Our first Sparkly Devil Memorial Scholarship recipient, Goldie Candela, shares her experiences studying with the legends of burlesque at the 2014 BHoF Weekender.
As someone who is a complete burlesque history nerd, being named the first recipient of the Sparkly Devil Memorial Scholarship was a dream come true. I was given the honor of being a guest of the Burlesque Hall of Fame expressly to learn.
The Burlesque Hall of Fame Finishing School, sponsored by BurlyCon, offered classes taught by some of the greatest burlesque legends. The classes were created for a chance to not only learn moves and techniques from each legend, but in my experience, it truly gives one a chance to learn about the lives of these remarkable women. They talk about why they started stripping, how long they had performed, what the world was like “back in the day”, as well as telling cautionary tales and giving advice on how to continue “the tease” as the world around us changes.
Having women like Gypsy Louise, Tai Ping, Holiday O’Hara, Judith Stein, and one of my all-time favorite women, 2014 Legend of the Year, Ms. Toni Elling, give their time to educate the growing burlesque community is priceless. They speak as well as listen to our questions and, in some cases, our personal stories, and this is exactly what every attendee of BHoF should be experiencing. Forget the tiara. The competition was created only to help boost attendance to the Hall of Fame, to help preserve our history, and remind the world that burlesque is still here and never left.
Gypsy Louise taught us the importance of concealing and building tension using a negligee or a duster — “Save it for the end”, she would say. Holiday O’Hara had us focusing deep within ourselves and using that focus as a mental exercise to help find and project the power that we all possess as living beings. Since being home, I have now used this exercise before each show and the difference of focus and energy in my routines feels like night and day. One of the best warm-ups you can do for yourself is focus on you and the power you possess. Only with this can you truly command your audience.
Judith Stein’s class helped teach me that no matter what the current fad in costuming may be, or even choreography, at the end of the night you must be you on that stage and no one else. You should learn from your peers but never be a copy of someone else. Find the move that you love and make it yours. Be a “SELF-made stripper”. Miss Toni Elling teaches more than movements, she teaches you to remember to enjoy yourself. Have fun on that stage and love your audience. Through her “Parade, Pose, and Peel” class she helps you do just this, while helping you to project the “Lady” within.
As the scholarship recipient, I had the honor of being one of the Legends’ escorts for the weekend. I was paired with a woman who can only be described as a dream. I will forever refer to her as “The Phoenix” of Burlesque. The one and only Venus of Dance, Dee Milo. Her heart, strength, knowledge, and story taught me lessons I still cannot put into words. I have made a friend for life and gained a mentor who will continue to challenge me by reminding me to “Feel it!”
I challenge next year’s recipient, as well as the rest of the community, to absorb the words of these legends. Embrace the education you are being gifted with. Get yourself in your seat for Friday Night’s Legends showcase; Titans of Tease is the show that exemplifies why we come together once a year and how we’ve come so far in keeping burlesque thriving through the decades. Wake up and get to the Legends panel! You can learn so much about yourself by hearing the voices and experiences of the past.
The team behind Burlesque Hall of Fame has made it their duty to ensure our community is given every chance to educate themselves first-hand on burlesque history. By creating the Master Classes and setting up the ‘Shimmy Shuttle’ that leaves from The Orleans to the Burlesque Hall of Fame museum several times a day, they make it so easy to submerse yourself in our culture and history.
I went with friend and fellow Austin Burly Q honey, Sherry Bomb, to the Museum in order to get my fill. To be surrounded by the past is a feeling I have always enjoyed. To see in person the costumes and photos of performers who came before us is an emotional experience. Then, as we turned to the last corner of the museum, I see the Sparkly Devil exhibit. It was breathtaking and highlighted her Pleasantville routine that she competed with in the 2011 Tournament of Tease. It was standing right beside the legends of the past filled me with even more love and admiration.
Leaving the museum it became clearer in my mind more than ever: One day some of us may be considered Legends of Burlesque. Our photos and costumes may stand right beside those of Jennie Lee and Dixie Evans. Let’s make sure there is still a place where future fans and performers may see them. It’s truly easy and honestly quite affordable, if I can afford it you can, to become a Member of the Burlesque Hall of Fame.
My experience is one I will never forget or take for granted. I left my first BHoF experience with a more empowered attitude within myself and a stronger passion for my own style of burlesque, not to mention having fallen more in love with our burly family, which I did not think was possible.
All my love,
2014 Sparkly Devil Memorial Scholarship recipient
The Sparkly Devil Memorial Scholarship was founded in 2014 to honor the memory of performer, mentor, and BHoF Legends Challenge founder Sparkly Devil, who passed away in 2013. In keeping with Sparkly’s efforts to build bridges between the legends of burlesque and the new generations of performers, the Scholarship allows a community member to attend the Weekender, take classes with the Legends, and act as an escort to a Legend for the entire four days. Recipients are selected based on a combination of need, community involvement, and willingness to learn from the Legends and pass that knowledge on to their peers. Applications for 2015 will open this fall; please visit http://bhofweekend.com/attend/sparkly-devil-memorial-scholarship/ for more information and to apply when the application goes live.