Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Grand Tease Wellington - getting out of my comfort zone

I am very aware that my comfort zone of talking and singing to large groups of people off the cuff, is the stuff of many people's nightmares! But when I look at what most of the fabulous performers I know do, then I get the 'mares. Moving, using one's body to tell a story, not being able to rely on verbal wit - shudder. So, I ruthlessly put myself into the situation of giving it a go. In a national competition, As you do!
The Grand Tease is New Zealand's Burlesque contest, with heats in the main centres and a final subsequently held in Christchurch. Last night was the Wellington heat. Eight locals and an Aucklander who loves it here got on stage and did two acts each -  a "Classic" act and a "Neo" act.
Classic is about elements of tradition - feather fans, big band music, sequin gowns, sequin everything. In Wellington, we are not big on Classic style and it was a challenge for most. We're Neo-ists on the whole - Neo is a free for all of references to popular culture from movies and books and games to food to commentary on society. Costuming can be anything.
Happily, the performance order was the same in both halves so I had a good 45 minutes to change from one costume to the other, which included makeup.
Frame one - my Classic act. Frame two, back stage in my Neo act outfit.  Frame three, taken when I'm on stage.
Can you guess who I was in my Neo act?
Everyone really rose to the occasion, and all nine performers were just fabulous. I had no desire to go to the final as a performer, but I was utterly blown away to get these two awards on the night. Best Circus/Vaudeville and Most Innovative - two distinctions I really value!
I am going to the final to support all of the finalists, but secretly to pump for Jena,  Debbie and Blu, representing Wellington. Jena is my "one to watch" and came away to Whakatane with us last year, Debbie is producer of Caburlesque and a "partner in crime", and Blu is one of those gorgeous people who makes audiences happy and that includes me!
As for the Mad Hatter, he is making a further appearance on 6 August at the Tim Burton tribute night of Caburlesque. With Mrs Lovett. I reckon if I can go from glamour to Hatter in 45 minutes, I can go from Lovett to Hatter in 25. Wish me luck!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Suddenly Frida!

Suddenly, after three months of planning and practising and making frocky things, Frida was standing before us. We had a lovely drive up to Palmerston North (about two hours) and after sorting out the usual logistics, 11 drag queens settled in the green room to apply makeup. LOTS of makeup.

Me looking fierce! I was going for a slightly painterly look. I think it worked! Please note that the auto filter in my phone is still working, called "make me look like my mother" But that headpiece is my pride and joy!
The opening number. Maybe you can make out the monobrow that I drew on in front of the audience as I discovered my inner Frida!

 Skipping about a bit, this is the final number called Frida's Dream. From left to right, LaQuisha St Redfern, Harlie Lux, Anna Diction, Stephii Onassiss, Indy Pendant, Tess Tosterone and Claire Voyant.
 I changed into this half way through the second half. This number was La Vie en Rose, interspersed with quotes from Frida Kahlo about the nature of love.
 The gang! We performed in the foyer of Te Manawa Museum, in front of this beautiful window. It really was something. 

 This is Douglas Sievers Jarrett, pole dancer extraordinaire and the loveliest guy - he is a local and looked after us so well.
Stephii as one of the two Fridas from the painting. Stephii is a graduate of our NZ Drama School's Costume Design course, and makes amazing costumes. She won Mx Capital Drag 2016 and deservedly so - a real powerhouse on stage!

So after a terrible night's sleep because of high heel induced leg cramps and coughing fits (the hotel was gorgeous such a pity!) LaQuisha and I went out for breakfast and eventually a group of rather tired and subdued but happy young men joined us. It was quite a trick sitting outside a cafe in Palmy with young men applying makeup, not something the locals are used to. They all caught the bus home while we drove back.
It was an epic show and a magic weekend, but it left me with another bout of horrible cold. I am now on antibiotics and already feeling a little more human. Today I even went into work and organised three new gigs, as well as the usual workaday things I do. Nothing flash though.
So, on the 23rd I have my next gig, I am sure I will be fine by then. I've even nearly completed my costume, and practised the routine!!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Another sneak preview!

ooooh lala, my Frida costume is looking incredible. I do feel it more a tribute to some unmade Disney movie about a Spanish Princess, but I can live with that. It's a colour thing - when you get that much floral action on a black background.
Anyway here is a bad Phone Photo of the bodice.
The 3d roses go along the tops off the off the shoulder puffy sleeves. The colours are much brighter in reality but I love the old peony colours of this photo. The skirt from last post goes OVER this, and the black of the waistband blends perfectly into the black of the bodice, so the sequin flowers float over it. Delicious
People I think I have finally worked it out. I love dressing up! LOVE it! Performing is the best excuse to make and wear gorgeous things. It suddenly seems so obvious!
Anyway  to my friends in the Us, have a great 4 July holiday, to the rest of us, have a lovely week xo

Friday, July 1, 2016

Just a quickie!

It's all on Chez Iron, getting costumes and props ready for the Viva Frida! show at Te Manawa Museum in Palmerston North. Only days away! So this today's job has been making my skirt, out of the most delicious sequin net, resplendent with massive sequinned flowers in sunset hues.
My idea was to mount a full circle of the net onto 75mm black elastic, because my waistline is so very variable. It is going on over a black corset top so the blacks will blend together.
However, I want the flowers at the top of the skirt to sort of blend into the top, as if it is all one. So, tonight I am hand stitching flowers over the join. To maintain the stretch, I've popped the whole thing over two chair backs arranged in a triangle approximating the circumference of my substantial waist.
I'm trying out the camera on my laptop thing. The light is quite odd as I have a mega bright work lamp pointing at it. Anyway this is what it looks like, complete with my dressing gown clad knees.
The magnifying glass is one of the things attached to my lamp - it doesn't really do it for me so I've pushed it out of the way. You may be able to make out the tops of my pins as I've yet to sew this lot of flowers down. Nearly half way.
It's quite surreal sitting here typing this in exactly the same position as this photo, so my view is your view.
The net where not sequinned is very sheer, but I am floofling it out with another skirt of mine made from black silk chiffon over burgundy satin. I wore it last in 2007 and am quite pleased I hung onto it now!
I think it will be worth it. The whole costume is so OTT, even for me! More soon! Enjoy your weekends!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Rainy Days and Sundays

What a weekend! On Friday night the much anticipated Queen vs Queen finally happened. This is a "contest" that happens monthly, where two drag performers (king, queen, princess, whatever!) perform to see who is the best. It's a lot of good natured fun really, as noone cares who wins or loses.
So, after a bit of a roundabout process, I ended up going up against Polly Filla, who actually lives in Australia now, is a professional drag artist, and just happened to be back for a week! Eep! Polly is GORGEOUS, and SO GOOD, he is the best lip syncher I've ever seen perform by a long stretch.
Our poster!
Colin (Polly's alter ego) and I ended up hanging out together all week, sewing (he is a fantastic costumier as well) and of course we had some fun with a costume each in different styles from the same hidjus sequin fabric. We had a gag planned where we came out in the same costume and have a big fight about it. But, it also transpired that we already had matching costumes, which meant even more fun!
Matching corsets - they look more different because I put my fabric over purple and Polly put his over green. We even had matching brunette and hot pink hair!
Much fun was made of us "discovering" the matching over costumes, throwing a fit and stomping off to opposite ends of the stage to take off our matching outers, only to "discover" that we had matching unders too! Much to the absolute delight of the audience! Then we lip synched No More Tears, (Enough is Enough) and the audience voted. Completely ignoring the obvious bias of the Wellington crowd, we both declared the Emcee Stephii Onassis to be the winner. You can see a sliver of Stephii on the left. Yes he has a massive run in his tights and no he doesn't care.
ANYWAY, Colin stayed for the weekend, as we had another show on Sunday. I had a photo shoot at 10.am on Sunday morning so anyone who needed to could then attend the Pulse Fundraiser at 1pm (yup, another one).
This was us at the Fundraiser, Team Glamour! I honestly have no idea what I was trying to do with my eye game; it's terrifying and I blame it on having to get glammed up at 7am on a Sunday. One's judgement can be impaired by such things! Polly's makeup is art, every time. I peer at photos trying to work it all out, and watched it all being done, but he has had 20 years to perfect it.
The photo shoot was lots of fun and the fabulous Roxy was kind enough to take pics of me with friend Debbie, and also with Jack, my adopted son, when we were there to take group shots of contestants in the Grand Tease on 23 July (heaven help me!)
The fundraiser was as usual very long. We didn't get to leave until 4.30pm! Then it was home - sequin gown and eyelashes off, apron on and into making macaroni cheese in large quantities for the young drag performers coming over for a meeting about a show we are doing in a fortnight. They may be the most gorgeous and glamorous creatures when in drag, but underneath 22 year old men eat a LOT. I got the 'ronis and cheese bake and a banana cake in the oven, took off my makeup and took down my hair, and just then the doorbell goes and they swept in. Phew!
It was a very noisy evening and David retreated to the bedroom. But we got our show sorted, our rehearsal schedule sorted, and the dishes done.
Why the title of this post? Because it fair bucketed down all of Sunday, so dashes in and out of buildings and to and from cars in glamorous wigs and costumes and impractical shoes was an almighty pain in the pattoottie!
So, today I am pretty tired. But happy and yay! Tonight is the last of the installments of watching The Great British Sewing Bee with friends from the WSBN. A very different group to have over for dinner, but pretty much as noisy, albeit in more sensible shoes!

Monday, June 20, 2016


A lone pic from the fund raiser. I love the sepia look, and the eyebrows make me look surprised. NOT as surprised as the fairly young crowd who had been politely tolerating the twee song, up until the part where the special sugar comes out and then they went wild! So silly!!!
P.S. a personal share, because I'm all about oversharing: this constantly being photographed has caused me to confront how much fat I have re-accumulated this year. I am mildly surprised but in a good way that this news is not alarming or causing me a sense of shame. Just a sense of, better sort that, cos letting out costumes is a tedious bore! xo

Sunday, June 19, 2016

On Eyebrows and Orlando

What a week. I am still processing this shooting in Orlando - the overwhelming implications of it - to hate that much, all the straightsplaining, the Islam blaming, the stories coming through. The massive healthcare bills facing the survivors - the impact on my tribe of gay friends.
Naturally and inevitably, people here want to do something to help. To help the survivors; knowing that nothing we do will bring back the murdered or turn back time, but to push back with love, with refusal to be cowed, with support and solidarity.
So, two fundraiser shows were hurriedly put together, and I was told I am in both. Not asked! This is what happens when your "son from another mother" is organising it all.
I already had an Emcee gig on Saturday, a fantastic show called DIY Burleskiwi. Contestants from all over NZ, with a budget of only $100, put together costumes and routines to knock our socks off. It was a fabulous night and here's a few pics of me:

,,, and here's the curtain call. The stand out item I feel is Pixie Twist's cheese hat. SO much creativity was shown, I was just blown away.
I am sitting here still with my makeup on from the Sunday night fund raiser, only eyelashes removed so far. So no pics, and as I did Mary Poppins, you've seen it all before anyway. But since Orlando, I've started "blocking" my eyebrows. This is the practice of erasing one's own eyebrows and redrawing them with a higher arch. Drag queens do this because men have lower and more prominent brow bones than women so it helps to feminise the face. Naturally being a woman I don't NEED to do this, but I have a strong sense of wanting to show solidarity with my cross gender drag sisters. It is a bit of a chore but irrationally, it matters to me now.
So, I am off to smear melted coconut oil all over my face, wipe it off with warm damp mutton cloth, then off to bed before a week of preparing for our show Queen VS Queen on Friday night, where I get to perform with, and against, Polyfilla, possibly New Zealand's most famous drag export ever. ARGH!! Then on Sunday 26th, a lunch fund raiser for Orlando.
Go well, lovelies. xo