With Blast-Off Burlesque’s World Tour about to take off this weekend at 7 Stages (if you haven’t bought tickets yet, book ‘em here,! Fri at 9 p.m., and Sat at 7:30 p.m. & 10:30 p.m.), we asked those gorgeous gals and guys about their craziest real-life travel experiences. And did they have some stories to tell—from wicked weather to dodgy directions.
In the first of this three-part series, the entire Blast-Off gang braves a blizzard but our intrepid entertainers know the show must go on…
In January 2009, Blast-Off was heading to Asheville to put on two nights of a “best of” show at North Carolina Stage Company. We were psyched about it, because it was the first time we’d really taken the show on the road, rather than traveling to guest in other folks’ shows.
As the date approached, we kept an eye on the weather. It was January, after all. And as luck would have it, a snow – and ice – storm synched up with our travel plans. We were planning on heading up in two groups, one on Thursday evening and one Friday. The storm had a similar plan of attack.
Barbilicious and Dickie Van Dyke were first to make the journey from Atlanta to North Carolina. They made it just ahead of the storm. Sadie Hawkins had been in Washington, DC for her day job. It was snowing there, too, and she was playing the weather delay game with Delta. Finally, a flight got through, and she made it home just as Atlanta’s weather started to get exciting. She was scheduled to drive up to Asheville with her partner – and Blast-Off’s sound man – Bryant. The goings were slow, but they made it up there in the wee hours.
Now, when team Blast-Off goes to Asheville, we stay in a cabin in the woods. Seriously. Disastrid’s mother has a rustic place at the base of a mountain, off of a curvy road and next to a babbling creek. It’s remote enough that there’s no cell service. It has power and water – and a landline phone.
Turns out, when Dickie and Barbilicious arrived, they discovered that the water pipes had frozen and burst. There was no water. And it was snowing, big-time. And we were all going to be staying there. One bathroom with 12 people was one thing. One bathroom, two shows and no water is another. Good thing there was that creek.
Friday morning many phone calls were made. The weather in Atlanta had gotten awfully bad. There was ice on the highway. The home team wasn’t sure they’d be able to make it out of town. To complicate matters, Mysteria was early in her pregnancy – our MC, Jon [Waterhouse] was going to drive with her and was very concerned about her safety should there be an accident, as well as his own and that of his family at home. After weighing the situation, Jon decided it was safest to stay home. Mysteria hopped a ride with the rest of the caravan: Disastrid and Ferris Hilton, Melanie Magnifique and Rotknee, Chinita La Chou Chou and her boyfriend Jeremy. They fought road conditions (and Atlanta drivers inexperienced with black ice) and provided regular updates as they slowly made their way up.
Meanwhile, the advance team headed to the theatre to prep for the show. Was anyone going to come, with the awful snowstorm? Was the second crew going to make it? Were we even going to be able to have the show? The day was fraught with uncertainty.
Did we mention that we had guest performers in the show? Salome Cabaret was joining us, coming over the mountains from Knoxville. Yeah, we weren’t sure they were going to make it, either.
Thankfully, both the caravan from Atlanta and the Salome ladies made it up just in time. The show was ON! But wait: we didn’t have an MC. Rotknee agreed to pinch hit. We got our faces on and decided that we were going to have fun, whether or not anyone actually showed.
But they came. It sold out. The show went well. Fun was had by all. With one down, and one to go, team Blast-Off headed back to the cabin.
Again: a dozen burlesque-a-teers and one bathroom. No water. So Dickie, Ferris and Bryant took turns hauling up buckets of water from the creek. Through the snow. A bucket to flush. A bucket to boil for washing up.
Saturday, the crew returned to the theater for the second night. Again, the show sold out. It was fun. Blast-Off was a little ripe by the end, but that sheen just helped the glitter stick a little better.
By Sunday morning, the roads in Atlanta had cleared. After a collaboratively-cooked breakfast, the team prepared to leave the cabin. Everyone was ready for a shower.
The weekend ended up being a tremendous team-building opportunity. We took a situation that could have thrown us for a hell of a loop, or even made us call the whole thing off, and we made the best of it. We bonded, and we certainly all got to know one another quite a bit better.
Stay tuned for Part Two: Vintage Vacation: On the Road with Blast-Off Burlesque: World Tour Guest Star Jim Stacy Goes Fishing…