Titillating Tuesday Business Tip

with The Luvely Rae

Producer Felicia Fatale (left) was under the weather but asie negative thinking and focused on delivering a great performance. (Backstage at Glow Burlesque)
Producer Felicia Fatale (left) was under the weather she put aside negative thinking and focused on delivering a great performance. (Backstage at Glow Burlesque)

Titillating Business Tip: Make the most of the time you have.

This past weekend I found myself backstage with 2 other burlesque producers, all of us preparing to take the stage. Thanks to a series of last minute cancellations from half the cast, we were all working diligently to ensure that the well deserving audience still received a great show. The goal: leave them loving what they have been given, not longing for what they did not receive. There we were three burlesque producers all with varying levels of experience, with the pressure of a show staring us right in the face. Instead of catching up on industry gossip while affixing pasties, we traded business tips. We talked about the separation of business relationships and personal relationships. We talked about the standards we set for ourselves in our industry. We talked about commitments being contracts and our responsibility as producers to work with professionals who honor their contracts. We talked about how holding others accountable to the agreements they make, is one of the little things that shows venues and booking managers, that we are professionals. We talked and then we performed.

You don’t have to be a burlesque producer to make the most of time you have backstage. Let’s face it, not everyone can handle talking shop backstage preshow. No matter what type of performer you are, you can make the most of your time backstage by honoring the commitment you made to your audience– the commitment to give a great performance. I remember performing in play last year where the backstage talk covered: who had sex that day, who got wasted the night before, what auditions people went on, and what music they used to rock out to in high school. The conversation created a relaxed atmosphere for most of the talent, but it also created a problem. It wasn’t uncommon for performers to desperately be looking for props between scenes (solvable by having an awesome stage manager and theater crew) or even worst coming off stage having dropped lines moments earlier. Basically, these actors, all striving to be the next big thing, had failed to do the little things. They failed to make the most of their backstage time, they failed their audience by delivering less than great performances, and they failed their fellow cast members. I made the most of my time by reviewing my lines preshow and running them with my scene partners. I took a moment to send words of encouragement when people announced auditions and callbacks. I asked about families (but not about sex lives). I made it by goal to honor my commitment regardless of whether or not other cast members were honoring theirs. I made the most of my time and I think Actor’s Equity would agree (check out Actor’s Equity’s etiquette tips.

Here’s a few ways you can make the most of your time even if talking shop makes you more nervous than fired up:

  • Steer clear of gossip– when the gossip starts to flow, tune out. You can try changing the subject or ask if your friend can tell you the dirt after the performance.
  • Ditch negative attitudes– don’t spend all of your backstage time bitching about everything that went wrong that day. It’s a huge time waster. It may be at the forefront of your mind, but your words of frustration may also be misconstrued by others. Shannon Doherty’s recent car comments are a perfect example of how a negative statement backstage could have simple been misconstrued words or an extension of Diva behavior.
  • It’s okay to be a diva, but not demanding– you can be goddess like, but know that you are not a god. You are not above anyone else backstage even if you are the headliner.
  • Be a Giver– Head backstage with the plan of giving: give compliments (only honest ones), give hugs, give laughs, give pastie tape if asked, and give advice if asked. When you give, you will receive something. The exchange can be an excellent use of your time.
  • Focus on the task at hand– remember you are there to do a job. Focus on doing that job well. Every time I work with Apathy Angel or Essence Revealed, I’ll see them steal away from the group, pop in some headphones and go over their choreography. Take a moment to focus on your craft before hitting the stage.

Making the most of your backstage time can help you create magic on stage. That magic will lead to a happy audience, a happy producer, and more bookings.

Side note: Both Diva behavior and Gossiping have gotten talented performers placed on my “do not book” list.