2010 has been a funny old year. As a burlesque performer it has probably been one of my better years; the acts I am producing are stronger, I am driving so getting to gigs is less of a stress, I have had some great bookings this year and I feel I am gradually learning more about what sort of work I want to produce. Unfortunately, outside of the world of burlesque it has been a tough, exhausting and frustrating year and this has encroached into my life as a performer, leaving me with less energy to do the things I love.
Still, 2011 is a new year and a new start, and I thought it might be apt to look at some of the interesting goings on in my burlesque world and to talk about a few of my hopes for 2011. Plus, I get to do it in list form! (I love lists)
- Finally debuting the finished and updated version of my Jackalope and realising that I CAN do straight acts.
- Driving to gigs. Or more importantly, driving home. I really cherished those 1am drives home listening to Radio 2 on a quiet road. It gave me time to think about my performance that night and really became a little ritual for me.
- Seeing some truly amazing acts from other performers I admire. Some really special ones that stood out include Vicky Butterfly, Joe Black, Missy Malone, Amelie Soleil and Ed Muir, Beatrix von Bourbon, Owen Niblock, Lexi Sexx and Marnie Scarlett (to name the ones that leap to mind right now - there are definitely others that were just as awesome).
- Making my first performance in front of the folks from Ministry of Burlesque. It inspires me how much they have built and I really feel there is a lot I can learn from them. Plus it was a hilarious, boozy night and I had a wonderful time.
- Creating my Emotional Strip act on a tight deadline and realising that it forced me to cut out procrastination, rather than lowering the quality of my work.
- Spending time with some amazing, inspiring and above all fun members of the burlesque community. I'm not a social person by nature but I have had fun being around other burlesque bods this year.
- Real-life constraints meant I had to leave my ballet class, at least for the time being. Even though I was the worst in the class I really enjoyed it and I do hope I'll be able to get back to it when my situation improves.
- A lot of people seemed to fall away from burlesque this year. It made me sad to see some familiar and friendly faces move on. I wish you all the best in whatever you do next, if you're reading this, folks.
- The big one for me, especially in the later half of this year has been the result of the resurgent interest in burlesque generated by the film of the same name. It is nice that the media is interested in our artform, and I feel the film could be positive and draw people in, even if it isn't entirely accurate of what most of us here in the UK do. What has upset me is all the sniping, snarking articles online (including on online versions of major newspapers) - 'is burlesque just stripping?', 'is burlesque just middle class stripping?', 'is burlesque really empowering?' etc. These articles more often than not seem to be just an excuse to not watch burlesque, not be involved in that community, but to speak with authority about what a damaging non-artform it is. And that's just the original articles. The comments that follow are usually worse. This year I have found myself getting sucked back in to these debates, even though I know that it is a losing battle. I have decided that in 2011, rather than getting sucked into these slanging matches with people who don't care and just like to troll, I will put what I have to say on this blog instead. That way anyone who gives a bibble can read it and everyone else doesn't have to.
- Taking a workshop with Beatrix von Bourbon. While officially about branding it felt more like a cross between going to confession or therapy and working with a mentor. I left that workshop with a stronger sense of who I am (and can become) as a performer and with new vigour and excitement for what I do.
- Khandie Khisses. This woman is always on the go! I haven't had the pleasure of working with her this year but her online presence is a constant inspiration as someone who holds down a nine to five but is still one of the best in the game. I swear to god, she must never sleep! Plus, she is one of the nicest people in burlesque.
- My pal Cherryfox, who lives the dream by making a living doing burlesque, photography, costuming and other creative things. I'm not sure I could live that way but I sure do admire it.
- Promoters out there putting on top notch nights like The Wet Spot, Dr Sketchy's Nottingham, and Carnival Divine (all the others I forgot to list). As I will be putting on my own show in February I have been carefully observing how the shows I love performing at most make the experience so pleasant for performers and audience alike.
- I hope to make my show ODDBALL BURLESQUE as much fun and as professionally ran as possible.
- I want to finish my new act and possibly release two more besides in 2011. One more straight one (to make a triptych with the one I'm currently working on and the Jackalope) and a funny one. At the moment there are two possible contenders for this but I am unsure which I will choose.
- I want to improve my costuming skills and my grace and economy of movement onstage. Some of my acts still have parts that feel a little 'fannying about-ish'. I hope to go back and tighten and rework these parts.
- To see more live performance in burlesque and other genres.
- To blog more. This year my blogging has come in fits and starts, it would be nice to get this more consistent.
- To enjoy burlesque in 2011!
So that's my rundown of 2010. Wishing you all the best for 2011.
'Til next time