Starting a Patreon

Posted: August 16, 2016 in Uncategorized

I’ve been wanting to start a patreon for a long time.
At the end of last year, I promised myself that this would be the year I did it. It’s been more than half a year and I still couldn’t get up the nerve to do it.

Asking people for help is hard. The more you need it, the harder it is. Asking people for money is harder, especially when that money is for art. I grew up in the arts but still find myself inundated with America’s puritanical bias against it. “Art is frivolous” “art is useless” “artists are stupid and lazy and entitled” never mind the fact that most of our social lives and identities revolve around the art we consume.
When we try to get to know someone we don’t ask who their accountant is. We don’t ask who built their house. We ask what music they listen to, what movies and tv shows they like, what books they read.
Every piece of american media that you like was created by someone that was called flighty, useless, entitled, lazy. Every piece of art that you like exists because someone, or a number of people, supported that artist before they got big (sometimes even after.)

Saying your art deserves money is hard. It’s hard enough to believe it, but to say it out loud? To risk other people disagreeing with you? It’s fucking terrifying. Artists are supposed to work for free because we don’t have the signifiers to prove we’re “real artists.” We’re supposed to work for nothing or next to nothing “because we love it.” But we don’t pay lawyers less when they enjoy their job. We don’t ask for a discount on our medical bills because our doctor seemed particularly fulfilled with their choice in life.
I could tell myself all these things. I could even believe them strongly, but the thought of asking people to give me money and support my art made me so scared that I felt nauseous and dizzy.

But one day, I asked myself “what if, instead of saying ‘I love my art so much, I’ll do it for free,’ I started telling myself ‘I love my art too much to devalue it,’ or ‘I love my art so much, it deserves my full time and attention.’” What if I said that? What if I championed my art and worked just as hard for it as I do for my friends and lovers? What if I loved it enough to face this fear and believe in my art like it was my friend?

So, hey everybody, I’d like you to meet my Art. It’s weird and funny and creepy and sexy. It’s femme and romantic and messy and bloody. It wants to love you and it hopes you love it, too. It has some projects in mind, and it would love your help.

Burlesque Beatdown: Two burlesque performers wage war against each other using their acts as ammunition, with WWF style monologues between sets. The final showdown will take whatever form the performers agree on; dueling striptease, choreographed fight scene, performing each other’s acts, anything goes. It’ll be like Celebrity Deathmatch but naked.

Selfie Theater: The Me1/Me2 comic you’ve all been begging me for. Plus illustrated versions of some of my best FB posts.

The Panic Room: Part naked literary salon, part devised theatre, The Panic Room combines burlesque, story telling and theatre to create a new experience for both performers and audiences. Performers of all stripes will come together for six weeks to critique and collaborate, creating a feature length performance based around a central theme. Performers will draw on their own experiences and obsessions to create stories, scenes, burlesque acts and audience interactions, which will then be critiqued, revised and woven together to create a stunning new theatrical performance.

Carried Away: a tumblr of humorous recaps of Sex and the City accompanied by hilarious gifs and interspersed with blog posts about the show. I have a surprising amount of thoughts about Sex and the City and my love/hate relationship with it.

The House of Usher:
An immersive, sight specific, performance in a historic manor house which uses The Fall of the House of Usher to explore the running themes and deep seated fears of Edgar Allan Poe’s work.

The Orgy Show: A series of large paintings based on photographs taken at an orgy. I want to finish the 12 paintings and display them along with a dance/burlesque/performance art show based on the paintings. I want to convey that the experience of this orgy, something usually thought to be lurid or shocking, was actually one of the most beautiful, compassionate, loving experiences of my life.

And there’s more. There’s always more.

Could I do these things without financial support? Yeah, maybe. If I don’t get backers, I’ll probably still do some of them. But not all of them. Not fast enough to keep up with all the ideas my brain churns out. Some of these ideas have been sitting around for years, waiting till I have the time and money to do them. And, unless something changes, I don’t see myself having any more time or money than I already have. I’m still going to make art, it’s just a question of which projects I can do, how well they can be executed, and how much I can share with you all. I want to give you all the art. I want it to be the best art I can do. I just need a little help along the way.

Maybe none of this is your thing. That’s fine! I still like you (assuming I did in the first place) but you probably don’t need to keep reading.

Maybe you’ve already met my art. Maybe (hopefully) you already love it. Maybe you really like the sound of these projects and are falling in love right now. Maybe you are saying “Yes! I want this! Give it to me now!”
I want to give it to you, my friend. The only thing stopping me is time and money, and that’s where Patreon comes in. Patreon is a crowd funding  system where, instead of funding a specific project, you fund the artist on a continuous basis. You can give just one dollar a month, you can give five dollars, you can give whatever amount you want per month. In return you get continuous art, continuous rewards, and a deeper connection to an artist you already love, and a connection to their other fans.

If you can’t, that’s totally fine. I’ll love you anyway. If you want to contribute sometimes but not every month, I have a blog post coming up for you. But if you can contribute every month, and you want to take this journey with me, I cannot wait to bring you along for the ride.

Click here to get started!
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Nick Cave says that a song isn’t finished until it has toured. The song he records in a studio isn’t finished, it’s just a jumping off point. It changes and evolves in performance until it feels right. I feel the same way about burlesque. It doesn’t matter how much time I spend working on the act, it’s still a work in progress until I’ve performed it enough to feel right.

I spent a LOT of time working on Deadpool; Reading the comics, practicing sword fighting, working on that fucking costume. I made this awesome costume, that came off in really cool ways. I had a soundtrack and a story line and a bunch of references. But when I put it up in front of a crowd, the reaction was a slightly confused “meh.”

It was disappointing, to say the least. I did the act a few more times, wasn’t happy with it, and put it away for a while. I knew the act didn’t work but I didn’t know why, so I didn’t know how to fix it. My mentor told me to get rid of the costume.

“It’s too complicated,” he said. “Too elaborate. You’re spending all your time focused on the costume and that’s not fun to watch.”

My mentor is usually right about things but I would stab myself before getting rid of this costume. He was right that it was too complicated, too messy, I was trying to do too many things. But the costume wasn’t the problem, the act was. The costume was the best part. The rest was a mess of sound effects and sword fights with imaginary people and an imaginary bomb and then I turned into a lady for no reason. I had a story in my head, but it wasn’t coming through. Worse than that, the act wasn’t fun. And Deadpool is  nothing if not fun.

So I threw out everything but the costume and went back to basics. I think the best nerdlesque acts can answer the questions Why is this character taking off their clothes? and How does this character take off their clothes? That’s your whole act right there. Why is Snape taking off his clothes? To seduce Harry Potter. BOOM. Great act. Why would Data take his clothes off? To understand burlesque. Half of Data’s storylines are ‘Data tries to understand ____’ so it was a perfect fit.
With Deadpool, I was trying way too hard. He wasn’t really taking his clothes off, he was taking off his limbs when they were wounded because he has these regenerative powers and then he turns into Lady Deadpool because, um… well…

Back to the beginning; Why is Deadpool taking off his clothes? Well, how much provocation does he really need? Zero much. He doesn’t need much reason to do anything, that’s one of the reasons he’s fun. Deadpool taking off his clothes just because he felt like it isn’t all that interesting. What if someone he wanted to kill was at a burlesque show? Bingo.
One of my favorite comedy tropes is “Oops, I’m suddenly on a stage and now I have to perform.” It was great when Bugs Bunny did it. It was great in Adventures in Babysitting. It was great on Scrubs, even though the set up is problematic.


The cartoonyness of Deadpool made this the perfect trope for him.

Once I’d made this decision, it was just a question of *how* he would strip. Would Deadpool be classic? Stripper-y? Probably not. He would be goofy. He would break rules. He would jump off the stage. Deadpool is a peacock so there would have to be at least a few rhinestones but he’s also a cartoon, so not THAT many rhinestones. (I hate the idea that burlesque MUST have rhinestones. Joker would punch you if you tried to rhinestone his costumes. Mine would anyway. Jared Leto’s or Frank Miller’s or Grant Morrison’s would probably be into it.)
Deadpool would want to dance to something modern, hip, probably cheesy, at least a bit silly. I’d already been doing ridiculous dances in my own home to a mashup of Call Me Maybe and Head Like a Hole so it fit perfectly. As a final touch, I got the incredibly talented Dick Move to add his shockingly accurate Ryan Reynolds voiceover to make the story crystal clear. Because Deadpool would have a voiceover.

Finally the act WORKED! It didn’t just get better, people fucking LOVED it.

Mary Cyn as Deadpool

Look how happy those people are!

You’re not a sex worker

Posted: February 17, 2016 in Uncategorized

Years ago, my former boss went to a burlesque show. He ended up talking to the host of the show later that night. The host was an activist type, who sometimes gets a bit carried away with himself, and in their conversation he gave a very long monologue to my ex-boss about how important sex worker activism was to him, going so far as to say that being a burlesque host made him a sex worker. He paused, briefly, to ask my former boss what he did for a living.
“Well…” My former boss replied. “I was just arrested for pimping and my business is being torn apart by the police right now so…nothing at the moment.”
He wasn’t kidding. He was dead serious. I know because he was my boss and we’d both had our lives thrown into chaos that day.* I like to think that made the host reconsider calling himself a sex worker.

There’s been a trend, recently, of burlesque performers proudly proclaiming that they are sex workers because they do burlesque. I appreciate the support this gives to sex workers and I hope it works to lessen some of the stigma that’s still around sex work…..but it bugs me a little. While I’m definitely not about to say that burlesque isn’t work or isn’t sexy, I still hesitate to call it sex work.

For one thing, burlesque is rarely a performer’s sole income. Most performers have a dayjob, or multiple dayjobs, or a partner that supports them. Sometimes one of those dayjobs is sex work, but usually it isn’t. Stripping is a JOB and a very hard one at that. Taking off your clothes in public doesn’t make you a stripper. Spending six hours a day in platforms hustling dances and grinding up on strangers does. It is tough work and I have no end to the admiration I feel for the people who do it, which is why I don’t say I’m a stripper. I don’t have the bulletproof confidence and sales skills it would take to make it as a stripper.


It takes fortitude to wear this for 8 hours.

There’s also a certain amount of emotional labor that’s present in sex work, that just doesn’t exist in burlesque. When I worked as a phone sex girl, one of the first things they told me as part of my training is that guys called us to pamper themselves. It’s not socially acceptable for most guys to go to a spa or whatever, so they treat themselves to an anonymous woman who will happily listen to and support whatever they want to say (I think many feminist papers could be written on this concept) And, trust me, it’s not just phone sex workers that fulfill this for dudes. If a sex worker has one on one interaction with customers, they’re going to deal with this guy sometimes.

And sometimes that’s great and you have a really human connection with that guy and sometimes he becomes one of your best and most loved clients. But sometimes it’s really draining or, worse, incredibly creepy and you just have to keep listening and reassuring and hoping this dude isn’t a serial killer.

And through all of this, you have to stay sexy. For real. That’s your number one job. Stay sexy while that dude cries on you. Stay sexy while he talks about how much he hates his wife. Stay sexy while he talks about wanting to bang his stepdaughter and hope against hope that this is just a fantasy stepdaughter and not some real life girl who has to deal with this guy creeping on her. When I was a domme, one of my co-workers managed to stay sexy when her hair caught on fire. Sex work is fucking hard.


We switched to electric candles after that.

Is the sole aim of your job the sexual gratification of someone else? If not, you’re not a sex worker. Does your job give you health insurance? If so, you’re not a sex worker. Do you have to touch or see a stranger’s erection on a regular basis? No? You’re not a sex worker. Have you ever taken a gig that made you sick to your stomach because you really needed the money? If not, you are probably not a sex worker. Do you ever factor in the likelihood of being raped, arrested, or murdered when deciding whether you should take a gig? If not, you’re not a sex worker.

Sex work is great. It helps a lot of people in a lot of ways, but it has its downsides. Many of those downsides would be mitigated by decriminalization, but that’s a different article. Right now, being a sex worker has certain inherent risks to it, and I get really uncomfortable when people try to take on the mantle without taking on the risk. There are similarities between being a war historian and a war correspondent but there’s a BIG difference between the two.

So please think about that, when supporting sex workers. You can support queer people, or trans people, or people of color without claiming to be one of them (I’m pretty sure most would prefer that you didn’t.) Please do the same for sex workers.

*Just to clarify, the house I worked for was actually a pro-domme house, no sex involved. I don’t call myself a full service sex worker for the same reasons I don’t call myself a stripper.

Paper Dress Princess

Posted: April 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

About a year ago I was at my day job and got a frantic text from a friend asking me to perform in her event that night. I didn’t have time to go home and get a costume, but I wanted to help out my friend and pick up an extra gig so I said yes. This is not the first time this has happened so I have a couple acts that I can put together with a cute pair of panties and a quick trip to Duane Reade. I’ve stripped out of street clothes a couple times but audiences respond better to something more costume-y so I like to make a dress out of paper. Usually I use wrapping paper but this was a gothy event so I thought that would be too peppy. I went with Newspaper instead. I picked a song, rehearsed in my head, and unleashed the performance later that night.

Sometimes it’s that easy. Not always. Not often. But sometimes. It probably helps if you have a degree and buttloads of experience in performance and design.

People seemed really impressed by what I’d thrown together in a dark club with some newspaper and packing tape. And so was I, actually. So when I decided to put together a portfolio of walkabout characters to pitch to event designers, I thought a newspaper dress would be a good addition. They’d be cool to have at a party, easy to transport, I could do this by myself or with a bunch of people, and I could even make them for guests as part of the entertainment at an event assuming they wanted to be in a dress they had to be cut out of. Which could be fun! I also recently met a professional origami folder (I love New York) so I’m going to see if he can teach me to fold more accessories like flowers or something. Also, since it’s paper, these dresses could be printed with literally anything; photo collages, company logos, magazine pages, book pages, wrapping paper, blueprints, maps.

Damn, I think I have some more photo shoots to do….

Anyway, I sketched some ideas, raided my wig and jewelry boxes, got the lovely Charles Stunning to model and the Talented Steward Noack to take photos, and Voila!

IMG_6174 IMG_6181 IMG_6189 IMG_6211 IMG_6217 IMG_6243 IMG_6263




Original Cyn was a wooden roller coaster of a show, held together with pure love and blind faith. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done and it may be the best thing I ever do. I miss it a lot. And I think I’m not the only one.

In the years since it shut down a lot of people have asked me if/when it’s coming back. I’ve always meant to bring it back in some way but I’ve never been sure how. How big a venue will we need? How can we pay everyone who works on the show what they’re worth? How can we recapture the magic of the original? How can we make it better? How can we get everyone that drunk again?

I don’t yet know how to answer those questions, but I want to gauge interest so we can start to answer those questions. So I have an actual, accurate, number, I’m using this mailing list. So if you want to see OC again, sign up here. I won’t use your email for anything else, just to tell you when and where the show will be coming back.

If/when the show comes back, it’ll definitely be sporadic and it’ll probably be underground so this mailing list will be the only way to know when and where a show is happening. I’ll repeat, for those skimming, THIS IS THE ONLY WAY YOU WILL DEFINITELY KNOW WHEN/WHERE THE SHOW IS HAPPENING.

So, for reals, sign up. Oh, and feel free to pass this link around. The more people, the bigger the party.


EDIT: I don’t know why, but the sign up sheet HTML just won’t fucking work on this blog so please sign up here

I’m a very prudish sex worker. I’ve been in videos that technically count as porn but I’ll only be in them if I can keep my underwear on. Preferably a bra, too. And nothing traditionally considered sexual contact happens to me. Many people would say that disqualifies me from porn completely. If you’re one of those people, prepare to have your world expanded.

This is not porn…. OR IS IT?!?!?

There are a ton of fetishists out there whose fetish doesn’t require nudity or sexual contact (as it’s traditionally defined) at all. They’re perfectly happy to see a fully clothed girl drown in quick sand, or eat food slowly, or pretend to be a giant. And I am perfectly happy to accommodate those people! For me, the weird jobs are the fun jobs and I’m happy to find ones that fit with my comfort level. Getting jackhammered on camera for several hours pays a hell of a lot better and plenty of people like doing it, but it’s not something I think I’d enjoy and, honestly, I think I would tire of it quickly. Not so with weird fetish porn! There’s always something new; different things to do, new fetishes to understand, strange and fascinating things to learn about the human race. If possible, I like to research and understand the fetishes I’m playing to. Anyone can pretend to be a giant, but I like to figure out how to be the sexiest giant I can be.

This post is about Chloroform Porn!

It's just as fun as it looks.

It’s just as fun as it looks.

I originally assumed that it was a fetish where people where knocked out with chloroform and then molested but, no, this was just people getting knocked out with chloroform over and over. I lucked out and ended up working with my friend and fellow burlesque performer Apathy Angel. There wasn’t much of plot exactly, it was more like an improv game; we knew our relationship (lovers) and our objective (knocking the other one out with chloroform.)

It was not hard to find a motivation.

It was not hard to find a motivation.

There were also different types of knock outs. Our director explained that, when a rag was used, we should struggle and gradually slow down till we “passed out.” This is pretty standard in movies, so it was easy to replicate. It was also pretty easy to make it sexy. Since all we were doing was knocking each other out, it was pretty clear that the struggle and the fainting was the point so I knew to draw it out, make it as sexy as possible. But there was also the other kind of knock out, which was where you got sprayed in the face directly. The director told us that this was different, more of a shock. You take a couple of quick, shocked, breaths, and pass out instantly. I gave it a shot and the director was shocked by how well I did it. Thanks NYU! I knew that acting degree would come in handy some day!

The shoot culminated with me and Apathy wrestling each other in our underwear, each holding a rag. I don’t remember who won the final knockout but I remember it was a hell of a lot of fun. I really wish I had seen the video clip or gotten photos because, chloroform or not, I’m pretty sure Apathy and I wrestling was hot. You’ll have to make do with this photo of me and Apathy kissing in my Kaylee and Simon act from the firefly show we did a few years ago.

Poor you.

Poor you.

That Couple 1

Two of my friends at Adam Alexsander Presents were planning an afterparty, the theme of which was  that the party was already over. Guests would show up, and the room would already be trashed; drugs on the tables, confetti on the floor, and those few drunk assholes that are always there at the end of a party.

I’m proud to say that I was one of those assholes

The performers were hired to be the drunk/drugged out conspiracy theorist, the teenager who managed to sneak in, the creep that’s hitting on the teenager, the passed out drunk girl, and the couple that keeps making out and fighting and making out again. I saw the casting call an immediately called my boyfriend to see if he’d be THAT Couple with me. He’s not really a performer but he likes performing and will usually go along with whatever crazy bullshit I pull him into. Also, he likes getting paid as much as the next person.

We didn’t so much have a script, rather description of our general tone (Fight! Make out! Pretend to fuck in the bathroom!) and the knowledge that when the signal was given we’d throw cake at each other, then eat it off each other, and then retire to a hotel room to shower off. So I pulled on my most washable party dress and we showed up.

This was easily one of the funnest jobs in my life. I love acting and don’t get a chance to do it very often. I’m an asshole even less often. I try not to bother people. Unless actively performing, I try not to bring attention to myself. But that night I had cart blanche to do whatever the fuck I wanted, as long as it was in character and over the top. And over the top we went. We screamed at each other. We made out like crazed weasels. I threw not one, but TWO drinks in my boyfriend’s face. The third time I tried to throw a drink at him, he grabbed my hand, so I just spit my drink in his face. It was a magical evening. Some people were in on the joke but I think plenty of people legitimately thought we were just drunk assholes. And a few guys hit on me.

Someone even tried to break up our final fight but he got out of the way pretty damn fast when I grabbed a fistful of cake.

That Couple 2

Even better, this was an afterparty for the opening of a huge art retrospective with super important art people. I wasn’t wearing my glasses and couldn’t see anyone so I *may* have thrown cake at Chuck Close or Jack Nicholson.

But what I’m most happy about is that the atmosphere characters really made the party. Having people acting spectacularly drunk actually encouraged everyone to loosen up and drink more (It’s not like they were going to embarrass themselves. Not while *we* were around.) We managed to convince people that they were drunker than they were, that it was later than it was, and made the night a lot more fun for everyone.

That Couple 3