Sunday, 25 November 2012

The curse of performers....

There is a curse that hangs over the head of many a performer, if they be burlesque, comedy, singer etc it is something that seems to affect alot who take to the stage.

What I’m talking about, hinting at, tip toeing around, is the curse of depression in its many forms.
I’m not writing this for sympathy, for people to look at me differently or to use in the fuel of gossip but to open people’s eyes to the fact that despite how a performer may sparkle onstage, how the comedian was so funny, the singers lyrics so meaningful there can be an element of darkness where you least expect it.
Comical genius Spike Milligan was well known to be battling with mental health throughout his life, Stephen Fry is very open about his Bi-polar, but us here in the burlesque scene have kept hush about it, although I've come across a few performers who battle the same.

Myself, I remember the creeping feeling that seemed to pull me down into a place I felt uncomfortable in my own skin, a place that made me self destructive and surrounded me with no hope from the age of twelve. It’s a thing I have battled, medicated, ignored, and unwillingly returned to for most of my life.
But we’ve all seen the promise that burlesque can boost your confidence, body image etc, but not for me. For me it has given me more self awareness, it’s helped me to thicken my skin (but as they say, I’m no rhino), it’s helped me to wise up in some easy and some not so easy life lessons.
Although performing has led me to travel the world, meeting people and making dear friends I would have otherwise ever met, it is not a cure, or a solution.

In fact has it done the opposite?  Every performer knows the feeling of rejection, felt the sting of bad reviews, been attacked by anon internet users with unthought through opinions and the belief that it needs to be shared with everyone.
The many lovely compliments i have received vastly outweigh the bad, so why are these the only ones I can recall?
It is a common belief that as performers are out there in the open they are fair game for those who decide to dislike them, that they aren't real people with real feelings and problems of their own, how very dare they plaster positive reviews about themselves on the like of twitter like a virtual fridge? But these are the comments we are proud of, a reaching out to say “good job” “we are appreciating your hard work” even if its “great tits” we appreciate it.

We've all felt the burlesque blues at one point or another, usually the day after a show when the excitement of getting ready, the camaraderie of the backstage, the adrenaline onstage is all over and done with, when you return to an empty home and unpack your belongings, the feeling of emptiness suddenly takes over, the satisfaction of the night before gone and forgotten but you push it aside, remembering there’s other shows to come and those feelings will return.
But still the darkness may loom, uncured by the temporary thrill of lights and glamour, it can strike when least expected, but know this, you are never alone.


  1. Very well written post Millie. Everyone has their demons, and it's good to be open and speak honestly about them :)
    Wishing you lots of happiness and hope you kick depressions ass,
    Bec x

  2. Very well stated Millie! This is truly a performers curse. Everyone I have ever known in the entertainment business has suffered to some degree or another in some form or another. Bless you for bringing it more to light.

    Ditto the comment from Becky.