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

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


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?

Tick Tock Time

Rush. Rush. Rush. Busy is the new good, and all that. And that, is terrible. Can you remember when you didn’t feel constantly pressured by ever looming- seemingly- life or death deadlines? When the time allotted to a project was uninterrupted by the tinkling alerts of a smartphone? When you were focused on the task at hand? Yeah, me neither. It’s as though being busy has replaced being productive. But who am I to complain? I am a busy-body*. I am a work horse. I have a hard time saying No, and I tend to stretch myself thin; in all the wrong places.

Gracie finds herself circled by stacks of acts.

Gracie finds herself circled by stacks of acts.

On a (nearly) daily basis, my Hubby vocalizes how my time management skills affect our lives. Specifically our living space. There are piles of ongoing projects on every flat surface. The sad stacks of half-cocked ideas and nearly done nonsense, litter our tiny Toronto condo. Unlike many of my burlesque colleagues, who have a dedicated space to tuck their wares away; my open concept living quarters display my disaster for all to see. Now, I could blame this on architectural inadequacies, but honestly, if I didn’t have a to-do pile, nothing would ever get done. I am naturally drawn to disarray. It is a nature/nurture flaw/foible that I acquired from my ever lovin’ Momma. She too is a busy-body*. The house of my youth was stacked with all the diverse distractions she loved/loves doing. Then once a month, when those oh so special hormones would kick-in, she would hit the roof and callously cleanse the house…And by that I mean, fill the junk drawers and hide the evidence. I too have this monthly habit, although I don’t have a junk drawer, I have a serious collection of over-stuffed Ikea organizational elements. So, those projects remain. Stacked. Taunting me.

I submit this blog into evidence as exhibit XXX. I get pleasure from writing it. I receive pleasure from those reading it. But I often find myself with hands full, unable to type or afford a typist. So the ideas sit, stagnant in a doodle diary; until their interest for me expires or the topics become outdated. The time for action has disappeared but the pile remains and I am still too busy to finish it. But with what am I filling my time? My over active imagination has had me convinced that my piles could animate themselves. Becoming paper monsters that haunt me. And I’m scared. So, what does one do when they don’t have enough time to be so busy? Well, my little lambs, that is a question for the interweb at large. So, if anyone has a meme that clarifies life, I’d love to see it- especially if there’s a baby animal involved.

*Busy-body in this context meaning a hustler, a go-getter, a do-gooder and just an all around fun-time-seeker & joiner

Dear Friend

My Dear Friend,
I know it has been quite sometime since I have sat down to this computer to input all the things in my brain, and that perhaps you may have missed my mentalities. But have no fear, John Cleese and Woody Allen have set me straight. I know what you’re thinking; “Gosh, that girl has friends in high places!”. Well, take comfort in the knowledge that you too could know them as well as I do, if you spent way too many consecutive hours trolling the internet; instead of actually being productive. But no matter the medium the lessons remain.

Let us begin with Johnny-boy, I can call him that, cuz he’ll never read this. In a recent column for Cracked, he reminded me that anything worth doing is worth doing for free, until you can convince someone to pay you for it. That little by little is the only way to consume an elephant. Oh, and there was also something about how getting what you want might be a lot harder than you ever thought it could be, but that doesn’t change the fact that you want it.

On the other hand Woody Allen’s reputation and repertoire speak for themselves. His work ethic is unparalleled. With over 75 movies under his writing, directing and starring belt, he is proof that if you make it, they will come. A true testament to the fact that, no matter what you do, if you like it, if it makes you laugh, think, cry, ache, it will affect another. Period. Full stop. The only thing stopping people from loving your body of work, is that you haven’t created a body of work.

It is with those ideologies, that I launch myself back into cyber-space. I challenge myself to keep growing as an artist. A writer. A performer. A beautiful disaster. And I hope that you will re-enlist as a reader. A cheerleader. And all out fanatic…though, I’ll have to earn that last one. But I’ll take that bet, and roll the dice, and go all in, if it means someone will appreciate my body…of work that is.

Hearts and Stars,

Captain of her Destiny Ship

The Showgirl Suitcase or Pack Up Your Bubbles

For the last week, I’ve been living on the road and out of a suitcase. I’ve been exploring the wonderful west coast and have heard the siren call of the creative seas. And surprise, surprise, I loved it. Way back in May, before I launched my burlesque rocket, I enrolled myself in classes with the hope of absorbing new techniques and trade secrets, I learned to shimmy and shake. After graduating from my Toronto School of Burlesque training with flying colours, I wanted to learn more. So, I applied to showgirl post-secondary school in Seattle; known as BurlyCon. With itchy feet I selected my courses and I climbed aboard busses and conveyor belts, living on the road and flying through the air, heading for classes on the shimmering shores of Seattle. What else could an inquisitive burly-girl do?

Before I got there though, I had to plan ahead and pack a bag. So, last Wednesday found me up late designing my on the road identity. I drew upon my adept eye for branding and built a suitcase bristling with identifiers. Everything from my pink tip toes to my intricate eyelashes, all united in one common goal- putting my best showgirl forward. I am a showgirl-show off. And I have stumbled into a hidden spring of flashy ‘fanity’ fare. Now, what that means in laymen terms is….drumroll please…I can pack a suitcase like a phenom and mix and mingle with the masses from ages 8 to 88 and beyond, with each of them noticing the social indicators I’d hoped they would.

On the road, a suitcase can hold you together or hold you back; by tying up the loose ends, you can unify your identity. Here are a few tips for you shiny-show-offs heading out on the road.

1. If all of your shoes are the same colour your palette is simplified unless that colour is black
2. Matching vintage suitcases make for quick and easy identification plus they invite compliments from even the surliest of border guards.
3. A wide variety of mix and match pieces on a slide-scale of the same colour scheme allows you to dress for the weather and the event
4. Wear many light layers onto the plane as the overhead vent may be over or under performing
5. A smile is your most important accessory

With these and a few special performance abilities you can throw a show bag together and hit the road running…er dancing. By applying the things I’ve learned on my trip both in class and out, I’m excited to be embarking on this new journey. And if you think my suitcase is light, brand-tight and outta sight, just wait till you see what I’ve got in store for my showcase.

Gracie In The Mist

So, last night I premiered the most daring and accidentally sexy Gracie Klutz act ever. And man, was I sweating; literally and figuratively. It was hot, and I was clad in latex…Oh how the sweat rolled. Also, did I mention that there was a documentary crew? A crew that followed us from awkward street clothes to glittered sex goddess. Now- sex goddess I use here as a blanket terminology, but even haphazard  me sexed it up…Gorilla style and I think people were scared and aroused. At least I was. With painted nails and black hair I took the stage under veil of monkey. And it was captured by all angles in moving pictures.

I remember growing up and looking at my grand-folks photo albums; black and white whimsy, stuck stiffly for all eternity…But ladies and gents, today we have video. Every device can capture every movement our bodies make.  There is no chance for second chances. Sometimes your wig will fly off because your top wouldn’t untie. Sometimes your shoe will get stuck. But just the left one, so I can hobble around the stage for a minute, only to catch myself and then begin again. Then you’ll walk off the stage with fore-arms swinging, to rushed side stage accolades; pushing naked through compliments. You’ll find yourself covered in sparkles and hair, stepping in a puddle of unidentified basement water and think to yourself-Gawd I’m hot and sweaty and happy and done and still nervous. And then, when you’re at your most honest and vulnerable, you’ll have a documentary crew ask you the perfect “Office” soliloquy question, and you’ll realize why documentaries are so important. At that point it is my job to be me.

I named this blog entry Gracie in the Mist for many Good-all reasons. I got to feel what it’s like to be studied. To be watched and learned from. I got to be a study in life, love and burlesque. Now, Miss Beans (my pet gorilla) well, she’s a cheeky monkey. She’s an anthropological study of basic instincts, and that’s a fact. Through Beans, Gracie gets to dance sexy and live banana to banana, without thought to consequence or threat of failure. That makes my brains buzz.  Life and burlesque. Human and animal. The duality is what intrigues me. And being caught on tape from Gracie to Beans and back again, well that’s a documentary I’d like to see…If I do write so myself.

Thank you for the kindest words and the silent treatments. I loved them both.

Mr. & Mrs. Klutz

Yesterday marked my 2 year anniversary. Two wonderful years married to my superhero, my biggest fan and my best friend- no offence BFF:) And I am happy. I couldn’t have asked for a better man than my Hubby. A sometimes grumpy (Commish), but always supportive and understanding new OS of the man I fell in love with. His generosity and self-confidence help to keep me grounded and logical, well, as logical as I can be; dreamer and do-gooder that I am. We have been together since before Gracie took over my waking life. And he doesn’t mind sharing us with the world. Mostly.

Now, I love calling my Hubby: Mr Klutz. At heart I am a laid-back feminist. I think anything they can do, I can do better, I can do anything better than who? and it doesn’t matter if you’re a gal or a broad or a dude. It’s about doing it, and doing it, and doing it well. I like that calling him Mr Klutz, implies that I took his last name, but knowing that he took my last name, but what’s in a name anyways? Even if it wasn’t a made up name, it’s who we are. We are the Klutzes. We spill and squawk and squeal. We love and live and laugh. We are the highest versions of ourselves. The selves we’d both love to be all the time, if the world would just let us. I ❤ being the Klutz family.

Our married life is simple. We live covered in glitter, sequins and full of that untamed wild performing arts spirit. These lives may not be easy to navigate but we don’t need to make sense to be happy…though if you want to give us something, we need some things really badly. Including but not limited to: more sequins, glitter and time, if you’ve got any extra laying around, we’ll take it. I remember from my school girl days that sharing and being a team player are important to becoming champions. But I never realized that being married to a man who really gets you, is the best team you could find yourself on…except a dream team that includes 2 Harlem Globetrotters- specifically the dunk king and the long distance basket baller, but what do I know, I don’t play peach basket ball.

I ❤ you Mr. Klutz, thanks for catching me when I fall. And helping dust me off. And cover my bruises. And carrying my heavy stuff. And laughing at my jokes. And protecting my virtue. And all the things that make you Mr. Klutz. I am delighted to be your Gracie.