How To Break Into The Business of the Arts – 5 Tips To Get You Noticed

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“Dear Danger…
I’ve a question I’m hoping you can help with. I work hard on my other creative dreams and and yet I find myself craving more, craving the stage. Every night, I dance to my favourite swing and jazz tunes, and practice my strip tease. I have my routines, my costumes, my music. But what do I do next? How do I take myself out of my bedroom and in front of the audience I desire so much?

Faithfully yours,
Burlesque Dreams

Great question! Danger Addicts- whether you are looking to break into burlesque, or music, or writing, or art, or storytelling, or dance…here’s tips that will work for all of you:

Break On Through Step #1:  Go See Shows/Hang Out Where People Are Doing What You Want To Do.

Chances are….you become who you hang out with.
Hang out with a bunch of musicians? You’re gonna find yourself with an instrument in your hands one wild night.
Hang out with a gaggle of burlesque girlies? You’re going to go home in glitter one day.
You get the picture.

Watching shows and hanging out afterward will help you get your foot in the door.

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I went to every single burlesque show that was out there before I had the courage to take the stage…from the original Galapagos in Brooklyn to the original Slipper Room in NYC. I started to talk to the girls after the shows and tell them how much I loved what they were doing. Before long…that inevitable moment came, when World Famous BOB asked me to do her “New Revue”. She told me to be there on a date in May and walked away before I could say no.

Photo of World Famous BOB by Amy Touchette.

Photo of World Famous BOB (right side of photo) by Amy Touchette.

Break On Through Step #2: Take a Class For What You Want To Do.

Taking a class will help you in three ways:
1. You will learn.
2. You get to have regular interaction with someone actually doing what you want to do.
3. You get to be surrounded with like-minded people who you might be able to team up with.

I took one of the first classes that the New York School of Burlesque offered.
It was at The Bowery Poetry Club and Jo Weldon the Head Mistress and Instructor, blew my mind.
I got a greater sense of what burlesque was about,
I worked up the courage to talk to Jo after class and tell her how much she inspired me (she’s one of my best friends to this day),
and I met a girl named Trixie in class who was performing with a troupe named “Ixion” who invited me to come down and perform with them.

The Fabulous Jo Weldon.

The Incredible Jo Weldon.

Break On Through Step #3: Keep Practicing, Learning and Exploring.

With burlesque back then, and with music now…I comb through Netflix to watch bios on how the greats got their start. I watch youtube videos of people all over the world doing their thing and rocking it out. Through people’s comments on my youtube channel and the things I put out there – I’ve found other amazing people in the community across the world.

Here’s a video that my friend, Lavender Firefly, shot of me performing years ago – introduced by World Famous BOB and with Albert from Ixion on the piano.

Break On Through Step #4: Make a Strong Choice On Your Personal “Trademark” and stick with it.

Ask Yourself:

What are the most unique things about you?

and

How can you best express your style and individual character?

Make it memorable and fun and stick with it!

I personally love the fantasy of performing….I love watching my favorite roll and roll bands and burlesque performers in their costumes and wildness.
I live for seeing the false eyelashes, the glitter lips, the sparkly costumes.
I love seeing the “guyliner” and the fitted pants and different things that make each performer unique.
I don’t want the fantasy shattered with some boring ass ponytail, shorts and a t-shirt with coffee stains before the show. But maybe that’s just me.

I gravitate toward that 1940s glamour look and also the 1940s “Bad Girl” femme fatale vibe in my performing.
When I get ready to go to a show, I pick out clothes and accessories that will give that vibe without me having to say a thing!
Your “street” clothes (the clothes you arrive in to a show or event) are just as important as the costumes you wear on stage.

Break On Through Step #5: Always Be Supportive and Kind With Other Performers.
Let’s face it – performing can be terrifying sometimes.
Offering words of encouragement back stage to other performers and hooting and hollering for them from the wings can mean more than you know.
I know on days that I haven’t felt the greatest – my burlesque brothers and sisters have been there for me – cheering me on, offering me more glitter and pastie tape to feel more confident and secure.
ALWAYS return the kindness.
Remember that it’s about the community and people doing what they love TOGETHER.
Fuck the competing against each other bullshit.
Just compete against the you from yesterday …and every day you’ll get better and better.

Now get out there and go get ’em!

Do you have tips on how to break into your dream? Leave them below.
Do you have a question for “Dear Danger”? Send to my contact info on this page.

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Fear of a Sensual Woman – The Story of Madonna, Wendy Williams, and #yesallwomen

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There have been over 1,000 women by now…
in the 6 years that I’ve been teaching burlesque, confidence and sensuality classes
over 1,000 women have walked into the doors of my classroom.

Real Talk:
The things they are most afraid of always break down to 3 heartbreaking things:

  1. Some are terrified of being sensual or moving their bodies in a sensual way (even though they feel natural and powerful when they do) for fear of being judged or vilified.
  2. Some are terrified of dressing sensually (wearing heels, wearing curvy dresses, putting on lipstick) for fear of being attacked, harassed, or “slut-shamed”.
  3. Some are terrified of time and the fear of being invisible as a sensual women because of age.

In those moments where the voices of Muddy Waters or Nina Simone heat up the room through the speakers
and the blues
and feather boas
and satin opera length gloves
and heels
take over…
in those moments when we are a safe and united girl gang of sorts
strutting tall
movement by movement at the full length mirrors…
I see their powerful/confident/sensual reflections in the mirror
I see them “get it” –

And I wish the world could be like our classroom
all the time.

This week has been hard because of the spree killings in California started because a man felt he was rejected by women.

It was hard reading the very true #yesallwomen tag on Twitter
because I realized that things I deal with every day as a woman that seem normal to me now
should really not be okay.

But here’s the thing….it’s NOT just about educating men, it’s about educating other WOMEN as well.
It’s NOT an Us vs. Them bullshit thing.
It’s about having discussions – and educating ALL people.

Case in Point:
Wendy Williams discusses Madonna and Katy Perry’s Vanity Fair Magazine cover:
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Talk show host Wendy Williams said this on her television show (broadcasting to 52 countries around the world):
“I think that Madonna at 55 years old – and she’s got a terrific body….she’s got a youthful representation of 55 – but I think it’s time for her to stop posing provocatively and
put that away.”

Excuse me?

My mind flashed to the women in my classes, who worried about getting older,
being invisible,
being made fun of by society for being sensual and older.

My mind flashed to a particular woman
who took one of my classes and who shared that
at over 65 years of age,
she finally felt secure and confident enough to express herself as a sensual woman
for the first time in her life.

And here is Wendy Williams, another women, who has power on television and radio,
saying that by 55 years old another women should “put it away”.

I am sick of society controlling and commenting on the sensuality of other women.

The stigma in our society of being a powerful sensual woman damns us, shames us and tells us we deserve violence against us.

These women who I have been coaching are just finding their voices and their power.

They are just now finding their freedom in their bodies to even so much as DANCE without judgement.

It might take some women until 55 or older to even have the courage to be who they are and express themselves.

So to the Wendy Williams of the World –
Can we please let each other be?
Can we find sensuality and expression at whatever age we discover it at
without being shamed?

And for the Madonnas of the World-
Thank you for boldly moving forward
without care of criticism or judgement.

I started “Danger Dame” and “Danger Diary” because I felt like the most dangerous thing to be in this world is my true and uncensored self.

I will NEVER again hide my true self to make the world comfortable.
Not anymore.
I am not ashamed of who I am.
Can we walk tall and proud together?

Please share this if you feel the same.

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5 Tips To Keep Fighting For Your Dreams When You Want To Give Up

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Dear Danger,
How do I keep fighting for my dreams when I feel like giving up?
Love, L

I know what it’s like….
I’ve felt the odds against me.
I’ve felt like I couldn’t get it right no matter how hard I tried.
But I keep swinging because all of my greatest heroes were once failures who didn’t give up.
Time to knock out the obstacles and the odds.
I’m here in your corner.
Cheering you on.
You. Have. GOT. This.

Fight Tip #1:  When You Want To Give UP – KEEP GOING and you will push yourself through. 

This is going to seem like fucked up logic, but if you are feeling like a failure right now, it means that you’re attempting something that you’ve never done before, something wilder and harder than you have imagined.

Burke and I have been putting together our film, Revolver for 10 years.  We felt like we tried everything.  Last year, we were almost ready to give up.  We called out to the community in a last ditch attempt to make our dream happen on Kickstarter.  The odds were almost insurmountable, and in that month we pushed harder than we ever had in our lifetime.  All of us were able to achieve it together.  Don’t give up.  Tell everyone.  Keep pushing.

I’m crying tears of joy in this video because I knew how close I was to giving up on this dream…..


Fight Tip #2:  Don’t Let The Bastards Get You Down.

People that haven’t done it before love to tell you that it’s impossible or that it can’t be done.  Unfortunately, also some people who we look up to or people in positions of power will tell us – we can’t do it.

I was told by my ballet teacher when I was 6 that I had “clouds behind my eyeballs and didn’t have the grace to dance”.
I left crying and never went back.
I quit.
In fact, for years afterward, I would tell people I was a horrible dancer, because that was what I was told by a ballerina.

Eventually, a full decade later, I gravitated back to dance because it’s always been something I’ve wanted to do .

Now I make my living as an international burlesque performer dancing with feather fans.

Oh, and Miss Ballet Teacher when I was 6…..?

…You can suck it.

Photo taken by Jacklyn Shields-McGregor

Photo taken by Jacklyn Shields-McGregor

Fight Tip #3: Find Your Co-Conspirators.

Success is contagious.
Surround yourself with people you admire and who also believe in you.

Seek out people who are doing the things that you want to do and be inspired and encouraged by them.

One of the first burlesque shows I ever saw featured Jo Weldon.
I was struck by how she controlled the stage, captivated the audience and performed powerful and sensual burlesque.

I had to be her friend.

One day I was bold enough to ask her out for tea and we spent the whole time excitedly bouncing ideas off of each other about our wildest dreams.

Jo gave me my first teaching gig at The New York School of Burlesque and got me my audition at the Slipper Room which has since become my burlesque home. We lovingly support each other’s dreams….and in Jo, I found a dear sister, personal heroine and kick ass co-conspirator.

Jo Weldon - My Hero!

Jo Weldon – My Hero!

Remember:  Your co-conspirators might not always be in person. You might live far away from some of the people you admire. Luckily, the internet gives us access to everything! Reach out. Ask questions. Make it happen.

Also, don’t forget to create your own Circle of Seven.

Fight Tip #4: Our Biggest Heroes Were Failures. Remind Yourself of People Who Have Overcome The Odds and Kept Going.

FACT:  When google searching “unlikely success” – over 96 million results come up.  Remember that when you are feeling like a failure, you are among the greats.  Everyone feels like success is unlikely at one point or another!

  JK Rowling was on welfare, was contemplating suicide and had been rejected by major publishing houses before one of them decided to take a chance on her story of “Harry Potter”.

♥  Walt Disney was told he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas” as he was being fired by a newspaper editor. Later he was told Mickey Mouse would fail because women would be afraid of a gigantic mouse.

♥  In 1954, Elvis Presley played one show at the Grand Ole Opry. Jimmy Denny, the manager of the Opry said, “You ain’t goin’ nowhere… son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.”

♥  Albert Einstein’s teacher described him as “mentally slow, unsociable and adrift forever in his foolish dreams.” He was turned down by the schools he most hoped to get into.

Fight Tip #5:  When You Do The Thing You Love The Most, You Give a Gift Back To The World.

See the people listed above?

What would have happened if they let those things get in their way of success?

What would have happened if they just threw their hands up in defeat? We would have lost out on their gifts!

Most of the greatest music, science, stories, and art came from people that were told they couldn’t make it, had been rejected and felt like giving up themselves.

What would have happened if Jo Weldon didn’t push herself to do burlesque, inspire others and then go on to open a burlesque school?  Perhaps the course of my life would have been changed, too.

If you are giving up on your dream…not only are you taking that gift away from yourself – you’re taking that gift away from the world.

Don’t you dare take your gift away from me.

I believe in you.
Now stop reading this blog and go kick some ass.

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