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

 

Bambina Burlesque Academy on Newshub!

www.verityjohnson.com

www.verityjohnson.com

I have had the immense pleasure of teaching some amazing, inspiring, talented and down right hilarious ladies since I started Bambina Burlesque Academy in 2014 and the wonderful Verity Johnson is one of them! 

I felt very humbled to hear that she'd informed over 300,000 people on Newshub that learning burlesque through Bambina Burlesque Academy was the highlight of her year. She's completed both my Bambina Bumpers and Grinders courses, as well as done some private tuition with me. Like a lot of my burly babies, I've become firm friends with her, and I've had the utmost pleasure of helping Verity discover her inner burlesque diva. 

To see the post - click the button below. Be sure to read her other blog posts too!

I'll be posting fortnightly on a Thursday morning from early Jan - so keep looking out for my posts m'dears!

Next on the blog (and first for 2018!): The Difference Between Character vs. Persona.

...burlesque has been an amazing source of of adrenaline soaked, sparkly, screamingly funny self confidence. Yes it was the highlight. And yes, 10/10 would do again.
— Verity Johnson - www.verityjohnson.com

My First Online Makeup Review - Mary Kay Cosmetics

There's a first time for everything, and here's a first for me! 

I was asked by Mary Kay Cosmetics consultant Dorin Chan to give a makeup review, creating a full face of burlesque-style makeup, using only Mary Kay Cosmetics. So I did! 

I am honest in this review and I am 100% behind this brand. I really loved it. Buzzword for the video is the word "Creamy" - haha! The texture of the Mary Kay Products is so deliciously creamy and smooth like butter. 

My favorite products would have to be the CC Cream (which is now my staple foundation) plus the foundation primer and mascara. 

Love my review? You can get your Mary Kay products online at www.marykay.co.nz/studio81

Product list (price is in $NZ): 
Oil Free Hydrating Gel $69.50
Light Beige Concealer $30
Foundation Primer $37
CC Cream - Light to Medium $45
Translucent Powder $38
Pressed Powder in Bronze 2 $27.50
Brunette brow pencil $20.50
Lash Primer $25
High Intensity Lash Mascara $33
Sandstorm quad $30
Eye primer $29.50
Black gel eyeliner $30
Honey spice eyeshadow as highlighter $14.50
Red lipliner $21
Gel Semi-Shine Lipstick in Red Smolder $28

Thanks Dorin for having me to play! Let's do it again soon please! <3

Lilly x

Living your Passion

Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.
— Buddha

A little advice from yours truly.

Being an entrepreneur is hard work. Period. Trying to juggle the work/life balance is hard. Period. But would I change it for anything? Never. 

I'm working crazy hours at the moment - I'm scheduling posts for events, my promotions as a performer, my company, creating media and graphics to go with said scheduled posts, responding to emails, writing quotes, I'm performing quite a bit (it's the busy season!) teaching hens parties and teaching private tuition. I'm doing some professional development in media and marketing on the side in between everything else (luckily I can go at my own pace and plan to really get into it over the summer) as well as trying to find time to rehearse, schedule in work meetings, fit in yoga and not go insane. Plus trying to be a devoted and present parent who also has all the house hold chores like cooking, cleaning, washing, etc to do.

BUT.. would I trade it for the world? No, never. I am living my best life - I produce shows, event manage, teach and perform for a living, which allows me to make my job work around my daughter and not the other way around. Yes, it's hard. Yes, it means long hours BUT...I love it! I breathe it. I crave it. I couldn't be happier. I love my life.

If YOU want something, WORK your backside off to get it. Yes, it's going to be hard. Yes, the road less traveled isn't the easiest or quickest way to get to where you want to be. But I promise you, keep on keeping on, even in your darkest days - remember why you started down the road to live your passion in the first place. Rekindle the spirit, fight your way back to that place where the spark ignited, and you'll be back on track.

Yes, there will be doubters. But you know what? Don't listen. Do what fuels you (obviously so long as it doesn't hurt or damage anyone or anything - karma's well and truly real!). So, as I sit here pouring over all this work that's coming out my ears, I am smiling and I am content. Because I built this. I have worked hard for this. This work I have is because of connections I've made and the hard work I've put into what I do. I've got a long way to go, but I am on the uphill slope and I'm going to keep climbing.

Surround yourself with like-minded individuals who care and want you to succeed.

Live your passion.

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Burly Mumma - The Role & Importance of being a Burlesque Mentor

Welcome to my first blog! How very exciting!

I've decided to do a once a week post about whatever it is I feel inspired to write about, whether it be about anything to do with burlesque (including costumes, poses, advice, etc), #realtalk about life, the universe and everything (get the reference?) interviews with some fabulous, inspiring people or recommendations about products I use, brands I love or people with skill sets I think you'd like to hear about.

If there's anything in particular you'd like me to blog about - give me a bell via my Contact Me page!

For this first post, I decided to go back to a post I made on Facebook nearly a year ago when it comes to the role of a Burly Mumma (aka, Burlesque Mother, Burly Mom, etc). Having taught burlesque since 2010, and then opening my burlesque school Bambina Burlesque Academy in 2014, as well as having taught professionally as a drama teacher in high schools, primary schools and as an adult educator since 2009, I understand how important the role of an educator is to society. A teacher does not just teach - they influence, inspire and help people to harness their students creativity. They shepard their students whilst helping them discover their true potential.

Because of this, how a teacher speaks, motivates and presents themselves to their students is hugely important. An unprofessional teacher, who says hurtful, potentially damaging things to their students shouldn't be an educator. Someone who is educating burly babies for their own personal gain or for self absorbed reasons shouldn't be an educator. A teacher educates because they feel compelled to help others. They genuinely care about educating the masses about their particular passion. They want to help others to grow, learn and develop. It's not a selfish need, it's a completely SELFLESS profession. Professionalism is paramount. It can take one snide comment, one off-handed, throw away line to completely derail a students emotional and physical well being. But, it can take one genuine comment, one beautifully positive moment of  time with a student to bring about a  profound difference to that particular persons emotional, physical and mental well being.

So, without further ado, here's my thoughts on what a Burly Mumma should and shouldn't do.

A True Burly Mumma does the following: 

- Nurture, support and help to develop each of their individual students talents. 
- Guides their students as a shepard. 
- Allows for their students to go to different courses, experience different dance styles without prejudice. 
- Goes and supports their burly babies when they perform in shows. 
- Congratulates them on their successes and helps them get back up when they fall of their sparkly horse. 
- Helps their students find their niche and style and works with them to develop it.
- Create and find opportunities for their babies to perform and grow.
- Build their students self confidence so they can learn to love and appreciate their individuality.

A Burly Mumma does not/shouldn't:

- Hold a student back by informing them they shouldn't try something new or explore different avenues.
- Be a dictator.
- Inform their students there is one way or the highway and that their way is the be all and end all.
- Doesn't support their babies in performing in other people's shows or even starting their own ones.
- Brings them down due to their own insecurities and undermines them. 
- Spits students out in blocks as sheep with no individual style or flair. 
- Makes students feel insecure about themselves. 
- Not allow for students to explore their horizons and try new classes lead by different teachers.
- take credit for their students talent.

I'm not perfect, I know - and other Burly Mummas, I'm sure you'd agree with what I've said. We need to help grow the next generation of Burly Babies and support and nurture them to become the burlesque stars they're born to be.

Lilly x