I took a year off from producing my monthly Burlesque show and I missed it! Storytelling is certainly one of my favorite things but I also really love performing naked (or in g-string and tassels)
If You were at the last And I Am Not Lying Live, my story was about that and also about the difference between exploitation and fun in sexy art-forms. This month my Hosty Totsy show makes fun of that same struggle.
Hotsy Totsy is an ongoing burlesque soap opera. Each epsisode takes place during the “monthly fundraiser at The Home For Wayward Girls and Fallen Women” and in each show there is some back stage drama that plays out between the burlesque acts. This month gangster Nickles Lugo (Played by Nelson Lugo) attempts to take over the Home and to turn it into a money making venture (AKA a strip-club and brothel.) The girls fight back wanting to keep things playful and sweet the way we like it!
When asked to describe my burlesque show HOTSY TOTSY BURLESQUE, I tell people it is like the Muppet show if you substituted puppets with naked girls. Read the rest of this entry »
I performed at the awesome new Paris Burlesque Club in Red Hook and NBC was there, doing a story about the venue! So my burlesque alter ego, Cherry Pitz is going be featured in the story airing tonight!
The show is called LX.TV 1stLook NY. To be specific, I’ll be on WNBC, channel 4 (channel 704 in HD) on Time Warner Cable, Saturday Oct 1 at 7:30pm and rerun on Sunday at 1AM after SNL. Catch it on TV if you can, or find the piece on their site http://lxtv.com/1stlookny/.
The segment covers the show Moonlight Rendezvous, produced by the gorgeous Lana Firebird. It will feature David Slone, Cherry Pitz, Ivory Fox and The Lady Aye, all at Paris Cabaret Club! Many thanks to LX.TV.
Times Square. I started crafting my own adjective-laden metaphor for that nexus of sensory overload, but then I realized that it might work just as well to list a few results of a web search for the phrase “Times Square is like”. So… “Times Square is like Las Vegas times 10!”
“Times Square is like Disneyland. Really!”
“Times Square is like some great cosmic porch light, and we’re all moths to the flame.”
“Times Square is like getting a root canal.”
And my favorite pair, which came up in direct succession: “Times Square is like no other place in the world!”
followed immediately by: “Times Square is like Piccadilly Circus in London.”
But I was surprised that it took until the fifth page of search results for someone to say something like “Times Square is like the holy grail of promotion”. ‘Cause hot damn is it ever true.
But a gentleman from The Netherlands by the name of Justus Bruns has decided to make it his mission to turn as many of the Times Square ad spaces as he can, for however long he can, into places to display art. He’s calling the project “Times Square to Art Square”, or TS2AS, and this is his pitch:
So, going to the Madagascar Institute’s shop in Gowanus, Brooklyn is like visiting an embassy of Bartertown from “Beyond Thunderdome.” It is all raw steel and piles of scrap metal stacked on old cable spindles, in a space that looks like the garage where one might keep a souped up dunebuggy that had spikes and a harpoon gun welded to it. I was three feet in the door and already waiting for Tina Turner to walk up and explain that “The real power here is shit. Pig shit.” For a certain generation, even with current situations being what they are, that possibility still gives a little thrill.
Instead, I was greeted by a pretty woman who was dressed like a hard drinking, but sexy, car mechanic. She handed me a release form that absolved her and her employer of any liability should I burn my face completely off before the day was out. After I had signed away my right to recoup my precious flesh, I was introduced to Leif and Hackett, who looked like they were the stars of a post apocalyptic, Chuck Norris – Predator, buddy flick. These were the guys who were going to teach me how to make a flame thrower.
I saw this while walking through the East Village last month — some enterprising street artist scrawled “Become Your Dream” on a forgotten, stained mattress.
Stuff like this makes my soul sing. On the one hand, it’s inspiring and hopeful, maybe from a mattress who’s supported the butts of slumbering royalty, seen the worst of the world and doesn’t regret a thing. Or maybe it’s a cautionary tale: no matter what your dream is or how hard you try, you’re going to end up left on the street to be pissed on by dogs and drunks alike.
Jen Lee is a friend of mine from The Moth, and I just love her stuff because she pours it out straight from the heart. She’s not trying to be liked, she’s just trying to be true to the story itself. She’ll talk about some difficult stuff, and the way she handles it is masterful. She’s not an emotional exhibitionist and she’s not trying to launch her comedy career by making light of dark stuff. She’s a writer who happens to publish with her mouth, and every time she tells a story it’s different and better than the last time.
This is a video of Jen Lee from a Moth slam a few months ago. The theme was “Good Intentions.” Jen grew up as a fundamentalist Christian, and here she explains the hilarious, embarrassing reality behind swallowing fundamentalist doctrine and saving it for marriage — and makes it sound like it’s not necessarily so bad. She’s so funny and awkward and sweet here, and I just had to give her a huge hug when she was done.
I have, over the last year, stepped away from my street artist, punk rock, DIY background and actually done something in the way that things are done. I put together a book proposal and started writing a book. And I was an over night success. The End.
This process can make you feel like an ant trying to work its way to the top of a Jello Mold from the inside. You have meeting after meeting and the agent might come and go with nary a nickel on the bedside table. (I am pretty sure mine has gone, if anyone sees him tell him, y’know, call me?) There are going to be parts of the business that glimmer like the city on the hill and others that smell like a dog run on a hot summer day. And, in the end, it just becomes easy to sit and stare at a phone.
But that is the restricted lane, toll road to a nervous breakdown. I have had to make myself remember at times that the work is mine and mine to do and mine to keep doing. You can’t wait around for people, unless you decided to be a writer because being suspended in misery is just what you’re into. In the end, I like what I do and I hope that always co exists with the business of editors and agents and publishers. If it doesn’t, I have taken a wrong turn.
All of this is to say – Having worked on the book for the better part of the last year, I am now sitting on a heap of material that I can use for the various weird projects I am involved in all over the city.
One of my favorites is The BTK Band, a fully improvised live music, storytelling, burlesque extravaganza. This project started out as a rough ride on an overgrown trail with a flat tire and is quickly becoming one of the tightest and most innovative live shows happening in New York. I can toot that horn, because most of the credit goes to the rest of the outfit and its leader, Peter Aguero.
But we are here to talk about me. This video is something I put together from an audio recording of one of the performances and it represents a piece of the book transformed for a new use. So enjoy that, and then check out my blog because there are a bunch of shows I am doing this coming week that I am really happy to be a part of and they are all listed over there, and there are sample chapters from the book, too. – Enjoy.
One more thing, If you are enjoying Cyndi and I on the blog, we will be appearing together as our burlesque alter egos, Cherry Pitz and Johnny Angel, at Seth Lind’s Told on Monday the 19th, 7 o’clock, at Under Saint Marks Theater. We will be there as wigged, lycra clad relationship counselors. You need our help.
Brad and Cyndi run Hotsy Totsy Burlesque on the third Tuesday of every month at the Delancey, right there at the base of the Williamsburg Bridge in the Lower East Side. Cherry Pop Burlesque happens at the same place, the fourth Tuesday of every month, and I can’t recommend either show enough.
You can pay as much as you want in this city any night of the week for entertainment, but for eight bucks you can get right into something wild and weird that you won’t find anywhere else in the country for ten times as much cash.
The storytelling and burlesque scene have a fair bit of overlap in New York. Emotional nakedness and physical nudity are close relatives, and folks like Brad and Cyndi (our new bloggers) work hard at both. Ultimately, both communities are powered by passion and a love for the art form. Lord knows we’re not in it for the money.
That’s why I came to this town and it’s why I’ll either die here or leave a piece of my soul behind when I have to leave this magical, filthy island.
The ladies at Cherry Pop Burlesque were kind enough to let me photograph a show a few months back. What follows here is a loose collection of observations and photos from that night. You can see an expanded photo show here, too.
Seeing burlesque shows at the Delancey feels like something from the bad old days of New York that made me want to move here in the first place. It’s seedy enough to make any loving mother uncomfortable, but not so seedy that I wouldn’t take my girlfriend.
Even the sign for the basement gets me all excited. It’s at the end of a long, red hallway glowing like the understated gateway to hell. Or at least the world of sin that tent revival preachers used to warn against/advertise. This photo reminds me of the Pink Room with maybe a little less overt menace.