Because You Asked: Cabin in the Woods Burlesque Edition
So, let me start off by saying “Holy Shit”; I never really expected the pictures of my Sugarplum Fairy (Mouthface Ballerina) act to take off like they did. They’re sitting at over 2200 notes right now, and that’s just unreal. To me, I left the house one morning and it had 40 notes; I came home that evening and idly checked, to think my Tumblr app was malfunctioning because it said there were now over 700.
As I’m writing this right now it’s still getting reblogged, and that’s just out of this world. For everyone who spread it around had kind words to say about it, or who re-added my credits — Thank you; you guys are incredible.
But the main reason I’m writing this is because there are a lot of unanswered questions about this act and about the costume that I saw as I watched the note number climb, and I want to answer some of those.
Q. What was the show like?
The show was the first in what will be the Nergasm! series of variety shows, put on by Illuminair Entertainment, a circus and aerials troupe here in Toronto. The running theme was the work of Joss Whedon — and we had Cabin in the Woods, Firefly, Serenity, Buffy, Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog … the whole nine yards. There was burlesque, belly dancing, fire performing, aerialists, song and dance. It was a pretty epic show, if I do say so myself — and also the first one that Illuminair’s Owner, Miranda Tempest, had put on by herself. Here she is putting up with me refusing to take my mask off during tech rehearsal:
My act itself was a burlesque based on Cabin in the Woods (which is a movie I quite enjoy), starting with a fan dance to keep my face obscured until roughly a minute in, where the first it of the organ comes in, in Arcade Fire’s My Body is a Cage.
Q. Why didn’t I/When can I get to see this live?!
Well, if you live near Toronto, Ontario (Canada), you’re just unlucky. We put this on at the Mod Club, downtown, on January 20th, 2013. (If you like, you can read the BlogTO article on us HERE.)
If that leaves you super bummed, because you do live in this area and you missed it, never fear! The next Nergasm! Show is Hayao Miyazaki themed, and will likely happen in July (I’ll post word on this blog as soon as I get the final confirmation of the time) — and if there’s enough want, the Joss Whedon version of the show could happen again, which I’ll also keep you informed of. (Myself, I’ve already had interest in just my act from the show happening again; I’ll also keep you posted on that if it happens.)
If it leaves you super bummed because you don’t live anywhere near this area — fear not! We’re circus folks, we essentially dream of being travelling nomads, setting ourselves on fire and taking out clothes off in cities far from home. We’d really, really like to go on the road with this show, we just need venues that are both fire and aerials friendly. Have one in your city and want to see us locally? Drop me a line, I want to hear from you!
Q. Is there Video of this?
As a matter of fact, yes. I don’t have the full video for my portion, yet, but I have been given this trailer, where you can see some clips of me, and of every other artist who was in the show. Just click on the preview below.
Q. Where can I get that mask/costume? How was it made?
This is a long one. (And alternately titled “How the fuck does her face work?!”)
The costume, like all of my burlesque costumes, is almost entirely self-made. I have a background in fashion design (although I ran out of money and patience and left the program before I officially completed it), so drafting and manufacturing costumes for myself comes fairly easily.
The costume consists of the tutu, made of roughly 10 yds of tulle, knotted onto a waistband in the usual fashion; the bodysuit, which is flesh-toned lycra with snaps at each of the shoulders for easy removal, and the flowers cut from another piece of fabric and hand-sewn on; the stockings and bra/panty set which were store-bought; a wig, which I bought and styled; and the mask and pasties combo.
Since there’s nothing too remarkable about the sewn costume, let’s focus on the mask.
This is what it looks like when it’s not living on my face:
That alone probably gives those of you who are crafty a better idea of how I put it together. Some people were speculating that it was largely liquid latex and the like, actually pasted onto my face — it’s not. I wanted a mask that was fairly sturdy, so that I could market the act multiple times, and not have to worry about either hiring (and paying) a makeup artist to put this thing together, or having to spend four or five hours doing this on myself every time. (Which, honestly, would probably give me a panic attack. I am not a last minute person by any stretch of the imagination.)
The mask attaches to my head with clear elastic straps around the back, which are then hidden under the wig. The wig was a must because I, first off, have short, mostly bright red hair, which is in no way screen-accurate. Secondly, I needed the wig to mostly hide the seams where the mask meets my face. It does its job well, except for occasionally when I lift my head, and you can see the shadow of the seam under the chin.
Another reason I decided on a mask rather than a prosthetic was because I needed to be able to have my eyes open the whole time, so that I could see where I was going, but I didn’t want them easily seen. Which is where the black mesh in the middle comes in. You’ll probably notice in some of the pictures on this post that you can see my face quite clearly; this is largely because, between the dress rehearsal and the actual show, I had my face painted black by our makeup artist. Without the black face paint, it becomes a lot easier to see the skin tone underneath the mask.
This was my first time trying this particular technique, so there are obviously some things that need fixing — like that one seam on the top right that’s annoyingly obvious in the above picture — but overall it worked pretty well. I’m currently working on another (different) costume piece using the same process, and have another one percolating in my brain for the next Nerdgasm.
If anyone is interested on the nitty-gritties of the process, send me a note, and maybe I’ll write a more in-depth post on the making of the mask.
Q. Oh my god, a Leviathan?!
Not intentionally. I’ve actually never watched Supernatural with any regularity, so I had to google Leviathans in the first place. (At first I thought you guys meant the Sea Monsters, or the Leviathan from Hellraiser, and I was very confused. I’m really glad someone mentioned the Leviathan from Supernatural, or I would have been goggling for forever.)
Maybe the Sugarplum Fairy is Joss’ ode to Supernatural? Not really sure what else it could be, besides maybe an ode to lamprey eels. (Eh, @cayannamon?)
Q. But where are the matching pants?
My pasties were also teeth. I have a Merkin Piece sitting on my desk, but unfortunately, the outline of it was fairly clearly visible through the fabric of the bodysuit as soon as the tutu came off, so I wound up scrapping it, and didn’t have the time to make a new one, before the show. Eventually, I hope to make one that’s realistically painted, but totally flat to my body, so that it will work.
Q. I have the weirdest boner right now …
There’s actually been a wonderful start to the nerdy burlesque scene in many places recently, and Toronto is no exception. In the past year or so, I’ve managed to put together acts as characters like Magneto, GlaDOS, Rorschach, and Viserys Targaryan, to name just a few. (Most of those images are in my Tumblr blog somewhere.) They’re always amazing shows, and most of the time the people involved are very clearly hugely passionate about what they’re doing; they’re really fantastic ways to be introduced to some great, and nerdy people in your area.
So if you’re in Southern Ontario, you’ll probably either want to check out the next Nergasm Show, this one Miyazaki themed — or if Fantasy’s more your thing, another one of my favourite groups of people, the Underground Peepshow, is putting on a High Fantasy themed show called Dungeons, Dragons & Damsels in early March, that I’ll also be in.
Weird boners of the world, unite! (Not literally. Unless that’s your thing. No judgement.)