As you may or may not know, I, and my show Victory Variety Hour, are going on hiatus. Most likely, until 2015. Yes, 2015. Next year. Now, I know for most performers, this would give them the panics to not have anything on the books, but as I’ve been saying, “there are like 18 million reasons why”. Some are professional, some are personal. Some are related to the economy as it exists now (versus the boom days of the double-aughts), some are related to doing burlesque in Los Angeles, the land where 30 year old actresses are considered “old” and size 8 is “fat”.
So, I decided to count the reasons one by one and in no particular order.
Count them with me!
1. Between work on random TV shows as a union set costumer, freelance costume commissions, making costumes for my etsy shoppe, rehearsing, learning new skills, making my own costumes, producing (sometimes 2 shows a month), all I was doing was working.
2. I miss spending time with my muggle friends and being able to see my burlesque friends outside of a dressing room.
3. I used to cook. I used to love cooking. Like the kind of cooking that involves dragging out the Kitchenaid and whipping egg whites kind of cooking.
4. Trying to make “weekends” for myself and my husband, who is a freelance indie filmmaker. We can never say no to work, so it’s important to make time when we can.
5. Saying “no” to a $300 a day set job because I have a $50 burlesque gig.
6. Having disposable cash that is not earmarked for fliers for a show or workshop; I really want a slipper chair for my living room.
7. Burlesque in LA has been going since ’95. I used to do theme shows, and now there are plenty of theme shows. I tried straight up variety format, and now there are plenty of those shows as well. What can I do that different? How do I keep moving as an artist?
8. My body is a wreck. Two years ago I suffered two car accidents within 6 weeks of each other. I have yet to fully recover from that. I would like to fix that and return to being fit.
9. On that note, now that I am 45, it takes twice as long to return to that same level of fit I could achieve in just a few weeks.
10. I haven’t had time to take a dance class for more than 3 weeks at a time. And I used to take classes three times a week.
11. I would like to learn ballet. I have taken Beginner twice. Every time I graduate to intermediate, I fall out of practice, and return back to the Beginner level.
12. I would like to learn samba. Those dancers have ah-maze-ing butts! No wonder they invented the thong!
13. I am a feature dancer—I would like to move up to headliner before I retire as a burlesque dancer.
14. I am planning to retire from stripping within the next 2-3 years and want to go out at the top of my game.
15. I no longer have a taste for working with bar owners/managers who have zero desire to promote their club/my show/make money. So what kinds of venues am I moving on to?
16. What terrible life choices did I make that I know no drag queens? Where did I go wrong?
17. I want to move my show, VVH, to the next level. Bigger, Stronger, Bionic. But I can not write/research while I’m still producing.
18. I would like to provide the LA burlesque scene with a show between the 100 capacity bar shows that most of us produce/perform in and the 1200 seat Lucha Va Voom. Because unless you’re thin, or a professional dancer or circus performer, you’re not getting into Lucha Va Voom.
19. I would like to slog through 9 years of tape/DVDs of VVH, capture/encode it and cut some highlight reels. We’ve had some neat-o acts over the last 9 years.
20. I would like to shoot my acts with appropriate backgrounds on multiple cameras, edit them into movies, and put them up on my website.
21. I am prepping a new costume how-to project. I need time to produce it.
22. I need to do a photoshoot of all my costume commissions for my website.
23. I need new pictures—but I also need to get back to my “fighting weight” and save enough money to book reputable photographers who know how to shoot curvy middle-aged strippers like myself.
24. I have yards and yards of nifty novelty print cottons to make dresses. Not costumes, dresses. Day dresses.
25. I am working on a new line of high end costume pieces that also display as art. I need time/money to make those items (as opposing to just sketching them in my journal).
26. I miss filmmaking. She, after all, my first love. (Graduate, Temple University Film Program, 1991.)
27. I’ve been needing to re-grout my kitchen, make some new curtains—who knows, maybe even help my husband organize and clean his stuff!
28. I need time to find performers who share my vision and who understand that getting to the next level means that if everyone takes on extra work, we all rise together. I need to build my own Justice League.
29. Would dancers still be my friends if I am no longer booking them? I don’t mind either way, I just need to know how much energy I should dole out to people who may not want/care to give it back.
30. I need to revamp ALL the websites, and ween my fans off their facebook dependency and get them on me email list.
31. I can make more money performing/teaching in other cities; I want to go on two week mini tours of the US. But that takes time to prep.
32. Many of my costumes were made at the beginning of my career—some are a decade old. I am such a better costumer now, but I don’t have the time to rebuild most of my closet as needed.
33. I would like to raise enough capital for a proper advertising campaign. If I have to drop another flier, I’m gonna hurl.
34. I bought some worbla and fosshape (thermaplastic) to play with for costumes. I have it for over 6 months and zero time to play with it.
35. I am working on a new act. I want to debut it when it’s good (versus booking it and crashing it into a show deadline and realizing I need to remake all of it—things I have done in the past—no more stopgap).
36. Said act has a costume that involves a lot of beaded embroidery. That takes time.
37. I have a new kitten! Who doesn’t want to spend hours cuddling her before she gets too old to cuddle?
38. Do they still have bands? And plays? And DJs that play 60s mod/70s funk? Because I would like to see those kinds of things again.
39. Sometimes, I just want to be in a show—not be responsible for every part of a show.
40. Producing stopped being fun. And if something in my life isn’t making me a living, it needs to be fun.
41. Being Penny Starr, Jr. takes money. New ballroom shoes, new costumes, dance classes, make-up, renting rehearsal space. I refuse to do it if I can’t do it right.
42. I am tired of doing things out of rote of doing the same things and panic about not doing the same things.
OK, not maybe 18 million.
But a lot.
Certainly enough that I couldn’t ignore them anymore.
And who knows what opportunities will spring up from not being constantly overbooked?
There’s only one way for me to find out.
I am going on hiatus.