Hey there! Welcome back to another Showgirl Story Time! I made this video in preparation of the release of episode 9, Better than corporations and Cirque, to define more Showgirl vocabulary that was discussed in the episode. What is a cue? What is a g string? and What is Golden Rainbow?
I thought it would be fun to define these terms and give a run down of a costume change cue for the short nude line. I have included a few photos from me in the show as a short nude and in the Golden Rainbow Ribbon of Life showcase.
Have fun learning about more behind the scenes at Jubilee!
Hey there, welcome to another Showgirl Story Time. So today I’m going to be defining some of the terms that came up in the most recent episode that comes out this weekend. And I interviewed Freida Bronfin, she was one of the wardrobe technicians, also known as dressers in the show. Some of the things she brought up, I thought maybe it would be good to define so that if you’re not a performer you understand what the heck she’s talking about. So that’s what this video is all about.
The first term that came up is the word “Cue” or “Cues.” That basically is a duty or responsibility, and each cue, lines up with the order or the run up the show. So there’s the opening number and where that dresser is supposed to be before the opening number and then after the opening number. So all of those things duties are called cues. And someone is someone who had a track, basically, they followed a specific set of cues and generally aligned with which room of people they were responsible for. So if you had, if you were a shortening, dresser, or wardrobe technician, then you would basically follow the short nudes around for the whole show. Sometimes they dressed in the dressing room downstairs sometimes their costumes were up on stage levels, sometimes they were in quick change rooms, sometimes they were in the quick change rooms on the side stage there were many places to put costumes in the Jubilee theatre. Because they were so huge. So they had to figure out places to put the costumes, and they ended up going different places. And then everyone, whether it was the performers or the dressers, they had to know when to go to those places in order to get those performers on stage, on time. An example would be the short nude opening. The short nudes, started on stage for the opening number in Jubilee!, when I was in the show.
I’m not sure what it was like when they changed it. But short nudes would get ready downstairs, and they would put on their black velvet skirt, their underwire, their rhinestone choker, two earrings, and their gloves and bracelets. And they would walk up the stairs, and they would meet the dressers at these special boxes. The boxes were built to house, I believe it was six hats, six girls each, so three on each side. I wish I had pictures. And the black hat would, it had kind of like a little hammock, each little section had a little hammock and black hat would fit in there. And the dresser would pull the hat and place it out in front and then the short name with duck her head down, put the hat on, and then walk to her place. And that was just to get ready for the opening number. So about five minute to minute call the girls would start heading up there. Once the places cue was called, everyone should have been in their, their place on stage on the platforms.
And so then the shorts would do their little thing, and they would parade and do a little ditty with the tall nudes, and then they would exit the stage. So the first half of the opening number was all black, and then the elevator would come up, and there was this huge mirror that you could see all this pink and orange, as it was like being raised. And then everything changed to pink and orange. The girls that were coming up the elevator were Bluebells, the covered dancers. And the tall nudes, took the place of the short nudes on the platforms they started on, and the short nudes, went off stage. They got to the Quick Change boxes, there was a sheet laying down, and they would take off their hat, hand it to their dresser and start putting on their G string. So they grab their G string, they grab their hat. And then these hats were just, they were fairly light and weren’t big and cumbersome so they could just grab them and just put them on their heads. And some had chin straps, some of them didn’t depending on the balance on your head. And then you would turn around your dresser would pull the backpack out and hold it for you and you would literally put it on like a jacket or a backpack, and then hook you in and then you would go get ready for your second cue to get on stage.
So that, while the short nudes were doing the second half of the opening number in the pink and orange costumes, the dressers were then hanging up the skirts. Because they grabbed the skirt from the girl and then they helped their, I believe it was three girls per dresser so they have four dressers out there for the these boxes. In the boxes, once the opening number was done, and they had the black skirts hanging, the short nudes would come off the stage, and they would take off their hat. The dresser would help them out of their backpacks, they would hang it on the lower section. I wish I had a picture again. They would take off their backpacks over the sheets so that none of the feathers got dirty and hand it to the dresser. The dresser would hang everything back up, and then the girls would go for the next change which was the side stage side stages there were their disco costumes. And the dressers would fold up the sheets, drop the curtain that was like dust free curtains to cover all the feathers and hats, and then those boxes would move over to this fly line that some kind of hook or something would come down, be lowered, and they would hook it, and that would be flown up into the ceiling. And you can see the boxes. I don’t have a picture of that either, but they were hanging. I would say it must have been if it was three stories down it must have been three stories up, and you could just see them like hanging out in the corner of the, the backstage area.
So that was just one costume change, and the dresser would then go to their next cue which was disco. That happened for every single cost costume change some sort of order like that and it was always a process and once you got it down. It was the same thing, night after night, unless you swung into a different position. And that happened 10 times a show for for the short nudes. Each line had different number of costume changes, and that was the only Quick Change, that the shorts had, was the black skirts into the pink and orange. Just a little quick rundown of one cue of that show, or a dresser, and the short nude.
The next thing we talked about is the fact that we needed dressers in the first place. Of course we can get dressed. We can dress ourselves. And sometimes some of the costumes, we would get almost completely in by ourselves, but some of them we needed zippers zipped. And it was, you know, we weren’t trying to like, zip. We didn’t help each other, unless, like, a dresser had to run off and, and there was an emergency or something. We didn’t normally zip each other up that it was the dresser’s job so we just let them do their job. But there were other things like the hats for the opening where, you know, they would hold it out for us and then we would duck her head under and get it on her head. There are other hats that were just odd shaped and and then pieces that clipped onto our skirts or our G strings that needed fastening and slipping and all of that stuff.
So they would just help us get those extra special pieces on. I had a pair of beautiful wings that were made out of steel and rhinestones that I wore for the finale. And there was no frickin way I was getting those off by myself, I needed my dresser to tuck them into the little pack in the back of my underwire. If we needed help with hat, sometimes we needed help with backpacks, the principal finale backpacks, the dresser Angie, she was responsible for all three of those backpacks. She would hold it out and we would duck under, we would turn and duck under, and she would help us put it on. And we would kind of stay bent down because she was a little bit shorter and then she would fasten the hook so they wouldn’t fall off of us. And that’s that’s how backpacks worked. And we always need help with the backpacks because we did, they didn’t want the feathers to get damaged. So the dresser was responsible for keeping it high enough so that the fathers weren’t sweeping the floor because the floor was really really dirty. Lots of dust and debris flying around through that place, night after night.
So they were basically there to keep the costumes from getting damaged and to report damage if it happened on stage. Like if something fell off or a hook broke or something, you would hand it to the dresser or you would say hey my something broke and then they would, they would make a note, and write it down, or whatever they needed to do.
And then they would prepare that after the shows were over, or after the show is over if you know if it was first show. So that was kind of, that’s kind of the reason we needed dressers. And they also kept our costumes looking amazing, night after night.
So we talked a lot about G strings in the episode. And I just kind of wanted to clarify what that means for some people because I think some people think it’s similar to like burlesque where most burlesque people that I knew that I performed with never wore tights. It was not like that, we always had tights on. And, at least in Jubilee! There was another show where some people refused to wear tights, and I hope to interview that amazing woman, one of these days. But spoiler alert.
So we always wore tights and under our tights we wore what we called a personal G string. And when Freida says, “I always used to make G strings for the girls,” that’s what she was talking about. So this is a personal G string. It literally is a triangle with elastic. This is jewelry cord, that I, I started making these like this, when I started doing burlesque because I needed to skimpier elastic. And the ones that were made when I first got to the show were triangles, but they were not stretch. They were just cotton like quilting fabric, and I didn’t like them. Just because, after wearing them for even just one show, it would just wad up and just get really uncomfortable. And I just was like nope, I need a little bit more coverage. And I need to feel like it shapes to my, it forms to my body. So I started making g strings.
And this is even a different pattern than the one I used to make. I don’t have any more of those they wore out. And the elastic was quarter inch white braided elastic. It wasn’t anything special. We never made it look nice. It was just a triangle patch, basically with an elastic band. And all we did, we used the elastic to wrap our tights around so that it was a nice little kind of casing so we cut off that thick elastic band, so that we can tuck, we could tuck our tights in to the G string of the show Gs basically, which were these. So we would put on, first thing we put on our G string, then we would put on our tights, and then our shoes. And then we would put on whatever G string. So every change we made unless we were doing a shoe change, we made while standing with hee, with heels on. So that whole story about the short names changing from a black skirt to a pink and orange g string. They did it with their two and a half inch silver opening and finale shoes. So, no sitting down, there were no chairs, there was a sheet.
And you stood there, so. So we had our personal G, tights, heels, then G string. And these, the G strings, so this is a G string that I made for the live band burlesque show I did. I did an opening showgirl number, to try to bring a little bit Ziegfeld into my burlesque show. And I had made nine of these beauties. So I had the, this thing custom embroidered and then I had, the girls actually helped me. But the G string itself is made out of muslin and cotton that were dyed. So this kind of, it’s just like a cotton. And it has some stretch to it, just a little. But it’s not like, like swimsuit fabric at all like this one is. This one is just, it has casings, so that the g string, or so that the elastic can be fed through so it does stretch. So, all of the show gs were like this. And so they had, this is actually quite narrow. Most of them were a little bit thicker about an inch and a quarter, finished. And so the tights and the G string, personal g would hide underneath. And it wouldn’t come out.
Because if anyone knows has known me, that my, one of my biggest pet peeves is people’s tights, showing. And that was because in Jubilee, it was not okay that tiny little thing of any kind of tights, showing was a big deal, and you would get a note about it. And maybe back in the day you might get gotten fined, for having your tights, showing. So, it was about keeping the illusion of the spectacle of the showgirl and the show as pristine as possible. If someone had a bruise or a tattoo or tan lines, it totally killed the illusion. She’s not this amazing goddess like creature anymore, she’s a human being on stage. So that that was kind of why there was such amazingly high standards. So back to the g strings.
So they were, they were made out of non-stretch fabric. And the reason for that was because this the fabric, usually outlasted the elastic. So, these, the G strings that they had like the, the, the nude gs that they were for pretty much, if you ever saw a Jubilee! dancer, she, like pictures like at a special event, she was usually wearing a nude g string or her pink and orange. The nude G strings were worn for like everything because they went, this the sparkles went with everything. With any color feather or whatever so this was like the basic thing. That every girl had to have their own G, it was fit to their body.
And it was studded with the prongs, the rhinestone prongs and everything. That wasn’t cheap or easy to make. So they had to make sure that that work lasted as long as possible. Pete Menefee says that his costumes, in his contract had to last seven years. So he made sure that the people at Elizabeth Courtney that made the G strings or whoever made them. Some, I think, Marios had made me some. He made me, my love, G string, which was beautiful. But all the stones had to be set nicely, and it was double layered, it was like lined. Some of them had extra, like three layers of fabric, and then once they got the embroidery or the sequins and all of the stones on, that was like a real heavy thing. And the cool thing about the Jubilee ones is they also had it that like the body chains I have they had chain all the way around the G string and dangles hanging from that. So they were beautiful, beautiful, G strings.
One of the last things we discussed in Frieda’s episode was Golden Rainbow. Golden Rainbow is an organ, organization that raises funds to help people living with AIDS or HIV in the southern Nevada area by providing them housing, food, clothing, anything, they really need to help them deal with living with the, with that disease. Every year they did, they put on the special show called Ribbon of Life, at Bally’s actually. It was really cool Bally’s was like the host hotel for a very long time. And it was basically a giant professional talent show.
Every hotel on the strip that had a show, their dancers would get together and they would create a number to perform on the stage, and it was spectacular. I did it two years in a row. The first year, I can’t remember, we used Jubilee cost or old Jubilee costumes, it was the gold digger costumes. We used those costumes and that was a lot of fun. And I remember the choreography but it was very like kitschy. And then the next year we did like this whole Rio Carnival type of thing. It was so much fun and I have a couple of pictures here there was me and the other principal Marlena and then one of the women who came to be the line, the Bluebell line Captain by the time I came back to see the show. The this awesome shot of me and my partner on stage was just incredible. I love, I loved this number and it was just so much fun. Just so many people, and we got to use some of the, the Jubilee! sets. The disco and parading and it was, it was just a lot of fun and very, very cool. So, so check out, they have photos from past shows on the website and that was fun to look through and see some of the recent shows they’ve done. And don’t forget to listen to the podcast coming out this Saturday. It is Frieda Bronfin, and she is was one of the wardrobe technicians from Jubilee. Until next time, bye.