Tag Archives: Burlesque

Living the Life Creative (in NYC)

I grew up in the sort of home in which I was told that I was ‘creative’ from a very early age. My drawings and stories and poems were praised and treasured. I recently sorted through boxes of them in my mother’s house and scanned some of the more impressive works. As an example of my early work, I think this drawing really speaks for itself. Note that my teacher marked it ‘Excellent!’

Scan Jun 10, 2019 at 3.02 PM

The idea of myself as a creative person is so integral to my sense of self that it has often shaped my choices as an adult. In my twenties I scorned jobs that did not engage me creatively. I moved away from the field of law because it seemed dry and boring. When I discovered the colorful madness of ‘underground’ New York I was thrilled and dove in as quickly as possible. In the midst of attaching paper flowers to the ceiling of a loft with fishing wire, I was swept away by the beauty of imagination in action. This article in the New York Times featured the woman I was working for at that time, and it perfectly sums up the ethos and magic of that community.

“a tight-knit community of makers and performers, who share resources — from bolts of fabric and guest lists to manpower — and some ideologies, the most urgent of which is a do-it-yourself mentality that defines a good time not as passive entertainment but as a participatory event.”

It was after a year of living the life creative that the financial pressures of reality began to intrude on the world of imagination. I am privileged to have parents who can and often have supplemented my income. I was able to indulge in this fantasy far longer than most people would be able to, but I did eventually feel compelled to move in the direction of a more reliable form of income. Many creative people make it work without family help. They hustle much more than I did. Maybe some of those creatives are also more creative, more talented, better at marketing themselves, more connected. There is a whole world of people who make a living through performance, event production, lighting design, directing, and many other creative pursuits. At that point in my life I lacked the confidence to believe I could be one of them. I went back to school. I tried to be a first grade teacher. I did not succeed. I worked for years as a full-time nanny, a role that certainly involved creativity, but was not connected to a larger community.

When I chose to once again pursue a creative career I did so from a more adult perspective. I networked. I sought opportunity everywhere. I did big jobs and small ones. I had side hustles. I was always looking for my next project. I built my digital rolodex of producers, performers, venues… I joined groups. I reached out to people I admired. I had some marvelous successes. I created things that I loved and that other people loved. You can see lots of information about my work on my portfolio site. This image, of Ms. Tickle performing at one of my History of Burlesque events, fills me with pride.


I was truly engaging my imagination. I was living the life creative. There were moments that were  spectacular, but the truth beneath my self-promotion was that I was drained and deeply unhappy. The financial pressures were overwhelming. There wasn’t enough work and it didn’t pay enough money. Every moment was taken up with anxiety. When I landed a dream gig I found that although it took up all of my time and energy it only paid two thirds of the amount I was paid as a full-time nanny. I loved working with creative people and I loved defining myself as one of them, but I was also digging myself a hole of debt that I couldn’t get myself out of and becoming more and more unhappy every day.

A month ago I took a job at a start up. It is not a creative role. I have difficulty even admitting to people I have worked with in the event production world that I am doing such a job. It seems like a way of saying I have given up, that I am not creative after all. The stability of a job with a good paycheck, benefits, and a 9-6 schedule in an office, is marvelous. My friends tell me I seem healthier than I have in years. I fear that I don’t know how to define myself if I am not working creatively. My mother tells me I will of course always be creative, but the attribute seems meaningless without the output. I couldn’t sustain the life creative. Perhaps I will return to it again in some more stable future. I wish that I could value myself more in this new role, as a stable adult who rarely finds glitter stuck in odd places. I am hoping that being able to define myself as happy will compensate for the loss.

Culture High & Low

If you’re feeling a bit blue, stuck in NYC while your friends are rocking out at SXSW, you should be reminded of some of the amazing cultural events happening in our fine city- both High and Low.

This past weekend G and I attended, among other diversions (he met my mother for the first time this weekend! It went well!) Franco Zeffirelli’s legendary production of La Bohème at the Metropolitan Opera. More than perhaps any other opera La Bohème has captured the imagination of generations of artists. Its compelling story was the basis for the musical Rent. Baz Luhrmann’s version also spent time on Broadway. Recently there was even a production without music.  As G said after the performance, the characters are much more familiar than most characters in opera; these are people you can imagine knowing. Anna Netrebko was an incredible Mimi; both her acting and her singing were intensely evocative. I cried (of course) when she died but I also felt that the story had a message for the audience, much more so than the melodramatic plots of Aida or Tosca. If you haven’t seen this classic I highly recommend finding a way to do so.

Anna Netrebko

Anna Netrebko

I will be seeing a much less classic opera next week- The Nose is a surrealist opera based on a short story by Gogol.

Artist William Kentridge defies genres with Shostakovich’s adaptation of Gogol’s story. “The opera is about the terrors of hierarchy,” Kentridge says. “There’s a mixture of anarchy and the absurd that interests me. I love in this opera the sense that anything is possible.” The new production is conducted by definitive Shostakovich interpreter Valery Gergiev. Acclaimed baritone Paulo Szot, who won a Tony Award® for South Pacific, makes his Met debut as the man who wakes up to discover that his nose has disappeared.

You can get a taste of Kentridge’s work at the MOMA, which is currently hosting a retrospective.

Best known for animated films based on charcoal drawings, he also works in prints, books, collage, sculpture, and the performing arts. This exhibition explores five primary themes in Kentridge’s art from the 1980s to the present, and underscores the inter relatedness of his mediums and disciplines, particularly through a selection of works from the Museum’s collection. Included are works related to the artist’s staging and design of Dmitri Shostakovich’s The Nose.

I haven’t visited the Kentridge exhibit yet but G and I did take a look at Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present, which just opened to the public on Sunday. The exhibit documents her various performance pieces, both through video and photographs of the original performances, and through recreations by actors. The most interesting, and disturbing, of the latter was a pair of naked actors- one female, one male- standing within a narrow archway; you had to pass between them to get into the next room. It was impossible not to touch the naked pair and this was hugely unnerving but, simply because it was unnerving, forced you as the viewer to think further about the piece. I am thrilled that the MOMA has chosen to showcase such challenging work. The exhibit is a triumph for the curator, Klaus Biesenbach, who has succeeded in creating a retrospective of performance art, something never done in the MOMA, and possibly never done as successfully in any other major museum.

You can see some less established artists in the Jonathan LeVine Gallery’s Five Year Anniversary Exhibition.

Since 2005, Jonathan LeVine Gallery has been an important venue for Street Art (ephemeral work placed in public urban environments) and Pop Surrealism (work influenced by illustration, comic book art, and pop culture imagery). As such, the pieces in this exhibition—comprised of paintings, drawings, and sculptures—will be primarily figurative with a strong sense of narration.

I am quite a fan of this image (Ray Caesar, Arabesque):

Ray Caesar, Arabesque

Ray Caesar, Arabesque

On the lower end of the culture spectrum, this Thursday you can attend a retrospective of a rather different sort- a burlesque tribute to Dolly Parton! I expect The Queen of Country Music would be thrilled!

P.S. Best way to spend St. Patty’s Day- Benefit Concert for City Reliquary at the Knitting Factory!

Please follow myself and Miss Scorpio on twitter for the latest and be sure to sign up for the G&S listserve so you can benefit from the editing that eats up so much of my time… Enjoy!

A Film Student Comes to Town

First of all please pardon me for a second while I sing my own praises… Gemini & Scorpio, the lovely event entrepreneurs who I have been working for these last few months (to the detriment of this blog I am afraid), have been featured in an article in the New York Times. My name is actually included! My grandmother is less excited about this than you might expect but I for one am pretty thrilled.

Setup for G&S Party; image from the NYTimes

Setup for G&S Party, image from the NYTimes

Ok, moving on… I have a friend coming to town this weekend who went to film school at NYU and is taking some sort of test to try to get into a film apprenticeship program in the city. As per usual when I have a visitor I have drafted a list of all sorts of wonderful events taking place and I thought I would share them with you!

Friday night the Mad Breaks Tea Party is sure to be a riotous good time, of the G&S/underground/alt-events variety. There will be aerialists, a tea garden (of course), sculptural installations, fire spinners, a hookah lounge and all sorts of other madness.

On Saturday at Galapagos Art Space, Floating Kabarette takes burlesque to the air in a gravity defying weekly show only to be found in the Big Apple.

Also on Saturday, for a much more G-rated (and more film centered) evening, you can head to 92Y Tribeca for a sing-along with Fieval and friends! An American Tail is one of those Spielberg movies that you associate much more with childhood than with Spielberg. If you remember the songs get ready to belt them with other fans! Here’s a clip to refresh your memory:

On Sunday, another film related event, my favorite comedians are making fun of one of the most ridiculous things to hit the cinema in recent years- Twilight! Head to the Knitting Factory to see the Raspberry Brothers make a comedy out of this mess.

Since this is a film-centric weekend I also advised my visiting friend to check out the offerings at

I advise you to do the same, anytime you want to check out new foreign/independent film or see classics on the big screen! Enjoy!

Follow me and Miss Scorpio on Twitter for the latest event listings and be sure to sign up for the G&S weekly event list- everything you need to know about alt-events in NYC!

Dumplings, Marshmallows and Floggers on a Boat

I’m still reeling from being hit in the head by one of Miss Saturn’s hula hoops (more on that later) but there are some events I simply must pass on!

First off, don’t forget about the Marshmallow Civil War I mentioned yesterday, and be sure to check out my review of The Jaguar Club if you want to see a concert tonight.

If you want to start dancing early today you’re in luck; New Release is throwing a ‘Mister Saturday Night Daytime Loft Party‘ starting at 3pm:

Bloody marys and mimosas are on the menu; our friend Fiore Tedesco from The Brooklyn Laundry is making egg tacos and other brunch snacks; and you can bring your little ones and your dogs. We love it when they come. Residents Justin Carter and Eamon Harkin will be laying down the disco, house and such; and our special guest is Moodymann, a Motor City legend. We’ve heard him drop everything from boogie to grime to techno, but no matter what he plays it’s always super funky and super fun.

If you want less dancing and more eating this afternoon you should check out the Dumpling Festival! There will be hundreds of dumplings from around the world so if you missed the Dumpling Crawl I wrote about recently this is your chance to make up for it!

Tonight you can take Halloween to a new level by setting sail on a fetish cruise. When the Baroness is involved you’d better believe the play stations will be HOT. Note: Do not go on this cruise if you will be uncomfortable viewing and/or participating in public flogging, suspension and latex fashion shows.

fetish cruise

For a more literary Saturday night you can celebrate the opening of another independent bookstore in Brooklyn- The Greenlight Bookstore!

The long-awaited 2,000-square-foot space has everything literati (and wannabes) could want, including a huge kids’ section, French and Spanish editions, graphic novels galore, and tons of NY-centric titles.

Tonight is also the Zombiecon! If you feel confident in your ability to drink beer with a fake knife sticking out of your throat, then this is the event for you!

For more fun on boats this weekend you can clamor aboard the Steamship Lilac on Sunday to experience Oktobership– the party comes complete with circus performers, theater troupes and live bands (talk about rocking the boat!)!


If you’d rather stay on dry land head over to P.S.1 where they’re opening their fall exhibits in style:

Join us for an opening day celebration of four new exhibitions: 1969, a large-scale presentation of works produced in the year 1969 drawn from all of the collecting areas of The Museum of Modern Art; Robert Bergman: Selected Portraits, twenty-four gripping portraits of individuals the photographer captured during his travels through the American Rust Belt; Between Spaces, a group exhibition organized by the junior curatorial staff for the second time in P.S.1 history; and On-site 2: Chitra Ganesh, a vivid new wall installation by the Brooklyn-based artist in P.S.1’s lobby. Special DJ set by AJ Slim playing rare 1960s funk, soul, rock, afrobeat, and latin. Experience the Afterparty by MOS, winners of the 2009 Young Architects Program in the courtyard. On view through October 26.

That’s all for the moment; stay tuned for additions and follow me on twitter for the latest from The Big Red Apple!

The Great Marshmallow War, Burlesque and Indie Films

I’m running off to meet my grandmother so I’m just throwing up a few things on my way out; stay tuned later for news of The Dumpling Festival, P.S.1’s Fall Openings, the Jaguar Club and other excitement this weekend.

Saturday you can engage in warfare of a new and different variety- The Marshmallow Civil War will tear this city apart! How Newmindspace comes up with this madness I do not know but you should prepare your weapon and check the facebook page for the exact location later today!


This weekend is the New York Independent Film and Video Festival; it is meant to be an unpretentious version of some of the bigger festivals in town. There are lots of choices so you’re sure to find that perfect unknown film to impress your hipster date.

Meanwhile, at The House of Yes, Silky Sirens Burlesque will rock your world:

A singing burlesque company that was started on the brink of a Depression. A show that is full of humor, beauty, sex, tease and tons of pasties of all sorts. Hosted by the hilarious Doctor Phil.

Ok, that’s all for the moment; I’ll be back later with more! Also be sure to follow me on twitter, or check the sidebar, for spur-of-the-moment updates!