Thursday, October 23, 2014

Sisters in Sass - Congrats to Luciterra Dance

This week I wanted to take a sec and give some love to a crew I greatly admire in the Vancouver performance scene, Luciterra Dance Company.

If you are unfamiliar with Luciterra's work, they are incredible human beings who have worked tirelessly to hone their craft and particular style of American Tribal Style belly dance. Not only do they perform mind-blowing shows, they also teach a multitude of classes (you can find them at the Vancouver Burlesque Centre) and have fostered their own community within the city of lovely lady loves with dance stars in their eyes. They regularly re-invest in their professional development as dancers and have been strong social justice advocates for as long as I've known them. This year they have finally incorporated as a Worker's Cooperative, and operate as a consensus-based and non hierarchical collective.

It is very rare to find a group of people who are so communally committed to being involved in every decision process and creation stage of a project. This is an insane amount of dedication and I really admire and respect the work that has been put into it. It is truly teamwork at its most ideal.

I am quite pleased and honoured to be performing at their 5 Year Anniversary show on Saturday night at a little known hidden gem in the city, Sideshow Studios. This is a performance and circus community hub on 2nd Ave, and there will be a multitude of fantastical showpeepz doin' their thing.

Performances by:
Crystal Precious (that's me!)
Chris Murdoch
Yuki Ueda
Students from Luciterra's school
Scarlet Lux
Nicci (Tha Fae)
Candance Aldridge Sanchez

w/ DJs K-Tel & Pollinator

Sideshow Studios (15 W 2nd Ave, Vancouver)
Doors 8pm, Show begins at 9pm
$10 - $20 Sliding Scale (fundraising for Luciterra to go to India to study dance)  

You can watch a multitude of videos of their work but I really recommend that you try to see it in person. I am always astounded by their level of poise, professionalism and straight up HOTNESS.

See you there on Saturday!!


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Oktoburlesque - Blast From The Past

Just peformed at the fabulous Beerlesque IV at the Vancouver Roundhouse Community Centre (which was AMAZING) and was reminded of our debaucherous past...

Enjoy.... we sure did. :) YAHH??


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Hallowe'en Costume Tip Vlog featuring Little Miss Risk

YUP...  Vlog #3 Sasspots! Featuring the fabulous Little Miss Risk on Hallowe'en Costume Tips! Learn from our pain. LEARN. :)


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Crystal Precious - Performance Video at Wiggle 20

Just to mix it up.. a lil sumfin sumfin showin' ya my stage game these days....
Courtesy of ONOSHI DIDNT... thank gah she did! Taped at Wiggle 20, June 2014.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Positive Thinking vs. Turning A Blind Eye

Ummmkkay. So I was joking around this week with my current fabulous and handsome man Carnie, who is a Maritime transplant, about how my transition from Winnipeg to Vancouver involved the slow but sure addition of quinoa to my diet, yoga to my schedule and hiking to my weekends. I do like to note hat I've always been a very spiritually aware person, however, as has he, so that component of West Coast culture isn't new for either of us... that being said, we both agree that spiritual practice is preferable when authentic and unsullied by trendiness or false motivations. To be honest that DOES seem a little more rampant over here. Considering that we both run with festival crowds and other hippies fairly constantly, albeit those who wear lipstick and wield ninja swords, we have both encountered our fair share of the latter type of "enlightened" mindset ...or marketing campaign. ;)

Me n' Carnie Bear 
I generally tend to accept that type of thing in the hopes that its part of a larger process towards overall radness and consciousness in society. One thing, tho, that Carnie observed and pointed out really rang true to me... and that is about how more and more, he is noticing a distinctive intolerance for discussing anything perceived to be "negative" or "drama".  Even things that are important, and that need to be addressed. This got me thinking about how much I too had participated in turning on my blinders, and whether I was doing that under the guise of achieving a more "positive" mindset, when really what I was doing was avoiding inconvenience. Hrrrrrrmmmm.

To be fair, I do understand why some people shut off and put up boundaries here and there when their feelings become debilitating and therefore impede any action towards making things better. Some are super sensitive and require certain preparations to receive information like that.  I also understand why people choose to avoid hearing about things they feel disempowered around, like say bigger global issues, because it will only "upset them" with little to no result. My take on it is that there is always SOMETHING that can be done, even if its small, even if its just in our own backyard... and that if you are sensitive, you can always draw a boundary that involves revisiting the issue when you are better equipped to do so. I do understand those frames of mind. What I worry about is when people just straight-up don't want to acknowledge negativity because its inconvenient or unpleasant to them and it interrupts their day... because that to me is very dangerous.

I really think there is an important difference between the very awesome practice of maintaining a positive outlook on life, and the un-awesome practice of people becoming deliberately ignorant of very real negative issues happening that need attention in order to be resolved. (That last one I'm not into, by the way, in case you haven't guessed.) I feel like there are everyday systems in our current world breeding that last tendency, and I wanna take a sec to take a look at that, because negativity in that context, in my opinion, can be a super important catalyst for change. Straight up, its like a red flag that something is wrong. And while I do believe that people can be indulgent and defeatist in their negative attitudes about what can be done, which is never any fun, I do believe that there is an inherent value in remembering that just because something has negativity attached to it doesn't mean it should be ignored.

This meme, which despite using very aggressive and irritatingly generalizing language, still manages somewhat to sum up the mis-conception I'm talking about here. To me, this sort of outlines the confusion between "negative thoughts" and the negative emotions or reactions that come from our experience of reality.

Now. Let me say right out of the gate that I am a proponent of many belief systems that could be considered "New Age".. but I strongly dislike that term and its uselessness as far as giving merit or specificity to the intent behind adopting such beliefs. I much prefer the term "conscious", because it does not infer ignoring anything, negative or not, yet for me still includes the concept of awareness around some of the more metaphysical laws of the universe.

Next. For me there are two levels of acknowledging and dealing with negativity... 1) honest assessment and emotional reaction to negative situations, and 2) choosing to be either positive or negative about what comes next. In regards to the first, which is what I perceive to be getting locked out: how the fuck are you going to know what needs to be changed or acted upon if you never let anything unpleasant or inconvenient penetrate your mind-frame?  In my opinion, fully acknowledging the emotions that arise in the face of tragic or upsetting reality is the key to change. And yes, the proper assessment of any issue, and one's position on it, involves fully delving in and admitting to feeling angry or shitty about it. I certainly have witnessed the power that emotions can have over duty or logic in the drive to act. How are you going to be motivated to make those changes, or help to make them, unless you allow yourself to have an unpleasant emotional reaction around that? I like to think that most of the people I know actually want to improve some of the shittiness in the world, including the mind-frames and broken hearts of friends who are experiencing tragedy and loss.

Here's where I think the lines get blurry... once those situations are processed and assessed as to how they truly make you feel -- negativity be damned --  its what you do with that information next that I think can be directed in either in an empowered / positive way, or in a defeatist / negative way. THAT is where the choice to be negative or positive comes in, and THAT I think is what many "New Agers" talk about when they talk about "being negative". Please note that THAT is much different than avoiding all negative situations. And yet the confusion persists... and I want to examine why.

There's a lot of people who subscribe to the idea that constantly having negativity in their digital window is going to turn people off or make them more "unpopular" with their "friends". Honestly, I think that's a pretty fair assessment. But I think that has less to do though with people not caring and more to do with the way Facebook is set up. I realize that Facebook can be used as a (less and less) effective tool to get important messages out or share our work and thoughts, but for the most part, people use it as entertainment, or to keep up on light "surface" type aspects of their friends' lives. So they aren't always in a mind-frame to receive information about how their friends are sick, or heartbroken because their mom died, or, say, how Stephen Harper is ruining our country, when it pops up amidst pictures of sister's vacation or singing cats. You weren't mentally prepared for that. Its inconvenient and unpleasant and it sticks out. And you know that other people are probably feeling that too, so you don't whine or say anything "negative" or "dramatic" on your wall. Everyone suddenly becomes their own censor of anything but "everything is awesome" - ummm, cough cough quote from recent KIDS movie about evil dictatorship -- and this is ESPECIALLY true if you want to keep showing up in people's feeds... because now, people can simply "unfollow" you. And in fact, they are encouraged too. Slowly but surely, all traces of "negativity" are disappearing in our online interactions - and I believe our tolerance for the pains of in real life, our empathy, and our willingness to confront issues is being trained to lessen as well. Add the constant bombardment of a capitalist culture constantly attempting to dictate our desires around luxury, pleasure and convenience...  well fuck. "Don't worry about the negativity of this global issue... just let us deal with it!! Go on, enjoy your champagne and cat memes and take a selfie." Rrrrright. Hmm.

meanwhile, while everyone's "avoiding negativity"....
I do think that Facebook CAN be used as a tool for organizing people, discussions and spreading information (although as I mentioned earlier that seems to be more and more difficult). I don't think the solution is to start uncensoring ourselves on it or just to stop using it altogether... I'm not sure that will even work at this point. I think the solution is to KEEP CONSCIOUS of the fact that a sugar coated digital funhouse mirror of real life is just that -- slanted. And that "negativity" is a very real part of life, but that doesn't mean you don't have to dwell on it in a non-solution based manner. You don't have to indulge in the futile-ness of it all and suck people into a black hole of yuck. But I think its healthy -- and necessary -- to have a minute to think, hey, this sucks. It really, really sucks. Something needs to change. Then you can move on to the part where you start figuring out what change looks like and how you can be involved.

PS: Stephen Harper is an ASSHOLE, and its time to do something. This China thing? WHAT THE FAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK. Gonna look into it and get back to you on what action is going to look like for me.... Cuz seriously. Time to impeach a bitch.   OVER IT.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward this weekend to mulling that over while I dance raucously to all the freshy-fresh newness in the electronic music world at New Forms Festival. I'm not even gonna pretend I know who any of the artists are, but honestly, that's kinda the point. I do know who Max Ulis, Michael Red & Malcolm Levy are (some of the curators) and my faith in them over the years has just SLIGHTLY resulted in the discovery of some of my favourite music and people on the planet. So ya know. Not the biggest gamble ever exactly. Plus, it's at Science World. How much of a better location can you get? PUHLAAAAAAAAAYSE.

Thank goodness for art. Thank goodness for beautiful men. Thank goodness for cookies.

Thank goodness for amazing cocktail lounges where I can take my clothes off and sing about pie, as I will tonight and every Thursday. Because the way some people used to act towards me for being a super sexual being was kind of negative.  Now its better. :)

kisses n' kinkz

Thursday, September 11, 2014

2014 Burning Man & Bass Coast - Why Festivals? THIS IS WHY.

Oh haiiii, I'm back from Burning Man!!! Super rewarding year for me. I decided to leap out of my comfort zone and head down early to meet a team of people I'd never met --- well, 2 of them I'd barely met, but everyone else was brand new -- to help build a sculpture for the outer ring of the Man. That means its kinda designed for the vast open part of the desert for exploration and play. Something told me it was the absolute right thing to do, and I'm so glad. Not only did I manage to meet some totally refreshing badass people who were entirely out of my circle, I also got to see some undercurrents of the festival from more of an inside perspective, which was super cool. Our team was working at The Generator, aka the giant building warehouse in Reno where most of the large-scale Burning Man projects are built before being taken out to playa. Technicians, sculptors, painters, mechanics, engineers and teams of random people from all over the world were assembling and loading out huge projects and different infrastructure for theme camps. Paying attention to the team dynamics and particularly in seeing the way the real-world prep goes into desert-world execution was of immeasurable value to me as both producer, DIY enthusiast and overall lover of magic.

Our interactive sculpture, called Eye Trip, featured a rotating eyeball chair.

As far as Burning Man goes: I love it, I believe in it. I think its an important cornerstone to ideas I'd love to see more out in the world. Mind-blowing artwork, conscious and kind people, fun and adventures all heavily laced with concentrated occurrences of synchronicity and high-vibing sass levels. I'm a huge fan of Burning Man's Ten Principles ALL the time, like, in daily life, particularly Radical Inclusion, Radical Self Reliance and Immediacy. I find the rituals and symbolism of the Man & Temple burns to be immeasurably cathartic. Plus, um, jumping on trampolines in tutus is like, super duper fun. Duh. Last but not least, I'm really into the fact that its all protected by the elemental lock and key of thick powdery dust and a definitive willingness to get there. You can't really be casual about the decision to go to Burning Man... you gotta brace yourself, work to make it happen, and prepare for extremes. Its a different world and the elements boil you down to the core. Your shit will come up. I love it. Its where things both real and fantasy come together. Here's an Emmy-award winning vid I found that features a lot of the art from 2011, the first year I went.

HOWEVS. I know there are also some pretty solid arguments in knockin' Burning Man, the first one being that the festival is a blatant, indulgent display of disposable income most people don't have the luxury of throwing away. Well, yah kinda. But um.. so is most of the Western World. Spent any time on Robson lately? How much does some American retail chain spend on rent every year there ya think so they can sell cheap crap? Hmm. Yah. Vegas anyone? THEY DON'T HAVE RECYCLING THERE. For serious. And can you guess how much food gets thrown away every day after even just ONE meal at ONE buffet in ONE all-inclusive resort??? My point is, that shit is happening constantly, everywhere, all day long. You might not be able to necessarily SEE it all in one glimpse all the time, but people spend a lot of money on things a LOT less “noble” than art projects with hippies ummkay. If anything I think that staring all that indulgence in the face is a much more effective way to become aware of our privilege and the reality / senselessness of capitalism's manipulation. In the meantime, if you want to knock mis-spending, how about spending all that complaining energy knockin' at our government's door. I bet the teachers would appreciate that right about now*BC is currently in the midst of a province-wide teacher's strike.

David Best's astounding 2014 Temple.
The other objection I hear often about Burning Man is that amazing, talented people spend too much of their time and effort on art projects for the Burn and not for their own community. WELL. While its true that many hours and many dollars go into desert-destined projects designed to explode my head into a thousand smithereens, its also true that the extent and nature in which I carry those moments into my personal every day life are relevant a way that I can barely verbalize. I literally see myself a a big sponge getting all juiced up there and then promptly coming back to squeeze out all the sass that made its way into my heart while my jaw was filling with dust. To me it represents an epicentre of what is possible, and that is so so SO empowering to me. I'm a witness to MANY off-shoots that propel Burner-type behaviour and projects in the real world – they absolutely do exist. The same is true of Bass Coast! It may only be once a year that we all gather together, but the idea is that those ripples cover the rest of the year, and hopefully reach out even further through all the people who are there to bear witness.

Speaking of Bass Coast - one of the ways this year's “Mutiny” theme resonated in me is around the rebellion against the limiting ideas we've been faced with about what's involved in making art a focus in your life. Like, for example, the myth that you either “make it” as an artist and achieve fortune and fame... but that if that doesn't happen, you can expect a life of poverty. Why so black and white? Maybe in a pre-internet world when the mass-media held locks and keys to the masses... but that's not the way the world is anymore. What about the idea that “fortune” comes in many forms? What about the idea that “fame” is relative? When you deconstruct “fame” or “celebrity” and remember that its only recently in history that its been highlighted and revered and played-up in and of itself ... in the meantime, being revered for your work is just as useful on a smaller scale as it is on a larger one. What about all the beautiful places in-between? I think having opportunities like Bass Coast makes it possible to share in real time with your community. Between the internet and small festivals or events, you no longer have you to appeal to the mass-capitalist gatekeepers to build a momentum. You can figure out how to make it a part of how you earn your living, or don't.. whatever works for your life. But for the love of sass, don't subscribe to the idea that it's all or nothing. That's just not true anymore.

I think that a lot of the struggles artists go through have less to do with being an artist and a lot more to do with simply being a human going through the process of figuring out how to manifest what they need or want in life. I think a LOT of people struggle with that, myself and a lot of my friends included, but, uh... so do a lot of people who DON'T self-identify as artists. I would argue that a regular creative practice might even actually alleviate the struggle of that somewhat as people who don't may in fact feel even less fulfilled because they don't have some form of creative practice as part of their lives. I believe that events like Bass Coast are the portal for showing people opportunities for self-expression that are plausible, accessible and relatable. You can interact and be inspired. You can witness the growth and shifts. Suddenly valuable pathways to opportunity and community OUTSIDE of the festival appear. As Andrea Graham & I once said after a New Year's party last year, the most important parts of an event are what happens afterwards. It what's created afterwards, the connections and the work and the ripples and hopefully bringing more of what the events bring out in people – joy.

One of the reasons Deck3 came together as an alliance for dance and performance enthusiasts is because we kept noticing all these people attracted to festival dance-floors who looked like they LOVED DANCING A LOT. Like, a lot a lot. It seemed that they had or could have a much deeper connection to dance than a casual party here and there could honour. Upon further investigation, we discovered that a lot of these people had passionately loved dance or gymnastic practice as children and teens, but then had just ... stopped. Why? A common experience was that at early adulthood, most were given a choice to go for a full-time career, or to leave their practice behind all together. Whyyyyy? Why does it have to be all or nothing? Why not incorporate that element back into your life, and not necessarily just on a dance floor at a party?

bass coast mutiny mainstage, designed by liz thompson
photo: metamorphograph
liz & i, post-burn
I've always loved the burlesque movement because it gives people the opportunity to explore performance and its associated arts without having to give up the rest of their LIVES, for eff's sake. I mean, as in all art forms, there are obviously people who want to take it to that level (with Sweet Soul, for example, we strive to set a high professional standard), but that doesn't mean there isn't room for everyone at some level, where-ever they are at. The movement is equally about inviting every day people into new world self-exploration and expression as it is about re-programming ideas around sexuality. I really love seeing the first school of thought there carry over. Seeing it in some of the new NON striptease dance-crews that are popping up like Subscura & the Light Twerkerz... I really value working with these groups who are self-organizing and spending their energy and focus on something they love. Their passion is very renewing and inspiring to those of us who have been working at it for awhile.

me as "captain hooker" - bass coast mutiny performance
photo: alliecat photography

final bow for sweet soul's show at bass coast w/ subscura, tawni krystal, leiah luz & rori satya
photo: glenn mclelland

When I was onstage at Bass Coast, I said that it was time for the entertainment industry to change, especially when it comes to women working together.... and I didn't mean working together in isolation or separately from men. What I meant is that its time to see more women working together IN GENERAL because it helps eliminate the following belief systems: 1) that opportunities for women in our industry are scarce; 2) that we have compete with each other in to get said opportunities because they are so scarce; and 3) that we all have to agree 100% of the time about everything in order to co-operate or collaborate creatively. NOPE. Those limitations exists only so long as we believe they do. The more we tap into the power of DIY, and the more we empower one another to be creative, create our own opportunities, cooperate, share our work and take advantage of our various strengths and differences, the less we play into those unhelpful belief systems, and the less they continue to exist.

To this effect: I will say personally I'm not a huge fan of projects that highlight the idea that opportunities for women in our industry are still scarce. While I do very much appreciate the intention behind some of those projects, I personally believe that at this point the most effective way to affect further change is to move forward as tho things are already the way we'd like them to be. To me, this is not denial, nor lack of consciousness. It's action, and progress. 

Regardless. Whether you identify as male, female or anything in between, I think what a good festival experience humbly suggests is: RECONNECT. Go back to a class. Buy some paint; make something. Clear our your living room once and awhile and dance to your favourite new mix. Make a costume. Try this, try that. Get a dance-crew together, or join one, if you want. Do it for the fest, and then incorporate it into your daily life. You don't HAVE to be a full-time dancer, painter, sculpter --- or a teenager -- to delve in deeper and enjoy the benefits of self-expression, physical exercise, community or just straight up fun this offers. You can make your relationship with it your own, and delve in just as deeply as is comfortable for you.  

Here's some fun dance related links.. but I guarantee that no matter what you're looking for, dance or not, there's a crew of rad peeps doing it. Or start something up dammit. 

UMMKAYYY. I'mma now go get ready to do what I do best, aka rap topless to some ish while the bestest stripteasers ever make jabs at the status quo and show off their wonderful backsides. Keefer Bar, tonight, 135 Keefer in Vancouver. It's a thing. 

Still glowy from the burn.. golden rays. :) 
All my love.. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


... having Adventures in Sass at Burning Man. Details and stories thereafter!!

<3 nbsp="" p="">

Thursday, August 7, 2014


SOoooooo Sweet Soul Burlesque is safely back in Vancouver and all ready to hop back up onstage at The Keefer Bar tonight (come!!) but I wanted to say that performing at Bass CoastMusic Festival this year was absolutely, without a doubt, one of the fave shows I've performed ever. Werkin' that unbelievable stage with the grrlz was something I'll remember for the rest of my life. Extra thanks to Darrell Stables, PJ of PK Sound, Brenda Holmes, DJ K-Tel, Liz Thompson, Andor Tari & team for making us look and sound frickin' amazing. 

Here's an idea of what we were working with as far as the stage, which was a full sinking pirate ship and a giant curl of wood built to look like a wave (this is from stage left):

Here is a great blog by Some Kind of  Music Blog with some amazing pics and a good sense of the environment:

Annnnd... here is a moment of me as “Captain Hooker”:

And the very first album of pics uploaded of our set vt Shazam Mac:

So much more to say about all of this, and looking forward to getting in a FULL review this weekend as I relax on the coast with my little raccoon Tristan Risk.  In the meantime you can download a copy of most of the songs I performed here:

Neverending gratefulz from my sparkly eyes & bum. <3 nbsp="" p="">


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Twerkshopz in the Bubble Realm !! PLUS CP's Totally Unsolicited Thoughts on Dance Floor Etiquette

(postin' early since my week is cray cray town...)

So whateves,  I know I just updated my Crystal Precious First Timer's Guide to Festival Raving and I don't want to get all carried away here and act like I totally think I know everything about everything ever, BUT... ummm...  I have fucking opinions. OH LOOK, MY BLOG. I can haz put them here?? OH WAIT, that's what it's FOR??! Purrrrfect. Heh heh. Heh

Bass Coast is coming up sooooooo soon (so soon!! THIS WEEKEND SOON!!! SPARKLING) soooo I just wanted to have a minute to talk about my most favorite places on planet earth: dance floors. Where I do all the dancing. Because it is so awesome, like, for your SOUUUUULL (deep echo-ey serious voice). Literally dancing has been a main part of my life since I first figured out how to do it with my tiny toddler feet, so you can imagine how much it means to me to have safe rad supportive places to do that in front of rad speaker systems to rad music. AND GUESS WHAT?? I keep finding new pockets of people who ALSO LOVE THESE THINGS. Extra super convenient!!! CHECK IT:

Here are some shots of the Dance Hall twerkshop we talk about in the vid. UM, RADNESS. 

And here's me below at the workshop last week (that's me in all black in the back row)! SO FUN!! There is another one TONIGHT in East Vancouver at 7:30pm, hit the Light Twerkerz page & message them for more info, and stay tuned for more twerkshopz coming soon! 

In the meantime, I figured I'm put in my ten cents worth of general thoughts on the topic of being a part of a ridiculously awesome dance floor. I LOVE DANCE FLOORS, and I wanna protect them, like the rain forest or the honey beez. I feel, for the love of booty, that we must keep them SAFE. 

Crystal Precious' Totally Unsolicited Thoughts on Dance Floor Etiquette.  By Crystal Precious. 

1. KNOW YOU ARE ENTERING THE BUBBLE REALM. It is my belief that whenever you step onto a dance floor, you are essentially adding yourself to a tiny eco-system made up of dozens and dozens of different personal-space bubbles. By entering this bubble realm, you are basically affirming that you are “with it” / conscious / physically aware enough to respectfully co-exist harmoniously within it. Your own bubble glides easily around the other bubbles while they all float happily in their own merry way to the dope music. So if you are really really, REALLY clumsily drunk or feel the need to spastically fling yourself about, do not enter this realm. DO NOT BE A BUBBLE POPPER. 

Now, because one of the most annoying parts of not being aware is uh, well, being unaware of your un-aware-ed-ness, hopefully you have friends that will tell you when you are unintentionally bubble-popping. If they do that, lemme tell ya something: LISTEN.  :) 

2. DON'T TAKE OTHER PEOPLE'S BUBBLES PERSONALLY. Some people's bubbles are bigger than others'. If you start dancing next to someone and you notice them stepping back, TAKE a CUE and give them the space they need. 

To be honest, I kinda feel that the SAME GOES for HUGS, and not just on dance floors. Especially at festivals. People are EVERYWHERE and sweaty and fucked up and intense, and sometimes the idea of continuously hugging everyone can get overwhelming, especially if drugs are involved on either side. SO DON'T TAKE IT PERSONALLY if someone doesn't go in for a hug, or if they step back when you go in for one.  Just give 'em a high-five or whatever instead, all good.  And most certainly, DO NOT insist that they hug you or “give you a kiss”. That reeks of awkwardness and straight-up, isn't really that empowering. Remember, not getting hugged is not necessarily a statement as to whether or not that person likes you. It's just about where they are in that moment. 

3. REMEMBER THAT THE DANCE FLOOR IS THE VIBE. You're not just adding to it.. you ARE it. So, if I may be so bold as to suggest... DANCE. :) Awesome energetic dance floors = awesome vibes. Personally I would avoid doing things like, oh, say standing DIRECTLY in front of the DJ booth scream-talking to your friend for an extended period of time about something unrelated while everyone else is trying to get down. As you probably guessed, this has happened to me a few times, once at a groovy chill deep bass night. Literally two girls were yelling at each other over the music about some drama at her dayjob for like 10 minutes, screaming directly in front DJ's set-up as though the rest of us weren't even there. Someone finally politely pointed out to them nicely that perhaps they could do that over on the sidelines. I agreed, because..

4. TRY TO RESPECT WHEN PEOPLE ARE IN their DANCE “ZONES".  When someone comes up and tries to start a full-on conversation with me while I'm obviously deep in a blissed out zone of dancing, I'll be honest... it always confuses the fuck out of me. To me its akin to waking someone up from a beautiful dream or like, taking away the delicious Yolk's they just waited in line for. No sense making. There's tons of great places are to have a catch-up chat: the sidelines, further back on the dance floor (like where people are more just standing / nodding / hanging out), the chill-out spaces, or at the bar / camp, or even the bathroom line-up (personally I feel the bathroom line-up catch-ups are totally rad way to sweeten a wait) or like 10 000 other places. You know where ISN'T maybe? Right in the very front of a giant 100 000 watt sound system. Just sayin'. 

Honestly, some of the best bonding moments I've ever had have come from a short embrace, the FEW words exchanged, or even just that shared look or nod on the dance floor... you know, that confirmed understanding between two people that everything is FUCKING AWESOME at that moment. Full-on conversation mode right in front of the speakers? Not so much. No offense, but I can't really hear you anyway. Even if I'm nodding and smiling, I probably have no idea what you said.

5. TEXT LATER, DAMN YOU. If you suddenly stop in the middle of a raging dance floor to tuck your head down text, you are effectively mentally taking yourself out of what is happening around you. I'm just gonna come out with my personal bias here: I personally find it confusing to see people not being fully present at these thoughtfully produced events into which they themselves put a bunch of money of energy into attending. Why? Seriously. May I humbly suggest that you fully immerse yourself and enjoy your dancefloor moments! Wait til you need to take a break, step to the sidelines, drink water, reply to your text or tweet your update. Cuz honey, they can wait. Trust me. I realize it's the future, but you are still in charge of your raving life. And rave hard you must.

6. CIGARETTES ON DANCEFLOORS ARE DEEPLY UNPOPULAR. Sawwwry 'bout it, but this is what I've generally found. Personally, I love the occasional smoke when I'm partying... but – and you know this --- people who hate cigarette smoke really fucking hate it. It infects their bubbles, and bubble respect must be maintained I feel. SO I hang back or on the side-lines if I want to have a smoke, not where people are really getting down. Also, not goin' lie, I will never forgive the girl who flailed her LIT cigarette into my de-collatage while she was dancing and not only burnt my dress, but my precious, precious cleavage. And then I couldn't find it because it had like, fallen into my outfit and burnt two other places trying to find it. HELL to the NNNAWW. :( The good news is that it seems like vapes and joints are still ok as long as there is a certain amount of conscious-ness administered when using them. I think it may have to do with the fact that everyone is being more mindful about where the joint is, cuz they wanna smoke some. :)

7. DON'T TOUCH.  Might seem obvious, but I'm always surprised how many people think its ok to reach out and touch my fringey bra or my corset or whatever on the dance floor. Nope. With the exception for the hand-on-shoulder / hand-on-elbow "excuse me" or “hey, I need to get your attention for some reason”, there is never a reason for you to touch someone or their costumes, ever, unless you get their permission, no matter what they are wearing, or the way they are dancing. Usually people will make it very very clear if they want to dance with you.. and if not, I would almost always assume that they are going back to doing their own thing in their own bubble.

8. MIND YOUR WINGS and BACKPACKS, ummkayyy. I always wince when I see the cute grrl in in the faery outfit with the GIANT wings accidentally poke out the eye of the equally cute dude she hasn't even had a chance to meet yet. If you are a faery and want to wear your wings on the outside come festy time, might I suggest buying a pair of dancefloor-friendly ones (Kelsey Faery makes some, I have a pair in white. Key piece.]). But for real, sharp points and blinding lights and heavy backpacks and water bottles in the middle of the floor that roll around... eff. Just keep your shit in your bubble, raver. :)

9. IF SOMEONE IS BEING INAPPROPRIATE and DOESN'T RESPOND to boundaries, FOR THE LOVE OF EFF, TELL SECURITY. You are not making a scene. You are simply impeding unpleasantness from continuing, Bubble Protector.  One of the things that always made me really upset at [our old venue] Dollhouse is hearing AFTER the fact if someone was being uncool or harassing people on the dance floor. So frustrating, because one report early on usually nips that shit in the bud. There is almost always security overlooking different parts of the dance floor and they are LITERALLY being paid to deal with shit like that. Saying something doesn't have to be a big deal... like you can just saddle up and be like, “hey, uh, so-and-so is super wasted, kinda borderline inappro at the mo... maybe keep an eye out”, or “hey, so just wanting to mention that that random dude rubbed up on me without permission, who is that dude? Will you keep an eye on him?" Usually security will just go warn them very discreetly and in my experience, most people will stop any behaviour instantly the moment they know security is on them. So for the sake of EVERYONE, please please please say just say something. 

10. PARTICIPATE! DANCE. Don't be AFRAID to BE THE FIRST crew on the floor if that's what it takes. Honestly there is wayyyy too much too-cool-for-schoolness that happens, I think, and not enough taking advantage of what dancin' can do for you. It's soooo great at loosening up and letting go of all the old crap in your system you don't need any more. You know the expression "shake it off"? Yah. Cuz that's why. :) Also it just getz blood pumpin and energy flowin and all that hot ass flush in your FACE that I love so much. ;) Iz hotness. Make it happen. 

You'll see my ass werrrrrrkin' at Bass Coast for sure... really pumped to bring my grrl Melody Mangler for her VERY FIRST outdoor festical experience! We're performing at 10pm on Saturday at Main Stage, and AS ALWAYS at Keefer Bar this coming Thursday. We have a special twerker for ya this week, Miss Villainy Loveless... last week she actually cartwheeled up onto the wall in a handstand twerk in the full-on floor length window in Chinatown. UN- MISSABLE. Make the right choice my friends. Come see us off. :) 

I luz ya alll. Can't wait to DANCE. DANCE. DANCE. 


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Notorious Vancouver Interview & "Burlesq" by Michael Fraser (Neighbour Remix)

Heyyyyyy!!! SO I'm in the midst of cray cray costume show preppin' (tonight at Keefer is gonna be a hawwwwwt one!) and I really wanted to share this interview my bestie Tristan Risk did with me for her Notorious Vancouver blog back in April, before the release of "Queen of Sass". She is killin' it, filming the feature Save Yourself in Toronto at the moment and I miss her lots. :)  

 Debuting a brand new hip hop track AND I'mma do the OG gypsy version tonight of "Burlesq" as released by Michael Fraser earlier this year on his Gypsitech EP, for which I guest-vocal'd. 

Here is the Neighbour remix of the track to listen while readinnnnng: 

Huge kisses!! And I have a special surprise early blog for ya next week... vid-styles. :D


Notorious Vancouver: Crystal Precious

It’s been awhile since I posted a Notorious Vancouver interview here. Not because I’m protecting the underground from getting splashed by the mainstream, but more because of a backlog of awesome things occurring and distracting me from bringing the readers of this blog the grease on some of the cool, forward thinking iconoclasts in my beloved home city. So this interview features a dear friend of mine, my gateway drug into the electronic west coast music scene, who literally talked me out of the car and lured me to a outdoor rainforest rave with a bottle of whiskey (true story) and is one talented lady. She is Crystal Precious, strip-hop artists, burlesque icon, 3rd wave feministisa, and sass injector. She is a founding member of our burlesque troupe, Sweet Soul Burlesque, and the weekly femme-cee at the Keefer bar’s Sweet Sip Thursday. With the world waiting for her full length album release since her music for her single ‘Apple Pie’ hit last year, I wanted to give the world some insight into this chimera of a woman…
Queen Of Sass, Read for Bass Coast 2014
Queen Of Sass, Read for Bass Coast 2014
1. You’re originally from Winnipeg. What do you think influenced you as an artist growing up there?
 Well, that’s actually only half-true. Winnipeg I consider my home town, because that’s where my family moved when I was ten. Kinda right as I fell into consciousness, you know? Right before puberty. So that’s where I consider my main upbringing. But ORIGINALLY I’m a BC girl. My two sisters and I were both born in Smithers. My mom was a morning radio personality and drama schoolteacher, and my dad was an environmentalist. That place and time of my life all seems extremely dream-like now, but I think being a little kid heavily immersed in nature – fishing in the Bulkley, hiking Hudson bay, had just as much influence on me as the extremely non-outdoor-sy culture of Winnipeg. My number one influence is everything magic, and nature is magic in its purest form right? Straight-up. So that was my start.
 I think I get my warmth from Winnipeg, cuz you learn to get warm there in all kinds of ways. Winnipeggers are such gracious hosts, and kind, open people I think. Made for the best house parties I’ve ever witnessed or experienced since; those old radiator-heated mahogany moulding houses and tiny wooden hallways held lots of good-times vibes I think. Looking in either direction down the tunnels of giant elm trees in a back lane kind of reminded me of that scene in the Labyrinth, you know, at the beginning where she sees the same thing infinitely left and right, and the little worm tells her to look more closely. Then she finds she’s actually standing right in front of an opening. Winnipeg was really like that. You had to hunt, look closely and really learn to look at things differently to find all the juicy scenes there. Keep your ear glued to the ground, your eyes open for clues. Also I think I was just really trained to be more open to the beauty in a city manages to keep a thriving art scene in a challenging economical climate, and, um, just a challenging climate, and not much really, to work with. I really grew up respecting and appreciate the less “refined” places where art still lives, and where it really needs to live, I think. The warehouses. The roller-rinks. The pool halls. The community centres (like for Festival de Voyageur, or the West End, for example). Even the mall, for eff’s sake — that’s where Prairie Theatre Exchange was, in Portage Place, where I was in the Young Company for several years. All of that had a profound effect on me, I think, as far as community building and promoting. And it had a lot to do my path as a low-brow artist with high-brow ideas. :)
 2. You’ve worked very hard along with a number of other souls to help promote the Bass Coast Music Festival. What are some of your observations on the growth of the West Coast underground/electronica/burlesque scene and the elements that tie them together?
 Well to me Bass Coast is a crucial because to me it represents a platform and a space for the more subversive corners of West Coast electronic / conscious arts communities to keep growing. If you go back a bit, I think we’ve all been in tandem for awhile (in terms of the burlesque revival and the electronic music community) in the sense that we were kind of a newer generation of our respective movements. We were discovering and coming up with all these modern takes on them. Like when I first met Max [Ulis] and some of the other Lighta! crew peepz in 2006, they were kinda doing what we had been doing — shows in basements and community centres or warehouses, basically anywhere that would let us do our thing, cuz you know, at the time, dubstep (or what used to be called dubstep) was VERY fresh and kinda weird. A lot of time, both our kinds of events were still generally scrutinized by the folks over at C of V. “Rave” was still a really bad word after all the city crack downs, and “burlesque” was still heavily stigmatized and misunderstood. Nightclubs were certainly still way out of the question at that point, as far as getting in to have decent nights or spots, and honestly the crowds the nightclubs attracted at the time weren’t really a good fit anyway. What we really needed were more spaces where we could do our thing and at the same time foster good, safe vibes around the shows.
 When we [Sweet Soul] built Dollhouse, basically out of a retail storage warehouse, we largely based the business model off of Open Studios, where New Forms was starting to throw all the crazy dubforms parties and introducing all these new kinds of bass music. So we were still kind of mirroring each other as far as creating spaces where we could attract like-minded people and do our new weirdo thing; with us that meant doing neo-burlesque cabarets and over-the-top costume parties. Sweet Soul always had DJS at our late night events and crossed over a bit that way, so it wasn’t long before deeper pockets of the electronic scene started appearing at our door and asking to do events. We were super open to, so long as long as it jived with our wild burlesque grrl vibes and we were into the music, which we were. So suddenly all these crews start coming up and connecting with each other through the spaces, like SHAHdjs and Perception, and Moo Crew and the Joyscouts and the GhettoFunk guys, and Integrated Grime Unit, and LWSD, and the HomeBreakin’ dudes when some of them starting moving here from Calgary.

Me sittin' pon Michael Red's old system at Dollhouse, circa 2009. Mural painted by Phresha

At some point all our shit had started to catch on, and we grew into ourselves... like, fast forward a bit and the Lighta guys were hosting headliners like Skream at Richards on Richards, the Burlesque Fest was about to move to the Vogue, and meanwhile, huge electronic festivals like Shambhala were starting to sell out for the first time ever. By the time Dollhouse finally got shut down in 2010 the community had grown so much and the cross-over was so fluid that everyone needed a new direction, I think. That was the year that I first approached Andrea and Liz (and Andrea H at the time) about promoting for BassCoast. We had done a few events together at that point, and Sweet Soul had also performed at their first installment. I was pretty confident in my observation that what they were doing was essentially giving our community (along with other branches of the coast) a new space to evolve, strengthen and reach out. Didn’t hurt either that they are badass chicks with really similar politics and ethics around lots of shit I’m pretty particular about. I strongly intuited that their platform was the best place to direct any promotional pull I might still have had that came out of the Dollhouse community at that time. So that’s what I did. :) And I’m still doing it.
 Bass Coast just aligns with everything Sweet Soul is about: the neo-shit, the future-vibes, edgier, more subversive corners while still paying homage to the root of our respective art forms. And the burlesque vibe of smart, sassy, artistic, powerful, sexually-liberated women is everywhere. There’s a reason they call it Babecoast. I mean, their logo is a hot babe riding a unicorn with a chainsaw!!! PUHLAYYYSE. And the biggest thing is that it FEELS SAFE for us to be who we are; to just enjoy ourselves in all our crazy glory and to be accepted, not judged or harassed or shamed or antagonized. The opposite, even. Last year, for example, seeing the dance-hall booty-liberation workshop to Tank Grrl & Mandai Djing was one of my favourite moments ever. Like, OF LIFE, though. :)
 3. Performing as a burlesque and strip hop artist, you’ve experienced criticism from other women about being ‘degraded’ and ‘exploited’ in your choices of art forms. How do you deal with these attacks, and what is your advice to other female artists who experience this?
 I think the first thing I do is remember to admit that the skepticism is totally understandable and that usually its just misplaced. Pop-culture is rife with totally annoying exploitative and degrading sexual imagery, especially in the music industry, so it’s not really the biggest surprise ever that I get some eye-rolls when I jump onstage and start taking my clothes off. Like, haven’t we had enough naked women in hiphop? I get it. And then we have the industry insulting us even more by throwing around buzzwords like “empowerment” by featuring female hip-hop singers being “sexy” in a way that either seems super contrived, or consistent with irritating, transparently capitalist agendas. And lot of times they are still clearly deliberately conforming to supernatural beauty ideals and behaviour that is obviously contingent to male-validation. Yeah. You know what? I get it. That shit pisses me off too. I actually feel like the work I’m doing is coming at it from the completely opposite direction, so that kind of misplaced anger doesn’t bother me. Once people actually see me or my troupe do our thing, they usually get it.
 Also, I try to remember that not everyone is as sexually-charged as I am. Stripping and sex for me is not a put-on. It’s just me. My intensely sexual nature is an immense source of creative power for me, and its not something I even try to hide, or cover up. I just can’t even. I mean, the first time I took my top off, I was literally, like, YUP!! It makes sense why women who are perhaps less into sex would be wary of my choice to do burlesque striptease as part of my work, especially when so many women in the entertainment industry are unnecessarily painted in sex and then glorified to sell products. I think a LOT of women probably feel "pushed" to be more sexual than they actually are because of that.  So I get that too. They just have to remember that everyone is different. Some of us are super sexual, some of us are less so. Both are totally equally fine, and just because they wouldn’t do what I’m doing doesn’t mean it’s not genuine or self-directed. As such, it’s not at all degrading for me. It’s really liberating because its a big part of who I am, and a big part of what my gut tells me I'm here for [spiritually speaking].
 Another thing I try to explain, in that same vein, is that the sexual aspect of my work isn’t about TRYING to appeal to men, or to anyone, really. I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy feeling attractive to men in certain contexts, especially those I’m also attracted to, obviously. I do. I’m at least 67 percent hetero I’d say, give or take depending on the moment. :) But putting on an act to TRY to appeal to “men” in general — which, c’maan, how can we generalize like that? Let’s give men some more credit please — or to anyone really, is not my main motivation in life or in my work.
 Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, I’m not trying to sell you, or anyone, on what I’m doing or saying. When I’m promoting a piece of work, I see it as trying to get it out there to as many people as possible so that it can reach the ones it can be of assistance to. Same as when I promote an event, or a show. I’m not trying to sell people on what I’m doing or tell them they should like me or agree with me. If it resonates with you on some level, awesome. Here’s my record! Have it. (And my choice is to offer it for whatever you can pay, or for free even). If not? No problem — I respect you; to each their own, move along. But I’m coming from a genuine place. I’m not “using” my sexuality to sell you something. I don’t NEED to sell you anything. There are no giant corporations using me to make money. I’m not angling for supreme super stardom, or millions of dollars. I mean, I’m still gonna be open to pretty much anything that comes my way, because I trust that there’s a reason behind it. But by the same token, I’m currently happy as fuck. I love doing my shows, traveling, having a great time with my friends, singing on the beach or in the forest and just creating awesome shit. That’s more than enough for me. So take it — or leave it, if you like. All love. :)
 4. What is your favourite places to make out in Vancouver?
 Hmmm.. I’d have to say the sea wall at twilight, or late night, facing the city. Like Granville island side, near False Creek. The little boardwalks and shadowy trees have all kinds of secret pockets. When the city is all lit up golden glass and you can hear the waves cuz you’re kissing… hot. Sometimes there are pianos there, like randomly people roll out grand-high pianos and play right at shoreside. I’m about as into romance as I am into sex, and that’s a lot. SO yeah. :)
  5. How did you meet your producer, Self Evident, and start collaborating with him to birth awesome song-babies?

Through Dollhouse of course! I actually met his older siblings first, Chloe back when I was a year-fresh burlesque grrl and then Max when he started throwing parties at the space. I’d known Ben for awhile before we started collaborating and always loved what he was doing, sound-wise. Had such a sensibility and a style, pushing ever so slightly into the more challenging stuff while still keeping everyone in. We just got each other, I think, on a personal level, as well. Around 2010 I think, he had sent my roommate at the time, Shamik, a bunch of instrumentals. At that point I was really just dabbling in rapping and singing again.. I hadn’t done much of it since leaving Winnipeg [where I had a band]. But I was starting to be open more and more to the idea of incorporating it into my burlesque acts, largely due to encouragement from the grrlz. Shamik had heard a few of the things I had been foolin’ around with and was also super encouraging, which I’m eternally grateful for. Considering that he had some pretty serious music chops, I was like, oh hey. Maybe this could work. He was like, “here, check out some of these tracks” and what would later turn into Apple Pie was one of them. When I rapped it to Ben for the first time, he was like, “Uhhhh.. wha??!!” Then he uncovered all these pop tunes he’d been secretly writing and storing up. The rest just flowed pretty seamlessly. Can’t express how grateful I am for him.. this record was his first time mixing and mastering with vocal tracks as well. I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out, considering it’s my first record ever and his first pop-music production project.

 6. What are some things to watch out for from Crystal Precious in the coming year?
 Welllllll we’re going to launch our KickStarter in the fall to fundraise for our next video with Apple Pie director Stuart MacKay Smith, which is AWESOME & super exciting. I love working with Stuart, he’s like my other creative soulmate. Doing the Apple Pie vid was literally one of the best days of my life, and there’s just a thick magic around my relationship with him. I’ll never forget the day we discovered that he actually got to meet of my greatest burlesque inspirations, Tura Santana. He just gets us, and what I’m all about. Plus he’s just the raddest, coolest, most talented dude EVERRR. I adore him. The next video is going to be shot outside, with more of the different Vancouver troupes and a grittier aesthetic. We’re taking a lot of inspiration from the 1979 film “The Warriors”. It’s gonna be hilariously bad-ass.
 I’ve also a single with three remixes slotted for release along with that video; am also deep into a bunch of new tracks with Ben that I’ll be performing at The Keefer Bar on Thursdays all summer with Sweet Soul. The grrlz & I are putting a ton of love into our Bass Coast show and our touring show, which I’m really pumped about getting on the road for some longer stints, most likely starting January of next year. Would also love to plant seeds for video collabs with some other folks I admire as well (*cough *cough Soska Twins) and I’m hoping that now we have a more solid frame of work to build from we can find someone to help us get into the grant game. So you know. One or two things. Aside from that? I need beach days, and family, and lovers, and swimming, and dancing, and playing dress-up just for the hell of it. Maybe with a raccoon. Know any? :)

(our nickname for Tris is based on her spirit animal - the raccoon!)
huge love everybody!! see you in the next week's vid! xoxo CP