2017: A Burlesque Year in Review

It's not an exaggeration to say that 2017 has been a rough year. I've dealt with abusive bosses, difficult coworkers, leaving two jobs, debt, fear, uncertainty, fights with family members, and a resurgence of my major depressive disorder. 

But that said...2017 wasn't all bad. In fact, if I really go back and look at it, it was an incredible year. So I want to go into 2018 holding onto that fact. So here’s why my 2017 was actually wonderful: 



In January, I left my job at Bay Area dot com. I flew to NYC and got to hang out with one of my favorite humans in the entire world, Kelly Boaz, and we got to room with a puppy named Atticus who liked belly rubs. Then Badier joined us, and I performed the 30 minute workshop of my one woman show at Feinstein’s/54 Below, accompanied by the talented and funny Ben Caplan, with my amazing kittens, Sam Streich and Daniel Scarantino. 



Then Badier and I flew to Vermont for the Nerdlesque night of the Vermont Burlesque Festival. I met some amazing people and got to perform Goldilocks and the Three Chairs. I think I also had to convince Mr. Gorgeous that I wasn’t stalking him. 




In February, I performed Call Me Maybe at the Great Burlesque Expo in Cambridge. Red Velvet gave me the opportunity to teach the 1-hour version of my act creation workshop, I got to cheer for Lady Sapphire Noir and Boysinberry Cupcake, and I met some awesome performers. One of my best friends from high school, Matt Presser, even came to the show! And I made it out of Boston *just before* a blizzard could cause my flight to get cancelled. 



In March, I went to Anchorage, Alaska for the Freezing Tassel Burlesque Festival. I was randomly assigned to room with Pickled Tink, who was not only an amazing roommate, but also a fucking fantastic performer. I met even more talented sparkly humans and performed Goldilocks at Koots, which is one of the craziest and coolest bars I’ve ever been inside of. 

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Scarlet Conte and I also co-produced Curtains Cabaret’s Legislate This! South Bay fundraiser for Planned Parenthood — which not only sold out, but we had to turn people away at the door. I don’t remember much about the evening because I was in the midst of a nasty bronchitis, but I do remember Rosie Reigns being my flower girl and having to take an inhaler after stripping while singing “Getting Married Today” from Sondheim’s Company. 




In April, I went to the Philadelphia Burlesque Festival, which was an absolute blast. I performed Call Me Maybe, and — and I think more important — I was re-introduced to one of my childhood best friends as Iris Explosion! 

I spent the 7 hour plane ride home hand-sewing sequins to a pair of panties in preparation for my Big Hubba debut in May. 


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Oh my god, May. In May…I performed my one-woman show, How Lovely to Be a Woman, in its entirety for the first time, this time accompanied by the incredible Nichole Boaz and assisted by Rosie Reigns and Lexy Lemondrop. It was…well, holy shit, it was an experience. I’m so grateful for everyone who helped make that night happen. 



One week later, I performed my first real classic-inspired number at the Hubba Hubba Revue. It was another holy shit experience, and I’m still reeling from it. 

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And THEN I went to LA for the Hollywood Burlesque Festival. Because May was the month that just didn’t stop. I met Nat Hugil, who fucking slayed me with her drag king chest hair, and I performed Call Me Maybe. My cousin Sam even came to see the show!



In June, Rosie Reigns and I drove back to LA (and listened to 9 hours of the My Dad Wrote a Porno podcast) for the California Burlypicks. We performed our Ugly Stepsisters Number and even had a few moments to go to the beach and just take a break. So grateful for my amazing duet partner — we need to start talking about duet number two! 


I also started teaching my burlesque dance class at the Billy DeFrank Center. I can’t believe it’s been 6 months since I started teaching regularly already!


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I took July off from travel, despite getting into a few burlesque festivals. It was just too much money to fly on short notice. 

Scarlet and I produced Curtains Cabaret’s Showgirls in Space, which was…a different kind of experience. Despite our tech issues, our space vulva (which was tirelessly worked on by Elli Jelly, Scarlet, and Rosie) held up, and we still had a good time. Look out for 2018, when we re-mount this thing and do it with real tech! 



I also got to be a part of the Body Political, which was an amazing experience unto itself. I highly, highly recommend seeing or applying for their shows -- they're intense, but amazing. 


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In August, Badier and I went to Portland for the Oregon Burlesque Festival. It was hotter than Hades, but I got to perform Goldilocks again AND finally see why Portland is so amazing. 




In September, Badier came with me to the Hawaii Burlesque Festival, where I performed my Under the Sea number. It was my second time at the festival, and I swear, I would go every year if I could. Violetta Beretta and company run a tight ship, and make a full-length theatrical show happen in just two days. Also: Hawaii! So gorgeous. More shave ice, please. 

After Hawaii, I gave two weeks notice at my job. I moved into full-time freelance and burlesque teaching just before the month ended. 


I also started teaching burlesque at San Francisco Pole and Dance, which has been an absolute dream. AND I started performing as Will X. Uly. My first performance was at the San Francisco Drag King Contest and my second was with the Rebel Kings of Oakland. Not a bad start! 


Another month of no travel AND almost no performances. I focused on teaching and writing. I got a gig teaching children’s theatre classes. I auditioned for Cabaret and got in. 


November was absurd. I started rehearsals for Cabaret. Rosie and I performed at Monday Hubba’s 10th anniversary. I went to Burlycon and danced so much that my body broke. I also learned SO MUCH and got inspired to work on some more classic acts. 


And then Badier and I flew to Europe so I could compete in the neo-burlesque night at the Amsterdam Burlesque Award. Then we spent a week in Paris, just because. It was such an amazing break from everything. 


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And then this month…I’ve expanded my burlesque classes to three times a week, and next month I’ll be teaching FOUR times a week. I performed as Will four times, and Scarlet and I produced the second annual Curtain’s Cabaret’s Oy, Humbug! We got a great turn out — and I can’t wait to do it again next year. 


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In 2018, I'll be traveling less and teaching more -- which means I'll be here in the Bay Area to bring you the knowledge that I've gained from a year of travel and performance. If you'd like to join me, make sure to sign up for classes now! 

Kaila Prins