Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sassflash Newsletter - BIG ANNOUNCEMENTS from Sweet Soul Burlesque

Holiday Greetings Sasspots!

Sending you good vibes, tons of love and SASSY, mischevious, good natured fun this holiday. (Actually that reminds me, I gotta remember to make my traditional CP mistletoe fishing rod so I can run around with it to unsuspecting hotcakes. Heh heh heh).

So we have some VERY exciting announcements to make and wanted to make sure the fam all knows first. It's been quite a transformative year for many people, and the world in general it seems. Change is afoot, and sass levels are turning UP. Aside from our weekly Sweet Sip Thursday at The Keefer Bar (still going every Thursday now 2 years running!) here's a little catch-up on what's been shifting and developing in the land of Sweet Soul.

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MOONLIGHT NYE

What are you doing for New Year's? How about a secret cabaret and grand ballroom set as though on the moon? Dancing supernovas, starlit magic abound & crisp, clear sound... all the while reverting to what can still remain safely underground. Evolution makes way for nostalgia. 

The vintage showgrrls of Sweet Soul Burlesque come together with the tech-heavy edge of SHAH Events come together once again with to bring you deep bass homage to the past & future constant. 

Moonlight - A NYE Black & White Ball
All details, line-up & ticket information here:
www.moonlightnye2013.blogspot.com
STRICT DRESS CODE: Black, white or silver
Tickets are selling fast for this, so get 'em soon.


**** 
NEW YEARS IN NARNIA at THE KEEFER BAR
 
If late night vibes are not your thing but fabulous cocktails & soiree fantasies are, we will also be appearing earlier in the evening at our resident Keefer bar for a Narnia themed extravaganza!

Tickets and detes can be found on the Keefer Bar event page here: http://www.thekeeferbar.com/events.php
or on Facebook here:   https://www.facebook.com/events/475434795842767/

****
SWEET SOUL BURLESQUE'S 10 YEAR ANNIVERSARY & Crystal Precious' “Apple Pie” Music Video Release Party!!!
Saturday Feb 2nd 2013 @ THE RIO THEATRE

Can you even believe it??? It's been 10 – count 'em – TEN years since our very first burlesque event at Babalong Studios in February of 2003. (Whoa). Since then we've hosted over 100 events, co-founded a festival, built an underground venue and been nominated for World's Best Troupe by Burlesque Hall of Fame, all while terrorizing audiences everywhere from Acupulco to Whitehorse. Before we launch into our next phase, we feel that its warranted for us to take a moment and take a stroll down memory lane.... that special, special lane covered in glitter and empty whiskey bottles. ;)

This will be a red carpet, full fledged gala event -- a veritable family reunion as we celebrate our friends, family & supporters. The show will feature our best and/or favorite pieces, group numbers and special musical guests as well as a compilation of on-screen highlights taken from 10 years of Sweet Soul shows & parties. You won't want to miss this. Trust me.

Then - at the end of the evening we will premiere Sweet Soul Burlesque's top-secret, never-before-seen video for “Apple Pie”, the first single off Crystal Precious' upcoming album release this spring. This will be a special sneak preview for our friends and family ONLY - twelve days before it makes its full internet launch on February 14 Valentine's Day.

Full promo and ticket information will be released in early January.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS! Feb 2nd at the Rio.

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VANCOUVER BURLESQUE SOCIETY

It's been just over a year since turbo sassdance superstars Cherry OnTop and Lola Frost joined forces to build a gorgeous burlesque dance studio and community resource hub. The Vancouver Burlesque Society is located only a few blocks from the old Dollhouse on 6th and offers a solid selection of modern & fun sexy activities (Burlesque Movement, Hips n' Heels, Tropical Punch Booty Shake, etc). Annual memberships are just $1 and enable you to be a part of these VBC sponsored activities including special community-building social events. The vibe is inclusive, open, body-positive and rad.

The purposes of the Society are:

a. To facilitate the quest for personal growth and enlightenment through the burlesque arts.
b. To promote the art of burlesque as a socially acceptable medium for expression and self-exploration.
c. To maintain a space where society members may share skills and ideas in a nurturing and positive atmosphere.

Check this video for an idea of what's happening down therrrrr:
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LITTLE MISS RISK'S “AMERICAN MARY” in theatres JAN 2013

We're very proud of our naughty little raccoon Little Miss [Tristan] Risk, who co-stars in one of the most anticipated horror movies in years. The brilliant brainchild of Vancouver-based sisters Sylvia & Jen Soska (tWisted tWins Productions), American Mary is a fictional story that centres around the very real and very horrifying black-market plastic surgery culture. The feminist-driven, intelligent and shockingly graphic work has garnered rave reviews at Cannes & several other prestigious film festivals. January 2013 will see its theatre release in the UK. North America to see the release later in the year. This is a huge break for our Tristan and we're all super proud of her.

Here is an exclusive still of her in the film courtesy of IndustryWorks Pictures, almost eerily unrecognizable as her character Beatress, a woman who has had several surgeries to resemble Betty Boop. 



Here's a link to the trailer. Warning: it is freaky & there's blood in the trailer. http://youtu.be/ZDuUcA3ykAI
 
***
And now... our biggest and most exciting piece of news! Announcing SWEET SOUL'S NEWEST MEMBER....

We are EXTREMELY pleased to announce a very special new addition to the Sweet Soul family. Our very own Cara Milk is expecting a little baby girl!!! Yups! The little sasspea will be joining us in May and we are so excited and filled with happiness around this fantastic and timely addition to our beautiful community. Cara is supremely happy and is very much looking forward to being surrounding by friends and family during this amazing journey into motherhood (and – let's be honest - MILFdom). She'll be performing on NYE so please by all means, come and say hello!

***
 
Alright Sasspots. That's our current update. Stay tuned in Jan / Feb for more information about the Anniversary show, album release, and new VBC classes. And as always, come by & check out our fabulous weekly cabaret at the Keefer, every Thursday evening. We'd love to see you. 
Wishing you all a very joy-filled, fabulous and beautiful holiday.
With love from all our hot-pink hearts, 

xoxo
CP, Cara, Cherry, Rita, Tristan and Lola 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

vol·a·tile

[vol-uh-tl, -til or, especially Brit., -tahyl] Show IPA
adjective
1.
evaporating rapidly; passing off readily in the form of vapor: Acetone is a volatile solvent.
2.
tending or threatening to break out into open violence; explosive: a volatile political situation.
3.
changeable; mercurial; flighty: a volatile disposition.
4.
(of prices, values, etc.) tending to fluctuate sharply and regularly: volatile market conditions.
5.
fleeting; transient: volatile beauty.

There it is. In all its glory. That's all that is me at the moment. I'm embracing it. It's just how it is.
Interesting how it manifests as being problematic within my lifestyle. For example, please apply "volatile" as my main behavioral trait while reading over this pretty-much verbatim transcript of a conversation from my weekend. (NB: This is not completely atypical as something people tend to say to me):  

Him: "Hey.. uh... you're that stripper girl or whoever, right? Do you remember me? I know so-and-so {old friend of mine who I actually quite like}." 
Me: (laughing sort-of): "Oh yeah, uh.. hi. I'm Crystal."
Him: "Yeah. I always had a little crush on you."
Me: "I see."
(literally 5 minutes later)
Him (totally serious): "So uh... do you wanna go hang out somewhere maybe?"
Me (laughing again): "You mean like, to have sex? (his face doesn't really change). Oh. Um, no. I'm good. Thanks anyway tho."
Him: "Yeah. You're a stripper alright."

Yup. 

So normally I would take a step back and assess this situation before reacting to it. Like, at this point I'm usually just kind of amused, with a mild side of judgement that this dude is probably somewhere on the asshole scale, but knowing that WHERE, exactly, is pretty hard to gage from this one interaction.  My compassionate and caring side asks: is it really his fault that strippers are misrepresented everywhere for being hustlers and teases and whores who should really just put out after 5 minutes of conversation? Maybe dude just needs a little schooling, bless his misconstrued little heart. He's probably never even seen a really good strip show. Hell, he probably doesn't even have very many girlfriends with lace underpants. He doesn't know we're smart and complicated humans! I should blame the internet. Let's go post something on it. Yayyy Naomi Wolf is super. Etc. Etc. 

And then, to be fair, I do have to consider my own occasional (albeit now definitely outgrown) forays into casual sex before I lay full judgement upon the man. If this was 2003 and the dude was SUPER hot, I might not have given a fuck. Let's be honest. There's a reason I kept condoms in my purse for years and years. 

But... back to this particular interaction. He's not super hot, it's not 2003, and I'm VOLATILE. So this  kind of hmm-haw social acceptance / one love narrative that's usually going on in my head is not happening today. Instead I am having a narrative that says, "PUNCH THIS FUCKER IN THE FACE".
 
So yeah, you know. Kinda problematic.
 
Another problem with being volatile: I cannot drink more that three alcoholic beverages in a row at the moment. It's really interesting. Right now if I have three, I'm good. If I have even just one more than that I'm off the edge like a fucking cartoon coyote. The heavenly numbness of Drink #4 is like rubbing baby angel wings on my crotch -- and I will chase that feeling til noon, you'd better believe it. Drink #4 is like sitting at the top of a waterslide with all the water rushing up against my back and then trying NOT to push off into the sooooooper sexy pools of blacking out... ohhhh yes. Those deep dark holes of not feeling a thing. I could swim there for weeks I tell you. I could build a hut there even. What's the name of that volleyball that became Tom Hanks' friend in Castaway? ...Yeah, NOT ALLOWED to go there. For at least another ten days. At least. Then a re-assess. We shall see. 

 Seeing as how I work at the greatest cocktail lounge ever as well as parties, almost exclusively, this is also problematic. Not impossible, but problematic. Very much hoping this passes by Bass Coast. Glenfiddich has plans for me; I lost a bottle before Diversity and have needed a rematch ever since. 
 
I guess I feel lucky to be conscious enough to see all this go down in real time and not a step too late. The joys of experience and well, of getting older. I'm wise enough to know that black holes and broken noses just put the game on pause. You don't get to skip any levels. Still gotta do the work when you get back. Except now your fingers and thumbs are all confuse-y and your head hurts. And you don't want anyone's blood ruining you manicure. It's fucking glitter tips, ummkay. They're pretty.

So yeah, that's how it all is at the moment. I expect this level of "volatile" won't last forever. I must say that I feel like I might be kind of killing it at the music thing right now though. Recording is like the best thing ever. All that raw makes for serving good voice it seems. And writing is still fun, apparently. ;) I get to play festival dressups in my house this week and that's like, my favorite thing to do EVER. Also Sunshine Coast - I get it. So it's not all bad. Plus you're reading this right now, and that's cool. So you know. 
 
Thanks. 


Me & Chelsey's dog, Boo, in Winnipeg at the beginning of the month. He's safe and sound at my mom's house. Not sure why I took this then, I think maybe to show her he's ok. You know? It's just... he's ok. I don't know. 

It's something.
 
xoxo
CP

Sunday, July 1, 2012

In Winnipeg

Every morning that I wake up and happen to be Canadian is like winning the lottery over and over again.

I write this in my formative city of Winnipeg, two thousand miles away from my home in East Van. Been a minute since I've been here in the summer and I am very grateful for the comforting warmth of the sunshine after the persistent spring rains of the lower coast. The plus 30 days are too hot for even the prairie's infamous mosquito armies. Our sunshine days are coming out West, I know, but it's just so lovey to have the sun around as an ally right now, in these moments.

Riding the streets, huge elms hug over the long sidewalks and the thoughtful strangers on them. Same as the day I left; the spicy, confident men & sassy, capable women you meet over and over in this city. There was an open, joyful and unmistakably mischievous vibe in the streets on Canada Day. All the stores are closed. Corydon Avenue & Osbourne Village blocked from traffic. The bars open. Music playing in the streets everywhere. My old city, crowned in the blue collar of endless horizon. No ocean, no mountains, just skies.

I'm very, VERY grateful that a cozy cork-floored yoga studio has somehow popped up within biking distance of my mom's little house, and that Kegan just happened to have a semi-rusted 1950s cruiser lying around in his garage with a basket that actually has the word "Vegetables" carved into the front. These do not seem in the least like coincidences. He pumps the tire and oils the chain. I look up and give thanks.

I am grateful to still have Kegan here, now and always... that best friend here since childhood, who reminds me he is by my side or within one phone call's reach. I tease him about being the only person alive not on Facebook, especially now that my mother has joined the ranks. He laughs and says I should get a T-Shirt that says, "My Best Friend Is Not On Facebook" and wear it everywhere at every minute of every day. Fucking Kegan. So. Fucking. Grateful for him.

I am grateful for my beautiful mother who insists on keeping her sense of playfulness firmly rooted at the base of all her actions, even now, albeit understandably weakened at present. I look in awe at the recent photos of her performing for rows of impossibly-attentive children and ask "How do you get them to stay so quiet and still?" to which she scoffs, almost shaking off the question, and replies matter of factly, "Well, you know, magic and stuff."

I am grateful for my youngest sister, Heather, whose love and careful attention is evidenced in every nook and corner of my mother's house. It's almost like the house gives a sigh of relief when she walks in the door, the car parked safely in the little carport and the dogs jumping happily up and down the way dogs do when they they love the absolute fuck out of you, and they can't wait to feel your hands ruffle over them.  

Above all I am grateful for this life. And I am grateful to have had the chance to spend so much of it with my sister Chelsey.

And, finally, I am BEYOND grateful for my incredibly loving, unbelievably supportive friends. After a several attempts (and trust me, I tried) to describe it, I am resigning to the fact that words just cannot adequately describe how much your kindness & support has helped me in the past few days. It has made SUCH a difference, not just for me but for all three of us. The love we have felt has brought me to a whole new level of understanding. It's astounding. It astounds me.

I am humbled by you, by the universe, and by pretty much everything at the moment.

Thank you.

In love,
CP

Chelsey's memorial service will take place on Wednesday July 4th at 7:00pm CST at Coutu Funeral Chapel, 680 Archbald, Winnipeg MB. Please feel free to come by & light a candle; or, if you wish, light one for her from wherever you may be.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

In Loving Memory of Chelsey Lee Barbara Wilkes. 08/24/83 - 06/24/12


It is with deep sadness and loving memory that we announce the sudden passing of Chelsey Lee Barbara Wilkes, daughter to Mary Ann & Brian; sister to Crystal and Heather, stepdaughter to Olivia. She crossed over on the afternoon of Sunday June 24 in Richmond, BC with her family by her side. She was exactly two months shy of her 29th birthday.

Chelsey was a bright, vivacious, vibrant, beautiful woman with a huge personality and unparalleled wit. She was also very intuitive and perceptive. She had exceptional taste and was a talented stylist, make-up artist and craftswoman. She brought excitement, sass and laughter to everyone who knew her. Above all Chelsey was a strong warrior who was working very hard to overcome extremely difficult obstacles in her life. We can only hope and trust that she is now relieved of these struggles and that her powerful spirit will continue to touch our world with her signature sense of humour, magic and love.

***

Sasspots.

It feels super fucking weird to post this on my blog and on Facebook but you know what, it's the times we are in. To be truthful I'm grateful to not have to repeat this over and over. I just need people to know. It's actually a huge relief to have social media for this shit. This was a pretty big shock.

I'm writing this because I always feel kind of awkward when someone close to my friend dies... I never know what the best thing would be to say or how to act or whatever. So I'm going to just be straight cuz that's what I would want if roles were reversed. Realness, let's hang out there - you know it's how I roll. Above all I would just love to know that my West Coast family is around and sending love. I would also love if you sent Chelsey some sassy energy for her journey and just wished her well. She was only 2 years younger than me and we were extremely, extremely close. This was very sudden and I am still dealing with the accepting that it is real. Writing and posting this, in fact, has been helpful in that regard.

It has been a very difficult week, and a week of tough decisions. One thing I have decided in the past few days is that I strongly, strongly feel that I need to keep creating and performing through all of this. I need to be around all my family at Keefer, and the festivals, and to use my outlet for process and release. It's just who I am. Chelsey was extremely proud and supportive of me and I know she would want me to carry through on this momentum. In fact... I honestly think she may be deliberately helping me along in some ways. There are some really big signs of this and I want to honour them. So unless otherwise noted, I intend on following through with all my gigs and professional commitments this summer, including Diversity next weekend. I feel in my gut that this is the right thing to do. And if you are also a performer, you know the feeling I have that I will find solace on the stage like nowhere else.

Having said that, I also intend on being 100% true to my grieving process at all times. So if you see me out, please don't take it personally if I'm a bit more withdrawn or non-engaging, or if I hang close to my close friends, or if you see me have waves of unexpected emotion. Please don't feel awkward if you see me and this happens, at parties, especially if you're drunk / partying or whatever, it's fine. More than ever I want people to enjoy life, please, for the love of sass. If you want to, just send me love vibes from where you're at, and don't worry about what to say or feeling like you need to say anything, especially if you're kind of fucked up. Trust me, I will find what and who I need moment to moment, and if I need you, I'll let you know.

And - I'm just gonna put this out there - if we're on a dancefloor, honestly, sometimes not saying anything is better. Dancefloors have always been my ultimate healing places and sometimes in moments where I need that healing I prefer not to interrupt that, even if by a gorgeous, loving friend. I would much prefer just a smile/acknowledgement and knowing that we are honouring the music together. I know you are rad and that you care, and just feeling your vibes will be support in the best way. We can interact / embrace / talk later. Now I'm just saying this, not insisting on it, but I have to say it because music is my healer, and I expect to immerse myself in its beauty this summer to the fullest degree. So yes... you will often see me on the dancefloor.

I will also most likely be shifting my writing energy over to process and lyrics for the next little bit, so blog posts may be infrequent for a minute. This shift was happening anyway and I think it may be part of a bigger shift for the whole intention behind the blog in general - but don't worry. I'll be back, I will always blog, and trust me I am writing. I am just feeling a little more private right now.I certainly will be dedicating a large amount of time to Chelsey and her memory, and creating space for us to honour her, but right now I am focusing on accepting that this is real.

Please please please hold the ones you love close. Tell them you love them. Honour them. Love them above all. And please light a candle for my beautiful, fabulous, powerful sister  - now, or, if you wish, on the afternoon of July 4th, when I will be honouring her with my family in Winnipeg. 

With love above all, always and forever. For real.

xoxoxo
Crystal Precious

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Burlesque State of The Union Address - by Kate Valentine via Crystal Precious

Ohhhh schmack! Guess who just uploaded a little teasy-montage from a film shoot from about 8 months ago... thought I would share. Pretty sure this is the last vid I did pre-inked and pre-Slave Master J (my trainer, for more on that go to my post Thoughts on A Shrinking Sasspot)... so I look a little different now... but I really liked the way Stuart MacKay-Smith put this together. Grindy-styles. Yup.



Yarr. Ok now down to biz. I really wanted to post this to my blog and never got around to it, so I figured since so much of my creative writing juice has being re-directed to lyric-land lately I would do so now. The following is a compilation of two speeches given at BurlyCon 2011 by Kate Valentine of NYC – creator of The Va Va Voom Room (1997), a contemporary burlesque pioneer, and one of the best emcees in the business. Dis be her:



Kate is an artist and producer that I deeply admire. Last year I had the pleasure of having her come to see our work at the Keefer Bar and to learn from her about the art of emceeing. In many ways this address is a love letter to the future of my profession, and I really think that artists / DJs / musicians across the board can relate to what she is saying. In it she eloquently repeats many of the key points I've been trying to drill into people's heads for the better part of the last ten years and I could not be more thrilled to have it cross my inbox no less than nine times in the last twelve months by people who recognize her views with being in line with my own. Seeing as how the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend, Legend Tribute and International Queen of Burlesque Pageant will be taking place next week in Las Vegas, it's not a bad time to post it as a reminder to keep in mind while we pay respect and reverence to the Hall.

This speech represents a gutsy departure from the frustrating tendency I've noticed within our industry towards artistic conformity, social climbing, and a fight for validation withing the community instead of allowing the work to speak for itself and transcend beyond our own stages. One of the key mandates for the Sweet Soul troupe has always been to bring neo-burlesque to new audiences. In order to do this we must expand and surpass our own definitions of what the artform entails, and to whom it appeals. 


To be clear: even though I am working on my first record, have coined what I do as "strip-hop", etc etc... I absolutely still consider myself a professional neo-burlesque performer. I love striptease, I will always love striptease, and I will do striptease whenever I WANT TO, not because I think I have to.
I've already spent the better part of the decade trying to make people understand that a woman can be a super sassy, sexy stripteaser AND be regarded as an intelligent, creative, respectable, artistic human being... and it's become very clear to me that I've barely scratched the surface of what this concept can do / bring to mainstream mentality. My entire life and livelihood around this work and what it represents. It is indeed "precious" to me, so to speak, and should be treated as such. Thank you to Kate for saying these things. Respect.

Congrats also to Lola Frost and Cherry OnTop who will be repping Sweet Soul on The Strip this year, nominated as part of the duo category at the Orleans for this gorgeous piece that raw-ripped my heart out at the Vogue this year:





Well wishes also to Kitty Nights' Burgundy Brixx for her nomination for the Crown Queen of Burlesque, it is a much-deserved nomination and she will be greatly supported by her fans and family here on the West Coast.


******


State of the Union Address, by Kate Valentine

“There are many things I love about burlesque. On a personal level, it has given me not only an opportunity to perform but an ability to control my performance destiny which is a great gift. Without this specific form of live cabaret entertainment, many dancers and actors are left at the mercy of auditioning, agents and casting directors. The burlesque format keeps the performer in the drivers seat. Additionally, it is great for the performer that enjoys creating their own work. One can be the author of their own stories, which is unique to burlesque.

I did not know I was a director or a producer or an emcee until I began doing it. And liking it. And becoming good at it (probably in that order). For me again personally, working as an emcee was a totally unforeseen direction and has shaped me as an artist. By working in a format that demands direct address to the audience as well as tons of improvisation, I was able to confront and discard fears I had as an actor in profound ways. I was able to embrace failure and play in my work — something absolutely essential to me creating anything worth looking at/listening to on stage.

When I became involved in burlesque I came to be surrounded by a group of women who did not define themselves by what they were not, or in direct comparison to others. I found myself in rooms of women where the conversation did not automatically devolve into the standard rhetoric of self-deprecation. What a relief! And more of a relief because it was not a political group taking a stance. It was organic — we just had so much more to talk about.

I am so grateful to the group of artists and wild people that have I come to know through burlesque. My experience has almost always been that of a supportive family, which is a rare gift.

“My goal is not just to complain, but to suggest some potential solutions to these issues and to open up a constructive line of dialogue…”


I love that the best of neo-burlesque presents a vision of female sexuality that lands distinctly outside of the white hetero-normative male gaze. It is so powerful and liberating to see women of all stripes expressing their sexuality in a fun and funny ways. I was always aware of this, even in the earliest days of the neo-burlesque movement, that it was such a relief for everyone (and that included the white hetero normative males!) to be able to explore their sexuality outside that narrow definition of what we are all supposed to find attractive.

I am also very glad that the neo-burlesque world has expanded to include not only men, but also the gender queer community. The inclusiveness of burlesque helps to side-step a sticky wicket within the form: why do women need to show their empowerment via nudity and sexuality? Does everything, including your power, need to be strained through the prism female objectification? Couldn’t it be argued that this is an Uncle Tom feminism?

Even as a fan and purveyor of burlesque I can only answer that question partially to my satisfaction, but I do think certain things within the burlesque “scene” go a long way toward a response. The first, is having men and gender queer performers. This opens up the discussion the sexuality and nudity as human expression general, not “female” this or that. Additionally, the brilliant tradition of having legend’s night at the Burlesque Hall of Fame creates a visual thesis of The Best of Burlesque: because it shows the ultimate taboo: aging women, expressing themselves in a robust and unapologetic way.


Stripping, stripped of its codifiers, such as youth and “beauty” leaves the audience to look at what burlesque is at its best, baring oneself unapologetically to the world — a true reveal.

Of course it should also be FUN. Burlesque is a confection and its sweet fluffy quality deflates under too much inspection. Burlesque then or now, did not begin as a political movement and all of its messages are best when they play as subtext, like a wink and a smile.

Then again, there are also so many things I hate about neo-burlesque. Barefoot burlesque, burletiquette, tedious full nudity that reveals your anus and inner labia. But I would like to focus here on some issues that are not merely pet peeves, but issues that I consider serious threats to the future of the form. My goal is not just to complain, but to suggest some potential solutions to these issues and to open up a constructive line of dialogue. I believe that my dedication to this art form over the last 15 plus years earns me the right to speak publicly and critically about matters which I consider to be important.

I believe that neo-burlesque is and should be an art form. It may be “low art”, but at its best it is able to make the banal sublime. It has the capacity to create joy in people, an experience essential to our human condition. The only way to preserve neo-burlesque as an art form is to create high professional standards within the genre.

There are two different arms of the current neo-burlesque world. One is the hobbyists, what I call Stitch n’ Bitch burlesque performers. They are huge fans of the genre and they got involved because they wanted to explore their sexuality, their body issues, or their love of retro clothing. They wanted to find a community of like-minded, fun, supportive party people. Then there are the career professionals. They may come from a background in theatre or dance. Most of them pursue burlesque as their full-time career or in addition to their other artistic work.

Both of these arms of the burlesque community are totally valid and extremely valuable. The problem is that they are often indistinct, or worse, the Stitch n’ Bitch performers are under the impression that they are members of the professional group. Its easy to see why this happens. These two groups are constantly existing side by side and on a seemingly equal plane. The burlesque world is a friendly and accessible place with a very D.I.Y. vibe. Additionally, as a “low art” it looks deceptively easy to do: Why, any liberated, cute gal who is willing to take off her clothes in public can do it right? In a word, no.

When I first starting doing burlesque in the ’90′s peoples response was always intrigue and interest. Now when I tell people I am a burlesque performer they say, “Oh.” “Oh”, meaning I saw one bad show and I know all I need to know about burlesque.

Take the time to become skilled and educated about the genre of neo-burlesque. I have heard burlesque schools faulted for the influx of new burlesque performers today, as if burlesque schools are creating an endless race of mutant strippers. I do not believe this to be true. The schools are responding to an interest in the genre and giving people information and techniques that they would not have if they just jumped into burlesque on their own.

Perhaps, however, the schools could put in place more structured levels from which people graduate, so they are gently discouraged from immediately entering the burlesque circuit if they are not prepared to do so. Maybe there could be some encouragement for people with different levels of interest to join different groups: there could be a group of Burly pals who could perform for each other and discuss body positive stuff. And more perhaps importantly we could form a Burlesque Guild where the professionals were given the services and protections that are afforded in some other unions.

By the way, the problem of not knowing when you are Stitch n’ Bitch definitely extends to world of teaching. Please tell me you have been working professionally for at lest 5 years before you attempt to teach something to others. And if you are teaching striptease or any form of dance, dear god, please have had some dance training yourself. If you don’t, really, what are you thinking? Are you trying to make money? Go into real estate or better yet work at a strip club. It will be much more lucrative!

The only way to preserve neo-burlesque as an art form is to create high professional standards within the genre.

Part of the root of the problem with neo-burlesque seems to be issues around money. Burlesque is not a get rich scheme. My belief is that as artists we have chosen to value something above money: ideals like Beauty, Transformation, and Communication with the world. We seek to have Collective Experiences with our fellow humans which resonate and give us a larger understanding of why we are here. Therefore, your first priority should be the pursuit of these ideals. You value your ideals enough to present and be presented in works of quality, works that perhaps require some financial commitment.

What you must understand is that if you do a bad show it is wrecking it for everyone, including the people you probably idolize. What do I mean when I say a bad show? Well, for starters, an emcee is not the icing on the cake of the show, its the eggs. Three performers each stripping three times is not a show. It is crap. Do you really want to be a present that the audience opens for a third time? If you cannot afford an emcee or more than three performers then, quite simply, you cannot afford to present a show.

Additionally, how it could possibly make sense to start merchandising oneself before one has a real act is beyond me. The post-Madonna world tells you that all you need is self-confidence and a little PR savvy and everything is possible. This logic says talent is smallest part of the equation for success. But think about it: you are standing alone on stage taking off your clothes. Have the self-respect to have taken a dance class and be prepared. Then and only then should you consider making a t-shirt.

On the other hand, some of the very best performers of this genre in the world will do a show for $5.00 and half a warm beer. When some random newbie stands alongside the best of us in a show it gives her and everyone like her the impression that all they need to do is “put themselves out there” and they will get gigs and make money. And they will be right. Because this is what continues to happen. And the producers (usually performers themselves) hire lesser performers because they can get them for cheaper. And the professionals want to take any gig they can because they “need the money”, yet in doing so they lower their market value.

It is terribly shortsighted to be the best thing in a show. Maybe its cute for your ego, but it does nothing for you in the end. Strive and work towards being in well produced, well constructed theatre where you are one delicious ingredient in a fantastic stew. It is hindering and possibly killing the longevity of the form for shows to contain the greatest and the most amateurish acts on the same bill. You should value yourself enough to get paid what you are worth or acknowledge with clarity that you are a novice and that your rate of pay should be less.

The problem with less than stellar work extends beyond burlesque novices. These days some highly visible burlesque performers, people who make some or most their living doing this, still cannot be bothered to put much effort into burlesque. They under-rehearse, or don’t rehearse at all, spend too much time or none focusing on their costumes, and/or create work that is insider-ish and self-referencing. Their burlesque is completely about themselves. You hear so many people backstage proclaiming themselves and their sisters to be geniuses that you would think it was a meeting of the Mensa society. A community that is supportive is one thing, one that is coddling is another. Meanwhile, take a look beyond the curtain. Your audience are slumped in their seats, rolling their eyes. They are bored. Why not take that extra leap and try to be exceptional. Burlesque is not curing cancer, but it can be transformational and transporting if done right.

When the Miss Exotic World Pageant began on the goat farm of Helendale, California it was clear what it was. It was a reunion for old strippers and the people that loved them. It was a Mecca to a quirky oasis in the desert where bikers, hookers, and Bettie Page girls from L.A. hung out under the hot sun. The Miss Exotic World pageant was a publicity stunt to entice people to the desert, as Dixie has said. It was all heart and pure camp.

The move to Las Vegas in 2006 created a lot of amazing changes for Exotic World. With Vegas came slick production values, a huge attendance, and the presence of burlesque on the International Stage. These are all huge advancements in the public awareness of burlesque. Yet one of the side effects of this shift from Helendale to Vegas is that it changed the tone of the event. Suddenly, Miss Exotic World, both the event and the title were sucked of their irony. This was, for a growing number, a real pageant with huge stakes. The people who are now involved, despite their better natures, fall quickly into the trap of un-ironic competition. I have seen tears and back biting, self-loathing and self-recrimination.

What the fuck does this have to do with burlesque? Neo-burlesque is for strong feminist women. Women who support and celebrate other women. A true pageant, an old remnant from a pre-feminist era, has no business being at the heart of our community. It is wildly self-destructive and the antithesis of everything the burlesque community stands for.

Besides which, at the center of Exotic World is a museum which needs public funding to succeed. Who is likely to take us and our art form seriously when something as antiquated as a beauty pageant is at the center of our largest function of the year? The pageant is a blight in the center of BHOF, since the realization of a museum could be our highest achievement as a genre.

My solution is to make the Burlesque Hall of Fame an actual Burlesque Hall of Fame. In the place of the pageant there would be individuals or groups that would be inducted by a board made up of all the previous Exotic World winners, as nominated by their peers. The awards would then be based not upon one performance one night, but based on a body of work. An induction into the Hall of Fame would then feel like a win not just for the individual, but for the entire genre of burlesque. I am so grateful to be a part of BHOF and to host its main event, but I would be more proud if it was something that made all the participants feel good. This change could provide something that would give everyone involved in the art form something big and beautiful to aspire towards.

The reason why everyone was so happy this year when Miss Indigo Blue won the Miss Exotic World title was not because of her lovely performance that night, but because she deserved it: deserved the accolades and attention and respect for all of her years in service to this art form.

There is no reason why this change would prevent any of the other lovely and sparkly things that happen during the BHOF weekend to cease to exist. We could still have Legends Night. We could still have evenings of electrifying performances from both fresh faces and seasoned favorites. We would just remove the part that is out of date and an impediment to the progress of our form both from an internal and an external perspective.

The secret problem with this otherwise completely inspired plan, is that we have to find a way for this version BHOF 2.0 to be financially viable. Will people donate to the museum if their donation is not taken in the form of a MEW application fee? Will people travel and perform at MEW if there is not the carrot of winning a trophy at the end? I truly hope so, but it is our job as a community to present alternatives to the board of BHOF and create our future together.

One solution might be offering BHOF scholarships to shining new members of the community. Or work opportunities to the inductees. If there was a pledge from the major schools and troupes nationally or even internationally to book the inductees for tour and teaching gigs on their induction year, maybe this could prove a good incentive to continued attendance and financial support of BHOF. I realize I am placing a lot of work at the feet of the schools of burlesque but with great power comes great responsibility, as they say in Spiderman comics.

There are many ways of being involved in burlesque. Let the very last one be performing on stage for money. See shows, Take a class, write about burlesque, perform in workshops for your friends. There is only one good reason to be working professionally as a burlesque artist: because you have talent and ability to entertain an audience and a deep desire to do that."

- Kate Valentine, aka Miss Astrid Von Voomer, NYC


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Serving Northern Realness

Well shiiiiit.

I guess it's been a minute since my last post, but I've been a busy striphoppin' bitch. Lately the Sweet Soul grrlz have been on deck quite a bit, flying out on the weekends to do out-of-town gigs and then coming home Sunday or Monday to take a three-day breather before Keefer Bar on Thursday. Then we head out again into the weekend... it's a good system actually as opposed to conventional touring where you hit the road for weeks at a time. Makes for more space, less inter-troupe craziness on the road, better rested grrls, more rehearsal / costume / prep time. Plus then everyone can still keep up their day-to-day life-type maintenance, exercise, classes, groceries, and sex with the lover. Because trust me, one thing you DO NOT want to do is deprive a Sweet Soul grrl of homecooked food, sleep, exercise or sex and then spend a whole wack o' time with her all up close n' personal. That is really, REALLY bad idea. You might as well starve a tiger, turn yourself into a small bunny and throw yourself at it. She will eat you. Just don't do it.

This winter we've had the pleasure of performing at some dope northern festivals, and this of course delights me to NO END - not only because it's charming and soo ultra Canadian, but because it means I get to bust out my Winnpeg-era vintage fur coats. Wearing real fur is a rare and sacred fashion privilege and I take it very seriously, because generally it's a BIG NO-NO.. UNLESS (gasp) - a) you happen to be Canadian AND b) the fur is secondhand/vintage. Then wearing fur is magically fine again and NOT grounds for mad fake-blood splatters. It's like the world-wide unspoken law of fur. I don't know why. I just wear my AMAZING eggplant 60's silver fox coat (from Burcu's Angels, obvs) and keep my damn mouth shut. On a side note I'd like to let all the psychos know that if anyone threw a giant can of fake blood at Tristan Risk while she was wearing fur, maybe try doing it around her birthday, cuz she'd fucking PEE her PANTS with excitement and then try to make out with you. For real. If you want extra wetness, get some papz to snap a pic or two. Ohhh yeahhh. Just tell her I put you up to it k?

But yeah, back to Northern Realness. First up we got to jam it out at home with three of the world's best spoken word artists at The Rio Theatre in East Van, which was super dope. Jamie DeWolf slammed the shit out of some poetry. I wouldn't say I'm a full-fledged member of the slam-poet scene per say, but I've been watching it from the sidelines for awhile and it's nice to know people still give a shit about the spoken (and written) word. (And they REALLY give a shit. Any Monday night at Cafe Deux Soleils on the Drive is packed to the teeth). Local wordsmith hero CR Avery beatboxed & harmonica'd at the same time somehow (apparently he's aurally dextrous) and Mighty Mike McPhee of Portland fame proved that the dream of the 90s is still really fucking cool over some Tribe Called Quest . I was honoured with the job of hosting and singing live jazz with a 5 piece and intro-ing ma grrlz on the massive stage. The Rio's been dealing with some seriously business-threatening licensing issues lately (oh how so untypical for Vancouver) and I'm really rooting for them; it's a solid venue with a gorgeous stage, great staff, red velvet curtains three stories high. What more could a grrl fucking want. Come on. There's gotta be some change afoot in these here parts in that regard... but that's a whole other blog post. ;)

Next up was the journey to one of the coast's most notorious annual Valentine's events, the infamous James Bondage Devient Fairytale costume party. Held at a giant lodge in Squamish, the two room event made for hilarious debauchery to the illest degree. Not gonna lie, not much sleep occurred between the non-stop antics of evil queens, Hansel & Gretal, naked red riding hoods and sick sets from tons of the West Coast's finest funk n' crunkers. Hilarity of epic fantasy proportion. I approved.

Up next: WHISTLER! Home of the GLC drink bucket, the coolest gogo dancers I've ever met, and 8 billion 20-something dudes from Australia all living in one bedroom. I know, I know, let's drink all their beer. Heh heh. We hit Dusty's Creekside on V-day proper to dance around for the shot slammin' boarders and then zoomed over to our good friends' b-day pants-free b-day party where we did a *very* private show involving a disappearing egg. "Where'd it go?" the birthday girl's boyfriend asked. "No seriously. WHERE'D IT GO." Sorry. I will never tell.

The next day I nursed my hangover in a hottub, listening to Kryptic Minds & overlooking Whistler Mountain while the grrlz did some runs. Super shitty day, not awesome and relaxing at all. I can't believe how strenuous it was to lift my afternoon wine to my lips. GAHHWD ;) After taking our time to finally glide down the Sea to Sky, we hit the Keefer Bar a day later with one of the new tracks off the record (yes, yes, it's coming along, apparently it takes time and shit with the mastering and tweaking, who knew). It never ceases to amaze me how entertained I continue to be by the fabulsou women I work with, and the clear stunner of the evening, Rita Star. KILLED IT that night. I'm a pretty big fan of our Keefer bar shows in general but this week the front row was in shock. Apparently the person who recommended us to them said it was a "magic show". Well, uh, many many drinks and bras disappeared... does that count?

Fast forward past another couple trips up the hill and some private events, blah blah blah... really we were all just waiting to up to the great gorgeous town of Whitehorse for our 5th annual three-day run at glorious Sourdough Rendezvous, the oldest festival in Canada.

Fuck I love the Yukon. Like, LOVE IT. And it all starts before you even bloody GET there. The Yukon have their own airline, Air North, and let me tell you that as with most Yukon institutions, those Air North effers know what the fuck is UP. No crappy 3 peanut bags of crap or paying eight dollars for a bunwich the size of your asshole. Nope. I'm talking good free coffee at the gate, a fresh selection of danishes and banana bread, PROPERLY PROPORTIONED SANDWICHES, attractive and genuinely fun stewardesses (with lots of awesome gays!), and none of that bullshit Westjet "funny" fodder that makes you want to roll your eyeballs onto the floor and then step on them with your heel. OH - and there's no such thing as "first class"... Yukonners don't roll like that. Everyone's in the same cabin, in the same seats, reading the same facts about the gold rush, all heading to a magical magical place - a place where for 2 a year, you can get arrested by Klondike Cops for not wearing a garter. HEAVEN.



So not only is Whitehorse clearly GORGEOUS beyond compare, with its mountain ranges on every side and crisp clean air that smells like the breath of angels, but your brain just seems to de-compress the minute you step off the plane. I can't describe it, it's like suddenly you're in another dimension - Northern Realness. Also it's the perfect size... big enough to have city ammenities but small enough that everyone knows each other. I'm actually big fan of performing in smaller cities because there's this reversion to using what used to be known as "common sense". For example, if we kinda "borrow" the giant moustache prop from the backstage of club we were performing at? No fucking problem, everyone would be totally chill about it because THEY KNOW WE'RE NOT ASSHOLES. I mean obviously we'd gonna put it back at the end of the weekend after we have MANY retardo-naked photoshoots with it, duh. Everyone just KNOWS that. Because everyone, including the club owner, also knows the people who live at the house we are staying at and that it's all good. We'd totally return said giant moustache once we've had our way with it, and everyone would just chill the fuck out and laugh, because having the burlesque grrls ride and photograph themselves on the 6-ft fun-fur moustache in different positions is just really fucking funny and clearly should just happen.

Like I said. Common sense. Isn't it refreshing?



(Cara's tiger, Sebastian, was protecting it. Tigers are really good for that you know).

The other thing about smaller cities is that they know what's really important; like the ability to have BRUNCH at the peeler bars (I KNOW, amazing), having neon signs at peeler bars that say "No Assholes" (EVEN MORE AMAZING) and also making sure that the hot burlesque dancers get to have really good tables when they go to the peeler bars (that one's just common sense. Again with the common sense!).



Plus it always seems like there's only like 2 or 3 live venues there, so you can sell out your show every night and it seems like it's a big deal, and you can sashay around like you are a TOTAL MASSIVE SUPERSTAR. It's AWESOME. Also the hot guys who spent all year working in the camps for a million dollars are PUMPED to buy your merch. It's FABulous.

SO yeah, got to kill it hard with our special guest Melody Mangler (w/ me backstage below) for three nights in a row at Foxy's pub for 300 peeps a night.. it was super rad to see everyone all dressed up too, they go all out. We also got to work with the first female MC we've had since Brigee K, Miss Erica Bergland, which was dope. All in all a super fun run. My liver was a bit pissed with me but you know. We all have to make sacrifices.



The last morning up there I awoke to a promptly prepared mimosa and breakfast burrito handed to me by lingerie clad Cherry OnTop, Lola Frost & Cara Milk. Life did not suck. We then lounged around and judged Hollywood movie stars' outfits on the Oscars while awarding each other with our own congratulatory nods from the weekends, dubbed the "Osc-whores". I can only tell you what mine was for with the lights off.

Fort Mac where we checked in for a couple night run at the WinterPlay festival. Fort Mac gets a bit of a bad rap cuz of all 'dem oil sands and stuff and the extreme aversion we all have to the Embridge pipeline scam. Low sass. There's 80 000 people living up there with most involved in some way or another in that industry... andit's already a bit of a conundrum about what's going to happen exactly to them when the oil runs out, nevermind all this added pipe business. Probably should figure that out eh? In the meantime they were ready for a sass injection courtesy of Sweet Soul. We bundled up in our afore-mentioned vintage furs and headed to one of the most charming outdoor winter festivals I've ever seen. Nothing like prairie sky on ice, I'm telling ya.





Check out the cool ice maze and cabaret tent they built on the frozen Snye river:





A shot of backstage where we pulled on our showgrrl costumes in the heated tent:



Home now for a bit to warm up a bit and work on the record in between Keefer Thursdays. We're heading out to the Kootenays next weekend for dates in Kelowna w/ A=Skillz & our homie from Dollhouse days Tyler Stickybudz, a gorgeous theatre date in Cranbrook & a prohibition party in Revvy.

I bet I'll have stories.

;)

Huge love (and with particular hearts to all the Wpg-ers who killed it at Festival Du Voyageur this past month... was thinking of you and snowy Provencher...)
xoxo
CP

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Lana Del Rey & the Downside of Chair Lifts.

I can't help it... my heart goes out to the trending Miss Lana Del Rey today following her unfortunate world debut on SNL as a live performer. I'm a HUGE fan of her recordings & videos and I can't imagine how she must feel. There's nothing worse than knowing that you disappointed your fans at a huge show; I can't even fathom it at this magnitude. I can't even post it cuz it's so painful to watch and I feel like a bad person for spreading the awkward. You can google it if you really want to see it or you can just trust me: it was bad. Actually maybe don't google it on second thought. "Blue Jeans", my fave song... oh. I had to pretend it didn't happen and then put the album recording on my iPod like 4 times in a row to cleanse my brain of it.

I guess the lesson is this: if you're gorgeous & have a lovely voice & insane connections & you get signed to interscope & breathe into a hot neumann & have slick production & get your name changed & perfect your steez & have expensive sha-nay-nay & gansta nail techs & agents & management & whip-smart promoters that slice quick cuts of beloved cultural icons in your videos on YouTube, you can get really famous pretty damn quick. (btw, I'll take one of all of those k? yay k thanks. Yahhh!!!)

But no one can shortcut to getting their stage chops. You gotta earn 'em over the years like everyone else.

Not sure how that fact got lost, and at SNL to boot. I mean even Britney, who is arguably the most contrived and marketed pop star ever, had been onstage for 10 years straight before she broke out at 16. I just don't understand how anyone could book a singer who's barely ever sang live for the most-watched live weekly broadcast on the continent and expect it to go well. It makes no sense. It's ridiculous. As anyone who has tried will tell you, singing onstage is like being in another dimension. You have to focus on a million different things... time feels different. Lights are in your face blinding the shit out of you. A lot of time you have trouble hearing yourself. People and noises in the crowd are distracting you. You have fellow performers and musicians onstage to be mindful of (rhythm etc). You have aware of your position to make sure you stay in the light, hear your monitor, don't feedback, be aware / control your expressive movements & choreography, watch the mic angle & distance, remember all the lyrics & melodies, breathe in the right places, bring up the energy in the room, figure out a way to evoke emotion and response, and also, make sure your hair doesn't get stuck to your lipgloss (sooo annoying). And I haven't even MENTIONED battling nerves yet. Etc etc etc. It's not the same as recording AT ALL, and it's not easy. You can't just expect someone to be able to do it well right away.

As far as all the hurtful (albeit fairly true) comments online about Lana Del Rey's performance, it's a textbook case of the hype trap. When hype builds, the danger is that makes people very critical. It feels too good to be true, and so people wait for the other shoe to drop. Lo and behold. Are we really surprised? We might be in the digital age but this isn't the Matrix. You can't download skill sets like that.

It reminds me of something really important though, which is the whole reason I'm writing this blog, and that is to take a moment to appreciate the slow climb. Because even though I probably would have denied this even a few years ago, I really think the slow climb to fame has SO many advantages over getting catapulted there overnight. #1 - you get good at shit. I feel that if Sweet Soul ever did get a chance to perform on some high-profile show like SNL, I think by the time we got there we would FUCKING MURDER IT. Ya know? BECAUSE of the slow climb. #2: you have time to get wise to fact that fame is the strange bullshit part and that really, it's just a tool to put more art into the world, which is the real part. I know this might sound like lipservice cuz I'm a performer and it's instinctively in my nature to love attention, but honestly, "being famous" has never been the goal for me. Traveling the world doing what I love is. I guess one facilitates the other in a profession such as mine, but fame could never be an end unto itself.

Just like in the Wizard of Oz (best movie ever) or the Hobbit, the journey is always where the story happens right? How shitty would it be for us if they were like, "...and then we took a helicoptor to Mordor." THIS IS LIFE, right now. I would much rather look around, breathe the fresh air, see the alpine flowers, celebrate the milestones and enjoy the company than hop on a chairlift, race to the top and miss everything (nevermind that chairlifts aren't open in the summer, don't ruin my fucking metaphor). Yeah. So even if it makes me sweaty and gives me leg cramps sometimes, I am grateful for the slow climb.

As for Miss Lana Del Rey, all I can do is wish her strength. I also really hope that she will get back up there, because it's the only way she'll get better at it. I also hope that this doesn't keep her from making more music because I really love her songs.

Hearts
xoox
CP

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Fiery Dones Does It & Thoughts on A Shrinking Sasspot

Hokay hokay. 2012!!! Year of the dragon, year shit gets happening, year of sass.
As far as any of the Mayan calendar shiz, I feel this illustration pretty much encapsulates how I feel about all that:



Yeah. Well. What's it gonna do, be never ending? They'd still be carving the damn thing. At one point you just need to put that shit down and go kill a tiger or whatever.

As far as resolutions are concerned, I'm just gonna be honest and say that I'm gonna keep working on the 10 I made last year. I'm cool with that. They were pretty ambitious, as they should've been. I'm proud to say I've crossed a few off the list. And I'm gonna go ahead and also recommend that before people get all launchy with their own resolution plans, they should take a fucking hot minute to acknowledge the shit they've actually accomplished this year and in recent years past. And for the love of sass, pay no attention to assholes who say that having a moment with yourself to acknowledge a job well done is tacky and indulgent. Mama Sass says that's outdated psychotic conservatism. It's IMPORTANT to do that, especially if you're about to set out doing some new stuff. It increases... what do they call that? Morale. Which basically means to feel sassy, which I endorse doing about 80 thousand percent of the time.

So you know, I got a some shit I've been working on that I feel pretty good about. Not just career stuff (which you'll see soon, trust me), but personally. I've got DJG's URB podcast on (so good) so I'm ready to throw them down. Readdddyyy???

Drumroll for the biggest one by far: I quit smoking. Well, I still smoke if I'm trashed, let's be honest. But like one or two smokes every week on average compared to half a pack a day three years ago??? BOOOOOOOM. I obviously deserve like, 8000 blowjobs. My lungs & voice agree.

I exercise regularly now. Honestly, I actually fucking do this. Imagine, this weird habit that makes you feel awesome and gives you energy... that ISN'T cocaine! Whoaaaaaa!!!! AMAZING. So how, you ask, did I manage to get on this train and successfully combat my acute CLD (chronic laziness disorder)? Well, I've been putting all that extra smoking money into yoga & kickboxing sessions. I know, I know, I don't NEEED to do that, but I find that for regular exercise to work for me, I need to rely heavily on the "social-shame" factor of going to group classes. By this I mean that once you show up, you can't really stop or leave without looking like an asshole. Since social anxiety is a much more developed quality in me than self-discipline, I find that this works like a charm. Try it out. And if you have trouble getting to the classes themselves, pick a friend that you hate bailing on and make a regular date with them. I picked Tristan Risk, who is pretty and scary at the same time.



See? You wouldn't really want to fuck with her, nor would you want to miss a chance to see her all sweaty. I'm telling you, it works. And before you get into the whole "so expensive, why don't you just download exercise videos" thing, yes it's expensive and yes I HAVE downloaded those exercise videos before. But, not gonna lie, I sometimes end up just watching them and eating chips. Like that HipHop Abs shit? Um, yum. That guy is fucking HOT, even if he's definately gay. Carmen Electra is another one of my favorites. Cheesy as fuck but wow. OK I'm gettin distracted here. Moving on.

I also changed my diet pretty intensely, which was needed. I'm not gonna name any names, but there used to be some bitch walking around in my apt that liked to make a box of instant stuffing as a snack. I'm not saying I'm a crazy raw food vegan now or anything but I'm definitely hanging out in veggie land more often now. It's not so bad. Turns out there's lots of different kinds! And some of them are cute! Brussel sprouts, for example. Ohhhh... like tiny cabbages! Also mini corns! And I discovered that yellow wax beans chilled kind of look and crunch like french fries. Sort of. Especially if you're high.

Ok here's the real kicker. Recently I discovered that wheat & cow dairy are no longer my friends via a series of homeopathic tests I underwent to identify what's been causing my chronic allergy symptoms. This was totally traumatizing for me. I know a lot of people would argue wheat & dairy are no one's friends anyway... but let me tell you something motherfuckers, cheese was my fucking FRIEND. Ok? Cheese was always there for me. It didn't judge me or berate me or stand me up or let me down. Ever. It was my friend and we had a really intimate relationship for a long, long time. I'm being totally serious. I fucking. Love. Cheese. But as with all relationships that are super physically satisfying yet inherently unhealthy, it was time to face the stupid fucking truth (sniff), have one last hunk of swiss, and then say goodbye. Because fuck it. It's not worth it. Lord knows if I could dump the so-hot-in-bed-dude who finally admitted he thought burlesque was "tacky" in my 20's, I can damn-well kick the cheese that's making me sick in my 30's, right?

At least I live in the fucking hippie tra-la-la capital of the world where I can find goat & daiya products up the ying-yang of every corner of Commercial Drive.(I'm actually still not entirely sure what Daiya is, but apparently it melts, so it gets my support). Plus there is a ton of non-wheat shit out there now too. I mean half the frickin' planet is full of people that don't even have food. So I'm just gonna shut the fuck up and eat these vegetables and daiya shit and carry on. Plus they make goat brie now, and I can have that. Everything's actually fine. Honestly.

Now as you can imagine (and as I've mentioned in a few previous posts) this combination of events has resulted in a bit of a recent weight loss. And I imagine that this weight loss won't really stop until my body settles at the weight it naturally wants to be when I am, shock of shocks, eating properly and exercising regularly. You know, so, acting like a normal person who respects her body and shit.

This seemed to me like a good thing until I got a series of facebook messages along the same lines as these:

"You better stop shrinking."

"That was good, but I like you curvier better."

"Just don't get too skinny."

Or my personal favorite, which went like so:

"You're not gonna turn into a skinny bitch, are you? Think of all the people you'd be disappointing".

Uh...

Now normally I wouldn't give a fuck about random comments hurtled towards my body size (trust me, I have endured everything from kiddie insults to the much-worse "but I think I'm just too superficial for you" heart-smushing guy rejections). These ones stuck out though because I really do care quite a bit about the people who come to my shows, read my blog, watch my videos, etc. You could say I feel endebted to them, to say the least. So it didn't really make me feel very good when I started getting approached at gigs with people saying the same things, essentially, over and over... and not to be complementary. Certain acquaintances and even a former employer started poking criticisms at me for "shrinking" with evident disdain. I had some sad face. I tried to ignore it but it kept happening.

I realize that it's not every day you see a performer my size confidently prancing around in outfits smaller than postage stamps, and I'm grateful that I've been able to help "round out" the conventional beauty standard in my industry a bit (so to speak). But I'm a little confused by these reactions, because I kinda thought that the whole point was that my dress size didn't define my ability to entertain an audience. It didn't when I was auditioning for TV roles in my late teens, and it doesn't now. And I should very much hope that my curviness isn't the only ENTIRE REASON people enjoy my work!! I mean, after officially doing this for ten years, please, oh lord please, please also let it be because I'm KIND OF AWESOME?? Maybe? Hopefully? A little even?

Also. This may come as a giant shock, but a lot of "skinny bitches" are my best friends. If we are going to stop allotting social value to how much a person weighs, IT CAN'T BE A DOUBLE STANDARD, ummkayyyy. So stop with the skinny bitch routine, I'm not into it. I'm also not into being labeled a BBW, so straight dudes, stop pushing me into a porn category or asking me where my black boyfriend is. Seriously. I've dated all kinds, including crazy hot girls, couples, and dudes who have dated me AND skinny supermodels... so SETTLE DOWN. Also - and this is a controversial one but this is how I personally feel about it- producers. Please stop asking me to do shows that only feature bigger women. Meh. It's even worse when they call it "real" women. NEWS FLASH: We are all "real women", size 22 or 2. We stand together. That's how this works. It's the only way it CAN work, in my opinion.

So I just wanted to respond to any concerns of my gorgeous and much-appreciated show peeps who may be speculating about what's up: I'm still the same human and I stand for the same things. I didn't lose weight to be accepted or to conform then, I'm not doing it for "acceptance" now. To do that would be going against everything I stand for. And while I'll always be curvy (I'm never gonna disappear, trust me darlings... I wasn't built for that), I am gonna take care of myself. I wanna be around to do this for awhile. I have to be.

So yeah. Exercising, breaking up with cow cheese & calming my vices has been fucking hard, but I did it... well, for the most part. And by gosh I'm gonna take a minute to pat myself on the motherfucking back. And don't you forget to do the same thing ummmkay. Or I will eat your fucking daiya when you're not looking.

Just so you can see what I mean, a pic from a few years ago...


and a newer one from this past year....




Wanna to be able to do a giant show every night you know? That shit takes stamina mothereff's. Did you know Mick Jagger still runs 12 miles a day to keep up his stage endurance?? What the fuck. What the FUCK. No wonder he managed to bone so many chicks. That alone sounded pretty physically demanding, not gonna lie.

Wanted to leave you with a vid of Warrior's Performance where I deliberately accentuate my thighs. Thunder thighs of power! I used to giggle (and obviously be sad back in the day) when people called me thunder thighs because I was like, "uh... as if that doesn't sound like a super power, dumbasses".



And ps, if you're going to get on the movement train may I shamelessly recommend any of the extra sassy fun classes at Vancouver Burlesque Centre and specifically, Brenda Holmes' Yoga class. She's the best yoga instructor I've ever had. Ever. Seriously. Super warm vibes, knowledgeable, clear and has the sickest music during class. If these rates are still too pricey for you e-mail me & I will let you know about a karma class that she does.

Oh man. I am so so full of excitedness about this year I can barely handle it.
Trust me when I say this... you ain't seen NOTHING yet.

Huge love,
xoxoo
CP