A few weeks ago my wife and I flew to Seattle for Burlycon, the "community-oriented professional growth and educational convention for Burlesque performers, fans, and aficionados." This was my first time to a major, international burlesque event, and I was absolutely blown away. I’m really impressed by the organization of the event. It’s HUGE, yet it feels very laissez-faire. That has got to be a tough balancing act, and Miss Indigo Blue and company manage it splendidly – and in heels.
I really dig the community spirit in Seattle. The selfless dedication to burlesque – in short, the number of volunteers! I’m not sure such a show would work in Los Angeles. We are awesome and all, but somewhat disconnected. That’s Los Angeles. The sprawl is in our bones. (Also, I like how I just referred to this convention as a “show”.)
I attended classes and panels covering subjects from obscenity law to touring to how to twirl ass tassels. Here are just a few things I learned:
- Your marketing should be so good that you could conceivably sell it. This came up in the touring panel, and they meant "sell your marketing materials" quite literally. But it got me to thinking about a larger point: Would someone pay for one of your postcards? Would they line up after the show to have a performer autograph a poster? (I've seen the latter happen after Peepshow Menagerie shows!) I've been in shows where people "stole" posters off the telephone poles almost immediately after they were put up. I've been in plays where stacks of drab postcards gathered dust in a corner. Which scenerio would you rather have?
- If you can't entertain in a press release, how the hell do you expect to entertain on stage? Jonny Porkpie, the Burlesque Mayor of New York blessed us with this tidbit of awesomeness in his Press Release and Branding class. He's right. We're entertainers, not your run-of-the-mill company announcing the arrival of the new widget.
- If your venue isn't excited to have you, find another venue. Seriously. Baby Doe, the producer behind Tiki Oasis is a genius, and this was just one of many genius things she conveyed in her producer's class. You want to be on the same page with your venue. Better yet, you want them eager to have you and easy to work with!
- "Perfection is the most useless goal any artist can have." And that is a direct quote from Miss Astrid, emcee extraordinaire. You've heard the saying, "don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good," right? I believe the point Miss Astrid is making is "don't let the perfect be the enemy of fucking doing something." Miss Astrid is very audience oriented, and if you know me, I took an instant liking to her. As an entertainer, we are there to provide the audience with an experience. The audience owes us nothing; they already bought their ticket.
Knowledge shared, lessons learned, new friends made, sense of community greatly enhanced -- needless