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
Storyville 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