Halfway through my first real meeting with a new boss (four in one year, but who’s counting?), he pulled out a marker and started drawing on a white board. “Oh, thank god,” I said. “You’re a visual person, too.”
And that pretty much sums me up.
Every burlesque performer gets his or her inspiration from somewhere, and mine has always come from an image, real or imagined. This is not surprising, since my entire life is organized by how things look. Do I wear the hot pink tights, or the fuchsia? What kind of pen makes the best kind of line that looks the most tidy on my graph-paper notebook? I don’t necessarily judge people by how they look, but I definitely like people who look interesting, with bonus points for uniqueness and attention to detail. A new friend says he likes that I’m particular, and an old friend calls me picky. Both are true.
When the proverbial lightening strikes, it goes something like this: I’m walking down the street on my way to work, dodging all the other people who are moving through the morning haze, and suddenly there’s a dress and it pops at the shoulders and pools at the floor. For blocks this dress will pop and fall, as details arrange themselves. The dress is skin-toned. The brightest thing on the stage is my hair. My lips? No, definitely my hair. And when the dress falls, I’m naked. But not naked. There’s another gown, and it’s also skin-toned, and it’s so gossamer that I might as well be naked. Except under that there’s vintage lingerie, all the pieces covered in silk Swarovskis, which sparkle through the gown. By the time I get to my office the whole thing is there, from the style of each individual piece to how they all come off, in sequence.
For months I walked around chanting to myself, I-am-the-pin-up-on-a-plane-I-am-the-pin-up-on-a-plane, & etc. I had no idea how this would happen, but I knew what Pin-Up Me would wear (a 1940s-esque swimsuit) and how I would do my hair (victory rolls). The “Bomber to Bombshell” act was finally born when I saw this. With the amazing talents of Miss Honey Penny and her ingenious friend Jersey, it became this.
There are easily half a dozen examples — like the time I paid way too much for a Princess Leia bikini, lovingly hand-molded by the guy who organizes the Slave Leias at Comic Con every year, not because I was doing a Leia act, but because I was doing a Roman slave girl act, and I couldn’t shake the image of THAT COSTUME and the fun surprise it would be (eventually I would do a Leia, because…why not?) — but suffice it to say, almost all of my acts are painstakingly created in my head days/weeks/months and in one case years before I even start costuming or choreographing them.
As I discussed here, this is usually a giant pain in the ass. Do you know what happens when you know EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT and aren’t good at settling or changing your mind? Yep. You get constantly derailed by not finding the perfect thing. I’m also learning that it means I’m not one of those performers who has a notebook full of ideas, just waiting to be realized. I have a head full of exactly one idea at a time, and I noodle that idea to death until it makes it to the real world and I can move on from it.
And that’s where I am now. Noodling, noodling, waiting for the right pieces to present themselves and save me from myself.