What started out as something on my Bucket List turned into a business and fundraising event that was anything but boring.
In the spirit of Daffodil Day here in Australia (Friday 28th of August), where we come together to raise funds to help fight cancer, I wanted to step away from the usual blog and share an old story about how I raised funds when I was in the middle of my own battle with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma…
I had launched a production back in 2004 booking dancers and variety acts in Perth, Western Australia. I’d been thinking about it when going through Chemo (the second time) and as I was slowly recovering, launched the business. You could say this was the start of my Bucket List – I wanted to cram as many crazy ideas as I could into this short life. Basically, all I had to do was take bookings and manage a marketing campaign. Most of it was done online and at weekends, so it was perfect for someone who was sick half the time.
The company grew and I added drag and cabaret performers into the mix from hairdressing and ballroom dancing contacts. Business was doing really well, and I was growing the company and getting gigs for just about every weekend. That’s when I had the fantastic idea to form a troupe and create an Australian and New Zealand Las Vegas Styled Showgirl tour…
…until I stopped responding to treatment and needed to have a number of surgeries to remove malignant lumps.
But I wasn’t about to let all that hard work and money go to waist, So instead I decided to put on a charity event for the Cancer Council in conjunction with the re-launch of the refurbished Perth Town Hall. Initially it was supposed to be dinner theatre for four weekends in a row, but my publicity company dropped the ball and ticket sales were poor. In the end we produced one massive night, getting rid of the meals so we could really pack the place. In the week prior both myself and the cast managed to drum up more publicity than the company I’d paid a small fortune to…
It was all very stressful, and in hindsight I should have let it go as soon as my health started to backslide. But when you have twenty employees counting on you, it’s hard to be so selfish. My partner at the time was the Godsend who got me through it all.
If I hadn’t been so ill, I may have been tracking the publicity company more closely and our original intention realised. But that’s all water under the bridge now.
Adding to the pressure, I had three small operations scheduled in the six weeks of rehearsal time leading up to the event. One to remove cancer growing on the cartilage of my nose; another to remove lumps on my jaw (along with a wisdom tooth and molar) and the final one to get lumps on my throat. There were more surgeries planned for larger areas later that year, but given that I don’t respond well to anaesthesia, as much as could be done under twilight sedation was first off the bat.
Stupid me had re-organised the show for the single night gala, where I was basically the headline act. Not having been through surgery before, I had underestimated the recovery time. I did, manage several walk-throughs and kicked butt in the dress rehearsal… over ten years of a dancing career under my belt enabled me to wing a part of it. My stitches were removed two days before curtain up.
I have to give it to my cast mates and stage staff though, they did an amazing job amongst so much change and adversity. Especially my partner in crime, when I was drained and emotional he picked up the slack and kept everything running smoothly and placated the highly strung creative types in this industry.
Leading up to the day, I had half of the cast pull out, or had to replace them (due to no-shows at rehearsals) and ended up with a number of drag performers. We combined the numbers around a Beauty Pageant theme with a comedic twist and used the variety acts as support acts in between the group and solo numbers of the main cast. What had been turning into a dogs breakfast transformed into something beyond even what I could have hoped for. So with a mix of Queens and girls it turned out to be a Connie and Carla extravaganza!
The gang pulled together and helped with costuming – with over 120 individual outfits completed, including wigs, hairpieces, feather backpacks, and head pieces… thank goodness for outsourcing!
FAMILY AND FRIENDS FOR CANCER… TINA LOUISE ENTERTAINMENT GROUP STAGES FREE CABARET SHOW TO RAISE FUNDS FOR THE W.A. CANCER COUNCIL
On the 9th of September, the Perth Town Hall will be transformed into the glitziest venue in the city for a charitable cabaret show to raise funds for cancer sufferers. The Miss Australia Covergirlz Pageant, brought to Perth by the Tina Louise Entertainment Group, this event asks that the audience makes a donation upon entry for the Western Australia Cancer Council.
Audiences will see six performers, Casey Carlisle, Chaise Punani, Sapphire, Gillette Venus, Elle Niño, and Cinnamon dance, sing and dazzle their way through the evening. With her signature red locks, curvaceous body and flirtatious laugh, Casey Carlisle is the founder of the Tina Louise Entertainment Group. Having survived Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma twice and just 2 week ago recovered from surgery Casey is trying to follow her passion of performing and raising money to help those who are fighting cancer themselves. The group’s high energy and extensive repertoire of shows are known for their extravagant costumes and hypnotic choreography. The group collectively has experience in acting, dancing, modelling and M.C. work for corporate, theatre, television, photographic and promotional events throughout Australia.
Don’t miss all the action on the 9th of September 2005 at the Friends and Family for Cancer cabaret show at the Perth Town Hall, corner of Hay and Barrack Streets, Perth. Donation at the door with all proceeds going to the W.A. Cancer Council . Doors open at 7 pm.
We managed to raise just a sizeable sum for the charity and despite the difficulties and hospitalisation, it was one of the happiest and most entertaining nights of my life. Something I am immensely proud of and will always treasure the memories. And well, hey, another outlandish item crossed off the Bucket List.
In 2010 the company was wrapped up after continuing health issues and needing to relocate for further treatment. It was a sad day, but necessary. Although I had many other challenges ready to face from my Bucket List.
I was lucky to gain much of my health back (thanks to miracle-working doctors and a change in lifestyle). Many of my friends and family have not fared so well. I’ve lost some incredible people from my life. Please support this worthy cause when you can. Buy a ribbon, a pin… or do it in big flashy and glittering style. Every little bit helps.
To those no longer with us – I am truly blessed to have shared your journey. You have changed my life for the better and it has truly been enriched to have had you in it.
I miss your face.
© Casey Carlisle 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.