Miss Mina's Blog

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A Tale of Two G-Strings 

Dear Constant Reader,

Ever since I realized it was okay to wear G-strings (both that I was pleased with how I looked and that it was legal in our venues) I’ve been making my own.

Mostly I make what I call the “Old-school G-string”. This is the type worn by Legends in the ’60s, which I learned how to make from Dusty Summers, Las Vegas’s Only Nude Magician.

It’s a simple, but very clever, design and has minimal material requirements. You get barely-there coverage, especially in the back. Because it’s not made from stretch fabric, I always recommend taping this style of G in place. It’s easy to adjust or change out the elastic. Despite the small amount of surface area, you’ve still got a good space for decorating. The other thing I really like — I can knock one of these babies out in no time.

Here’s one in action, both sides!

     

Mina Murray Mina Murray

Photos by Kenneth Ingham at ABurlyQ 2017

You can learn how to make your very own in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Burlesque Costuming. I’m thinking of putting together a video tutorial for my Patrons. If I get four more Patrons, I will!

Last night I made an adjustable G-string as designed by Christina Manuge of Manuge et Toi. You’ve probably seen her stunning costumes on performers like Roxy Dlite and Kalani Kokonuts. Through her Patreon, she’s been producing video tutorials called Tips on Tap. They are so worth the subscription!

The videos are only available for a short time (for the Patreon tier I support), so I watch them several times and take copious notes. This tutorial was accompanied by a downloadable pattern (for personal use only) and a second video on how to adjust the pattern to fit you.

Unlike my go-to G-string above, this one required some specialty material, like rings, siders, and lingerie elastic, all of which I got from a bra supply vendor. The only item that came from my stash was the black stretch satin. It took me an evening (having previously created my pattern), and that was working slowly, so I didn’t screw up, and with frequent breaks for cat snuggles, dinner, and other important things. Stitching the elastic took the longest and required the most precision. I learned some great little tricks along the way. I’m sure next time it will go faster. I particularly like the straps and how they adjust, just like bra straps.

Here it is! (no back view because I couldn’t get a good shot of my own butt)

It fits perfectly!

It’s quite a different look from the old-school G-string, but there are certainly advantages to each one. I expect I’ll be incorporating this style into my costuming repertoire as well.

And here’s a side by side of the two styles. I think you can figure out which is which…

Do you make your own G-strings? What’s your favorite style? Do you buy them? Who’s your favorite designer?

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Friday Tip 

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Here’s your tip! Traditionally Monday is wash day, but this week we’re talking about laundry on Friday…

Color remover will save your ass.

Or at least your white wash. So, let’s say you’re doing laundry and a stray red sock gets in with your whites… Let’s be real, we’re burlesque performers — it’s a stray red feather. Now there are pink streaks all over your pristine white lovelies. Don’t panic! It’s time for a color remover.

It’s a powder that you add to water, either in a basin or a washing machine, and let your stained items soak. Then rinse well or run them through the wash cycle. When the stains are gone, wash as normal. It’s like magic! It’s also much less damaging than chlorine bleach.

The stuff is rather caustic, so wear gloves and maybe even a dust mask when adding the powder to the water. My favorite version, Dylon Run-Away, is apparently no longer available in the US (I’m glad I stocked up), but Rit makes a color remover with a similar formula.

This stuff is only for white fabric — do not use it on colors! There are also color removers that work with colored clothing, but I haven’t tried them yet. Also, I’ve never tested it on rhinestones. My instinct is don’t. (But you wouldn’t be tossing your rhinestone-crusted costumes in the washing machine, right?)

Remember, heat sets stains, so don’t throw your dye-stained garments in the dryer. If you can’t get to to it right away when the clothes are still wet, let them air-dry, but it’s best to tackle the problem while things are still damp.

Another favorite laundry aid is color catchers. It looks like a dryer sheet, but you throw it in the wash and it’ll soak up loose dye in the water before it transfers to your other garments. I always use them when washing something I suspect might run.

But my best advice (which I don’t always follow) is to carefully check your laundry basket for stray items that could mess up your wash.

Want to learn more about garment care? I’ll be teaching at BurlyCon in November!

M2Like this costuming tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Burlesque Costuming.

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Friday Tip 

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Here’s your tip! Traditionally Monday is wash day, but this week we’re talking about laundry on Friday…

Color remover will save your ass.

Or at least your white wash. So, let’s say you’re doing laundry and a stray red sock gets in with your whites… Let’s be real, we’re burlesque performers — it’s a stray red feather. Now there are pink streaks all over your pristine white lovelies. Don’t panic! It’s time for a color remover.

It’s a powder that you add to water, either in a basin or a washing machine, and let your stained items soak. Then rinse well or run them through the wash cycle. When the stains are gone, wash as normal. It’s like magic! It’s also much less damaging than chlorine bleach.

The stuff is rather caustic, so wear gloves and maybe even a dust mask when adding the powder to the water. My favorite version, Dylon Run-Away, is apparently no longer available in the US (I’m glad I stocked up), but Rit makes a color remover with a similar formula.

This stuff is only for white fabric — do not use it on colors! There are also color removers that work with colored clothing, but I haven’t tried them yet. Also, I’ve never tested it on rhinestones. My instinct is don’t. (But you wouldn’t be tossing your rhinestone-crusted costumes in the washing machine, right?)

Remember, heat sets stains, so don’t throw your dye-stained garments in the dryer. If you can’t get to to it right away when the clothes are still wet, let them air-dry, but it’s best to tackle the problem while things are still damp.

Another favorite laundry aid is color catchers. It looks like a dryer sheet, but you throw it in the wash and it’ll soak up loose dye in the water before it transfers to your other garments. I always use them when washing something I suspect might run.

But my best advice (which I don’t always follow) is to carefully check your laundry basket for stray items that could mess up your wash.

Want to learn more about garment care? I’ll be teaching at BurlyCon in November!

M2Like this costuming tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Burlesque Costuming.

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

In the Kitchen: Queen Drop Biscuits 

Dear Constant Reader,

I am extremely enamoured of the Victorian cooking web series at English Heritage and recently I tried one of their recipes. The results were interesting!

The recipe for Queen Drop Biscuits is from the personal receipt book of Mrs Avis Crocombe, the cook at Audley End House in the early 1880s. They’re a buttery cookie, packed with currents and a delightful almond flavor.

1/2 lb of butter beet to a cream, 1/2 lb of sugar, 4 eggs 1/2 lb of currents 3/4 of a lb of flour a few drops of almond flavour drop them on paper

It’s pretty straight forward as historic recipes go, with measurements for almost all of the ingredients. You need butter, sugar, flour, eggs, currants, and almond extract.

The method is super simple. Cream the butter and sugar. Add the flour, then the eggs (Victorian eggs were smaller than ours, so probably only 2), then some almond extract and the currents. Drop by tablespoons onto parchment-lined baking sheets at bake at 350F for 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned on the bottom.

The first time I baked them, I made a rookie mistake. I only used one stick of butter (1/2 cup) instead of two (1/2 pound). The biscuits were more like small cakes than cookies, but so delicious! I brought them backstage at one of our shows and everyone loved them. So, either way, you win. I think I actually like the less butter version better.


Queen Drop Biscuits
8 ounces (2 sticks) butter, softened
8 ounces sugar
2 eggs
8 ounces currants
12 ounces flour
2 teaspoons almond extract

Cream the butter and sugar. Mix in the flour. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add almond extract. Mix in currants.

Drop by tablespoonful onto parchment-lined baking sheets at bake at 350F for 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned on the bottom.

Makes about 2 baker’s dozens.

Note: If you go the less butter way, use 3 eggs.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

In the Kitchen: Queen Drop Biscuits 

Dear Constant Reader,

I am extremely enamoured of the Victorian cooking web series at English Heritage and recently I tried one of their recipes. The results were interesting!

The recipe for Queen Drop Biscuits is from the personal receipt book of Mrs Avis Crocombe, the cook at Audley End House in the early 1880s. They’re a buttery cookie, packed with currents and a delightful almond flavor.

1/2 lb of butter beet to a cream, 1/2 lb of sugar, 4 eggs 1/2 lb of currents 3/4 of a lb of flour a few drops of almond flavour drop them on paper

It’s pretty straight forward as historic recipes go, with measurements for almost all of the ingredients. You need butter, sugar, flour, eggs, currants, and almond extract.

The method is super simple. Cream the butter and sugar. Add the flour, then the eggs (Victorian eggs were smaller than ours, so probably only 2), then some almond extract and the currents. Drop by tablespoons onto parchment-lined baking sheets at bake at 350F for 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned on the bottom.

The first time I baked them, I made a rookie mistake. I only used one stick of butter (1/2 cup) instead of two (1/2 pound). The biscuits were more like small cakes than cookies, but so delicious! I brought them backstage at one of our shows and everyone loved them. So, either way, you win. I think I actually like the less butter version better.


Queen Drop Biscuits
8 ounces (2 sticks) butter, softened
8 ounces sugar
2 eggs
8 ounces currants
12 ounces flour
2 teaspoons almond extract

Cream the butter and sugar. Mix in the flour. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add almond extract. Mix in currants.

Drop by tablespoonful onto parchment-lined baking sheets at bake at 350F for 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned on the bottom.

Makes about 2 baker’s dozens.

Note: If you go the less butter way, use 3 eggs.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Review: Rust Belt Burlesque 

Dear Constant Reader,

Although I still have a huge pile of books to review, here’s a book that’s hot off the presses!

Rust Belt Burlesque: The Softer Side of a Heavy Metal Town by Erin O’Brien and Bob Perkoski (2019).

Rust Belt Burlesque is a photo collection highlighting burlesque in Cleveland, specifically burlesque produced by Bella Sin and appearing at the Beachland Ballroom. However, it’s not just pages and pages of photos, there’s also extensive text.

Part one is a biography of Bella Sin, who was instrumental in creating the lively neo-burlesque scene Cleveland. She’s not a native of Cleveland, but has made the city her home and burlesque her passion. Part two is a history of burlesque in Cleveland, highlighting the infamous, and now demolished, Roxy theatre.

The bulk of the book is the section of photos taken at shows at the Beachland Ballroom. There are a few posed pictures and a few photos were taken backstage or of the vendors in the hallway, but most are shots taken during performances. They’re action shots with some of the issues that come from motion, but for the most part they are dynamic and flattering. The venue has had terrible stage lighting in the past and it shows in some of the photos, but mostly it creates a moody atmosphere. There a certain excitement at seeing a performer “caught in the act” and shots of billowing fabric and bodies in motion create that feeling. Bella Sin curates shows with a strong commitment to diversity, so you’ll see a wide range of performer types.

The majority of the photos seem to be from the 2017 Ohio Burlesque Festival, although there are some from other years and other shows. The photos that were taken at festivals aren’t necessarily of performers from Cleveland, but all over the country, but you can’t tell who’s local and who’s not from the captions. The captions do identify the performer and the year and often a brief description.

The pages of photographs are interspersed with writings about the burlesque experience — from the audience and performers backstage and onstage. There’s a discussion of candy butchers of burlesque past which segues into a look at the vendors at the festivals. There’s also an essay about the history of the Beachland Ballroom, where all this happens.

The last section of the is black and white portraits of five Cleveland performers out of drag and a short statement from each one about their relationship with burlesque.

Full disclosure, I was included in the book:

The title of the book is a bit misleading, as the Rust Belt is comprised of several states and this is just burlesque in Cleveland, or rather just the shows Bella Sin produces at the Beachland Ballroom, which draw performers from outside the area as well. However, the delight and pride of locals in the burlesque shows come through on every page.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Review: Rust Belt Burlesque 

Dear Constant Reader,

Although I still have a huge pile of books to review, here’s a book that’s hot off the presses!

Rust Belt Burlesque: The Softer Side of a Heavy Metal Town by Erin O’Brien and Bob Perkoski (2019).

Rust Belt Burlesque is a photo collection highlighting burlesque in Cleveland, specifically burlesque produced by Bella Sin and appearing at the Beachland Ballroom. However, it’s not just pages and pages of photos, there’s also extensive text.

Part one is a biography of Bella Sin, who was instrumental in creating the lively neo-burlesque scene Cleveland. She’s not a native of Cleveland, but has made the city her home and burlesque her passion. Part two is a history of burlesque in Cleveland, highlighting the infamous, and now demolished, Roxy theatre.

The bulk of the book is the section of photos taken at shows at the Beachland Ballroom. There are a few posed pictures and a few photos were taken backstage or of the vendors in the hallway, but most are shots taken during performances. They’re action shots with some of the issues that come from motion, but for the most part they are dynamic and flattering. The venue has had terrible stage lighting in the past and it shows in some of the photos, but mostly it creates a moody atmosphere. There a certain excitement at seeing a performer “caught in the act” and shots of billowing fabric and bodies in motion create that feeling. Bella Sin curates shows with a strong commitment to diversity, so you’ll see a wide range of performer types.

The majority of the photos seem to be from the 2017 Ohio Burlesque Festival, although there are some from other years and other shows. The photos that were taken at festivals aren’t necessarily of performers from Cleveland, but all over the country, but you can’t tell who’s local and who’s not from the captions. The captions do identify the performer and the year and often a brief description.

The pages of photographs are interspersed with writings about the burlesque experience — from the audience and performers backstage and onstage. There’s a discussion of candy butchers of burlesque past which segues into a look at the vendors at the festivals. There’s also an essay about the history of the Beachland Ballroom, where all this happens.

The last section of the is black and white portraits of five Cleveland performers out of drag and a short statement from each one about their relationship with burlesque.

Full disclosure, I was included in the book:

The title of the book is a bit misleading, as the Rust Belt is comprised of several states and this is just burlesque in Cleveland, or rather just the shows Bella Sin produces at the Beachland Ballroom, which draw performers from outside the area as well. However, the delight and pride of locals in the burlesque shows come through on every page.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Friday Tip 

Dear Constant Reader,

It’s Friday again! Here’s your tip!

No wire hangers!

Well, you can use them to remove static, but not for hanging up your costumes. Your costumes cost a lot in time and money and should be treated with respect. Wire hangers are too flimsy and can distort the shape of the garment. Also it’s easy for your clothing for fall right off them.

Padded hangers are great for delicate garments (I use them for my Catherine D’Lish robes) and also for heavier garments because the hangers are broad and supportive

But really, almost any hanger is better than a wire one.

I’ve been thinking about a tutorial on creating your own padded hangers. You can coordinate them with your costumes! If you’re interested, please leave a comment here.

M2Like this costuming tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Burlesque Costuming.

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Friday Tip 

Dear Constant Reader,

It’s Friday again! Here’s your tip!

No wire hangers!

Well, you can use them to remove static, but not for hanging up your costumes. Your costumes cost a lot in time and money and should be treated with respect. Wire hangers are too flimsy and can distort the shape of the garment. Also it’s easy for your clothing for fall right off them.

Padded hangers are great for delicate garments (I use them for my Catherine D’Lish robes) and also for heavier garments because the hangers are broad and supportive

But really, almost any hanger is better than a wire one.

I’ve been thinking about a tutorial on creating your own padded hangers. You can coordinate them with your costumes! If you’re interested, please leave a comment here.

M2Like this costuming tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Burlesque Costuming.

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Video Review: Go-Go-Robics and Go-Go-Robics II 

Dear Constant Reader,

These may have been the first burlesque-related DVDs I bought when I was just starting out *mumble* years ago. I still think they’re a ton of fun.

         

On each DVD Angie, Tara, and Helen take you through a high-energy go-go routine that will definitely get your blood pumping. The music is catchy and they wear adorable home-made go-go outfits. Each video has a warm-up, a cool down, a step by step breakdown of the moves, a run of the entire routine with captions, and a chance to do it without coaching. The moves are perky and have cute names. The Pontanis are also perky and cute.

The original Go-Go-Robics is to “Chica Alborotada” by Los Straightjackets featuring Big Sandy. The three of them wear ridiculous tiny sombreros and go-go outfits covered in ball fringe. This routine is mostly classic go-go moves like the Mashed Potato and the Twist.

Go-Go Robics II uses the song “The Baracuda” by the 5.6.7.8’s. The routine contains almost twice as many dance moves, many of them named by the Pontanis, like Jazzercise Throwdown and Fancy Dancer Jog, although there are traditional moves like the Freddy and Pony.

Personally I like Go-Go-Robics 2 better, but that’s because of all the extras.

There’s “Five Minutes of Fun”, which is more like 10 minutes. You will learn a smattering of go-go moves, none of which were used in the workout. Some are classics like the Hully Gully and some were invented by the Pontani Sisters. There’s even a couple named after them, like “Angie’s Applesauce Stomp”. Then there’s little routine to practice them all.

There are two videos of Pontani Sisters’ routines: “Sterno” (with actual horses!) and “Italian Princess”. It’s a nostalgia trip — I saw “Italian Princess” when we performed with Burlesque-A-Pades.

My favorite by far is “In the Kitchen”, where the ladies cook four Italian specialties. It’s a blast to watch as they drink wine and walk you through how to make the dishes. You’ll want to be smashin’ and bashin’ garlic with a big glass of red after you watch this! I make Angie’s Gravy (marinara sauce) pretty much every summer and I always keep a stash in the freezer. Zuppe Ingese was a big hit too.

You can get the DVDs on Amazon for ridiculous prices or you can buy Go-Go-Robics II directly from Angie for a steal!

Angie also released a couple of solo go-go DVDs. Perhaps I’ll review those next.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.