Weekly Burlesque: Paste Won’t Keep Your Pasties On

Jo WeldonPeople always ask questions about pasties. They are, after all, pretty peculiar articles of clothing in spite of being some of the most traditional items in most neo-burlesquers’ wardrobes. As far as I know, they are unique to burlesque — at least in terms of dance costuming.

One time I was standing in the lobby after a show with my friend Francesca, and someone came up and asked me a question about tassel twirling. After I talked about physics a bit, the woman said, “And how do you keep the pasties on?” Francesca said, “With paste!”

Well, we don’t use paste — it’s not sticky enough, and the kids eat it. But how to keep a twirler’s pasties from twirling right off is a frequent subject of discussions backstage.

I use flash tape, myself. I have a slight allergic reaction to it, but pinker nipples are fine with me. The tape makes quick changes quicker, and it’s perfect for when I perform my signature act of bringing a person onstage and teaching them to twirl — I can have the pasties taped up and ready to pop right onto my lucky victim.

Jo WeldonThere is no one perfect adhesive, though, as different ones work for different people with different skin types and different levels of (ahem) bounce, so I decided to do an impromptu poll and provide the reponses for your adhesive erudition.

This is the message I sent out on myspace: “I’m asking this of my burlesque friends, and I’ll use the first six answers I receive in my blog: What do you use to keep pasties on, and why? And how did you find out about the adhesive you use? Did you try another method first?”

These are the first responses I received:

From Lady Rigel:
Hi, Jo! Actually, toupee tape work best for me. I originally started with liquid latex but the smell made me sick. Toupee tape works the best and holds those heavy, rhinestone covered pasties.
Keep on twirling!

From Agent N:
My first endeavor with pastie adhesive was using liquid latex. This p:roved problematic since my first few burly-Q debuts ended with me losing one or two pasties! Spirit Gum also had no effect on me so I started using flash tape hoping that it would do the trick and it did! I’ve never had a problem with it in the one and a half years I’ve been using it.

From Lady Monster:
The first technique I learned about was spirit gum from the other women in the troupe I joined.

But it was later in a workshop taught by Miss Indigo Blue that I learned about tassel/pastie application techniques (raising/centering the pastie a bit). The second technique was toupee tape; I learned that from a workshop taught by Satan’s Angel at Tease-O-Rama 2005.

The technique I use depends on the construction of the tassel/pastie. If the backing of it is more resistant to tape, I use spirit gum, and vice versa.

I recently watched Miz Ginger Snapz of Seattle apply her pasties using Elmer’s Spray-On Glue. She guaranteed they stay on. Many performers need an alternative adhesive because of nipple/skin tissue sensitivity, or method of removal of the adhesive.

If I use toupee tape, I use a drop of Goo-Gone at the edge of the tassel, let it seep down in and dissolve some of the stickiness. Then I wash off my breasts with soap and water as soon as the tassel is removed to get rid of the goo-gone residue. If I use spirit gum, I use unscented massage oil.

From Ravenna Black:
For regular pasties, I usually use liquid latex. It rolls right off when I’m done, leaves no tacky residue, and no remover is needed. However, if it is hot, the latex will just melt, in which case spirit gum is a neccessity.

That is also true if I am going to be doing any vigorous twirling. Finally, if my pasties are large or made of a weird material — for example, the black rhinestone “seeds” when I paint my boobs like papayas or the pizza slices in my pizza number (which are felt-backed) — then double-sided carpet tape is required. Not double-sided tape, double-sided surgical tape, or any other kind of tape — tape from the frickin’ hardware store, people! I learned all of these by trial and error, and I do mean error!

From Miss Kitty Baby of Kitty Baby Burlesque:
I use glue because I have larger (D) breasts and therefore slightly larger pasties. I also twirl tassels and so glue is a must. I use spirit gum from the costume store. I used pasty tape once for a back-to-back number, so I had the tape on the pasties ahead of time and just slapped ’em on. Holy crap, that stuff was murder to get off! As far as the liquid latex — it’s great for decorative rhinestones on your face or body, but I can’t embrace the idea of personally using it for pasties. I’m a spirit gum gal!

From Vagina Jenkins:
I use liquid latex. I prefer the hold of spirit gum, but it takes a little longer than liquid latex to “set-up.”

When I began performing with The Dixie Pistols, our cast was pretty small, so we each did two or three numbers solo as well as group numbers. I needed to be able to change my pasties many times a night very quickly and still have a decent enough hold — thus the liquid latex. But I wish there were some sort of product that held better, set up even faster, and didn’t hurt like hell when it came time for removal.

Jo Weldon