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We are an open mic!

UPDATE! With the closing of the Palace, we have been diligently scouting new venues to support a Variety open mic.  Until we find a space that is a perfect fit, the regular show is on hold. But feel free to fill out the sign-up form and we will send out an email as soon as it’s up and running! Thank...

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DCVariety

Meet the Variety: Hot Todd Lincoln, MC

Posted by Jules V Moorhead | Posted in Meet the Variety, reviews, sideshow | Posted on 31-03-2015

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HotToddLincolnI first saw Hot Todd Lincoln on stage at a Twisted Knickers show in the Yellow Sign Theater in Baltimore, the city he calls home. I wouldn’t formally meet him until a year or two later when he accidentally molested my knee at Trixie Little and the Evil Hate Monkey‘s annual Holiday Spectacuthon, but I digress. Hot Todd’s MC style is pun­filled and banter­heavy. He likes to make a connection with his audience. Over the years, as he’s added sideshow acts to his sets, you can feel that same sense of connection in his performances.

For Hot Todd, being an MC is an extension of who he is offstage. “I tend to be very outgoing, and really like being a part of a community. The role certainly plays to my strengths of being quick on my feet and very convivial. I tend to be fast with puns and snappy comebacks, and I truly enjoy the feeling that comes with connecting with an audience.”

But with great power comes great responsibility, and Hot Todd wasn’t satisfied with simply delivering a well­timed zinger. “As I continued to host shows, I realized that being an MC gives me unique opportunities to do more. Once you connect with an audience, you can say something really important.” Hot Todd has used his time on the mic to promote marriage equality, equal rights, body positivity and the sexiness of consent. “I want to create a space in which everyone is having a good time and feels safe and welcome.”

He cites MCs and performers such as Swami YoMahmi, Mab Just Mab, Paco Fish, Professor Sprocket and Harley Newman as some of his biggest influences, among many others like Miss Astrid, Bradford Scobie, Bastard Keith, Scotty the Blue Bunny, Magnolia Jackson Pickett Burnside, Ben Wisdom, World Famous Bob, Doc Wasabassco, Murray Hill and Armitage Shanks. “Everyone I’ve mentioned comes to the mic with wildly different perspectives, and really connects with their audiences from a very personal place.”

In addition to his skills as an MC, Hot Todd also does classic sideshow acts like the bed of nails and routines such as a fun, audience-­participatory straight jacket escape number. “While being an MC is fantastic, I wanted to explore what I could do on the performance side of the equation. I’m no dancer, so initially, sideshow seemed a better fit. Once I started, I became captivated by the physicality and honesty of sideshow. There’s no illusion to sideshow. What you see, is really what’s happening. Bed of Nails? Real nails. Walking on glass? Real glass. Eating fire? Yep…real fire. I am also realizing the benefits of performing and practicing sideshow on and off stage as I’m pushing myself beyond my own fears.”

As if hosting and performing wasn’t enough, Hot Todd co­produces a monthly show with Chérie Nuit as Hot Night Productions at the Bier Baron in Washington, D.C. As someone who lives and hosts in Baltimore while producing and performing in D.C., Hot Todd straddles the burlesque scene in two different cities to an extent few others do. When asked to compare and contrast the two, he replied, “One immediate difference is that there aren’t really any ‘troupes’ based in DC, with the exception of the Cheeky Monkey Sideshow. There are a lot of production teams: Hot Night Productions, Valentine Candy Burlesque, The Weirdo Show, Atomic Doll Productions, etc. This creates flexibility in casting and adapting to venues and performer schedules. In Baltimore, there are both. Twisted Knickers and TimelessTease Productions have adopted the small core with a lot of guest performers model, whereas troupes like Gilded Lily Burlesque and Bawdy Shop Burlesque are doing well with larger core casts and fewer guest stars. Both scenes have a wide pool of talent to draw from and are generally very supportive of each other with a good amount of overlap. Another difference is that the some of the Baltimore groups are doing more scripted shows and bigger productions.”

As to what it’s like being in both scenes, “It’s pretty great in that I work with really good people in both cities, on both sides of the curtain.”

Jules V Moorhead co­produces TimelessTease Productions in Baltimore. Find Jules and TimelessTease Productions on Facebook.

[Photo credit: Josh Aterovis]

Meet the Variety: Indiana’s Jewels – Burlesque

Posted by Chè Monique | Posted in burlesque, Meet the Variety, reviews | Posted on 23-03-2015

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IndianasJewles01I had the opportunity to sit and chat with Indiana’s Jewels last Friday before Ellie Quinn Presents Girls Just Wanna Have Fun at the Bier Baron. We were joined by her boyfriend/costumer.

It was fun to talk to Jewels about Jewels. She works alongside GiGi Holliday in various capacities including assisting her with Studio Holliday. Indiana’s Jewels is also very committed to the local burlesque scene and puts a lot of effort into behind the scenes and burlesque community focused work. Because of this, in the past when I’ve spoken to her it wasn’t about her, it was generally about the community.

Jewels is excited about the upcoming graduation of Studio Holliday’s Budding Burlesque Beauties students. They will be showcased in a show at the Black Cat on April 17th. We reminisced over our first performances. Indiana’s Jewels started performing as part of Capital Tassels and Tease four years ago. Her first performance involved all sorts of props including jewels and a treasure chest to really introduce her Indiana Jones inspired character. She is happy that her performances have evolved to include more tease and less gimmicks. Her biggest piece of advice to new performers is no matter what, DON’T PICK THE WEDGIE. Jewels is excited about the new group of performers she’s helping to get their start and is glad that there are more ongoing classes to help them get stage ready.

IndianasJewles02My favorite aspect of Jewels’s performance career is the support of her boyfriend, who has turned into her costumer. Indiana’s Jewels purchased a sewing machine when her costuming needs demanded it, unfortunately she couldn’t figure out how to work the thing. Lucky for her, her boyfriend was not going to see all that money go down the drain and he figured out how to operate it. Now she conceptualizes an idea, he’ll sew it up and she’ll do the stoning and embellishment. She is very appreciative of being able to have custom costumes where each piece matches exactly, since it was cut from the same cloth.

It was so much fun watching Indiana’s Jewels perform. She is one of those performers whose backstage versus onstage personalities do a total 180. One minute we’re sitting down discussing how it would be nice to see more diversity in burlesque shows. Jewels is telling me how she’s observed that there’s a clear line between shows that are diverse and shows that aren’t. We’re brainstorming ideas to get more participation from less represented groups on stage. Everything is very cerebral. Next thing I know this woman has turned into a total sex kitten crawling on the floor and doing one of the hottest stocking peels I’ve ever witnessed. Girl’s Just Wanna Have Fun was a great show to see Indiana’s Jewels in, her acts to Cher’s “If I Could Turn Back Time” and Ke$ha’s “Your Love is My Drug” included Jewels’s signature silliness, but also had a raw sex appeal that was quite entertaining.

I quite enjoyed my conversation with Indiana’s Jewels and her boyfriend and am really glad I had this opportunity to learn more about her.

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che-moniqueChè Monique produces Chocolate City Burlesque and Cabaret and is a Jill of many trades. Learn more about Chè at www.chemonique.com and Chocolate City Burlesque and Cabaret at www.chocolatecityburlesque.com .

Meet the Variety: Spinnabel Lee, Fire Artist

Posted by Chè Monique | Posted in fire, Meet the Variety, reviews | Posted on 09-03-2015

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Introducing a new series here at DCVariety.com! Meet the Variety! This week, an article submitted by Chè Monique.

by Chè Monique

Victoriana1.SpinnabelLeeI first met Spinnabel Lee, when I hired her to perform at one of my Halloween parties. She dazzled my friends with a show that consisted of spinning fire poi, dancing with fire fans and fire hooping. I believe Spinnabel is the first person I’ve ever seen wriggle her body in and out a hoop set ablaze. Though I have many friends in the creative a performing arts, I could tell that for many of my friends this was their first time witnessing a show like this. They were absolutely captivated.

Spinnabel has achieved the dream, she is self employed full time doing the work she loves. Spinnabel Lee is a fire dancer and hooper and enjoys taking hip hop dance classes. In fact even though I said she’s living ‘the dream’, Spinnabel’s dream would be to be in a rap video, or even better go on tour with Beyoncè. Spinnabel is a DC variety artist that kind of exists on the fringes of the variety scene.Most of Spinnabel’s performance work is private events, like my Halloween party, weddings, and corporate events. Spinnabel also teaches hoop dance classes and helps organize the FLAME Festival outside of Atlanta.

Spinnabel Lee Fire FansSpinnabel fell in love with fire dance after being mesmerised by a performance she saw at a party in Guatemala. After failed attempts at self instruction, she found a friend to teach her the basics and Spinnabel Lee was born. Over her years of performance, Spinnabel has had quite a few snafus from wardrobe malfunctions to dropping her props and of course numerous burns. From her perspective the possibility of things going wrong, potentially dangerously wrong is what makes live performance so thrilling.

I’m really glad I decided to reconnect with Spinnabel, I was reminded of her blog which I’ve perused occasionally. It is a really great resource. I think there is content in it that everyone will find useful. Spinnabel posts lots of great business tips for performers and entertainers as well good solid life advice. More information about Spinnabel including booking information, her calendar and the incredibly informative blog can be found at www.spinnabellee.com.

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che-moniqueChè Monique produces Chocolate City Burlesque and Cabaret and is a Jill of many trades. Learn more about Chè at www.chemonique.com and Chocolate City Burlesque and Cabaret at www.chocolatecityburlesque.com .

 

Review of DR. SKETCHY’S

Posted by mabjustmab | Posted in burlesque, palace, reviews | Posted on 18-08-2008

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EVENT: Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School Show
DATE & TIME: Sunday, Aug. 17th
LOCATION: Palace of Wonders
COST: $5
DETAILS: Revival of the Dr. Sketchy’s series

Last night Sugar Ann Spice and I performed in the revival of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School Show … and it was a revival in more than one sense. The new MC of the latest iteration of the DC franchise is the “Reverend Loveseat” – aka Jared Davis/Art by Jared/former Lobsterboy Revue scene & set master and artist of the Al portrait over the Palace stage. The Reverend is everything you’d imagine he’d be … slimy, donning a bad suit, gray pompadour, too much flashy bling for a man of the cloth and loves to read horribly bad “groaner” jokes from back issues of Playboy to his congregation.

For those who have never attended or who are not familiar with this series of shows, it’s a combination of a mini-burlesque show followed by timed poses by performers in costume for live model sketching to be done by artists in attendance as audience members. This series was started in NY (of course) by Molly Crabapple and has since had franchises pop up in major cities across the country always using performers as models. Here in DC we have had both burlesque and sideshow performers (namely, our own Mab) participate.

As a performer – and particularly burlesque, it was imperative for me to remind myself this was not a “typical” burlesque show nor audience in most cases, however genuinely appreciative. The performances were well-received and posing commenced quickly after their conclusions. I also found myself challenged for coming up with interesting poses for the artists – holding yourself in a contoured (i.e. sometimes contorted) pose for up to 12 minutes at a time. This experience made me think about body form, angles and stage position dramatically more than I ever have before. I believe this will come into play during my future acts.

The Reverend led a successful “sermon” overall and put much effort into a balanced line-up, provided interesting props for posing and engaged the artistic audience as best he could while they concentrated on their work. The show finale was a game of Twister between Sugar Ann Spice and me – each Twister pose was held for a brief amount of time to allow for quick sketches by the audience … I lost, by the way – I sense a theme developing here, for those of you who have also seen our Lucha match. Tube socks and a plastic mat don’t mix together as well as I’d hoped.

Let’s hope the good Reverend decides to bring back his revival of this Sunday service to the Palace … even if once in a blue moon. I for one know I’ll be back next time, but as an artist … er … member of the congregation. Hallelujah Reverend and thanks for having us to your pulpit.

Amen!

Review of LIVE HUMANS

Posted by mabjustmab | Posted in burlesque, comedy, palace, reviews | Posted on 15-08-2008

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EVENT: Live Humans
DATE & TIME: 2nd & 3rd Tuesdays of the month, 7:30 – midnight
LOCATION: Palace of Wonders
COST: FREE
DETAILS: Open Mic Variety Night

I have only been performing and producing burlesque for about a year-and-a-half although I think in my mind I have been a performer all my life. By no means do I profess to be an expert or professional performer like so many wonderful artists I know – I just really happen to enjoy performing, seeing others have opportunities to have fun, work their craft & express themselves and mostly – entertain people and help us all forget the mundane even if momentarily! I will be the first to admit that I need all the practice in the world to refine my moves, stage presence, act development, confidence … you name it. But one thing’s for sure, I truly believe that practice does make perfect (at least for me, and as close to perfect as possible).

I was recently contacted by Andy Rothwell of LIVE HUMANS to perform — as were many other area performers — and I was excited to take advantange of this opportunity to test out a new act on stage and see what other hidden talent we have in our midst. Plus, it’s free to everyone, no pressure and was really energizing to meet new people and discover a new night at the Palace.

This open-mic variety night is held the 2nd & 3rd Tuesdays of each month and no, you don’t get paid, but I used the show as a chance to try out new work and even speak a little on stage . It was so incredibly useful, it even surprised me! (And my new act worked, by the way) The crowd was receptive, a great showcase of all sorts of talent and really appreciated what others had to do and say. Again, couldn’t recommend it more if you’re looking to try something new – even a totally different skill all together … what’s even better is that you can get there anytime – no pressure of a call if you’re running late, etc. A very laid-back supportive atmosphere.

Thumbs up – thanks Andy!

where to look for things to do – My super secret sources!

Posted by mabjustmab | Posted in links, resources, reviews, Venues | Posted on 16-07-2008

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This week I’ve been slack with the posting of events. I do apologize. But, to make it up to you, allow me to reveal some of my sources!

Washington post has the going out guru, they sometimes gets lucky and find something worth while. same with the City Paper. I would be happier if they posted more events along the lines of Variety entertainment, but that’s just me.

dcist tends to hit the mark more often. they have great coverage of the fringe festival, and jazz, theater, hip-hop, spoken word, dance, and much much more. I have no idea how they find out 1/2 the stuff they do. and furthermore, I have no idea how they find out about stuff and city paper and washington post miss it. What’s your secret DCist?

upcoming.org is wildly popular in other parts of the country, but no so much here. DCist has access to this site, and I think they might be using it to find out about events. sometimes I see one of my shows that I posted on upcoming.org make it to DCist. then again, they could have heard about them in one of the hundred other places I post as well.

livejournal washington dc community
is where usually start my event postings. it’s a great resource not only for events, but for local advice; where to find the best haircut, bad neighborhoods to live in, favorite all night diner, etc. at the moment, that’s the first place I turn to get opinions on local matters, and the first place I post about my shows.

palace of wonders website – you know nothing at the Palace is going to suck. you want to find something interesting to do next week? check out what’s playing at the palace. and then go.

yelp is a new one to me. it seems a bit like Upcoming.org, but with more reviews. I haven’t gotten crazy into it yet, but I can see where this might be a nice resource.

tribe.net is lousy with bellydancers. 🙂 ooooohhhh yeaaaaaah. baby. it’s a networking website for anyone, but it seems to attract bellydancers and burners. this is my main source for fire and belly events. anyone can set up a discussion group (called a “tribe”) on any topic. I have set up two – dctribal and dc 10-in-1 (one for tribal bellydance and one for variety artists). they have national, international, and local groups. and it’s fun to get lost in the clickie click of information.

myspace – if you have a favorite local artist, band, show, your best bet would be to “friend” them on myspace. if you are a performer, and you don’t have a myspace page, you should get one now. I know, I know. the interface can be extremely annoying. but the thing is, this is where the people go. and with 1/2 hour’s work, you can get over 1000 eyes on your words.

and if they don’t come to you, go to them. check out your favorite venues and artists event listings. take a gamble. find the hidden gem. if a venue has a tendency to consistently host shows you like, take a chance and go on a night that you don’t know the artists. you might find something that blows open a whole new world.

now that I have sent you all over the net, would you like to know my super secret secret? using rss and atom post feed technology, I have all these sources going to one place. I don’t have to spend all day surfing the web, I only check one page throughout the day.

if you have any other suggestions for places to look for events, I am always looking for new places to promote! drop me a line.

Review: Evil Come, Evil Go-Go

Posted by mabjustmab | Posted in burlesque, palace, reviews | Posted on 23-06-2008

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Review of Evil Come Evil Go-Go
Staring L’il Dutch, Prissy Pistol and Little Darling
hosted by Mr. Deadguy
Clean-up/corpse removal by Gary Gutter

What a great show! I’m really glad I made time for this little gem.

To start off, as I approached the Palace, I saw skeleton cutouts dressed like Vegas showgirls at the door into the Palace. They were a great touch. The folks who decide such things offered discounted admission for anyone in costume – I saw some great outfits in the audience that night. That’s a great idea to get the crowd involved and really helped create the right atmosphere for a successful evening.

The show started off with a group number. Anytime there is more than one performer in a piece, it stands out in my mind. The coordination involved in getting artists to work together garners much respect from me. This piece was no exception. I loved the choreographic tribute to thriller (a staple in any un-dead dance routine).

The show on the whole was well put together, each artist getting their moment to shine. there were some pieces that stood out for me:

L’il Dutch just commands the stage. every one of her pieces look like they are right out of time, From vintage 1950’s to swinging retro 1960’s, which speaks of her attention to detail. I think my favorite piece had to be the mourning widow, complete with the necro ending. I love L’il Dutch’s box. And the goodies she pulls out of it.

Little Darling made my jaw drop. several times. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I was standing right up front, but every time she bent over…my eyes popped like a 3 week old cadaver’s. merow. Great job working the crowd too!

Prissy Pistol‘s “Brain Picnic” really grabbed me. I felt that she had an amazing connection to the song. It was a familiar tune that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, which added to the allure of the piece. I really enjoyed the combination of sensuality, savoring everything, juxtaposed with the horrifying brain goo. (mmmm, goo). this piece is a keeper!

Miss Joule joined the Evil girls, bringing a little fire to the show. I’m not sure if I have seen that particular fire finger piece before, but I really enjoyed. Only, and this comes as a bit of surprise to me, I can’t specifically tell you why. You will just have to catch her next show and see for yourself why this girl is amazing.

Mr. Deadguy was wonderful. This was the first opportunity I had to see him perform, and I had heard great things about him. His costume was impeccable, right down to the spats! Anyone who wears spats is aces in my book.

He managed the MC position pretty well. MC is a challenging role. You have to keep the show rolling, but you can’t just pop out and say “next up, la de da”. You have keep the energy up with tiny mini bits. My favorite mini bit was his pulling a worm out of his skull. It was almost like a tease with how slowly he extracted it. Totally wonderful!

A little while later his buddy, Baby Cheezwits, joined him…wearing a cleaver in his head. Babies with cleavers in their head are funny in and of themselves. Still, what followed was some excellent comedic interaction. The timing was (to quote an audience member) “tight”. I have found a new found love for ventriloquists. I want to see more bits from them!

As a performer myself, I love to eavesdrop on the audience to hear their completely candid opinions of a show. I am happy to share that every thing I heard was pegged in the positive.

Great job folks!
An excellent treat with delightful tricks!

Link-O-Rama
http://www.myspace.com/evilcomeevilgogoshow
http://www.myspace.com/lildutchburlesque
http://www.myspace.com/heartsandstarlets
http://www.myspace.com/lil_package_of_sexy
http://missjoule.com

Photos by Derik Moore (brutally lifted from their myspace pages)

A Word From Me

Posted by mabjustmab | Posted in disclaimer, reviews | Posted on 23-06-2008

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This will come as no surprise to anyone who has talked to me for more than 5 minutes, but you should know…I have opinions. It’s a blessing and a curse.

Incidentally, I have no reservations about telling someone my opinion. Fortunately, I have managed over the years to control my urge to share the bad opinions. I do try to follow the rule of “if you can’t say something nice…” blah blah blah, you know the rest.

To that end, I have decided to start posting reviews and ravings about other performers in the area. Reviewing other artists, helps me as a performer analyze elements in a piece. When I see a piece that really strikes me, I break it down to figure out exactly why I like it. After I understand the base element, I can then incorporate it into my own work.

DISCLAIMER: The one thing I am ~not~ trying to do with any of my reviews is to slather on false flattery or insult. I get absolutely no gain, money, social standing, or anything other than my own reflections out of this. You, as the reader, are to take anything said here as pure opinion, and to disregard it appropriately. If you happen to like what I’ve said, you can certainly quote me. Please send a link back to my website or this blog, so that others can share the joy. Also, if you are so inclined, feel free to post a comment. Discussion is healthy.

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