Miss Motoblot 2015

Contest Entry Deadline June 1, 2015 | Contest Held Jun 27, 2015

MsMB2015_deadline_500x500Held in one of the oldest districts of Chicago, against a backdrop of steel and chrome, with a soundtrack of rockabilly tunes and clanking tools, the stage is set for the 2015 Miss Motoblot Pin-Up Contest. On Saturday, June 27—on the outdoor main stage of the Motoblot rally—20 contestants will take their position with the hopes of being crowned Miss Motoblot 2015 and winning the $1,000 prize.

Now in it’s second year, Donna Touch is proudly back at her post as the Miss Motoblot Pin-Up Contest Organizer!

“Original Tease was lucky enough to participate at the last Mods Vs. Rockers before the evolution of the event. Having been to many rockabilly festivals that had a pin-up contest component, I thought I could help this portion of the event really sparkle. The event founders couldn’t be a nicer group of guys. They listened to my ideas and helped me make it happen.

An extraordinary mix of women–entrepreneurs, artists, mothers, performers, athletes–graced our stage with their own individual reason for participating and interpretation of what it means to be a pin-up. Organizing this contest allowed me to showcase the beauty, strength and style of these women. Crowning Chez, our Miss Motoblot 2014, was a great moment. She really embraces the rocker culture and is as lovely to be around as she is beautiful.

I’m really looking forward to this year. The new components of the contest we’ve layered in will help the contestants engage with the community. I’m thankful for involvement from sponsors Bomber Betty Custom Cosmetics and Tigerlilie Salon–both female-owned Chicago-based businesses–that specialize in timeless beauty and style. Their services help make this an even more special day for the contestants.

It’s going to be a great year and I’m thrilled to be part of it!”

Think you’ve got what it takes to be Miss Motoblot 2015? Apply today to get involved! View complete details at: motoblot.com/miss-motoblot

RuPaul’s Drag Race

Battle of the Seasons – 2015 Condragulations Tour
House of Blues, Chicago

Experience recap by Donna Touch:

It was the coldest day on record since 1936. Being -8 degrees, with a wind chill advisory, didn’t stop the hundreds from packing into the House of Blues for the Battle of the Seasons show. Waiting for a friend, I got to watch the line of people shuffle in from the cold. What a mix! From trendy teens (it was an 18+ show), to girls-night-out gaggles, to grandmother/mother/daughter groups, to date-night straight and gay couples of all ages… RuPaul’s Drag Race definitely appeals to a wide audience. While it felt like a diverse gathering, I couldn’t help notice that the spectrum of color was limited which surprised me a bit.

rupaul_obama_3While I did grow up watching RuPaul on VH1 and I’ve kept up with some of the newer escapades (my absolute favorite image posted here), I’ve never seen an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race. But how could you not want to support the top drag talent in the country when they land in your city? I’ve been to enough shows to have a good idea of what to expect and I have to say–even though I know I missed out on a lot of the seasoned fan insider jokes–it was an easy show to enjoy!

tumblr_inline_ngzrsl2pBJ1qzk4paFeaturing a rotating cast throughout the tour, our city stop included Michelle Visage, Alaska 5000, Bendela Creme, Ivy Winters, Jinkx Monsoon, Manila Luzon, Raja and (Chicago’s hometown hero) Sharon Needles.

With live singing, lip-sync and strut routines, variety acts and comedy skits, the show felt very much like an upscale drag show or burlesque festival. It wasn’t a fancy production (probably built for some of the smaller venues they’d be appearing in), but the ladies really did shine. Some of my favorite aspects of the show included:

-Alaska 5000’s opening number. A commanding setup to what you should know about the show, your attitude and living drag.
– Ivy Winter’s variety mix. Doing a quick-change routine, a juggling act and a butterfly stilt walk, this gal truly takes Gotta Get a Gimmick to heart.
– Raja’s buy my t-shirt. It was a killer transactional act that sold very well!
– Sharon Needles passion. Her main routine was definitely true to her character and her talk about her life in Chicago was really enjoyed by her fans.

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Jinx Monsoon (left) and Bendela Creme (right) swiped from Facebook

– Jinx Monsoon’s realness. For one of her main numbers, her wireless mic would not go on. The music was paused and in her immense gown she towered over the stage crew in the wings while they scrambled to fix the issue. Grabbing a regular mic, she reset the mood with a quick chat of what it takes to be a performer. Not that these ladies need to prove they are professionals, but moments like that show off a performer’s natural talent.
– Bendela Creme’s burlesque tribute. It was really a flawless, funny, glittery, tassel swinging laugh at a classic burlesque number that the crowd loved! Her expressions really sold it.

And finally, I have to say I really enjoyed the transformations. It was a small cast for this show and the different costumes, makeup and hair changes really made it.

All in all, it was a good show. I really can say I only had one complaint. The transitions between acts really were a killer. After each act the show seemed to just end. There were short video intros for almost each of the performers or Michelle (who performed some of the numbers) did an MC intro, but neither could keep the momentum. As a result the audience lost focus and each act seemed to struggle at the beginning to regain their attention. It’s something a lot of the burlesque festivals and our show struggles with as well. It was good to watch though to get some ideas on how we could improve our own show flow.

A heartfelt thank you to all the performers in the show! Your passion and drive is really apparent. I’m glad I got to see you live and celebrate your success. Much condragulations to you all!

 

 

 

Airline Highway

Steppenwolf, Chicago | Written by: Lisa D’Amour | Directed by: Joe Mantello

Synopsis per Steppenwolf’s site:

In the parking lot of The Hummingbird, a once-glamorous motel on New Orleans’ infamous Airline Highway, a group of friends gather. A rag-tag collection of strippers, hustlers and philosophers have come together to celebrate the life of Miss Ruby, an iconic burlesque performer who has requested a funeral before she dies. The party rages through the night as old friends resurface to pay their respects. A world premiere from the author of Detroit, Airline Highway is a boisterous and moving ode to the outcasts who make life a little more interesting.

Steppenwolf Theatre’s production of Airline Highway will open on Broadway at Manhattan Theatre Club’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre in Spring 2015, following its world premiere engagement in Steppenwolf’s Downstairs Theatre.

Experience recap by Donna Touch:

ct-airline-highway-play-review-20141214Every time I catch a really good show like Airline Highway, it reminds me that I’ve got to be better about keeping up with the bigger theaters in Chicago. As performers that–are mostly featured in smaller scale productions–we often get caught up with the independent or less mainstream productions. This particular one, staged in New Orleans and whose main character was presumably an elderly burlesque icon, hit on too many of my interests to be ignored.  Miraculously finding time, my friend The Galaxie producer Nicolle Wood (after doing hair for 12 gals for a private event) and I (after flyering all day for Motoblot at the International Motorcycle Show), battled traffic and endured the cold on Valentine’s Day, the last day of the Chicago production.

The set design is nothing short of fantastic. It really feels like you are just on the other side of the street looking at the outside of a 1940s, rundown motel, the Hummingbird. The whole story unfolds in the parking lot of that motel. That lot is the stage for almost 75 years of dreams and despair. I’ll say, when the play first started, I was a bit surprised by the grit. Remember, I thought I had signed up for a NOLA touting, boa swinging, sequin sparkling story about a glamourous burlesque performer. (As a side note, you must agree that the playwright, Lisa D’Amour, was born with a sweet burlesque name!) The characters that started the show (a stripper, hooker, vagabond poet, out of work handyman, failing hotel manager and mismatched transgender individual) seemed to be at the bottom of their respective barrels. While it took me a bit to find myself with them, all of the actors were so true to their rolls that it was easy to find myself in their world.

The story proceeds that Miss Ruby’s (a resident of the motel) health and memory has really started to slip. Because she never wanted a funeral, the other motel residents that love and care for her have decided to throw her a living funeral to instead celebrate her in her last days. An antagonist, Bait Boy, that used to be a resident–now married a wealthy woman in Atlanta–who has been invited back for this event, really stirs the pot. His 16 year old step daughter witnesses the events unfold while as she interviews and records the other characters for a high school report.

While Bait Boy’s story seems to be the needle that threads through everything that transpires, every character has a complex history. They are all united by the motel and their unique relationship with Miss Ruby. While the lives of all the characters seem shattered in different ways, you get the sense they’d be even worse of if it wasn’t for Miss Ruby.

AirlineHighway_Production08The party is paused when one of the guests asks what Miss Ruby might be thinking as she seems shut in by all the excitement. A powerful switch to the world inside her mind gives her the opportunity to share. Through a poetic monologue she talks about sex, birth, discovery and survival. A life well-lived is not quite as important as enjoying each precious moment and the wisdom you get from experience. While her story is peppered with a few regrets, she is an example of someone who has been very deliberate in her existence and has not taken it for granted. It’s almost as if she is whole for how she has lived her life, but the other characters need each other to be.

I’m extremely glad we were able to make it out to this show and recommend seeing it if you can catch it in New York. If you ever see a show at the Steppenwolf, I also recommend that you plan to stick around after the show. They have a moderator come out to allow people to discuss the play and it really helps you take a moment to digest what you’ve just seen.