Archive for July, 2011

Ok, so RIGHT after I made my last post Schaffer forwarded a fan letter from someone who saw us a t Nerdapalooza. And it reminded me that money isn’t the only way to appreciate art (though it gets extra points for keeping us fed and housed)
Voiced appreciation is another kind of support and it actually does help us keep going. Knowing that people recognize and admire the work we put into our art touches us and reminds us why we didn’t half ass it in the first place.

I think this is especially true in burlesque because there are a lot of girls who get booked just because they take their clothes off and schmooze a lot, which is really frustrating when you just spent months chained to a sewing machine making a costume *just right.*
Also, for burlesque performers, it’s especially nice to be complemented on things like your costume, your choreography, your song choice or idea. It’s great being told that you’re hot, and we do appreciate it, but being hot is often the part we put the least amount of work into and it’s usually what we get the most compliments on. So you can set yourself apart by complimenting something else. To this day of my favorite comments from a fan was

“Oh my god, your Joker costume was SO accurate.”

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We Gots Ta Get Paid

Posted: July 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

Ultimately, I’m a little tired of people telling me my work isn’t worth very much. That we should accept Apple–APPLE–price points without hesitation or consideration, that all units are the same units, all art is the same art. Obviously, sculpture, paintings, murals, and jewelry should also all cost 99 cents each. Actors should only get paid 99 cents per performance. Dancers should only get 99 cents per dance. Architects should get 99 cents per building. Concerts should also charge 99 cents admission. It’s all art–the units are all interchangeable, and should all be tied to iTunes pricing.

This is madness, to me.

Catheryn Valente, I’d Like One Art Please. I Have 99 Cents

I quote Cat on here a lot because she’s awesome.  If you like reading about geekery and the business and art of writing, check her blog out.  Especially this post because it’s awesome.

I tend to swear a whole lot when people devalue art.  I have a hard time not doing it.  Every time someone says some ridiculous crap about how art should be free I don’t care if it’s because they’re cheap or they’re trust fund marxists my response is always “FUCK THAT GUY.  I don’t see THEM working for free.”

But Cat is more eloquent, and she really hit me with this paragraph because, when I thought about it, 99 cents is about what I make per dance.  Most burlesque shows charge about enough to ensure that each performer makes about a dollar per person in the audience.  I don’t think they mean to, that’s just about how it works out once you’ve paid the venue and split up the money.  And that’s if we’re lucky.  That’s if it’s not a free show and we’re not just working for tips.

Why don’t we charge more?  Usually because we can’t.  Most burlesque shows in the city can’t keep an audience if they charge more than $10 and most people who go to burlesque shows can’t afford to go to burlesque shows on a regular basis if they’re paying more than $10 per show.  Yes, some shows are $15 but those shows are usually more expensive to produce and performed in more expensive venues.

So, yeah, if you see one of my shows and only pay the ticket price, you only pay me a dollar.  If you tip a dollar you give me an extra 10-20 cents.  And if that’s all you can afford, I’m not knocking you.  I truly appreciate it more than I can say.  I am way more familiar with being broke than I would like to be.  But if you can afford to give more, consider it.  Please.  Consider it.

Original Cyn is a free show for a number of reasons and as long as it’s in the venue it’s in, it’s going to remain free.  But it runs on a generous grant from Joe the Shark.  The tips we get after the show do help pay the performers but they rarely cover the payment for all four of them and Joe always makes up the rest (which is pretty common among producers.)  Without him Original Cyn would have died out long ago.

I’m here to tell you, it’s not enough.  The amount we get paid doesn’t take into consideration the cost of putting together our acts.  There are people who make a living doing burlesque but there really aren’t a lot.  And that’s why.  I don’t think any of them get by on regular shows alone.  They teach, they tour, they model, they do private events.  And they still have to work their asses off.

Most performers have day jobs.  Some have full time jobs (I don’t know how they do it) a lot have part time jobs.  I have MANY part time jobs.  But, man, if I didn’t, if burlesque itself was my full time job, I don’t even have words for how much awesome I’d be throwing at you guys.

There’s an issue of Sandman with a story about a hack writer who enslaves a muse so he’ll have ideas to write about.  And when she finally gets free her vengeance is to fill him so full with ideas that he can never write them all down and it drives him insane.  I feel like that sometimes.  I have a huge back log of truly awesome ideas but I don’t have the time to do them.  Which is frustrating beyond belief.  And I can’t be the only one.  So think about that when you download someone’s music instead of buying it, when you argue that your favorite author’s book should be 99 cents because itunes said so, when you enjoy someone’s art for free and don’t do anything to compensate them.  Think of how much more art they could make if only you and everyone else actually paid them what they’re worth.

And like I said, sometimes you can’t afford to pay them what they’re worth and that’s ok.  You can give them what you can afford to give.  You can tell more people about the work they can do.  If the artist in question if a friend of yours, you can help them in a ton of different ways.  You can tell them about paying gigs you think they can do.  Hell, I have a friend who cooks me food so I’ll have one less thing to worry about.  The more support you throw at your favorite artists, the more art they can make.  It’s that simple.

So if you want to see my Dead Pool act, my flaming nun act, my Tempest act, my Hamlet act, a steam punk Tom Waits act, an act where my costume is one reeeally long zipper and whatever other naked insanity pops into my head come to my shows,  If you want to read more of my blog posts or stories or finally see my novel get published, come to my shows, put money in my underwear, tell your friends to do the same, tell your favorite con, event or venue that they should totally book Epic Win or Friends of Dorothy or little ol’ me on my own, link to my blog posts, buy my book (didn’t know I had a book did you?  I’m not great at advertising.) or if you’d actually want to buy merch, let me know what and I’ll see if I can make that happen.

I actually didn’t mean to time this post to come out at the same time a project I’m working on has a kickstarters up, but it would be kinda dumb for me not to link to it now.  Epic Win is performing our Star Trek vs Star Wars show in the New York Fringe Festival and we need money to make that happen. If you’d like to help make this show happen, without Schaffer and Nelson going bankrupt, and make sure that the performers all get paid, please give what you can and spread the link far and wide.  At the very least, the video’s funny and has two hot girls making out.  Kinda.  So send it to all your nerdy friends.