Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A "light" post about ONSTAGE SAFETY. By Crystal Precious

Wow... 4 days later and I'm still a bit shaken. I think its time to share this. Onstage accidents: they are a thing.

First-up I'm fine, everyone is safe and ok. But I'm posting this story for two reasons. The kinda selfish reason, if I'm being honest, is because I'm hoping it will help dillute my shaken-ness a bit, the way sharing sometimes does. Like truth, puhlayyyse, not goin' lie about that. 

The less selfish and more important reason is to ask that you PLEASE PLEASE remember to DOUBLE CHECK that stage areas are secure, especially pop-up or alternative venue stage areas. This is not just the responsibility of the venue or stage crew... it is also performers' responsibility. So many times we will go into a tech run and scope out the area for sound, lights, choreo or prop capacities but not necessarily to look for the safety concerns. Please let this story remind you not to take those things for granted and not to take any chances. Here's what happened. 

So this weekend the Sweet Soul grrlz and I were lucky enough to do a show in a gorgeous venue with giant picture windows surrounding the room. We were on a standard 3' raised pop-up stage floor tucked into one of the corners of the room, which coincidentally lined up flush to the bottom of said giant picture windows. We were 4 stories up, but each storey had 15 foot ceilings, so actually it was more like 6 or 7 stories up. We had beautiful views of the city as our backdrop, which I loved. Great idea. 

It was a super fun crowd, and I was getting into it with cracking jokes, rapping, dancing, etc. and pointing out the view, much the same way as when I'm hosting and performing at the Keefer Bar. And much like with THEIR giant side-flushed picture window, I decided on a whim mid-show to use one of the windows as part of a joke, and went to lean against it. THANK EFF the grrls sidestage were in the exact right position to see my mistake and quickly yell out “NOOOO!!! STOPPPPPPP!!”

I stopped dead in my heels, literally inches away from leaning onto a window that was not only unlocked, but was also a teensy fraction of an inch ajar. Literally if I had stepped forward it would have pushed it RIGHT OPEN and seen me falling a hundred or more of feet below.

HOLY. SHIT. And or those of you who know how NOT a fan of heights I am... double HOLY. SHIT. Of course in the moment my performer instinct was to crack a joke and carry on, then process after, but I'm not going to lie, this gave me a really good scare. Trust: all the gratitude. Close call.

Sooo I think the lesson is that as the DIY performance community expands and we appear in more and more underground or pop-up spaces, let's double check on shit like this, even if that seems like the most obvious thing ever. Let this be your reminder to please INSIST (politely) that cracks be taped, rolling pieces or stairs be braked properly, hot lights be safe distance, that cables are backlined, that your aerial rigging is pro-rated. Throw a flashlight in your bag so you can see where you're going backstage if it's dark. WAIT until water or slippery glitter is properly swept from the stage. Don't push it with the heel height. Trust, it's worth it. 

To my angels --- and my grrls -- hearts.


OH YEAH. Also, PS: MY STRIPHOP EP CAME OUT!!! For those who enjoy rapping burlesque grrrlz, grab it!

Download the EP:

Link to the release info:

I'm uploading one track a day this week to my Soundcloud. Here's the first one!

Thanks so much to Fubarfoto for the amazing photos for the rollout... kisses. xoxo

Sunday, March 1, 2015

SASSFLASHES: The Striphop EP, VIBF 10 Year Anniversary & New Video Underway

Lots to share! It's been pretty non-stop since my last post, hence the little lull in bloggy land. TONS of shows in the latter part of last year, including the Bass Coast boat cruise, a couple runs of shows in the Yukon, a big vogue battle with legendary New York City qween DJ Mike Q at the Celebrities 30th Anniversary Party, a special performance for the Pivot Legal Society as well as the Keefer Bar 5 Year Anniversay show. WHOA. Add the weekly there every Thursday -- yah, it was pretty full-on this winter. OH, I also had the total honour of hosting the Calgary 1st Annual International Burlesque Festival followed by a gorgeous drive through the rockies with 60-something burlesque legend Judith Stein to perform in Nelson. Capping off the gallavants was a beautiful trip to the remote Lasqueti Island to hit their beautiful hardwood stage and then got some down time in Washington for the holidays. Whoooooooosh!! Peace out 2014!

With CIBF's Miyuki Divine, Sweet Soul grrlz Villainy Loveless & Lola Frost, Ruthe OrDare, Judith Stein & her hot date!

Clearly we then needed to throw GIANT PARTY in a random warehouse with my troupe-mate Cherry & the SHAHdjs helmsman Willis Lombard and a team of about 35 extreme sasspots for NYE because, uh, raver: me. Check this video shot by Vasho Pekar & edited by Jason Snell to see what we came up with this year.. was an epic night and a true collaboration between a lot of people that I simply adore.

AURORA NYE 2014/2015 from SHAHdjs on Vimeo.

NOW: 2015. Taking a shift homewards. I'm slowing down on the shows and instead am embarking on four larger closer-to-home-type projects. I just really love spring in Vancouver and am happy for the shift in focus and change of pace for a bit here.

FIRSTLY and MOST IMPORTANTLY: I'm VERY pleased to announce that last year's recording project with Self Evident has been picked up for release this spring as "The Striphop EP" by East Van Digital! HURRAYY!! The release will include six remastered tracks from the original eight and will be fully publicized with a college radio campaign and big media push. I'm THRILLED to no end with how the final product has come out and I can't wait to finally give this project the promotional energy it deserves. Looking back I have to chuckle on what a massively audacious endeavor it was to bite off and chew without really having a clue around how to go about it...  getting this far was a learning curve sharper than a tightlaced corset, to be sure. But you know me and my big mouth and my big ideas. :) The point is: we did it! And it's coming out... SOON!! Wooot!!

This means that the older versions of the songs will no longer be available online, as well as ANY versions of the two songs that got cut. So if you grabbed the indie "Queen Of Sass" bandcamp release, you gots the super spesh rare goods. Boom. :) Also anyone who downloaded that, btw (and thus provided me with an email address) will get a free copy of the updated EP, so check your inbox over the next couple of weeks if that is you! PS -- thank you for supporting in the fledging beginnings of my very first big recording project... hoping it's the first of many. Purrz. :)

SECOND: Pleased to announce that Sweet Soul Burlesque will be re-staging our Bass Coast "Mutiny" show for the 10th Anniversary of the Vancouver International Burlesque Festival at the historical Vogue Theatre on Friday, May 1st 2015. The production will feature our guest performers Subscura, dancer/choreographers Tawni Krystal and Leiah Luz, designer/dancer Rori Satya as well as boylesque sensation Munish Sharma. The undersea-themed show is set largely to original tracks from forthcoming Striphop EP, so this timely production also kind of serves as an unofficial "re-release" showcase. In addition, I'll be performing my Venus Fly Trap routine for the festival's ten year retrospective event, aka the first routine I ever did at the first ever festival back in 2006. Those who were there for that particular performance all those ten years ago may remember that it was, umm.. well... to sum it up, a complete disaster. So it shall be a glorious moment of retribution for both my ego and my beloved new fly trap, Seymour II!! Ahhh the circle of life.

Captain Hooker's triumphant return! May 1st, 2015 at The Vogue Theatre

THIRDLY: Pre-production is officially underway for a new music video featuring all the Sweet Soul grrlz as well as many, many other hot burlesque babes of the DIY persuasion. This one's going to be significantly larger project than Apple Pie - NO PIE FOR YOU, this time involving different locations over a multiple-day shoot, which is oh-so very exciting and creatively fulfilling for me on all kinds of new levels. Lucky as hell to once again have Stuart Mackay Smith as the hot genius guiding the vision's fierceness into a reality. You're gonna hear A LOT about it come April so I'll stay fairly mum for now, but shooting is to begin first week of May, immediately after the Festival! YUSHH!! WERRRRRRRK.

FOURTHY and presently in our lives, Cherry & I are FINALLY attacking a complete re-vamp of the Sweet Soul website that will include our new members Melody Mangler & Villainy Loveless, along with a shit-ton of lush new video footage. S'been a minute there too, as not gonna lie, it's easy to get distracted by these new troublemakers running around as they are hilarious and definately livening things up around here. The danger is that it becomes all fun in the moment and no uploading of recorded evidence -- a balance that must be restored. We're on it! There will also be special dedication archive to our past productions & underground venue The Dollhouse (RIP), which we realized should probably maybe be a thing when we came across flyers like THIS on our harddrives:

Ummm, amazeballs. (Yes that's Tristan Risk on the flyer, who is busy making ten thousand new awesome horror films at the moment, in case you haven't heard).  Our deadline to get all this up is the end of March. My own site is gettin' a Cher-style facelift as well, so hopefully I won't be on here in April saying things like, "almost done" and instead will be posting on an embedded blog on the new site. Tassles crossed / famous last words... heh heh. All in good time.

Aside from that, come say hi at Sweet Sip Thursdays at the effin' Keefer at 135 Keefer in Chinatown eh? We're still there drinking Opium Sours & murdering new / favourite acts on a weekly at 10 & 11 pm Thursdays. Seriously, it's the best and we love it, aka why we're still doing it 5 years later. COME. AAAAND if you're down for something a little more scandalous, this weekend I'll be guest-starring at the infamous NSFW: Hiphop Meets Striptease show at the Cobalt doing some dirty-ass rap stuff. So ya know. Still a few shows here and there for ya nerrrrrve while I'm wrangling all this other biznatch.

WITH THAT - sincere and MANY many thanks to each and every fabulous soul for the continued support in the mission to spread all that we do and love, DIY style. I'm insanely endebted to you. Thank you. :)

That's it for meow... stay tuned. Gonna be a helluva year.

kisses 'n kuffs,

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Sisters in Sass - Congrats to Luciterra Dance

This week I wanted to take a sec and give some love to a crew I greatly admire in the Vancouver performance scene, Luciterra Dance Company.

If you are unfamiliar with Luciterra's work, they are incredible human beings who have worked tirelessly to hone their craft and particular style of American Tribal Style belly dance. Not only do they perform mind-blowing shows, they also teach a multitude of classes (you can find them at the Vancouver Burlesque Centre) and have fostered their own community within the city of lovely lady loves with dance stars in their eyes. They regularly re-invest in their professional development as dancers and have been strong social justice advocates for as long as I've known them. This year they have finally incorporated as a Worker's Cooperative, and operate as a consensus-based and non hierarchical collective.

It is very rare to find a group of people who are so communally committed to being involved in every decision process and creation stage of a project. This is an insane amount of dedication and I really admire and respect the work that has been put into it. It is truly teamwork at its most ideal.

I am quite pleased and honoured to be performing at their 5 Year Anniversary show on Saturday night at a little known hidden gem in the city, Sideshow Studios. This is a performance and circus community hub on 2nd Ave, and there will be a multitude of fantastical showpeepz doin' their thing.

Performances by:
Crystal Precious (that's me!)
Chris Murdoch
Yuki Ueda
Students from Luciterra's school
Scarlet Lux
Nicci (Tha Fae)
Candance Aldridge Sanchez

w/ DJs K-Tel & Pollinator

Sideshow Studios (15 W 2nd Ave, Vancouver)
Doors 8pm, Show begins at 9pm
$10 - $20 Sliding Scale (fundraising for Luciterra to go to India to study dance)  

You can watch a multitude of videos of their work but I really recommend that you try to see it in person. I am always astounded by their level of poise, professionalism and straight up HOTNESS.

See you there on Saturday!!


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Oktoburlesque - Blast From The Past

Just peformed at the fabulous Beerlesque IV at the Vancouver Roundhouse Community Centre (which was AMAZING) and was reminded of our debaucherous past...

Enjoy.... we sure did. :) YAHH??


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Hallowe'en Costume Tip Vlog featuring Little Miss Risk

YUP...  Vlog #3 Sasspots! Featuring the fabulous Little Miss Risk on Hallowe'en Costume Tips! Learn from our pain. LEARN. :)


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Crystal Precious - Performance Video at Wiggle 20

Just to mix it up.. a lil sumfin sumfin showin' ya my stage game these days....
Courtesy of ONOSHI DIDNT... thank gah she did! Taped at Wiggle 20, June 2014.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Positive Thinking vs. Turning A Blind Eye

Ummmkkay. So I was joking around this week with my current fabulous and handsome man Carnie, who is a Maritime transplant, about how my transition from Winnipeg to Vancouver involved the slow but sure addition of quinoa to my diet, yoga to my schedule and hiking to my weekends. I do like to note hat I've always been a very spiritually aware person, however, as has he, so that component of West Coast culture isn't new for either of us... that being said, we both agree that spiritual practice is preferable when authentic and unsullied by trendiness or false motivations. To be honest that DOES seem a little more rampant over here. Considering that we both run with festival crowds and other hippies fairly constantly, albeit those who wear lipstick and wield ninja swords, we have both encountered our fair share of the latter type of "enlightened" mindset ...or marketing campaign. ;)

Me n' Carnie Bear 
I generally tend to accept that type of thing in the hopes that its part of a larger process towards overall radness and consciousness in society. One thing, tho, that Carnie observed and pointed out really rang true to me... and that is about how more and more, he is noticing a distinctive intolerance for discussing anything perceived to be "negative" or "drama".  Even things that are important, and that need to be addressed. This got me thinking about how much I too had participated in turning on my blinders, and whether I was doing that under the guise of achieving a more "positive" mindset, when really what I was doing was avoiding inconvenience. Hrrrrrrmmmm.

To be fair, I do understand why some people shut off and put up boundaries here and there when their feelings become debilitating and therefore impede any action towards making things better. Some are super sensitive and require certain preparations to receive information like that.  I also understand why people choose to avoid hearing about things they feel disempowered around, like say bigger global issues, because it will only "upset them" with little to no result. My take on it is that there is always SOMETHING that can be done, even if its small, even if its just in our own backyard... and that if you are sensitive, you can always draw a boundary that involves revisiting the issue when you are better equipped to do so. I do understand those frames of mind. What I worry about is when people just straight-up don't want to acknowledge negativity because its inconvenient or unpleasant to them and it interrupts their day... because that to me is very dangerous.

I really think there is an important difference between the very awesome practice of maintaining a positive outlook on life, and the un-awesome practice of people becoming deliberately ignorant of very real negative issues happening that need attention in order to be resolved. (That last one I'm not into, by the way, in case you haven't guessed.) I feel like there are everyday systems in our current world breeding that last tendency, and I wanna take a sec to take a look at that, because negativity in that context, in my opinion, can be a super important catalyst for change. Straight up, its like a red flag that something is wrong. And while I do believe that people can be indulgent and defeatist in their negative attitudes about what can be done, which is never any fun, I do believe that there is an inherent value in remembering that just because something has negativity attached to it doesn't mean it should be ignored.

This meme, which despite using very aggressive and irritatingly generalizing language, still manages somewhat to sum up the mis-conception I'm talking about here. To me, this sort of outlines the confusion between "negative thoughts" and the negative emotions or reactions that come from our experience of reality.

Now. Let me say right out of the gate that I am a proponent of many belief systems that could be considered "New Age".. but I strongly dislike that term and its uselessness as far as giving merit or specificity to the intent behind adopting such beliefs. I much prefer the term "conscious", because it does not infer ignoring anything, negative or not, yet for me still includes the concept of awareness around some of the more metaphysical laws of the universe.

Next. For me there are two levels of acknowledging and dealing with negativity... 1) honest assessment and emotional reaction to negative situations, and 2) choosing to be either positive or negative about what comes next. In regards to the first, which is what I perceive to be getting locked out: how the fuck are you going to know what needs to be changed or acted upon if you never let anything unpleasant or inconvenient penetrate your mind-frame?  In my opinion, fully acknowledging the emotions that arise in the face of tragic or upsetting reality is the key to change. And yes, the proper assessment of any issue, and one's position on it, involves fully delving in and admitting to feeling angry or shitty about it. I certainly have witnessed the power that emotions can have over duty or logic in the drive to act. How are you going to be motivated to make those changes, or help to make them, unless you allow yourself to have an unpleasant emotional reaction around that? I like to think that most of the people I know actually want to improve some of the shittiness in the world, including the mind-frames and broken hearts of friends who are experiencing tragedy and loss.

Here's where I think the lines get blurry... once those situations are processed and assessed as to how they truly make you feel -- negativity be damned --  its what you do with that information next that I think can be directed in either in an empowered / positive way, or in a defeatist / negative way. THAT is where the choice to be negative or positive comes in, and THAT I think is what many "New Agers" talk about when they talk about "being negative". Please note that THAT is much different than avoiding all negative situations. And yet the confusion persists... and I want to examine why.

There's a lot of people who subscribe to the idea that constantly having negativity in their digital window is going to turn people off or make them more "unpopular" with their "friends". Honestly, I think that's a pretty fair assessment. But I think that has less to do though with people not caring and more to do with the way Facebook is set up. I realize that Facebook can be used as a (less and less) effective tool to get important messages out or share our work and thoughts, but for the most part, people use it as entertainment, or to keep up on light "surface" type aspects of their friends' lives. So they aren't always in a mind-frame to receive information about how their friends are sick, or heartbroken because their mom died, or, say, how Stephen Harper is ruining our country, when it pops up amidst pictures of sister's vacation or singing cats. You weren't mentally prepared for that. Its inconvenient and unpleasant and it sticks out. And you know that other people are probably feeling that too, so you don't whine or say anything "negative" or "dramatic" on your wall. Everyone suddenly becomes their own censor of anything but "everything is awesome" - ummm, cough cough quote from recent KIDS movie about evil dictatorship -- and this is ESPECIALLY true if you want to keep showing up in people's feeds... because now, people can simply "unfollow" you. And in fact, they are encouraged too. Slowly but surely, all traces of "negativity" are disappearing in our online interactions - and I believe our tolerance for the pains of in real life, our empathy, and our willingness to confront issues is being trained to lessen as well. Add the constant bombardment of a capitalist culture constantly attempting to dictate our desires around luxury, pleasure and convenience...  well fuck. "Don't worry about the negativity of this global issue... just let us deal with it!! Go on, enjoy your champagne and cat memes and take a selfie." Rrrrright. Hmm.

meanwhile, while everyone's "avoiding negativity"....
I do think that Facebook CAN be used as a tool for organizing people, discussions and spreading information (although as I mentioned earlier that seems to be more and more difficult). I don't think the solution is to start uncensoring ourselves on it or just to stop using it altogether... I'm not sure that will even work at this point. I think the solution is to KEEP CONSCIOUS of the fact that a sugar coated digital funhouse mirror of real life is just that -- slanted. And that "negativity" is a very real part of life, but that doesn't mean you don't have to dwell on it in a non-solution based manner. You don't have to indulge in the futile-ness of it all and suck people into a black hole of yuck. But I think its healthy -- and necessary -- to have a minute to think, hey, this sucks. It really, really sucks. Something needs to change. Then you can move on to the part where you start figuring out what change looks like and how you can be involved.

PS: Stephen Harper is an ASSHOLE, and its time to do something. This China thing? WHAT THE FAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK. Gonna look into it and get back to you on what action is going to look like for me.... Cuz seriously. Time to impeach a bitch.   OVER IT.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward this weekend to mulling that over while I dance raucously to all the freshy-fresh newness in the electronic music world at New Forms Festival. I'm not even gonna pretend I know who any of the artists are, but honestly, that's kinda the point. I do know who Max Ulis, Michael Red & Malcolm Levy are (some of the curators) and my faith in them over the years has just SLIGHTLY resulted in the discovery of some of my favourite music and people on the planet. So ya know. Not the biggest gamble ever exactly. Plus, it's at Science World. How much of a better location can you get? PUHLAAAAAAAAAYSE.

Thank goodness for art. Thank goodness for beautiful men. Thank goodness for cookies.

Thank goodness for amazing cocktail lounges where I can take my clothes off and sing about pie, as I will tonight and every Thursday. Because the way some people used to act towards me for being a super sexual being was kind of negative.  Now its better. :)

kisses n' kinkz