Sunday, March 25, 2012

On "climaxing" during your striptease...

As you all know by now, one of my main goals with The Intro to Boylesk Class is to assist my students in developing their own Boylesk stripteases. So, over the first three weeks, we've examined the "bare bones" of a striptease, from the first few seconds a boy enters the stage, to manipulating, teasing, and whisking off his costume, and now finally, to unveiling that big, panting, sweaty exclamation point I refer to as...  
(cue gong.)

To help my students and myself breakdown the bare parts of a striptease number, I defined the Final Reveal as such:

"The peak or highest climax of one's number. The point at which all aspects of your story line meld together and deliver the final 'payoff' to your audience."

However, I tried to impress upon my budding boylesk'ers that while of course a final reveal can imply a physical reveal of one's body, there are many different ways of "climaxing" in your number. The following are just a few examples I've observed and loosely termed from watching the amazing burlesque and boylesk artists I have the privilege of performing with.

Bare Bum: Ray Gunn
Again, semi-nude or full nudity reveals are of course always a great way to end a piece. Female performers showcase pasty covered breasts and a g-string or merkin, and male performers strip to a g-string or pouch. I personally believe that if burlesque girls are stripping off as much as possible then we male performer's too need to be willing to at least strip down to a bare bum. And one set of cheeks I never get tired of looking at belong to the fantastic Chicago based Ray Gunn.

Phallic Prop: Jett Adore
One of the many things I love about this number is not only Jett's ability to amaze and tease his audience with a seemingly small amount of costume pieces, but also that he showcases at least three different kinds of "birds" throughout the number using the same mask, saving the most impressive peacock for last.

Bizarre Twists: Julie Atlas Muz
What I really admire about this particular number of Julie's is that she is thoroughly stripped down halfway through her piece, yet there is still more story to be told. Julie's final reveal not only relates to the story she's created of a real life serial killer but also is both clever and funny in its (literal) execution.

Physical trick or stunt: Miss Ekaterina
As audience members I think we are always amazed especially but acts or feats we feel ourselves never capable of achieving. Even the (semi) simple act of jumping into the splits can cause a crowd to burst into cheers from its sheer dynamic physicality. Though Miss Ekaterina displays a variety of professionally trained contortions throughout this number, she saves a trick that not only manages to be physically impressive but also extremely hilarious. Her number is wildly successful not only for its use of impressive physical stunts, but also because she has incorporated these moves into a believable, highly entertaining story.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Broke Back Boylesk

I finally have video for one of my new favorite acts: Rhinestone Cowboy. Its one part Liberace, one part break-away, and all parts Broke Back Boylesk! 

Here I am with the sensational Miss Polly Rae of The Hurly Burly Show! The act was conceived in New York and workshopped in London but there's plenty of glitter and horse meat for both sides of the Atlantic!

Click the photo and enjoy!

Monday, March 19, 2012

The (not-so) Ancient Art of the Glitter Nipple...

As burlesque and boyelsk performers, I think one could argue that we have a considerably more "amped up" or drag-esque appearance than our stripper club sisters and brothers. And this is not of course to imply that one group puts more or less effort into their look, but simply that a burlesque show requires an "uber-woman/uber-man" approach to styling oneself. After all, we are celebrating the "feminine," the "masculine" and everything else in between and even a little gender play requires a minimum of eye liner!

There are amazing examples in the burlesque community of ladies who exemplify this style of "female impersonation," including my dear friend and mentor World Famous *BOB*

("Professional Blonde Spectacle," the World Famous *BOB*)

Performers like Bob inspire me to continually improve upon my appearance onstage. As a male performer I find it both fun, yet somewhat difficult to literally make-up and present a boy onstage who is both masculine and yet offers something exotic as well without too much drag. (And note, I'm speaking only for myself and my own preferred look, not any other boylesk performer.)

One styling I try to always make a habit for the stage is... THE GLITTER NIPPLE (cue tingling of bells and chimes.)
 (At least the nipple looks classy.)

I first encountered the glitter nipple doing shows with incomparable Tigger! who is always masterfully made-up. The process is really quite simple, and after awhile of assuring fellow male performers that I'm in fact not wearing tiny, tiny pasties, I thought I'd share my process... I give you, the not-so-ancient-art of the Glitter Nipple (again, cue tingling of bells and chimes):

You'll need...
-eyelash glue
-a baby wipe or two

-So, what I do is take my eyelash glue--I use "Duo" because it also peels off easily--and put a dab on each nipple. I then rub in around to evenly coat my nips.

-For glitter I use superfine cosmetic glitter as it coats more evenly and sticks better than the big square craft glitter. The brand I buy (Ricky's NYC) comes in a tiny almost "salt-shaker" kind of holder, so I sprinkle the glitter to coat the nipple as much as possible and then shake off the access.

-This sounds weird, but if you can, I also "pick up" my nipple with my thumb and pointer finger and kind of lift it to isolate the area more when glittering to avoid waste and mess. Multi-talented, what can I say.

-You might find that you still have glitter trails on your chest, stomach, or the area around the nipple, so I take a baby wipe and just pick up the excess.

-Let dry for five minutes or so and you're done!

(Final cue of tingling bells and chimes.)

I hope that helps boys! And remember, a little eyeliner and a glitter nip go a long way!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ride that Tie!

So yesterday in class the boys and I looked at two essentially "masculine" garments and how to strip them off our bodies: the tie and the button down (not break-away) dress shirt. There's a myriad of ways to strip and play with these clothing items as well as some pitfalls to avoid. For instance, I know when I first started stripping I would often "floss" my body with my tie, i.e., rapidly rub it back and forth between my legs as if I was a deranged boyscout trying to light a fire in my crotch (totally different number).

Instead, I was thankfully redirected by Miss Jo Weldon Boobs of the New York School of Burlesque to hold the tie tautly in both hands, and then gyrate my pelvis forward and back again as if riding it for a much more controlled, need I say sexier bit of "stripper-ography."

A button down shirt is somewhat trickier because it requires lots of small movement of small body parts in a small concentrated area to release the garment for what is often a crowded room of drunks or an audience set far back from your stage. I find it helpful to incorporate my entire body, popping my hips as I undo each button or stretching the fabric of the shirt after I undo a button to expose as much chest as possible.

("I said ride that tie dammit!")

Once the garment is off its really up to the performer to make the most or least out of it. It's helpful to remember that you probably won't spend the same amount of time playing with each costume piece. You would just end up with a number that's  very short or very long but in either case not that dynamic or interesting. Instead, I encouraged the students on top of exploring the many options for how a garment comes off their bodies to also play with different tempos and rhythms hidden in their music to create more varied, layered choreography. Below are two videos of burlesque and boylesque stars Boo Boo Darlin' and Ray Gunn, each taking a basic strip tease and not only imbuing it with the above mentioned point, but also creating extremely specific, personal story lines with their numbers resulting in sexy, humorous, and entertaining pieces.

 (Click above for "Slow Motion")


Assessing your assets, giving them the goods...

It's really amazing to me just how far a genuine smile (and maybe a wink) can get you in life, onstage, and especially, in New York City. You'll have to forgive me if I start waxing reminiscently about fast times and hard men and spandex and pleather in frosted tones because I just finished watching Show Girls so I'm still in the mindset of miss Nomie Malone (cue sound effect of hands doing weird cat-like choreography.)

(Thrust goddammit!)

And yet, Nomi is a perfect example for this post of a dancer who knew her assets: a wicked hyper-extension of the pelvis and some fine, fine nail art. I say this jokingly, but it seems to me that as strippers and teasers we have two kinds of assets: those that are specific to our gender and those that belong specifically to the performer. As a boylesker in a basic striptease, I'm taking off layer after layer of clothing and garments to reveal what? Essentially, my junk. Whether clad in some flashy spandex or a spiked up codpiece, the strip revolves around revealing what makes me male. What makes the number special, is my individual assets or personality I reveal during the number. Yesterday in class, I challenged the students to seriously think about what makes them each special as performers and how to reveal at least glimpses of those traits during their teases. Is it a smile? A specific body part or region? A thick mat of chest hair? Etc., etc. Whatever it may be, I know that when I'm in the audience I'm amazed most not only by a great number, but more so by a great personality, and there's just as many ways to showcase that as there are to take your pants off.

(That's right Burt, you showcase that chest hair!)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Testicle Festivals Abounding...

If you are a performer or fan on the burlesque scene in any city, chances are you are familiar with its rapidly growing kid brother BOYLESK (or BOYLESQUE).

However, I often find myself explaining what it is "I do" over and over to new acquaintances, at parties, and in some cases, to new-and old-burlesque gals. Whereas at first I used to feel self conscious or even annoyed at having to explain that I'm "kind of a male performer in the burlesque scene, but I'm not just a stripper but I'm also kind of an actor and it's also sort of like a performance art...etc." I actually now relish the opportunity to enlighten others about this performance form which has now completely occupied my time. Even more exciting to me is the fact that more and more boys are getting involved in the scene, so much now that there are two new, need I say MAJOR events happening on different sides of the Atlantic:


How amazing is this?!?! For the first time ever boys from across the country and the world are going to be sharing the stage in a show that's all about Boylesque! And don't misunderstand me; I LOVE performing alongside my burly-q ladies, but again, performers and fans know that all male shows are few and far between, especially one of this scope and size. 

The festival happens APRIL 27-28. I will not be surprised if these events completely sell out, so get your tickets in advance HERE!

And... across the pond in my home-away-from-home...

Over the past year and a half I've had the great joy to travel back and forth between NYC and London to perform and teach. Again, while there have been male performers in the UK scene for awhile, there has been such a growth lately that the WORLD BURLESQUE GAMES now have a male show (which I will be competing in) PLUS, my dear friend and powerhouse producer TEMPEST ROSE has extended her Burlesque Idol empire to now include a BOYLESQUE IDOL! 

And of course, don't forget about the Intro to Boylesk Showcase happening SUNDAY, APRIL 22ND. Details soon!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Psychedelic Stripping Monkey, well, really an ape...


 I just wanted to share a newly found band whose music is this amazing blend of jazz, rock, and sleaze that I just know they'll fit right in with the Intro to Boylesk Class: King Khan and His Shrines. Founded by King Khan himself (alias Arish Khan) the band's psychedelic rock shows are usually home to theatrical, weird and--no shame--idiotic stage antics including but not limited to a cheer leader go-go girl known as Bamborrella.

I'm hooked. (All it really took was the name Bamboorella... and the giant headdress Khan occasionally sports.)

I couldn't find any music videos off the top of my searches, but the clip below features a photo montage showcasing what I can only imagine are hilarious, messy, but ultimately rhythmically delicious stage performances:

And speaking of deliciousness onstage, I was first clued into Khan by the beautifully inked boylesk and hula-hoop spectacle that is FERRO who does an amazing number to one of their songs:

(FERRO, Styled and photographed by State of Emergency.)

My students and I will also be working on exercises and a group number to one of Khan's songs for our showcase, APRIL 22ND! More on that soon!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Most Naked A Stripper Will Ever Be... in front of a group of students. At 1pm in the afternoon. In a dance studio situated next to a pilates exercise center, a cobbler, and a "finishing school" for young ladies.

Luckily for me I have EIGHT eager new students, all waiting to bust out of their clothes--and that's exactly what we did today.

My Intro to Boylesk Class is geared towards learning the basics of baring it all in a striptease number that is 1) well orgazined, 2) entertaining, and 3) ultimately the student's own creation.We have seven classes to create these numbers which are then produced in a student showcase (mark your calendar's, April 22nd!).

Besides introducing the students to the strict school uniform (which would be underwear), we also specifically examined making an entrance onstage emphasizing economy of movement, eye contact, and individual audience interactions and moments. So instead of teaching the beginning steps of making a pie crust, or say, sewing a button (ah, speech class) I instead instructed this fresh crop of strip teaser's and pleaser's on the importance of maintaining eye contact while suggestively rotating your hips.

 (Sure, kind of like that.)

We also discussed creating a stage persona or a stage character. The students' first assignment (and yes, even strippers get homework) is to write out a monologue of who they see themselves as onstage. Without diving too deep into the aesthetics of performance (this is a post after all), I asked themselves to consider either developing a stage persona, or, a stage character. Its my personal opinion that the former term is more of an extension of one's own personality amplified for the stage where the latter is perhaps a more extreme personality that may or may not share the performer's own thoughts, values, let alone habits of walking, talking, or dressing. For example, singer Beyonce Knowles, an already well established, somewhat wholesome pop culture persona created "Sasha Fierce" as a more wild, exotic character to inhabit onstage.

As part of the class, I'm going to be posting examples of current, amazing burelsque and boylesk performers, especially those living and working in NYC. Which brings me to the videos posted below. Bradford Scobie and Tigger! are two fantastic veterans of the NYC burlesque, theater, and downtown performance scenes, Tigger! being recognized as the King of Boylesque as well as the first ever Mr. Exotic World, 2006. On top of their already dynamic stage persona's, Scobie and Tigger! also have created a plethora of stage characters to the delight, amazement, and (many times), fear of their audiences. Below are two examples, the first with Scobie as "Moisty the Snowman" and the second with Tigger! as "Tawny the Tigress." Enjoy, and continue to follow the class as we explore the A-Z of the G-String.

Moisty the Snowman

 Tawny the Tigress