Getting accepted and performing at The Show-Me burlesque festival was a gigantic deal to me, more so than any other festival out there. Always feeling like the odd one out, not fitting on and performing in a way that most other local performers dont understand, I needed to go somewhere where they understood, where I felt like I fit in, where they “got” the kind of performer I strive to be, and where I felt like a part of a family.
Thursday May 17 2012
Making the most of my time off, I actually went to work for a couple hours and then hopped on a tiny plane to fly halfway across the country to St Louis.
Upon landing I was immediately filled with confusion, for in my head St. Louis was an almost magical place filled with so much talent and inspiration that I was expecting it to look akin to Disneyworld, but alas it merely looks like a regular city. After a slow traffic filled journey to the apartment were I was staying, I swiftly did my best to not look like I’ve spent the last few hours cramped on a plane. I proceeded to do something with my hair, apply glitter and head on out to the Thursday night show at The Coliseum.
Entering the Coliseum, I was greeted with a goodie bag including a name tag (which I proudly wore to every show there after) and the most awesomest gift: a little dog tag with my stage name on it. I was so happy to see that. The Coliseum is a rather swanky type establishment: a bit industrial with cement floors and exposed beams and ducts, but a lot of seating and couches, plus there is a waterfall wall.
I was constantly checking myself in my head, for I was actually in St Louis, and there were all these other performers around me whom I admired and respected. It was quietly insane to me. Well soon enough the show started and it was a fantastic start to the festival. There were so many performers, oh so many. It was also the very first time in my life I saw a stage pole at a burlesque show *that was not mine*. It was crazy of me to see a stage pole there that I did not load in and set up, it was kind of a thrill. Even though I was thrilled to be there, to give hugs and shake hands of some personal heros, the show went rather long to me, but hey I had quite a long day: work, airport, layover, another flight, caught a ride to host house, changed, burlesque show…I wanted to tap out before the show ended but I stayed until the very end and beyond.
Friday May 18th 2012
Starting the day off with a healthy breakfast at Local Harvest Cafe, and a little walking around happened. Wanting to find a bunch of people to get together to hang out, I realized that most everyone was performing that evening and were busy tech and/or getting ready for the show at Sheldon Concert Hall. I spent a little time walking around South Grand, basically killing time until the next show of the festival. Got sweaty walking around, showered, put on my eye glitter and beaded top and I was ready for this show.
Much to my satisfaction (yet unfortunate to my Saturday) this venue had Southern Comfort. Yes. This second show of the Show-Me festival was fantastic!! All us performers sat up in the balcony. The show was hosted by Nadine Dubois, whom I have fallen in love with her voice. Seriously, I NEED to get that woman to say my name, I’m not kidding, it needs to happen. So I was successfully lubricated with SoCo, and I cant explain how much I loved this show. I loved watching it, I loved knowing that I was a part of the festival, and I loved that I do not recall how many times I jumped out of my seat cheering, there were many times. There was such a variety of performers, pole, hoop, group numbers, singing, dancing, all top notch and I couldn’t believe that I was going to be performing the next night.
Saturday May 19th 2012
I have to admit, woke up that morning a wee-little bit hung over…actually I was very hungover. Seems I made quite a night of it with the Southern Comforts at the show the night before. Oops. I had vegetarian breakfast at Black Bear Bakery, that was fantastic if I may say. The perfect thing for me. I sat at VanElla studios on a chaise lounge for about an hour by myself killing time. Classes were going on, and I just wanted to rest up a little in anticipation of the very long day and night ahead of me.
I then went over to Casa Loma ballroom to play on a stage pole and check out the place. In all honesty, it was a bit of a shock to me for me being there, to see what the actual building looked like, how it was all laid out. I had been looking at photos of Beggers Carnival so intensely that I was quite taken-a-back to be where they happen. The place is gigantic, with an upper level for even more seating and carnival games and vending. The stage was large, the seating area in front was large, and knowing the type of show Beggers puts on, of course it was large. I was in awe for I have become so accustomed to little venues that to see a place large enough for fire and aerial – and a show that actually does fire and aerial- was fantastic.
Pretty much as the Beggers Carnival tech was about to begin, I left so I could get ready for the show. I didn’t need much in the way of tech other than “place stage pole center stage, I clean the pole, play music”. Me getting ready for the show meant I was to harbor a quiet intensity. I took my time making sure the eye glitter was carefully applied, making sure my hair was pinned up tight for I knew it was going to be a long time until I was to perform. And then I was back at the ballroom for the show. And this is when I re-saw the place in its full Beggers glory. The rigging was done, multiple trapezes set up, also a couple lyra hoops and a rope, the lights were multi-colored, the vendors were set up upstairs, the carnival games were ready to go. Many people were running around for various reasons, but I just walked slowly letting it all sink in. I simply couldn’t believe that I was actually there. After seeing so many photos posted of the events, I often wondered what it was like around the photo. And there I was.
There was a generous snack table for performers in the upstairs performer section of the ballroom. That was greatly appreciated. Soon, the enormous wait began until it was my turn to be up there. I was in the late show, but first was the proper Beggers Carnival. I had no idea that the shows were so fantastic, being there in person, so many fire performers, so many skilled variety performers, it was a little intense for me to see, because they do these shows every month and I can only dream of being a part of something so wonderful. Plus the way the acts were introduced was wonderfully fun. This opportunity is quite possibly the closest I will come to actually being in Beggers Carnival.
Well, everyone performed and I have to say that my hometown heros Trixie and Monkey were so amazing, all these years of seeing them and they still manage to impress me. Of course, as the actual Beggers Carnival show was drawing to a close, my nerves started to kick in. Then the “I’m about to do this” mode kicks in. I made sure I so much grip on my skin that it was almost ridiculous, I made sure that the pole was warm and I began to hold it to make it warm and grippy, I put on my routine outfit, I made sure everything was in place, pasties were on, and then I wait some more until it is my time.
Much to my surprise, the performer right before me actually had a Cheese Doodle bomb, opening and spilling out an entire bag of the chemically flavored puffy snack. I was shocked as to the gigantic mess and the Show Me crew standing next to me were as well. Not only do they have to deal with bringing the stage pole up there, but they also had a huge mess to clean. When she was done and I went back around to then get on the stage, much to my shock and amazement the stage was clear of cheese puffs and the stage pole was already waiting for me. Show me stage crew, you all hustle and rock!
Well, it was time for me to wipe the pole down, apply my dry hands and start my performance. Everything was going fine, that is until I touched the pole. Mere seconds into the performance, my body pretty much shut down. The second I climbed, my arms turned into pudding. I realized that the time had to be a factor, for I have never been on the pole at that hour ever. (about 2am EST) It was honestly a bizarre feeling, my mind was racing/my head was alert, but my body did not want a part of it. I was angry at my muscles for failing me! I was fighting with them to make it through this, that going to St. Louis was one of the few rare vastly important shows I will ever have, and that I was not going to let my muscles screw this up for me. So I fought, I fought with all the strength I could manage to muster up to make it through – and I did. The pole was slippery, my muscles were shot, I felt like I was screwing up in front of people – but I did it. I did it. My god, I did it.
Kriss Abigail Photography
And then that was it. A day and a half off work, a flight half way across the country, and borrowed a local stage pole, for that 3 minute and 14 second performance. When I was done, it was all a daze for I was exhausted, I was coated in a million layers of grip applied in my nervousness, I was out of breath and I was so very tired. But the rest of the show was still fantastic, I loved everyone so much.
Saturday May 20th 2012
My last day in the magical land of St Louis. Everyone gathered at Van Ella studios for one last time, there were mimosas and bloody marys to be had. I felt a bit drained out of everything in me, but I had a long day to look forward to. We all went across the street to Black Bear Bakery for the breakfast buffet that is so yummy! So many items, spring greens, quiche, potatoes, hummus, and I wasn’t even sure about half of them, it was all great and much appreciated in my tummy. Then people left there to head on over to The City Museum…which everyone assured me that its not so much as a museum but more like a big crazy playground. I was so curious and couldn’t wait to see what this place was all about.
Unfortunately traffic was encountered on the way there, due to street closures for a parade. But, soon I got my candyass on over and made my way inside. I wasn’t sure where everyone was, glad to have a few cell numbers and met up with a few to witness the children’s circus show. They sure were good for being kids. After that, meandering and exploring was to be had. Walked around, climbed around the cave area, went down a giant slide. I didn’t have much time so I tried to run through and see all that I could.
It was fun, it was a great idea that Show-Me Festival had for us to go to, and by the time the museum closed, it was time for me to leave to catch my plane. Got a ride to the airport, my flight was delayed a little. It was raining outside. I listened to the rain pound against the windows of the airport terminal. I couldn’t believe I was in St. Louis and soon was about to fly back to Bmore. I can only hope I earn my way back to St Louis again. It was exhausting, It was overwhelming, it was humid, it was hung-over, it was St Louis, and I loved it.