Another year, another Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend! Though I woke up late to head to the airport at the ass crack of dawn, I made it across town and through security in 55 minutes! A celebratory bloody Mary is in order (thank for the coupons Southwest!) to prepare my liver for Vegas.
Upon arrival I squeal with excitement to meet up with my Wham Bam sister, Redbone, to check in at The Orleans. Why does it smell different in here?! Where is the taco place?! What are these new restaurants?! The Alligator Bar is closing in a few weeks?! What is life?!
After the initial shock of inevitable change, we meet up with fellow showgirls Bella Blue, Holly Dai, Bunny Galore, and Ariel Helvetica for a run to Trader Joe’s. Can’t be living on hotel food for five days! I’m determined to not let Vegas take my life as it has in years past. I will eat a salad. I will prevail. Back to the hotel we go so the gals can prepare for their show, Live Burlesque in Las Vegas at Boomers. I had to cancel my appearance as BHoF has a new non-compete clause for weekender performers. A bitch can’t even make a dollar up in here. But I had a lovely time watching my friends do their thing and sitting in the parking lot with Gabriella Maze who was already turned way up and ready to rage. I couldn’t hang. I must rest.
Up and at ‘em early to get ready for the day! It’s time to head to the POC Discovery Roundtable discussion moderated by Midnite Martini.
I had been looking forward to this gathering for some time and was thrilled to be greeted by so many beautiful brown faces and allies. I was interested to see how this would play out since the forum was open to non-POC folks, which honestly makes it a significantly less safe of a space. Would we feel comfortable sharing our tears and experiences?
Of course my fears came true when the first fifteen minutes of the roundtable was hijacked by a white man who made it about him, but that discourse is neither here nor there as it was shut down effectively so we could move on. Yeesh. I do wish we had more time and I hope they continue to have this roundtable in the years to come.
Back to the hotel room where I met up with MC Newman (photographer extraordinaire) to get ready for the Movers, Shakers, and Innovators showcase that evening. After my rejuvenating shower I exited the bathroom only to find out that someone let one of my ‘best friends’, Bazuka Joe, in my room and he bombed all of my belongings with these stupid Joe/Martini 2016 stickers! Get out! Why are you here?! This ongoing feud with Bazuka has been hilarious and we’ve decided to keep it going merely for our own entertainment. Little does he know I have a plan of my own…
I head down to the showroom and set up shop at my favourite spot, the bar, and am greeted by dazzling folks from all over the world! After fifteen minutes everything is already overwhelming and obnoxious. PERSONAL SPACE, PEOPLE! I combat this with tequila.
The show is probably my favourite Movers and Shakers showcase that I’ve seen in my four years attending! I was so thrilled to see my friend and Jeezy’s Juke Joint cast member, Camille Leon, absolutely destroy the stage. Sailor St. Claire was a delightful host as was Armitage Shanks (minus the uncomfortable joke fail that sparked a lot of conversation).
My favourite highlights of the night were Corvette Le Face’s Big Lebowski act (The commitment! The faces!), What Surname’s hilarious and crowd rousing interpretive burlesque of burlesque to the most epic Celine Dion track (I MEAN SERIOUSLY! IT WAS EVERYTHING), and my absolute favourite, The Brazen Belles’ boot scooting cowboy tribute to Pony by Ginuwine. You might be thinking, “But Jeez, EVERYbody does an act to Pony, pft.” Well I’m here to tell you right now that they can all stop because the Brazen Belles have that sh*t on lock. This is the only Pony we’ll ever need again. This is not up for discussion.
After retreating to my secret blunt smoking spot, I head up to the after party curated by Sublime Boudoir. The atmosphere is to die for! Absolutely breathtaking and gorgeous. Way to really step it up this year! After chasing the hors d’oeuvre servers around the room for a while my attention was directed to the stage where MC Dusty Limits was taking to the mic. If you’ve been keeping up with social media or the industry in general, then you know how this turned out. Terribly. After being royally pissed off and throwing out a few BOOOOOs I left the after party and returned to my station at the bar. Because tequila. Yikes.
I WOKE UP MAD AS F*CK. I guess you could say I slept on the events of the previous night and woke up in a rage about the comments Dusty Limits made. I took to my FB account. Oh no, how terrible of me. I would then spend the rest of the day on the damn internet (gasp!) either defending my choice to bring this issue up or combing through messages from people around the world thanking me for starting this conversation which is indicative of a larger issue. I will spend the rest of the day emotionally drained and questioning myself, but it’s time to get it together.
Heading to the Black Dance History lecture with special guest Trina Parks! This was exactly what I needed to sooth my soul and bring me back to life. What an inspirational class. As a life-long student of dance it was invigorating to learn about so many more black choreographers and dancers. We even got to learn some moves from Trina! Truly a wonderful moment. We need to have her at Jeezy’s Juke Joint next year!
Walked into Let’s Have A Kiki right when Dusty Limits was addressing the previous night’s faux pas. Awkward. Bazuka Joe reaches out to me and asks me as a friend if I would be willing to meet up with Dusty to have a conversation. Apparently now I’m the damn community liaison. But I agree because I believe follow ups and one-on-one conversations are important.
We meet up for coffee and have a lovely conversation about hosting, and dark comedy, and being on stage under pressure, and safe space, and professionalism, and much more. He was a nice gentleman and obviously very well liked in his area, but we kept it real about where to go from here. I learned that he would be hosting the next three nights of the after parties and assured him that he could get back on track but there would be more work to do.
I stopped by the Barecats Bowling tournament to witness the hot mess express that was happening. OMG THEY PUT A PARTITION UP IN THE BOWLING ALLEY! The children will no longer be subjected to our hedonistic ways. Also, I need to judge next year. Jeezy McJudgerson over here.
Swerved into vending to see that my BADGER NATION stickers have arrived thanks to Brad French and Redbone! I will now begin the process of ruining everything Bazuka Joe and Midnite Martini have built. Stickers for everyone!
Time to watch the legends strut their stuff! The Titans of Tease showcase is always an inspirational tear jerker and this year was no exception. First of all, Val Valentine made it clap. I repeat, LEGEND OF BURLESQUE VAL VALENTINE MADE.DAT.ASS.CLAP. I have died. Luckily, Bambi Jones brought a bitch back to life.
It was so wonderful to see Toni Elling and Bic Carroll host the legends Walk of Fame. More legends on the mic, please! Miss Toni was such a joy and the legends were really showing out. I mean, damn.
Darlinda Just Darlinda’s stunning tribute to Rose La Rose was so on point! I saw this act in Detroit earlier in the year and it was incredible to see the progression. Definitely one of my favourites from the entire weekend.
I tried staying up late because my best friend Tito Bonito is coming to support me and I’m wired with excitement! But I couldn’t make it through and had to get my queenly rest.
I wake up to see Tito’s beautiful face sleeping and drooling and I am pleased as we start the day dry humping and acting a damn fool.
Joined up with my booskis Poison Ivory and her wife Alex for some coffee. We revelled in our nerves and excitement and disbelief. It was so reassuring to spend the morning with friends and loved ones. I took a moment to reflect on my journey and say thank you to the universe for my blessings and thank you to my support system. Time for tech!
Welp, was hoping I could get in a luxurious bath with a homemade bath bomb from Joy Coy and some stretching but now I’m in full on panic mode because EVERYTHING IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW AND I CAN’T. I head down to get my make-up done by professional make-up artist Rizzo Rogue who generously donated her expert services. This, and having Bunny Pistol nearby blasting the tunes, calmed my nerves.
Unfortunately I had to miss most of the competition because I was freaking the hell out, but I was fortunate to catch Memphis Mae in Best Debut (who is my new favourite person and was my pick for Most Innovative), and a couple of the group acts.
By the time the Queen category started I was feeling good and ready to get on that stage! I was able to watch my friends Poison and Di’Lovely and could feel their energy radiating through the screen backstage!
After my act I felt AMAZING! Though everything wasn’t 100% perfect I felt really good and the energy from the crowd brought me to tears afterwards. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again; I’ve never felt so supported in my life! Too bad there’s not an audience choice award… womp womp!
Ok so can we talk about how it feels to lose the biggest competition of your life and still be happy that your friend won and still not want to socialize and go to the after party because this literally JUST HAPPENED and you need a minute to cry and be mad?
The last thing I wanted to do was to leave the showroom and go directly into that massive crowd. It’s hard. I felt like I couldn’t even accept compliments because I would burst into tears. So I retreated to my room and cried into a bottle of tequila and smoked my cares away while my dear support system let me be mad and salty until I got enough of it out to head to the party. Had to find Poison to hug her since I ran out so quickly! Sunglasses. Booty shorts. Tequila in hand. We shall rage on.
IT’S 10:30AM AND I’M STILL AWAKE BECAUSE I RAGED ALL NIGHT WTF. But I somehow made it to the legends panel! Smelling like booze and regret. But nothing could stop me from meeting and greeting these inspirational figures. I loved chatting with Pillow! She’s rad!
I can’t believe I was alive enough to make it to the pool party for some relaxation. Still on the verge of tears at that point, but also happy and content. Such a mix of complex emotions.
There was nary a f*ck to be given Sunday night by the time I walked into the showroom. Let me tell you, Titty Fatigue is real. It really is. But I did manage to make it to the final after-party! And we tore that dance floor UP! Seriously. All the line dances and all the twerking and there was even a sick ass b-boy! We truly shut it down. And again I stayed up way too late.
OMFG IM SO OVER IT PLEASE GET ME THE HELL OUT OF HERE WHERE ARE ALL THE SPARKLY PEOPLE WHO ARE THESE CHILDREN WHY ARE THERE SO MANY CARGO SHORTS. Goodbye Vegas! Until next time!
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.