Much to my delight, last week’s ponderings on burlesque generated an awful lot of comments here, Tumblr, Twitter and also on Facebook. It was wonderful to hear that I am not the only performer who was caught up in the sparkly excitement of it all, only to slowly begin to find the experience somewhat unfulfilling, and it was great to hear from so many people who are encouraging me to take the time to develop acts that really say something.
I have been wondering for a while if I could be a feminist and also a burlesque performer, but what I was really missing was how to combine the two. I need to think much more about what I want to say in a performance, and I know it’s definitely not “here are my tits!”. Even if I do include elements of striptease in my acts, I don’t want that to be the main focus. I want people to go away thinking that what I did was funny, different or thought-provoking, rather than simply pondering the finer points of my sizeable arse.
Although I’ll never get away from the fact that burlesque has a bawdy element and a lot of the audience will be expecting some degree of nudity, I think there is a lot of room in this type of performance to add a little something more and to challenge expectations. As Emerald Ace so rightly put it:
“Whenever I question myself I remember why I fell in love with burlesque: because a performer is the writer, director, costumier, star of the show, music selector and all round auteur. Very few other media give one individual so much creative control and if you don’t like the direction your work is going in you have much more freedom to mold it that in other disciplines.”
In addition, I have also decided that my burlesque persona needs to be less cutesy and more kick ass, but wasn’t sure that was possible with the name I’d chosen until I read about 77-year-old ju-jitsu black belt lollipop lady Ena Mallett in this morning’s Metro. She is living proof that you don’t need to be what everyone thinks you should be. Time for me to put away the cheesecake and explore something different. I wonder what the rest of The Rebel Rebels will make of all of this?
Image of Miss Lolly Pops by Terry Mendoza. The Rebel Rebels’ logo by Charlotte Thompson.