Clothes Make the Woman

My “Clothes Make the Woman” burlesque act was accepted into the Fierce: International Queer Burlesque Festival coming up in May.

I hesitate to post this, because the act still isn’t as polished as I’d like,* but what the hell…

(The video is a bit shaky during the intro, but gets steadier once the act begins. Also NSFW language during the intro, although the whole video is probably NSFW.)

BTW, if you’re playing the tranny drinking game, have those shots lined up and prepared to be shit-faced within five minutes.

Seriously, I was surprised by the MC’s outro. As the MC said, normally it’s a light-hearted naked lady show, so it caught me off-guard to hear him go serious for a moment.

A friend of mine complimented me that, as someone who’s sat through more performance art pieces than anyone can imagine, she thought it managed to be smart as well as accessible, which is more difficult sometimes than it might seem. I think her take on it is right — it really is more of a performance art piece posing as burlesque.** That said, I think burlesque’s emphasis on connecting with your audience does help keep it grounded.

FWIW, not looking at the audience (during the first song) is highly unusual in burlesque and was a deliberate change I made after workshopping the number and getting feedback that people liked the feeling that they were peering into my private world. Plus it ended up working nicely with the theme of private self/public self. Not sure if it came across, but when I was facing away from the vanity during the first song, I’m supposed to be looking in the mirror. Have to add one as a prop.

* In part because it’s emotionally tough to do the act, and definitely messes with my head. Which is a bit of a Catch-22 because I need to rehearse it more, but I’m avoidant of doing so. Each time I’ve rehearsed it for shows, I end up crying the first day or two of run-throughs. Plus before each of the three shows so far, I’ve been stressed out a couple days before and it took a day or two afterwards to decompress. So I’m actually a bit ambivalent doing the festival. Though fortunately, as I do it more and more, I’m getting a bit desensitized to it. But I’m just going to buck up and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse before May.

** “Neo” burlesque definitely does encompass those sorts of acts. A friend of mine who’s Black does a gut-wrenching number live singing “What’s Up” by 4 Non Blondes (and inviting the audience to join in) while revealing placards with the names of various black people who’ve died at the hands of police. The final placard reads “Black Lives Matter” and then she drops that one to reveal “I Matter” written on her body. Needless to say it’s emotionally tough on her, and it’s her courage doing the act that helped inspire me to bear down and do mine. At BurlyCon this year, there was a performer who’s disabled who did an act about her using a wheelchair — and not the being trapped by it, rather it was her romancing the chair as it were, and showing how it makes her far more mobile and free.