Taking your show on the road is challenging. You have to be able to predict what could possibly go wrong and plan for it, and you have to keep your costumes in top shape while living out of a suitcase. The ever glamorous yet down-to-earth Evie Lovelle shares her experiences so you can make your travels simpler and successful.
RED SNAPPER: YOU TRAVEL OVERSEAS FREQUENTLY AND HAVE LUGGAGE LIMITATIONS WHEN YOU TRAVEL. WHAT TRICKS DO YOU USE TO FIT ALL OF YOUR GOWNS, FEATHER FANS, AND MERCH? HOW DO YOU MANAGE TO STAY UNDER THE WEIGHT LIMIT FOR YOUR BAGS?
EVIE LOVELLE: When you’re packing for being on the road for a month or more, your biggest weight obstacles are going to be liquids and shoes. Yes, it would be nice to not have to trek to the market on your day off and hope you can decipher the shampoo bottles or to be able to wear that one pair of red shoes that go so well with that one cocktail dress that you may have the opportunity to wear once, but wouldn’t it be nicer to not pay that extra $200 for 5lbs, stand in another line and then worry after submitting that receipt [that you’ll be reimbursed by the production company]? I always travel with a manual luggage scale because digital things let you down. This is not to say that I don’t run into the humiliating and frantic baggage scale shuffle at the airport. Every airline is different and the same airline can have different weight regulations between international and domestic flights (so watch those connections!). Be polite, smile and be sympathetic to the person helping you with your luggage.
RED: DO YOU HAVE LUGGAGE RECOMMENDATIONS FOR TOURING PERFORMERS?
EVIE: For years I used cheap, enormous bags and I struggled with my luggage. I was so jealous when people would pass me with these nice bags that just seemed to sail along. I invested in some medium cost models with the 360 wheel feature and my travels have been much easier.
RED: HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR GARMENTS STAGE READY WHEN YOU’RE LIVING OUT OF A SUITCASE?
EVIE: It is a blessing when I land at a venue with a house costumer. This lovely person takes your acres of yardage that have been wadded up, and irons them for show time. Hug this person. When I don’t have access to a house costumer, I arrive at the venue early, put on a Parasitism podcast and iron everything myself. It’s a nice meditation. When pressing is not possible at the venue, I’ll iron in my hotel room, pack neatly and hang the garments as soon as I check in. I used to travel with a steamer but with the voltage change country to country…let’s just say I was spattered with boiling water one too many times, and it quit me, abruptly leaving me wrinkly for a television performance. I also learned a trick from a wardrobe friend, most stains and dirt smudges will come out with a standard hand wipe. A “handy wipe,” a low lint towel and some friction can help your costumes look clean when you’re touring, and only you need know the truth of your grubbiness.
RED: WHAT’S YOUR GREATEST COSTUME DISASTER WHILE TRAVELING?
EVIE: The tour manager brought a large garbage bag of ice backstage for an injured performer. The bag leaked and the stage kitten put my light blue taffeta costume right in the big puddle. The carpet was filthy so the fabric soaked up not only the water but the dirt as well instantly leaving my gown hideously watermarked.
RED: YOU HAD MULTIPLE STOPS ON THAT TOUR. HOW DID YOU DEAL WITH IT BEFORE THE NEXT PERFORMANCE?
EVIE: Since we were packing up and moving to the next gig that night, it had to be packed wet. There was no cleaner to be found in the next town, the damage ended up being permanent and I had to RESEW every bit of the gown. Thank goodness the corset was unharmed! And thank goodness I had packed an extra costume!
RED: WHAT’S IN THE SEWING KIT YOU TAKE WITH YOU FOR REPAIRS ON THE ROAD?
EVIE: I pack my sewing kit for the specific costumes I’m taking on the road. I’ll pack loaded bobbins rather than spools of thread to save space, a tiny tube of E6000, safety pins, sewing needles, stick pins and oodles of fasteners. A pair of all-purpose shears is in there too. I would recommend you take a look at everything and just anticipating it giving you trouble at the worst moment, imagine how you’re going to fix it, and pack what you’ll need to make that happen.
RED: MEALS CAN BE TRICKY WHEN TRAVELING, ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU HAVE DIETARY RESTRICTIONS. HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR THAT?
EVIE: I would like to say that you’d inform the person you’re paying to be your manager to inform the venue ahead of time and this will not be an issue; however, when third parties are involved, they may not get the message. I have a bit of paranoia when it comes to foods with meat, dairy and egg products. I love parasitology, especially the life cycles of infectious organisms, so, there you go. I started packing a 2lb container of “Tru-Food Vegan” by the company NOW when I travel. It’s economical, very healthy and almost makes up for the missing daily 1lb of broccoli in my life. I’ve also traveled with a bulk of Heart Thrive Sun Cakes in the past. Always be prepared to take care of yourself.
RED: YOU’VE PERFORMED IN A FEW FESTIVALS. ANY RECOMMENDATIONS TO MAKE THE BACKSTAGE EXPERIENCE BETTER WHEN YOU’RE MEETING SO MANY PEOPLE IN A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME?
EVIE: I am a total dork at festivals backstage (in life too, but especially backstage). I get really excited and happy which then makes me want to be super helpful. I’m paranoid about not being ready, so I’m dressed early and usually stitching someone into their costume or safety pinning something to some hard to reach place for someone I’ve just met. Try to take up as little space as possible, be mindful of the limited outlets/mirrors and keeping the floor free of dangerous obstacles (that Altoid you dropped could cost a girl her ankle, I’ve seen it happen). There are so many beautiful and interesting people and things all in one room, why not let the compliments fly? Again, be nice!
RED: WHAT FIVE THINGS SHOULD EVERY PERFORMER HAVE WHEN THEY TRAVEL?
EVIE: 1) A coat. DO NOT LEAVE THE HOUSE WITHOUT IT.
2) A compact umbrella. Too much sunshine? Surprise rain? It happens every time.
3) Earphones. Sometimes, burlesque touring is a lot like zip lining (yes, that’s a South Park reference).
4)Jelly flats. Don’t hate. When you want to walk a new town for 12 hours straight, they’re pretty much your only option for keeping your feet happy enough to slip into stage heels later.
5) A full container of your favorite sunblock and a kick ass medicine kit. Sunblock is not seasonal! Anticipate any sort of sick you may become and pack for it. Wandering around to pharmacies and trying to explain what’s going on with you in another language while you’re dead ill is not fun, trust me.
RED: ANY OTHER TIPS FOR TRAVELING PERFORMERS?
EVIE: Meeting sweet, wonderful, lifelong pals is one of the rare perks of this job. Mind your manners. Be kind to the people working at the venues. Be kind to the people who are taking the time out of their lives to see your show. Be gracious, be prompt and do not forget those earphones.
Evie Lovelle was named Most Classic at Burlesque Hall of Fame in 2008. You can catch Evie in the film Tournée, and as one of our headliners at the First Hollywood Burlesque Festival. She splits her time between European tours and creating costume masterpieces in her Los Angeles home with her husband, Mike, and her kitties, Vincent and Stewart.http://www.facebook.com/TheEvieLovelle