This week I'm focusing on all the lost rhinestones that end up in between my toes after a long rehearsal! I keep them all in a tiny jewelry case next to my bed and once a month or two (depending on how often I've been rehearsing the heavily stoned acts) I replace them! It's always a good idea to keep your costumes show/stage/photo ready. I'm constantly upgrading older acts and adding to them. I love looking back at where they started and into what they have become after years of love!
Too much travel, glitter spray, cold, moisture, sweat and just use can damage and make ostrich feather fans loose their 'fluff' appeal. Feathers are a natural product and require a little love every now and again.
Running the feathers through your fingers and agitating them helps to bring back the fluffiness. If that doesn't do the trick, the next step is to apply steam. You can use a tea kettle or a hair dryer. Use the steam gently and be careful not to burn yourself, especially with the tea kettle option. I have a tendency to burn myself just pin curling my hair, so I prefer the hair dryer option. Lightly blow the feathers or steam them until they fluff back to their gorgeous state!
Individuals are always asking me, "How do they stick? How do they stay on? Have you ever popped one?! Does it hurt coming off?"
In Today's blog, I'm going to give you my advice over my seven year love affair with tassels and tape.
When I first started in the business of Burlesque, I was in the midwest and there weren't very many options out there. We would buy the nipple stickers (nippies) in fancy prints, apply them right before the show and bam! Those are quite common and you can find them at any sex shop or Ricky's. They stay on for hours, come off like a bandaid (a bit painful given the area..), and leave little to no residue. Some performers would even use duct tape in an X shape to cover their nipples.
Of course though, as a performer, you grow, and you grow out of the standard tape and begin to want tassels to twirl and crystals to pick up the light. You also begin to realize that one and done is no longer cost efficient when you are performing 4/5 nights a week. So you begin to research the infamous pastie/tassel. Some tassels for purchase come with a sticky back that holds for up to 6-10 wears, others though you need to find a tape or glue to apply yourself. This is a very personal decision, and each performer backstage has their own method to the taping of the tassel.
I personally prefer taupe tape (sold at Ricky's and most costume or wig shops). It comes in strips about an inch thick, which for most of my pasties/tassels I can just fold the tape over once and use a strip per pastie, allowing little to no cutting of the tape. I prefer taupe tape over just regular garment or body double sided tape (that you can pick up at Duane Reade/Ricky's) because it stays clean. You don't have to waste it, as it's not in a normal tape dispenser where the section close to the cut you always have to toss due to exposure in your bag. I also find the stick to hold a lot better for taupe tape/wig tape. It just seems sturdier when I apply it. With that said, you would think I've had great experiences with carpet tape (sold at all hardware stores), surprisingly, the only time I popped a pastie it was due to carpet tape! For some reason, it just doesn't adhere to my skin as well. I do know a lot of performers that swear by it though, and it is quite cheap, so pick up some from the hardware store and give it a test!
Some performers prefer to use latex glue, such as eyelash glue. It creates a great bond, but it does take a few minutes (10-15min) backstage of holding the pastie in place before it adheres. I typically perform a few acts in a show, so this method is not ideal if you need a quick change. I also do not like the residue it leaves behind on the breast. Some individuals also have a latex allergy, so be sure to test a small amount on the body before dousing your breasts in the glue!
Lastly, here's a couple tips to help you keep your pasties in place! Always keep your pasties/tassels in a special box. You can use a sunglass box, a jewelry box or an old make up case. This ensures that they will hold their shape, be easy to find and not loose crystals along the way. I always keep alcohol wipes in my bag to use right before I apply the pastie. (A trick I picked up from the gorgeous Jolie Papillon from my time in London.) That way the skin is nice and clean. Oils, tanners, glitter, sweat, etc.. make the tape less adhesive. Rub your nipple down with alcohol, let it dry for a few minutes and then apply the tassel. Be sure to tape the entire edge of the tassel, but not beyond! I've been sloppy with the tape and then the tape stuck to my boa and flew right off! Be generous with the amount of tape you apply, but make sure it stays on the inside of the tassel only. If you find that the tassel isn't sticking, it could be the wrong shape for your breast. Is it too cone shaped so it's not actually sticking when you apply it? If you find that to be a problem, you can always add a little hot glue to the inside of the tassel and then reshape the inside by sticking foam paper to the hot glue. I've had to reshape a few tassels given my smaller cup size.
I hope this article helps you feel more confident with your tassels and taping choices. Now all you have to do is, TWIRL!
Please feel free to post your experiences with tape and tassels! I would love to hear from you!
A top tease tip is to truly take your time as a performer. Let the audience drink you in like a fine wine. Give them a swirl, a scent and then a taste. Make them beg for it before you bare your fruit. It's the art of the tease, and Mae West said it best, anything worth doing, is worth doing slowly.