Well, this has been a week. I've only allowed myself to process a bit of i; I tend to do that over time (or obsess all at once; there is no in-between).
I won a title. It is my first title with a crown, although I have won other distinctions before (Master of Comedy for PA Burlypicks... with the same act no less). Mr. Hollywood Burlesque 2019/2020 (they actually do the competition every 2 years so technically I'm a 2-year-runner). Holy damn.
The competition was one evening of the Hollywood Burlesque Festival, and part of the larger community support that I felt all weekend. I was tentative, scared even, that I would walk into a show (if I ever got a show) in California and realize that for the last 13 years wouldn't work here for whatever reason. I'd just be done. I made efforts, connections, and friends thru California Burlypicks and that soothed me but until I worked with Brandy Snifter and Tito Bonito (and was invited BACK, which is key), I couldn't assume I'd have a place here.
& I do. and It's beautiful and amazing and humbling. I did my signature act, Digital Get Down, and while I sometimes fear I'm riding that horse too insistently, I got good notices and good remarks (applause on my way -to- the dressing room from the cast) afterward. About a hour later, I was getting a crown and the title, and a sash!, and looking at my husband in the audience, and just... so pleased. I was just happy.
I initially want to disassociate and say "awards aren't everything," or "it was a shot in three," or "whatever I can do to discredit myself hooray." But I've worked hard, everyone worked hard, and it wasn't the crown that cinched a great weekend. It was Veronica Voss, winner of the Ms. title, saying "Welcome to Los Angeles," like she knew I needed that movie trailer moment. It was the performers I worked with who were awesome to me -before- I won anything. It was the whole wonderful night.
I had to call it an earlier one; my husband and I celebrated with McDonalds and I took a healing shower and watched The Simpsons. I needed that decompression (and fuck, my feet hurt). & I had to remind myself: I'll see everyone soon. I live here now. I'm around; they'll say hi back.
There are more complicated feelings that I have about my self worth, where I am, what I'm doing, the state of things, and my own producing at that, but they get to wait for a minute.
I think I'm doing ok.
♪ Daphne Rubin-Vega -- "Squeal"
I'm in California. It's home, or at least one of the places I've come to call home. My husband moved here first, for work, a year and a half ago, and I've been back and forth ever since.
I have my first performances this week on this coast. I did do California Burlypicks last year, but that was an improv-- I'm scripted this Thursday. I'm at WTF-lesque and Tito Bonito's Pansy Craze Peepshow... those both seem like the slices of Manhattan and Brooklyn I need on this side of the country.
It's not that I waited; it's that these are the first folk who expressed interest. (I gratefully accepted and consider myself lucky as a scoundrel that my first 2 will be these) Starting "over" is hard. I'm just one of several cat's pajamas in NYC, but I've made a career there, am pretty recognized at least that I exist, and I have a lot of people who like me. West Coast, I know three or four people by name. Daunting, terrifying, and if I let myself relax, freeing and refreshing.
I'm in the middle of several projects, as ever, even as I'm not actively stripping-- besides the Rockbar show, my favorite thing, which is now 1st and 3rd Wednesdays in Manhattan, I've also got my podcasts: WEBurlesque the interview series, and a new one called 2 Night Stay that revisits old thoughts and meanderings in White Elephant Burlesque's past. More about that later.
Going from weekly to 1st and 3rd for WEBurlesque at Rockbar is a mixed blessing. Jason's support has been wonderful through these 4 1/2 years. He's seen us ebb and flow, as I have with the bar. There are so many shows these days, and casts of performers who are fractured. Again, mixed blessing: we can afford to have performers not get along with each other and still work cuz there are -that- many shows.
But with that influx, it's a little harder to be special, and while WEBurlesque held a niche for a bit (some folk call it the Kitty Nights spot, which Fem Appeal helped develop so brilliantly) as the weirdos have taken over the asylum. There are a bunch of quality neoburlesque shows out there, getting voices heard, getting bodies seen, and splitting the ever-shrinking buck of the public. It also increases my own booking, so I can't really complain -- and i wouldn't, anyway.
But 4 solid years of weekly got comfortable. Perhaps too comfortable; I know it's easy to get lazy, to get entitled, and to lose sight of what we're doing. 1st and 3rd also means that when I'm in California (or wherever), I'm not missing as many shows. When the burlesque nights are dark, sure there is other activity, but I'm not actively away from a show I'm producing and paying for. Saves some bucks (necessary at this time), some FOMO (ever-present), and keeps it interesting. Don't take shows for granted, folks.
A few years ago, a colleague suggested that I check out another show, and I said "well, it's in my time slot." "You can miss one Wednesday." "what... no I can't." I was incredulous; what a bizarre thing to say.
But I've done it, I'm doing it, and ya know, it's happening. & it means I can be here in California and do 2 shows in L.A. for the first time. and that's neat.
I fear impermanence, I suppose. If I'm away, am I making sound in the forest, this falling tree that is Viktor Devonne?
Well, I've got additional forests to explore.
Terrifying. but great.
♪ Prince -- "When Doves Cry"