Showgirl Adventure: Va-va-voom in the Valley

Posted by RubyJoule On January - 20 - 20113,176 views

The Jigglewatts were booked to perform in Mission, Texas, just outside of McAllen near the Mexican border.  The Mexican city of Reynosa, just a few miles from there, has recently been a hotbed of drug cartel activity and violence.  My parents urged me not to go.  One of our girls decided not to tell her parents at all.  The venue, Smokin’ Aces, gave us every assurance of security and comfort, but we approached this tour with cautious respect, as we had no idea what lay in store for us…

Ruby taking the stage in Mission...

The trip was a six-hour drive due south from Austin, and my Jiggle-mobile was stuffed to the gills with suitcases, props, Pearl Lux, and our illustrious MC, Jade Esteban Estrada.  Coco Lectric and Goldie Candela followed in Coco’s ride.  Jade, an award-winning comedian, actor, singer, and dancer with a staggering resume, has become a political pundit lately- quite by accident.  He’s been invited onto various radio talk shows to chime in on current issues on behalf of the gay community.  He told us of the challenge of being asked your opinion on various obscure political platforms when a) you don’t know anything about it and b) you may not care.  Together, with help from Adam West, we came up with a formula for answering in these tricky situations. Like so: “Well Bob, that’s a very interesting question, and I respect you for asking it. One of the great things about this state is that we have the freedom to ask those sorts of difficult questions. I really think the expert on this issue is Marty. Marty, what do you think?”  Jade may not be a born statesman, but he is a world-class entertainer and I suspect that’s exactly why he gets invited on these shows!


Jade Esteban Estrada...

A few hours into the drive, we stopped for provisions at the nicest truckstop I’ve ever seen.  The lavatories were fully automated – public loos are so much nicer if you don’t have to touch anything!  The place had a huge selection of gift shop Texana souvenirs; iron lone star ornaments, Texas flag lamps, belt buckles, chairs and footstools made from steer horns. Treasures!  It was 2:00 AM and we spent way too much time wandering aimlessly around the truckstop store, captivated by the blinged-out pony belts.  We finally got back on the road and rolled up to our Mission, Texas hotel at about 4:00 AM.

Pearl and I shared a room, which smelled at first like a dank footlocker, so I turned on the heater. Moments later the room smelled like burning hair, which set off the fire alarm.  Coco and I ran downstairs and asked for a different second room, because as she put it, “this one smells like it’s on fire!”  Pearl and I moved into the new, odor-free room and we all crashed out.  Pearl set her phone alarm for 8:30 AM so we could make it downstairs in time for the complimentary breakfast.  When RuPaul called out to us a few hours later, “Cover girl! Put the bass in your walk!” we dragged on our yoga pants and  went downstairs to collect what we touring entertainers call “plates of shame.”  Pearl and I loaded up two plates with bagels, muffins, cream cheese, pigs in blankets, and dodged concerned glances hefting them back to our room. A quick text to the others in our crew, “we’ve got breakfast,” and we passed out again for another few hours. Well, until late check out actually. We were moving to a different hotel.

The new place was a breath of fresh air, literally!  We had executive suites, complete with conference tables!  At the check-in desk, they had stacks of the local newspaper, The Monitor.  This elicited a squeal from Coco, as she’d given them an interview about our show a few days earlier.  We turned to the entertainment section, and well, Elton John was on the cover. But just inside were full color photos of us, along with the interview. We grabbed some for the scrapbooks.

While Coco and Jade went to tech rehearsal at the venue to check on their vocals, Goldie, Pearl and I began the long process of “gettin’ all dolled up.”  Now that we could see our way around in the daylight, Mission, Texas was just as bright, shiny, polite and civil as any other place you’d hope to see. And there were beautiful palm trees everywhere!  Personal safety did not seem like it was going to be an issue.  After a quick hotel room rehearsal, we piled in the cars and were off to Smokin’ Aces.

Smokin Aces

The club was large, with a big stage at one end, pool tables at the other and a massive bar in between.  They had draped a curtain at one end of the stage to conceal our exits and entrances. Our dressing room was a teensy greenroom with a couch, fridge, and thankfully LOTS of shelves. Shelves are very handy for lining up your pasties in show order for those quick changes.  I had five pastie changes in this show. Ouch!

Jade introduced us in true Jade fashion- trust me, you just have to see it – Pearl took the stage with her flying fringe, and the show was on!

Pearl Lux

The audience seemed a mix of incredulous, excited, confused, but ultimately happy by the end.

Miss Coco Lectric

In our group finale number, Coco whirled a bit too close to Goldie, catching the edge of her left pastie and sending it flying off stage, tassel whipping like a mini-propeller through the air.  Goldie gracefully recovered and covered up for her curtain call.

Goldie Candela


Afterward the crowd kept us busy signing posters and taking photos, which is always a good sign!  Sometimes you don’t really get to see your audience until after a show, when the stage lights and adrenaline aren’t blinding you.  Standing at the photo table, signing posters and greeting people is one of my favorite moments at a show.  At this one there were a large number of big Mexican men with lots of tattoos and Slayer tee-shirts.  This definitely looked like a hard rock crowd more at home in a biker bar than a burlesque show.  I’ve learned not to judge a book by its cover though, and we made some great new friends and fans in Mission.

Giving autographs: Pearl, Coco, Goldie and Ruby

The cast with a handsome fan.

After the show we turned to the warm embrace of the only thing open at that hour, IHOP.  I really only care for pancakes at 2:00 AM.  Jade was on cloud nine after having an intense conversation with a dreamboat we’ll call “Shaggy Dog.”  This guy must have been 6’3″ and right off the cover of a romance novel.  The conversation veered towards Shaggy Dog many times that night.

Back at the hotel, we de-glittered ourselves (baby shampoo works great for makeup removal on-the-go) and it was lights out. After we braided each others hair and had a pillow fight, of course.  A few short hours later, “Cover girl! Put the bass in your walk!” Uggggh! Was it noon already? Pearl Lux has many “pearls of wisdom” – among them she says, “You sleep when you can.” Thus I no longer feel that WASPish guilt over sleeping late.  Hotels don’t always see it my way though, and we had to get back on the road for gigs in San Antonio that evening.  I dream for the day we have a big ol’ cushy tour bus with a driver so I can do some serious sleeping in the road, but this time I was behind the wheel.  Stay tuned…!

xoxo Ruby Joule

Ruby Joule is a burlesque performer, go-go dancer, pin-up model and bonne vivante based in Austin, TX. She is a founding member of The Jigglewatts Burlesque and strives to seek out new adventures in Showgirlhood!

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xoxo, Ruby Joule

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