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Greg Autry shot these stunning photos of my cruelty-free Peekaboo Feather Fan Burlesque solo at Trapeze 7/12/14. Stunning.
I have representation for days out here in Hollyweird, CA. I’ve got an agent that covers acting on-camera (Theatrical), an agent that deals with dancing and specialty on-camera (Dance and Specialty), an agent that attends to acting in commercials (On-Camera), an agent that represents me for hosting on-camera (Hosting) and an all-around career manager.
Not only are their department names confounding (I mean, why are commercials called On-Camera but tv/film acting is called Theatrical even though it’s as far away from a theater as one can get?), but sometimes the areas they represent are confusing, too—especially since I am so multi-faceted. I mean, what if I dance in a commercial or host on a TV program? These type of gigs are potentially two different agents’ territory in an exclusive industry.
I’m sure it would be much simpler if I “just acted” or “just danced.” But simpler does not mean easier—if I did only one performance discipline, I’d need a second income. To me, it’s much easier to make a living performing when I can do it all. And do it all in top form.
I am fortunate to have amazing teams surrounding me, and I am fortunate to be adept in many performance disciplines—but I am also fortunate that my skills are valuable in many venues. When I’m not acting on-camera, I have been known to perform live: hosting cabaret nightclubs, dancing at concert stadiums, singing in musical theater, burlesque-ing on bar tops. Just give me an audience and that’s where I come to life.
I’ve been performing as my sole source of income for—dare I mention it? yes, with pride—24 years now. And the massive majority of my performance career has been live on stage. So although I value my strong team of agents and manager for on-camera work out here in Los Angeles, asking an agent to handle my live gigs is unnecessary and actually backwards career-wise. I’ve built my live performance contacts and reputation over decades, since I was a child in Chicago. And I’ve literally negotiated my own live contracts since I was a teenager. Most of the live dates I win now are direct bookings from people I know quite well and an official contract would be overkill, not to mention hard to work with on a one-off gig basis.
Sans contract, my live gigs are, as I mentioned, awarded mostly by previous associates who are upstanding people, thank goodness. MOSTLY, I said. I’ve also had clients try to cancel the date an hour before performance, keep me chasing my pay for eight weeks after job completion, and “just forget” they never sent a deposit. So I started talking to other established, high-end live performers to see how they handle the verbal-agreement-between-friends gigs. Putting together their responses with my own experience, after 24 years in the industry, I’ve come up with this:
Tonya’s Savvy Guide to Negotiating Your Own Live Performance Contracts
Any professional friend or new client you want to work again with will have enough time to reply “yes” (or “we need to talk more” as the case may be) to a text as short as this:
“Hi, Catherine! Please confirm I’ve got these details correct: 7/30, downtown LA private rooftop event, 300 guests, $X00, on-site 7:30-9:30p, one 5 min choreographed feather fan dance at 8p and one 5 min improvised bullwhip demonstration at 9p, dressing room and valet provided. Is this correct?”
It’s as simple and as easy as that. Make it habit when you’re negotiating live performance contracts and it can prevent lots of headaches in the long run. Happy negotiating!
Originally published in Pyragraph Magazine
So this director I admire and worked with on Silverwood: Final Recordings named Stephen Reedy contacts me earlier this year asking about where he can find a humanely trained elephant for a commercial he’s directing. He knows I have volunteered three times in Thailand w +Elephant Nature Park and advocate for the welfare and rights of this endangered species domestically with +Performing Animal Welfare Society and Animal Defenders International so with genuine concern, he came to me. I explained to this thoughtful and artistic director that for performing elephants there is unfortunately no such thing as humane training/care and directed him to a video showing Have Trunk Will Travel (the main supplier of elephants for rides, displays and movies like Water For Elephants) electric shocking and beating with a bull hook their star elephant, directed him to a few other sites including http://stopcircussuffering.com/ and explained that training is called “breaking” the animal – what are we breaking? The animals spirit. Imagine how much force must be used to break the spirit of a being bigger than two Ford pick up trucks put together. All so they will stand still and hold humans in their back for a commercial? The director was shocked and agreed that this seems horrible and I didn’t hear from him for months. Until I got the text below and saw the final commercial. He said because if me they decided not to use a live elephant and look at how creatively they redesigned with a giant toy elephant! I cried and still do when I see Show Me Your Mumu’s commercial because this is one day that a director and a company in Hollywood did the right thing. And the end result embodies such fun and compassionate awareness – something much more cost effective and more in line with this company’s image anyway. Thank you, director Stephen Reedy and Show Me Your Mumu clothing! Through tears, thank you thank you thank you. I spend so much time amongst what needs change – and that’s a hard place to be aware of and active in sometimes. It’s victories like this that remind me it’s worth it and some shining people and companies really do care and do the right thing when they know. Please visit Stephen Reedy and Show Me Your Mumu’s respective pages, follow their work and thank them for being honorable and making a difference. http://stephenreedy.com http://showmeyourmumu.com
#animalwelfare #vegan #honor
One of the most thorough and shining reviews I’ve ever gotten as a host and burlesque performer. Brian Addison of the Long Beach Post gives 5 stars to the Lalas Burlesque at The Federal June 2014 in his article The Lalas Set Fire To Long Beach with Blazing Burlesque:
IN PICTURES: The LaLas Set Fire to Long Beach with Blazing Burlesque
Photos by Brian Addison. Full gallery below.
Editor’s note: some readers might find the images or content of this story objectionable. Discretion is advised.
“It’s not about desiring us—we’re just a part of the bigger plan,” said Tonya Kay, host of the LaLas’ premiere performance in Long Beach at Downtown’s Federal Bar. “And that is to get you guys to go home and have burlesque sex. Unapologetic, steamy, sensual, sexy burlesque sex.”
There is a fine line between erotica and sexual exploitation—and for Kay, the main difference between porn and sensual prodding is the flash of a camera, which she kindly informed the audience to avoid using as they were titillatingly entertained.
Burlesque is as much about visceral inclinations as it is about intellect and play. One can easily watch SaraAnne Fahey—the tall, drop-dead-hot redhead that could make this gay guy go a little straight—and notice the multiple nuances throughout her performances. With a motorcycle helmet and ready-set-go flags in hand, the mixture of not seeing her face with the mechanical masculinity of motorsports offers pure erotica for those who love speed and racing. Then, on the other hand, Fahey’s playful and cheeky ode with fellow performer Ashley Dixon to Mad Men housewives is nothing short of feminism at its finest: unabashedly funny mockery of the position men often force women into.
This balance between respect and empowerment versus outright exploitation, much like the aforementioned porn-versus-erotica schism, is a fine line—but with the professional tailorings of Kay and crew, it is a line that is never crossed. After all, Kay noted that when you are not watching these ladies on stage in burlesque, you seem them in commercials, music videos, and theatre halls dancing their way across screens and theatrical stages.
The dance talents of The LaLas are never underused. One has to just take a brief look at Kay’s water-dripping, jaw-dropping solo to note that her knack for contemporary dancing added beautiful elements to a performance that exuded how sexy humans really are—with nothing but their own body and a prop. Her contorting and twisting on the stage’s main chair paired with her confident, I’m-looking-at-you expressions are nothing short of captivating.
This isn’t to say that subtlety is the only characteristic of the show. In fact, it is safe to say that the Puerto Rican firecracker that is Michelle is what one would call sex on a stage. With a stomach worthy of playing quarters off of and flexibility that reminds everyone in the audience they need to stretch regularly, Michelle’s aura oozes nothing but pure sensuality.
Even beyond their physical prowess as they own the stage, all four women are incredibly talented actresses, using their malleable facial expressions with such as ease that any viewer is torn between looking at their lithe and supple figures contorting into beautiful positions or their face as it makes us both laugh and think the most naughty of things.
For those who unfortunately missed the erotic and captivating performance, fear not: founder Erin Lamont has reassured us that the troupe will return to Long Beach in September.
One of my favorite photo sets of all time. Surely it’s the avocados. The swimsuit was made by a vegan designer, the company Get Juicey whom set up the shoot provided fruit and juice not just for props, but for actual consumption all day and get this – they wanted my skin shiny, to show off my muscles, so we used a little trick of mine: coconut oil. But they didn’t want my hands getting oil on the floor and backdrop, so I wasn’t allowed to apply it myself – the owner of Get Juicey rubbed me down with coconut before each set up change! What a great day. With some great photography: