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Burlesque Business Advice - Money - Chicago Burlesque Dancer Red Hot Annie Weinert
She really makes the wieners boil!

Red Hot Annie / Ann Marie Weinert
Date: 2014-01-22 07:59
Subject: Burlesque Business Advice - Money
Security: Public
Tags:advice for new performers, burlesque business
Q: I was recently asked to perform at a local fringe festival. It's relatively new and they are having a fundraiser to off set the cost of the bigger event. They don't pay performers for the fundraiser but said last year the girls passed the hat after each act and made good tips. They do pay for the bigger event. Have you heard of this being done? From a personal standpoint I can totally handle it. More crowd interaction, a chance to say thank you? Sure! However I'm getting some disapproving looks when I mentioned it to a couple other people. Just wondering your take on it?

In my experience, passing the hat is an excellent way to bring in a little extra something for the performers. I don't personally see any issue with accepting tips, especially if they are collected in a way that allows the performer dignity (in Chicago, Vaudezilla has our pick-up girls do the hat passing, for example).

Different areas of the country have varying viewpoints on tips, though. I've been on stages where the audience threw waded up dollar bills on stage. It doesn't bother me, but some of my gals felt like it was disrespectful. As always, you can expect a wide range of reactions to money situations as they pertain to burlesque, but ultimately there are a lot of right ways to do tips and you should decide for yourself what you prefer.

Actually, the only major thing that gives me pause is that you're considering doing the show for "tips only" - I've found that this is usually a bad precident to set for venues/producers. Have you considered asking for a small minimum (in addition to tips)? Even just $15 to cover your lashes & stockings?

Unless the fundraiser is being thrown by someone you really know for a cause that you really believe in, you need to be aware that money is being made - and that the business savvy thing to do in these situations is to position yourself as a performer who is paid well for her work and is making an *exception* to take a lower guaranatee (even if that's not true, it'll be better for your future opportunities to make it a policy never to work for free).

Remember that every person you come in contact with professionaly will be making a generalization about burlesque performers based on what they experience with you - and no one wants producers walking away with an impression that "burlesque dancers don't need to get paid."

There are - of course - always exceptions, but make sure you are really examining the event prior to agreeing to do any event for "tips only."

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