Tuesday, December 4, 2012

5 Steps to Get Started in Burlesque

I love when audience members or fans approach me and ask how to get involved in Burlesque. Our community is very accepting of new supporters and performers, but there are certain ways that will rocket you to the top of the newbie ladder very quickly, if your goal is to get on the stage with us.

Here's a quick 5-step guide to getting involved in the scene!
- This should work no matter where you are, not just in Toronto. If you're from a city with a small or non-existent scene, more of your research will be online-based, but it can be done!

1. See Some Shows!
  • This should be obvious! You need to see the shows in the community and become familiar with your local performers! Go see and be seen! Take a moment after the show to compliment the producer or the performers that you liked and introduce yourself! Try not to do this before the show, as some showgirls (and boys) need to get into their headspace and may have a long list of things to do.
It's important to support the community in burlesque if you want the community to support you in return. Believe me, you do.

Burlesque is such a community-driven industry, and that (not the money) is one of the reasons I believe so many people are involved. You should never stop supporting other performers, and in return they will be the happiest, most encouraging, and possibly the most fulfilling supporters of you!

If you need to find shows to see in Toronto, take a look at my website! I produce three or four a month. There is also most definitely a meetup group, Facebook group, or other such thing in your city. Make use of it! Pick up flyers at shows you attend! Add the performers you like on Facebook or Twitter and take a look at what they're up to!

2. Do Your Research!
  • You should know what burlesque really is, and was, before you throw yourself into it. Never test the water with both high heels! Part of this is helped by seeing a variety of local shows, as stated above. Another amazing resource, no matter how amazing or empty your local scene is, is Youtube. Thousands of performances are available for you to watch and analyze,and you should do this throughout your burlesque career!
While the current burlesque scene and how to get into it may be your primary concern, you must learn about its roots. You don't need to be an expert (though the information is far more entertaining than the rest of history class tends to be) but you should know where burlesque came from, who Bettie Page, Gypsy Rose Lee, and Lili St Cyr are, and definitely MORE than that.

There are a ton of books, websites, and movies that you can take a look at for this. Take a gander at good 'ole Wikipedia or pick up some of my favourite books and movies on the Amazon sidebar.

Also take a look at the Burlesque Hall of Fame and some major burlesque news websites like my favourite: 21st Century Burlesque.

3. Find a Teacher!
  • Yes you need lessons. You don't have to be an amazing, classically trained dancer. You don't need to have a history in theatre. You don't need to take a university course. However, a lady taking a single ballet class and calling herself a ballet dancer is ridiculous. Burlesque is similar. Any performance background will help you, and while dancing skill is not necessarily needed on stage, grace and rhythm will only help you!
Find a local teacher who understands burlesque* and who is experienced enough to be teaching. The more experience and travel and professionalism (website, business cards, etc) your teacher displays, the better. Many cities have a burlesque school. The Toronto School of Burlesque is our local school. We have has been known to bring in outside teachers such as Ray Gunn, Dangrrr Doll, and Bettina May! New York has Jo 'Boobs' Weldon, Chicago has Michelle L'amour, there are plenty of classes you can take!


Your teacher may be able to connect you with a mentor, or become your mentor themselves. Take every opportunity to learn possible. Take dance classes (jazz and ballet, or maybe even the Pussycat Doll style burlesque classes to get 'sexy movement' down), take improv classes, take clowning or circus classes. The more you know the more you can apply to your stage persona and technique.
Performers who are constantly learning start from a strong base. I myself took lessons with Coco Framboise for about a year and a half before getting on stage. I was also a gogo dancer, ballroom dancer, theatre nerd, and more before getting interested in burlesque. You don't have to have previous stage experience, but you do have to learn. Believe me that you can tell the difference between performers who take learning opportunities and those who don't.

You can also learn from books, Youtube, and videos if a teacher in not available to you, or you can make the yearly pilgrimage to BurlyCon and learn from some of the top performers in burlesque. I'll see you there!

4. Volunteer!
  • Once you've seen a few shows, taken some classes, and learned what burlesque really is, approach some of the friends you've made and ask about opportunities to volunteer! There are many positions you could fill.
Stage Kittening is a very solid and great place to start. The job of the stage kitten is to set and clear the stage between performer's acts. This will give you a chance to learn more about who's who in the shows you're working, and get a backstage view of the shows. I stage kittened quite a bit starting out, and it's also a relatively easy job to excel at! Pay attention, smile, and be cute!

Merchandise and door tables are other chances to help out. Either the producer, or the merchant themselves, might need a little help here. Money is involved so you need to make sure you're comfortable with that level of responsibility.

Approach people you would like to help and offer away! Sometimes you can leave yourself open for whatever they may need you to do, but if you have special skills feel free to offer them up. Are you good at graphics, twitter, organizing or decorating? Make that known!

Do not expect to get paid for volunteering, but don't play down the importance of your position. If you're reliable and a hard worker, your work is worth some value. Whether this is monetary or networking, or something else, is up to you and your temporary employer to decide.

5. Practice!
  • Take your time between classes and show to practice moves and develop a routine. Always always rehearse. Even performers who have been doing this for ages rehearse. You may find that you like to strongly choreograph yours acts, or that you prefer loose choreography with defined moments, such as a glove at this point, followed by the next glove during the chorus, etc.
Practice and rehearsal are what set apart sub par performers from the stars. You can refine and polish your act and dedicate your time to doing the best possible act you can. Record your act with a digital camera or your computer, and watch it! Change and play.

When your teacher or your producer contacts decide you're ready for the stage you will have a set of skills to start building an act, or an act already polished and waiting to go! The videos will also give you something to show for your work!

There you have it! Some links and resources for you to get started in burlesque, no matter what city you're in!

Do you have some more videos or places to link? Suggest them in the comments!

~ Red

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Babes in Space - Reviews and Reflection!

Babes in Space has come and gone again. For those who don't know (how could you not?) Babes in Space is my yearly Star Trek vs Star Wars burlesque show. For the last two years we've run double shows, which I've discovered is actually much easier and more fulfilling than running a single show!

El Toro, Kinky Biskit, and Charlie Quinn as Ewoks
This year the theme was 3-DD and I like to think we entertained in ALL dimensions! With singing, dancing, ewoks, cupcakes, aerialists, and some high profile audience members (like Playboy illustrator Doug Sneyd!) it was a packed show both nights!

Daytona Bitch as Princess Leia
 This show has always been plagued with controversy, duplicates, and last minute 'Augh' factors...and this year was no different. The biggest hurdle this year was trying to figure out whether the show would have its customary booth at FanExpo, Toronto's largest nerd convention. Despite registration back in January, I didn't actually know if I had a table until a few weeks before the show. Luckily, I was able to share a space with The Comic Book Lounge, since despite my early registration I apparently did NOT have a position.

Coco Framboise as Uhura
The convention went well, despite the fact that the late notice meant I had no actualy merchandise beyond some prints and pasties to sell at the table. We sell a lot of tickets at the convention, but unfortunately that doesn't go towards covering the high table cost! It goes straight to production costs and performer pay.

That being said, the success of the show always makes the hurdles of putting it on worth it.

Nasty Canasta as Darth Vader
I had the privilege of booking Nasty Canasta, one of NYC's biggest (and most hilarious) performers. Nasty had been incredibly welcoming in my July trip to NYC (despite being under the weather and very busy) and I was happy to have her and her Darth Vader booty on my stage.
Here's a few shots from the show, and a video with clips and  reviews from the first night!

And a review from the wonderful of Moony on Theatre:

What I was expecting is top-notch dancing with imaginative, lascivious, if not humorously sexual, choreography. This is precisely what I got. 

The whole group!
Melody Merlot as an Orion Slave Girl

Percy Katt as Captain Picard
Charlie Quinn as a Storm Trooper

~ Red

Monday, August 6, 2012

Cocktails and Cabaret - Burlesque at The Rochester

Come to this delicious first Cocktail and Cabaret at The Rochester! Ladies, themed drink specials, and delectable edible treats, all paired with a tantalizing burlesque show sure to keep your plates (and your pants) hot! This BRAND NEW VENUE, replacing The Flamingo, boasts pinups pinups EVERYWHERE!

$10 Cocktail Social starts at 5pm - free hors d'oeuvres! (INCLUDES the later show!)
$15 Burlesque Show starts at 8pm

TICKETS HERE: http://rcocktailsncabaret.eventbrite.com/

International Globetrotting Showgirl, Coco Framboise
Toronto's Darling, Mina Lafleur
The Professional Distraction, Red Herring
The wonder from Down Under, Melody Merlot
The harliquinn of your heart, Charlie Quinn
The babe who can belt, Bianca Boom Boom
Emcee Julian Fries!

Plus some distracting morsels wandering amongst you!
Tickets an also be purchased in person at The Rochester!
Stay tuned for more information as we reveal our full cast!
Tables, seating, and dining available, now with special menu deals!
Wait wait....Themed cocktails? Try the Coco Framboise inspired libation, or sip on the delicious Mina Lafleur inspired cocktail, and more!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Babes in Space: in 3DD! - Star Trek vs Star Wars Burlesque!

Star Trek vs Star Wars Burlesque is back for its third year!

This year there are TWO shows and TWICE the chance to see sexy girls (and the occasional sexy man) battle it out for supremacy IN THREE DOUBLE DEE~! We're going to entertain you in ALL DIMENSIONS

Red Herring Productions presents BABES IN SPACE!

Come find us at FanExpo with The Comic Book Lounge at booth 614 and grab your tickets in person! Maybe even get a photo with one of the ladies from the show!

Starring world-touring Coco Framboise and NYC award winning performer Nasty Canasta! And check out our amazing trailer!

For all the information you'll need about the show and galleries from previous years, head over to my website and check it out!

 See you there!

~ Red Herring

Friday, July 6, 2012

Epic Win Burlesque - Featuring Red Herring!

EPIC WIN Burlesque presents...The New Nerdlesque Review!

Which means, ladies and gentlemen, I am going to New York City!

No, I've never been to the Big Apple before. Yes, I'm incredibly flattered and excited to be performing there as a headliner for this show. Nelson Lugo, the hot for the night and the producer for EPIC WIN, has been an online friend and nerd-minded buddy for a while now.

I am jazzed.

Here are the details! 

In the past 3 years there has been an explosion of geeks onto the burlesque scene and it is high time that those newer talents got a chance to shine and be introduced to nerds and burlyq fans the world over. The New Nerdlesque Review is a showcase of the best and brightest of the most recent crop of pop culture devotees. The performers in this show, for the most part, have only been in the burlyq scene for a year or less and all of them lovingly embrace their very nerdy interests.

Come and hoot, holler and cheer for the newest and hottest nerds to hit the stage!


Satira Sin - Her Devils may cry... with joy!

Moxie Kat - Warrior of Skyrim - Lover of Batman

Tawdry Owl - Rivendell elf or yellow haired Vulcan... you be the judge.

Fox Y. Vermouth - A genetically engineered hottie for maximum awesome.

Clara Coquette - Her Star Wars knowledge is second only to her Shimmy-Shake.

Red Herring - Canada's Sexiest Nerdy Burly Star

Hosted By

Nelson Lugo - the official magician to the nerd masses

Venue: R-Bar Manhattan - 218 Bowery, NYC

(between Prince St. & Spring St.)

Show: Saturday July 28th

Doors @ 7:30PM :: Show @ 8PM (SHARP)

Tickets: $10 Bucks!

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