Tuesday 6 October 2009

A Little Midnight Magic Part Two

Well that's not where my weekend ended. Oh no.

Friday I went into Chrissie's studio for another fitting of the new costume for the relaunch of my Red Angel act. The process of creating a costume is a strange one. From the image I created while curled up in front of a film one night, the idea has sprung forth into reality and each week it gets closer to realisation. Quite amazing really.

Chrissie and I have also had to play around with the original idea as a picture you have in your head is not always possible given the laws of physics. Additionally the 1930s dress design I found and an original 1920s pattern with the most beautiful back line that Chrissie found had to be tweaked and combined to create something that suited the needs of the act, and my figure. I am a curvy girl and as much as I have willowy Coco Chanel fantasies, the 20s dropped waistlines make me look like a hippo. The 1930s silver screen style is much better suited to my frame and looks far more elegant on me. It is all about understanding your own shape.

I grew up in a very large family and my mother had 3 sisters. One for each season you might say, and quite interestingly as far as complexions go, they were. If you've never had a season colour analysis of your skin, do one...now...Google it! Some say this is old fashioned but it has never, ever let me down and if you are wondering, I am a Winter.

Each sister is a different season and each dresses with such style. Add to that a myriad of female cousins and I had a perfect base for learning how to dress to suit myself. When other girls my age were reading Dolly or Girlfriend, I have memories of scouring the pages of Vogue in my aunt's living room. I can't say that I dress with Glamour all the time as I love a pair of jeans and hoodie as much as the next girl, but style I can do.

The same day I also had a meeting with a friend about my new showreel. We met some time ago when I first performed for Burlesque Against Breast Cancer and he shot a little film of one of my acts. We met for coffee to discuss the film shortly after and ever since we've met up every now and then to discuss performances.

Affectionately known as Bob by the Burlesque crowd, he always has some excellent insights and ideas on my acts and it's so nice to be able to discuss them in such a focused way. I feel like I must drive BW crazy sometimes as I'm so burlesque obsessed my nearly every thought is related to act ideas, costumes, vintage, other shows and performers, and so on. I also think I can take the credit for introducing Bob to cupcakes (don't tell his sister!), when the cafe at Waterstones was full and I was craving a sugar hit. So I took him down to Angel Food Bakery on Meeting House Lane which went down a treat.

Bea DeVile, who shares my obsession for cupcakes, had introduced me to this cute little shop which is now one of my favourite places in Brighton. She now regularly tortures me by sending me links to anything cupcake related (did you know you can get cupcakes delivered, like pizza!). Something about their daintiness makes them so incredibly desirable to girls who like pretty things.

Anyway, I'm getting distracted again. The new showreel is quite a nice step for me. Naturally I can't help but pick my own performances to pieces, but any decent performer does. Bob filmed the two acts I did at Club Smooch in September which we've combined and will post on the website shortly under Film. An additional 'teaser' (so to speak!) trailer will go up in a few months time when we've filmed all my acts.

A showreel, along with a website and some good recommendations, is a key part of any performers arsenal, particularly to send to promoters who haven't seen or heard of you yet as it can be difficult to tell a teaseur just from their pictures. Well, after my very busy day, I had to nanna nap before my performance that night. Rock and Roll, I know, but this particular event is always on very late and I knew I would be flagging if I didn't get some rest in. There's nothing less attractive than a sluggish dancer!

Die Freche Muse is already a favourite night of mine, I wrote about it in a previous post 'A midsummer night's dream'. Stepping into this secret London location is like stepping back in time, into a time I belong to. It's fairly unusual for me to be the only performer in the dressing room and I found it quite unusual not to be squeezing alongside a few other girls in front of the mirror.

There were more performers later in the evening, but I had great and good intentions of performing early and getting back to the station for the first train of the morning to Brighton (I told you it was a late show). Did these great and good intentions come to pass? Not quite.

I was performing Living Doll without my big satin gift box and I'd had to do a quick bit of choreography that week to fill in some of the time I would usually spend getting out of the box. Thankfully it worked very well and it was actually quite nice not to be squeezed into a confined space at the start of my act!

I bumped into Nick von Fiction who was at the last one and who also did some pictures for the LustReality show, Striplite back when I first started doing burlesque. Nick got a couple of nice pictures which I'll pop up on the website as soon as I have a chance.

After my act, I managed to catch a few other performers and when I wandered over to the Baron to collect my wages, he was very insistent I stay on for the after party.

'No, no, no' I said. 'I must get the first train home.'

'Have another glass of champagne.' he said and dragged me over to the bar for another Bellini. Well, I can't say it was hard to convince me! I rarely get to stick around and enjoy the party at any show and I was in the mood to enjoy the ambiance of this 20s-30s evening, all the way into the not so wee hours of the morning.

Black and white silent expressionist films play on one wall of the room while the guests dance to the sounds of the jazz band, and clusters of party goers lounge on the armchairs amongst the paintings and lamps while a singer croons in German with a voice like Ella Fitzgerald. Another dancer came out, Isis, who freestyle danced to the piano players hot jazz in a tiny, fringed outfit and ended up with nothing but her g-string and the piano players hat to cover her modesty.

At one point, I spoke to a woman who does clowning. Not the horrid red nose and big shoes kind of clowns that freak me out but a small, very flexible, very expressive woman who was also an impressive dancer. She had a little tip to give me about street performance, but that one I'm keeping to myself.

In fact I met so many people I can't remember all their names which is annoying as they were all such fascinating people. Ultimately, I didn't end up getting home till 8:30am the next morning, with a few secrets, a few more gigs lined up and dreams of 1920s bright young things bopping around in my head.

Oh boy, but it was worth it.

Bella de Jac will be performing at the Ocean Rooms in Brighton on October 16th.

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