Pretty Fly

For those who care about such things, ’tis my most recent solo, at Ffresh Burlesque (Wales Millennium Centre, 15/3/19). Contains hints of nudeness …

Though one of our smaller venues, this was actually a really nice place to debut this routine, as the strange purple backlighting was actually a lovely, ethereal addition, making the wings look so much more translucent and delicate (though they are actually hardy buggers who have survived a lot of mistreatment over months of planning and rehearsal). I can see lots of areas I could sharpen up, and the costume might need a rethink (The keen-eyed will notice my bra is reluctant to go without some force …), but I can definitely see myself doing this one again, hopefully.

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Recent Burlesque Outings

After a fairly quiet month, it’s been a busy week for burlesque. First to report, Cardiff-based musicians Jason “Flapsandwich” Philips and Sandor “Cosmo” Dus, having made an anti-Brexit protest song, asked if I would like to contribute some burlesque dancing to the music video. Always being up for some insanity to liven up the day, not to mention being ever-more wistful for the days when my EU citizenship seemed like something I could always count on, I jumped at the chance, and here is the thoroughly demented outcome …

Also featuring Natalie Tang, Gee Dee, Ninjah, and David “Grooveslave” Morris.

Since there seems to be some minor confusion on Youtube of the satirical target of this insanity, I emphasise that it is anti-Brexit, “Gammon” being a derogatory term for the British right-wing and the whole production being a send-up of them and their attitudes, for which I make no apologies (Being married to a French husband, and having been used to being able to have him over here and being able to visit family over there very easily, one could expect me to be less than thrilled about having those rights ripped away from us in return for what currently appears to be sod all).

Also, our Cardiff Cabaret Club has become obsessed with James Bond of late, and here in the advanced group routine (I got ambitious this term, how wisely I am uncertain …) is my tiny contribution to said obsession:

I do have another solo planned, with a science fiction theme, but it is currently on pending for a date, as although my teacher (the inimitable Foo Foo Labelle) gave it her tentative approval, it was deemed too “batshit crazy” to fit in  any of the spring shows. Let us just hope the summer shows are a bit less romantic and a bit more deranged …

A Belated Escape

Anyone who has followed this blog from the early days (assuming anyone has) will know that it has been a long-standing desire of mine to change my current job – a manual labour post in a very male-dominated, and occasionally toxic warehouse environment – for something both more congenial and less monotonous. Indeed, it has been coming on for three years now since I posted about having started job-hunting, so anyone might be forgiven for thinking I was approaching the challenge either a bit half-heartedly or totally misguidedly. Whatever it was, I got nowhere for ages, lost heart for huge swathes of time, and fell into thinking I wasn’t all that clever or capable anyway and needed to knuckle down and be grateful for what I had.

So I did for ages, but needing some extra money last November (having had to help a friend out to a fairly hefty tune) I did a hasty hunt around for seasonal work, and found an office temp job at a local theatre. I’d probably best not name it until the paperwork is signed, data protection and so forth, but suffice to say the role went well and this week they offered me a permanent job there, to begin next month.

2018 began on a high after I took up burlesque, so good to see 2019 isn’t letting the side down … On that subject, huge thanks are due to the ladies of Cardiff Cabaret Club for the support they have shown me over the past year, helping me build the self-confidence that made this possible. Not to mention the staff of Charing Cross Hospital for achieving similar effects through slightly more surgically invasive means … Just when I think my life has done all the renewing it can, it finds another aspect to improve on.

Slightly ironically, though, I will be poorer for this – the old job did pay well, for all its trials – so I am also aiming to make 2019 the year when I become more professional in my modelling and jewellery-making and less shy about taking donations for my Tarot reading (I had my first one offered to me recently, entirely unsolicited. It certainly feels as if positive energy is flowing my way in one form or another). And burlesque, of course. Lots more burlesque … It may not pay the bills in and of itself, but what it pays back in self-esteem, fun, and friendship is truly priceless.

And a very happy 2019 to you all. xxx 🙂

Happy 2019 from the Pretty Techno Moth Ladies

And so 2018 passes, and troubling though it was for various reasons (Brexit, the ongoing Trumpster fire, not to mention some very negative press coverage on trans issues) I shall ever fondly remember it as the year I became fully myself both physically and by finally filling the burlesque-shaped hole in my life thanks to Cardiff Cabaret Club. This video is from our final event of the year – “Stocking Filler,” 22nd of December – in the Neon club, Newport. I didn’t do a solo on this occasion, but I did take part in this spectacular and very tricky isis wings routine. Beautiful as it looked when done well, we were all aware of its potential to go completely haywire, bearing in mind we had to be very co-ordinated with each other’s steps and manoeuvre quite close to each other (it being a smallish stage) while trying not to poke each other’s eyes out with the long poles we were all wielding. Our collective sentiments were nicely summarised at the end by Hadria Hellbound (dark hair, green wings) as “We didn’t **** it up!” Backstage, of course.

Burlesque aspirations for next year include joining the advanced group, doing another solo, and hopefully changing my job to a more pleasant one with hours that would allow me to get my Saturday nights back (or at least some of them) and thus do more shows. Thankfully, I’ve started temping at Wales Millennium Centre (Cardiff’s biggest theatre), so hopefully I can impress them enough to make a permanent job there a plausible prospect. Wish me luck, lovelies … x

Fan-tom of the Opera

Quicker than I had supposed, the videos of last Saturday’s burlesque gig are on YouTube, including my solo debut … (all rather risqué, I should stress, just in case you happen to be reading this post in the office)



I cannot overemphasise how wonderful if surreal it is finally getting to see this. I remember watching this very YouTube channel years ago, admiring the elegance, creativity, and bravery of the Cardiff Burlesque (now Cardiff Cabaret Club) performers rather wistfully, as I never thought it possible I would ever be able to do anything like that. However, that definitely appears to be me up on that stage. Who’d a thunk it?

One thing that is a bit lost in this clip, sadly, is the face make-up, as I did use liquid latex and red lip balm to “mangle” one side of my face (hence all the business with the mirror). On one level, this was also an interpretation of the progression of my own feelings at being transgender, which burlesque has been a big part of helping me to come to terms with. Seeing “Phantom” on Broadway years ago was very moving for that reason, as the antihero’s physical self-loathing issues had a particular resonance … though I must admit, the Lloyd Webber music is also a guilty pleasure (Our emcee, bless her, was clearly not a fan). Hope you enjoy, anyway. All going well, one of these days I shall have enough of these clips that I need to set aside a whole new page to showcase them …

Matrix Consolations

schnitzandmoi

(In the dressing room with fellow newbie soloist Schnitzel Von Krumpet. Lovely chap, wonderful performer, and hopefully now as permanent a fixture of the Cardiff burlesque scene as I intend to be …)


In the latest chapter of what has been, on many levels, the most challenging, fulfilling, scary, and exciting year of my life, I have just ticked another dream off the “seemingly impossible fantasies” list and danced my first ever burlesque solo. Having only started with Cardiff Cabaret Club less than a year ago this may seem somewhat less than patient of me, and I did wonder whether or not I had enough technique, polish, and confidence to carry it off. Still, even allowing for the very supportive nature of the burlesque scene (audiences included), the fact that our emcee very kindly bigged me up to high heaven, the good personal friends of mine who were in the audience … at any rate, second-guessing myself is one of my main hobbies, alas, and that is never likely to change completely, but even I must concede that the response I got was, in a word, overwhelming.

Technically undeserved, I suspect, but definitely overwhelming. 😉 Well, there will be a video of it out before long, then you can judge for yourselves, as long as you are not in your workplace at the time. It is my attempt at a classic fan dance, with a Phantom of the Opera theme, set to the eerie Gothic strains of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” and I am mostly naked by the end of it save for the occasional rhinestone … Anyway, I gave it my best, I was fully prepared to fail dismally, and I somehow ended up getting a standing ovation.

Actually, could someone just let me out of the Matrix now? On second thoughts, scratch that request. Things making sense is so overrated, anyway.

On a more down-to-earth note, though, I want to thank the whole of Cardiff Cabaret Club for their emotional support and a few in particular for having helped me though the practical steps to take this plunge: our amazing teacher Foo Foo Labelle (who has long been an inspiration, and thankfully is very patient with awestruck irritating groupies …), Yvonne Evie McCracken (another inspiration, and also a huge support as an LGBT+ member of the group, who really encouraged me to ride with this idea), and last but not at all least Hadria Hellbound (seriously badass Goth member of the troupe who has been a wonderful support to me in developing the routine in studio sessions). I have rarely found clubs and groups I wanted to stick with in my dilettantish life (I’ve tried my share, usually very briefly), but I cannot see myself ever wanting to lose the combination of friendship, thrills, challenges, and self-worth that this one supplies. The next set of classes cannot come soon enough (I believe they are in two days from posting this. I guess I can just about wait that long …).

 

Brains, or words to that effect …

It is late in the day to be sharing this and probably pointless (few of my followers being local, or even UK-based), but just on the off-chance, or in case any of you are interested in my burlesquey misadventures, Cardiff Cabaret Club has a new show on the horizon with a deliciously macabre theme …

zombieAE

Rather excitingly – for me, at all events – I will be doing my debut solo act at this show … and possibly also my final solo act if it turns out to be an unmitigated disaster (Do feel free to send prayers, blessings, general good vibes, etc). Hopefully not, though, as this is likely to be the last show I am able to do this year, so it would be nice to go out on a big positive note. I will continue to take my classes, however, as I have lots of ideas for future routines, and just need more polish and a better range of techniques to do them justice.

And just in case I do have any local followers and have managed to pique their curiosity, I would heartily recommend those classes (and there are quite a range of them for the coming term). The shows, the classes, and simply being part of this group has been a real blessing to me in what I can safely describe as one of the most stressful – albeit very worthwhile and defining – years of my life. It has given me a wonderful new creative outlet, exciting and challenging experiences, exercise that is actually enormous fun, a significantly improved sense of body positivity, and the friendship of some truly amazing, accepting, and supportive people. Even if I were never to perform again (not at all my preferred scenario, but even so) I would hate not to be a part of it.

Happy Halloween, and wish me luck, broken legs, and all that jazz … xxx

Persephone’s Pendants

Writing, modelling, dancing, and game designing have all been uneventful subjects of late, alas, and since transitioning is pretty well done and dusted (other than ongoing speech therapy classes) there won’t be much news on that score either. However, I haven’t been a complete layabout, and here is the evidence …

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(Some examples of my work, resting on my altar.)

Persephone’s Pendants* (currently based over on Facebook) began life as another of my myriad hobbies that got out of hand. A friend of mine introduced me to various witchcrafty arts last year, including Tarot reading (which I also adore) and spellwork involving crystals. I started making pendants such as these when I was looking for a way to wear some of the crystals I had used in my spellwork. My first idea was to buy plain spiral cages, but only finding these for sale in a high street shop for six pounds apiece, I decided it would cheaper and more fun buy some wire and teach myself. Having thus made a few for my own personal use, I then decided to keep on doing it as a very small business venture.

My original intention was to start an Etsy shop, but after half of my first batch sold to friends and friends of friends within a day of being announced, I have put that on hold until I have more stock made up, and I will just be keeping in touch with potential customers through my Facebook page and possibly this blog for now. Please look out for updates there. My typical price range is £8-£10 (based on the size of stone used, and complexity of design).

I also take requests for specific stones, design types, wire types, etc. Bespoke pendants need to be priced a little higher, though, to cover the cost of sourcing specific stones (I tend to buy in batches, so I may or may not have a particular stone free to work with at any given time).

Incidentally, In case anyone else buys these for magical purposes, all stones are cleared vibrationally in my Tibetan singing bowl.


* Named less for the Greek Goddess of the Underworld and more for my burlesque stage persona

 

Perils of Persephone

Rather quicker than I had expected, there are now videos of my latest burlesque show with Cardiff Cabaret Club (Yin and Yang show, June 22nd 2018). Thus, as requested, my better judgement notwithstanding, here is exhibit A. I am the suspect at the very far right of the scene, on the dancefloor. Please be forgiving …



Also in burlesque news, I am giving thought to doing a solo routine based on Gaston Leroux’s “The Phantom of the Opera”: a novel with which I have been a bit obsessed ever since I first saw the Broadway show version back in 2000, seeing in the titular antihero a character whose physical self-loathing issues I could all too readily identify with. I would be reinterpreting the Phantom as a female character, however.

I have already had some help and encouragement from other members of the group, and further offers, so in spite of my inexperience (less than a year’s worth, and only two shows) it is looking distinctly possible. I have also chosen the burlesque stage name I intend to use if this does come to fruition. Eschewing pleas to use a more straightforwardly Gothic pseudonym, I have opted for “Persephone Pitstop”: half-Goth, half-silly, and it made the hubby laugh, which is all the confirmation I need (and also no other dancers seem to be using it right now, so I’m staking the claim while it’s good).

None of which is to say that I am fully healed yet – I am still on sick leave, still bruised and sore, and still tire very easily – but when I compare this to how I felt when I first left hospital, I am confident the end of the tunnel is in sight (and hopefully some exciting times not too far beyond).

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