Tag Archives: performer

The taste of success

“El éxito no tiene sabor ni olor y cuando te acostumbras es como si no existiera.”

The Past

At the very beginning I had the luck to kickstart my aerial and burlesque career at the LBF in 2009. I achieved a whole lot more of a praise that my skills were to take me to.

I was very successful for a “beginner”

Until 2012 I could really not enjoy or live any of the success. It was a struggle of survival, until I could make it all work by the end of 2012.

2013-14 were years of progress and work and some failed dreams and friendships.

Conclusion is, that at an early stage you don’t even realize what you have.

Fast forward to now

For the first year of my son’s life I was planning to do an average 1-2 shows a month, and as a matter of fact I succeeded in that…

Yet I consider this last year a very hard one professionally…

When I got pregnant I had to cancel 3 months of work and events 5 months from the date, I can say I was on top of my game, working a lot and becoming a considerably “OK” (strong upper mid-level if you please) aerialist…

I did expect it to be physically hard to get back, but I did not expect it to be so professionally miserable.

I explain.

I’m terrible at selling myself, I am full of doubts, I cannot watch a video of myself without rolling my eyes and I cannot finish a show without at least once saying how SHIT I was.

I also did want to switch scene and focus on bigger shows instead of gigs and burlesque related productions.

And obviously, I did not expect the burlesque scene going to shit on the meanwhile either.

Visibility on festivals

There comes a time in your life, when doing burlesque festivals for less than free just don’t make it… but let us be honest… I said to myself, let’s try other festivals (not Lbf, which was a safe application process always), than you get the ‘oh thank you, but…’ message…

You, established, good performer… being explained how Kittiey Mc Tittishaker (lets hope nobody owns this name yet), a two year VETERAN of the scene, entrepreneouer daredevil extraordinaire with a hiper original signature classical tribute act has a bigger ‘IT’ factor when it comes to performing… classic burlesque…

So according to facebook and the scenario, I keep being the backstreet circus chick of the show… you know the one other performers are not eager to take selfies with… yet the one to mostly finish off the show as the “strong plate”…

It felt quite unsuccessful, all this.

In reality… with the one show a month I make more money than I did with various years before…

By chance or by luck I landed doing the Barcelona Burlesque Festival, which happens to be a paid thing and goes by invitation… (and I hope they keep it that way)

By conclusion I landed a half year contract with the theater.

This is the real success.

It was hard work, performing, pulling my acts back together, even making them better. Million email, proactivity, and all.

Does it feel like bathing in champagne already?

It is great, yet I only dare to whisper it…

I am the resident aerial artist of El Molino theater…

Feels like it just disappears the moment you say it.

Now, I did not substitute someone on a gig, I did not do a couple of parties or the Festival, noo! Im there and to stay.

Yet, does the burlesque scene cares?

I tell you what, if I feather up my bio and explain it… maybe… but in reality, no shit.

And this is how success feels in the “scene”.

Even if you make it, you need to fake it.

In the city?

It is a great reference, everybody knows it, I have a two page spread photo of myself.

In reality?

I see my osteopath almost every two weeks.
I juggle a baby, a household and my sleep deprivation.
I lost 10 kgs, since baby. (I do have some killer abs, though)

Altogether, I think I am at the right track.

The Struggle

I am a very booring person.

My topics: art, my struggle with art, baby, training.(or the lack of time for it)

I am also tiring with it, constantly analyzing, writing, thinking.

Alltogether it folds out to be some kind of a never ending struggle with the limits of my body and time.

I will never be the best aerialist of the world, in fact being the best in anything is getting impossible by the day.

So at this point I want to calm myself and set out reachable goals and stop eating my soul out with unreachable expectations.

Advertisements

One by one – the story of an act

The Evil Queen

Snow White and the seven dwarfs, and her evil step-mother is where the story began.

I debuted this act, as my very first aerial hoop act as well, on the 2009 London Burlesque Festival.

As we know, my journey as of an “international” performer began there, and the slight change of genre went from being called a stripper to be a burlesque artist. I pretty much did burlesque from 2006,
it was just not called that way that time in Spain.
image
image
(Wtf with that look?, circa 2009)

I believe this act to be born out of my many inspirations from Mierkoles. We spent endless hours making up new shows and new costumes in our head, mostly stripper themes, but with a little of our darkness to it.

At the beginning I was more the lot less sinister of us two, so I could truly embrace the whole idea and fine styling of burlesque. I was called to do burlesque themed gigs already.

Aerial hoop came into the picture after long years of harvesting the circus ambitions in me, although at this point I never expected to become a full-time circus girl, mostly because I never thought I had this much in me and being a stripper involved way too much pot, and that really numbs you away from training.

So by the time I applied I knew what the act was to be, and I had 3 months till april to make something out of it.

image
image

The first version of the act was, that the Evil queen enters the stages gives out her apples to the public, then has her encounter with the mirror, that tells her she was not the fairest, and so great reason to strip and hang on a hoop, come down and die.

Since my music cutting skills were none, I chose a version of Summertime of Artie Shaw, which has an interesting suspense tune in it. So no music cutting.

Sure, this version was shit. Looking from now. Amateur, low hoop skills, etc.

image
image
(yup, as beginner as it seems)

The stage part I made it up on the go, really, I went on an international stage without ever rehearsing my steps, only the hoop part had a “coreography”, but you bet, that is mostly how I roll up till this day. I guess I was more stupid than brave. Oh, and never tried the tiny corset on the hoop (FAIL) and I still saved it, actually I think my legs and splits saved the act.

image
(that split)

For my great surprice, I was full of bookings right after the festival.

There I realized, this would not work with an audience that was further away, I mean apples are pretty hard to be hit in the head with…

Later I tried a version, where I was poisoning the apples with green poison and needle. Changed the music to Jill Tracy’s Fine art of poisoning. Yet here I realized that in a bigger theater noone would see me doing the needle thing, being way too little of motion, so there went the music choice with it…

I needed something strong and evil as of music. I also wanted to make sure that the audience gets, who the hell I represent.

I wanted to cut the actual sound of the mirror in my act. Here, I had more skills in garageband.

I got a nice black cape, with the high collar, that eventually turned into black isis wings.
image
(2014, LBF)

The aerial hoop turned into aerial hammock. And the music changed totally.
image
(2012-ish, Hootchy kootchy roadshow)

Now it has a first part with isis wings, then the sounds of the mirror and the queen and the aerial hammock part. (also a fully aerial free version).
image

I still wanna fix a free hanging ikea framed mirror (you know the one in every tattoo shop), but still have not got to it.
image
image

So here I leave you with a link to the aerial free version. (from minute 14.)

London Burlesque Festival Allstarts

(yes, there is a lot to criticise in this act, I know…)

Pics by Joanna Kor from the 2014 London Burlesque Festival:

image
image
image

The price of an act

Pricing always gives me a hard time, I rather prefer being already offered a fixed price from  a show. Yet, nowadays, we are not that lucky, or if so, the prices offered are generally miserable.

You, one standing in the public, just see the finished product, a flawless body flying high up in the air with an incredible ease, or an amazing femme fatale burning down the roof with sexiness and attitude, or whichever else type of performance of choice you might be seeing executed close to perfection from your, once again the public’s point of view.

Then one naivly asks the question, how much do you get for this?
And then comes the conclusion, ‘wow you must be dirty rich’
Well, here I would like to reference you to some well written pieces by other dear performers, that are most definately worth a read.

Here, on the other hand.

I mainly want to write about counting out a price to offer, when asked for.

So. I put a set of questions up to answer to help us to draw the final offer.

Where do you live?

Your actual location is quite crucial. Also where you are from. In my case, I’m from an eastern european country, but live in a western one. (Let’s not get lost in the geographical truthfulness of this, I speak economically)
So for me this adds another dilemma, as what I generally get for one show is an entire monthly wage in my dear country, while in Bcn takes about 1/4 of a salary. The dilemma rises from my belief that I should not say no to an offer that could give me food for an entire month on home grounds, therefore saying no is luxury.

Actual location.

The difference between rushing down two metro stops and finshing the entire night in less then 4 hours, make-up included is pretty much priceless to having to be away two entire days, waiting at airports and bus stations, not always getting proper food (in my case, never getting it, since you airports don’t have any overpriced paleo snack points)
This means I take a low budget show in the city, but damn sure won’t travel more than 30 min for it.

Places differ in general prices, too. On one hand in places like Switzerland you can expect about the triple of your best price, on the other hand though, London is notoriously pays quite badly. (Burlesque)

Which are the general prices in your field?

Now that is a tricky one.

My field? Burlesque or circus?

Burlesque

I would put the general price of an international burlesque performer around 250-300 euros, this might include 3 different numbers performed.

Circus

Anything goes here. From fees hardly covering one’s survival. Here to be able to charge a constant high price the act has to be very high quality and one needs to be pretty skilled.
So, embarrassing, it is, to see that years of sweat, blood and pain is less appreciated than something that might be masterable in months. (Although, obviously, high quality burlesque performing requires a lot more than that, because perfection lies withis the smallest details).

What amount are you happy to work for?

I, personally, don’t mind a last minute 100-150 euro gig, from there up I’m pretty content withing the city limits. Internationally start over 300 euros. (Obviously all expenses paid)

This might depends on who you work for as well. I used to perform in a lovely jazz restaurant during my early circus times, 100 was the most they could pay, yet they offered two nights in a row, every time they hired. I love jazz music, I loved the ambient, I knew this was the maximum they could give me, so I was more than happy with it. Two times, low ceiling aerial hoop burlesque, which served me great as a practice.

Nevertheless if you deal with a huge place with high drink and entrance prices, you would not be happy not even with the double. Example. Ibiza. Offer. 3 aerial performances of silks and hoop, hoop being taken up to 6 meters without any security measure. 150 euros. One night in a week. I said no, yet, there were others, many, that have taken the offer.
Oh, and add, they, after seeing videos of me, needed to see me live, so the “casting” happened during opening hours, nice way to cover the night with free performances,right? Also you come and go, feed and live as you please, obvious, isn’t it? Mostly I loved the fact that the person offering me this even tried to blackmail me saying that I would not get any work on the island without taking this.
So, for big discos or parties I would charge over 300 euros at the least for aerials.

Also, a no skill gogo dancer gets 80-120, even in Ibiza…

Frequency?

Is it a one off gig? Is it a contract? Is it a longer contract? Are you working for or with these people many times?
I generally appreciate people that return to work with me, so if they are returning employers I am more willing to adjust my prices.

Contracts?

Over 1500 euros clean a month I’m happy. Plus the priceless security of not having stomach ache thinking about what tomorrow brings. (Oh, the dilemma of the full time performance artist with a mortgage)

1500 euros clean, what is that?

That is with full board and accomodation plus travel expenses.

1500 would mark the bottom end with few shows, to state the obvious. For a 6-7 shows a week deal 3000 euros plus would be rather suitable. (Sure, best would be 4-5000, plus a mansion in the countriside with a personal massage therapist, but…)

Generally I count out my price according to the amount of shows I have to do during a week and math out the price of a single number, ideal would be keeping it up over 150 euros per one number and never going below 75.

Well, big, famous theater, self titled superstar sums down to 25 per number, that is fucking fellow performers in the ass without any doubt. So this leads down to the next question.

Ethics?

We live in a dirty, unethical world, where one would stab his own mother in the back for 5 euros. Truth.

Meanwhile everybody wants to be rich and famous, means don’t matter.

I personallyappreciate ethics and loyalty.

Do you know the market you are offering a price?

Private or corporate gig, small or big scene. Etc.
Corporate pays very well, yet private can also do that and the contrary both. Same with smaller and bigger scenes.

Little story.

Once a Hungarian friend asked me how much would I charge for a small performance for him/friends for a small party (no technical difficulties). I said a 100 euros. His conclusion was that it was cheap, as if 4 or 5 puts its together it is quite cheap per person. So there, now tell me why places actually making money with your performance don’t want to pay this very minimal price?

I believe the venues should start with appreciating their artists before offering rip off prices and believing, that circus artists were just born that way, so no need to pay them more than a general gogo.

So, now you can all call me a cheap bitch, but I though it was best to drop the numbers in the discussion, because I personally hate googling the price of something and finding everything, but that.

There are a million more related topics that are coming to my mind related to prices, so to be continued.