After an incredibly lacklustre performance the other week, I have once again been pondering my future on the burlesque stage. I’d agreed to help out another troupe member who was trying to come up with a piece for a pirate-and-showgirl-themed private party, and the ideas really weren’t flowing. In the end we came up with something quickly, had only a couple of nights of rehearsal and, though neither of us were 100% happy with what we’d created, we didn’t want to let our friends down by pulling out of the show so went ahead with it. The performance was fun and comical, but that aspect was perhaps lost on many of the audience though due to it hinging on a reference to the long-running UK kids tv show Blue Peter! In the end, it was just two girls larking around and taking their clothes off.
I read a review of the evening which said that the cabaret performances ranged from excellent to extremely dubious and, as our act was the only one the reviewer didn’t go on to list individually, I can only assume that ours was the dodgy one. This annoyed me because… well, she was right. I’m not sure if it was the idea itself or the minimal rehearsal time, but I don’t think I’d want to perform that piece again. Ever. The only act I’ve been proud of so far is the ‘suffragette to disillusioned voter’ one I did before the general election to the Muse song, Uprising. Sadly I can’t perform it very often due to it being so topical, and also no-one shot a video of it, but at least this may force me to come up with something else I like rather than simply going back to the old tried and tested acts.
The main thing bothering me at the moment though is do I really want to do this and, if so, why? Kitty Stryker recently posted on her blog* about her despair for the state of burlesque in London and stirred up a whole host of emotions that I’ve been bottling up on the subject. OK, so not everyone wants to see fake-blood-soaked zombie burlesque in the same way that feather fans and ‘glittertits’ can become dull, but it does look like it’s much easier to find some variety in the performers in San Francisco than it is in the UK. At first it made me cross that Kitty described the London scene as boring, but then I realised that she’s right. I enjoy seeing hot girls take their clothes off on stage, a lot, but even I hanker for something different after seeing several very similar acts in one night. Aside from private events and a handful of fantastic individual performances at various places from Torture Garden to ‘Passion’ at Earls Court, only a particularly warped evening at The Double-R Club truly fulfilled my burlesque and cabaret needs.
So you know what this means? I think I have to sit down and work out why the hell I’m doing it. If my liking of burlesque is simply due to a desire to be creative then I should focus on that, carefully working on my own ideas, to my own timescales and then performing them when and where I feel is appropriate. If I like what I’ve created then, to be honest, I don’t care what other people think of it. However, if I’m only doing it to get lots of attention and flash my tits in public, I need to have a re-think. A serious re-think. To paraphrase Alicia Silverstone’s character in Clueless, I’d need a makeover of my soul.
Images of Miss Lolly Pops by Laura Jung.
*This has some rather adult content in places, but the post I’ve linked to is pretty much safe for work, if you don’t mind your co-workers seeing pics of boylesque performers on your screen.