This Burlesque Star Will Tell You How to Fake it ‘Til You Make It

If you’ve ever worked in any type of creative industry in NYC, you know all about the hustle. Everybody has a side project, an evening job, or an alter ego.

Raquel Reed is no different, and she divides her time between burlesque, makeup, modeling, and developing her soon to launch fake eyelash line, Wink My Way.

But something unique about Raquel that you won’t find with many models or performers is that she’s her own manager. Yep, when she’s not seductively dancing on stage, she’s behind her laptop emailing thousands of venues in hopes of booking a show.

We talked to Raquel about how to be your own manager, how she got into burlesque, and how to fake it until you make it.

So how did you get into burlesque?

So, my girlfriend asked me to style her for a photoshoot. And she took me to a show and I was so mesmerized by the women and I was like, “I wanna do that!” And then I just did.

How did you start doing that?

So I literally just started putting together acts in my living room. I already had a big following online so it wasn’t terribly hard for me to book a show. I actually started go-go dancing at Webster Hall for about a year and a half, and I was actually just dabbling in burlesque. But I booked my first show and I hired someone to film it, so that’s  kind of the best way to get into it, if you have videos to send emails around to different venues. Because they wanna see what you can do.

Can you tell us everything that you’re involved in, almost give us your elevator pitch?

Well as of now, I’m performing all the time and it’s awesome. I just quit working with Make Up Forever. I was doing makeup for years at MAC, NARS, Make Up Forever, you name it, but I’m kinda tired of selling makeup. I quit last year and I said, “you know, I can perform full time.” And I’ve been doing good, I recently took out my life’s savings to start an eyelash company so, we are launching that next month and I really hope that it happens. I really hope it works out because I’ve put everything I got into it.

I’m my own manager and literally during the day I’m sending out mass emails trying to book things all around the world, and that’s it. I just travel around and perform. It’s really as easy as that. Just sit and for six hours straight send massive emails around all over the world to different clubs. Half of them will say yes and half of them will say no, but that’s kind of how you do it.

So what tips do you have about marketing yourself?

You can even email things about yourself in third person you know, pretend like it’s not you and pretend that you have a manager and that you’re not a struggling artist. People really do just believe what’s in email. I really try to put myself out that way. It’s always good to have a press kit. I try to have at least three videos. You want to have professional shots and then you want to have performing shots. And then you want to have your bio so they can get to know who you are and what you’ve accomplished. So I kind of just take my press kit and send it around. I teach classes sometimes on how to build a press kit. A lot of people don’t know to do that. It’s really as easy as that. That’s what people want to see.

So when you’re booking shows, do you find yourself negotiating on payment?

Absolutely, you want to always start high. There are so many times when I’m like, “wow, really? They said yes to that?” [Laughing] I’m like “wow, that’s crazy,” you know? You always need to start high. A lot of performers, you know, undercut and go a little low and I feel like it kind of ruins it for everyone else. You want to start really high because then at least when you negotiate you may end up in the middle and still end up with more than you thought you’d ever get paid. So start high, start high!

Your performances are late at night, correct? How do you motivate yourself to get up early the next morning and get to work on everything else?

It stinks because I’m not a night person, so I need a lot of red bull. It’s all very night-oriented unfortunately. I kind of wish burlesque could be in the daytime but that’s definitely not ever going to happen. I try to get to bed as fast as I can whenever I get home late. Luckily the shows I do, when I used to go-go dance it was really late. I would get home at three or four in the morning. Burlesque I mean, I’ll get home at 1:30 the latest so it’s really not terrible-terrible…unless you take the subway then you get home at four. I have a Smart-car because I can’t deal with showgirl luggage and all that, so I squeeze it all into the tiny car [laughing].

Photography by Cherry Collaborative

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