It can be surprisingly tough to get people out to burlesque shows.
I say surprisingly because I think they’re fun, and I didn’t feel weird about attending them before I was a performer. (I still don’t feel weird attending them now that I AM a performer, but for the purpose of this paragraph, let’s stick with my non-performer feels.) But when I asked people to go with me, they were hesitant at best. They’d insist it wasn’t really their thing; they’d mumble that it made them feel uncomfortable; they’d ask me if it would be weird going to watch something like that with me. And I don’t like to make my friends feel uncomfortable, so I didn’t press the issue. I’d look for a friend who didn’t seem uncomfortable watching burlesque, or I’d go with performers who weren’t going to be onstage for that show.
And now that I’m a performer, and more invested in getting people to go out and support shows, it’s even more difficult. In addition to comments like it’s not my thing / it’ll make me uncomfortable / won’t that be weird, I have now heard the following:
“Y’know. . . I’ve got a girlfriend.”
Okay. Swell. Bring her, too!
“I can’t watch you do something like that. I’d lose respect for you as a person.”
Well, then call us even, because I just lost my respect for you.
“I don’t have any friends who’d go with me. . .”
I feel that feel!
“. . .and if I go by myself I’ll feel like a pervert.”
But that? Nope. I don’t feel that feel.
I’ve heard this a number of times now from all kinds of different people, so I feel like it’s time we talked about the sexy elephant in the room: attending a burlesque show does not make you a pervert, no matter how many people you get to go with you.
Side note: There may be a lot of other reasons you don’t come to shows. Maybe you’re really introverted. Maybe you’re fucking broke, or you’re working night-shifts to avoid being fucking broke. If you’re really into your pint of Ben & Jerry’s and the third season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, I get it. You could genuinely be out of town every weekend that I have a show. Hell, you could be avoiding all forms of theatre because of what that fortune teller told you once. And maybe we’ll talk about those reasons later. But if going to a burlesque show makes you feel like a pervert, then I’m genuinely sorry to hear that. It sucks that your experience in life has caused you to form such a narrow view on sexuality and positive physical self-expression. That’s probably going to cause you a whole host of difficulties in your life, and you may want to talk to somebody about it.
Back to the main thrust. (Ha. Thrust. Sorry, sometimes I’m 13.)
It makes sense that so many people I invite to shows have this kind of attitude. After all, I’m from (and perform in) a province that has some pretty archaic vice laws—you can’t even drink at strip clubs here—and those vice laws are informed by and mixed with a lot of firmly held beliefs about modesty and impropriety. So while going to a burlesque show with somebody else feels like an evening out, around here, going to a burlesque show by yourself is tantamount to broadcasting that you are the very worst of sexual deviants. It’s all or nothing: there’s no grey area, no in-between, no room for justification.
I understand wanting to do social things with somebody (see first paragraph). After all, people look at you all funny if you do things solo. Going out to dinner alone? Bring a book, or everybody will think you’ve been stood up. Out to the bar all by your onesie? You’re clearly on the prowl. Nobody to share your popcorn with at the movies? Well. . . honestly you’re living the dream, there. Keep at it.
In that light, it makes sense that going to a burlesque show with another person along for the (incredible, unforgettable, must-see) ride would provide a sense of normalcy. After all, if your friend whom you know to be a decent person is sanctioning this event, then it’s clearly okay to be there! There’s nothing wrong with you! But I’m going to tell you something that may be hard to believe: you’re probably surrounded by decent people at these shows, you just don’t know them yet. I can’t speak for anybody else’s audiences, but the Menagerie Burlesque Company has cultivated a body-positive, gender-inclusive, adventurous audience, and they’re pretty great.
Hand-in-hand with the “will I look like a pervert?” line of thinking is the “what if you pitched it as an artistic experience instead of a sexy show?” idea. And maybe pitching it that way would make it more approachable for some people, but it wouldn’t be a wholly accurate representation of the actual event. In our company, there are some performers who do very artistic pieces. We have comedic performances, thought-provoking numbers, and some truly bizarre acts. But the majority of our numbers will include strip tease, and at the beginning of the show, we’re going to remind you to show your appreciation for sweet moves and great reveals.
Much of the magic of strip tease is in making you anticipate what’s going to be under the top layer of the costume. The thrill is in making sure you see only what I want you to see when I want you to see it. When I draw my fingers over my collarbone, I want you to lean forward to watch their progression. More than that, I want your breath to catch when you feel their progression over your own collarbone. So while we could position our shows as entirely artistic, it would be dishonest. It would rob the performers of the positive power that we hold when we’re on stage eliciting a specific reaction from our audience, and it would be less truly artistic in the attempt to ease our audience’s unnecessary shame. We are voluntarily, happily, enthusiastically sharing this performance with you: there’s nothing illicit about it.
So once more for the people in the back: I draw no conclusions about you or your sexual predilections based on the size of the group you’re attending with. The rest of the audience aren’t sitting there clutching their pearls or judging your lack of purity because the seat next to you is empty. Take a drink, a deep breath, and a chance and let yourself experience something really cool. We’re going to get up there and share an intimate facet of our humanity with you, and that’s not perverse: it’s powerful.
Recent changes in the print adult industry have been socially progressive. Or at least appear to be.
Playboy will no longer feature nudes.
We’d like to think that this would be a really good social progression. This unfortunately will probably be a smart marketing model shift for their business. The playboy mansion is up for sale. If you were to say that in the 70’s 80’s or 90’s, people would be shocked. It wouldn’t surprise anyone if they came out with 1 issue per year with a photo spread, because nothing like a little bit of controversy in the mass media to get the sales of print magazines back in order. We’d also like to think that the publishers should get back to the roots of the original magazine. Help people. Promote really good writers. Fight copyright issues. Push boundaries and promote knowledge into peoples minds for a better pop culture with interesting articles.
But that won’t get everyone to buy magazines. Unfortunate that tabloid reporting has become the norm. Sorry Hugh, hope you find a good place to write your essays.
Alternately, their biggest competition, Penthouse is shifting focus to include more diversity. This past January, Kelly Shibari is Penthouses first full figured model. She does not fall in the average, and has established herself already in the adult content industry. And growing up half asian with a not-so average body shape in Japan meant more than just being bullied everyday. More on that here at Huffingtonpost… funny how they have a category for just about anything to report on. But surely the original reporter won’t get paid for that either…
We’d like to think that this isn’t a clickbait or a one time event, and that all publishers/producers of adult content will embrace larger philosophies. Like help promote body diversity besides a larger ratio wasp waist, (we’re looking at you Sports Illustrated). Could this be the start of the new Sexual Revolution 3.0? Consent has already become part of conversation, habit and polite behaviour. Book clubs debating over the best guides if being Ethical Slut or Going Home and Having Dinner is better for some local cultures/environments. Do it yourself clubs with 3D printers making better shaped personal vibrators. Open information about sexuality taught from day zero to children. Imagine what better world we could have…
But is this something to report on? Absolutely, especially when there have been whole fetish industries built around /each and every individual tastes. The recent surge in interest in BDSM toys and workshops is definitely related back to the amount of 50 Shades sold. Or is this just a new way for the larger corporations to take a bit of the smaller niche markets? And we haven’t seen that before in other industries have we?
So, what does this mean? More realistic bodies in print, on screen, and any medium that can transmit a story? Is this a trend that will come and go? Rubenesque super-heros in comic books? Or will this be an evident change in the direction of adult print publications that will carry on? Give the people what they want?
Or is this merely a temporary respite, from being overwhelmed with the same message over and over and over again? Which is what caused people to stop paying attention and much needed consumer dollars for those products.
Just remember folks, it’s the question that matters more than the answer.
Stay tuned, stay sexy.
He’s got a rambling tongue, all sorts of things, does he actually get to a point? Maybe. But this goes in your ear… Berkely from the Saskatoon Sexual Health Center talks with Menagerie’s Peter MorningWood. It’s talk on art, roles, feminism, and did he actually ever get to defining what Burlesque is?
For fun Sex Plus Radio, click here!
So, we don’t have what would be considered traditional Magic Mike or Beefcake Chippendale type guys in the Menagerie Burlesque Company. Our own Peter MorningWood often hashtags his own pictures with #DadBod4Life and is a lot closer to the Full Monty.
But our audience loves body diversity.
We’re all shapes and sizes, looking like average people, who get up on stage, and make sure that you are having a good time. Because we’re having a good time. Our audiences tell us, it’s great to see! We’ve found our own audience to be as diverse, so why exclude them from the fun? Well, besides the part where we’re taking our clothes off or making ridiculous theatrical numbers, that’s our schtick… Wait, where was I? Oh yes…
Without diversity in Burlesque, the art form will stagnate and die off. Bold statement, yes, but without that diversity, we are only perpetuating mass statements of ‘This is what Burlesque is, and nothing else.’ The same bump and grind piece becomes a boring run of the mill, get it at another place for cheaper, do I have to listen to this song again… ugh. The commonplace numbers will breed contempt and distaste for the whole culture. And we want to tease, we want you curious and wanting, we’ll be taking you to places that you didn’t expect.
A recent article from mic.com showed a big nod to the male burlesque performers out there, good read, check the link.
“As with everything, we’re subject to the mores we’ve been raised with,” he said. “People sometimes come to shows and expect us to be taking off our clothes to reveal Playgirl-fit bodies.” Jonny Porkpie, Burlesque Mayor of New York, all around nice guy, and he’s running for President. (Psst, you can also buy his book, The Corpse Wore Pasties, great gift for days that end in the letter Y.)
Hooray! and #EffYourBodyStandards What’s Healthy and Beautiful and Sexy? Laughter. What’s even better? Making art that is sexy, comedic, satirizing, subversive, and most importantly – a lot of fun. We’re outrageous on your behalf, and thank you for supporting local art.
Stay tuned in you animals, more #Burlesque info coming your way.
Hey everyone! We think that a good education leads to better things all around, so take matters into your own hands, check this video out.
Diane Kelly’s Ted Talk on Male Anatomy!
“We’re not done with anatomy. We know a tremendous amount about genomics, proteomics and cell biology, but as Diane Kelly makes clear at TEDMED, there are basic facts about the human body we’re still learning. Case in point: How does the mammalian erection work?”
Quite well if treated correctly!
Want to know more? Click here!
Psst! Like we haven’t told you before, new show coming up November 27th and 28th!