A MUSE MONDAYS: Kensie Vicious

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Photo cred. John Reed

Today’s muse is one of my first and closest friend, true friend, in Toronto’s burlesque scene. She has tattoos. She designs undies. She’s a nerd. Everybody knows that. She brings me country style butter tarts, even though she’s vegan. I think she enjoys thinking of me getting so much pleasure from something she gave me. She can giggle with a flicker of the devil, but she’s the sweetest schemer I’ve ever met. This pussy-du-jour has been around since my very first day of burlesque. She tackles me with puppy love. And even though she is strong competition for title of ultimate Klutz, her tenacity is one of her signatures. I am proud to fight the good fight with this lady, even though she says it’s not a fight. Ladies and gentlemen, and those who are neither; Kensie Vicious!

Gracie: Thank you for taking time to answer a few of my questions. First off,  how did you get your name?

Kensie: Y’know those games where you find your pornstar name based on your first street name and first place throwing up in public or whatever? Kinda like that, except I chose it based on living in Kensington Market four of the five years I’ve lived in the city, and being a fan of the Sex Pistols (Sid Vicious). Boom. Kensie Vicious.

Gracie: How long have you been on the scene?

Kensie: On the life scene? 25 years. On the burlesque scene? A year. But hell, do I feel like I’ve been building up to this forever.

Gracie: Signature colour?
Naked.

Gracie: What was your burlesque ah-ha moment?

Kensie: I allowed myself to decline gigs and take a step back a few months ago. I said yes to everything and I was pumping out acts that I wasn’t PASSIONATE about. I’ve just returned to performing, debuting some new acts for Belle’s Boudoir….a “make-or-break” show, if you will….these were acts that I REALLY gave a shit about. I felt them, and the audience felt them. It was an incredible moment of understanding my alter ego and my own sense of awareness in front of an audience.

Gracie:  Does your audience have a favorite body part?

Kensie: My mind. The audience loves me for my mind………….kidding. My butt and my tattoos, probably.

Gracie:  What is your favorite part of a new act?

Kensie: The costuming! Oh god, do I love costuming. I’m a fashion design drop out, my brain goes into overdrive when I design new pieces. So many fabrics and rhinestones and…..messes. *cue glitter bomb explosion sound*

Gracie:  If you weren’t a showgirl, what would you be?

Kensie: I would probably be back in university by now! (Not for fashion, that über stylish ship has sailed). The last year of actively performing has gone by so quickly! Granted, it’s a much-needed creative outlet, but I’m sure my fellow show ponies can attest to it being a VERY time-consuming hobby.

Gracie: Do you think you’ll ever retire?

Kensie:  *.*

Gracie: And our end cap. Loaded question, do you have any words for budding showgirls?

Kensie: I cannot emphasize this enough… Find your style. Allow your humor/sweetness/mega vixen/whatever your “thing” is, to come out. Play on things that come naturally and work your ass off (but not actually off) on things that don’t. And if it ever stops being fun, take a step back and reassess.

Gracie: Kensie, thank you so very much for taking the time to answer a few of my questions. If you want to follow Kensie’s antics, see the links below. I will see you next week, same Gracie, same Gracie channel ❤

Facebook: Kensie Vicious

Instagram: @KensieVicious

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A Muse Mondays: Bianca Boom Boom

Now, this little lady is short and sweet! She’s concise and explosive. The first time I met her in the halls of the Toronto School of Burlesque, she greeted me with the gusto only she can bring. And she is that firecracker. That double burst of bubble-pop. She is the Triple B with the Double D’s: Bianca Boom Boom!

Gracie: Thank you so much for taking the time to jam with me. You know to hang around old school style. I’m gonna ask you a few questions and I want you to say the first things that pop into you head. How did you get your name?

Bianca: Originally I wanted to have Bijoux as part of my name and someone suggested Boom Boom to go along with it. I thought about Boom Boom Bijoux but found Boom Boom L’Roux and decided it was too close. I then decided I would keep Boom Boom instead as a last name, that I wanted a “real” first name and that I definitely wanted alliteration. Bianca comes from The Taming of The Shrew. She is Kate’s (the Shrew) younger sister, the one the boys all go crazy for! I really love the juxtaposition of the sweet sounding Bianca and the in your face of the BOOM BOOM! Suits me perfectly 😉

Gracie: How long have you been on the scene?

Bianca: 2 years!

Gracie: Do you have a signature colour?

Bianca: I don’t have one on stage per say BUT I always have my red glitter lips and red Amber Ray hair flower!

Gracie: Can you pick a  favourite body part?

Bianca: It’s a tie: The Booms (tatas) and The Bangs (gams)

Gracie: What is your most unique costume piece or prop?

Bianca: THE BOOMS!!

Gracie: I’m starting to see a pattern here;) What is your favourite part of creating a new act?

Bianca: The AH-HA! Moment of discovering the song, costume piece or movement that make it all come together. You never know when or where it will happen!

Gracie: Is there a theme dream out there taunting you? A show you’d love to be a part of?

Bianca: I have actually already had the opportunity to be a part of my 2 biggest dream theme shows: Broadway and Lady Gaga!

Gracie: Well, dream achieved then. What is your favourite venue to perform?

Bianca: In town: Revival Bar. On the road: Molly Blooms (Stratford), 3 Clubs (Los Angeles)

Gracie: Hey, wait, that’s 3 places. But I guess all 3 B’s get a choice. Now, for the loaded question: Do you think you’ll ever retire?

Bianca: NO!!!!!

Gracie: Almighty then, what words would you like to share with budding show ponies?

Bianca: 

  • Watch all the burlesque you can. If you can’t afford to go to local shows, ask to help out as a kitten or on the door. Watch YouTube and BurlesqueStars.net; Figure out what you like, what you don’t and what you want to put out into the world. You will quickly see what makes the performers who are tops, tops.
  • Research before developing an act. There is a lot of material out there and chances are something similar to your idea may already be in existence.
  • Think about your backstage etiquette. It is just as important (if not more) than your onstage etiquette.
  • Make sure your act is ready to be onstage before you put it there. Having one really good, polished act is far more valuable then having 20 unpolished numbers.
  • Take class when you have the opportunity. It doesn’t have to be burlesque. There are heaps of classes that will enhance your skill set (or help you gain a new one!) and help you develop as a performer and a human being.

Gracie: Thank you so much! As always you’ve been a delight. You have become a positive example in our Toronto community and a charming Ambassador to the states and soon the world. For all my readers, you can follow Bianca’s festival frenzy and local shows at the links below. See you next week!

Website: biancaboomboom.tk

Facebool: Bianca Boom Boom Fan Page

Twitter: @BiancaBoomBoom

Instagram: @BiancaBoomBoom 

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A MUSE MONDAY: Charlie Quinn

Now, every new showgirl knows that backstage can be a little daunting. The hairspray fog, the glitter in the air, the blue air from a foul mouthed drag queen, it’s all a bit much. That is until the air clears for one perfect second and a platinum goddess whispers through her red glimmering lips, that Doris Day is her jam. Charlie and I were fast friends. We both think smiles are a valuable currency, think fun should be the goal of any good adventure and that we should dance like nobody’s watching, though she is a way better dancer than I. On more than one occasion I have found myself tangled up in a joke with her that nobody else seems to think is funny, which only endears her more to me. And though our very tight schedules have kept us apart for longer than I’d like, I know we’ll be able to fall into step without much hassle. Emphasis of course on the falling;) So, without further adieux, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Quintessential Player: Ms Charlie Quinn!

Alex Hurter of Ifyoufallphotography www.ifyoufallphotography.com

Alex Hurter of Ifyoufallphotography
http://www.ifyoufallphotography.com

Gracie: Ladybird, thank you so very much for taking the time to answer a few questions. I can tell your Iced Capp is low, so I’ll keep this short. How did you get your name?

Charlie: I’ve always been called Charlie by my family growing up and preferred it to my given name. Originally, I debuted as “Charlie Baby” and after some continued research, I’d found a drag queen online who also went by the name so it was back to the drawing board. I was already planning a bunch of characters to reveal and I couldn’t seem to think cleverly enough to create something that resembled me and the multitude of characters I wanted to have. “Sherry Keylime” was a name I had thought, because I, simply, love key lime pie…but I didn’t like “Charlie Keylime”. Charlie Knoxville had kick to it, but it didn’t mean anything to me. I was sitting in a hotel in London, Ontario for work watching old Saturday Night Live after a 15-hour day with my coworker and the Weekend Update portion came on with Colin Quinn. I had been adding surnames to Charlie for months and just said it to myself “Charlie Quinn”. I had learnt of harlequin’s vaguely years ago and I had understood it as a sort of multiple personified devil and ran with it. The description of what and how harlequin came to be is sooo much more interesting and layered and the more research I do, the more I agree with it as my alias.

Gracie: How long have you been on the scene?

Charlie: I kittened about from June 2011 to December 2011. I debuted in December 2011 in Coco Framboise’s “Up-your-Chimney” show and then debuted my first act February 2012 at Red Herring’s first Reveal Me alongside Bianca Boom Boom, Melody Merlot, Skaii Walker and others. That’s about 2 years and a bit? Yeah?

Gracie: What’s your signature colour?

Charlie: I try not to stick to one colour but lately it’s either white and yellows or red. Anything that goes with my platinum blonde hair!

Gracie: Who is your Showgirl inspiration?

Charlie: It’s a mix of Doris Day, Marilyn Monroe and Cyd Charisse!

Gracie: That’s a trifecta of titillation if there ever was one! But on to serious matters, Do you tassel? Both directions?

Charlie: I tassel all the things. I am known for my debut act “The Mask” having assels or ass tassels that I learnt from a class with travelling headliner, Peekaboo Pointe.

Gracie: How do you build a new act? What comes first: Song, costume, concept?

Charlie: I have a forever-long list on my phone with songs that inspire ideas. It’s a very unorganized list that I can peruse to inspire new ideas. I am usually inspired by the music first and foremost and then the act creates itself. I dance to the song at least 30-60 times on repeat in my apartment the few days leading up to a show. I have a rough guideline to what I want the plot to be (if any) and I will know any musical cues that tell me I have a minute or less left of a song. I like to be current and in the moment with my audience and I could choreograph, however, dancing to the song multiple times I find that the same series of movements come out sometimes at the right moments, and that’s enough of a plan for me right now.

Gracie: If you weren’t a showgirl, what would you be?

Charlie: A unicorn. Nah, I’m already a unicorn onstage. I would be making costume pieces and probably stuff for showgirls. I already do that but I know I would never be completely removed from the stage.

Gracie: Do you have any words of wisdom for brand new and aspiring showponys?

Charlie: Before I go on stage I like to remind myself that the person I am out there and who I want them to see, is the best possible version of myself, and if for some reason they do not like it, then at least I was genuine and honest.

Charlie, as always you’ve been a delight and an absolute pleasure, which I’ve told you on more than one Cinnamon whiskey fuelled night. I can’t wait until our schedules simmer down a little more and we can spend some much-needed banana time together. To all my readers, follow Charlie on all the social media forums. You know you’re gonna anyways! I mean she’s hot AND funny.

Website: http://www.charliequinnTO.weebly.com

Facebook: facebook.com/Charlie.Quinn.TO

Twitter: @CharlieQuinnTO

Instagram: @charliequinnto

Youtube: youtube.com/CharlieQuinnTO

Unplugged But All Blogged Up

Heavenly Blogger, forgive me for I chagrin, it’s been over 2 weeks since my last blog-fession. Can you even believe it? How rude of me to leave all these good intentions just floating in cyberspace. Unblogged and all alone. These morsels of info, stuck in the ectogoo that is the internet. Search engines unable to find me. Lost, unwritten and clickless. But that’s all over now, I am resigned to reinforce good behaviour, instead of focusing on the not-so-awesome-ness, that I’ve been all too focused on lately.

Now, there are a few reasons I haven’t been so online:

  1. I’m looking for a new apartment – Always a stressful delight
  2. I am working 8-14 hour days on a film set – 2-5 days a week
  3. I was selected to represent in Strip Search, on top of 3 other burlesque performances within the next month, 1 of which is a completely new act
  4. I am working on 2 pieces with an out-of-town element, who is only available when she’s in town:(
  5. Writing takes brains and time. And lately I’ve felt like I have neither.

But even with all these factors, I find myself being drawn back to the computer, and not just for trolling Etsy. I’ve been longing to express my inner excitement and outer anguish. I have always been a do-er. Perhaps, even an over-do-er, as I have a tough time saying no. I bite off more than I can chew, then complain about a sore jaw. But I’m learning…sorta. How, bout this, I’m learning to recognize  that I’m doing it; actually stopping the cycle will be much more of a challenge. So, for now, let me say, I promise to be more aware of my inter-absences. To write at least one Burly blog a week. And to promote mental and emotional wellbeing. Honestly, I have been using a blog forum as a cheap form of therapy for a long time now, and I am eager to get back on the cyber couch…even if it is only for 1 hour a week.

Get Show Ready With Gracie

Now, I’ve had a few showgirls ask me what my pre-show regime entails. Well, to really explore this, we have to start at the beginning.

One month before the show:  This is usually when I get booked. So, with nearly 30 days to prep, I think to myself how lucky I am to have so much valuable time. Usually at this point I have pitched a song for the act in question. So, I listen to it on repeat, until I feel like if I hear it one more time, my ears will start bleeding. And I think: What would Gracie Do? Then I come up with a story arch for the song. And plant some joke seeds.

Two weeks and 3 days before the show: I write up my Iva Handful inspired musical spreadsheet. It details all the musical hits, when they happen, what the lyric is, and what I expect to happen. Don’t be fooled- this is tedious work. It takes a lot of listening for flute solos and drum hits; being in touch with how the song naturally makes you move. But it pays off when you step away and actually start working it. A strong foundation is very important when you’re building your dream act.

Two weeks before the show: My costume is designed. Notice the italics. This means that I’ve picked the pieces. And made a list of those missing elements & necessary embellishments. Then I spend 2 days straight stitching, pasting and forcing all these parts into a cohesive costume. Then my Hubby gives me a lecture about how all the crafting items don’t need to be strewn across all the flat surfaces in our condo. I sigh, cuz I’ve heard it all before; put my headphones into my ears, and listen to that song again…and again as I clean and tidy. While I’m focused on the swiffer and wiping the mirror, I imagine my costume coming apart just right. **NOTE: This step has to happen a lot sooner for Showgirls relying on the kindness of strangers to build their costume. Luckily, I am a crafty little dancer.

One week before the show: Everything is ready, except me. I have run my act according to my spreadsheet. Now, I mod it. Of course, there are moments that just don’t work. Writing something down in Excel and executing it in real life are two very different things. The confines of time and space are the natural enemy of the dream act, but that doesn’t mean you can’t achieve your goal another way. Modifications are a showgirls’ BFF. And I still have time to rejig all those moments to fit. This is also when costume flaws are fixed. The music I’d started hating has become my theme song. And I find myself running choreo at the bus stop and giggling when I realize another joke I planted has grown strong.

Two days before the show: I decide that this is the worst concept I’ve ever come up with. That nobody is going to understand it, let alone like it. I hate everything about it.

The day before the show: I wake up early stretch and figure that yesterday I was wrong about everything and that I couldn’t be that bad, and even if everything goes horribly, horribly awry, I’m Gracie Klutz…and that’s kinda my thang. I give everything a once over. This is my last chance to get that shit tight. I make sure every stone is stuck. Every seam is sewn. And then I run it 4 more times -in show shoes-, before packing my showgirl bag- with checklist- in costume chronological order. ( Meaning from bottom layer up: ie: panties & pasties, stockings, bra..etc)

SHOW DAY: I pretend that my tummy is upset cuz I drank too much coffee. I pace and mark it in my mind. I tear my showgirl bag apart and  re-pack it. Then double check it again. Again. I leave early for the venue cuz you can’t rely on TTC to be timely. I arrive way too early. Run tech. Then I wait. There’s this long time between getting there and going on, so I pretend to be totally fine as I pace backstage. And I wait some more.

Performer Before Me: I hear the audience and think I can’t match that reaction. And forget how to breathe for a minute.

During My Intro: I stand in the wings. Straightening myself again and again. I hear my name. The host runs past me and I am alone and dizzy.

My Music Starts: Then I lose myself for 3 mins. I make myself laugh. I move through my dream act. With those movements and emotions I’ve planned. And maybe a few I didn’t.

The Music Ends: Then it’s over until next time. Unless you count working the crowd as part of your act, but I like it too much to think of it as work.

Rinse, Repeat to FADE or Infinity: I plan, pitch and proceed with my next act.

So, that’s how I do it. Did that help anyone, besides me and my OCD Showgirl brain? I sure hope so, cuz that was the plan. And I like to execute my plans. So, consider this plan on death row. And see you Feb 5th @ The Rivoli- Toronto*

*Side note: Throughout this entire process, I am promoting my show on all my social media- like a good little showgirl. Cuz what’s a show without an audience?

This Is Not A Drill

Last night my fire alarm went off. Not in the, “I was busy over baking chicken fingers” kinda way, more of a “The Toronto fire services have discovered a fire on level P3” fashion. So, Hubby, forced me out from under my sewing machine and into the cold dark night, with dog baby in tow. (We left the Puss, cuz I think she’d prefer to stay and roast than have to deal with society…I know how she feels) So, we took to the stairs with our neighbours, who are also strangers. I hrumphed the whole time, wearing two sets of gloves. We stood outside watching the firemen, who know it’s a faulty alarm in a new building, mill around, until someone turns off the alarm. I was day dreaming about how beautiful and dangerous fire is, and what it would look like dancing. When suddenly it dawned on me: I hadn’t grabbed anything. My house is on hypothetical fire and I was more upset to lose the time working on my costume. I seriously didn’t grab anything but my keys. Keys to a house that is potentially on fire. I guess the point of this antidote is that when the mythical fire was burning my condo to the ground, it was all just stuff. And if I’m really honest, I could use the insurance money.

But all was safe and sound. I am blogging from underneath the sewing machine again. And I am on fire.

She’s Freaking Out

By she, I mean me. I am seriously starting to freak out. I have a tendency to bite off more than I can chew. It happens, I’m aware of it, but that doesn’t make dealing with it any easier. One would think that with my track record for overwhelming myself I would be used to dealing with my head below water. I’m not. And I am starting to pay for it. It’s started effecting my dreams. I’m not talking about my big picture dreams here either; the way figuring out a new talent effects your lifetime dreams. I’m talking about when I am asleep, my dreams are about all those things I’ve promised people I would do. And those dreams are starting to look a lot more like nightmares.

As we know I have been launched into Burlesque with little regard for a countdown or a plan of attack or any preparation really. I found this thing that combined all my knick-knack knowledge and submerged myself in it. I jumped in with both feet, and I did it gladly. I was so excited to find something that I can call my own. Something that welcomes and encourages all the little quirks that make up this neurotic and creative beast I call Gracie. Don’t get me wrong, I love being Gracie, she’s my favourite me. (I’ve said that a billion times) The problem that’s keeping me working through the night is the level of expectation, I expect from myself. There in lies the rub.

Gracie gets to pretend it’s effortless. That all the hours of work and rehearsal don’t even exist. That somehow she just does, what she does naturally. Now, if I am honest, I know that can be true. I am naturally crafty. I like figuring out how to fabricate solutions to creative problems. I love the feeling I get from a job well done. I like almost all the aspects of burlesque. I am naturally musical. I learn songs by their emotional arc as well as rhythmic hits. I love performing, which after 13 years of practise now seems to come naturally. The real, honest to goodness problem is the timing. I mean, I like to sit in something. To marinate in a song and storyboard all those secret and unexpected moments. I want to write a 3 minute movie for all those lucky audience members. I can’t do that with less than a month of lead in time. And the work suffers, disappointing me. It effects my creative spirit and my sleep pattern. So, after the mad dash that is December, I have a much-needed respite from performing…at least performing new acts…at least I think I do. Though knowing Burlesque, I’ll probably book gigs in those quiet months… but at least I’ll have time to sleep on that.