Goldie Candela, the recipient of the first Sparkly Devil Memorial Scholarship, shares her experience of the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend 2014. Details about how to apply for the 2015 Scholarship and to compete or perform in next year’s weekender can be found below.
21st Century Burlesque Magazine Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend 2014 Coverage is sponsored by Fancy Feather.
I always thought that at my first time at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend I would be merely a fly on the wall, soaking in all the glitter and burlesque legends, and spending special moments with those in the glitter family I already knew. Never in a million years could I have imagined that my first year would be as the first recipient of The Sparkly Devil Memorial Scholarship, a scholarship that not only represents what I feel is the true meaning of the weekend but was created for our community to remember a woman who laid the groundwork for bridging relationships between those of us in this new wave of burlesque and the burlesque legends who came before us. It was all happening…
Thursday June 5th
Well, it’s THE day! I didn’t get any sleep last night; I felt like a kid waiting for Santa to arrive. Shot up around 7am to make sure we were fully packed up! Yep, my honey is coming with me to experience not only one of the biggest weekends in my life and career but his very first festival! There’s something almost magical about being able to share milestones in your career with a partner who is as wide eyed about the experience as you are.
The taxi could not have got to the house fast enough. I’m a nervous/frantic traveller so you bet I made sure we were there two hours before the flight – just in time to get my TSA massage and some food before heading to the gate. Who do I see as we’re standing by the gate waiting to board? None other than one of my favourite Austin ladies, Roxie Moxie! Oh yes, this weekend was going to be fabulous! Sadly Roxie wasn’t sitting near us but the in-flight Bloody Mary sure put that smile back on my face, and about three hours later we would land in Las Vegas!
Get to the Orleans finally and check in to our room. Then I leave the honey to rest so I can go check in. I’m not even gonna lie – I got completely lost. Then, at last, I found where to get my wristband and goodies for the weekend. Friendly faces start to emerge as Indigo Blue walks in to do much of the same. Then I hear a scream! It’s my Kiki Maroon! My Houston ladies Dem Damn Dames had made the pilgrimage with a camera crew in tow. We Texans like to make a mark, hehe. With lots of kisses and hugs I leave to attempt to find my way back to the elevators.
I stop my search at Al’s Oyster Bar where I spot Austin burlesquer and costumier Sherry Bomb with her hubby and decide to pop in for a much needed beverage. Casinos are cool, but after walking around in circles due to my lack of direction they make me dizzy. It was time for another Bloody Mary and some down time before getting ready for the Movers, Shakers and Innovators Showcase, and of course a trip to the hotel’s liquor store to get some bubbles, ‘cause it ain’t burlesque unless I can get ready while drinking some champagne. Honey and I shot back up to the room to get dressed up for our first night of BHoF!
Heading down to the showroom is probably one of my favourite experiences of BHoF, mainly due to the poor muggles who may be getting stuck in a live version of Drag U without knowing it. So many beautiful showpeople all cramming their sparkles and hair into tiny elevators. I feel like that should be a new online segment for festivals. I’d watch it!
There is no mistaking where the burlesque show is going on. All the faces, gowns and suits. After kissing my hellos to some of my friends I finally get to meet my burlesque legend I am lucky enough to escort for the weekend ‘The Venus of Dance’ – Dee Milo! She greets me with her world famous smile and warmth. My life is made. The entire weekend could be over in just a couple of minutes and I would be happy. We agree to meet up the next day for her tech rehearsal and she sends me off to experience the show!
Into the theatre we go to find our seats. I get to sit next to Kingfish and his parents. I love seeing supportive parents for performers. Not all of us have that and when you get to see a proud parent speak of their child’s career in burlesque and have that sparkle of pride in their eye it’s truly a beautiful thing to experience.
The lights went dim and it was SHOWTIME! Hosting the opening night was none other than New York’s Mayor of Burlesque, Jonny Porkpie and one of my favourite people in the world, Blanche DeBris (Las Vegas, NV). Kay Sera opened the show with an amazing Garden of Eden routine. As a gal who loves a good reverse strip this routine had it all! One of the most memorable of the weekend.
Other routines left their mark on me. Bella Blue (NOLA) stripped out of a fully rhinestoned full coverage body suit. Darlinda Just Darlinda performed a routine I watch the video of when I’m having creative blocks. It’s so innovative and sexy, and the entire routine is very simple; a chair/booty routine that I just can’t get enough of and was able to finally see live. I watch this woman perform and I know I am where I should be.
The big treat of the evening was seeing Ray Gunn perform his Jabberwocky routine. The man moves like butta! And leaves all of us screaming like teeny bopper prepubescents. Plus the tribute to Dixie Evans that Blanche and Jonny did with assistance from some lovely performers.
The show was over and I looked over at my honey as he had the biggest smile on his face. It was the first time he’d truly understood burlesque and its impact. We went for a small bite after with every intention of going to the after party. After a full belly it finally hit that I had been going all day on about three hours of sleep. Sadly this BHoF virgin was done for the evening. It was time for bed!
Friday June 6th
An early morning start for the first of the BurlyCon sponsored Burlesque Finishing School classes! First up was Gypsy Louise’s ‘Elegant Negligee’. I was really looking forward to this one as I had just recently become obsessed with dusters and had one made right before BHoF for a new routine. Gypsy taught us quite a few neat tricks with movement and the importance of concealing with your prop, aka the duster. Gypsy makes and sells dusters and had some on hand for us to work with. I have to say they were gorgeous! I fell in love with a beautiful black and zebra print, but being a stripper on a very tight budget I had to leave without purchasing one of my very own. Gypsy’s class came to an end but not without receiving our own autographed photos and hearing some great stories of when Gypsy started dancing. I’ve got to say, this woman’s pretty darn tough!
I ended up missing the next class which was Tai Ping’s ‘Latin Moves’ class with her lovely assistant Kristina Nekia, but all for good reason. I met up with Dee Milo and helped walk her costume down to the dressing room and was lucky enough to be able to sit through the tech rehearsals for Titans of Tease. I was even able to give hugs to Shannon Doah, who I have decided is my Aunty. I love when she is able to come to Texas and if I had the money I’d bring all the ladies to Austin for a big Titans Take Texas show! These ladies inspire me so much and I hope anyone in our community who has the chance to be an escort during BHoF signs up. I watched Dee tech a song just given to her that day; a woman after my own heart, she still hadn’t chosen the song she was going to perform to and was ready to listen to it a few times and then hit that stage. When I say Dee Milo is my spirit animal I truly mean it. We left after her tech was done to grab a bite to eat at TGI Fridays and to this day I can’t order a slider without thinking of her. We chatted about anything and everything and I also received a few tips on how to be a cougar, meow! We parted ways so both of us could start getting ready for the evening.
I complain all the time about having to get ready for things, but to be honest I actually love getting all dragged up. Tonight was also ‘green’ night, and when it was announced I kinda knew it was my year to go to BHoF – it’s mine and my honey’s favourite colour. So green it was. I was gifted a beautiful dress that I rhinestoned my very own Sparkly Devil onto; I felt like I needed her with me for Legends Night. I got dolled up and met Dee Milo backstage. Helping her get ready was so much fun and she’s truly the easiest, sweetest person to ever exist. She shared a dressing room with Holiday O’Hara, Val Valentine, and Penny Star Sr., who had her granddaughter Penny Star Jr. with her. I love both those ladies, truly. To hear those ladies chat is a show within itself. It’s great feeling, like you’ve walked right into one of the dressing rooms of the old clubs some of them used to work at together. It’s true that when you find your people that time doesn’t really exist, it just pauses until you can meet up again.
The term ‘fangirl’ doesn’t even begin to describe what was going on in my head while I was backstage getting to say hello to all the legends. Meeting Gail Winn with her escort for the weekend, Frenchie Renard, was quite a treat. Again, the stories and wisdom these ladies and gents have can’t compare to anything I would even try to retell, so do yourself a favour and reach out to these amazing people.
It was Dee’s time to go on, and World Famous *BOB* told her story, which has me calling her the ‘Phoenix of Burlesque’. If you don’t know Dee’s story then do yourself a favour and read about it. Truly heart wrenching. I was able to watch from the wings with Shannon Doah as she walked onstage to roaring applause. Through every hip swing she had the audience in the palm of her hand only the way a legend can. She ended to a much deserved standing ovation. I went backstage with her to help her pack up and watch the last remaining routines of the first act wow the crowd. Leaving backstage I ran into all the legends getting ready for this year’s ‘Annual Walk of Fame’ segment of the evening. Legends such as Big Fannie Annie, Bic Carrol, Gina Bon Bon, Ezi Rider, and this year’s Legend of the Year, Miss Toni Elling. I had the privilege of meeting Miss Toni when she came to Austin this past April for the Texas Burlesque Festival and she has become someone I consider a true friend.
I made my way to the bar quickly to grab a drink and then to my seat to make sure I caught the second act. They need to make a better tear-proof glue for eyelashes. I was mesmerised by every performer on that stage and could not even begin to fathom why there were any empty seats. I’m going to get a little ranty right now and I know I am one of many saying this at this point, but it will never cease to be true. Titans of Tease IS the reason for this weekend. To watch our legends and preserve our history. And if you are chosen out of hundreds and possibly thousands of performers to be able to showcase, compete, or even be able to attend, THIS is the show you should be at beyond any of the others. THESE performers are why we get to do what we do. In this time where it seems so many have lost the concept of respect I put it to our community to ensure that respect for our Legends is NEVER lost. Those of us who made it to our seats are the ones who will ensure the survival of burlesque; we care enough to respect our history and pay tribute to Jennie Lee and Dixie Evans and all those who were stars even before the museum existed, by simply coming to do what we love doing. Supporting burlesque, cheering on those who are taking that stage. Rant over, and I feel sad for anyone who missed it. Bravo Legends, BRAVO!
The show was over and all the legends were ready for the after party! We went and had a nice late dinner with Sherry Bomb and her hubby along with my Jigglewatts sister Pearl Lux. All of us were popping our BHoF cherries so it was great to be able to talk about all of our favourite parts. Also prime rib. Prime rib and champagne. Yummies! Now that our bellies were full we were ready to hit the after party! Having missed the opportunity for the pink carpet photo of all the Texas gals we were able to get a few of us together for a photo. We danced and toasted, and even got to see my St. Louis lady Fiona Flame, chat with mama Tiffany Carter and Ms Gabriella Maze, and get squeezes from Sweet Pea and Seven. Such a great night with so many wonderful people and there was still two more days!
Saturday June 7th
Another early start for Burlesque Finishing School. If it wasn’t for the Java bar I would have gone through severe caffeine withdrawal as I cannot stand hotel room coffee – and ask anyone who has travelled with me, I needs a decent cup of coffee!
The first of the classes was Holiday O’Hara’s ‘Passion, Power and Presence in Performing (Or: How a Woman in a Wheelchair Can Own a 1000 Seat Room)’ I learned so much from this class and continue to use some of the exercises and techniques she taught us in this class. This woman is fantastic and I am so incredibly grateful she taught us these valuable lessons about finding your power, your energy and controlling it. Now when I perform I feel more focused and possibly even more intense and fierce than ever before.
The next class was ‘The Stein Strut and The Self Made Stripper’ taught by Judith Stein, ‘The Grand Beaver of Canadian Burlesque’. It was great to have a woman who is so powerful and amazing to watch engrain in you that no matter what the fad is at the moment, staying true to yourself as a performer is the most important thing you can hone at times when it seems you never have enough rhinestones or your style isn’t being received by such and such show/producer. Staying true to yourself and your vision will take you much farther than trying to be the fad. That was one thing I know so many of us need to hear and it really does ring true.
The final class of the BHoF Finishing School was the one I was truly looking forward to and was run by the one and only 2014 Legend of the Year, Miss Toni Elling: ‘Parade Pose and Peel’. Being able to have the eyes of a legend on your movements and give you advice on how to improve was exactly the experience that I needed. I left those master classes feeling a new sense of self and couldn’t wait to use the techniques on stage.
After class it was time to GET OUT of the casino for a couple of hours. I met up with Sherry and her hubby and we decided to go to the Burlesque Hall of Fame Museum! So surreal to finally be able to see it and see all the photographs of so many of my idols. I teared up as we got to the display of costumes, one of which was Sparkly’s Pleasantville costume from her last BHoF performance. To see it filled me with so many emotions, sadness and gratitude. I just hope she would be proud of our community and how so many of us are making it a mission to ensure her work with our legends continues. After the Burlesque Hall of Fame Museum we dashed over to Fantastic Swap Meet! All I can say is OMG! I never wanted to leave! Jewellery, hair, and more! I can’t wait to come back to Vegas just to spend some more money there. Showgirl on a budget? Go to the Swap Meet! We spent some money, had some fun and headed back to the hotel for dinner and prep for the competition night!
Hosted by Kingfish and Lili La Scala, I knew this was going to be one marvellous show. I was looking forward to seeing so many perform in this year’s competition. The diversity alone had me excited to see what was going to happen. Then of course all the great Texas representation, as we had our Ruby Revue gals showing them how we bump and grind in the Lone Star state.
It was so great being able to cheer on all the performers and it’s so easy to see why each act was chosen. Each performer showed why they were some of the top performers around the world. My voice actually went out after I screamed for Jeez Loueez who reenacted my childhood on stage with her Rufio act. PERFECTION, lady! Other favourites of the night were Aurora Galore, who I totally have a huge burlesque crush on. She’s freaking awesome. Bonnie Fox just seemed to glide on stage – well deserved win! It was a stunning routine.
Burlesque Noir and the ladies of the Ruby Revue brought back the showgirl with their phenomenal routines, and the competitors for both King and Miss Exotic World made me feel so glad I wasn’t on the judges panel. You all blew me away. Each routine was completely different and inspiring. Burgundy Brixx, you get a special shout out; your routine was innovative, entertaining and just plain cool. I kinda wanna start a slow clap right now just thinking of it. Huge congrats to all the winners and the competitors. Every one of you had this rookie inspired and in awe.
Sunday June 8th
Now I may get my burlesque card revoked for this but Sunday was such a bittersweet day. I was still loving every moment but starting to really miss home and the opportunity to walk around without makeup. I started with a little vending browsing before the Legends Panel. It was great to see so many people some out to hear the stories and ask questions. I was able to spend a few more moments with Dee Milo as I helped set up her spot for the Legend’s photo signing. Then I ran to get my costume on for the Pool Party Fashion Show. I had been asked by Cheeky Cheetah to walk one of her remarkably gorgeous designs. I love the work this woman creates. Beautiful! It was also the only time at the pool I managed to get the entire time I was at BHoF. After a lovely stroll in one of my favourite costume designer’s designs, I had a choice to make. Lay by the pool or take a nap? Yeah I took a nap. Zzzz.
I woke up and started getting ready for the final night of BHoF and to cheer on my dear friend and troupe mate Ruby Joule among other iconic performers in the All Stars and Icons showcase. Hosting the evening was the Mexican Elvis himself, El Vez, and the ever lovely Fannie Spankings. I think these two should always host together. They were great! The momentum stayed strong and we were treated to some great performances by Tigger! and Stephanie Blake, who made me fan the honey down; he loves a red head and, hell, so do I. Class act all the way and her sensual movements had me entranced. Seeing my burlesque big sister Ruby Joule take the stage with an act I know she’s been dreaming about performing on that stage was pure magic. SO proud of her. When your friends get to live out their dreams it’s almost as if you are experiencing the thrill with them.
Along with this year’s Sassy Lassy honourees the weekend’s shows were a wrap and it was time to after party one last time with my burlesque family.
Monday June 9th
Most of the glitter had been cleaned off, the hotel room was a mess, and we were packed and ready to head home. I would be shining in BHoF afterglow for weeks after. I survived my first BHoF and was able to introduce myself to so many people I only knew from afar. On top of that I was the first recipient of what I deem the most prestigious scholarship that could possibly exist. I am humbled and honoured for the experience. Meeting my burlesque legend Idol and getting to spend some quality one-on-one time getting to know her; Dee Milo will forever be a mentor and friend. I cannot thank the scholarship board and the legend escort committee enough for all this experience has taught me. It was perfect! I hope this leads more performers to apply for next year’s scholarship. It’s really the only way to experience BHoF – learning and talking with our legends.
Tassels crossed I am able to come back next year and experience BHoF all over again.
Till next time BurlyQ fam. With love and a G-String, Goldie Candela.
Quoted in major international newspapers and held in high esteem and affection by the international burlesque community, 21st Century Burlesque Magazine has documented the contemporary burlesque scene since 2007. Founded and edited by Holli-Mae Johnson.