The Blight, © Neil Girling, 1998-2019

Archive for the 'Burlesque' Category


Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

It’s my birthday this weekend! I thought I’d share my planned itinerary of shenanigans, were you so inclined to join me.

Friday night: Hubba Hubba Revue at the Uptown in Oakland! I work two jobs that day, and intend to unwind with the Bay Area’s finest burlesque show at one of my favorite Oakland bars. It’s right next to BART, for you west-bay car-less folk.

Then, Saturday 8pm until late, my friends down the road at the Vulcan are throwing a May Day celebration and fundraiser for their theater! See a venue most unique at one of the Bay Area’s finest underground locales, with acts including the Vau de Vire Society, Totter Tod, Gooferman, and the Hobo Gobbelins.

Come by my place starting at 5pm for pre-show cocktails. (Contact me directly for details).

Finally, on Sunday, we will drag our hungover selves to Antiques by the Bay at Alameda’s Naval Base, to sift through old relics looking for gems (like the Settee of Contention). It is our noble intention to arrive before noon, mimosas in hand.

Feel free to email, call or text at any point to find out what’s going on. I hope to see you at one of these!

Photos from Zombie Prom with Hubba Hubba at the DNA

Monday, February 9th, 2009

…wherein I made a surprise appearance on stage (as a photographer, I’ll have you know) and got my tasty brainmeats eaten by a zombie (the lovely and aptly-named miss Calamity Lulu). Of course we botched our routine (almost entirely my fault since hey, that’s why I’m usually on the other side of the camera). Oh well, I hope it was entertaining. That’s all we’re really going for, right? My mistakes included missing queues and moving too quickly (must delay more!) and laughing too hard to assist in the tasteful undressing of hot zombie girl; she forgot to unclip her garters and ended up slipping on the fake blood (I hear she bounced when she hit, too). Hah!

Pictured above is the aforementioned Calamity Lulu after I shot her in the head (with a cap gun, people) and actually took photos while on stage during the routine (what do you expect?). See the photos here.

A Year in Review Part 2 — 2008

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

I shall continue where I left off in Part the First, no less tired this time around, but a scant few hours before my self-imposed bedtime — and if I don’t finish it now, then when? Indeed.

Once again, the full gallery of my Year in Review photographs can be seen here — I have selected one photo per thousand I shot all year (45,000 in all), picking ones I thought particularly interesting in the story they told, amusing somehow, or just a personal favorite.

The first image is Magdelene Veen, formerly of Abney Park, at the Emerging Illusions fashion show with Creatureform Designs; she reposted several of these photos titled “I am some sort of demon crow.” Her act was that of a ballerina; and this shot, though backstage, reminds me of the same flow and movement (though I’m not sure she even knew I took this).

We of course love the Dresden Dolls, those purveyors of punk cabaret and one of the first mainstream underground (yes, I’m aware of the contradiction) acts to combine musical and non-musical performance acts on their stage — for, in 2005, as a fan of the Dresden Dolls, how else would I have been introduced to Vau de Vire Society but by seeing them perform onstage alongside a favorite band? The rest is history. Pictured here is Brian Viglione at the Fillmore, where I was brought in to shoot the show (and I had dinner with Brian, Amanda and Meredith Yayanos beforehand: they’re all amazing sweethearts).

Hiding ‘neath the swirl of the skirt here is Leila Bazzani of Black and Blue Burlesque, performing with the Yard Dogs Roadshow at Lightning in a Bottle 2008. You may notice a similarity to a certain other photo of mine, which just so happens to be her partner in crime, Tuesday Blue.

Please see the rest after the cut (even if it’s just to browse the photos…).


Storytime Festival and Hubba Hubba Revue photos, and a rant on lighting

Saturday, December 27th, 2008
Angelo flies above the crowd

Each of the two shows for the Storytime Festival were divided into two halves — the first was akin to an international dance competition, featuring troupes from all over in vastly different styles, while Vau de Vire filled the second half. The afternoon show was Vau de Vire’s first “kid-friendly” and theater-style performance, as well as the largest venue at which we have performed (two sold-out shows of 1,000 people each, and the stage itself was as big as the DNA Lounge). The first show was a bit rocky, in terms of practice and other technical aspects (sound, etc.) details I’m delighted not to be privy to nor involved with (a classic example of “not my job!” and I’d only be in the way anyway).

The first photo above shows one of our lovely Vau de Vire girls doing a front-flip over a flaming rope, and the second is my favorite shot I’ve ever gotten of Angelo Rodriguez flying above the audience — I last saw this in February at the Super Bowl show we did with 944 Magazine, but the circular nature of his path makes autofocus nearly impossible. I managed to capture it this time. Go see the full gallery here.

Hubba Hubba Reuve Christmas Special took place the day before the Storytime Festival (and Dickens Fair the day after) making last weekend one of the longest in recent memory. If you’ve ever wondered why you occasionally find black-and-white photos scattered throughout my image galleries, it’s not because I’m trying to be artistic. No, let me tell you a secret: It’s because I couldn’t fix the color balance or the lighting was awful. The gentleman responsible for lighting Hubba Hubba Revue likes to wash the stage in a single color (never good) and is a huge fan of pink, of all colors (even worse). The vast majority of my post-processing time I spend on Hubba Hubba Revue photos is just trying to fix the color to make skin look like, well, skin and to provide my viewers with something other than a blasted pink landscape of pasties and pretty girls. See below for a few examples of before-and-after:


Before and after, showing post-processing


Before and after, showing post-processing

As you can see, the original images on the left were lit with pink (blue and red) lights, full-on and direct, with the backgrounds largely ignored. I’m no theatre lighting expert (ask Mr. Devon aka Baconmonkey for a separate rant regarding this if you want more detail) but I know that the DNA Lounge has some excellent lighting rigs, and they’re responsible for making a show look as good as it can possibly look. And in terms of photos, while you might not notice a particular color wash when you’re watching the show, a gallery of pictures that are all lit the same become monotonous and it’s difficult to differentiate between the various acts (or even tell what color their costumes were). From a photographic standpoint, the performers themselves need to be lit with pure white light, with colors supporting the sides and background. Or at least give me a white spotlight or throw a few white lights in the mix? A camera’s sensor is a mix of red, green and blue filters, so if you only use one or two colors to light the stage, my camera can only use a fraction of its light-capturing capability, and image quality suffers heavily.

Go see the full gallery of HHR’s Christmas Special here.

New photo galleries — GWAR, BRAF’s Artumnal Gathering, Bohemian Carnival, Hubba Hubba Revue, and 5&Diamond’s Anniversary

Monday, December 1st, 2008

All jam-packed in this extra-special bonus post! Separate descriptions and writeups coming soon.

GWAR, Kingdom of Sorrow, Terror, and Toxic Holocaust at the San Francisco Regency Center Ballroom in November.

Bohemian Carnival at the DNA Lounge, at which my 24-70 2.8 Zeiss was knocked down and broken.

Hubba Hubba Revue’s Girl Gang at the DNA Lounge.

Black Rock Art Foundation’s (BRAF) Artumnal Gathering at the Bentley Reserve, at which I ran a portrait station the entire evening.

5 & Diamond’s 1-Year Anniversary party at Supperclub San Francisco.

A handful of snapshots or an Ode to Distraction

Monday, October 27th, 2008

Salamander, as she’s known

This past Friday I had dinner with a friend, a lovely musician under the project name Oryx Incruentus; it was her idea as she wished to hand-deliver the album of hers I purchased, and we feared for the safety of courier boys in this perilous city. Also, wax cylinders are much too heavy for carrier pigeons. I had toyed with the idea of going to Diamond Dagger’s Burlesque Masquerade show, as many of my friends would be modeling Dark Garden corsets, and so off we went.

Autumn of Dark Garden Corsets

To make a long story short, there were a score of beautiful corset-clad women clamoring politely requesting that I take their portrait, utterly preventing me from doing my sacred duty of shooting the show (actually, that’s a blatant lie, as I wasn’t there to shoot the show (watch, yes) at all). But, then the show ended early and they all vanished (lest their finery fizzle and their carriages return to pumpkins? Perhaps).

See the gallery (handful of snapshots) here.

PS: I love my job.

Lightning in a Bottle, 2008 ~ by the Do Lab at Live Oak in Santa Barbara — photos and more

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

Here are the photos.

Last weekend was Lightning in a Bottle, a five-day festival of art, performance, and music, hosted by the Do Lab at the Live Oak Campground a half-hour north of Santa Barbara. Pictured above is a member of Black and Blue Burlesque, a luxuriously decadent faction of the always spectacular Yard Dogs Roadshow, one of this year’s headliners. Other performers included Cirque Berzerk (with whom I camped), Kazum, March Fourth Marching Band, Stilt Circus, Lucent Dossier Vaudeville Cirque, Bassnectar, Random Rab, Nick.the.Neck, the ever dark Wandering Marionettes, The Glitch Mob, and many more.

As for what I did…

We arrived under cover of darkness late late Thursday night, having fortuitously refueled at exorbitant prices at the last possible moment. A scant fifteen minutes after our camp was assembled and we crashed out did the rain start, which persisted in one state or another for the next 24 hours. Things fortunately got better after that.Camping with clowns, one cannot help but fall into shenanigans. It was thusly that we did engage in the great Featherhead Safari of 2008! Inspired by Boenobo of Gooferman, masterminded by Eric of Cirque Berzerk, (and documented by the Blight), a dozen clowns set forth Sunday afternoon into the untamed wilderness to track the elusive Featherhead, a special demographic of hippie characterized by leather coats priced higher than my (San Francisco) rent, enlarged ears and big earrings, tribal tattoos, snooty attitudes, and — crucially — feathers in their Edwardian hats.

Actually, they’re not elusive at all. They’re everywhere.

They are the peacocks of Burning Man hippie fashion.

And so, clad in pith helmets and armed with butterfly nets, we engaged in catch-and-release, release occurring only after attaching a specimen tag designed by Eric. Some played along (or so we assumed…), taking flight upon spying us so we could give chase; others became flustered, unsure of what to do; and, best of all were those who, at the height of a condescending utter lack of amusement, stared haughtily down their noses at us — unaware of the tag now dangling from the back of their bleeding-edge couture clothing. (Victory!)It’s not that we don’t love the designs — many of the designers would call us their friends (maybe not after this) — nor is it that we aren’t envious of the clothes themselves (no, really…); it’s simply that they take themselves too seriously, and that’s a most dangerous thing to do around a pack of idle clowns. Really.

All in all, it was an excellent event. The art was good, the music great, the live music better, and the performances stellar. The Do Lab handled the vastly increased attendance well with but a few mishaps (such as this, when the roads were packed with stubborn RVs and they couldn’t get to our campsite in the back); it felt like there were twice as many people (at least) as last year, but everything seemed to go gracefully. (Though they only asked me to shoot (and politely offering me a free ticket to do so (thanks!)) just the day before the event… Sorry darlin’, but that’s way too late. I was already going (purchased a ticket, too!) and intended to shoot for myself and friends, since I had never heard back the first time. Perhaps they can license them instead (heee!). If not, oh well: I went to have a good time (and I did).)

And in less-exciting news, several of my photos are featured in the Santa Barbara Independent’s article on Lightning in a Bottle (photos are from 2007 as it was written before this year’s event). And I just found another on the Yard Dogs Roadshow website.

Lovers and Other Monsters — Jill Tracy and the Thrillpeddlers

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

…At the Hypnodrome in San Francisco. I unfortunately only caught the second half of the show, as it started an hour early on Sunday and I was busy working the Burning Man Regional Summit (those photos are coming soon). However, there should be a second run come spring, and it shouldn’t be missed.

Pictured above is Russel Blackwood on the right and his 18-year anniversary cake. Contained within is Jill Tracy and Paul Mercer, The Indra, Audra Wolfmann, and more.

See them here.

Sunday Gorey Sunday — Edwardian Ball photos

Saturday, February 9th, 2008

All three days of the Edwardian Ball are now online! See them all here:

Creepshow Peepshow — Hubba Hubba Revue with Gravity Plays Favorites

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

See the gallery here, complete with the darling and ever-fabulous Gravity Plays Favorites from St. Louis (captured in the photo above).