Friday, December 30, 2011

Burlesque: The Antidote to "Feeling Fat"

by SPECIAL GUEST BLOGGER, Kitty Cavalier

The Hubba Hub is pleased to reprint this article by guest blogger, Kitty Cavalier, in its entirety. It was originally posted on The Diary of Kitty Cavalier


Recently a friend told me she wants to love her body but she always feels fat.  I dedicate this article to her.

No woman is immune from "feeling fat". But notice we don't say  "I have fat on my body all the time." What we are describing is the FEELING of being fat. For every woman, the feeling of being fat represents something different.  Try completing this sentence: "I feel fat, and that means I am _______." Some examples would be: unattractive, too much, not enough, gross, unlovable, a mess...just to name a few.

Now, continue the sentence with: "if I am _____, that means__________, and that makes me feel__________."

For example:

"If I am unattractive, that means I will never live my dream of having a partner who truly loves me, and that makes me sad."
"If I am not enough, that means I will never get anything I want in this life no matter how hard I try, and that makes me mad!"
" If I am too much, that means I am different than everyone else, that no one will ever understand me, and that makes me feel sad and alone."

powerful goddess photography
What is fat? Fat is a tissue. An assemblage of molecules and acids. But for a woman who is feeling sad, lonely or angry in a world that takes drastic measures to prevent her from feeling the fullness of her truth, it is easy to trick ourselves into believing that if we did not feel fat, we wouldn't have to encounter these intense feelings so often. That's what it looks like on TV anyway. So we put all our attention on how we can reshape, reform and reinvent our sweet, precious bodies. But as many of us have discovered, you can still be lonely in a differently shaped body.

So, what is the antidote? Well, it sure as hell doesn't begin with an X or end with a drine. Have you ever met a girl who looks really pretty, but because she so clearly doesn't love herself, she is really un-beautiful? Her beauty is there, but it leaves you with a feeling of emptiness? And then, have you also met a girl who is incredibly "imperfect", yet completely enchanting because of how much she enjoys being exactly who she is? Her self-love is infectious, and you cannot help but fall under her spell. With this kind of woman, it's not in what she has, it's in what she believes. She refuses to buy into the idea that her scrumptious self could be anything less than lovable.

powerful goddess photography
Burlesque is the living practice of being this kind of woman.  There are some who think that burlesque is a step back for feminism, and that stripping is an objectification of women, period. To me, it is the exact opposite. When I went to my first burlesque show five years ago, what changed my life forever was seeing women who looked exactly like me, with real bodies, making the rules about what it means to be beautiful . They were not trying to fit into someone else's definition of sexiness, or waiting for something to change in order to feel the fullest expression of their beauty and power.  And if you couldn't groove to their beat, well, you could just move on over. The same bodies I would see being squeezed, cursed and quickly covered up in the gym locker room were being flaunted and adored. I saw teeny-weeny AA cup breasts, G size breasts that came down to the belly button, and each woman walked around in mere pasties and a g-string with an ease and confidence that was impenetrable. These were not mere objects of male desire. These were objects of pure feminine power. The kind that is gorgeously unapologetic, perfectly imperfect, simultaneously embodying the beauty that dwells in the darkness and the light.

Today, act as if you are a woman who has the world in the palm of her hand. A woman whose beauty is eternal, and leaves a legacy in her wake. Act as if you are a woman who turns every head as she walks into a room. A woman that is flown across the world because her beauty is legend, and someone is prepared to pay millions of dollars for the inspiration that comes from watching her take one sip of coffee. When you live your life from this spot, you evaporate the chains that tie us down to the belief that we will only experience our fullest power when we don't feel fat. That is bullshit. You are this woman. Feel your power now.

Kitty Cavalier is known for bringing mischief to the masses at The School of Charm and Cheek in NYC, of which she is the founder. After a lifetime of hating her body, she took a wild risk by performing a burlesque striptease in front of 100 people, and has never been the same. Since then she has been on a mission to help women adore and appreciate their feminine form through burlesque dancing and other sensual arts.

Kitty Cavalier's School of Charm and Cheek
"Teaching the masses to love their asses, and every other delicious inch."

Friday, December 23, 2011

Wait, You’re Dating a Stripper?

Dating and Disclosure
By Dixie Douya, Rogue Burlesque

Dating can be difficult, even when you aren’t a burlesque dancer. But deciding how to tackle the question of exactly just how much to “reveal” to a guy you’ve only just met can feel like a choose-your-own-adventure book.

A long-time single gal when I started my career as a stripteaser, I wasn’t exactly sure how guys would react to my night-time activities. Most of the other burlesquers I knew seemed to already be paired up and didn’t have any ideas on how to navigate disclosure with possible dates. I was on my own, in more ways than one.

I don’t remember who the first date was that I told. It seems like ancient history to me now. I remember a lot of hemming and hawing and over-explaining. With each passing coming out, it got easier. Eventually I just posted it on my OKCupid profile. I decided it was just easier to weed people out before investing too much time into them.

As with most things, reactions varied. Some guys seemed a bit uncomfortable, while others were way too comfortable with the thought of me removing my clothing on stage! But all in all, most people were surprisingly supportive. And most of the men I dated were genuinely okay with it.

I’d wait until I’d dated a guy for a month before inviting him to a show. I wanted to make sure he got to know me first before he met my burlesque persona. And I never dated guys I met at shows. Okay, well there was that one contortionist who I met backstage. But that doesn’t count, right?

By the time I met Mike, I had been doing burlesque for over three years and had the disclosure conversation down to a science. I’d answer what questions he might have up front, but make sure we talked about other things, too. Like his love of horror movies, our shared political views, or my killer quiche-making skills. 

Mike never blinked an eye about my burlesque. He supports me wholeheartedly, comes to my shows, hangs with the other burlesque boyfriends, and even helps me come up with ideas for new routines. Some of my best ideas were actually his.

Photo by rubicat design & photography
Last spring we exchanged vows on stage at Oberon. He wore a red brocade jacket that I stripped out of in one of my routines. I wore a dress that I bought because I knew it has a bright future in a burlesque act. Best of all, he agreed, in front of our friends and family, to “put up with an inordinate amount of glitter and sequins.” Forever.

Now that is love.

Friday, December 16, 2011

What’s In Your Bag?

By Allix Mortis, Rogue Burlesque

I’m one of those ladies who walks softly and carries a huge purse. In burlesque, I’ve found that there’s really no such thing as being too prepared, so like a good Girl Scout*, I always keep the following essentials in my show bag:

  • Scissors - Someone ALWAYS needs a set.
  • Toupee tape and/or spirit gum - Just in case anyone forgets or has a “wardrobe malfunction.”
  • Black permanent marker - I always have this and someone comes running in looking for a marker at least once a show. You may need to write a note, you may need to make a sign (you will likely need to make a sign). If you’re doing a horror-y number and you forget makeup you can add some good gorey looking stitches to yourself. You can also touch up little rips, stains, etc… on black fabric.
  • Colored electrical tape - You can use it to mark the stage, or in a pinch if you forget pasties.
  • Extra, clean, thongs in nude and black - You can find these at Target for cheap - and seriously, someone will forget their underwear. The stash of clean undies in my bag is proof positive that despite my best efforts I have in fact turned into my mother.
  • Quick-dry nail polish - Fix your nails or cover up a stain on a costume. A 90-second fix.
  • Makeup remover wipes - I bring Ponds for my full face, as well as a small container of Almay eye remover to touch up any hiccups.
  • Barber mirror - These cost ~$3 at the drug store and are great in a pinch if you get a gig somewhere that doesn’t have a proper dressing room.
  • Tweezers - Great for eyeglass repairs, last-minute hair removal, or pulling the backs off of double-sided toupee or pastie tape.
  • Clips - I wear these to keep my hair in check but have also used them to clip fabric to a costume for a quick repair.

These all take up minimal room and have saved many a last minute headache.
Pack wisely!

* I was never a Girl Scout. I couldn’t even get through a full year of Brownies.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Letters from the Tech Desk


By Soundscrat, Audio Ninja, DSI


Recently, I had a conversation with a local burlesque producer about different types of burlesque in Boston. She mentioned to me that people think burlesque is burlesque, an art form that, when viewed once, simply changes on a theme. My response to that was a short story: 

I work with some students at a university, where a dance team is putting on a burlesque-themed show. Granted, it’s a large club on campus, and must do all-ages shows as part of their charter. When I was asked by a student to consult on the show I refused. I did so on the grounds that the world I choose to take part of in Boston is a varied and demanding one, both technically and artistically. I sent an e-mail back to the student including a list of YouTube links to show the range of what burlesque really was, and to show that what they were looking to do was not real burlesque in my opinion. 

A group of dancers in "revealing" clothing is simply a dance routine in costume -- a recital to show off the talents of the dancers. This is what the students are putting on. 

Burlesque is much deeper, and much more varied, especially troupe to troupe. As a technician, I keep in mind the specific goals and designs of each troupe when approaching their shows.  For instance (and these just a few)

Axe to Ice
Axe to Ice, through Bent Wit, put on a cabaret with a burlesque twist. Their shows truly bring a great many artists, from many walks of life, into an collaborative environment.  They string many unrelated acts into a cohesive show through comedy, video, music, dance, striptease, and performance art. 

Rogue Burlesqu
Rogue Burlesque ties story lines together through troupe and individual skits spotlighting the talents of individual members, as well as inviting other troupes to perform as guests within their shows. Rogue likes to spotlight amateur and up-and-coming performers, and seek new talent and new looks while defining their own role in the market. 
 

Black Cat Burlesque
(photo by Caleb Cole)
Black Cat Burlesque explores the darker and more twisted side of the human psyche and sexuality through the burlesque of its performers. This group likes to take dark, twisted, and even toilet humor to a whole new extreme while still being visually stunning and sensual.
 

The Glitter Bomb
The Glitter Bombs is a new troupe that brings a hip-hop base of dance style with group performances, and pop and hip hop music with burlesque teases and choreography, adding an urban beat to an old art. 


Babes in Boinkland
Babes in Boinkland looks to bring sensuality and well choreographed modern and ballet into high- energy dance routines. 


The Slutcracker
Sugar Coated Productions brings highly polished, high-production-value shows of political or philosophical nature to the main stage. This group produces shows such as Slutcracker and Beaver. The former is a burlesque ballet (as a start), while the latter is a grotesque of the modern political structure through a scripted musical intermixing stand-up comedy, burlesque dance, and theater dialogue.

Each group does "burlesque." However, seeing one group does not mean you have seen it all. Much in the way having seen a modern dance show does not mean you have seen Alvin Ailey, experiencing only one of the many flavors of the art in Boston does not expose yourself to the amazing smorgasbord that is Boston burlesque. 

As burlesque gains popularity and traction in Boston, I hope the general public can gain a taste for the genius and truly remarkable art that is created, and gains a thirst to experience the many flavors coming out of our region, and eventually the same love of experiencing the craft that I feel every time I stand behind the console and look out over the talent I am blessed to be a part of on those stages. 



Friday, December 2, 2011

A Confidence Game


Sister Dixie Douya
Photo by Steve Wollkind

By Dixie Douya, Rogue Burlesque

Burlesquers are rarely described as swindlers, hucksters, or tricksters, but be fair-warned, we are great at playing a Confidence Game. No, we won’t scam you out of your money…but we do know how to convince our audience that we’re the sexiest women in the room, no matter how we’re feeling.

When newer performers ask me for advice, the universal truth I can always give them is “Fake it ‘til you make it!” We all have days when we’re sick, feeling unattractive, or just having an off day – burlesque dancers are human! But one of the great things about having the alter ego of your burlesque persona is that even when you aren’t really feeling it, you can still convince the audience that you are beautiful, talented, and dazzling.  Using a few easy tricks, you’ll start to believe it yourself by the time you receive your applause!

Here are five easy tips to looking confident, no matter what:

  • Shake it out! Whether it’s your first time or fiftieth time performing, a rush of adrenaline can make you feel shaky or on edge. Before you get on stage, physically shake out any excess nervous energy you might have. End with some slow, deep, calming breaths until you feel centered and more in control.

  • Make an entrance. The audience will size you up in the first few seconds. If you are entering the stage with your music, keep your head held high and walk in as if you own the joint. If you are starting on stage, strike a definitive pose. This not only lets the sound tech know you are ready to begin, but also tells the audience that your poise is for real. 

  • Maintain eye contact. The audience isn’t paying nearly as close attention to your size or shape as you think. In fact, the body parts that entrance them most are your eyes and face.  So smile not just with your lips, but also with your eyes. If you are uncomfortable looking directly at audience members, look past them to the back wall, just over their heads. Whatever you do, DON’T look down – that’s a sure way to lose your connection to the audience, which means they’ll lose interest in you.

  • Take your time. Remember that you are in control on stage! The audience will wait for you. So tease them, play with them, and have fun! If you are enjoying yourself, so will your audience. If you rush and act frantic, the audience will feel anxious for you, and you don’t want sympathy – you want applause. So go slow and they will watch your every move. Promise!

  • Savor the applause. When your act is over, don’t run off stage! Nothing ruins a number more than a performer who scampers away, embarrassed to be seen in her pasties. Instead, take a moment to acknowledge the audience’s applause – bow, wink, smile, throw your arms out wide, whatever works for you. You’ve earned their respect and adoration, so bask in the glory, if even for only a moment.

Remember to walk off the stage as you came on – as a confident, regal burlesque queen.  You may just find that you’re not faking it any more, but really are a sexy, confident woman – on and off stage. And that is a game worth winning!