Wow! We did it again. My stage pole and I loaded into my car and drove up north to the most adorable little town ever, Jim Thorpe, PA. New routine running though my head, practiced to death but still nervous. My previous trips up I had performed the routine before getting there. This time, I did not have a chance to do so. I was so nervous.
Arriving Friday night, it was a mess getting ready to watch the Friday night showcase show. I was manically running up flights of stairs, ripping open my suitcase and pulled out something to wear, slapped glitter on my eyes, rummaged through my bag to pull out a feathered clip to throw in my hair, jumped in a pair of shoes, scuttled to the Opera House in time to be a little late for the show. I only missed the very beginning of the first routine, which happened to be my friend Erie Twilight. I sat with Mrs Deanna Danger and Petra Precocious for the show. After the show we all ate, but I was really tired from driving. Half the performers who were done for the weekend stayed up to drink, the other half of us who hadn’t hit the stage yet made sure to get sleep.
Saturday morning we all ate breakfast and then headed over to the Burlesque Bazaar. It wasn’t across the street like last year, this time it involved a car ride to get there, to the other half of Jim Thorpe. I spent time with Miss Mourna Handful, Valeria Voxx, Lily Stitches and Eyrie Twylite. After being there for a while we then headed back to the Opera House for the rehearsal time.
I had a lot of work ahead of me, unloading the stage pole, getting it on the stage, setting it up and then trying to warm it up.
Here is where I am a whiny pole dancer: I had only done this routine on fixed brass poles at the time. Then to go to chrome stage pole = terrifying adjustments. I warmed up the pole, it was not cold to the touch but it was still so slippery. I wasn’t sure if I was sweating from setting up the stage or if it was just really slippery. Dry Hands didn’t help completely. Itac wasn’t solving the issue totally either. All the moves I had nailed down in my sleep, I was now wavering and unsure about. Most performers only did the first few seconds of their routine at the practice run-through, but I had requested to do mine completely since I had never done it on my stage pole before. About half way through my practice run-through, I almost shouted out to everyone there “I cant do this, I quit!” I did the second half of my practice just repeating over and over to myself “I was not going to do the show, I could not do the show”. After my practice, I returned to the guesthouse, officially a mess.
Every ounce of confidence was wiped away. All the practices I had done almost didn’t seem to matter. Everything was thrown out the window (in my head) and I just cried. I thought I knew my routine and then I realized that I had to adjust grips in order to maintain the moves on chrome, and that even though this routine is a killer, now I had to work even harder to make it happen on chrome. I was terrified that all my practice and work could be destroyed due to the chrome slip. Also, I have had a terrible cough for a couple weeks and my lungs are not working at capacity. The other performers in the guesthouse with me did what they could to help me feel better…and I needed it and love them for that. They helped so much!
I did what I could to calm down, but by 5pm I figured I should just start putting on make up to keep myself busy. Taking my time to get ready, I then grabbed my bag to walk over to the Opera House to claim backstage seating for Petra and I. Of course I kept trying to “make nice” with my stage pole. Jumping on it and doing a couple moves to warm up and grip it up. Doors opened, and I just tried to keep busy talking to a few other performers, and I even tried to drink a beer (I don’t like beer).
Promptly at 8pm on the dot, the show started. Very surprising to see something start at the time they say so, that almost never happens. I watched the first half, and while I was into the performances, I was also in a daze, very concerned over my own performance.
The second the intermission started I jumped on the stage to check the pole, and it was doing better. Being in the Opera House with all the people there and in the lights, it was warming up a bit. Feeling that, helped me to feel a little better. I put on my sparkly costume, checked my lipstick, and waited.
In the time waiting before I performed, I obsessively applied iTac EVERYWHERE! Over and over again. I sprayed my skin with my special alcohol mix as well. Layers of iTac and alcohol coated my skin, and it was grippy as a MoFo. New routine jitters. New routine fears. I was thinking that maybe could drop out of the show at that moment…but I knew I shouldn’t. I have been working on this routine since January and all that work must pay off…and I also did not want to be an asshole and quit the show.
Madame Corsetiere walked out and I jumped on my pole to give it one quick warm up. Two men brought the beast to center stage and I did my pole wipe down and spray, and as I did my very last second grip check… it passed.
Breathe in. Breathe Out. I’m ready.
And the music starts and I am in the spotlight and my pole is warming up to me and the audience and we rocked it together! Pretty much on my first jump up when I felt the grip in the pole and the grip in my nervously applied layers of iTac on my skin…I felt I had it. I think I nailed my specific pole poses more than actually getting into them (I was a bit wobbly at parts) but I was pretty much right on with my timing and timing is important in this routine.
Of course I was exhausted, but I was still smiling throughout. This crazy trick heavy routine I originally choreographed in my head is actually (barely) possible, and there I was doing it in front of an awesome audience.
This would have probably been a loosing routine at any big time pole competition, but I felt like a winner when I was done with it at that moment. Wibbles and wobbles aside – I made through. Taking the mental breakdown I had earlier in the day into consideration as well as my cough made the performance all the more amazing.
I laid down on the floor backstage to calm my breathing down and the adorable Hazel Honeysuckle handed me a cold water. I tried to stretch a little so I wouldn’t be too sore the next day. And then it was time to hug everyone backstage thanking them for their support and I scuttled upstairs/backstage to peek out the curtain with Fannie Spankings to watch a few performers. She is such a wonderful smiley bubble of rhinestone energy and I now adore totally her!
So soon enough, the show was over. As a song was playing for the judges to come up with the winners, I felt I had done pretty good. As much as I have a problem with shows that have placements/awards… I will do it for Jim Thorpe because I love the town and the people there so much.
Curtain call time and we all squished on stage together. When Madame Corsetiere stepped up to announce the winners, I was wondering if there was a real chance my name would be called.
I wondered if I had done a good enough job to place.
I stood there wondering so hard – that Madame Corsetier announced “Bianca DuPree” as 2nd runner-up/3rd place!
And I was shocked: Little me, the performer who is not in a troupe in Baltimore, the performer who has a hard time getting venues to pay attention to her requests to book, the performer who has to bust her ass going out of town to get a show, the performer who has felt a little rejected from her own city but accepted in other citys, the performer working so hard to earn her keep and make a name for herself in the burlesque community, the performer who is so unsure of her placement in both the burlesque and the pole scenes – just received a placement in something!
Wham Bam Pam got 1st runner-up/2nd place and Fannie Spankings won the grand and the crystal corset award. Of course she won! How can you not love that woman? Everyone that saw me crying earlier ran on stage and gave me so many hugs and butt slaps of congrats, yelling at me “Told you so!” Yes, new routine jitters got to me big time, but paid off in the end.
I spent a lot of time hugging and talking to people at the Opera House, I was a little late in getting to Mollys restaurant for food. I sat with Deanna Danger and Fannie Spankings. While it was great to be there around everyone, I was officially beat and I had to put my dizzy little head to sleep soon. And when I finally laid down that night, it all didn’t seem real.
Sunday morning was a very busy day. Breakfast with the Rhinestone Follies followed by a headdress class taught by Beelzebabe. A really great class, for homemade headresses are really quite simple, and I love that she learned how to make them by trial and error. I really can’t wait to make one! After that was the rhinestone technique class taught by the Rhinestone follies. I was not planning on taking that class, I thought I knew about rhinestones…but I am glad I sat in. Clearly since “rhinestone” is in their name, those women know what they are talking about and I am so glad they shared their knowledge. It is going to help me be more glittery in the future.
The next hours after that was spent back at the Opera House breaking down the stage pole. I then ran across the street to pack up my stuff from the house to load in the car, and then ran back to the Opera House to load up the stage pole. Bam, 2 hours later I was ready to head home.
What a weekend.
And what a great thing to add to my burlesque resume!
PHOTO CREDIT: Mandi Martini (thanks)