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4 Steps to Finding the Right Ticket Price

Ticket PricesFinding the right ticket price is tough, especially if you’re just starting out. Too high feels like a rip-off; too low feels like the event is undervalued. So what is the magic number?

With a little research and number crunching, you can find the “sweet spot” where audiences feel like they are getting a value and you walk away with a little cash in your pocket. Take these four steps to determine what to charge:

1. Figure Out Your Budget

Factor in costs: what you would ideally like to pay your acts, room fees (room rental, sound, lights, etc.) and promotional costs. Don’t forget to budget in payment for yourself. Depending on the draw, keep 20-25% of your profit.

Organizing a show is hard work and takes weeks of preparation. Often the work is done in your free time, outside of your day job. If you aren’t paid for your efforts, you will burn out quick. That said, if you have a poor turnout, cuts should come out of your take first. The artists did their jobs; your job was to bring people in the door. If you fail to do that, your pay should reflect it.

Once you have your total costs, calculate expected draw. If you have already put on some shows, this is easy. Look at past tickets sales and figure out the average attendance. Low-ball that number. In other words, base your costs on how much you would bring in with an “okay” turnout (half the capacity of the venue or even less). That way, on an off-night, you are prepared and if it is a great night, you are stoked.

2. Trim Costs

Before you set anything in stone, negotiate to cut your overhead costs. Is the venue’s sound person charging too much? See if you can hire one for less. How much is the venue charging for promotional costs and what does that include? Consider handling your promotion—many venues won’t do much more than include you in their listings. That said, there are venues that will distribute posters and actively promote your event, so do not assume that they are ripping you off.

Talk to the performers. Find out the least amount of money they need to do the show. Then offer a guarantee or a percentage of the door. Be honest. Don’t exaggerate your expected draw or promise more than you can deliver. Always keep any guarantees on the low end until you know you are going to have a successful night. Sometimes I will say, “I can offer you x amount but if we have a good night, I will get you more.” I have found that if you are honest and upfront, most performers will be willing to work with you. There will be some performers who won’t and that is OK–cut them for someone who will.

3. Do Research

Pick up your local alt-weekly and find out what similar shows charge in your area.

Look at the popularity of your acts. Have they received a fair amount of press? Do they have a large Facebook and/or Twitter following? Are they good at promoting? Also, check out their website and see what their shows typically cost.

What if you have a night full of acts with no regular draw? Still, no reason to undervalue your event. You just need to figure out a way to get people through the door. This is your job as an event organizer and producer. When you undervalue your event, it’s hard for audiences to see value in it. Make your events special and people will show up.

4. Set Your Door Price

Once you have all the numbers in place and know exactly how much the show is going to cost, set your cover. Of course, if you are hosting a bigger gathering like a festival or theater event, you can also include multiple price points such as VIP tickets, weekend passes or group discounts.

In the 80’s and 90’s punk rock world, fans considered any show over $5 a rip-off. Unfortunately, almost 30 years later, many producers (and audiences) still stick to that credo. Nobody makes money off a $5 cover in 2016 and it is not worth anyone’s time to perform for that amount. I think $10 should be the minimum ticket price for any event featuring live performance. Anything below that and you will barely cover your costs and walk away with nothing in your pocket.

No matter what you charge, if you are not putting effort into curating your acts and developing a solid promotional plan, folks aren’t going to show. It is rare that the cost of a ticket deters audiences from seeing a show they really want to see. They might complain but if they want to see it, they’ll pay for it, as long as it is within reason.

Your job is to make your event worth the price of admission, to put that extra effort into your productions, so audiences keep coming back.

How did you determine your ticket price sweet spot? Ring in with your advice in the comments.

Event Tips >

How to Build Brand Trust with Your Event Lineup


Love all different kinds of music? That’s great and all, but if you’re a festival organizer just starting out, you might want to refrain from including a diverse array of music in your lineup.

Here’s why.

Many nascent festival organizers think booking a wide variety of genres in their lineup will pull in an eclectic crowd and possibly sell more tickets. That’s a common mistake. Audiences want to know what to expect and be surrounded by folks with similar tastes.

Careful curation of acts keeps your brand consistent.

This isn’t to say that an event with a varied selection of acts can’t be successful, but generally, those festivals and events have already established themselves as a reliable brand. An event like Bonnaroo can get away with a range and feature hip-hop, indie rock and metal acts, but they’ve spent years building their brand. When they were starting out, their curation was dialed into jam bands and folk rock.

Pickathon in Happy Valley, Oregon is a strong example of a carefully curated event that established a reliable brand before branching out. Founded in the late 90s, Pickathon started as a party in the woods for like-minded music lovers.

While Pickathon was fairly laid-back in its early years, careful consideration was given to the acts that played the festival. Generally, they were acoustic, folk-inspired bands with “alternative” leanings—a genre that didn’t have many exposure outlets at the time.

Attract a Devoted Audience

By choosing gifted acts within a specific genre, they attracted a devoted audience that stayed faithful to the festival. Fans began to trust that the event organizers would deliver a quality lineup every year.

As the years progressed, this trust allowed Pickathon to become more adventurous with their booking while still drawing crowds. Once their identity was established, they didn’t have to rely as much on the bands or a specific genre to pull people; the people came because they trusted the festival to deliver quality acts year after year.

Now the festival features many bands that fall outside of the “acoustic” genre though it is still based heavily on acoustic-based acts. Audiences are turned on to incredible up-and-coming artists year after year. In fact, organizers estimate that 80 to 90 percent of Pickathon’s lineup consists of bands the audience is unfamiliar with.

It’s a testament to the quality of the lineup selection that audiences trust them to deliver their next new favorite band.

Find Your Identity  

BPT_Music_Festival _Graphic-01Careful, considered curation allows event organizers to dial-in their branding and discover their audience. While it may be tempting to be wildly diverse right out of the gate, your event will take longer to find an identity.

If you lack identity, it is hard for fans to identify your brand.

Be consistent in the beginning. Build trust. Once they trust your brand, expand your roster. Include acts that may fall outside your focal genre. Just make sure there’s something that will appeal to the audience you have built. They trust you to deliver, so don’t let them down.

Building that trust should be your number one goal as an event organizer. Once you have that, the sky is the limit.

Event Tips >

How to Build Intensity with Your Event Playlist

Music2_SqAs a producer and organizer of live music and cabaret events, nothing irks me more than going to a show and hearing house music that has zero to do with the event.

Know what I’m talking about? Sure you do. Ever been to hear your friend’s indie rock band and the sound person blares loud death metal over the system? Or you’re at a reggae show and they’re bumping 90’s techno?

Always Ask 

Most venues give very little thought to the house music. They usually just let the sound person pick something and that’s it. However if you ask (nicely), venues will let you provide your own.

Leave Expensive Stuff at Home

I don’t recommend smart phones for event music as they sometimes transmit static or you can forget that the ringer was turned on and it goes off at an inopportune time. Doh.

Burned CDs are the thing to bring. It won’t break your music-loving heart if they get lost, stolen or forgotten about. You’ll have enough to remember at the end of the night—thanking performers, equipment, paying people, merchandise. You might forget your iPod or $300 phone.

Also, every venue will be able to play a CD, but not every venue will have inputs for smart phones and iPods.

Start Mellow

Curate the experience starting the minute the crowd walks into the venue. If you’re doing a night with multiple acts, start out with mellow music. Folks are starting to arrive and socialize and haven’t even had time to get a drink yet. Maybe they’re still feeling a little insecure. Don’t assault them with loud music from the get-go. Let them adjust and feel comfortable.

Increase the Volume with Each Act

Gently increase the volume with each act to build tension.

For the headlining act, consult with the band or performer and see what kind of music gets them pumped, what artists were big influences and whether or not that music would translate to their audience. Many times, in the case of a music event, the music they’ll pick won’t be of the same genre but will complement the music that’s about to happen on stage. I like to pick something that has a driving beat but is fairly simple chordally, so that it builds tension and creates a sort of hypnotic effect.

Turn the lights down and immerse the audience. I encourage up to 10 minutes of dark lighting and loud house music. It may seem like forever, but all you’re doing is priming the audience, so that the minute the headliner hits the stage, they’re ready and focused. I usually tell the band to grab a drink or do some stretching during this build-up time. All performers could use a little extra time to get centered.

Curate the Experience

This technique works best for music events, but can also be a great build up for a burlesque show or comedy sets. For theatrical performances, keep the volume down and don’t choose something as driving. Most organizers know their audiences well and what kinds of music will stir their emotions.

Just remember to influence the audience’s experience from the minute they walk through the door. A lot of entertainment involves subtly helping the crowd to react in a certain way. House music is an important tool in that process and sadly ignored too often.

How do you create playlists for your events? Ring in with your tips in the comments.

Event Tips >

Help Burlesque Hall of Fame Shimmy Into a New Space

BHoF Big Reveal Brown Paper Tickets started working with the Burlesque Hall of Fame last year. We ticketed the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend in Las Vegas and launched the Burlesque Hall of Fame Fund that allows producers to raise money for the 501 (c)(3) nonprofit Las Vegas museum dedicated to preserving, celebrating and inspiring the art of burlesque. The current museum opened in 2006 and is located in a small, 220-square-foot storefront inside the Emergency Arts building in downtown Las Vegas. They’ve made great use of the space but with a total collection comprising over 3,500 artifacts, they are only able to display a small portion of their collection.

That’s all set to change in 2016.

The Big Reveal 

BHoF Executive Director Dustin Wax took The Orleans’ stage at last year’s BHoF Weekend to announce that they were close to finding a new space for the museum. And finally, just last week during BurlyCon, the final Board-approved lease was signed. The museum will include 3,000 feet of exhibition and program space. Located in Las Vegas’ art district, BHoF’s new home will provide room for rotating exhibitions. It will also include space for performances, readings, classes and events as well as offices, a retail gift shop and space to store, catalogue and preserve this incredible, one-of-a-kind collection.


Of course, there are significant costs involved in creating this new home. And so, BHoF launched “the Big Reveal,” (hashtag #bigreveal) a campaign to raise at least $50,000 to be used for the architectural design of the new interior spaces, professional wall construction, paint, lighting installation, signage, display cases, shelving and other installation supplies. Since this is a non-profit organization, powered by the generous donations of their supporters, they need help reaching this challenging financial goal.

So Many Ways to Help 

Luckily, if you’re a Brown Paper Tickets burlesque producer, you have a great tool to use for raising money: the Burlesque Hall of Fame Fund. The fund allows producers to add an additional $0.35 or $1.00 fee to their ticket price, of which 100% goes to the Burlesque Hall of Fame. Sign up your event and we’ll do the rest. Since launching the program in late January, we have raised over $1500 for the cause and we’d love to see that amount increase ten-fold. If you’re not an event organizer or would like to do even more, you can donate directly via their Indiegogo campaign, which includes some incredible perks.

The Burlesque Hall of Fame began on a converted goat farm in Helendale, California. The roadside museum contained memorabilia collected by celebrated burlesque performer Jennie Lee. After Jennie’s death in 1990, the collection was taken over by her friend Dixie Evans, who established the Miss Exotic World Pageant in Helendale. These small gatherings eventually became the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend, which now brings thousands of burlesque performers and fans from across the globe to Las Vegas every year.

artists rendering space

The collection was moved from Helendale to Las Vegas in 2005. After Dixie’s passing in 2013, a small group of volunteers took on the momentous task of preserving Jennie’s unique collection that included costumes, props, photos and more. In 2006, they moved into its current home in the Emergency Arts Building. I visited last year during the Weekend and they’ve made great use of the space. I was amazed at how much information and memorabilia they curated into displays in the tiny space and it will be incredible to see what other treasures they have archived, waiting to be revealed.

Help us make the Burlesque Hall of Fame Museum as glitzy and glamorous as the performers it celebrates. Add the Burlesque Hall of Fame Fund to your upcoming event, donate directly, share the hashtag, #bigreveal and help celebrate an often-overlooked but important piece of American entertainment history.

Arts >

New York Burlesque Festival Brings the Glitterati to Gotham

New York Burlesque Festival The glitterati is about to descend on the Big Apple in a flurry of sparkle, shimmies and smiles. The New York Burlesque Festival celebrates its 13th anniversary, September 24 to 27 with a fabulous line up of legends, queens, kings, international talent and burlesque up-and-comers. Since 2003, the festival has boasted sold-out crowds and this year is shaping up to be another big one.

Founded by Jen Gapay of Thirsty Girl Productions and bonafide burlesque superstar Angie Pontani and featuring over 100 international burlesque and variety performers, it is one of the largest burlesque festivals in the world.

“The festival is an amazing and totally unique opportunity to see some of the best burlesque entertainers from around the world, right here in NYC.” says Angie Pontani. “Not only can audience members take in five amazing shows, they can shop, take classes and mingle with our amazing cast of stars. This festival gives a tantalizing taste of all the different styles and genres of performance within burlesque.”

All burlesque fans will love this luscious and star-studded line up: Dirty Martini, Midnite Martini who won Miss Exotic World 2014. Burlesque legend Judith Stein, boylesque legend Tigger!, founder of the legendary New York School of Burlesque, Jo “Boobs” Weldon, 2012’s Mr. Exotic World Russell Bruner, as well as Mr. Gorgeous, 2014 “Best Boylesque” winner at the Burlesque Hall of Fame. And this is just a tantalizing tidbit of what New York audiences will be treated to.

Brown Paper Tickets is proud to offer 4-day VIP passes for the festival. Get your tickets now.

PS. Event Industry Mixer + Burlesque Happy Hour

Brown Paper Tickets is hosting two free gatherings in New York at the same time as the festival and I’ll be at both. Come out Thursday, September 24 to meet our local NYC crew and soak up event ideas, suggestions, insights on how to best ticket and promote your events. It’s at Haylards in Brooklyn, just around the corner from the festival’s opening night venue. More details.

We would love to see our burlesque friends at Brown Paper Tickets burlesque happy hour (Sept. 27) at the Tippler during the New York Festival Burlesque Bazaar. Cocktails and conversation will be flowing. Mingle with burlesque performers, luminaries and event organizers. Enter our drawing for event tickets. RSVP now.

Arts >

BHoF Weekender Hits, Highlights and Big Winners

burlesque-hall-of-fame-weekenderBrown Paper Tickets is proud to have handled ticketing for the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekender, the annual gathering of the glitter tribe in Las Vegas, June 4 to 7. This was my first year attending the Weekender and it was a fantastic opportunity to meet many of our burlesque producers and performers in person.

Sunday night’s co-host Ernie Von Schmaltz dubbed the event “summer camp for sexy weirdos.” That’s definitely a fitting description. But to me it’s more of a big, glittery family reunion as I get to catch up with performers I’ve worked with or have seen perform.

Titans of Tease

I missed Thursday night’s Movers, Shakers & Innovators Showcase, but I did catch Friday night’s 58th Annual Titans of Tease Reunion Showcase, which featured burlesque legends from the 50s, 60s and 70s.

Early burlesque performers were often outcasts from mainstream society and even mistreated by family members. One shared a story of how, in the early 1960s, her religious mother made her burn all her burlesque costumery. She obeyed. Years later, while looking through her grandmothers’ attic, her daughter found the one dress that wasn’t lost. She performed her routine for the showcase in that dress and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house (including mine).

These ladies live loud and age isn’t slowing them down. It must feel so empowering for the performers, now in their 70s, 80s or even 90s (the oldest dancer was 93) to be celebrated and looked at as role models. Our charming, graceful host, The World Famous BOB summed it up. “These women are redefining what it means to age as a woman in our society.”

Tigger’s Talkshow

On Saturday afternoon, I caught Tigger’s “Let’s Have A Kiki” live daytime talk show. Tigger cracks me up. The show featured interviews with Burlesque Beat founder J.D. Oxblood, famed burlesque photographer Don Spiro and performances by Edmonton, Alberta’s River City Revue.

Saturday night’s show was the 25th Annual Tournament of Tease hosted by fellow Seattleite and old friend Armitage Shanks, the Carny Preacher. At five hours long, it was a marathon of a performance, but as a testament to the quality, it didn’t seem long.

And the Winners Are…


Keep your eyes out for the best of burlesque, performing around the world. They’re well worth your time.

Best Debut
Zelia Rose – Melbourne, Australia

Best Small Group
The Original Twins (Paris Original & Trojan Original) – Seattle, Washington

Best Boylesque
Matt Finish – Tucson, Arizona

Best Large Group
Jenny Rocha & Her Painted Ladies – Brooklyn, New York

And, finally, the Reigning Queen of Burlesque, the winner of Miss Exotic World 2015 is:
Trixie Little – New York, New York.

Trixie killed it in her banana dress. She has been a large presence in the burlesque scene since 2002, when she debuted as part of the award-winning acrobatic burlesque superduo Trixie Little & The Evil Hate Monkey. Since then she’s performed with John Waters & The Flaming Lips and was featured on season 4 of “America’s Got Talent.” Not only that, she’s been a mentor and inspiration for many within the community. Way to go Trixie.

Meanwhile, at the Pool …

DSCN2086I was able to duck into Sunday’s pool party for a bit and enjoyed the killer tunes being spun by Gigi & Pop (New York, New York) while taking in the poolside fashions of the glitterati. Good times.

Sunday night’s show was the Icons & All-Stars showcase hosted by Ernie Von Schmaltz and Victoria Deville. This show featured past winners of BHoF’s past as well as the presentation of the Sassy Lassy Awards to burlesque pioneers.

The Sassy Lassy was the name of the bar that legendary tassel twirler, Jennie Lee and her husband owned in California. Lee was a veteran of the 1950’s burlesque scene, known for inviting all her burlesque friends around for impromptu performances. Purportedly, one morning after picking up stripper refuse from a wild night with her friends, she started nailing bras, gowns, pasties and g-strings to the wall, creating the Burlesque Hall of Fame Museum’s first home. The first BHoF gathering took place in that same bar in 1965, creating the tradition that celebrated its 50th anniversary with this year’s Weekender.

Making this Weekender extra special, Dustin Wax, Burlesque Hall of Fame President announced that they will open the museum in a new space in downtown Vegas, expanding their square footage by 20 times and allowing them to (finally) put their large collection on display. From a dive bar in San Pedro to a legitimate museum in Las Vegas, BHoF’s come a long way, baby.

For more detailed coverage of the weekend, visit Burlesque Beat and 21st Century Burlesque. If you’re a burlesque event organizer or performer who wants to support the Burlesque Hall of Fame, check out our Burlesque Hall of Fame Fund, which allows you to add an additional fee to your ticket price, 100% of which goes directly to the nonprofit museum. Or donate directly.

That’s a wrap. Can’t wait until next year’s Weekender.

Photo credit:  Museum interior photo courtesy of the Burlesque Hall of Fame. 

Arts >

And the Brassy Award Goes To …

Brassy Burlesque Exposition

It’s my esteemed honor to announce the winner of the inaugural Brassy Award: Mistress Kali. The $500 cash grant and mentorship will be applied to her winning show Storyville Rising, premiering in New Orleans May 16 and 17, 2015. Thunderous applause from the glitter tribe erupted as I gave her the award at The Great Burlesque Exposition 9’s Main Event.

Brown Paper Tickets is all about supporting communities. That is the driving force behind the Brassy Award. We’re thrilled to give the first one to such an innovative concept and talented event producer.

How the Brassy Came to Be

The Great Burlesque Exposition in Boston has long time supported Brown Paper Tickets. I attended in 2013. I was touched and humbled by producers who relayed how impressed they’d been with our customer service and all that we do for burlesque. We owe much of our East Coast burlesque success to key figures like Scratch and Miss Mina singing our praises and using our services for their shows, classes and festivals. Scratch and the Expo were top of mind one afternoon in January 2014, when I sat with our CEO Steve Butcher to brainstorm how we could further support burlesque. A cash sponsorship didn’t feel right. We wanted to develop something that could grow, benefit the community and act as an ongoing gift from us to burlesque.

I’ve seen awards given to burlesque performers, but never to event producers and organizers, the unsung heroes of showbusiness. They crunch numbers, deal with sound and lighting technicians, create rehearsal schedules, negotiate with venues, set up ticketing and promote the show. They’re an essential part and rarely recognized publicly.

So we thought, why not reward event producers? A cash prize to help cover expenses and guidance from experienced organizers might elevate burlesque production standards and give nascent producers new role models. We pitched the idea to Scratch and he loved it. Just like that the Brassy was born.

The name is a play on brassiere, since the award “supports” burlesque arts. Scratch assembled a rock star Brassy committee: Lili VonSchtupp from Los Angeles, Red Hot Annie out of Chicago, Sailor St. Claire from Seattle and of course, himself.

After sifting through dozens of applications from around the country, the committee selected the winner—a producer I was already familiar with from her excellent work in New Orleans.


About Storyville Rising

Burlesque-Award-Winning-ConceptStoryville Rising is an immersive cabaret aimed at recreating the feeling and multi-layered experience of Crescent City’s (in)famous red light district. Audience members are invited into an evocation of one of The District’s sporting houses and treated to a spectacle of burlesque, sideshow, cirque and song. Throughout the evening, they will interact with the area’s various denizens: prostitutes, johns, doctors and midwives, and, of course, madams. Through the acts performed by some of the most lauded names in the burlesque and vaudeville revival, Storyville Rising explores issues of race, gender, power, sex and more. It is a truly unique experience, meant to remain with you long after you’ve left its embrace.

Early bird tickets are on sale now so if you’re from the Big Easy or are headed down there in May, be sure to check out the show. Also, be sure to follow our blog for updates on how the show is coming along.

Keep your eye on Kali because we predict great things from her in the future. 

Apply to the Next Brassy

If you organize, perform in or produce burlesque events and think you have a great idea for a show, apply for the 2016 Brassy Award. There’s a $20.00 application fee that goes toward the cash grant. Applicants will submit detailed information about the show they wish to produce, including a pro-forma budget, production schedule, marketing plan and other relevant materials and will be judged on originality and professionalism. Hopefully, I’ll have the honor of handing you next year’s Brassy Award. Go for it.

Photo of dancer Angie Z  by Jon Gunnar Gylfasson

Arts >

3 Secrets to Booking Great Shows

Music Festival Booking TipsI booked my first punk show in 1991 at the tender age of 18, so that’s 23 years of experience booking shows. Crazy.

A lot has changed. Nearly all communication was via phone or letters. Very few venues were keen on booking punk rock, so finding a venue (let alone an all-ages venue) was a challenge. To get the word out, you literally had to visit every town within a 100-mile radius and physically hang posters. Or find that town’s punk rock record store and give everyone with dyed hair or a leather jacket a handbill.

These days, it’s much easier to get the word out and to communicate with artists and venues. In fact, whole tours can be booked and promoted without making a single phone call or leaving home. That said, there are still some important things event organizers and producers should keep in mind when booking a night of music.

Here are three tips to steer you in the right direction:

1. Curate Your Bills

Back in the day, many things fell under the punk rock or “alternative” umbrella – a bill could feature a ska band, a psychobilly band and an electronic act. Today, music fans are easily able to fine tune their tastes and genres. The most successful bookers I know are ones who really got to know the bands’ sound and audience. They realize that even though the opener may not have a huge draw yet, the headliner’s audience will probably dig them. In this case, the sound of the bands, not their draw matters. This helps build the opener’s audience and creates a night of music tailored to the audience’s tastes. The audience not only gets to see the band they love, they also may discover a new favorite act.

2. Limit Your Acts

Playing or attending shows with five or six bands drives me crazy. It’s a disservice to everyone because bands have to play super short sets, get gear on and off as quickly as possible and audiences spend more time watching bands set up than watching them perform. Big bills can work for special events like festivals, but even then there should be a shared backline of drums and bass to ensure smooth transitions between acts.

Some bookers argue that more bands equals a bigger draw, but I’ve found the opposite to be true. Most fans would rather see a full set from their favorite band than a condensed one. They will likely hold out for a later bill where they can see a full set. Additionally, the bands know they won’t be able to flex their muscles performance-wise and will split the door amongst six other bands, so there’s little incentive for them to promote the show.

3. Promote (And Not Just on Facebook)

With the onset of social media, guerrilla promotions have fallen by the wayside. Often, producers and organizers seem content with creating a Facebook event page and shooting out a couple tweets. While this is an essential part of your promotional plan, don’t rely solely on social media, especially considering Facebook’s diminishing reach. Get out there and hang posters, contact the local press or bug some folks at your local independent radio stations. Basically, do all the old school “guerrilla” promotional tactics in conjunction with social media.

Nothing is more compelling than seeing a cool poster all over town or being handed a playbill by one of the band members. Get creative. You’ll see better results.

Share your thoughts and event tips for booking shows.

Photo Credit: Amanda Halm

Event Tips >

Q + A: Vivienne Fuego on The Golden Poppy Revue

Vivienne Fuego-1 We interviewed Vivienne Fuego, founder of Sacramento’s newest revue, The Golden Poppy Revue to find out how she got involved in burlesque, the challenges with her new endeavor and what audiences can expect to see at the Golden Poppy’s upcoming debut production. See “L’Amour—An Evening of Valentease,” Saturday, February 28 at the Colonial Theater in Sacramento. Tickets available here.

Before The Golden Poppy Revue, Vivienne (then called Raven LaRoux) founded the Bodacious Bombshells, a burlesque troupe with a “rock and roll edge” in 2012. The Bombshells dissolved in 2014 and Vivienne vowed to retire from producing and performing. After only a month into her retirement, she founded The Golden Poppy Revue, a bi-monthly production at Sacramento’s historic Colonial Theatre, featuring six former Bombshells as her core cast: Jenna Jezebel, Sugar Cheeks, Violet Ruthless, Dahlia D’Vine, Bella Blue-Eyes and Lady Grey.

Tell me about your burlesque history. How did you initially get involved and who were some of your early inspirations?

I replied to a notification in November of 2012 to a Meetup event that the founder of the Darling Clementines set up. I went to the Meetup and met with a great group of gals. ChaCha Burnadette led a discussion of all things burlesque to gauge our interest levels. She then organized Meetups that had us venturing out to a few of the shows of the Sizzling Sirens (Sacramento’s longest running troupe). I was mesmerized. Absolutely hooked. I knew right then that this was what I had to do with the rest of my life. Being that I have a background in dance and theater, it seemed like a natural fit. I auditioned for the troupe in early December and was happy to have been accepted as a member.

My first burlesque inspirations were definitely Ginger Valentine and LouLou D’Vil. Their classical style resonates with me.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced starting this new endeavor, “The Golden Poppy Revue?”

Some of the challenges I’ve faced in starting up the new endeavor were securing a venue (a big one for any producer), setting dates for the 2015 season (there always seems to be conflicting events on the weekends where we risk splitting the fan base numbers), and helping my core cast get up to speed on expectations and production style. Even though there have been a few growing pains, this has been the most easy and natural fit for us all. We gel so well and are very loving and supportive of one another.

What can audiences expect at your upcoming show “L’Amour – An Evening of Valentease?”

Our audiences can expect, simply to be wowed. This is the revue’s debut show and all of our cast members and special guests are abuzz with anticipation. We have both a VIP Experience and The Main Event as ticketing options. Main Event ticket holders arrive for the main show at 9:00. However, those that purchase the VIP Experience tickets will be privy to an exclusive pre-show earlier in the evening from 8:00 – 8:30. They also get to sit in the best seats in the house: the first three center and front rows. And they get to take home a keepsake from the event.

With a lineup consisting of local favorites Sugar Cheeks and Jenna Jezebel, our resident belly dancer Tisha Leigh, our boylesque dynamo Darren Kiss, a sideshow performance by Ryan Dile, comedienne extraordinaire Steph Garcia, and Isis Starr, a Legend of burlesque … well, they’re in for one amazing night.

Thank you for opting to take part in Brown Paper Tickets’ Burlesque Hall of Fame donation program. Why do you think it’s important for burlesque producers to support BHoF?

It’s important to honor our founding mothers and fathers. Without those ladies and gents who blazed trails for us, we wouldn’t have this beautiful, titillating, inspiring art form. It’s also such an easy way to help raise funds to support the museum in Vegas$0.35 gets added to each Brown Paper Tickets order. I’d say it’s a small price to pay to support something so critical.

Have you been to the BHoF Weekender? Any good stories?

I attended the Weekender back in 2013 and am happy to say that I will be going back this year. I served as an Escort to one of the Legends in ’13 and it was the most wonderful way to volunteer and network … I’m hoping to serve in that same role this year as well.

Do you have advice for burlesque artists thinking of producing their own revue?

I never produced until I was in my early 40s; I only performed. However, I grew up in the dance and theater worlds, so being immersed in those throughout my younger years has been a huge plus. Producing was a very natural next step for me. I would tell anyone thinking of producing their own revue to go to shows. See what’s out there and make an assessment of the types of productions. Brainstorm and figure out how you can create a show that is uniquely yours and different from all other local productions. Take as many burlesque business classes as you can at BurlyCon, The Great Burlesque Expo, etc. Get yourself a few producer mentors (mine are Bunny Pistol and Fever Blister). And as always, network, network, network.

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New Burlesque Hall of Fame Fund

PERSEPHONE BurlesqueBrown Paper Tickets has long supported the sassy, sultry, outrageous-in-the-best-way burlesque community. We want to ensure that the burlesque story (your story) is told with care and that legends live on to inspire its future.

We’re excited to announce our new Burlesque Hall of Fame Fund.

Established from a friendly acquisition of GlitterTix, this new program allows event producers the option to add $0.35 or $1.00 donation amounts to their ticket prices—100% of which goes directly to the Burlesque Hall of Fame (BHoF), a nonprofit museum on a mission to “preserve, celebrate and inspire the art of burlesque.”

The Burlesque Hall of Fame Fund carries on the good work of GlitterTix—a ticketing portal for burlesque and variety art shows. In the wake of GlitterTix dissolving, its co-founder Will Longfellow approached Brown Paper Tickets and asked that we continue its fundraising efforts, since we have such close ties to the burlesque community.

“GlitterTix service fees were among the lowest in the ticketing industry, but with Brown Paper Tickets, attendees of burlesque events will see ticketing fees go down, while donations to the Burlesque Hall of Fame increase,” said Longfellow on why he chose us.

It all comes down to Brown Paper Tickets and GlitterTix sharing the same goals to grow the burlesque community and pay tribute to its legends.

Speaking of legends…

The Ladies, the Dream, the Museum

Jennie Lee Vintage BurlesqueLegendary tassel-twirler, Jennie Lee dreamed of a “Burlesque Hall of Fame” back in the early 1950s. Lee wanted to honor burlesque’s memory and its future. She envisioned a world-class museum, affordable housing for retired dancers and a school for aspiring performers.

Lee passed away before she was able to see her dream come to fruition. Dixie Evans, Lee’s friend and the “Marilyn Monroe of Burlesque,” took up her efforts, opening a museum in California in 1990, 15 years after Lee’s death. In 2006, the Burlesque Hall of Fame moved to Las Vegas.

Today, it occupies a space in the Emergency Arts building in Downtown Vegas. A small part of the several-thousand-piece collection of costumes, stage props, photographs and personal effects is on display to the public. The museum continues to foster awareness and understanding of burlesque as an art form. Visit our donation page to donate directly to the Burlesque Hall of Fame.

The Burlesque Hall of Fame, GlitterTix and Brown Paper Tickets hope to continue what Dixie started and realize Lee’s vision for a supportive and educational infrastructure for burlesque artists.

Jennie Lee photo courtesy of Burlesque Hall of Fame

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