mia loves henry miller
Letter 7 – Burlesque and the Rich and Zany Butterball
12/9/2011 8:13 a.m.
“The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.” —Henry Miller
Dear Henry Miller,
My foot is still fucked up, throbbing, aching, and extremely irritating! Another day of pain and confinement to the couch – pain and confinement might be nice in some circumstances, but this is not one of them! I’d really like to paint either on the mural project, or work on a portrait that I’ve been painting for weeks, which will be a part of the mural collection. My goal is to get it done by Christmas. I will eventually tell you more about this project in a future letter.
I’m surprised that I have had the chance to tell you this much, so far. I will transcend my agony into ecstasy by writing to you today. It often takes me being sick or in serious pain for me to slow down, as if the Universe is demanding me to rest and rejuvenate. I’m doing my best to rest, but, it’s hard. I want to do something versus nothing. Right now, I’m compelled to write. I’m very much like my Korean mother. When I was younger she was always on the go – always having somewhere to be or something to do. I don’t know how she ever fit in everything she did into one day.
I don’t know why I put off writing to you for so long? I have thoroughly enjoyed writing these letters to you over the past week. I think MJ unlocked something inside me when we played and partied last Saturday night. I found a new sense of freedom. I’m glad that I can share my time with you with these written letters. You have been in my mind, spirit and thoughts for many years. I love your writing! I love your paintings! I love your passion! I love your wisdom! For almost a decade, these letters have been stuck and buried deep inside of me, my thoughts always writing letters to you in my mind, as I have experienced my life through my eyes. I have collected and read so many of your books over the course of the years. I have also purchased books by Anais Nin, Erica Jong, Lawrence Durrell, Emil White, and many author authors who were in your circle of friends, or authors who have wrote about you when you were alive and dead. I’ve even been to the Henry Miller library in Big Sur, California several years ago.
It might seem weird to you that I am publishing these letters via a blog on the internet. I think you would have enjoyed the modern wonders of the world and the easy access to information. The computer is an amazing vehicle to write with. We have come a long ways since the invention of the typewriter. I love technology and try not to fear using it.
We are near the holidays and certain memories come alive in my mind, as if sexy sugar plum fairies dancing in frilly butt panties with pasties on, inside my head. It’s been almost a decade since I began performing the art of burlesque. I had been doing a form of burlesque at the nightclub which I had been a Go–Go dancer, a few years prior. I began performing with the very first troupe that formed in Minneapolis. It was an amazing time for all of us in the cast! Everyone was extremely full of talent! We were gaining a lot of recognition and were asked to perform for so many events. I remember when I first started, how the troupe founder, who I will call Miss Z for Zany, could be very interesting, intriguing, entertaining. Her personality was like an acquired taste for me – like learning to like the taste of liver and onions – which I genuinely like now. It just took me awhile to get used to her style. Yet, even though her personality was sometimes as irritating as nails on a chalk board, I had to admire her and the tenacity it took to run a fantastic show on such a frequent basis. Miss Z reacquainted burlesque into the Twin Cities.
We were performing shows two to three times per week, every week. I really liked her deep down. However, at the time I knew her, I was too young to appreciate her for who she was. I could have taken a deep breath in, exhaled, stepped back from myself, and observe her like a character in a play or movie. Instead, I took it personal and involved my ego and emotions – but, that fueled me to create my own vision of a modern burlesque show, which I am grateful for. It wasn’t until years after I quit Miss Z’s show and was running my own burlesque show, did I begin to appreciate the humor in everything and not take life and people so seriously.
“Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such.” –Henry Miller
It was New Year’s Eve. Our burlesque show was booked to entertain the upper crust residents and celebrities in the Twin Cities. We were to entertain the rich and glamorous at the Weisman Museum in Minneapolis – The celebrated Butter Ball. The snowfall on this night was fast, heavy, flakey, wet and cold! The roads were slippery, slicked with ice and snow. I felt awkward – as if a peasant, following a long line of so many well dressed ladies, in my fake fur coat, which only cost me $7 at Goodwill. I was young and insecure, feeling inferior while observing an assortment of decadent women wearing long, expensive gowns which floated beneath their full length, real fur coats – their wrists, fingers, and earlobes glittering with shiny gold or silver metal, rhinestones, diamonds, and jewels. They walked like graceful Geishas, taking baby steps towards the museum’s entrance, hoping not to fall. Their feet, in a variety of shapes and sizes teetered on a thin sheet of ice, in an elegant array of designer heels, with their gentlemen dates nearby to help keep their balance with their embracing arms. Who I thought looked like fancy penguins in their black tuxedos, white shirts, and black bow ties. I’m not trying to make fun of them… I’m just being honest about what the scene looked like on this snowy, Minnesota night, and the awkwardness of the men’s slick and shiny dress shoes making them walk in small, slippery, unbalanced steps.
It took all of my energy to just hold my head high, entering the Weisman, pretending to not give a shit about my fake fur coat, and the extravagance of all the rich people who attended. I couldn’t understand why these people, with all their money, couldn’t afford to pay us to perform? However, we were a new show, only a few months old, doing anything we could to gain exposure. This was the perfect opportunity to reach a lot of people. We did what we had to do.
At the beginning of my burlesque career, I had long, black glossy hair, often worn Bettie Page style. It took me forever to keep the curl in my hair due to my heavy, silky strands of Asian hair. On this night, no curls would survive. The flakes of snow were wet and large. It wasn’t until later on in my career, with the help and advice from MJ and Drag Queens, that I learned about the benefits of wigs and hair pieces, and how this knowledge could have made life much easier back then.
Early on in my burlesque career, I was known for doing a classic feather fan dance and a balloon popping costume/number. My vintage dress for my fan dance was tight, form fitting, strapless, and glittering with thousands of shiny black sequins. I had saved for weeks to purchase it at an expensive antique store in Stillwater, Minnesota, one of my favorite Midwestern towns.
Mr. C would always accompany me to all of my burlesque shows, assisting me with such devotion, blowing up my huge amount of colorful balloons to pin onto my vintage lingerie. He would also assist the troupe with security issues and other tasks. He’s always lavished me with so much support, love and attention. I’m truly very fortunate! He still supports me at all of my shows.
This crazy night began while waiting to perform my first number, my feather fan dance. The show had already begun. I paced the floors in a room which had been converted into a dressing room for the night, waiting for my cue to perform. Only a few of us performers used this room. The rest of the large cast, were getting ready in another larger room. Suddenly, I heard Miss Z scream from the stage area, “What the fuck happened to the music?!” My jaw dropped open with shock. I thought to myself, “Shit! Strike one! We are failing to impress and exhibit class at such an extravagant event!” I didn’t imagine things could get worse or funnier.
12/9/2011 10:25 a.m.
I have been writing since 7:30 this morning. I need to take a break and elevate my foot. I might just watch the movie, The Help, before it expires on my Comcast account. I think it’s worth watching again.
12/9/2011 2:18 p.m.
I watched, The Help, for the second time, and still loved every bit of it.
It’s a feel good kind of movie – inspiring and encouraging me to continue on writing, even if I write about topics so revealing, forbidden, taboo. I’m beginning to feel the fire which fuels these letters. They warm me on this cold day. I feel joy!
Scene from the movie, The Help – Stuart says to Skeeter, “”I hope you write something good – something you believe in”
“The minute one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.” –Henry Miller
Back to the Butterball…
In our terrific cast of performers, we had several, talented female singers. One of them arrived late. She had another gig to perform at prior to this event. I’m unsure what happened when this performer arrived and after she performed on stage, which was amazing! A cat fight between Miss Z and this singer started. Crazy chaos broke loose on the small stage area! Soon there was scratching, clawing, hair pulling, punching, dragging and pushing. Strike two at attempting to make a great impression! I was horrified. Yet, when I think about it in present time, I burst out with a deep down in the gut, belly laugh.
We had another show to perform that night in the warehouse district, where we performed regularly. It started at 10p.m. Our cast scurried out the door quickly when our show ended, like Cinderella. We had so much to do in a short amount of time. No Fairy Godmother could save Miss Z from what would happen next. Miss Z rushed through the crowd, possibly intoxicated, possibly high on weed, or both, bumping into an older, rich woman who looked very offended and pissed off. “Excuse me!” This woman bellowed rudely at Miss Z. The room was extremely crowded, but Miss Z still managed to bend over, lift up her skirt, and say, “Kiss my fucking ass!” Strike three! If Miss Z was not who she was, I would not be here typing this awesome story about a tenacious woman who dares to live life bravely and in her own style. My smile is huge! And I’m thinking to myself about how much I enjoyed those days!
Cheers to you Miss Z!! Thanks for making life so interesting!
“Chaos is the score upon which reality is written.” –Henry Miller
Goodbye for now Henry.
P.S. I do this very fun, naughty burlesque number with a monkey puppet, which Mr. B bought me in San Francisco after visiting Big Sur. I thought the monkey puppet looked like you, because of the round, black rimmed glasses it wears. So I named him Henry Miller. He’s naughty, much like you were. I love performing this number on stage…