Friday, September 25, 2015

Why I don't twerk...

I can’t, bottom line. Try as I might, my booty don’t do what dat booty do. I’m not OK with it, but I live with it. Because in a lot of ways, I believe my inability to twerk has helped to boost my burlesque career. It’s ridiculous to think this way, but in my heart, it’s the truth.

It seems that twerking and booty popping are all the rage in the current burlesque scene. It has been quite some time since I have performed in or attended a show that didn’t have at least one woman doing “ass tricks” on the stage. And that's great! Ass tricks are amazing! I love them, and so does the audience. And coming from the New York Burlesque scene, which is pretty diverse in comparison to other cities, I was never at a lack of seeing performers of different body types and skin colors, all shaking their ass in reckless abandon. There is literally a show for everybody. And if not, New York Performers are not afraid to create their own show.

Over the last year, I have been on extreme Traveling Showgirl status. And the more I travel, the more I learn how  “diverse” the New York scene actually is. It feels crazy to say that when most of the popular shows in NY still tend to book a predominantly white cast, but there are a plethora of shows in NY that are working against this and a few revues that showcase and all black cast. And while the sheer amount of white performers still make of the majority of Burlesque performers in NY, there are still quite a bit of performers of color who take the stage on a regular basis.

Across the country is another story. There has been several times in my travels where I have been, not only the token black person in the show, but I have been the only black person in the room. I find myself asking… why the hell am I in here? Why book me? And then I realized something… I can’t twerk.

I may be jumping to some conclusions here, but when I look at the top performers of color in the game, none of them twerk. Why not? Unlike me… most of these women can twerk with the best of them, but perhaps made the choice not to in order to push their careers forward. Why would this push their careers forward, you ask? Because twerking in their acts kept them from being booked by white producers. And while thankfully there are more and more performers of color making their way into the burlesque community with every student showcase, it is still rare to see them represented on the “Big Stage.”

OK… So what’s the problem? It would seem like twerking was simply not common in burlesque at all, right? Wrong!!! Please refer back to earlier in this post when I stated that it’s been a while since performed in or attended a show that didn’t have at least one woman doing “ass tricks” on the stage. So who’s doing all of this twerking if not the black bodies that created the movement in the first place? Our white sisters are. Yep!!! Can’t see a show without a while girl twerking… whether she can or not.

The Famous “One Percent Twerks” video that went viral a couple years back seemed to open up the floodgates for white women doing booty isolation on stage and calling it twerking. Don't get me wrong, that act was amazing and the video went viral because it was clever. But I don't think it would have gotten so popular if it were a black booty under those coat tails. And since then, more and more pretty white lady performers have jumped on the booty trick bandwagon. Yes, some were doing it before that video went viral, and they have been doing it well… but now… IT IS EVERYWHERE!!!

Lately, more and more artist of color have been speaking up. It super important that our white sisters and producers alike start to hear the call. This is about being bold. It’s about taking a stand against this basic way of thinking and starting to create something new… something better. White women have dominated the burlesque stages for years, not twerking. So if you are not one of those people who are truly blessed with the gift of twerk, please move on and find the thing that works for you. And if you are a producer that desperately wants twerking in your show, then consider booking a woman of color, or two who have been doing it since they were kids so that their culture is acknowledged and represented with respect. Clearly that disqualifies me from said gigs, but I’m OK with that. I’d be even more OK with seeing these same women get the recognition they deserve by actually being booked more on the “Big Stages” of the burlesque world.

I have been very lucky in the way that I have been embraced by the burlesque community. I understand that there is a privilege that comes with being a light skinned woman of color doing some super classic shit. I realize that it’s easy to book me in shows and festivals because I am generally easily accepted by white audience members. With this privilege, I want to use it as a platform to speak up about the things I see that are unfair. I want my contribution to the burlesque community to be one that helps make black bodies on the stage a norm in the contemporary burlesque world. I want to see more black queens. I want see, perform in, and create shows that are truly diverse.

Someday I will get there. I will find the right team of people to start producing the shows of my dreams. With my first attempt at producing, I realized that I still had so much to learn. Without guidance and real know-how, I found producing to be incredible stressful. And at the end of the day, when I took a step back to look at what I had created, I was disgusted. It was clear that I had only added to the problem. Deciding to work as the kitten for my show in order to stage manage, I did not feel the need to perform in the show as I wanted each slot to be given to someone else. And while I loved all of the performer who I booked for my show, at the end of the day, I had booked an all white show with the only black person (me) acting as the kitten. I’m not sure what message the audience left with that night, but the idea that I added to the problem was enough for me to step back from producing until I can get a clue. I still don't know enough. I’m still not ready. And that’s OK.

For over a year now, I have the amazing opportunity to work with a group of talented artist of color who travel around the United States, putting on variety shows for audiences of 500+ on average. The group is made up of poets, singers, educators, comedians, and burlesque dancers, all working together to create the erotic experience known as The Sweet Spot. We currently travel to 36 different cities quarterly and are reaching an audience that I have never seen in the current burlesque scene. The audience is extremely diverse, made of up predominantly black people, with the queer community alive and kicking and our white audience members feeling right at home. It is beautiful to see so many people coming out to see an all black cast and supporting us. It is not uncommon for these shows to sell out.

When I first started working with them, I was afraid that my style would not work for them. Based on what I saw, most of their burlesque dancers were gifted in the language of twerk. I thought I’d get laughed off the stage. But after time, I learned that, not only was my style accepted, but that the team members and the audience loved what I was bringing to the stage. It feels so good to know that, despite my inability to make my booty pop, my love for the audience and performing shined through. I’m saying this, not to toot my own horn, but to make my earlier point. Twerking in burlesque is not a prerequisite. If you are not gifted in the language, it is time to find out what you ARE good at and bring THAT to the stage. The audience is craving to see your best self. Give it to them. Don’t give them some basic version of Someone Else's Act. You are better than that. Burlesque is better than that, and our audiences deserve better than that.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Entitled is a 4 letter word...

A few weeks ago, I wrote something that I was not quite ready to put out into the world. I'm not sure why I was not ready because the post was not controversial. But since I've been trying to embrace a more honest appproach to life, I'll admit I was afraid that putting it out there would come with some repercussions. Now that some time has passed and Mercury is no longer in retrograde, I am no longer feeling the sting that inspired the piece in the first place. It got to the point where I considered not posting it at all. However, after re-reading it, I still feel like the words are 100% valid in the Burlesque Community. So here it is now...

Entitled is a 4 letter word.

As I sit here on the tiny little ass plane, flying from NYC to St. Louis for the Show Me Burlesque festival, I have to admit that my focus has been elsewhere. It's unfortunate, but the last few days have been filled with emotional ups and downs. And with the return of Mercury’s retrograde, it seems like there has been a breakdown in communication like never before. Spending the last few days in a rut, with hurt feelings and no real outlet for my frustrations, has proven to be the worst type of distraction. I have found myself thinking a lot about my voice and what rights I have as a performer to speak my mind when I feel like I have been wronged. Most of it had led me to one conclusion, that I have no choice but to keep my mouth closed because I don't want to be labeled as a complainer, a diva, or even worse…Entitled.

That’s a term that has been thrown around a lot in the burlesque community lately. I am guilty of using it too. It seems to be most prevalent with new performers, feeling like they have the right to be booked in a show simply because the have an act and put a few rhinestones on a costume. But it does not end there. I’ve even heard entitled being used as a bad word to describe established performers. But what does that even mean? Is there a difference between someone feeling entitled vs someone who feels like they have worked extremely hard, just to have been overlooked for a promotion? I think so. But it seems like people are so worried about being labeled as entitled that they become afraid to speak up when being treated unfairly.

This post is not to call anyone out and is not about any group in particular. As someone who has been lucky enough to work with many groups/ troops/ families and communities, this is something that I have found happens across the board. I can’t go online without seeing a post from a fellow performer, feeling frustrated about something happening in their community and feeling like they are not being heard. This is something that I am sure each and every performer has felt at one point or another and I am using this post to express my feeling on the matter. I choose to do it here, on my blog, with limited followers, because it's the only place I feel safe to voice my concerns without fear of repercussions. It’s sad to me that, in a community that prides itself on being there for one another, that I feel trapped in the confines of this blog to share my true feeling. And even here, I can’t be as candid as I would like because this is online and you never know who is reading. But I’ve recently found myself in a few situations that I’ve heard countless performers struggle with, so I’m using my small, virtual soap box to talk about it.

So here is the thing… when working in a troop/mob/family type setting with more performers than gigs available, it is natural that a performer hierarchy begins to happen. There will be, for lack of a better phrase... a performer ranking. Based on, what I admit is still a limited understanding, the rankings tend to look a little something like this:

The A list-
Excellent performers who get priority in all bookings.

The B list-
Excellent performers who get booked semi-regularly as well as
offered any last minute gigs that the A list performers are unavailable for.

The C list-
Good performers who get booking every once in a while,
primarily when A list or B list are unavailable.

And D list-
Good performers who rarely get booked…
unless multiple shows are happening in the same night,
or there is a themed show in which the performer fits the criteria
better than A, B, or C list performers.

Notice that everyone on the list are good performers. It’s a prerequisite to even be considered as a performer in these groups. So getting on these list seems to have less to do with pure talent and more to do with how well connected the performer is to the producer. You can be a pretty good performer, but if you happen to be close friends with the producer, it can help boost you up list. On the other hand, you can be the best performer in the world, but if the producer does not like you, then you may never get all the way up the list, if booked at all. This is something that happens a lot, as as a performer, it is essential that you not only are aware of this, but that you come to expect it.

Imagine yourself in this situation. You're a strong performer, have decent costumes that you are constantly upgrading, you are working tirelessly to spit out new acts and develop a range, and you have excellent back stage etiquette. You continue to work very hard and push yourself to grow, year after year. You keep your fingers crossed that when a position eventually opens up in a higher ranking, that you will be considered. Now imagine that, instead of your hard work being recognized, you get over looked for the promotion to make room for a bigger name. Or better yet, the task of booking performer has been delegated to someone else who does not consider booking you to be a priority. Basically, after years of hard work, you find yourself right back where you started, a C list performer, hoping to get the scraps left over by the A and B list. Tell me, are you considered entitled because you are hurt that you were over looked? I don’t think so. But the truth is, it does not matter. No one cares about your feeling. Whether you were overlooked or if you actually are being an entitled diva seem to have the same result. If you complain, you're out.

This, again, is not about any one group. I have a version of this story from many performers in many different scenes, whether is be solo performers trying to get booked more at a particular venue or performers who have recently been kicked out of a troop the were in because of misunderstanding and disagreements. The one common factor that I have heard from all of these performers was that, at the time of the conflict/incident, they felt like their voices were not heard. Why does it have to be this way? Why can’t a person speak out about how they are feeling without worry of repercussion? Isn't a family suppose to be about unconditional love and support even in the hard times? Why is it OK that most performers are so afraid to openly communicate with producers? I think this is something that needs to change.

This is NOT… I repeat, NOT about wanting more gigs. This post is not about entitlement or the idea that, just because you work hard, it means that you should be guaranteed a raise. I understand, that in this community, that may never be something that a person can count on. What this post IS about is having a voice. It’s about a performer feeling heard by their producers when things don't feel right. It’s about not being written off and being told to “Just get over it” “Let is go” or to “Not take it personally.” Guess what? Burlesque is personal. We are all aware that there are only so many gigs. But when your gigs start getting cut to make room for new comers, its personal. When you hear that people have been talking behind your back, trying to sabotage your connections, its personal. When your producer stops booking you because you unknowingly started working with their arch nemesis, its personal. When you feel like these outside forces are affecting you, and that no one is looking out for your best interest, it’s personal. And guess what else? It does not have to be intentional to be personal.

Sometimes shit happens. There will always be communications issues, misunderstanding, hurt feeling, as Mercury will always find itself back in retrograde. However, it would be so wonderful that when these hiccups did happen, the people you work for take your concerns into consideration and actually try to remedy the problem. Telling someone “Oops… we will try to be better about that in the future” does not remedy the problem, nor does it change what is happening in the present. And if the performer feels that certain situations are unfair, it would be great if they did not feel additionally reprimanded for speaking up about it. That is how trust is developed and a true family thrives.

If I have learned anything over the last few days, it is that in order for a person to be labeled “entitled” it has to be in a situations where the performer has not put in the work. But if the performer is dedicated to their art, constantly striving to be better, and generally respects the community as a whole, when they are hurt, it has nothing to do with feeling entitled. Its because they are feeling unheard and overlooked, and that is personal.

Some day I plan to start producing. I understand that this means that I will find myself on the other side of coin. My vow is to be a producer who listens to the concerns of their performers, takes a beat, and tries to offer a solution that makes everyone happy. And as a performer myself, I know that this community is made up of a million parts, all of which need to work in harmony for it to thrive. Producing is not easy. There are so many producers out there doing it right. But I think that everyone can strive to be a little better, everyone can strive to be a little more understanding, including myself. It’s a constant growing process and I look forward to a future growing as a person is everyone’s top priority.

Back to reality...

Due to BHOF brain, similar to pregnancy brain, I was unable to complete the task of writing every day, leading up to my BHOF Debut. I was so mentally distracted with stress hormones and an ever growing to-do list, that it became almost impossible to focus on anything that was not covered in glitter.

I Do plan to write a recap of what happened, long after the buzz has completely faded away... as is my way. My plan is to include multiple photos, reviews of my favorite acts, and any other amazing stories I can think of.  But since I know myself, it is super unlikely that I will ever actually get around to that. So, right now, I just want to leave you with my overall takeaway from the experience.

No I did not win the award for Best Debut, but if I'm being honest, that was never really part of my long term goals. The things I want to achieve are so much greater. These are things that will go down in the record books, and while competing in the 2015 Burlesque Hall of Fame Debut category was an incredible honor and amazing experience, it was a major stepping stone in direction of my goals... not the goal itself. Leading up to the performance, I repeated a mantra to myself. "My goal is to be present and to give everything I have to the audience. This is not about me. It's about all of them." I have to say, I could not have been happier in the moment.

Performing on that stage, in front of all of my peers, as well as 2 out of the 3 Black living legends of Burlesque is something that I could have only dreamed of. I left the stage feeling more clam and more proud of myself than I have felt in an extremely long time. It did not matter that I didn't win the trophy. It did not matter that I did not write daily, and it did not matter that I didn't drop those couple of pounds I planed to do before I took the stage. All that mattered what that I was there and that I had a good fucking time.
 Moments before the end of my act, my good friend 
and amazing photographer, MC Newman snapped this photo. 
I think it says it all.

I felt loved and supported and inspired to go after my dreams. Thank you to everyone who wished me well, who rooted for me, and who actually got me to this point. I love you all. More than you know.

I ask one thing of anyone reading this who loved burlesque, or who just loves me... Please become a member of the Burlesque Hall of Fame. We need the support of everyone in our community. You don't have to fully agree with all of the aspects of the weekender, but please remember that the Burlesque Hall of Fame's main goal is to keep the history of Burlesque alive and to honor all of the legends of burlesque, both living and past. And with the new, much larger location for the museum, every little bit helps.

Monday, May 18, 2015

17 days until BHOF...

I have been writing for the last hour and lost everything. I am fighting the urge to cry over this, especially since the theme of this post was to be on self care. I am using all the tools in my possession not to get frustrated with this whole project and just give up. Feeling like a failure every time I log in. But giving up is not an option. It's true that this has not gone the way I wanted, but at the point where I am feeling my most vulnerable, I have to push through. Yes, I am exhausted and if I don't take a step back, I may fall apart. Now, more than before, Its clear that it's time to shift my focus. The rest of this journey needs to be about protecting myself.

My goals will not be achieved over night. I need to stop waking up every morning hoping to see a different person in the mirror. I want my body to react to all of these changes. And while I'm sure that it is, it's so hard to stay motivated when I am not seeing results. I am trying to refocus my attention to how healthy I am feeling verses how heavy I am feeling.

My body is broken. It has taken a beating and I am trying to heal. I am attempting to add more recovery based workouts into my program. Stretching my muscles, rolling out knots, working my range of motion and focusing on my overall mobility are the only things that will help me to get my body back.
 Self Care
It is totally acceptable to ask for help. Being disappointed that my request for help are being ignored is not useful. While my feeling are hurt, the truth of the matter is that no one else cares about my goals. Not to say that I don't have supporters, I absolutely do, but everyone has their own life. While important to me, its never going to be as important to anyone else. 

I am doing enough. Just because I am not doing everything I planned, it does not mean that I'm not working hard enough. I know that the my goals are hard to reach, I just have to keep reminding myself that I actually deserve the things I am working so hard for. Giving up now will only prove that I am still that B+ person, too scared to reach for the A. But I also have to remember that, at the end of the day, whatever will be, will be. 

 In 3 days I will be getting on a plane to St. Louis for the Show Me Burlesque and Vaudeville festival. I am hoping that I will leave there feeling inspired. I hope I make friends. I hope I have fun. It's going to be a lot of work for me to fight my hermit tendencies and socialize. It's so draining and I barely have anything to offer right now. Hopefully I will be in a better place by the time I land in St. Louis.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

21 days until BHOF...

Current timeline update:

Birthday - 1 day ago
Show Me Burlesque and Vaudeville Festival - 7 days away
Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekender - 21 days away

OK... not much time to work with here, but I am feeling more optimistic today than I have in the recent weeks. I'm not sure if it is a post birthday glow, but things are looking more manageable again. But before I get into that, I want to take a moment and thank each and every person who wished me a happy birthday. With hundreds of Facebook post, multiple calls, emails, text, and IRL moments, I have to say that this was one of the best birthdays I have ever experienced. I got to spend the morning with the love of my life, Alex, opening gifts of vintage wonder, followed by an afternoon of pampering myself. Then I got to perform with my Wasabassco family, in one of my favorite shows, to my new favorite act. If that was not enough, I got to have an encore performance at The Slipper Room, performing along side some of New York's best burlesque artist, including the incomparable Julie Atlas Muz. And to top it all off, I got to partake in, what could only be explained as the most fun moment in my entire life, the naked pie fight. Sharing my birthday with the stunningly beautiful Harvest Moon was the icing on the cake.

I got to see all of my closest New York friends, honored that they came out to celebrate me, see me perform, and tip me their hard earned dollars. It was really the most wonderful day. Finally winding down in the wee hours of the morning, after hours of snacking and laughing with my bestie, Dolly Debutante, and my fiancee, I could only feel like the luckiest woman in the world, to have spent the day surrounded by so much love. Thank you everyone!

Today has been extremely productive. I spent the morning cleaning with the help of Dolly, followed by getting the rest of my household chores done. I even managed to order groceries today. I took some time to do some good for my body by doing the Daily Burn Total Body release video, twice. My body is still all jacked up and in pain, but at least it is feeling more range in mobility. I got a lot of computer stuff done, including making significant updates to the wedding website, and even started researching a band! I plan to spend the rest of the night relaxing, recovering from yesterday, hopefully doing some research on this performer I have to interview, (this is causing a lot of anxiety for me) and going for a walk with my two loves, Alex and Homer. 

Tomorrow will be a busy day, as I am pulling another double header, for like the 3rd time in a week. But it should be a good time. I broke my fans last night because I was whipping them around as if they were indestructible, but since I do  have to use these fans in the very near future, including at BHOF, I think I will spend a part of the morning repairing those. 

Alright, I'm about to get out of here. I am currently pumpkining, as my brain and body are in need of a shut down. I am not really in the mood to post photos from last night, so instead, here is a link to my tumblr. There you will find pics and clips from my night, including the naked pie fight. Enjoy!! 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

23 days until BHOF...

**Warning... this post is being written under high stress, so I have not idea how it will translate. I don't know if by writing this, I will be left feeling better or worse. I don't know if reading this will bum you out or if it will even make sense. I don't know, but here goes.

WHAT THE FLYING FUCK? Where have the last few days gone? To say that BHOF is rapidly approaching is an understatement. I am having a very hard time keeping up, feeling like I am not getting everything done that I wanted to accomplished by the time I got to Vegas. My upcoming birthday and trip to St Louis are not helping.

Don't get me wrong, I love the fact that my birthday is tomorrow. I also love the fact that I will be going to St. Louis for the first time, especially to perform. But these wonderful events are just markers on how little time is left. There are no words for the amount of stress that I have been feeling over the last 3 days.

I wish I could say that I have been resting, trying to get my head in the game, but between meetings, costuming, shows, travel... there is just no time to get it all done. What I am attempting here is a conscious decision to let it go. I need to be a little easier on myself. I know this. But it's so hard to break the patterns of beating myself up for not achieving the impossible goals that I have set for myself.

I want to feel like a winner more than I actually desire to win. Is that a thing? Does it even makes sense? I don't know. But I often tell myself that when looking at the finish line of any project, I would feel worse about not giving it my all than for not winning. That to me, the winning is in doing everything I can to prepare so that I am my very best. But, in all honesty, this type of thinking only sets me up to be disappointed in myself because there is no way to measure "everything I can."

I have high expectations of myself. When I think about all of my potential, I get frustrated in myself for not living up to it. It creates this cycle of constant disappointment in myself. I don't know why I have decided that I am not doing enough. I cannot remember the last day that I spent not working, in some capacity. I have work meetings to deal with, emails, research, the list just goes on an on. I try to make list and find some joy in checking things off, but at the end of the day, I keep adding things to the list. Sometimes adding more things than I was able to accomplish for the day and it leaves me feeling more overwhelmed that if I had never started a list in the first place.

What am I suppose to do? I still have to make list. I still have all of these fucking things that I need to do. I'm currently feeling guilty for taking time out of my busy day to write this fucking post. I could be putting rhinestones on my dress right now! The only thing giving peace of mind about this is that I had the unreasonalble goal of posting daily. Then I think... well.. I have failed on that too, because I have clearly missed 3 days. OK... I didn't have the time. There really is only 24 hours in a day.

But then what about my birthday? I have so much that I want to do for the TWO shows that I am in tomorrow night. I would love to spend the day pampering myself, but I don't have time because I have to practice.

Everything cost money. I have no money. Everything takes time, I have no time. All I want is peace of mind and I am completely loosing mine. I have to work out, I have to work on my split, I have to rhinestone this corset, I have to deal with these medical bills, I have to finish putting my laundry away, I have to research a performer for 21st century burlesque. I have to send out my information to every fucking person who is expecting something from me. I need to book a flight, I need to figure out what the fuck I am wearing to this wedding on Saturday, I need to steam these fans, I need to order groceries. I have to fix this zipper, I have to finish these shoes, I have to solidify these 4 "8 counts', I need to create a mailing list. I need to send out invitations, I need to hire a band, I need to make a video, I need to pick an act for Friday, I need to contact a new client. I need cry, I need to eat, I need to give myself a break, I need to tell myself that it's going to be OK.

Today, 23 days until BHOF, is a very hard day.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

27 days until BHOF. Actually... it's 26

OK... It's pretty clear that I missed a day. I had every intention to post when I got home last night, But by the time I made it in the door, I practically fell into a coma. So... here I am with an update on yesterday and my plans for today. Now, yesterday was pretty productive as far as BHOF is concerned. I made a trip to my neighborhood rhinestone dealer, Stockholm Philly, and made a few purchases that will be added onto my performance costume.

 It was quite funny because it really felt like we are doing a drug deal. In a way, It kinda was because isn't glitter and rhinestones considered the crack of a burlesque dancer? I may be wrong, but I am sure I have heard that before.

 I also went out to watch the opening night Teaser Party of the 
4th Annual New York Boylesque Festival. 

Talk about inspiration!! I got so see some many of my good friends perform at The Knitting Factory stage, and saw a bunch more in the audience. As my first time at a Boylesque Festival, I was quite impressed with all of the creativity. Sometimes, at a traditional burlesque festival, you can see the same elements in an act, back to back to back. And as a classic performer myself, It can be difficult to figure out a more creative way to take off a gown and 2 gloves. Attending the Boylesque Festival last night not only inspired me, but gave me a few ideas that I can incorporate into my own performances.

Yesterday was also the final day of my juice detox. 

Thanks be to Stripper Jesus. I love being health, but the juice got less and less flavorful each day. By the end, I was forcing it down. I'm glad I did it though. I think it gave me the kick start I needed to start making better food choices. Hopefully I can keep this momentum going for a while.

To change the direction of this post for a moment, I have been thinking about positivity vs. negativity. I have always considered myself to be a positive person, choosing to look on the bright side of thing, see the glass half full... you know. But, there was a time in my life, shorty after moving to NYC, that that wasn't the case. I was a big ol' ball of sadness. I considered myself the ultimate victim, moving across the country to start over, after all my original plans went to shit.

I started hanging out with a lot of photographers and would often pose for them when they were working on a project. You would be surprised how many times one of those photographers asked me is things were OK with me. I guess the negativity and sadness that I was carrying around was pretty obvious to others. This was only magnified when I went to see a psychic, (yes... I'm all into the woo woo stuff) and she told me that I had a dark could of negativity following me where ever I went.

Most people would not take this psychic very seriously, but I did. I had never been looked at as a negative person and the idea that I was becoming one really bothered me. So I went on a quest of gratitude. I frantically sought out and focused on all of the things in my life. I had some pretty incredible friends who listened to me and encouraged me to keep my head up in my lowest moment. I thought about how, no matter how little money I had, that there were people in my life who loved me and would never let me live on the streets. I think about those friends and family members who refused to allow me to move back home to California when I didn't think I could survive in NY. Clearly these people were seeing something in me that I did not see. And instead of assuming that they were all bullshitters, I decided that maybe the shit I was telling myself... 
 "I'm not lovable, I'm not happy, I have no one," was the real bullshit.

I spent a lot of time focusing on self care. Every time my brain wanted to take me on a negative path, I had to fight to change my focus back to something I was grateful for. It took a long time, but seeing the positive side of life finally started to come naturally to me again. And because of that, the quality of my life started to improve. I made more friends, I started working in an in industry that was fulfilling and creative. And most of all, I found the love of my life. I honestly believe that if I didn't change my way of thinking, then my life would still reflect the attitude that I had then. I believe in the laws of attraction. More now than ever before.

What does this have to do with BHOF or burlesque? Well... quite a bit, I think. There seems to be an issue in my community where performers feel entitled to gigs. I have no idea where this is coming from because I come from belief that nothing is guaranteed. But there are definitely performers out there who, whenever I interact with them, it's just a shit show. Everything sucks for them. No one books them. Every horrible thing that happens in the world always seems to happen to them. I'm sorry... but with an attitude like that, I am not surprised. 

First of all.. no one is guaranteeing you anything. If you want more gigs, you got to work for them. No.. this is not just about becoming a better performer, although, in some cases, that's exactly what its about. But for the most part, I think its about becoming a better person, that people want to be around. If you are a negative Nelly all of the time, people are not going to want to be around you, bottom line. It really does not matter if you are the best performer. If you always are walking around with a stank face and a bad attitude, people are going to reject you.

My point is... maybe instead of always pointing the finger at someone else, take a look in the mirror and ask yourself if all the problems you are having is coming from within. Yes.. I know that life is hard. I know that there are challenges and hardships everyday. The key is to not allow those hardships change you into a toxic person. As a person who has been there and fought like hell to get out of that dark place, I can honestly tell you that things are much brighter on the other side.

OK... I'll leave you this this quote. Its simple, but it is so true.

 I am currently in upstate New York to spend the weekend with my amazing future in laws and I don't plan to spend a moment of this beautiful mini vacation in a negative mindset. Love and peace and happiness and positivity to you all. 

Until tomorrow...

Thursday, May 7, 2015

28 days until BHOF

Today is hard. Straight up. I'm not going to sugar coat this thing. My entire body hurts from from yesterday's workout, which I am to repeat again today, but my body is screaming NO!!! I attempted to do the workout, but had to stop after the warmup because I had a visitor, who is having an extra bad day. Like... really bad. So I had to take some time with that. I am going to try to get the work out in tonight after dinner. I know it will be late, but I am detirmined not to get behind on this. Stripper Jesus... I'm calling on you!!! I am going to go for an hour long walk this evening after a show I'm attending.

As far as my diet, I am on the second day of my juice detox. 

I gotta say, the flavor of the second day juice is leaving a lot to be desired. I am finding it incredible difficult not to snack. Luckily, I'm on my last glass of the day and I am very much looking forward to making dinner. 

Today I had to submit my music for BHOF. I used the time to also send out
 important info for a few other festivals that I am going to be appearing in. 
Later this month, I am so excited to be traveling to St. Louis for the first time to perform in 
the Show Me Burlesque and Vaudeville Festival!

I will be bringing my "Girl With One Eye" act... which is wonderful as I have not had the pleasure of taking that act to a festival since the Hollywood Burlesque Festival back in December of 2013.

This summer is also taking me to Denver for the Colorado Burlesque Festival. 

I will be bringing my "Let's Burn" act. 
This festival takes place in July, so BHOF will be over. 
Hopefully the act will do well there and I will be able my intro will be extra sparkly. 
*Fingers crossed*

AND!!!! I will be performing internationally for the first time ever at t
he Toronto Burlesque Festival. 

I will be bringing my "Let's Burn act to this festival as well. 

OMG.. looking at this is getting me over whelmed. But... I have to remember to take it one day at a time. At the end of the next 28 days, I will already have had another festival under my belt, and hopefully a bit more confidence as well. 

I think that is it for now. I have to finish this dreadful glass of juice and get ready to see my good friend, (and wedding officiant) Peter Aguero in his show, Daddy Issues. Look him up if you don't know who he is. I made it easy for you. <3 Wish me luck on getting this workout in!!! Positive messages always welcome. 


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

29 days until BHOF...

Alright guys, I'm 15 hours in and so far, it's going well!! I'm referring to the 72 hour juice detox. 

I made woke up first thing and went to the market to get containers for all of the vegetables that has just been delivered to my apartment. I mad my juice, enough for the whole day, so it has been super easy.

I honestly have to say this this juice is delicious. I am not surprised by this because I have been juicing on and off for a while now. And it really is all about the ingredients. I purchased all organic, and I feel like it can taste it. I have about 2 more glasses to go and then I get to eat a dinner of lean protein and vegetables.I have not decided what that will be yet, but I'm super excited to chew something. 

I am happy to announce that I completed my workout for the day. I took my dog on a 30 minute walk this morning and did the first video in my Daily Burn Tactical Body Weight Training program. That shit was hard. But I think its exactly what I need at the moment. The workouts are designed to improve mobility, flexibility, strength... basically everything I need. The program is 28 days, so I should finish the day before I head to BHOF. I'm excited to see how my body to react to this intense plan. Hopefully I will regain a lot of my flexibility that I lost from an injury.

While these things are not directly related to the Burlesque Hall of Fame, I do feel they it is vital to get my health and body in shape so that I feel like my best self when I step on that stage. This is not about loosing weight. It's about attempting to unlock my full potential. This is about changing my life and using my desire to do well at BHOF to motivate changing my entire life for the better. My birthday is a week away. And while I'm not expecting to look into the mirror and see a change on the outside, I'm hoping that being a week into this plan will help me feel better about my insides.

Education is important to me. I miss being in class, learning new choreography and performing it in front of the class. Feeling like I was going to vomit and not caring because I loved it so much. I have decided to take at least one dance class a week until BHOF, and hopefully carry it out into the summer... maybe the rest of the year. Who knows? But dance class is not the only thing I am into. I am so excited to have signed up for a stage/drag make up class at the New York School of Burlesque. Taught by Kitten LaRue, a world renowned burlesque performer who is no stranger to the BHOF stage.
Mod Fantasy, c. Jaimin Zhu

I would love for this to be a super in depth post, but I am a busy lady and have to get ready for a concert! 

Until tomorrow..

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

30 days until BHOF...

Posted on my Facebook page,, on March 30th, 2015, approx 24 hours after receiving the biggest news of my burlesque career:

"Long post, but worth it. <3

2012- I make my burlesque debut. I had just started performing at the end of may and a week later, everyone disappears. I find out that everyone is in Vegas for Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend. What?? What is that?? Later that Summer, I watch the movie Exotic world. **Mind Blown** I knew Burlesque was something special, but I had no idea how much until that Movie.

 2013- As a gift for my 30th b-day, my wonderful fiancee, GF at the time, purchased us VIP passes for BHOF that year. I finally get to see first hand what all the fuss was about. HOLY SHIT!!! I could not believe the acts on the stage!! After the First show, I needed more. After the Legends Showcase, I knew I would never be the same. And the Competition.. FIERCE. Icons and All stars night, NO WORDS. Just tears.

 2014- Encouraged by my friends, loved ones, and a strong nudge by Holiday O'Hara...

At the 57th annual Titans of Tease Reunion Showcase

Photo of Holiday from 70's

...I decided to apply, although I knew it was a long shot. No big surprise, I was not accepted. Truth was, I was devastated. Not because I didn't get in, but because I thought that meant I could not go at all. I was wrong. My fiancee made it happen. It was everything I had remembered from the year before, AND MORE!! I also had friends by this time, so it was extra fun.

2015- I almost missed the deadline this year. But with the help of my amazing support system, I got my application in on time. I applied with an act that I am proud of, as my FOREVER QUEEN OF BURLESQUE, Perle Noire helped me to develop it. 

 Perle Noire (2008 Best debut, 2009 Most Dazzling)
 and I at the 2013 Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekender

Group Shot from the 2014 Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekender

And then all I could do was wait. Yesterday morning I received the notification email while packing up and I immediately collapse into the fetal position.
After removing myself from the group, crawling up the stairs and safely getting into bed, Alex by my side, I log in. I can't believe it... I'm still in tears as I write this post. I am thrilled to finally announce that I have been accepted to compete for BEST DEBUT at the 2015 Burlesque Hall Of Fame Weekend. Thank you ‪#‎StripperJesus‬. Thank you everyone who helped me or encouraged me in any way. This is an absolute dream come true. I am honored. I am so grateful. I am still crying."

 Midnight Martini. Reigning Miss Exotic World

There is really only so much excitement you can put into one post. But I think most people had a good idea of what this news meant to me. I received 259 likes and 66 comments from close friends and burlesque all stars alike. To say that this is a big deal is an understatement.

This was 36 days ago. And since then, I have worked to improve my act by upgrading my costume... which never feels done, as well as re-working parts of my act that didn't flow. I have contacted people who have been on the stage before hoping to get some input and have even sent out my videos to get critiques on my number. But for some reason, I feel like I should be doing more. 

Almost immediately after getting congratulated, people began giving me advice. "Don't want it too much, just have fun!' seemed to be the number one piece of advice that people have told me. And I get it. I do want to have fun. I want to live every moment on that stage. But the thing is, I do want it. I want to win. Is that so bad? I know the importance of not wanting things so bad that you would be devastated if it didn't work out, but I don't think this is the case for me.. at lease not yet.

I know myself enough to understand that I could never feel disappointed if I knew that I gave it my all, but it didn't work out. If I worked as hard as I could to prepare for a competition, and I lost, I could only tell myself that it was not my time. I've been in that place before. And the next year, I came back and took home the trophy. Yes, I was disappointed that I didn't win the first time around, but I was not defeated. That was by best performance of that act and I still use the video to submit to festivals to this day.

When it comes to the Burlesque Hall of Fame, a festival that I have been attending since I started performing almost 3 years ago, (Yes.. I know it's not long, but still significant for me) I have dreamed about performing on that stage. And on June 6th, 2015, I get that chance. If I had to get on that stage today, I know I would not be ready. And I honestly feel as though the last 36 days could have been used to serve this goal better. But thankfully for me, it is not over yet. I have 30 days before I step off the plane in Vegas and I plan to use the most of it. That is what this blog is for.. to hold me accountable for the next 30 days. 

My Rule is that I have to post at least once daily about my progress. This is something I MUST do. Even if I have nothing to show for a day, I have to write that I wasted my time. I will write about my workout plan, because being physically strong on that stage is very important to me. I am a member of Daily Burn. I have not been using it, although I have been paying for it. I need to start getting my money's worth. So I am starting the Tactical Bodyweight Training program. It is 30 days.. exactly the length of this journey, and is something I can do on the road, as it requires no equipment.

 Promo Photo from Daily Burn website

I will write about my eating habits, including the 72 hour juice detox that I am beginning tomorrow. 

(Don't worry. it's not the master cleanse, just juice and healthy dinners.)

I will write about how I'm managing to juggle my travels, upcoming birthday, shows, and festival that wills come about over this 30 day journey. I know it will be hard, but I am so desperate to not feel disappointed in myself after my performance on June 6th. Who knows what will happen, but I am ready to do the work. Terrified, but ready.