My debut is tomorrow. I’m sitting here, with red dye in my hair, glitter on my pj pants, watching Cinderella.
Why Cinderella? Because of the scene where the mice sew her dress. I’ve spent the past month attempting to become an expert seamstress, with only some success. I can now sew fringe onto a thong, but not without a considerable amount of “oh god oh god what’s happening have I broken it am I doing it right?!” It’s official: the most difficult thing to do in all of existence is thread a needle. I tried to make as much of my costume as I could, because I feel that it’s something I need to know the basics of. Walking into a fabric store is intimidating. I know nothing about terminology, about materials, about anything! I got a few yards of cheap fake velvet and some lace, and hoped against hope that I hadn’t gotten it wrong before I’d even started.
After that, the trim shop was much easier. I now have a set of bra and knickers covered in black and purple fringe, and I love it. Fringe is easy and it’s flattering. Step 1: pin it in a straight line. Step 2: run it through a sewing machine. Step 3: shimmy in the mirror for hours.
My fairy godmother who came to my rescue last week was Nasty Canasta. She helped me with my yards of velvet and lace, fashioning it as if by witchcraft while I looked on amazed. First she brainstormed with me over several dress ideas and the different ways they could come apart. Then she talked me through the costume building process. Somehow, a rectangular piece of fabric became a velvet robe tailored exactly to me. And now part of my debut costume is a Blue Streak Fancywear creation! Plus some custom pasties to complete the look.
I suppose I did think I’d be transformed as if by magic into a glamorous fusion of Rita Hayworth and Michelle L’Amour. Yes, with a costume on and a little bit of makeup I would suddenly be as graceful as a swan and as elegant as a queen! And I’d sparkle, and radiate light, and everyone would be intoxicated by my beauty. Anyone trying to think of a performance routine will quickly realize it’s not possible to pretend to be anything you’re not. I’m a bit of a spaz and I can’t avoid that. I get overenthusiastic. My face turns red when I’m even slightly excited. It’s unavoidable, therefore it has to be part of my persona. In burlesque, you make your quirks into your best features.
Everyone I know is asking me, “are you excited?” No, not really. I’ll be excited once I’ve pulled it off. I’m never nervous about getting onstage, but I am terrified of making a damn fool of myself then tripping on my undies. I get my feet stuck in my pants when I’m taking my clothes off alone in my room. But I rehearsed quite a bit today and successfully did not fall over, so if I can make that happen onstage I’ll consider it a triumph.
By the stroke of midnight tomorrow, the show will be over and the magic burlesque spell will be over. And I’ll be back in my pj pants.
Firefly is a Brooklyn-based performer who has recently been seduced by the burlesque scene. She makes her burlesque debut TONIGHT at the one-year anniversary of The Way Station,683 Washington Avenue, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. 8:30pm. With Evelyn Vinyl, Justine Joli, Nasty Canasta, Stormy Leather, and Mischief Molly, hosted by Doc Wasabassco. Photo ©2011 Melody Mudd.