Ray Gunn's Jabberywocky Act
Photo by Starry D'Light
I saw Ray do this at Colorado and immediately fell in love with it. Here is an act that so clearly illustrated the poem, and yet also was extremely accessible to audience members who had no idea what he was representing. Thoughtful and gorgeous. I know people get all gaga about Ray's bod but he has a fucking sexy brain and that is the best thing a person can have. This is what nerdlesque should be- brilliant, powerful, and inclusive.
Nasty Canasta's Everything
Best ever. Photo by King Morgan
Nasty was one of the first people I saw perform when I came to New York a few years ago, at a Wasabassco show I went to on a sort-of-not-really date, at which I got black out drunk and woke up the next morning in the spare room of hottie Hazel Honeysuckle & her husband, with a stolen bowler hat. Mr. Hazelton had left a gatorade by the side of the bed for me to wake up to- clearly, these are the best people in the world.
Anyway, tangent- I don't remember many of the other performers from that night but Nasty did her Unknown Stripper act, and I remember thinking "holy shit, I suck and this is INCREDIBLE." I was correct on both scores; it made me want to be better.
Anyway I've gotten to do multiple 8+ hour roadtrips, many shows, and lots of brunch with Nasty since then and she still remains one of my favorite performers (and has become one of my favorite people) of all time. It feels like she creates numbers by penetrating convention with a giant middle finger, as though she is saying "fuck you burlesque, you're not the boss of me! And you're GONNA ENJOY IT!" Oh, I definitely enjoy it.
Gina Louise: Calmest Producer Ever
Photo by Emma Freeman
I did a billion festivals this past year (read: eleven) and the best one by far was also one of the first: Minneapolis Burlesque Festival. Gina Louise, with Ophelia Flame and her team of fabulous festival coordinators put together a festival that really lived up to the "Hey! Community Rocks! We love community!" vibe that most festivals try, or pretend, to have. They coordinated free housing, free food and booze, free viewing of the shows, free afterparties; they produced a fabulous lineup, had an organized and tightly run backstage and show, AND Gina was on top of helping us all personally with our millions of likely-repetitive questions. I appreciate that there were many people involved in the organization of this festival, but Gina really shined; smiling, calm, and alert, she did that festival right.
AND THEN, in the middle of it all, her entire costume went missing two hours before she was supposed to perform. She laughed it off, borrowed costume pieces from other people backstage, went on and did a really fucking good job. Totally impressed; and incredibly sad that there is no Minneapolis Burlesque Fest this year.
Imogen Kelly's White Dress Number
Simple, poignant, whimsical, gorgeous. Pretty straightforwardly incredible.
Doc Wasabassco's Producing Wizardry
I'm not going to lie, I chose this photo cause it says ASS, and I really like ass. Photo by Mo Pitz
When people ask me what performing in NYC is like, and "are you in a troupe" and stuff, I giggle a little bit and tell them that NYC is a mercenary place of individual performers, and that troupes don't really work here the same way. And then I tell them that Wasabassco is the exception, a quasi-troupe that operates outside of the rest of NYC burlesque.
Drawing from a regular pool of performers, Doc puts together very carefully curated shows in all manner of venues. Each performer brings something unique to the show, and they've been diving more into scripted productions (written by previously-noted-brilliant-lady Nasty Canasta) which I find extremely exciting; he's very smart about his branding, and the loyalty of Wasabassco audiences is almost terrifying. It's like drinking the koolaid, except instead of poisonous red sugar water it's perfect derrieres and boobs and I AM INTO IT. I've had the pleasure of performing with Wasabassco a few times this year and I can say with certainty that they have one of my favorite backstage vibes. The performers aren't just great onstage, they're fun as hell offstage, which makes a huge difference; plus, Doc makes sure his performers are safe and well-paid which, although it should go without saying, it rarely does.
Like I said in my last post, Doc's producing class this year really inspired Stella and my direction with RAWR. Stella is very branding-oriented and I am very critical of burlesque in general (if I am being unoffensive towards myself here) and so Doc's producing style really appeals to us. He had wonderful advice generated by years of success and the occasional failure, and more than that, he offered his class *for free* which is a really lovely service. I hope we've done him proud.
Paco Fish's Journey
Photo by Sarah Kimble
I always love watching Paco perform. He's consistently entertaining and many, many of his acts put the hugest shit-eating grin on my face.
I've been hit hard by wanderlust this year, having been sapped of my energy for NYC, and so I've watched Paco's cross country tour with interest and excitement. It takes a high level of self awareness and drive to realize you need to completely switch the direction of your life, ask for help, and then DO IT; I love that and I love him. Follow his blog here: http://burlesquevanguard.com/
Albert Cadabra, Evelyn Vinyl, Nina La Voix, St Stella, Trixie Little, and everyone else I've watched workout in person or on social media
You all and your goddamn muscles and yoga. I've been lucky to slide by on natural metabolism thus far, but working out would make me a better dancer and offset the eventual effects of all these cheeseburgers I eat. Watching all these fit showgirls and showboys has made me want to step up my efforts in fitness, dance, and flexibility. And next time I get the chance for naked pull ups with friends and peers, I want to *actually be able to do one*. You guys, seriously.
These are not *all* the people who inspired me this year, nor all the people who taught me something; but they are the people who stick out so strongly in my mind that I don't even have to think about it to write it down on the page. Watching them, their careers and their strengths has motivated me to keep trying harder in my own life and career.