Are you an Artist?

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Artist (n): someone who creates things with great skill and imagination.

Why did you start performing? What's your reason for continuing? 

Was it the rush of adrenaline that swept through every part of your being after being on stage, leaving you with an addicting high? So much so that like a drug, you had to keep going back for more for fear of getting withdrawals?

Is it the desire to feel wanted? Does it give you something that your life outside of performing can't give you? Does the glorification of your creativity and seeing people appreciate you and your art fuel your ego?

Is it a cathartic way to heal your wounds? Is it a way for you to escape the real world, your troubles, your anxieties and inhabit another's world?

Or, was it the fulfillment of unleashing your thoughts, emotions, imagination or life story through your art? The unwavering, persistent need to create and curate art, all for the sake of creative fulfillment?

Or all or part of the above?

Personally, it's a way for me to process my wounds, escape as well as a medium for me to unleash my thoughts, feelings, emotions, etc through my art. The unrelenting need to create. Theatre is, in part, therapy for me. It has been since the I was young. I may write a blog on that at some point. I have discussed it briefly in a few media interviews. But, when I feel it's the right time, I'll divulge a little more as to why theatre and creating art is therapudic for me.

The reason I decided to write this blog is because of a conversation I had with a fellow artist while I was filming earlier this week. For those who haven't been following my Instagram or Facebook stories, I was on set last week for a TV show (I can't divulge what yet but I will later in the year) and I was chatting with one of the performers back stage as we were getting into make-up/costume. This particular performer works full time as a performer (which is pretty rare in NZ) and we chatted about his background and skimmed over the milestones that allowed him to get to the place he is at now. He corrected me when I referred to him as an actor, he said "no, I am an artist". 

 David Bowie. Artist Unknown.

David Bowie. Artist Unknown.

I stopped to think about this for a second. It resonated with me. I apologized and rectified my statement. We then got talking about why we are artists and not just actors or performers. 

Basically, what we discussed was the following. An artist has an undying need to create. Let's look at it this way: An artist, despite their profession, whether they're an actor/actress, dancer, singer, comedian, etc will find ways outside the conventional or given circumstances to make art. They may take on roles handed to them and have the ability to be creative in the way they flesh them out, but they also make a priority of creating their own projects, collaborating with other artists (often from other creative professions) to further extend their creative abilities and do not limit themselves to what is handed to them. They want to make art, for whatever personal or impersonal reasons that may be. The need is great and overwhelming and once one project is done, another must take it's place or the artist will feel unfulfilled. 

Artists are the ones who don't wait for a circumstance that art can be projected into to present itself. They're ambitious, they've got a go-getter attitude and will unwaveringly follow their desire and need to bring fourth their thoughts, feelings, manifestations into a real, tangible thing. 

The other important thing about artists is this. Artists are true to themselves. Yes, we've all had to sell our soul to the man every once in a while, creating acts or doing something which doesn't spark our creative soul for the sake of money, for example. BUT, the majority of the time (especially for personal projects) the artist will create something for themselves and a manner that is true to their style, taste, etc.

 Lady Gaga. Art from Twitter @MusicNotDaBling

Lady Gaga. Art from Twitter @MusicNotDaBling

Yes, yes... it is important to consider your audience, as dependent on whether a piece is a film piece, or a performance piece, you need to keep in mind the demographic, whether it aligns with your brand, etc. BUT... your art should represent you and come from your heart. You can always tell a superficial act from one lead from the inner musings of the creative mind.

When people come to watch an act, they want two things: to be entertained and to be moved. Aligning with the principles of Stanislavsky (see my previous blog post on this here) if the artist feels the emotion and thinks the thoughts truthfully, the audience will feel it. If the artist feels joy, truly feels it, so will their audience. An example - we all know that one person who is like a dead weight when they walk into the room, a "Negative Nancy", per say. The negativity of the person will flow through the room like smoke, circling and winding it's way through the room from the ground up until all are consumed by it. We're emotive beings, and we have this incredible ability to feel. We can flip this on it's head and like the "Negative Nancy" we all have that friend who is full of energy and radiates happiness. It's like their very presence ignites a spark of positivity and lightness to anyone within a 6m radius. These types of people are consumed by their emotions, whether positive or negative, and we can feel it. The same goes for when you're on stage. Bottom line, if you're emotionally connected to what your performing, whether it be pure joy of loving being in the moment, or whether it's emotion attached to a political statement, message, etc you're trying to get across, so long as it's conveyed in a way the audience can process and understand it, they'll feel it and get it. 

 Marina Abramović. Performing her public performance art piece 'Rhythm 0' in 1974. Photographer unknown.

Marina Abramović. Performing her public performance art piece 'Rhythm 0' in 1974. Photographer unknown.

The other very important defining factor in being an artist is this. The artist is in a state of constant change. They evolve, develop and grow. They allow themselves to be fluid and non conforming. They do not put a full stop at the end of their creativity. Yes, they may close the book on a project, but they'll be in relentless pursuit of the next one. An example is Lady Gaga. From when Gaga first debuted on the scene (note: she was performing LONG before we all knew of her in the mainstream) to now, she's gone through significant changes, which we can see with every album released. The "Born this Way" era, the current "Joanne" era, etc. Be sure to watch her documentary about creating her album "Joanne" called 'Five Foot Two" (see the trailer here). Bowie is another excellent example - who, like Gaga, transformed it seemed thoughout the progession of his musical journey, The "Mod" stage, the "Ziggy Stardust" era, the "Aladdin Sane" era, the "Diamond Dogs" era, etc. Another person is Christina Aguilera (see this video about her upcoming album here - it's truthful and pulls at the heart strings because you can hear it's sincerity). Another artist who I have huge admiration for his Marina Abramović. The true definition of performance artist. Her most incredible piece of art I have studied is her public performance of her work 'Rhythm 0' in 1974, which you can see pictured above. If you do not know her, please go and Google her now.

Now, another note. No artists are the same. Some go through rapid changes and some may only evolve once. You cannot compare your journey as an artist to anyone else. It's like life - if we went around comparing ourselves to everyone, we'd get a bit depressed, wouldn't we? Your journey, your path is your own. So long as you are being true to what you feel you need to express and your vision, that's what matters. 

Are you an artist?

#SECRETPROJECT REVEALED

 Gary Krumbert. Photo by James Yang with HMUA by Yolanda Bartram.

Gary Krumbert. Photo by James Yang with HMUA by Yolanda Bartram.

Hello Lovelies! 

Sorry - I know, I know... I'm late to the game again when it comes to my blogs. I admit it. It's just difficult trying to find the time to fit it in!

SO... something exciting that happened exactly a week ago is my #SECRETPROJECT Reveal Video launched! Yippie! 

THANK YOU to everyone who has shared, liked and commented on it, whether on social media or on the YouTube video itself. 

Haven't seen it? Why, let me take the hassle out of consulting the Google machine by popping the video in below.

The reveal of the #SECRETPROJECT - A collaborative effort between Performing Artist/Curator/Director Nat Hugill, Videographer/Photographer James Yang and Make-up/SFX/Body Painter Yolanda Bartram of BodyFX. MUSIC: Taylor Swift's - "Ready for it". Note that we do not own this song. All rights and copyrights are of that of the artist.
 Spanish Half & Half. Photo by James Yang with MUA & Body Paint by Yolanda Bartram of BodyFX.

Spanish Half & Half. Photo by James Yang with MUA & Body Paint by Yolanda Bartram of BodyFX.

As the caption of the video describes, this was a collaborative effort between myself, Videographer/Photographer James Yang and HMUA/SFX/Body Painter Yolanda Bartram of BodyFX

Be sure to give a like or a comment if you enjoy it! 

What I thought may be fun and informative was to give you a bit of insight as to how this came about and what actually happened on the day. 

  • If you haven't had a lookie though my Youtube Channel, I have a video on there from about 5 years ago now that was another collaborative effort called 'Let's Make a Date - Middle Earth Edition' I collaborated with Jocelen Janon, Yolanda Bartram of BodyFX, Brian Lowe and Samuel Wheeler of Nocturnal 3D to make it happen. It was super fun to make and I decided it had been a long time overdue, so I'd better get my A into G and make another one! But, what to do?
  • I know my strengths lie in inhabiting various characters, so I knew that would be an integral part of it. But I was unsure what to actually make. In 2013, when I was bored at home one day, I decided to do a video which mashed up a bunch of my characters into one video, and what linked them was a song. The song was Britney Spears 'Work B*tch'. Here's the video if you'd like to have a gander. I always felt like it had so much potential, but only having two lamps as my fill lights and using my phone as a camera, it wasn't exactly up to a professional standard (but fun none-the-less). 
  • So.. then it dawned on me. Why not do a newer version of the character mash-up to a different song, incorporating a few new looks and having the song as a running narrative? I had the idea on the back burner for a while, and it wasn't until I listened to Taylor Swift's 'Ready for It' the "EUREKA!" moment happened. It was then when I heard the song that it spured me into action of making it a reality.
  • I'm a very visual person and knew the exact aesthetic and style I wanted the video to be shot in (which is what you see in the video) basically very Terry Richardson/Helmut Newtonesque with a plain white background so the characters/looks were the main focus. 
  • Having worked with James Yang before, I knew his style and I knew he could pull this off as his work is exemplary. Having also worked with Yolanda many times before, I knew I could trust her to deliver on the looks front, she's a wizard I swear! 
  • I pitched my idea to them and they were both on board. YAY! Now to the hard part.. what looks, what characters? How do they interact?
  • When choosing looks and characters, I wanted relationships to be established, contrasts in personalities to be defined and for the looks/characters to actually relate to the song I'm lip-syncing to. Basically, everything had to work together to create a cohesive whole. 
  • After much brainstorming, reading song analysis' of 'Ready for It" I came up with the following: Bowie style look who plays it cool (think Bowie circa 1970's Diamond Dogs era) who works against my persona Lilly Loca. Lilly sings the lyrics about a man who is a bit of a heart breaker and plays it cool, and Bowie is that person. Then there's Penny Royalty (the bio queen character - watch this space, I have plans for her!) and my well established character Gary Krumbert. Gary is the dweeby, dorky, geeky and endearing fellow, who provides a nice contract to Bowie (who is everything Gary isn't). Penny Royalty - in simple terms - is a psychotic Stepford Wife style character who becomes obsessed (and perhaps a bit too openly aroused) by Gary. As the video progresses, you see Penny getting more and more crazed, frustrated and tense with Gary being pretty blinded by it all until the end. Poor Gary. The final look is the half and half Spanish look. Each "half" plays off each other; the over-confident, brave and boisterous matador with the infatuated and love struck senorita. 
  • I styled each look - with help from Dolly DeStory who provided the green dress you see Penny Royalty wearing as well as Kita Mean who provided her wig. 
  • On the day, we shot at Kingsize Studios and shot all 5 looks one after the other. First we started with Bowie, then Gary, moved to Lilly, breaked for lunch, moved to Penny and then finally did the half and half look. We did have one more look we were going for - but we ran out of time - which was a full body glitter look using BodyFX's Bio Glitter.
  • With each look/character, we'd shoot the video first, then photos. Make-up took usually half an hour between looks and then we'd be straight back in front of the camera again - no rest for the wicked! 

I hope that's been an insightful wee look into the shoot! Plus, I hope you've enjoyed the photos! 

To finish, here's one last one of Penny Royalty and the Spanish Half & Half look we haven't released yet and some other wonderful photos from the release.

Love, 

Lilly x

 Penny Royalty (with photo of Gary Krumbert taken by Brian Lowe). Photo by James Yang with MUA by Yolanda Bartram. 

Penny Royalty (with photo of Gary Krumbert taken by Brian Lowe). Photo by James Yang with MUA by Yolanda Bartram. 

 Spanish Half & Half. Photo by James Yang with MUA by Yolanda Bartram. 

Spanish Half & Half. Photo by James Yang with MUA by Yolanda Bartram. 

 Lilly Loca. Photo by James Yang with MUA by Yolanda Bartram. 

Lilly Loca. Photo by James Yang with MUA by Yolanda Bartram. 

 BOWIE. Photo by James Yang with MUA by Yolanda Bartram. 

BOWIE. Photo by James Yang with MUA by Yolanda Bartram. 

 Penny Royalty. Photo by James Yang with MUA by Yolanda Bartram. 

Penny Royalty. Photo by James Yang with MUA by Yolanda Bartram. 

Samsung Galaxy S9 Launch

Hello Everyone! 

I am so sorry I have been so busy the past month, it's actually been insane. I've had prolonged glitter crash since Press Play finished (that's coming up as my next blog post - it was buck wild!) and I'm just starting to find my feet again. Self care, etc...

The purpose of this blog is to let you in on the amazing experience I had presenting the worlds first five second launch event for the Samsung Galaxy S9. It all happened so quickly - I literally got a call from my agent the Wednesday before asking if I was keen and available for an MC/presenting job, did a quick audition tape and BOOM - got the casting all within about 24 hours. Then that Friday and Saturday I spent filming and taking photos with the A team Yolanda Bartram, James Yang and Vola Tile for my #secretproject (which I will also be updating you about in another blog post) and then Sunday I had to go to a meeting with the producers and get wardrobe sorted, all the while trying to learn a script off by heart. 

Monday I had another wardrobe fitting and then Tuesday I was at the set (which was The Cloud) working with the amazing cast and crew on the event, plus rehearing. Honestly, the amount of work that went into this launch was incredible. Let me break it down for you...

  • We had 5 installations set up. 
  • The purpose of each installation was to showcase a particular feature of the S9.
  • The giant martini glass showcased the waterproof shell of the S9
  • The jelly's and icing sugar (which I was physically involved in) helped to showcase the quality of the slow-motion camera (which shoots at 960 FPS) and it's outstanding low light features thanks to the dual aperture camera lens. 
  • The presentation of the S9 showcased its slim-line design, infinity screen
  • The entertainment station of dancers from ID Dance Crew showcased the amazing slow-motion quality of the S9. 
  • Lastly, the final station was of cameras pointed to the audience, so we could capture their reactions of the event.
  • Each installation had 5 S9's rigged around them so that they could capture everything that happened in each station, as well as the crowd, for the launch event. So 25 S9's in total.
  • Each station was timed to work in perfect syncronicity with the S9's, music, etc.
  • A technical crew of over 30 people worked on this to make it all happen.
  • The footage you see in the videos below was all taken at the launch. 
  • My role was to welcome everyone, inform them about the features, be a part of one of the installations (see if you can spot me!) and explain what they'd just witnessed. Also to fill time while the crew rendered and collated all of the footage off the S9's.

So rather than me tell you more about it - watch the below videos. 

This first video shows you the launch and then the video that was shown in real time to everyone at the event.

This second film is a behind the scenes look which features yours truly and Director James Solomon from Flying Fish Films. 

Amazing, huh? 

I'm so happy and blessed I got to be a part of something so awesome. Thank you to my agents Human Agency as well as Flying Fish and Colenzo BBDO for having me on board and trusting in my ablities to help make this such a success.

ALSO, NEWS: I've decided I'm going to have a website dedicated to acting and presenting, as it doesn't really link well with my burlesque stuff. Stay tuned as I'll be launching it in the next month. 

Next up on the blog - Press Play 2018.

Marilyn and a Tease!

Hello and welcome!

 Photo by Froger

Photo by Froger

I'm sitting here on a Wednesday night working on my secret project and then realised, holy cripes! It's blog day tomorrow! So, I thought I'd share with you some photos that have been released by Froger from a shoot we did on Saturday and our inspiration behind them, plus let you in on a teaser as to what my secret project is! 

First, the TEASE!

The last video style collaborative project I did was way back in 2012. I had an idea to create a Middle Earth inspired dating game show. The main aim was to all come together to showcase our various skills. I collaborated with Samuel Wheeler from Nocturnal 3D who edited it and did the animation, Brian Lowe on videography, Jocelen Janon on still shots, Yolanda Bartram from BodyFX on makeup/SFX and myself as the actress/script writer and concept creator. If your a LOTR or a Hobbit fan, give it a watch below! 

Fun fact: This video below can be made into a live, on-stage act too! 

Then, wayyyyyy back in 2013 one day when I was bored at home, I decided to do an at home character mashup lip sync using Britney Spears 'Work B*tch!' song. (you'll see why these two are linked soon, I promise). I apologize for the appalling lighting - but ya make do with what you've got in the moment (i.e. two desk lamps, haha).  Have a watch below - you may find a couple of favorites! #garyforpresident

So... whats the connection? 

Well, dear reader.. I'm collaborating with the wonderful videographer and photographer James Yang as well as the incredible Yolanda Bartram from BodyFX to make a video and photographic eleganza extravaganza (as RuPaul would say). I can't reveal too much yet, but there will be 6 looks & characters, a full 8 hours of shooting in a studio and a song will be involved.. 

If you want to see sneak peeks of our shoot day, we're shooting on Sat 10th March (this Saturday!) so stay tuned to my social media handles as I'll be posting sneaky peeks in the Instagram and Facebook Stories (if you don't follow my handles yet, click here for Instagram and here for my Facebook page).

All will be revealed soon.. 

Marilyn, baby...

 Photo by Froger

Photo by Froger

It's been forever since I did a shoot - I've been so busy I've hardly had the time spare. But as Froger and I gel so well and due to the fact we literally live 10 mins from each other, we were able to get together and shoot! 

I asked Froger (his first name is Mike) if he could shoot some images of me for the Grand Tease New Zealand poster, which he kindly obliged. But I also had an idea about shooting some Marilyn inspired shots. 

I was particularly interested in Marilyn's casual shots. There's the famous beach cardigan shot which I absolutely love, and then some of her candidly posing in bed while lounging, talking, having a cuppa or reading. Below are a few examples.

Sadly, the weather was too wild for us to go to the beach, but we made do with being inside and we got some wonderful shots. There's still a lot more to come from this series, so stay tuned to my blog, Facebook and Insta when I release some more!

Also, go have a look at Frogers website here!!! He's super wonderful and can't recommend him enough.

Fun fact: This is my dads knitted cardigan. He didn't know I borrowed it.. opps!

Enjoy and don't forget to be watching my Insta and FB stories on Sat!

 

 Photo by Froger

Photo by Froger

 Photo by Froger

Photo by Froger

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Hehehe - left this "Cheeky" one for last! 

Lilly x

STANISLAVSKI'S PRINCIPLES

 Photo by Jocelen Janon of my character "M" from Patrick Graham's play "Lost Girls".

Photo by Jocelen Janon of my character "M" from Patrick Graham's play "Lost Girls".

Why hello good lookin'!

Welcome to my bi-weekly blog!

For those of you who don't know, I'm an educated, trained and experienced drama teacher. I've taught acting and theatre from 2008, getting my Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Secondary) in 2010 and have taught everywhere from kindergartens to high schools (I was even a Co-HOD of a drama department once!). 

Now, if you've dipped your toes into the world of acting, you've probably heard about several schools of acting. The main ones I'm going to reference are Meisner and the other being Stanislavski. What are the differences? I found this explanation on Camp Broadway and thought it sounded pretty spot on! 

"Stanislavski is all about what he calls the “given circumstance.” An actor has to ask, “where is my character in this scene and what is going on around him/her in order for them to say and do the things they say and do?” No matter who you study, always remember– you always move on stage, and say things on stage with a purpose. And that purpose is always to advance the scene, and tell the story.
Stanislavski also believes in finding a situation in actors’ lives that can compare to what the character might be going through in the scene. For example, let’s examine how he might suggest breaking down a break up scene with a significant other. Although you might not have a significant other, or may never have had one, you probably have had heated, emotional fights with someone in your life at some point. Stanislavski says to use that fire of the heated emotional fight, and apply it to the fight your character is having with their significant other.
Meisner, on the other hand, believes that the way you react onstage depends on how you are given your cue line. For example, a phrase as simple as “stop that!” can be said many different ways. If your scene partner decides to tickle you to get your reaction, you would giggle and maybe flirt back “stop that!” Or, your scene partner could be arguing, and you could turn around and scream “stop that!”It’s the same line, but you are reacting to the energy that your scene partner has given you as a lead-in to your line."

So basically - Stan-the-man is all about pre-meditative action and using your own experiences to fuel your on-stage action, while Meisner is all about reacting in the moment, without pre-meditated thought. 

I was taught acting via the Stanislavski method, which I still use to this day as a part of my live performances. However, Meisner is totally relevant and I definitely use it - especially in improv!

In 2013, I made a two-part series of videos about acting technique and the Stanislavski principles and his fundamental questions. If you click the video below it should play both videos one after the other. So rather than me write a whole bunch of words, grab yourself a coffee (and a treat), open up your jot pad (be sure to have a pen handy) and watch the videos below. 

Professional development that's free and you don't even need to leave the comfort of your own home!

You're welcome ;)

 

  

POSING 101: THE BASICS

 Photo by Studio81

Photo by Studio81

Hullu M'dears!

I hope your day is fabulous so far. Now, the below information is just a small portion of what I teach in my classes - a wee taste, a teeeaaaassssseeeerrrrr (rather appropriate, don't you think?). Teehee!

!!NEWSFLASH!!

So... I've had to make a decision to do a blog post every two weeks. Trying to create new content with my already insane schedule is proving quite time consuming. Yes, I know it was one of my 2018 goals to keep a blog weekly, but I'm going to need to modify it slightly - self care, ya'll!

Now back to the good stuff...

I'm going to share with you the basics of posing. Whether you’re on the stage, on set for a photo shoot, or taking a selfie, these are the must-do things I swear by when posing. This is basically charm & beauty school 101.

NOTE: These pointers will work for any body shape, size, height! You do you, boo! 

 Photo by Bruce Jenkins Photography

Photo by Bruce Jenkins Photography

1. KNIT YOUR TORSO

To create a long torso, have a neutral spine and pelvis (i.e. do not over-accentuate) and feel like you are zipping up through your core. Not tensing to the point you can’t breathe, but just enough to feel as though your pelvis and core are connected, like how you feel when wearing a well-fitted corset.

2. OPEN YOUR CHEST & PULL YOUR SHOULDERS DOWN

An “open” body gives off an air of confidence and flatters your physique. Think about rolling your shoulders back, while employing point #1, and bringing your shoulder blades back and around. It is important to employ point #1 here as you do not want your chest to “pop” out.

 Photo by Froger

Photo by Froger

 

3. LENGTHEN FROM THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD

Pretend there is someone pulling your head vertically by a piece of string. Stand tall - even if you’re on the shorter side, this will help you feel and look taller. Basically, good posture ;)

4. LIFT YOUR CHIN

Again, with the “open” body - openness allows for you to have an air of confidence. Ensuring your head and chin are lifted (not like a snooty posh type, obviously, we don’t want to go that far!) will allow for your eye connection with the camera/audience to be cemented. If you do try a tilted chin (for a more femme fatale look) ensure your eyes remain on the prize.

 Photo by Bruce Jenkins

Photo by Bruce Jenkins

 

 

 

 

 

5. POINT YOUR TOES

Seriously, this will help. If you’re ever doing a pose where you have your legs elongated, even if sitting in a chair - this will help you limbs look longer, your acts more polished and give that air of dancers elegance about you.

 Photo by James Yang

Photo by James Yang

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. SOFT ARMS

Whenever you’re extending your arms - employ #2 & #3 and lead with the wrist. Soft elbows are lovely. What I like to do is think about moving my hands and arms through melted chocolate - it creates a slow-motion,  soft effect.

 Photo by Fabian Meli

Photo by Fabian Meli

 

 

 

7. THE PERFECT PIN-UP HANDS

An old trick from back in my modelling days that never fails. Relax your hand, tense your middle finger (try to only tense that one finger, not all of them). This will give you an elegant hand and stop your fingers from curling.

 Photo by Michael Craig for the New Zealand Herald.

Photo by Michael Craig for the New Zealand Herald.

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. BEND YOUR KNEES

Seriously, allowing yourself to bend into your knees when posing and/or dancing means more range of motion in your hips and allows more fluidity in between poses and movements.

 

 

 

 

 

WANT TO LEARN MORE?

bambinabumpersintensivepromo (1).png

Be sure to enrol in my Bambina Bumpers 2 Day Beginner Intensive at Uxbridge Arts & Culture. You'll learn this, plus so, so much more! For more info, click here

And always remember in these situations WWTBD (what would Tyra Banks do?)

MODELLING HEAD TO TOE *click* *snap* ;)

 

Pro Tips on How to get Pro Tips!

 Photo of Lilly performing at Prive by Peter Jennings

Photo of Lilly performing at Prive by Peter Jennings

The topic of what should you get paid in burlesque laps like the tide; coming in and out of conversations but nothing ever really gets resolved. So, I decided to do a blog on it! 

I'm sure every burlesque performer has queried how much they should ask for in regards to payment. I know I have! So I've broken down what you should ask yourselves when trying to quote for your performances. 

DISCLAIMER NO.1: 

These are my own personal thoughts and views on the topic. My own way of sussing out what to charge may be totally different than your own and that's ok! Different strokes for different folks. 

So, to start...

EXPERIENCE

It's a no-brainier that a brand new burly baby wouldn't charge as much as an experienced burlesquer, but how do you define that? Experience. Experience doesn't mean the amount of time someone has been performing burlesque (although it does factor in) but also how much training they've done, how much actual performance experience (i.e. treading the stage) they've had in shows, events, etc and how much they've grown as a performer. 

DISCLAIMER NO.2: ELITISM VS. EXPERIENCE

A quick note about elitism as opposed to experience, as this is topical in our industry currently.

Elitism is a state of mind that comes from a person and how they personally perceive and conduct themselves. If people think like that, then that's their prerogative and reflects their own (possibly deluded) values of self worth. Elitists see themselves as the 'creme de la creme' of the scene; they snob any one who isn't of their "ranking" and are generally rude and stand-offish, ALL THE TIME, not just in social settings (some of my friends suffer social anxiety and retreat into themselves in social settings, but would be HORRIFIED if someone felt snubbed by them).

If you choose not to associate with particular people in the industry because you personally aren't a fan of them or the way they conduct themselves, that's NOT ELITIST - for me personally, that's just me exercising self care. However, always be polite and civil, there’s no need to be unprofessional. This is an industry and if we want to be treated as professionals we should behave as such. Remember the ol' ego vs confidence rule - there's a VERY slim line between them. Always err to the side of confidence - always be humble.

If you have EXPERIENCE in something, and you offer your expertise or advice (if wanted and/or requested) to someone with less experience than you, that's not being elitist, that's being helpful. I’m making this distinction because I’m not writing this blog from an elitist point of view, but from one of (quite considerable) experience. I don’t claim to know everything but I feel I know enough to write this after so many years in the industry as a producer, teacher and performer.

Now, moving along...

My band of best burly babes and I were talking about this subject and how experience came into play with sussing out what to charge. So upon a lot of back and fourth conversation, we came up with categories on how to define the varying levels of experience in burlesque. I've listed them with explanations underneath. Starting from the bottom.. 

DISCLAIMER NO.3:

Throughout ALL of these categories, every burlesquer, no matter their experience, should always continue to learn, develop and grow. Professionals included.

 Baby Lilly performing at The Burlesque Masquerade Ball in 2010 in Wellington. Photo by Sara Jane Austin.

Baby Lilly performing at The Burlesque Masquerade Ball in 2010 in Wellington. Photo by Sara Jane Austin.

ROOKIE

A Rookie is a burlesquer with 0-1 years experience in performing burlesque. During this time, they're honing their craft, learning from burlesque schools, private lessons, resources such as YouTube and developing their burlesque persona. A Rookie burlesquer, regardless of their experience, should get paid something - if not with cash, then with something with the same value such as a private burlesque lesson. 

NOTE: If you're a Rookie and performing in your Rookie/graduating revue, you shouldn't expect payment as this is part and parcel of your course. 

AMATEUR

An Amateur burlesquer has 1-3 years experience. They've done some training, they've got a couple of routines under their belt and are continuing to develop and grow as a burlesque artist. Payment wise, I'd say the same in regards to the Rookie. 

HOBBYIST 

A burlesque artist who identifies in this category is someone who has been performing for at least 2 years and purely sees burlesque as a hobby. Not as a job, not even a part time or casual job, a hobby. They do not perform for money, rather they purely perform for the thrill. As per the two categories above, regardless of their affiliation to burlesque, they should still ask for compensation. Note - some performers may stay at this level for their entire involvement in burlesque, and that's totally ok!

PROFESSIONAL HOBBYIST

There is two differences between a Hobbyist and a Professional Hobbyist. One is that the Professional Hobbyist performs casually (i.e. this is not their full time job, maybe not even their part time job) but they do expect to get paid for their performances. They will have also been performing for at least upwards of 3+ years. That payment will reflect their experience in the industry. They will expect money as payment rather than other forms of compensation. Two, they'll have an overall professional manner and market themselves as such. They will generally have at least a designated FB page and/or Instagram account for their burlesque persona as well as possibly a designated email address. Again, like the Hobbyist, a performer may stay at this level for their entire involvement in burlesque.

and finally...

 An oldie, but a goodie! From L to R - The Magenta Diamond, Venus Starr, Australian and Miss Exotic World 2012 Imogen Kelly, Bonita Danger Doll, Leda Petit and Lilly Loca (moi!) pictured at Venus Starr's 'Carousel Cabaret' in 2014. Photo by Directive Photography.

An oldie, but a goodie! From L to R - The Magenta Diamond, Venus Starr, Australian and Miss Exotic World 2012 Imogen Kelly, Bonita Danger Doll, Leda Petit and Lilly Loca (moi!) pictured at Venus Starr's 'Carousel Cabaret' in 2014. Photo by Directive Photography.

PROFESSIONALS

The jump from Professional Hobbyist to Professional is quite substantial, and for the following reasons. A Professional Performer sees burlesque entertainment as their part time or full time job. They, like Professional Hobbyists, conduct themselves professionally, have social media platforms covered for their persona, but on top of this they will most likely have a website and YouTube channel too along with a designated email. They'll tend to have a certain level of polish, have at least 4+ years in the industry and have evolved their own particular style, brand and acts which they are known for. They will sometimes also have merchandise you can buy either online or at shows, which may include (but are not subjected to) posters, clothing, used nylon stockings, etc. Professionals will continue (like all the other categories - hopefully) to put money into their professional development and create high quality, polished acts with costumes, etc to match. Professionals will always expect payment for their acts and will charge according to their experience. 

Ok, so there's the different categories. You may agree or disagree, but that's what we came up with. 

You may notice I didn't put any actual price tags in there. Well, that's because you can't simply apply a stock fee for burlesque. It all depends on who and where you are performing, which leads to my next point.. 

WHERE & WHO YOU ARE PERFORMING FOR

I'm going to talk about these in categories as it's easier - what you charge depends on your experience + who and where you are performing, so let's have a look:

BURLESQUE SHOWS

Now, the kinds of burlesque shows I'm talking about here are the ones run by people within the burlesque industry, not ones created by event companies or by the corporate world.

Real talk - I've been producing shows since 2011. Each city has its own climate, and in the big smoke (aka. Auckland) the theatre and live performance climate has always been tough. A lot of the time, show producers are self funding their shows and depend on the profits of a show to pay their cast and crew. If we break even, we do a happy dance and get the party poppers out. If we make a profit, we crack open the magnum champagne! (jokes - who can afford them anyway?)

Some producers do what's called a "risk share" where every performer in the show, regardless of their experience, will get an equal share of the profits after expenses. This is a fail-safe way for producers to pay people, but they should always do a budget and have some idea as who what the minimum will be. An experienced performer may ask for a retainer, but generally so long as the producer is up front with you and if you are happy to do risk share, than so be it. Sometimes it pays off aannndddd sometimes it doesn't. Personally, I wouldn't do a risk share if I had to travel (I've been caught out before). If I wanted to test out an act and if it was a local production, sure, but I wouldn't be performing one of my more elaborate acts for a minimal fee. 

Otherwise, producers offer a set fee. The good thing about set fees is you know what you're getting from the outset, which is nice and handy for budgeting purposes. Taking into account the climate, which I chat about above, a lot of producers really do try to pay the best they can for their performers with the budget they're given. But don't be expecting $500.00+ per act as to put it simply, burlesque producers can't afford it. We do what we do because we're passionate about the industry, producing and showcasing performers as well as our own skill set. For an amateur, you'd be looking at between $50-$100 per performance. For a professional hobbyist or professional, $100-$200 per act. If you get a headlining spot, perhaps $200-$300 per act. That's just a generalized figure and may fluctuate between varying producers. 

Bottom line, in burlesque shows, don't expect top dollar. But regardless of experience, do ensure you do get paid. 

PRIVATE BOOKINGS & CORPORATES

You've received an email asking for you to perform at x place at x time for x long. Then they ask you "how much?". Well, how long is a piece of string?

Below are the factors you need to take into account when quoting for private or corporate bookings:

  1. Your experience - If you're promoting yourself as a premium product, but don't have the experience, you're going to stab yourself in the foot with a stiletto heel - and it will hurt. Do NOT over promise and do not say you can do something that isn't within your skill-set. Always be honest and price accordingly. If you are an expert at performing burlesque, and have the experience behind that to prove it, then feel free to charge top dollar. Also, on this subject, if you think you're not comfortable taking on a particular gig, or you think that your skill set isn't suited to what the client wants, that's OK. I often pass gigs on to my fellow performers who I know would be a better fit if I can't actually do what they're asking for (see my notes on saying no at the end of the blog).
  2. Time - How much time will this booking ask of you - now I don't mean this just in terms of time at the actual event, but in regards to rehearsal, packing, prop moving, travelling, preparation re. hair and make-up and then, of course, actual time you'll need to be at the event and how many performances. 
  3. Travel - This also merges in with time, but how much travel is involved? Will they cover your travel? Or will you need to sort your own? This also factors in accommodation, etc too. If the client will cover travel & expenses, then you don't need to cater that into your quote. If they don't, then you will. Note that this factor is more relevent for performers who are performing out of town.
  4. Who is booking you - Ultimately, you need to value your worth and review each client as a case by case basis. Regardless of it's a hens party wanting a fun, flirty strip tease act or a corporate body who want 2x highly glamorized burlesque acts with large props for their bosses birthday soiree with some mingling afterwards, you need to be the judge as to what you should charge by taking into account all of the above. 

So for these kinds of gigs, start chatting with fellow burlesquers and see what they would charge, then after analyzing the above, think of what you'd be happy with. Ask burlesquers from a range of different experiences so you can get a feel for what various performers charge. You can always be negotiable, but don't allow for a client NOT to pay you what you believe your worth. But again, take into account your experience. 

My final thoughts on this..

GET PAID 

I know I sound like a broken record here, but please ask for payment or compensation of some sort. If you don't, you devalue the industry and allow for producers outside the scene, private and corporate clients to expect more for less. If we want burlesque to be seen as an important, relative and serious art form, we need to treat it as such. 

THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH SAYING NO

Seriously, if someone doesn't want to pay you what you'd like, then politely and professionally tell them no. Simple. Don't do something for free because you're desperate for a gig. Again, that kind of behavior does nothing for the industry and those in it.  

This also goes for my point above regarding if you feel you cannot offer what a client wants/needs. Don't take a gig because you are afraid of missing out. There's so much to be gained from sharing opportunities with others and if you feel like another performer fits the mold better, then put them forward instead and graciously decline. But, always leave the door open. 

Phew, that was a long one! I hope you find this helpful and informative. 

Lilly x

Burlesque Essentials

 Photo of the stunning Hannah Tasker-Poland and I backstage at my production 'Frivolous Frivolity' in 2012 at TAPAC. Photo by Brian Lowe. I tried to find a photo of me getting made up backstage, but couldn't, so I'm sure you wont object to this one ;)

Photo of the stunning Hannah Tasker-Poland and I backstage at my production 'Frivolous Frivolity' in 2012 at TAPAC. Photo by Brian Lowe. I tried to find a photo of me getting made up backstage, but couldn't, so I'm sure you wont object to this one ;)

Hello Lovelies!

Now, I admit - I've been a  bit slack on ye ole' writing-my-blog thing as I've been working lots. BUT, what I decided to do for this weeks blog, with permission from baker, pin up and lifestyle blogger Miss Charlotte Cake, is to re-blog a featured blog  post I wrote for her blog! You can see the original here. Be sure to have a gander at the wonderful blog posts Charlotte has written!

This is all about burlesque essentials - aka. what to carry in your arsenal when performing in a show. These are just a few of them but I hope you enjoy having a read!

BURLESQUE ESSENTIALS

Burlesque. What first comes to mind when you hear that word? Glitter? (Yes, there happens to be a LOT of it, and it gets EVERYWHERE. Rhinestones? (Yes, that too). Carpet Tape? (uh.. what?) Yes, I said carpet tape. When Miss Charlotte Cake asked me to write a burlesque article for her blog, I thought about what kind of knowledge I could impart that hasn’t been run into the ground a million times before. Something interesting, resourceful and educational. The EUREKA moment hit me as I was packing my makeup case for a gig. As I picked up my leotard glue (you'll find out what that is soon) it hit me; I’ll educate the masses about what the ultimate burlesque essentials are, what every burly-q performer needs to have on their person when performing, at a shoot or where-ever our shimmy shakin’ endeavours take us. So, here's my top ten (in no particular order). If you have anything to add (which I know there will be tons more!) do so in the comments below.

SPIRIT GUM/CARPET TAPE/EYELASH GLUE

Ah...spirit gum. My necessary, but burny-ouchie friend. What is it? It's basically a type of glue used by make-up artists and performers alike to adhere everything from faux facial hair to pasties (nipple covers) onto your person. Pros: It is probably one of the most safe options in terms of ensuring your pasties won't fling off and take out someone's eye in the audience. Cons: It BURRRNNNSSSS - well, for me it does anyway. I use it because it's a fail safe for me, especially when donning a moustache. However, my sensitive skin is allergic to it, so when I do wear it on my face, I end up with a fake 'stache (aka. an allergic reaction) on my upper lip. Sexy. Otherwise, in Auzzie, carpet tape is a more popular option if you can get it for sticking on your nipple hats. If you don’t have either of these things, a good lash glue may help you, but I wouldn’t go sticking heavily ladened or tasseled nipple hats to you with it. Also very handy to have on you if your fake eyelash falls off. If you do use spirit gum, make sure you have coconut oil on hand to help take it off. Which leads me to my next staple.

COCONUT OIL

Yes! Nutritious and one of the most effective ways to take off stubborn make-up. Have latex eyelash glue that just won't budge? Want to try and take glitter off your eyes without leaving your poor eyelids feeling like sandpaper after? COCONUT OIL! Seriously. Whenever I've done a gig, I get into the shower with a flannel and my coconut oil and rub it all over me, especially the parts I've used make-up on and spirit gum. Watch it disappear while also giving your skin a dousing of moisturising goodness. Be a bit careful around the eyes though, as oil in your eye isn't the nicest experience. However, if you're doing a quick change backstage and need to change your make-up, I wouldn't use coconut oil as it will repel any other make-up being put on.

LEOTARD GLUE

I remember when I discovered this, I has a ‘hallelujah’ moment. What is it? Ok, so you know when you watch gymnasts do their thing while wearing leotards? How is it, despite them doing triple somersaults, cartwheels, jumps and rolling on the floor that their leotards don't ride up? The answer? LEOTARD GLUE! Basically it's a water-based adhesive, which looks and can be used like a roll-on deodorant. Roll the glue across your skin, along the inside line of where your panties or g-string will be, allow it to breathe for a minute, then stick your panties/g-string over it and VOILA! No ride ups, no movement! Best thing is, since it's water resistant, it washes off both your clothes and you super easy. Win!

CONCEALER/POWDER

Everyone thinks burlesque is all about the glamour, gliding across the stage with effortless grace. Well, yes.. But no. The amount of bruises, carpet and fishnet burns us burlesquers get from either rehearsing, or feeling the adrenaline while on stage and going all GUN-HO is pretty intense! If you’ve got bruises in places which are going to be revealed and easily seen, be sure to pop a bit of colour correcting concealer on and then some powder on top. Also, POWDER - it’s a god send. Obviously there’s the powder you contour with etc, but a good translucent powder is fabulous for those mid-performance breaks where you’re rather sweaty and you want to matte out your face instead of having it glisten (yep, glamourous - I told you, it gets really hot under those lights and backstage!).

SEWING KIT

The amount of times I have praised the sparkle gods that I’ve remembered my sewing kit has been pretty often! Wardrobe malfunctions happen right before you even step a foot on the stage sometimes. I’ve had a tassle come off my pastie once, and I’ve witnessed an entire g-string strap snap off, amongst other things. Be prepared and have sewing essentials such as a needle and thread, scissors and safety pins in your arsenal.

BABY WIPES

Yes, baby wipes. Glorious baby wipes. Need a quick refresh in between performances? Need to take off your make-up? Baby wipes! There’s plenty of other uses for them too - but there are a definite must-have. You won’t regret it.

BUSINESS CARDS

I’m pretty terrible at forgetting business cards, but if you’re serious about wanting to make a career in burlesque, networking and promotion are pretty important. Make a habit of having them on your person, or at least backstage, when you’re at a gig, so if someone wants to book you for their next event/show/private party for example, then you’ve got all your information handy.

AN EXTRA COSTUME

On the odd occasion, a performer may end up calling in sick on the day, or a show may be running well ahead of time and they need a fill-in act. Always bring an extra costume - something that doesn’t take up too much space so you can put you hand up and say “PICK ME!” for when a producer asks one of you in the bill if you can perform an additional act. Ensure you also have your music with you, which leads me to my next staple.

BACKUP OF MUSIC

Always have your show music with you - whether it’s on your phone, or on a USB stick. I keep all my music easily accessible on my phone, so if a technical issue does arise on the day, I can either send it to the technician or I can play it from my phone. Or be super organized and pre-organize a USB. This also means if you need to be a fill-in act, you have your music ready and waiting. I use Google Drive to store mine and use the app to access it.

LIPSTICK

Undoubtedly, you’ll need to refresh your lippy throughout the night. So always be sure to have one on hand in your purse, as well as a little mirror (or if your powder as talked about previous has a mirror, use that). Failing that, I’m sure another performer backstage will have one they can loan you!

There you have it! Please feel free to add more in the comments below. As I’m typing this I’m thinking of more!

Goals for 2018 + review of my 2017 goals

 Original photo by Bruce Jenkins

Original photo by Bruce Jenkins

New Years Resolutions... yeah, nah. 

As much as I like to think that the new year allows for us to change, grow and turn over a new leaf, figuratively speaking, I don't really believe in them. Why? Because generally they're not well planned and generally are set up to fail. Like deciding to not each sugar for a year... good on you, m'dear.. but how committed are you REALLY to staying off the sugar crack?

I don't mean to sound like the new years grinch, because I try not to be, but goals, dreams and aspirations should be well thought out, simple and realistic. I'm not going to inform you how to write goals, how to stick to them or how to successfully stay off sugar. But, I will impart what my very few goals of 2018 are, and what my 2017 ones where and whether I upheld them.

2017 Goals:

Mine were: 

  • Self care
  • Surround yourself with positive people
  • Don't take s**t from anyone
  • Up your game

Yes, I am aware they're short and simple, but they actually encompass a lot of different things. I'm sure there's posts about how having very specific goals are better, blah blah, but this is what works for me. 

Self care

Self care was at the top of my list - having had a break down in 2015 and finally getting help (which if you follow me on social media, you'll know I am very public about mental health awareness and its importance) I had to learn the hard way that I needed to make myself a priority. So, I did. The simple action of being a bit selfish, instead of completely selfless, made a huge difference for me. If I was tired, I went to sleep instead of being a martyr and working until midnight. If I needed help with my daughter, I asked. If people sucked the energy out of me and it didn't serve me to have them in my life, I let them go, which leads me to my next goal.

Surround myself with positive people

This is something I have been working on for a very, very long time. I'm naturally empathetic and feel emotions very strongly. I also feel others emotions and thus if I am near or surrounded by negative people or negative energy, I feel like a Dementor from Harry Potter is hovering close by. I let go of negative people, deciding to not be afraid of potential backlash, awkward public bump-in's with people I had deleted or unfollowed on social media and again, hold onto my goal of self care.

Don't take s**t from anyone

I hate confrontation. Despise, loathe confrontation. This has been a very personal challenge for me as from when I was a kid, who was bullied right through until my mid teens for being "different", I was basically a door mat. I just wanted to feel accepted, a part of something. That, is what theatre allowed me to feel. I finally felt home, that I had a place I belonged outside in the real world outside my imagination and my parents. I decided last year that I was allowing people to have control over me, to abuse my good, empathetic nature and trust me, I've had my fair share of narcissists and manipulators and I decided enough was enough. I'm 30 years old, I know who I am, my mind is healthy and I am not going to allow anyone to tell me what I can't do, what I should do or what my limitations are. Also, I wanted to be a role model for my little girl, as I didn't want her to go through what I did growing up. This goal in particular I am proud of, as I have spoken up when I have needed to and I didn't allow myself to be a doormat. Sure, there's a few times I have decided to walk away and be the bigger person, and I still need to work on personal confrontation, especially with volatile characters, but on the whole I felt like I nailed this, as well as my other goals.

Up your game

Now this I feel like I really nipped in the bud. I'm very aware of the difference between ego and confidence, and I really, really hope I never look egotistical as that's not me at all, but without going into huge amounts of detail, here's the things I'm most proud of this year: 

⭐️ Winning the national title of Supreme Grand Tease New Zealand 2017, as well as other titles and accolades. This was so freakin’ cool - considering I performed alongside and was in competition with 30 of NZ’a fabulous burlesque talents. Absolute tops!
⭐️ Performing in the Hollywood Burlesque Festival - seriously HUGE one! 
⭐️ Producing 6 burlesque and variety shows for Cassette Nine and UXBRIDGE Arts & Culture, as well as an event for Auckland Council
⭐️ Coming third in NZ’s first drag king pageant, King of all Kings 🤴 
⭐️ Performing in about 35 live performance shows, events, Parties and theatrical productions. I’m aiming for more in 2018! 🤜 
⭐️ Teaching some truly lovely, wonderful, talented ladies the art of burlesque through Bambina Burlesque Academy NZ
⭐️ Being featured in prolific magazines such as Viva, Fashion Quarterly, Sinical Mag, Eastlife and various newspapers and online publications and blogs.
⭐️ Being featured on Newshub and having the fabulous Verity Johnson cover my trip when I went to perform in the USA in Hollywood. 

So.. what are my goals for 2018? 

2018 Goals

Kinda same, same but a few others added in. See below. 

  • Work smarter, not harder (am already making tracks to do this!)
  • Invest in my professional development (started on this in late 2018 and continuing now)
  • Grow my empire (Va-Va-Voom Productions, Bambina Burlesque Academy, Lilly Loca)
  • Level Up (Acts, costumes, etc)
  • Don't take s**t from anyone
  • Self Care (which I am including my former goal of surrounding myself with positive, like minded people into as it's really a part of self care)
  • Keep a weekly blog (which I am already doing right now!)

What are your goals? Feel free to leave a comment below! 

Next week on the blog: Burlesque Essentials

Character vs. Persona

 Lilly Loca as her original drag king character, Gary Krumbert. Photo taken by Peter Jennings.

Lilly Loca as her original drag king character, Gary Krumbert. Photo taken by Peter Jennings.

Character (n): 

1. the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.

2. a person in a novel, play, or film.

Persona (n): 

1. the aspect of someone's character that is presented to or perceived by others e.g. "their burlesque persona" 

 

I've often heard performers getting confused as to how to classify themselves - is who they are when they perform burlesque a character or a persona? To me, when people get it wrong, it irks me. Why? Well, because having performed in theatre and acting most of my life until 8 years ago when I first dipped my toes into the sparkly waters of burlesque, I was very much involved in character-based roles. I still am, and very much incorporate it into my burlesque career, but how I perceive a character may be a bit different to someone else who possibly doesn't have a theatrical background. I can't expect to get frustrated if someone is just a bit naive and thinks characters and personas are the same deal. So - I'm going to clear it all up for you! 

Important Note:

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having either a character, persona or both! It's just important to get it right when selling yourself to a client or producer. If people sell themselves as a roving character, yet when push comes to shove, the "character" isn't fully formed, and when hit with questions from people your interacting with while in role like "So, who is your father?" and you can't answer it - that character isn't developed and you've essentially promoted yourself as being someone you aren't. If you're a persona, you are you, just an adapted version of you, so audience members aren't going to expect a fully developed, three dimensional back story apart from your very own! 

Character - How do I know if they are one?

As stated above, a character has the mental and moral qualities of an individual. Basically, this means your character should have a backstory. Here's a checklist of how you can figure out whether you have a character or a persona:

  1. Do they have a distinct name (that is separate from yourself)?
  2. Do they have distinct personality traits which act as a basis for all of their actions, reactions, conversations, etc?
  3. Do they have a particular way they physicality hold themselves (i.e. they are confident, so walk with a proud chest, tall stature and moderate tension)?
  4. When you are them, do you find that you fall into their mindset and let them drive the way you act, react, perform, interact, etc?
  5. Can you imagine a backstory for them? Do they have a family? what's their favorite colour? Are they married? Do they like seafood? 
  6. Do they have any particular quirks (i.e. allergies, a twitchy left eye, a distinct dislike for physical contact)? 

If you've answered 3 or more of these with "yes" - you've probably got yourself a character. If you've answered more with "no" or "I'm not sure", then it's probably safe to say you've got yourself a persona.

How do I develop a character?

So - how to develop your character (if you have one)? There are various character profiles you can download from Google - I've got them for all my drag king characters Jethro, Gary and Santago. I know everything about them from what high school they went to (or didn't) to what their preference in food is. It is fundamental if you're creating a character to have a well rounded, fleshed out, 3D one - especially if you're roving. Why? Because their history, personality, quirks and life experiences will be a huge influence on how they interact with people and the kinds of acts you'll come up with for them. Just like if you have a persona - the acts you create for your onstage persona are inspired and influenced by your own life! Same needs to happen with a character. 

Case Study - Me, Lilly and Gary.

 Lilly Loca. Photo taken by Studio81.

Lilly Loca. Photo taken by Studio81.

To use myself as a case study, I'll take one of my characters Gary Krumbert and my onstage burlesque persona Lilly Loca as examples. Gary is a fully fleshed out, 3D character. He has his backstory, he in himself is a person. I am not me when I am him. I am fully, 100% in role as Gary. However I react to a situation in role as him, I instinctively know what to do and how to react because I know him so well as know his backstory well enough to be able to conduct myself accordingly. With Lilly - essentially, Lilly Loca is me. She is me, I am her. Lilly Loca is a stage name I fashioned myself to separate Nat Hugill, the mother, wife, theatre actress, producer among other things from Lilly Loca - the bawdy, silver tongued burlesque entertainer and MC. To complicate matters further, I say I'm Lilly Loca performing as Gary Krumbert, Jethro Jenkins, Santago Montego, etc. Why? Because I use my name Lilly Loca as an umbrella for all things burlesque - and if I want people to find me, or remember me, I need to link my characters to the name I go by in the burlesque industry. Weird, I know - but otherwise people think Gary is someone who isn't me - you have no idea how many times I've heard people say "OH YOU'RE GARY?!!! I WOULD HAVE NEVER KNOWN HAD YOU NOT TOLD ME!".

To complicate things further...

 Lilly Loca as Absolem. Photo taken by Bruce Jenkins Photographer.

Lilly Loca as Absolem. Photo taken by Bruce Jenkins Photographer.

You can be in role in your persona. Yep - now, there's a BIG difference here between being in character or playing a role as your persona. Again, I'll use myself as a case study. 

So, as explained before, I, Lilly, am a persona. I am essentially Nat with a jazzy name. Lilly is my mask, my facade, but underneath it all, it's still Nat. 

As Lilly, I sometimes take on a role for a particular act. This is to say, they're not a character as they're not fully fleshed out or a person in their own right, it's me as Lilly taking on characteristics of a particular character to help achieve a particular emotion, feel, look, etc. Pretty much it's performer inception, haha! 

When I perform my Absolem routine - the routine is inspired by the character of Absolem from the famed Alice in Wonderland books. However I am not the character of Absolem. I take on qualities of Absolems character as Lilly to help the audience understand that the act is in homage to this character and helps them to understand the metamorphosis I go through in my routine from caterpillar to butterfly. It's like if a performer was to perform a snake inspired act - they'd take on qualities of a snake to convince the audience that that's what their doing (i.e. use fluid, snake-like movements when performing, use glaring eye contact, etc) but they in themselves are not the character of a snake. On stage, they personify the characters traits, but offstage when people chat to the audience, they're themselves, not in role. See what I mean? That's where it all get's a bit confusing. 

So, if you're ever in doubt as to whether you are a character, persona or a persona donning qualities of a character but aren't in themselves a character, read all of the above and ask yourself those questions to determine it. 

I hope this has been an insightful read for you!

Next blog: Goals of 2018 + review of my 2017 goals