Over the past few months, I have meant to type up a summation of all my thoughts and feelings from the end of 2014 into the start of 2015. As the end of February 2015 nears, I realize if I do not do this now, I never will.
In September 2014, I was feeling very out of place in the world of burlesque. I was unispired, uncreative and unhappy doing something that once made me feel so strong. That month I met with the owners of a phenomenal venue, The Tulane Ave Bar and made arrangements to produce a monthly show there. I was quickly exposed to wonderful performers, staff, management and audiences. Monthly turned into bi-monthly almost immediately. I am so grateful to work with so many talented, smart and compassionate people. My aim, when I created Smokin' in the Boy's Room, was to bring a show where performers of all kinds could express themselves on stage to Mid City, my favorite neighborhood in New Orleans. I am humbled and empowered by the response from the neighborhood and the support from the burlesque community. Thank you all so much for all your hard work and all your hard love.
Leo Danger Lace at Smokin' in the Boy's Room
If Smokin' in the Boy's Room wasn't enough to make me feel warm and fuzzy about burlesque again, I was given the chance at start of 2015 to attend and perform in the Vermont Burlesque Festival. It was my second year performing. I felt like a teenager returning to summer camp when I got back up north and saw everyone's familiar faces. I attended three out of the four shows and all of the classes. I met the beautiful April March, who I have admired since before I started doing burlesque. I also met performers that are active now that I look up to: Foxy Tann, Russell Bruner and Scarlett James to name a few. I always enjoy the festival atmosphere, the excitement of meeting new people and the inspiration that comes from seeing performers you would otherwise not have a chance to see, but this festival was absolutely the first time I've ever felt like I was really part of a community. Thank you, Vermont, for letting me experience this kind of love.
On a less upbeat note, there has recently been an uproar in the community on both a local and international level in regard to Lucky Pierre's, a New Orleans based club, dropping a performer named Ruby Rage because of her shape. Sizeism is unfortunately not a new thing in this field and definitely not in this town. Yes, a slightly more zaftigg figure is traditionally desired for classic glove and gown, but ultimately we are struggling with the same standards of beauty that exist in fashion, film and other fields of dance. Ruby and I talked repeatedly when I was first starting out about sizeism and what that meant in terms of getting booked. I was very frustrated by being seen as larger and she was a very comforting, educated voice. I am furious to see a club lash out at her for her size and even more furious that the owner had the audacity to try to defend himself.
Many have been affected by this and not all in a positive way, but I'm proud of Ruby for naming those who body shamed her publicly and I'm proud of my colleagues for coming forward in droves in the name of supporting her. Burlesque is a job. We're all professionals. Let's try to demand the same kind of respect for our performance and our integrity that we would in any other field. If we allow people to discriminate against us for the way that we look, then we are embracing sexism, not opposing it.
Continue to lift each other up, rather than actively tearing one another down. I am grateful to each and every member of this community and I love all of you.