Archive for August, 2016

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!
Screen shot 2016-08-15 at 10.04.28 PM

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!