to customers and the people who organised it.  And if after reading this you feel a little left out, worry not ... we'll be doing it all again in December!

Kustom Kulture Blastoff

Yesterday saw my perfomance at the Kustom Kulture Blastoff event.  The festival itself was organised by Pinstriping and Custom Graphics Magazine (the last issue of which ran a feature on our little show including a lovely little picture of me - I must get a scan of that page posted up soon) and the burlesque show itself was organised by Heresy'n'Heelz.

I opened the show with my Fairytale Fan Dance, using my alternate royal blue and white, lily themed costume:

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During the interval we were asked if one of us could do anything 'special' for a young man in the audience whose birthday it was.  As I was due to perform my Big Sleaze act, I was sure I could fit him in as my private detective.  So we had him sit on stage during my act, and he made a very good hat rack for me to throw my clothes towards.  He was only 17, bless him, very polite and respectful, even if he did not quite know where to look.  At the very end of the act I sat on his knee to do my big reveal - and he got a bigger reaction from the audience than I did!

After the show our lovely compére Liberty Pink informed me that my stand-in 'private dick' wanted to thank me, so I went out for a hug and to be told it was a birthday he'd never forget.  I think I earned a fan!

Here's me and Liberty in our wonderfully glamorous dressing room:

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Welcome!

Hello and welcome to my brand new website.   Since I've been so busy putting the site itself together, this lovely blog feature has been rather neglected.   Luckily I have a few new challenges coming up and so you'll be seeing much more activity here in the near future.

This Saturday, September 3rd, festival goers in Spalding will be able to see me as part of the Heresy'n'Heelz show at the Kustom Kulture Blastoff festival.   Then the weekend after it's back on the road with Heresy again, this time to Manchester, where I will be backstage managing a special show with Kittie Klaw of the Ministry of Burlesque headlining, on September 9th at Sound Control.   The following day you can catch me performing a short set during the first ever Manchester Alternative and Burlesque Fair.

And then after those shenanigans it will be time for me to begin putting the polish onto my brand new act 'The Vampire's Metamorphosis', so she'll be ready for Halloween.

Do try to keep up, won't you?

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