Quite possibly THE funnest day I’ve ever spent on set. Erin Lamont (director of The Lalas) choreographed and she brought in three of us burlesque performers to dance this gig, since we are also career professional dancers. That’s me, SaraAnne and Ashley from the Lalas there (and Carly in the driver’s seat!). Laughing and joking like turn of the century vaudeville all day. My gut hurt we were so ridiculous. You see, the Vitamin Water advertisement we filmed is candid camera spot. So we had to improvise comedy all day long on camera – of course off camera we had to fluff – or keep warmed up, if you will. Our Vitamin Water spot is live below:
Map The Music: Love Letters film explores the connection between music and love and why so many songs are inspired by it. Second in the Map The Music documentary series, originally premiering on The Discovery Channel, I am interviewed as a burlesque dancer about my relationship to music. You will also see my friends, heavy metal band, Solegion, in the film to my delight. Check out the trailer that went live this week:
model, Tonya Kay photography, Melissa Schwartz graphic design, Stephen Newell
Oh, lovely life. I return home from a long day at the theatre with one mission: relax and take care of myself before early rehearsal again tomorrow—our first audience is Monday night. This is an intense time in the process. I open my screenless windows at midnight to let the blooming jasmine lurk in. I flop my shoes onto the wood floors and massage my own dancer feet. I am relaxing and taking care of myself the best way I can imagine. Oh, lovely life: This day ends with wine.
Life has gifted me a bottle of 2008 Bouchaine Estate Chardonnay to consider. I surely feel indulgent opening an entire bottle all by my lonesome. What a gift this truly is! I start with an entire glass pour of water, as I always do, and decide to stick to tasting pours, rather than glass pours, which I prefer anyway. I have an exceptionally clean raw vegan diet and find my receptivity heightened, making every sensual experience quite genuine.
I willingly admit a bias up front: I prefer to actually go to any winery’s tasting room, sit in the vineyards, notice the companion landscaping, feel the architectural presentation and engage the pourer in positive conversation. All this goes into the bottle of wine and affects the taste, affects the experience, affects the memory. Unfortunately, I am alone in my own living room tonight, so my review must feature only my limited at-home experience.
Fortunately, Bouchaine is a vineyard local to my state, California, and when I drive to south Napa for the third time this year, I will surely visit Bouchaine in the cooler-climate, gently rolling, green hills of the Carneros District where Bouchaine has been in continuous operation since 1929—longer than any other winery in the Carneros District and long before Carneros’ Burgundian varietals became noted worldwide. Personally, I do not purchase wine from stores because I so value this onsite tasting experience. For now, however, I will be cork sniffing in L.A.
Cork And that is just what I can’t stop doing: cork sniffing. This 2008 Bouchaine Estate Chardonnay opens with quite a clean cork. I smell an aging room that sparkles like sunshine from the bottom of this freshly pulled cork. If I could tour the cellars, I can smell that they’d be healthy and clean. And knowing how valuable cork sustainability is, I value knowing that Bouchaine is one of the first participants in the Recork America program to recycle wine corks.
Color The wine’s color tint is soft sunshine yellow, encouraged by a 30% stainless-steel fermentation that preserves brightness. I notice the clarity of the wine, too, achieved by the standard bentonite clay fining of whites, followed by a proprietary PVPP/casein (milk protein) fining specific to Bouchaine’s Chardonnays and Bouche d’Aro, reducing “yellow pigment and phenolics that can cause wine to taste like squash and pumpkins after a few years in the bottle,” says winemaker Michael Richmond. As a vegan, I appreciate his transparency in fining agents as well as Bouchaine’s transparency in almost every aspect of their sustainability commitment, as explained on Bouchaine’s website. Richmond has made himself available to me throughout this relationship to answer questions—almost as if I was getting to visit the tasting room itself.
Nose I can smell a crispness, like wearing shorts in April even when it’s too cold, because you are so excited for spring. This wine is that radical, early-spring warm day and I suggest chilling slightly, if at all. I personally want this wine to be on the warm side and open up to me, which it did with just 10 minutes of decanting. The nose changes perceptibly, from the obligatory burn-off of volatile esters to a cashew-cream mousse with a jackfruit and chalk center. This happens at approximately minute 10, if lightly chilled.
Mouth Fully 75% of the 2008 Bouchaine Estate Chardonnay grapes come from vines over two decades old. Dijon clones make up another 20%. But it is the final 5%, the Muscat grape, that is responsible for a sipping wine that coats the tongue quite perfectly. With an evaporation comparable to fresh walnut oil, the mouth is short but not abrupt. This wine is 70% oak-barrel fermented with a 50% malolactic fermentation. Mellow, shapely and bright, the finish is kind, moving down the throat just enough to remind us that this new-world Chardonnay respects its elders. Again, I prefer this wine served almost room-temperature warm.
Sharing Bouchaine’s Chardonnay is a wine that you should consider taking with you to an event. I have been known to take sustainably produced wine to a happening, even when I know wine is being provided. If you are like me, this is the wine to take because:
Sustainability And while you are turning friends on to a delightful wine, you are also supporting a vineyard that farms 84 of its 104 estate vineyards sustainably. It utilizes Integrated Pest Management (IPM), cover crops and organic compost to achieve a healthy microbial balance in the soil. It also practices minimal irrigation via direct drip systems, meaning it uses just seven gallons of water per plant rather than the usual 100 gallons. And to top it all off, the grapes are hand picked at harvest.
Bouchaine is a member of the Napa Sustainable Winegrowing Group and is certified by one of my favorite NoCal grape-growing-region programs, Fish Friendly Farming, thanks to its choice of replacing grapevines in the lowest-lying areas of the property, prone to winter flooding, with grasses that handle water runoff and contribute to the health of fish populations.
Winemaker Michael Richmond values the freedom of choice and application he says an organic certification would limit, stating “The objective is to have a vineyard that is self sustaining with a minimum of amendments. We would shirk from applying any materials that would threaten our beneficial insect population,” like predator wasps. This is the same reason Bouchaine does not poison pesky gophers—they are protecting their barn owls, too. Michael feels that “sustainability is the thinking man’s organic.”
Food Pairing Because I am longing for a response other than “grilled portabella” when I mention that I am a raw vegan wine and food aficionado, I will offer you my personal suggestion for a vegan food pairing with this 2008 Bouchaine Estate Chardonnay—please create a menu of your own, as well! This Chardonnay goes well with a chopped romaine salad dressed with raw walnut oil, sprouted quinoa with light miso and tahini sauce and unsweetened roibos and chamomile tea.
Yes, I sip hot tea alternating with wine. Try it. It works. And it’s my chance to relax and take care of myself before our first rehearsal with orchestra tomorrow. This wine is so clean, I can.
The stand-out dancer and star-performer was Tonya Kay (Glee, House MD, Numb3rs, Idol, AGT, Criminal Minds, Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien) who does a power-tool number with all the comedic timing and sexual innuendo possible – and brings some of the most classic and innovative ideas to her several acts. She has an amazing body that one works for, and it shows. Even if you are a die-hard neo-burlesque or classic burlesque purist, you will love what you see in Tonya Kay. If you enjoy the joke of gender, you also will enjoy Tonya Kay. – Frankie Tease Magazine
I will keep this quote from the review in Frankie Tease Magazine close to my heart. She attended a Lalas Burlesque show at The Palms in Las Vegas this August and it was fun to see her in the audience, snapping pictures and taking notes, like she was in class. It wasn’t until we closed the curtain we performers knew she was reviewing. I just love the burlesque scene and I obviously love performing. As performers, aren’t we all trying to communicate and to feel like we’ve been understood – that’s connection. Words like Frankie Teases let me know I’ve connected and as a burlesque dancer, a performing artist and a human being, that’s what it’s all about.
If you follow me as a burlesque performer, you know my personal style incorporates my Danger Arts into almost every act. But I do so love classic costuming, classic jazz and the era-specific girls, too – I’m just not usually one of them! Here is my most “classic” of burlesque acts, performed to diva, Ella Fitzgerald’s “Keep My Love Alive”. It’s comedy, it’s sexy, it’s classic and of course: it’s dangerous! Enjoy:
My first pole dance performance ever! Luscious Maven invited me to perform a burlesque piece and pole dance in their Showgirls show at Skinny’s Lounge in North Hollywood, CA this May. Here is an edit of my first pole performance ever. I’ve gotten better since. But somehow I know I will always still be learning. I love learning. Enjoy:
A bit ago the Momma Lala and I had a discussion about weather burlesque as a performance art requires dance training or not. There are many phenomenal burlesque performers who’s movements are awkward and incomplete. And there are many spectacularly trained dancers whom think that wearing thigh highs and dancing slutty is all it takes to do burlesque.
I just plain love burlesque. I’m not gonna try to say what burlesque is and isn’t because honestly, I celebrate ALL women (and men) in their power, expressing their creativity, sensuality, humor and pain through the art of the reveal. There is no right way to do it and there is no wrong way to do it. BUT that being said, I do have my personal preferences. And if given the preference, I’d always want to see a professional dancer do anything pretty much. Yes, I am biased. I think grace and elegant movement is one of life’s most breathtaking spectacles and I’d prefer to see a trained dancer washing her car, shopping for groceries, making love, standing completely still or yes, performing burlesque too. It’s just my preference. Dance makes EVERYTHING more beautiful to me.
I am proud to say that every member of The Lalas Burlesque are not only spectacular performers, not only hard bodied athletes, not just creative burlesquers, but also currently working professional dancers. We’ve worked hard at this our whole lives. We are passionate about this. We live and breathe this. Needless to say, watching my fellow Lalas perform is simply exquisite to me.
Below is a short clip from my Pink Floyd “Money” solo performed with the Lalas Burlesque at my favorite of our residencies, The Federal Bar, in NoHo, CA. It does not take dance training to perform burlesque. But what a beautiful bonus when it’s there. Enjoy:
It’s my favorite kind of photography: art photography. A lot of my modeling work is personality or physique based, which is more pin-up or commercial if you had to call it something. Still nothing compares to the power shadows, lines and shapes have to express emotion. There is a full story, an archetypal history, relationships, disasters and triumphs in these art photos. They could be you. They could be me. They are collective and that’s why art touches us so.
Photography by Schwartz Studios. Graphic design by Stephen Newell.
Raw Vegan Dance Shadows
The hit Youtube show, KevJumba Takes All, brought me on to teach KevJumba and Harry Shum (Glee dancer) a few pole moves. Of course, I played a bit by myself in between takes: pole dancing at Barber Dollz on Hollywood Blvd.. Watch for the drop split – WOW!