Welcome to Scarlett’s Letters

I’m Scarlett Sparks – a fire-breathin’, scissors-wieldin’, tea-drinkin’, cussin’, fightin’ stagewoman – and this is the blog area of my official website.  I try to comport myself like a lady most of the time, but sometimes one just has to let one’s hair down.  If you:

  • are offended by occasional adult language, or performances and art featuring mature themes and/or nudity; or,
  • just aren’t interested in my thoughts, feelings, and opinions; or,
  • are under the age of 18;

please don’t read on.  Visit the other areas of the site if you wish to find out more about me, but this probably isn’t the place for you.

If, on the other hand, you want to see behind the curtain, please: keep reading.  Just maybe not at work.

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Pink Velvet’s 2012 Lineup

Pink Velvet Burlesque – and our brother troupe, The Velvet Rope Boylesque – has a great 2012 slate lined up! Check out the poster below for dates and details.


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Just… Trust Me

On chilly winter days, when you may be hesitant to leave the steamy comfort of your hot shower, why let those precious moments of warm procrastination swirl down the drain? You’re naked anyway – use them for burlesque practice!

Not all moves are equally shower-friendly, so plan your drills wisely. Here are some handy tips for safe and efficient bath-time rehearsals:

DO: experiment with ass-shimmy variations
DON’T: work on complex footwork or turns
DO: twirl your imaginary tassels
DON’T: practice walking in heels
DO: keep it short and sweet – prunes aren’t sexy
DON’T: take any of this seriously. I jest.

But seriously, folks: the footwork thing? Yeah, just trust me on that.

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October Events

Hey gang, just a quick update to let you know where you can see me doin’ my thing this month:

THIS SATURDAY, October 15 (I know, short notice – I just got confirmation myself!) I’ll be joining Atlantic Cirque with a fire show for Nocturne: Art At Night, a city-wide night-time arts festival.  Atlantic Cirque will be showcasing a variety of circus performances throughout the event (6PM-midnight) at Halifax’s Seaport Market, including my fire performance at (approximately) 10PM.

NEXT WEEKEND, Friday October 21 & Saturday October 22 at Menz Bar, join me and Pink Velvet Burlesque for a Hallowe’en treat (and a few tricks) with Black Stocking Theatre: ReVamped. We’ve got some fresh cadavers… er, I mean acts… lined up, and we’ve exhumed some classic spooky favorites. PLUS, we’ll be joined by some very scary ghosts – oops, GUESTS – from The Velvet Rope Boylesque.  Tickets will be available at Pretty Things Boutique for $10 in advance. $12 at the door.

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You are already naked.

First, read this.  And be sure to watch the video, if you haven’t already seen it.  I’ll wait here.

Steve Jobs undeniably changed the landscape in which we move through our lives.  Yes, I’m typing this on a Mac – a beat-up second-hand MacBook which I love more than its battered exterior would perhaps indicate, until you realize that that’s the result of my taking it everywhere with me, like a favorite stuffed toy worn threadbare* – while taking texts on my beloved iPhone.  (In my household, my iPhone is known as “the magic box” – as in, “What else has that actor been in?  Grab the magic box and look it up!”)   I purchased my first iPod on the advice of a therapist, who thought an always-handy pocket-sized slice of digital escapism might help quell the negative self-talk I’m so prone to; while it might be exaggerating to say it saved my life, that proto-magic box certainly changed it.

This post isn’t about Apple, really.  It isn’t an obituary for Steve Jobs.  It is about that last thing, about the little experiences, decisions and encounters that change everything.

I have struggled on-and-off with depression my entire adult life, and recently, after a relatively long “good” stretch, it has been rearing its head again.  It has been a tough year, work has been scarce, bills plentiful, and my optimism is failing.  I’ve been allowing the asshole in my head to tell me that I’m not good enough to be successful at anything I love or want to do, that I don’t deserve what I want or need, that I shouldn’t bother trying; to slam the door on every idea and stop me before I begin.  I am angry.  I am afraid.  I am paralyzed.

The last time I was sunk this deep, a friend invited me over for wine and and Fight Club, one of my all-time, top five films***.  That movie, at that time, was pure serendipity for me; it sublimated concepts that numerous cognitive behavioral therapy books had not got through to me: You are not your job; you’re not how much money you have in the bank; you’re not the car you drive; you’re not the contents of your wallet… This is your life, and it’s ending, one minute at a time.

I wasn’t exactly a one-woman Project Mayhem, but applying a moderate proportion of Tyler Durden’s nihilism freed me to make choices and take risks instead of being frozen in doubt or guilt, and to channel the energy I’d been using to beat myself up into more creative and rewarding pursuits.  I stopped thinking of “worth” and “meaning” as objective scales against which I would never measure up.  It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything. I decided to do what felt right and see where that led.

It led to a lot of good things.  It led to two mostly positive and productive years.  But slowly, bit by bit, I forgot how to think like that.  I gradually added responsibilities, obligations and attachments that seem to limit my capacity to take the personal and professional risks required for growth.  I can’t afford success because I can’t afford failure.  I start looking at call centre jobs and thinking that life is a dead end.  I feel trapped and lose hope.

Then today, like that night watching Fight Club, I once again feel like I am getting the right message at the right time. The flood of inspirational Steve Jobs quotes and stories in the wake of his passing reminded me that, yes: life will, somewhere along the line, throw up a No Exit sign, and that’s the end of the road.  On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything interesting between here and there, and it certainly doesn’t mean you can’t make the journey as interesting as you want it to be.

It may seem strange, interspersing the dialogue of a fictional anti-corporate terrorist with the words of a real-life consumerist icon, but I see a common sentiment: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” Though Tyler Durden may have disagreed with the particular way Steve Jobs changed the world (and vice versa), I think they would have respected each other’s philosophy.

In the video, Jobs talks about connecting the dots, about seemingly isolated moments that later form a complete picture.  I don’t see this as fate, and I don’t think he did either – the picture is not waiting there, pre-formed, waiting for you to go through the paces; it emerges as you make your choices, and the further flung and more varied your dots, the more complex your picture will become.  We cannot predict the future; we cannot discern the ways today sets the stage for tomorrow.  We can make the most of right now.

“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked.”

I am already naked.  I have nothing to lose.

Thank you, Steve, for changing everything.  Again.


* (I have a few of these, too.  Orange Cat ceased to be very orange after countless snuggles, a number of trips cross-country, an accidental dousing in beer** and a number of wash cycles.  In places there is barely enough structure to his fabric to hold the stuffing in.)

**(It is perhaps worth noting that Orange Cat was presented to me, brand new, while I was in college.) [back to text]

*** Bonus points if you catch the reference to one of the other five. [back to text]

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MESMERIZE at the Atlantic Fringe Fest

Cabaret Serpentine (and the opening-soon Serpentine Studios) has been hard at work polishing MESMERIZE for the Atlantic Fringe Festival, and we opened on Thursday night to great reviews – check out some of our great press below!

The Coast

The Chronicle Herald

TWISI: Theatre Blog

The show is on again tonight, as well as next Friday and Saturday (see showtimes here), at the Neptune Studio Theatre.

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I keep forgetting…

…how physically demanding a fire-eating act can be. You know, aside from the burning. And the poisoning.

But man, my quads are screaming after tonight’s show.  Must really remember to stretch just as much as I would for a dance act.

Anyway, after two weeks of back-to-back traveling and keeping up with the logistical and social demands of events near and far, it is oh so very, very nice to be at home, alone, on the computer (I missed you, old friend!), with a pizza in the oven and sweatpants on my aching legs, and with the knowledge that I have a day off tomorrow.

That is all.

Oh, except for this: the Toronto Burlesque Festival was awesome and I look forward to telling you all about it… another time.

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Come buy my cupcakes!

This Saturday June 25 from 12pm to 3pm, Pretty Things Boutique will be hosting a Burlesque Bake Sale with all funds going to help cover the travel expenses of sending Halifax’s own Pink Velvet Burlesque to the 2011 Toronto Burlesque Festival next month!

Stop by for some delicious goodies – you’ll love our cupcakes! Not just treats for your tummy but treats for your eyes too; we’ll also be having live burlesque performers in our store windows during the bake sale!

Rouge Fatale, Miss C, Kitty Le Coque, Mena Von Fleisch, Kay Licious, Lulu Lashes, Scarlett Sparks, and Buster Price will all be going up to show the world what Halifax burlesque is made of July 21 to July 24!

Visit the facebook event!

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Halifax Strip Search!

Do you dream of hitting the Toronto Burlesque Fest stage?  Here’s your chance to win a trip to TBF ’11, including a performance slot!  This talent competition is open to ALL variety acts (as long as they are safe and legal!) so come out and show us what you’ve got!  (Details below.)

If you’re more of a groupie type, come out to the show and make lots of noise for your favorite performers!  Sunday, June 26, 7-9PM at Menz Bar; admission $6; must be 19+ to attend.






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We put the “fun” in “fundraising”!

Event!  This Sunday!  Ok, ok… I know it’s Father’s Day.  But Dads like sexy ladies and pancakes, right?  Bring ‘em along!

Summer Solstice Social & Pancake Brunch Fundraiser (in support of Pink Velvet Burlesque members traveling to the Toronto Burlesque Festival)

Menz Bar, 2182 Gottingen St, Halifax NS – 902-446-6969

$10 admission gets you: Brunch cooked and served by sexy burlesque dancers! Live performances! Merchandise table! Bake Sale! Games! Prizes! …And MORE!

Please come out for a good time and a good cause.  If you can’t make it to this event, watch for upcoming happenings and other ways you can contribute.  If you’d like to help out or donate a prize for this or a future event, please contact me!

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Clean Beauty, part one

It started innocently enough: I complimented a friend on her stunning red haircolour and she confessed that one of the ways she keeps it vibrant is by not washing it… “like, NEVER”.

Being a curly girl who has read Curly Girl, Lorraine Massey’s book on the unique challenges of cutting, styling, caring for and loving naturally curly hair, I was familiar with the “no ‘poo” approach to haircare (specific techniques vary, but it basically involves cutting out detergent-laden shampoos, lifting dirt from the scalp and hair using just a bit of conditioner and a gentle rub).  I used Massey’s method religiously for quite a while, but eventually I went back to shampoo – I can’t recall why, whether it was that I became dissatisfied with the way conditioner seemed to weigh my curls down, or if it was when I dreaded my locks.  Either way, I sudsed up with some product or another for at least the last three years, but then, when I went to dye my hair, I thought of what my friend had said: “like, NEVER”.

I had just gone back to boxed dye after successfully using henna for quite some time, and though the drugstore gunk was faster and more convenient than the whole-day event that is henna (for me), the colour just didn’t have the same staying power.  I really wanted to keep that dye stuck to my hair as long as I could, so I waited to wash.  And I waited.  And I waited some more.  When I finally felt like it needed a little something, I scrubbed the roots with a bit of conditioner.  And then waited.

The more I waited, the better my hair looked, and the healthier it felt.  It was shiny and less prone to breakage, developing big, loose, bouncy curls instead of big frizz.  My scalp was less itchy and my embarrassing flakes all but disappeared.

After a few weeks and some more experimenting, I no longer feel like I need goopy, heavy silicone serums to control my hair.  I massage my scalp and rinse thoroughly every day or every-other day, I brush (carefully!) a couple of times a day, and I’ve only used conditioner to loosen and lubricate the henna paste (which I recently returned to, with great results – stay tuned for the details in a future installment).

In retrospect, my friend probably didn’t mean literally “never”.  Then again, I’m not “never” washing my hair, either: the mechanical action of massaging, rinsing and brushing is plenty to keep it clean without detergents and perfumes and silicones.

“Sham” + “poo”?  Yeah, sounds about right to me.

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