PAINTING FOR THE BACK ROW: Becoming Ursula

OK OK I DID IT.

Kinda. I’m actually not happy with how this turned out, figures that not performing for a year seriously hampers with my concept of how I prefer my Ursula to look. I’m seriously annoyed I didn’t bring the blue up much higher. Eh, I’ll film it again in a few months and see how that turns out!

As before, I’ve deliberately not mentioned most of the makeup I use. With a few exceptions that I did mention, the makeup I use isn’t even set in stone for me, nevermind the idea you MUST use the same makeup I use should you wish to do this look. Use what you have!

Now that I’ve finally done this, I want to do a few other ‘Painting For The Back Row’ videos, where I film putting on stage makeup for each of my acts. After I’ve completed that (in about 326 years at the rate I’m going!) I’ll redo Ursula. Sound good?

Oh, and my DIVINE nails are by my wonderful friend Jaki at Nova Nails. This was filmed one full week (and 5 days of autumn deep cleaning!) after application but as you can see, they still look wonderful. She didn’t know I would be filming like this, and it’s not an ad, I just wanted to show support to someone who has always been a caring, loving friend. I’m lucky she’s in my life. Check out her socials :

Nova Nails Facebook
Nova Nails Instagram

Catch you poor unfortunate souls later!

Don’t tell me I can’t call myself fat.

My actual reaction when someone tells me off

It’s a pet peeve. Whenever I refer to myself as fat in front of people, I immediately get a barrage of well intended admonishments.

You’re not fat, you’re curvy!

No. I carry more fat around my body than I should. Curvy refers to the body shape, not how much extra fat I have hanging around. People can be fat and curvy, fat and not curvy, curvy but not fat. The term curvy doesn’t equate to fat.

But you’re beautiful!

Why thank you! But just like the word curvy, being beautiful doesn’t mean I’m not fat. That extra fat doesn’t magically disappear when someone sees me as beautiful. The fat in my body is a physical certainty, an absolute fact of being. Beauty is more flexible, a preference in the eye of the beholder.

Don’t put yourself down!

Where did I do that? Calling myself fat is no different to commenting on the colour of my hair, my eyes or my height. It’s a noun with no nefarious purpose past what cultural norms pins on it. If you personally think fat is a bad word, maybe examine why you feel that way instead of telling me what I shouldn’t call my own body. That is more about you than me.

You’re being so negative!

How so? Let’s try something. Oh no – the term ‘dry skin’ is now considered terrible, horrible and no good. Imagine telling someone who has flaky skin that they shouldn’t say dry skin but ‘dehydrated’. Let’s see what the response is when you tell them how beautiful they are because of their sensitive skin. Sounds stupid, doesn’t it? Again, that negativity you ascribe to a word is external to what the word actually means. Fat is just descriptor and without additional negative context surrounding it, it’s silly to assume the person using it is meaning it in a detrimental way.

Does this look like a person who is being negative?

I get it. I understand and appreciate that you’re trying to make sure I don’t put myself down and we’ve all been conditioned to have an immediately adverse reaction to the merest mention of the word fat. I also get that every single one of us is guilty of using self deprecation as method of self harm and most people – especially with the people I (gratefully) surround myself – are sensitive to that. So yeah, I truly do appreciate that trying to remove the word from my vocabulary comes from a good place. In the end though, telling me not to do or say something is still harmful. I’m sure you don’t realise it, because I didn’t for the longest time, but silencing my voice, telling me I shouldn’t use the word I deliberately chose is wrong. It’s unconsciously reinforcing both the word fat as a negative term and that I need to care more about what others think about me than what I think about myself.

Not so shrinking violet over here!

Putting it like that might seem harsh – but it is fair. Yes, words absolutely matter. Yes, we should be more aware of the power of words but equally we should be aware of the power we give to words. When I call myself fat, I’m simply stating a fact, not deliberately putting myself down or looking for validation. Please don’t feel the need to tell me why I’m wrong, and just let it be.

I’m fat. I’m also 5ft 4in, a dyed redhead, gothy, (yes) curvy, music lover, sore all the damn time, friendly, shy, a homebody and sarcastic as fuck. All this and more. It’s ok to call myself all that. I’m ok with it. Please, be ok with it too.

Mama Silverside is trying. Very, very trying.

I love burlesque. I love being in the audience, love watching videos on social media, love seeing people create and grow in their own artistry. Mostly I adore being on stage and feeling a particular power in having the room in the palm of my hand. I wish all the time I could do it more. And yet, I’ve never evolved past feeling like a newbie, a fraud even. I’m stuck on not believing I am worth even paying because I’m just not good enough. I’ve relied on only doing friend’s shows when they ask, and never go out my way to apply for different shows after I was knocked back a few times in my early days of performing. I let it affect my confidence and just didn’t bother trying again. I know, rationally, that it’s normal and I can’t be what all producers need, but emotionally I let it fester and really I do know better than that.

There’s also certain shows I can’t perform at for reasons that are frankly boring if you’re not me – and I’m ok with it, but I think I’ve also used that as an excuse to not try to get on other cast lists. I worried that people would question my credibility if I wasn’t ever on on the local, regular burly nights. I didn’t want to get into why I wasn’t because it is wholly inappropriate and unprofessional to do that. I assumed people would want to know and I just didn’t want to add to the drama that sometimes infects this otherwise wonderful scene. Basically, I had no proof that it’d even be an issue but I used it as an excuse not to try. That’s on me, not the reasons I used.

Truthfully I’ve used the physical issues I have to not try too. That’s not to say these issues aren’t serious or worth worrying about – but I held on to the fear of further injury while celebrating my friends who push past their own obstacles with determination and strength. I will always cheerlead for those incredibly powerful people who make their complications their bitch. Then I go home, feel bad about not being strong enough and I spiral into feeling more like a fraud and less like someone who can navigate the road to actually being a regular performer. So I don’t. I wallow. Boss move, me.

I think the worst thing I do is complain about it all the damn time. Seriously, I know I’m boring my friends with the constant ‘woe is me’ complaints about wishing I could perform again – especially when I do literally nothing to change that, because I use the aforementioned excuses not to try anyway. I know I’m doing it when I’m doing it but it’s almost like I want people to know the desire is still there but I just can’t. But it’s not that I can’t. Not really. Confession – it’s won’t and I need to accept that I’m doing it to myself. Is the desire still really there when the one thing stopping me is my own self sabotage?

Well, yes. The first step is realising the problem, right? I recognise that I have underlying health issues that definitely affect this particular conundrum. Yes, I do have mental and physical complications that I need to work around. I just need to actually work around them – not use them as a stop sign. I literally just don’t know how to do that yet. How to get out of the mental block of giving up already. How to stop using the excuses that have been a crutch for so long. And learn – finally – how to actually push to get into shows. Not to take it so hard when it doesn’t happen.

Wish me.. not luck. Wish me a kick up the back side. And maybe point me in the direction of producers who would cast a hopelessly out of her depth, but tries really hard, comedy and character plus size stripper?

womp womp

MCM ended up being a bit of a bust. I was too sore to do the cosplay thing, and I ended up only going on the Sunday and walking around on my crutch and on my own under a hat of shame.

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It’s not the hat’s fault really, I just felt sorry for myself. Cue sad violin. The hat is fabulous.

Still, it was pretty inspiring. Even though I wasn’t the only one wandering around in my civvies, it was total carnival of different fandoms and genres, and everyone was just in it to celebrate! It was encouraging that even most of the traders were in similar spirit, dressing up and enthusiastic about their own passions. Everyone seemed to be in deep and joyful conversation, and I wish I’d made a drinking game for the amount of ‘free hugs’ signs I seen! Or maybe not – alcohol poisoning isn’t cute.

After a while, I realised I was starting to feel the strain of walking around and I was lucky enough to nab a front seat to the Sunday Masquerade. For those (like myself) who’ve never been to a show like this, a Masquerade is part talent show, part costume design critique. There was a panel of judges and although not everyone was entered to ‘compete’ (some just wanted to celebrate their costume) the audience went out of our collective minds for each person and group to go on stage. The littlest geeks went up in costume with proud parents for applause and cheers, then the teens braved the stage before the contest portion started. I can now die knowing I’ve watched Winifred Sanderson perform ‘I’ve Got A Spell on You’, as well as seeing two of the happiest guys I’ve ever seen take about a minute and a half getting up the 4 steps to the stage in an AT-AT costume, panto horse style. It was the most I’ve laughed in ages! Overall, the level of dedication and talent was completely mind-blowing and I walked stumbled back home with a reinvigorated attitude to making the time in my life to create.

Since then, I’ve performed my last burlesque show I can for about a year. It was bittersweet, and probably something I’ll talk about soon. What going to MCM did for me though, was encourage me to continue making my costumes (up to the last minute!) better for the show, even though it’ll be a long time before I can use them again. I finally made a tentacle skirt for Ursula that is worthy of the diva she is, and I rhinestoned practically everything I could for Harley Quinn. She may be criminally insane, but she likes her guns to be wicked sparkly! It helped to see so many people making these costumes for the joy of making and wearing them, not just to perform. Think about it – some of those cosplayers will have spent 100+ hours on a costume they only plan on wearing once, so I should dedicate at least that to something I’ll eventually wear again.

Now I’m just waiting on my ankle surgery to happen so I can get working on getting back to normal. In the meantime, I’ll be creating. I’ve got the excuse of Halloween coming up, and I’ve already started on that! I’ll hopefully write about the process soon. Want a sneak peek? Of course you do!

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I’ll be working on it more today, check out my Instagram for updates!
Until next time,

Sig

Mama’s first convention!

Hey guys, today I’m trying to sort out what I’m going to be doing for my very first con! I keep wanting to go but life gets in the way. Damnit, life! This time though I’m definitely absolutely for sure going to MCM!

Thanks to a lovely friend who accidentally bought 2 weekend tickets, I’ve finally got the chance to dress up and go along. Since I’ve not performed in a while, I’m excited about the prospect of getting creative and being surrounded by people who are as passionate and excited about their hobbies as I am! To me, burlesque and cosplay are very similar in that you really need to love what you do, the artistic pay-off is more important than financial gain. Your blood, sweat and tears go into your project as a way of expressive release. I miss that right now.

So, I’m doing 2 cosplays for MCM. Maybe, maybe 3. Luckily, I’m surrounded by friends who are experienced cosplayers who have already helped me in creating costumes for stage wear. In particular, Psyclone Jack (who has had experience in both burlesque and cosplay) has been a tremendous help in the construction of costumes. I’d totally recommend seeking him out for commissions if you want an awesome costume made!

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On Saturday I’ll be wearing my Ursula costume – with a few changes! When I made my costume I didn’t put much effort into making it comfortable, since I wouldn’t be wearing it long. This has been the impetus to improve on the costume, and make changes that will be both appropriate for long term wear and still easily removable. There will be more rhinestones too obviously! I figure that improving on the long term wear of the costume will increase the overall sturdiness of it, since I’ll also be taking it in and out of suitcases, different shows etc. Ursula comes in a few different parts, which I want to maintain. So far, she comprises of;

  • bra
  • underbust corset
  • pasties
  • wig
  • underskirt
  • stuffed tentacles
  • boa
  • fishnet tights (geddit?)
  • knickers

ursula

I decided not wear shoes for this routine, mostly out of necessity since my ankle is *bleep*ed, but I’d like to have something on my feet. I know the joke is that burlesque performers are a hardier bunch that can withstand the grottiest conditions, but I’d rather not test that theory too much! For the convention, I’ll be wearing simple ballet flats, and my focus will be on the skirt and bra. I’ll be making a hoop skirt (using this brilliant tutorialand sewing my tentacles onto the band of the skirt, attaching the length of them to the skirt by loosely tacking them to the hoops so they still move around a bit. I’ll be bedazzling the tentacles with black glossy sequins and flatback rhinestones, and attaching purple or lilac flatback pearls to the purple part of the tentacles. For the bra, I’ll also be covering it with the same black sequins and rhinestones I used on the tentacles. I’ve not decided if the underskirt should be purple or black though – what do you think? I’m also thinking about combining barefoot sandals and nude padded footsies, but since I won’t have to do that for the con I’ll discuss that another time! I also think I’ll forego wearing the corset and have the skirt connected to the bra with snap poppers. I think having the hoop width start just below my bust will give me the extra Ursula shape, so to speak! I’m excited to see how it’ll all pan out!

I’ll discuss my other cosplay in another post, but to give you a clue – dang dawg, inapprops!

Sig