Curtain up, lights so bright they hide all the small imperfections, instant lust, a sexual object, an icon, an inspiration, and an untouchable force. That is my world. Burlesque is a classic form of Striptease, a mix of vaudeville and grind, from circus tents to huge theatres, and now on top of red lit bars filled with Pabst Blue Ribbon yielding hipsters, empowered youth looking for anything authentic, and the occasional surprised old men who remember the “golden era” of the craft.
In a world so super saturated with SEX it is hard to find true titillation, nothing is left to the imagination. The neo-burlesque movement is the answer to that void. All over the world and especially in cities like Toronto, Montreal, New York, and yes, even Buffalo there are thousands of dancers shaking their stuff in the name of sexual liberation. Nobody is excluded from this revolution.
I am not perfect. I have terrible skin (my arms and a lot of my body is covered in patches of eczema), I am considered morbidly obese by the medical world, I have over processed bleach blonde hair that is breaking at the seams, and a plethora of other traits that would put me on most people’s “EW” or undesirable list. But, for the last seven years, people have paid me to dance around in front of them naked.
What burlesque dancers all share is an undeniable fearlessness, a sense of freedom, and a destiny that can only be accomplished with the art of undress. I have had so many women tell me that seeing me perform changed their lives, “wow, if SHE can do that, so can I!”
I would have to say the highlight of my career (wow, I am actually calling this a career) was a the 2014 Montreal Infringement Festival where (dressed in horrible white trash drag) I pulled several American flags out of a very large glittery plushy penis to the song “America, F*ck Yeah!” during a show at the historic Café Cleopatra with the Candyass Caberet. It was definitely a political statement about how the rest of the world views Americans and our culture of waste and over privilege.
He is a part of myself that I am not proud of. He is the worst: A mullet wearing, mustached, drunk, Zubaz clad, sports obsessed, McDonalds loving, misogynist, ultra-AMERICAN man. Usually when I perform as Cock Sinclair I transform from a beautiful traditional dancer to him on stage. It really kicks the audience in the teeth. I often hear “What the f*ck was that!” before the roar of laughter and applause. That element of gender bending surprise is golden.
I don’t mean to sound stuck up here, but I think I am a beautiful woman, in the traditional sense, especially when all done up. Still, surprisingly, I get the most play from both gay women and straight men when I am dressed as my uber-douchey male alter ego.
I once had a hot girl walk up to me at a bar (The Old Pink in Buffalo), rip my mustache off of my face, kiss me hard, stick the mustache back on, put her number in my hand and disappear into the bar before I had a chance to blink. Whoa. Why is this? Well, I think it is because he is more accessible than my glam femme persona.
Dating is hard for any performer, but especially a burlesque dancer. We exude so much sexuality on stage and are held on such a pedestal that it is impossible to live up to that in the real world. Having a sub par love life is a price I am willing to pay.
The real me is sitting on my bed typing this article on my shattered iPhone 4, wearing Hello Kitty pajamas and a neon 90s Cosby sweater. I am covered in my three cats, Ziggy, Beau, and Lola. Yesterday’s makeup smeared on my face, a chunk of gold glitter in my eye, and my hair in a ratty bun on top of my head. A Billie Holiday record is playing. Piles of costumes surround me: wigs, high heel shoes, pasties, corsets, fishnets, strap ons, riding crops, and other accouterments.
I am lucky that this is my life, I get to reinvent myself every time I take the stage, I get to inspire sexual awakening in others and express every idea in my brain. I challenge everyone who is reading this to put on some sexy music and strip in front of a mirror, do it right now, do it for you!
* Featured image by Nate Perriciny