My first show back in 2004 was at Galapagos ArtSpace … located at the time in a glamorous former mayonnaise factory at the end of a mostly-deserted and entirely frozen-over block in still-semi-terrifying Williamsburg, Brooklyn. (In fact, it was backstage at that very first show that I met Veronika Sweet, "The Mafia Princess of Burlesque" - an incredible lady who eventually became my partner-in-crime-and-nudity for Sweet & Nasty Burlesque.)
A lot has changed since then, both with the 'scene' in NYC and with the art form itself and its place in the world. My own performance has changed drastically over the years: though some experiments have been far more successful than others, it has been a generally uphill journey. I'm proud of the work I have done, and truly excited at this point for the work that is to come.
There don't seem to be any pictures from that fateful evening in February of 2004 … which is probably for the best, given the tenuous grasp I had of the basic principles of stage makeup and burlesque costuming at the time. The oldest photos yielded up by the hard drive are from August, 2004 (and yes, they are pre-digital):
Photos by John Biavaschi (who, along with his lovely wife, came to almost every show)
Though I began performing with various shows here and there in NYC, from February through December of that first year my main experience continued to be at Galapagos: go-go on the bar from 1 to 3 am, every Friday night after the Floating Vaudeville show - frequently for an audience of up to four people. Gradually this became less go-go and more an extended, themed striptease (often to the DJ's confusion, but generally encouraged by the venue's booking manager, Willis).
At the time, the 'big' shows in NYC were weekends at The Slipper Room (where I saw my first show, a dream lineup featuring Julie Atlas Muz, Harvest Moon, and Lady Ace); Le Scandal; and the long-running Monday Night Burlesque at Galapagos. At one point, Willis complemented my performance after a go-go set, and I was emboldened to ask him when he was going to book me for Monday Night Burlesque.
"When you're good enough," he replied. "You're getting better, but I can't put you onstage with Amber Ray or World Famous BOB. Not yet."
To this day (and especially every time I get to share a stage with Amber or BOB), I am grateful to that man.