The Diary of Sincerely Yours

Burlesque Artist- Producer- Bassoonist

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

To The Love of My Life

It's hard to believe you are gone. Sometimes it feels like you are still here, like I'm on my computer and you could easily just be napping in the other room. But then I'll see some cute cat video, smile and laugh, and that will be the time when I'd want to find you and cuddle for a bit. I'd even love to have to jump up on the couch and try to crawl all over this laptop. There are many things I see now that runs differently in the apartment. For one, I can walk blindly in the dark to the bathroom at night and not worrying about stepping on you, or god forbid one of your "presents." I can leave food or a dish of rhinestones out without the risk of having either knocked over. I can keep my fish and plants near the window sill now. But I want you to know, I never once think "I'm glad to not have to.... anymore." I miss you more than anything. You were a joy to be with, always. Even when you were sick. I never resented having you around or any expense that came with being your caregiver.

When I think back, the entire day was like a flash. We were lazily laying around the apartment, you were still breathing hard but otherwise looking happy, mellow, in good spirits. You had become more sleepy and sedentary in the last year, still my baby but my little old man. Little did I realize that there had been a cancer forming within the year. Fuck you 2016. Fuck cancer. Just fuck you both. I knew it was going to happen eventually, but dammit I loved that sweet critter. In retrospect, yes I can see your steady decline, but you were also strong magnificent beast of a creature. Little sneezes here and there were cute, but I should have known it meant something underlying. I sincerely believe that we caught you right before you really started to hurt. 

Having him pass at the apartment really made the process more gracious and special. I know that it surpassed even the best of care that we could have received at the vet clinic. The bright lights, strangers, and the smells of all the other animals. It's not like they give you all the time in the world either. He had no idea it was coming, and had gone through the worst of it because we came home from the vet. Not only that, but got to go to the park for a while too. You got to feel the cool autumn breeze on your face and roam around freely with the grass and leaves crunching under the weight of your precious paws. The sun warmed your belly once last time. And even a can of tuna once we got home. Only the best for my baby. I was lucky to have a friend who could do it for me professionally, and I would say to put money aside in the emergency savings for when that sad eventual day comes. It is ABSOLUTELY worth it. I felt more in control and involved, and it was much more comfortable for him. I do not feel haunted by the fact he left here at home, I'm in fact comforted by it. Perhaps that's why often times, it feels he's still here.

         "It's hard to forget, I said, when there is such an empty space when you are gone." 

But that's what I'm starting to realize, there will always be that empty space. Yeah things can fill it, but what was there is no longer and the fatality of it all woes me. But it's a part of life, although a crappy part. It's just going to keep going, as how I could not stop my grandparents from passing either. I believe in that sense, that realization and experience with other deaths, is the only way I can cope with this loss. This one was hard, though I am comforted in knowing we did what was absolutely best for him. By we, I mean Paul, the only person in the city to have loved Socrates almost as much as I did. We were able to give him a gracious little burial and I got to hold him and have some time with him. We buried him with his favorite toys and found a beautiful full dandelion to place singly atop. A dandelion was fitting, as my heart felt like it just scattered into the night sky. 

End of life wasn't as good for my first cat Sassafras, she passed when I was fifteen from a kidney tumor. This was during the time of my parent's divorce, and my mom as a freshly single mother didn't have the money or time to put her down humanely. I have to understand she was basing her experience from the expense of having a vet come to put our dog down a few years earlier. When I look back, I hate how much she had to suffer, taking her in to be euthanized wouldn't have cost that much really. Yes it's a part of life, but it need not be painful and suffering. But she lingered, and a house full of girls, none of us had the heart to smother her or assist her transition. I was still a child and at the mercy of my parents. I have to remind myself that sometimes. The best we could do make her comfortable and love on her. That's when Socrates came into my life, or rather this strange black cat. 

I remember it was cold for Florida, I think December or January. I was lying in bed and suddenly heard this strange soft howling outside my window. My bed was right beside the windowsill, so I pushed some of the blinds apart to find a pair of bright greenish warm eyes staring back at me. At first I was startled, and then became amused as he was solid black so I was just seeing eyes and the occasional flash of white from his teeth as he howled. He did this for three nights, and then another night coming to the front door, always with that meowing like he was trying to tell us something. He always had a distinct meow. Seventeen years together, he winds up being a complete gentle giant, but he looked like a majestic creature of the night with those piercing eyes and overall air about him. I gave him that name because Socrates is my favorite philosopher and it just wound up fitting him. Wise beyond his years and his age was even a mystery. I was always prepared from him to reveal his human form and really start talking to me. Everyone who met him said he was magic. Yes, he was Socrates. To a T. 

So we make him a little bed in the patio to shield him from the cold, leave him a little food and then let him be. Sassafras at the time was on her deathbed in the living room. The night she began to be unresponsive, I did a routine check on him; where he rushed into the house and goes straight to her strangely. He had never been inside yet but went to her like he just knew. He put his face really close up to hers and she opened her eyes and stared at him till I scooped him up back to the patio. The next morning, she was gone. It was as if he had said to her "It's okay, you can go now. I'll take care of her."

He was more than a cat to me, he was a soul tie. I know my experience with Sassafras fueled me to do right with this one. And through all our obstacles and moves, I truly think he had a full happy healthy life. He lived many different places, with different people and different pet friends. I know in my heart he knew he was very much loved and cared for. He trusted me. That is the only comfort I can allow myself. For his absence is felt in the house. My bed is now so lonely. For the first few days I was riddled with guilt. Did I have to do it that very day, why didn't I wait? He could still be in my arms right now. But I have to remind myself that he had fluid taking up most of his lung capacity, so in a sense he was drowning slowly. I sometimes experience bouts of asthma so I know how that feels; to be doing your very best to breath but you just don't have enough oxygen. I didn't want him to be scared anymore or to struggle. What if he passed while I was out of the house and he was hurting alone? With Sassafras I was just a child, but for Socrates I am an adult now.

As aware I am of the shelter system, I just can't give my heart to another animal now. It's not the right timing for it either, I can't seek out another pet. Socrates came into my life, it was different. I do realize where I am in my life though, is that I need to learn how to share this same sort of affection and vulnerability with another person. In all honesty, the last two years of him being sick with renal disease, I've been in a sad girl bubble with him to mask the loneliness. Maybe I was trying to protect us both. That what I truly need in my life is not another pet, but a relationship. I crave intimacy again, not sex, but intimacy. Being with my friends has been so helpful and though I had a lot of offers "ask if I need anything" asking was something I couldn't bring myself to actually do. I don't want to a burden on anyone, or have people spend time with me out a pity. But I have also been avoiding closeness with others, romantically even more so. Having that sweet little kitty to come home to was enough for me, for a very long time. But that is all over, I can't change it. The chapter has ended now. I must learn how to love a man again.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Stand By Your Clown

Well tonight we were suppose to have a night of DEBAUCHERY. Usually at this time, I would be printing out my set list, triple checking everything in my suitcase and configuring a makeshift wheeled contraption consisting of a handcart, the raffle and gig bag, bassoon,  floor length mirror and our marquee sign. Thank God for bungee cords.

I would carefully scoot it over to Clown Kong's house, a sparkle studded white girl trying to move about inconspicuously through a Bedstuy neighborhood. We would then bounce hosting bit ideas together as we put on our makeup and head off to the venue together. Sometimes he needing some of my mine, but often times me bumming off of him. But tonight instead, I am writing this.

As I finish off my first year of producing, I really take stock on all the responsibilities that come with being a producer. And a co-producer. Working all sorts of shows and venues around the tri-state area, I remember my good and bad experiences with different places. I keep that in mind when I think of my performer's happiness. As much as I hated having to cancel the show that was expected to happen tonight, missing out on seeing my good friend Jelly Boy the Clown, Debauchery is instead on the hunt for a new home.

Three of Cups

We pride ourselves in making Debauchery a wild and spirited experience. The "professional shit-show" we loving refer it as, there are certain things that were not working at Three of Cups Lounge. While we and the venue could not agree on the original financial arrangement, and took it upon themselves to simply not pay us for our last show, we did agree on one thing- Debauchery was way too big and awesome for their venue. With our rock band, and a full two set cast of performers, raffle and games- we were definitely not the atmospheric performance slot usually seen there. That was the show presented to them initially and I guess after a couple shows, they decided our show "isolated their customers." We decided it was time to look for a new home once we experience hostility and refusal of payment at the last show, but wanted to spare the next month cast of a cancellation.

All I care to say about that is I truly doubt that both Clown and I would misunderstand the financial arrangement presented to us. We both met with the booker together, and both hung out with the person separately to talk about the show. Instead of charging a cover, we were allowed to do a raffle and tips and get a cut of the bar sales. I produced three times there. Our last show, Clown's 50th birthday show and the little spin off show House of Sin, when we had to reschedule Debauchery due to a family emergency. I did not play music from my DJ set list the entire night for either show and still got my bar cut. In fact, I remember it being said that there was no problem with the bartender playing off a personal iPod at the end of the show. For both shows, both Clown and I were never warned "now this was the original arrangement, next time have a DJ playing till close" - we just got our cut. But last show it suddenly was a problem. If we were expected to follow those terms, then that would have happened first show, no problem, no questions asked. So I find this treatment perplexing and flat out shady.

Lesson learned? The importance of written contracts. So we will move on to kinder tides. The place had a good vibe for us, but it really was a tight space. And I agree that we could use a bigger stage and dressing room. Their sound guy/barback was as sweet as could be and many of their customers were very enthusiastic and showed us lots of love. I wish nothing but the best of luck to Three of Cups and whoever decides to produce there in the future.

 Three of Cups

DEBAUCHERY is will be turning five years old next month. It has been at several venues, it will go on. I am also not his first co-producer, and I feel incredibly honored to be chosen to carry the torch when Stormy Leather got married. He could had a big community to pick from but saw something in me and took a chance. So I must stand by my Clown. Wherever we hang our sign is our home. I know this show is his baby, and means the world to him. Bringing the show back to the neighborhood certainly raised our spirits and made the show even better than it was before. I sure miss Kings County Saloon though, that place was like our playground. If only we could have picked up the entire building and moved it to the East Village. 

 King County Saloon

I'd rather close out my blog with a happy story. Last year's show "My Bloody Valentine" was a very spirited night. I remember that I went with the bloody Valentine theme because I was a bit heartbroken and going through a lot of changes. My life was taking a complete 180 degree flip, a guy I was starting to get cozy with got spooked after seeing our first show, I was adjusting to life after the Slipper Room and the morning of the show I found out my cat was experiencing kidney failure. He would need to receive daily treatments. Stuff such as this comes in threes. What better way to deal than some stage therapy? So we made that a recurring theme throughout the night. We had Miss Vivian do a needle piercing burlesque act, Lewd Alfred Douglas as Lady Bathory , the very handsome Eli Rose and two of my favorite heart throbs, Pinkie Special and Minx Arcana. 

I raffled off the panties I was wearing for the show and my "big brother" Johnny Horrible won them. He couldn't wait to put them on, and they surprisingly fit nicely! He kept them on over his jeans for the rest of the night. I closed the show with a revised version of my Beauty Queen deconstruction act that I sometimes do for private birthday parties. It uses a mix of Leslie Gore's "It's My Party" and Daft Punk's "Lose Yourself to Dance". 

Blue is really his color!

I played a drunk girl that finds out her man leaving her for another woman on her damn birthday. She then goes on a self loathing binge on cupcakes, is horrified when she realizes she's being watched and then starts smashing them all over herself in an imploding outrage. I then walk over and bring out another plate of cupcakes, simply drop the entire plate on the floor and belly flop onto them. I kinda just went into a free for all slip-and-slide break dance improv session while Clown started the curtain call. I was already butt naked covered in cake but the cast came out one by one to the sweet beat and proceeding to mash cupcakes all over me. I got a lot of frosting filled kisses. I gotta say it felt wonderful to unhinge, be raw with an unsuspecting audience.

 As I kept scooting and sliding all over the stage, my cast were dancing around, shouting 

                                              "FUCK THAT GUY, FUCK THAT GUY!"

That's what we call closure. For sure. I struggled to my knees to wrangle the microphone with my cake crusted knuckles. In a sheepish shrug, I cry out

          "I can't see why this guy broke up with me ladies and gentlemen, GOOD NIGHT!"

That was the night Matt Dallow told me that he now sees what Clown saw in me. It was also the night that Eli Rose gave us our tagline....

DEBAUCHERY- The Show That Lives Up to Its Name!

I'm looking forward to many more shows like that. Happy Thursday everyone.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Take Me With You

I once worked part time at a little bakery in the Upper East Side. A small cafe about a block from Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum, so we frequently had tourists from all over the world. That was one perk of the job, because I would meet a lot of interesting people.

There was once one man in particular. An older gentleman, probably in his early sixties, wardrobe being high end but causal, black slacks, boots and a gray turtleneck sweater. He always ordered very particularly but was never rude about it. Of course he wasn't, he couldn't because he was Canadian. At least that's what he told me. He could have been lying about everything he told me during his two months stay but something in my gut knew I could believe him.

Out of respect, I never researched who he was from the clues he provided, but from what I took he made his success in the entertainment world. "I was in the right place at the right time when rock n' roll became big in Canada." Besides his success in music, he also owned a radio station, or did at least at some point in his career. Now he just travels and lives on a small island, I believe in Europe, filled with eccentric artists. Right away he saw something in me, even more than I probably believed in myself. In him, I found a familiar comfort of being in like minded company, which I don't find often.

"My dear, believe me when I tell you there are like minded people like you out there. How lucky it is that we found each other, that I could be a guide at this point in your life. Don't feel so alone, though I know it is hard sweetie. We're here, but mainly on this little island I now live on. I can't tell you much about it. But you would love it there, people truly living on a higher plane."

 I never pried, but soaked up his every words. I enjoyed the days I got to see him and the little gems of encouragement. He really motivated me to write. How much I wanted to be a part of his world. Artists, musicians, innovators, living in sustainable luxury with other enlightened people. I sorta resented that my role in his life was that of service. They say to always surround yourself where you want to be, which is why I choose to commute further up into the city for work. Why I dress for the role I want in life. Except when I have to dress in uniform, which is one of the pitfalls of rubbing elbows when you are waitstaff. 

As glamorous as burlesque can be, very few artists in the city perform exclusively. The majority of the working performers freelance in other arenas, have part time jobs or spouses and partners to help support them. I have never lived with a boyfriend, so I've been on my own my entire burlesque career. I'm not ashamed of having another job, it's smart and safe to have a multiple sources of income, especially now that I produce a regular monthly show. But customer service can be trying at times, and you definitely are given a sense of separation with the rest of the public. I felt like I belonged with him and his world, but wasn't there yet. I'm glad he understood and never treated me inferior to him. I've noticed that the most successful people in life are often like that. It's a commonality, positive kind people move up in life. 

When his time in New York was coming to a close, I tried to give him my email address but he politely refused. I don't blame him. He knows people from all around the world and told me he only corresponds with a handful of close friends. And as much I would have wanted to see him again, I wouldn't want it be in the same scenario. In fact, if he were to come back the next winter and I was still there, I think I would have felt so ashamed. We would have both been equally disappointed. So I left the cafe that autumn.

Whenever I get caught up in the petty drama of the industry, or begin to question my ambitions, I think of him and the island. I pick myself back up, wipe away my tears and continue on my path. It's not like others, it may be slower or faster than most, but it's my journey. I hope that when he comes back to the cafe and asks for me, the staff will tell him that I left to explore acting. And he will smile silently to himself, then return to his coffee and notebook. 

I'll one day find that island.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Impressionable Kids

I want to tell you about the time I did a photoshoot with my friend Shane Velasquez and his girlfriend Cherry Delight. She picked me for this shoot because I had a striking resemblance to one of her friends. A doppelganger. And she wanted twin minions; kneeled alongside her lap with intricate matching costumes, although they were not much clothing. It was a Satanic photoshoot.

I agreed to do the shoot though I did feel a twinge of moral concern. I was interested in the experience, it sounded dark and different. I've always have felt a pulsating lure towards those which are unusual. Though I had not been to church in over a decade, and have never identified that connection I was suppose to feel being raised Christian, I still had the fear of God in me. I justified this as like a Renaissance painting, a representation of the devil like the great cathedrals I saw in France when I was twelve. I love those intense images of Lucifer devouring children. I figured that God knows that I don't idolize Satan and that it's just for art.

When I met my partner in the empty studio space, I didn't see the spitting image like I had hoped. Oh well, but we did share some feature. My doppelganger is still at large. It kinda makes one think about how one perceives his or herself, compared to how others view you. Nevertheless, she was fun and friendly enough.

It took longer to get everything set up to shoot. Cherry put a lot of details into costuming, and did not have an assistant. Fresh white roses strung and tied around our necks like garland, tight strung black waist clinchers and painted pink nipples, tips and toes. Nothing more except make up. 

Cherry was dressed almost like a fetish latex Lucifer. Her face was covered in a black sheep like horned gas mask, a coyote's skull in a bed of blood dripped rose petals. Long black spiky gloves, pentagram of blood on her chest, breasts bloodied, ready for feeding. Shane first had us twins pose together against the wall. Weirdest prom date photos ever.

The altar was ready. My older Christian sister texted me but I told her I'd have to get back to her later. I kneeled to the left side and she to the right. We began shooting. The experience made me realize how straight I really am, because I got absolutely no joy out of it. I did it for the art. We must not have had much time left in the rental room because not too long after, I heard a knock on the door...

                                                                      Lelio Orsi  

I will never forget the look on those children's faces. They came in so innocent, had a concerned look like they realized they interrupted something, then a look of horror once it registered what was interrupted. The parents were oblivious at first, yapping at one another "why hasn't their dance class started?" then fell silent while one little Jewish boy closed the door before the outburst of protest erupted. Shane just kept shooting. 

There are no pictures online to show. Sometimes the best photos are. I wonder what those children thought about when they laid in bed that night.