SO. Last night was my first burlesque performance! TL; DR: I took off my clothes. In front of an audience. It was fun! (Spoiler: no nude or near-nude pics of me are in this post.)
When I signed up for Rock ‘n Roll Burlesque at Vaudezilla Studios, I knew that performing would be an option – it was right there in the class description, which was an incentive for me to pick that class over others on their schedule. I haven’t been on stage since a couple ballet recitals in 2007 … but I honestly love performing. (Well, as long as it’s dancing or playing a musical instrument. I learned long ago that I’m not much of a singer, actor or improvisor.)
Our routine was to Tape Song by The Kills, and the theme of our number was basically housewives gone wild. It was a lot of fun to get into character with the choreography, the facial expressions, and the costume. I did my own make-up and went for all of it – fake eyelashes (true story: I have four pairs, only because I tossed a pair that was getting too much glue built up), and glitter eyeliner and glitter lip gloss. You can never have a enough glitter in burlesque.
My BFF Genevieve did my hair. I would be pulling out my hair tie during the number, so it couldn’t be too complicated. I put it in a pony tail and she curled it. (Spoiler: much like the “nothing new on raceday” rule of running, the same applies to performing. Nothing new on stage!)
The show was at 10:30pm at Stage 773 in Lakeview, and our call time was 9:30. The other ladies from my number came over to my place earlier in the evening so we could run through it a few times. (My husband napped while three women repeatedly stripped down to their skivvies in the living room. Such a gentleman.)
Once we got to the theater, we were only able to run through our number once on stage, with the lights and music, before the theater opened, and that was a big confidence boost. Everyone watching (the other performers, the Vaudezilla producers, the stage hands) were very supportive and said we looked great (we were one of only two student numbers – the rest were the professionals). We performed in “The Cab” (cabaret) at Stage 773, which is a smallish theater, with not much space between the stage and the audience, but luckily the stage lights are so bright, you can’t see the audience. Even if they’re 5 feet from you.
Our number was the second-to-last act in the first half. I was a little bit nervous going into it, but excited-nervous. I think I get more nervous for job interviews and stuff. Performing? So much fun! And this time was no exception. As soon as we got on stage … I just loved it. I did have a couple snafus – a little bit of trouble removing one of my gloves with my shoe (like this), but I think I played it off enough that hopefully it wasn’t very noticeable. And when I went to rip out my hair tie and do a nice little heavy-metal-groupie hair whip (which is the only “solo” part of the number) … my hair tie got stuck in my hair, probably because of all the curls and hairspray. It was definitely noticeable, but I think I rolled with it well enough and got it out and did my little hair whip.
Other than those little snafus, everything else was great, and I felt like I had good expressions (my husband said I looked a bit deer-in-headlights, but then he said I was the most beautiful woman of the show), and I had such a good time. I did have a brief moment during the part where we actually take off our dresses where my thoughts were OMG I’M TAKING OFF MY CLOTHES IN FRONT OF PEOPLE, but everyone was digging it (of course), and, you know, that’s the point. Overall, I had a blast, and I would totally do this again!
The audience can’t take photos during the show, so all I have is one from after. But they do have a professional photographer and videographer at every show, so hopefully I can see how good I look under the lights! 😉
After the show with our teacher Lilly Rascal and the other ladies in my number, Nicki and Rachel.
If you’ve thought about taking burlesque … DO IT!! Vaudezilla Studios is on the northwest side (Avondale) and Studio L’amour is in the West Loop. I’ve taken class at both places and they are both tons of fun!! If you really want to get on stage, you’ll have more opportunities to do so sooner with Vaudezilla. (Although performing is always optional.)