Queer as Cabaret Bizarre and more on burlesque since it seems to be in the blogosphere …

All bodies are queer bodies; fleshy pimply fatty bruised cut varicose
piles of flesh to be molded folded pushed and plumped. Our dicks docks
breasts tits assholes cunts dickclits hang like cabaret bizarre. When
we place a body in the context of a stage we are framing the body—a
queer body under the lights. The less corsetry, the less adornment,
the more fleshy the more bizarre. Can we really speak about borders
between sex lust and tease? It is always an imperfection of an
archetype, a queer body which never falls strictly in an archetyped
gender; it cannot. Playing the caricature of ourselves, adorned and
bedazzled we submit to the imperfection and in that we find amusement,
sex and desire. Most often of a nature that we cannot understand for
ourselves and when it is truly unlocked surprises us to our core. It
lays dormant until we find the next lock, the next layer. And we yearn
to go deeper.


It’s funny that I was writing about burlesque and the queer body just
the other day, and then this tired article appeared on the horizon:


There are some good points in this article about listening to our
bodies, being comfortable in our bodies and making sure we’re happy
being up onstage. But there are several points that really bug me and
I’ve heard all too often before. First of all, the fact that there is
“bad burlesque” out there is really no big revelation. It’s like going
to every movie that comes out and saying, for every good movie there
are three bad ones. Or for every good blog, there are four bad ones.
No shit—there are some “bad shows” out there. I’ve had them myself.

The question is—what is the constructive and supportive criticism that
this author can really offer us, especially as she doesn’t have
experience as a dancer? And seriously—“For every good burlesquer out
there, there are three bad ones”? Seriously? For us readers, most of
whom ARE dancers, which of us thinks she’s talking about us … since
apparently she’s talking about 75% of us?

Secondly, I have a problem with the common tendency of burlesque
dancers to talk about how their art form is so much more tasteful and
more about tease and lust than strippers, who are, apparently, “all
about sex.” This is just contributing to our societal negative
conception of sex workers and I’m really sick of it. Thank you,
Joanne**, for calling her out. The difference between strip and
burlesque is not about tease. The difference is in creating a
character and a storyline, which also typically or should have some
kind of political commentary. In any case, the dividing line between
“good” and “bad” has nothing to do with tease. It isn’t something you
can put your finger on because it has to do with soul and feeling,
urgency and artistry.

Third, “watching someone work through their self-image issues onstage
is uncomfortable and embarrassing.”

Actually, in my mind, all of (interesting) performance is about
working through self image “issues” and a ton of other issues too.
That’s what makes interesting performance precisely that–compelling
and interesting. Check out butoh masters performance artists actors
cabaret stars musicians you name it, and it’s clear.

The fact is, I honestly don’t think that any of us need to waste any
time berating each other in blogs, to our faces, or elsewhere … and
frankly I think that the most redeeming aspect of this article is
simply that we’re having some dialogue together.

[Considering the fact that we’re all a bunch of queer broke bitches
who will probably never make a shit load of cash doing the beautiful
art we’re doing, or believe that we’re doing, or attempt to be doing
or WHATEVER, there’s really no reason to care whether a girl puts on a
corset and thinks she’s doing burlesque. There’s really no reason to
berate her. It’s not like she’s suddenly raking in the cash or
stealing “our” spotlight. ]

The most important thing for us girls to do is keep encouraging each
other, no matter what kind of shows we do. Sometimes we’re just
learning or sometimes we have a bad show. But we have enough societal
shit about what we should and should not reveal, what our bodies look
like or should look like. We actually don’t need to spend any time
judging or talking shit about other burlesque dancers — or strippers
— about their shows and how arty or not arty they are, how “sexy” or
“all about tease” that they are or aren’t.

Sure, let’s encourage each other to be increasingly creative funny and
original; the audience demands that anyway! And certainly a
conscientious and discerning booker should too! But our primary goal
should be to have fun and be happy doing what WE are doing and to
support each other. One of the coolest things about burlesque and
other erotic performance is that we are playing caricatures of our own
femininity, in its many different forms. Men have historically taken
the reigns of playing caricatures of women (think theater and its
history of drag) but we girls do that too! Taking back our power to
poke fun at ourselves as women and to point out all of our own
“imperfections” IS the fun of it; in that there really is no one
person on top. Let’s keep doing what we do and encouraging each other
with positive reinforcement and fight the tendency to divide ourselves
or get wrapped up in competition.

**Joanne writes “Why have a dig at strip clubs at the end? I’m sick of
reading burlesque dancing articles making reference to strip club
dancers ‘dancing around and showing flesh’. Both kinds of strip tease
are talented in their own right. There are plenty of dancers in strip
clubs hanging off a pole with one leg, flipping themselves
up-side-down like an acrobat whilst displaying oodles of confidence,
You don’t see them saying derogatory things about burlesque dancers.”

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