Friday, 7 March 2014

Why I want to quit Burlesque, but Can't and Won't...

This is something I've been battling with for a while now, while all around me the scene shrinks, talented performers step down while others flourish for all the wrong reasons, it's undertones of bitterness, breakdown of community, and frankly it's competitiveness have become somewhat of a bother to me.

Whether you realize it or not, the scene is bursting to the brim with performers, and they are still coming, new fresh faces burst onto the scene with excitement every week, but it saddens me that they won't have the same support or experience as most of us many years ago.
While more and more performers join the scene, some bring a fresh style and voice to it, notably Aurora Galore, who's energy and wildness onstage has launched her into an exciting career, some bring back the classics, such as Havana Hurricane who embodies the burlesque revival lead in America in the early 90's lead by performers such as the amazing Dirty Martini, but while some of the acts may be new and fresh, there is a diminishing platform on which these acts can perform.

Nights are either closing down completely, others overrun with acts they don't have enough positions for, or reverting to private style dinner clubs where the acts perform regularly such as Proud, Privee, Cirque Le Soir, or The Hippodrome and create small sub-communities within themselves and the scene.
If you are involved in those you may be able to survive from the living you make there alone, but if not you still have a variety of gigs to flutter between.

Some of us are lucky enough that we can still live from performing, but maybe not making as much as just a few years before. Some step back, or use skills acquired in performing to gain what we refer to as "proper jobs", some even go back to studying and changing their career paths.
So why have so many amazing performers started to step back, or worse, out completely?

It is hard work to feel you have to compete, or change your style to keep fresh, especially if like me you are a stubborn lady who created a style for themselves and want to stick with it, or to feel that you have to constantly bring out new acts or implement new skills which costs a great deal, and when you aren't earning a huge amount why would you splash out?
I have spent thousands on my costumes, and I will continue to use them until they fall off me without prompting, because they have kept me going this far. Of course I do have acts in the plans but I bring them out when I'm ready to rather than rush out many new acts to keep pushing onto promoters.
Some performers may prefer to act in this way, constantly bringing out fresh acts and if that works for them great, but we don't all work the same way, and that's fine.

What about other elements of the scene however?
What about our private lives?

A lot of us have our private lives now very mixed up within out performing persona, this I know all too well having performed for nearly 9 years, and now about to marry a fellow performer involved in the scene. Most people have embraced our personal choices and accepted us without query, but some liked to ask questions.
Our private lives and choices were being picked up on, and usually by people we didn't even know.
We are performers, how does our personal time affect what happens onstage? To regular audience members watching the shows, they are watching the act, not whispering the chinese whispers they heard at another show.
So why is this part of our scene at all?

I loved burlesque, and for a long time it was a huge part of my life, but now I can feel myself stepping back from the scene. Make no mistake I am not quitting, and I have many great friends who I have met through performing, but the community is now so large that I don't even know the people who bother to talk about my personal life anymore, isn't that a little bit sad?
I'm pretty sure they don't know me either, but I'm always being told how straight forward I am, if people wanted to know anything about me they could just ask, I generally tell the truth.

Burlesque is my profession, I do it mostly for the love of it, but yes, I admit, sometimes I'm doing it because its my job. I pay rent, I have bills, I eat food, and burlesque pays for that as do so many others in the scene.
I don't have a part time job currently, but I wouldn't see it as a failure if I did tho others make that suggestion, it may help to reignite the passion for the art form I was once so obsessed with if shows were booked for the sheer love of it again, and I knew I could be happy and comfortable backstage.
And yes, I would still do it even if I didn't have to, despite everything said here, because I chose to make this my career, I worked hard to get to this point, I remember the early days with fondness, but also I will not let the downsides win.

Now lets build up this community again, we are attacked by outsiders enough (most recently the feminist 'debacle') that we shouldn't be attacking one another, we should embrace our differences onstage as thats what makes a show interesting, lets reignite our love for what we do all over again, and maybe, just maybe we can bring it back to life and save it for ourselves and revive this amazing scene.

We can be happy again?

No comments:

Post a Comment