Don’t be a Copy Cat: When Imitation Isn’t the Sincerest Form of Flattery

We’ve all been there – we’ve seen someone up on stage and thought they were just the best thing ever. “Look at the way they move, look at their costume, look at the way they’ve removed that item of clothing…I’d love to do that.” It’s so hard when you get into burlesque not to be inspired by someone you adore but to replicate someone else’s work is folly.

The Act

It’s often talked about on social media– what do you do if someone copies your act? Short answer: you contact them and ask them nicely to cease and desist. There will, of course, be times when others have a thought to do the same act as you (I was never the only Poison Ivy on the block) but to make it different I chose to show how Pamela Lilian Isley became Poison Ivy – something no one else did or has done (and if you try, I’ll fight you for it – joking of course). When I created my genie act I had another performer contact me saying they were in the process of doing a genie act – would I be upset if they carried on? My response was of course no, because as long as it’s different it doesn’t matter.

So that’s that dealt, with but here’s the elephant in the room: it’s not just acts that others like to emulate.

Props

I18061_284475959080_4473724_n see post after post asking where people get their props from and three in the last month asking where others get their giant glasses from, then people tagging those who have them in their post. It may be all well and good trying to help a gal out but the UK is a small place and when another giant glass comes into play it splits the market for that type of specific act all over again.

If the new person is charging less than a more established act it essentially undercuts them and impacts on their bookings, ergo they’re not going to tell you where they got theirs from, and after the amount of research, time and work they put into sourcing a company to make theirs why would they?

I’m not saying don’t go for the girl in a glass gimmick, I’m just saying don’t ask a prop maker to make something again that they may have made for someone else, and don’t assume the more established glass acts will give you their contacts. Its bad business, bad manners and guaranteed to put someone’s nose out of joint.

Costumes

562577_10150739325019081_641485592_nIt isn’t just props we’re talking about here either – it’s costume pieces too.

When I first debuted Poison Ivy (version 2) with the light up costume I got several emails asking where I’d got my costume made, or how I made it and where they could go to get something similar. I replied to all in a positive manner and said I’d made my own. Light up costumes were not my original idea (no outlandish claim there from me!) but did I really want an influx of them in the UK burlesque scene? Nope, and the same goes for a lot of other performers too.

I’ve seen a lot of posts over the last year of performers in their costumes and others asking “where can I get this only in blue?” or “do you know who made this costume?” or “I’d like it to look exactly like this”.

Performers are rightly very guarded about where they get their new pieces from, sometimes working with costumiers for months, or even years, before they debut a new act. The genius idea they had for a breakaway costume piece may be pivotal to why that performer gets booked again if it’s executed in a stunningly original way. If someone else comes along and claims that as their own, they’re presumably going to be annoyed.

You may argue there’s no such as an original idea but I remember a time when burlesque performers in the UK all had their own look, they made their own costumes, they sourced their own pieces and it wasn’t a stream of girls at ‘X event’ wearing a bra by ‘X costumier’ but in a different colour. The showgirl thing is booming business, but I get bored seeing act after act of the same thing, in the same costume essentially doing the same act – thinking to myself if you changed the music what would be the difference?  Make yourself stand out, it’ll be what gets you booked.

Where do we go from here?

Now I know there are trends in burlesque – remember the big frilly knickers of 2008 that everyone seemed to wear? The great Isis wing revolution of 2009? Or the silk fan fad of 2010?

Sure, there will be times when something comes along that takes the scene by storm but it saddens me to think that performers think they need to look a certain way or have a certain costume piece to be truly part of the wonderful glitz and glamour of burlesque. I have seen new performers, not comfortable in their own skin performing in a style that doesn’t suit them because they’ve been sold a vision of burlesque and feel that’s what they have to do and it comes across as awkward.

Are we doing the UK industry any good by perpetuating the myth that burlesque is all about the showgirl part of the scene?  Resulting in a “if that’s what gets booked that’s what I need to be” mentality – ultimately leading to burlesque by numbers and the newer performers who don’t conform to a look or style feeling that they won’t get booked? I speak to a lot of performers at the society and socially and some of them do feel that way.

I love the bump n grind style of burlesque, I love the showgirl side too but it’s not something that’s suited to everyone. Look at the UKs top 20 – they’re not all showgirls and they all have edge – they stand out because they’re unique.

As for my feelings? I crave the variety of a few years ago, of standout acts with original ideas. Bam Bam Blue dragging her butt across the floor in her dog face girl act, Cherry scorn’s voiceover librarian, Fanny Divine’s Fanny Potter.

Character driven burlesque is out there, as is burlesque with a political message but a lot of it never sees the light of day. I hope there’s a rumbling of the underground again, and new performers come out fighting with less showgirl glitz and more grit and tits.

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Ello: What do we have here then?

Well it seems that the burlesque community have pretty much had enough of facebook. The straw that broke the camel’s back being the enforced real name policy that appears to be rolling out. You have to show your ID or change your name otherwise that’s it, account deleted. You should set up a page, facebook say, if this is a performer account.

There are many reasons why performers don’t want to use a page, mainly the open accessibility of it. If performing isn’t your only profession and there’s a chance colleagues, clients, your boss could see you in your under crackers on the net and conclusions can be jumped to inevitably you’ll end up in the soup. Sure you can ban people from your page, but if they’ve already seen what you don’t want them to the damage is done.

I think we’re all aware of the connotations of the biggest social media platform allowing people to have potentially bogus accounts, and their responsibility within their real name remit BUT surely there should be exceptional circumstances. Performers aren’t pretending to be something they’re not, in fact arguably they’re being their real selves.

I have had a page for years now, after FB deleted my account I thought it was the best choice. A lot of other performers have pages only but as much as you miss out on the drama, you also miss out on the community and conversation.

So when I heard about Ello I wondered why people weren’t just moving over to G+ instead. It has an established burlesque community. It doesn’t require your real name (since July 2014). So I went to my FB page and asked. Frankii Wilde replied “I think because of the whole ad free and being able to opt out of your info being shared to third parties”. Interesting I thought. I ventured over to Ello and read their manifesto. Breath of fresh air.

So I asked for an invite. I signed up and made my way around.  I LOVE IT.

Below are a few hints and tips to get you started, please remember the site is still in BETA and while you may think it’s a bit buggy, this is what testing is for:

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Upload a profile photo: In your friends feed it won’t show names so your photo is an essential so people can see who is saying what. You also have the option of uploading a cover photo, it needs to be in the dimensions of 1800 x 1013 (use free pic monkey to resize or create a collage) and people will see this when scrolling up.

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Menu:

Ello Logo: Click this and you’ll be taken back to your friend feed.

Discover: Click on this and it’ll take you to the search page, a few people are having issues with it but if you type in a friend’s name you should be able to find them. Click the word search, type, and away you go. I have found it a lot easier finding people then looking at their friends list and adding people from there.

Invite: Click this to be taken to the page to invite your friends. Generate codes, send them out.

Settings: Click here to change your personal settings, including privacy and email notifications and if, like me, you have multiple accounts – to log out.

Hide Sidebar: The last option hides the sidebar and gives you a full screen view of your feed.

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Connecting to People: You have two choices, add someone as a friend or add them to noise, it’s a good way of grouping people (much like G+ circles but with only two options currently). The people you add won’t know which they’ve been filtered into, so no awkward moments. Click on either to see either feed.

And that, is that.

So why do I like it?

The simplicity of it makes it refreshing. No gumph, no timeline with sponsored posts, just a feed of updates from your friends, willing you to connect with them.

I love that there’s no “likes” function. If people see something they like, they’ll comment on it. Remember that? The good old days where if you saw a beautiful photo you say it rather than lazily liking it. That like button is far too easy and tempting to press.

It would benefit from a few extras, private messaging, a phone app and notification system but these are all in the pipeline. If you think something is missing, go to the Feature List section it will tell you what’s coming soon.

The success of Ello does of course depend of on people using it, posting to it, connecting to people through it. Many people will still be using their FB accounts in case they’re missing out but I think as long as everyone gives it a go it could really be the next best thing.

If you’d you’d like to add me you can find me @ivywilde and @staceystitch

So what does everyone else think? Are you on there? Loving/Hating Ello? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

How Does It Feel? Five Months on From My Last Performance

Recently the question has come up from a few people (performers and non-performers alike) about how I feel after five months on not performing. Do I miss it? Will I get back up there again? What am I doing with my time?

I wrote a blog back in December about my reasons for not performing and where I saw myself fit into the burlesque world without the stage being my main focus. I’ll try not to repeat myself with my answers below.



 What am I Doing With My Time?

I am writing. Copy-writing press releases in my spare time. Writing my own blogs here (some of which have been republished on 21st Century Burlesque), on my sewing website www.staceystitch.com and I’m blogging about film merch and other little bits when I get the time over at www.thegirlwiththestarwarstattoo.com

I am sewing, a lot. Mostly bits for Vegas at the minute but by the end of the year and I am going to have a few pieces for sale as I’m really getting into my stride.

My sewing blog www.staceystitch.com is really taking off and has been nominated under the Best Vintage Fashion/Lifestyle Blog category in the National Vintage Awards!

NVAs

(Voting is open throughout May and it’s a simple click to select Stacey Stitch and then enter your email address to confirm the vote (you won’t be spammed). Clicking on the photo or links above should take you straight to the website.

I need to be in the top 3 and I’m currently in 4th place. Only the top 3 go through to the judges panel. It’ll only take a few minutes of your time if you have it spare! Thank you!)

Other than that I’ve been spending time with my husband. My wonderful Nana turned 90 on Friday and it was my husband’s birthday on Sunday and I climbed up a waterfall.

I’ve also been falling a little in love with Northern Soul.

In all honesty I have no idea how I managed to have a burlesque career alongside all of the things I was doing before, but the successes I have been having have made me realise that I definitely made the right choice focusing and spending more time on other passions.


 Do I Miss It?

I don’t feel that I do miss it. I have kept in touch with friends I made, attended events and I still co-run and organise the North West Burlesque Society. I still see my burlesque friends and revel in their happiness and successes both off stage and on.

I’m attending the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend in Vegas this year, as funnily enough now I’m not performing and spending cash (on costumes/petrol/all the other gubbins that come with new acts) I can afford to get out there, and after all, after years of burlesque grafting, I deserve a treat right?

Maybe I’ll feel different when I get back, I’m fully expecting to be in awe of everyone out there!

I do miss: backstage banter, car journeys with friends I haven’t seen for ages, travelling to various and obscure places in the UK, glittering myself up at least once a week, the bling

I don’t miss: the late nights, eating crappy takeaway food, driving all hours, missing sunny afternoons with my friends, my husband (we see each other all of the time now – yey!)


Will I Get Back Up There Again?

I don’t think I will. I think it would be a different matter wholly if I didn’t have a creative outlet but sewing (one of the things I wanted to spend more time doing) has really taken over that side of my life and between that and part time copywriting/blogging, I feel creatively fulfilled.

I mean, look at this gorgeous dress I’m currently working on! How could I not feel fulfilled?

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It has been really nice to get an unexpected email or two asking me to perform at an event but I haven’t been tempted in the slightest. I feel more relaxed (8 hours of sleep a night?!) with less pressure on me (all of my own) I feel less anxious.


 In conclusion….

I love burlesque, I really still do, but I have enjoyed it more in the last five months than in the last year of making my decision to stop performing.

I can look at someone on stage and see the beauty of it again rather than trying to pick apart someone’s performance to find out what makes the audience tick. I can make things for me and not worry that other people might not like what I’ve put together. I can sit back, relax and enjoy the goings on now that I’m a step or two away.

I’d say to anyone who is feeling how I did, have a little time away even if it’s not a full stop for them and it’s just a break to re-charge their batteries away from the scene, to re-discover what they love without external influences and to truly decide what it is they want and what’s important to them from a creative point of view.

Thanks for reading ( and vote Stacey Stiitch!) xx

How to be an Off Stage Success

On stage you might be the consummate professional but backstage are you? Notwithstanding Jo Boobs’s brilliant Backstage Guidelines here are a few pointers of my own:

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Don’t hog the mirror

Let’s face it, not all backstage areas have walls covered with mirrors and light bulbs glowing around them. Everyone needs to get ready, everyone deserves their mirror time, especially when it comes to that last check before you go on stage.

Everyone hates a mirror hog, be considerate; if you know you’re going to need to spend a long time doing speciality make up to transform yourself into a lion/unicorn/Bart Simpson then make others aware or take your own collapsible mirror. This one from the Co-op is £4 and is pretty much the exact one I bought years ago from Lakeland that has stood me in good stead.

 

Be friendly

Say hello to everyone.  You might, like me, be a little shy and quiet around people you don’t know but it shouldn’t stop you from introducing yourself to others. If you don’t do this, at worst it’ll make you look aloof; at best, there’ll be someone else who is feeling the exact same way in the other corner of the room and you’ve made a friend for the evening, even if you can’t muster up the courage to say hello to them. You can’t count of a promoter having the time to introduce you all to each other when they’re running about oiling the wheels.

Likewise don’t just say hello to the people you know/the people you’ve heard of and not others who you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting. It doesn’t come across well. If you’ve snubbed the newer people or those a little further down the bill than you it’s considered pretty rude.

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Say thanks

Thank the people who have helped you on the night; the stage manager/stage support/tech crew, the DJ, the promoter, the guys at the bar, the blokes on the door, the fellow cast, the person who let you push to the front of the toilet queue during the interval because after all, burlesque performers need to pee.

All of those people have made the night a success. After you’ve done this, give yourself a little pat on the back and feel a bit smug.

If you don’t need to whiz off to the last train/coach or need to get home to feed the dog/cat/partner/goat and plan to mingle a little then take compliments with good grace. We British are a well-known self-deprecating society and while your first instinct when someone compliments you on a beautiful costume may be to say “this? It’s just glitter, sequins and rhinestones stuck on a bra” think about the time and effort you’ve put into the acts a whole, be chuffed someone likes it, say thanks very much and give them a little squeeze on the arm/peck on the cheek/pat on the bum.

Post-performance? After the gig it would be incredibly nice to email/text/message the promoter and say what a fab time you had and you’d love to be back again, but above all thank them for booking you in the first place.

 

Something Lost? Don’t accuse!

Let’s set the scene: someone’s make up/mirror/tit tape goes missing. They look through their bag and can’t find it. They ask if anyone has seen it. The reply comes back as a resounding “no”.  What comes next?

In most cases (and certainly if I was ever in a room where something had gone missing) people will have a quick shufty through their bag/case just to make sure that in the mayhem of a small dressing room with a mass of performers the missing item hasn’t accidentally been knocked off a side and dropped into someone’s stuff.

In some cases the person who is missing an item demands that performers they don’t know very well empty their case in front of them. I have seen this happen.

When the case is emptied and nothing is found it leaves the accuser in a rather embarrassing situation where they apologise profusely and feel ashamed that they picked on the person they don’t know very well and have thought bad enough about them that they’ve tantamount accused them of being a thief. Well, that’s what is meant to happen but I have seen the accuser not apologise, turn on their heel and flounce off, only to find they hadn’t looked in their stuff properly and find the item, with still no apology.

We’ve all lost stuff backstage. For me, a pair of performing knickers and a massive roll of tit tape. Chalk it up as a loss and just be a little more careful where you put your things if you can.

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Don’t take up more room than you have to

A dressing room the size of an under stairs cupboard with 10 performers in it is always going to be a tight squeeze but by packing as small a case as you can manage, getting any large props set up or handed over to the crew when you get there and keeping to a small space, you’ll all fit in, because you have to.

If you get there early don’t take up more room than you need to, be mindful of others arriving and their needs and, if you fancy, play a good old game of sardines and embrace to the fact that your butts might touch from time to time.

Be prepared

Apart from the obvious (costumes, props, jewels, make up etc) things to take with you are: a mirror, scissors, tit tape, thread and a needle, a tube of superglue, eyelash glue, safety pins, spare bobby pins, hairspray. If you have these staples in your case at all times you’ll be fine no matter what might malfunction.

Music wise, take two copies of your music on CD. One track on each CD, labelled with your name, the act name for that CD, directions of whether you start on stage or not and a note of anything special (e.g. if your music cuts out but is meant to as part of the act). When you get your CDs back, make sure they’re in the case. This has happened to me twice before and I didn’t check, just threw them in the case ready for the next show and I was thanking my lucky stars that I had an extra copy with me. The 2 CD rule for each act is a great one to live by!

Also bring your music on a USB stick if you can and have it on your phone too, but ensure the tracks are titled properly to avoid confusion if they need to be used.

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Keep your act introduction short, sweet and simple

No act should need a long winded five minute introduction. If you can’t convey what you’re trying to get across through the act itself maybe it’s time to re-think it. The compare will need something to work with but handing over a long introduction will stifle their artistic flair and won’t keep the audience engaged. Keep it to a few simple points or lines to hand over; eg my Genie act “Say something smutty about rubbing my lamp, anything Carry On style will do” was generally my request.

If you don’t have anything specific you’d like to use think of tag line for yourself and ask the compare to use it when you’re introduced; eg For me: “the flame haired beauty with the red hot bootie”

If you have a surprise in the act such as whipping a ferret out of your pants half way through (I hope to God someone is actually out there doing this, Last of the Summer Wine act anyone?) then ask the compare to keep schtum about that part of it, if they’ve seen it before they might let it slip if not told.

Don’t be the backstage bitch

You might have moans and groans about someone and something but backstage in front of people you don’t know isn’t the best place to do it, wait until you’re in the car, out of the venue and with people you know well before you start to offload.

Don’t act like a princess either, in my first few months of performing in 2008 I saw someone happily pose away for a photographer out front only to come backstage and say “he’s really pissing me off, he should be paying me to model if he wants to take photos of me”, and with that said person made themselves look like a complete knob to everyone in the room, a few of whom (myself included) who had never met them before but will certainly remember, form an opinion of you from it and may someday be blogging about it.

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Similar act/same music as another performer

This shouldn’t really happen and doesn’t very often but it if does there are a few things you can do to keep it professional.

I only found myself in this situation once, having been booked for a specific new act that I had just finished I arrived at the venue to be told that another performer had been booked and had been told to do whichever acts they liked.

I knew they had similar themed act and there was a great chance of them doing it. Not wanting to tread on performer X’s toes I went to run through my act with music and lighting queues and asked them to let X go first with hers and I would follow with mine in the second half if X did turn up with the similar act.

X did turn up with the act. X then proceeded to act in a rather unprofessional manner when X saw my themed costume. I explained the situation and we went through the music we were both using (not the same) and other act variations. I was quite confident that mine was in fact nothing like Xs (as I’d done my research) but this didn’t stop X from being so nasty to me that 20 minutes later I found myself outside, in the rain crying to my husband on the phone because I was made to feel so uncomfortable and bullied.

If you are me in this situation; you’ve done everything you can. If you’re X in this situation; you’ve turned up at a show and the first thing you’ve found out is that someone is doing a similar themed act to you. You might be a bit pissed off but bear in mind that that other performer has just done what they’ve been booked to do, and if you need to get annoyed, get annoyed at the promoter for not forewarning you of the likely clash.

The only real way to avoid situations like this is to ensure you tell the promoter what acts you plan on doing well in advance even if they say it’s your choice to bring what you like (which again doesn’t happen very often – you usually are booked for specific acts).

Get there on time

Reasons for delay; train/bus/coach is delayed, crash on the motorway so you’re stuck in traffic, baby/dog/tortoise sitter hasn’t shown up on time – all reasonable excuses for lateness.

There are those shows where you know you’ve been asked to show up early and you are aware you may be hanging around for some time but if you’ve been told to get there for a specific time have the good faith to know that there is a reason for this, whether that’s to run through, music checks, lighting cues or anything else they might want you to do before the show starts. Worse things happen than being ready early and having plenty of time to catch up with other performers or get to know some new ones.

Plan travel ahead: mainly how you’re getting to the venue and how you’re getting home. The promoter will let you know venue and access details and what time you need to be there, the rest is up to you and they probably have a million emails to answer from various other people leading up to the show; how you get to and from a venue really isn’t up to them, it’s up to you.

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People often ask me if I miss performing and the honest answer is what I really miss is the backstage antics, the travel time in the car catching up with friends and a legitimate reason to hear such sentences as “my Mum will spank your bum with that fly swatter”.

Some of the best times you have will be off stage, so make the most of them and do it in a professional manner.

Blogging for Burlesque Workshop at Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival

Fabulous news! I’ll be running my Blogging for Burlesque Workshop at Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival on Saturday 3rd May at 3.30pm.

I’m trying to keep the costs down to a minimum so the charge is extremely reasonable at £10 per person.

It’s a powerpoint workshop, there will be hand-outs of slides for people to make their own notes.

Is this workshop for you?

This workshop is aimed at anyone who would like to start a singular or a group blog. It’s for those who have no idea what blogging is and for those who may have started blogging but are not quite sure how to drive traffic to their posts.

What will be covered in the workshop?

I will be covering the following topics:

  •          Basics: What Is a Blog?
  •          What Does a Blog Look Like?
  •          Blogs for Burlesque
  •          Blogging Solo
  •          Group Blogging
  •          Blog Research
  •          Blogging Platforms (Blogger/Tumblr/Wordpress)
  •          Getting Started (Blog Name, Posts, What to blog about)
  •          The Benefits of Blogging (this includes a section on SEO – search engine optimisation)
  •          Simple Website Set Up (setting up a website from Blogger/Tumblr/Wordpress)
  •          Other Burlesque Blog Websites and what they can teach us

Questions are encouraged throughout the presentation and the slides with links will be sent out to attendees after the workshop.

What experience do I have?

I have over 10 years’ experience of blogging.

My blogs have been re-published by Paper Moon and 21st Century Burlesque. I have also written articles for the Burlesque Bible. All based on my foundation of blogging.

In addition to this I am a self-employed freelance copywriter. I write press releases and blogs for companies with SEO for promotion purposes.

In my day job I write web content for a large University.

I am well versed in the art of blogging, SEO, social media and am successful at promoting myself and my business through these online elements.

The blogs I currently have are as follows:

www.ivywilde.net (6,000+ followers)

www.staceystitch.com (800+ followers)

www.thegirlwiththestarwarstattoo.com (450+ followers)

Where can I book?

You can book tickets via the Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival Website at the following link:

http://www.hebdenbridgeburlesquefestival.co.uk/ourshop/prod_3031976-Blogging-for-Burlesque-Simple-Website-Set-Up-with-Ivy-Wilde.html

The facebook event listing is here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1447791432124320/

Looking forward to seeing you in May!

Ivy x

Facebook & Burlesque: Is It Bad for Business?

Social media has been a huge contributing factor to the rise of the burlesque scene in the UK, but is it bad for burlesque business? It has just as many bad points as good if you don’t treat it like a business page.

I remember when I started researching burlesque via the internet the places to go to see what was out there were message boards (Ministry of Burlesque, Women’s Institute of Burlesque) and myspace. Facebook hadn’t particularly gained popularity, I was only in the early stages of using it and although there were some performers on there and groups for burlesque events , there hadn’t yet been the en masse migration of performers.

This meant a couple of things:

  1. People conducted their business professionally as what they wrote on myspace/message boards was out there for the world to see.
  2. There wasn’t the amount of social interaction between performers as there now is.

Facebook has a lot to answer for, and while I don’t approve of people airing their dirty burlesque laundry on social media I can see why performers fall into the trap of doing so.

It is hard to distinguish a performer’s profile from a personal profile. I know that many performers use their burlesque profile a lot more than their personal one and a lot of the time the lines become blurred as to what is and what isn’t appropriate to be shared.

Below I’ve written a few things to keep in mind when posting to your profile. It isn’t a list of Dos and Don’ts, I’m not about to dictate anything to anyone, but maintaining a professional image is key to a happy and successful facebook life.

Think about Who Is Viewing Your Profile 

There are three main groups of people who view your profile:

  • Fellow Performers: those you have met and those you haven’t.
  • Potential Employers: promoters, photographers, bloggers – those who can give you exposure and pay for your services
  • Audience members: those who have seen you perform and pay to go to the events you’re paid for performing at.

Be Positive

You’re performing for a reason and, whatever that may be, you’re putting yourself out there on a stage and you’re not being forced to do it. The optimist in me is saying it’s because you love it, and you want to be out there shaking your thang in rhinestoned pasties with your inner monologue shouting “fuck the world, I’M FABULOUS”.

Surely you can think of something fantastic to post about? Writing good, positive content will drive traffic to your profile and raise your performer profile in the industry.  Why not:

  • Share someone’s video that you’ve been bowled over by
  • Comment on an amazing costume
  • Write about unique idea someone’s had for an act (even if you’re insanely jealous that you didn’t think of it first!).
  • Post photos of costume items you’re working on and previews of new acts
  • Write about events you have coming up
  • Write about the skills your learning and the post photos/small video clips
  • Think you’re the Queen of blah blah blah – as long as you can back it up write about it, it is a page to promote yourself after all and no one got anything from hiding their light under a bushel.

Don’t be Negative

It won’t get you very far. I’m not saying you shouldn’t talk about issues you have or challenge points that others make but this is a page for you to promote your image as a performer, do you think “friends” (the three groups in point 1) want to hear the following:

  •  “I’m not getting booked” – you’re not likely to if you post this up on your fb. People start to wonder why and the off chance of a promoter seeing this post and suddenly booking you because they feel sorry for you is slim to none.
  • Aggressive/Passive aggressive statuses.

“People are so rude!”

“I can’t believe someone would copy my act idea”

“Funny, I’ve heard that music before”

“Some people are so up themselves”

“I really love it when someone watches my act then steals my ideas”

ad naseum.

If you have an issue with another performer get in touch with them and speak to them about it. They probably had no idea that they’ve upset you and you can sort it out between yourselves rather than publicly making yourself look like a bitch.

If someone is talking about how excellent they are and you’re annoyed by it you should think about why you are. It’s a profile to promote themselves. You don’t like it, don’t look at it.  If you feel like to need to vent speak to your trusted friends about it in a message or in person.

Negativity breeds negativity. If you’re feeling disillusioned with burlesque or if you’re going through a slump then I understand that you need to vent, I’ve been through it a few times in the six years I performed but think about your public image and think about it this way; if you worked for a business rather than yourself would you do it on your work profile for your possible employers to see? Is what you’re about to say professional? No? Then don’t say it so publicly.

facebook

 Set up a Page

This could be the solution to all of your social media annoyances.

On a personal note, after facebook helpfully deleted my account (as I wasn’t a real person or whatever they decided) and having had enough of the negative news feed I was seeing on a daily basis I went with the option of setting up a page in 2009.

In my experience having a facebook page rather than a performer profile was a godsend. I no longer had to look at life’s grumbles, I removed the negative people filling my feed with nonsense and I spent more time on my normal profile interacting with my “real life” friends, non-burlesque and burlesque folk alike.

Here are some of the positives for moving from a profile to a page:

  • You can manage your page from your normal profile so you won’t have to keep logging in and out between the two.
  • You can receive messages to your page, just as you can to your profile.
  • You can add apps (for example to your performance calendar or your Instagram feed).
  • You can auto-post your fb page statuses to your twitter account
  • You can link your blog up to auto-post to your facebook page
  • You can have an unlimited amount of likes rather than a limited amount of friends.
  • You can set your page to 18+ meaning you won’t get in trouble for anything deemed inappropriate on your profile that minors may have access to.

 The negatives:

  •  You won’t be able to see profile feeds unless you friend people on your normal profile. Then again if you’re really close to people what’s the problem with doing this?

So next time, before you type, think.

I’m very interested in hearing people’s views on this, so please comment below with your thoughts.

Sizing Up Burlesque: Adding Weight to Performance

Does weight come into burlesque? Unfortunately, in my experience yes, just not necessarily the way you’d expect it to.

When I started performing I’d say I was a medium 12, at my biggest I’ve been a small 14 and at my slimmest a standard 10. It’s never been an issue for me, I put weight on because I got married, was happy and pigged out. Being able to scoff what I wanted in my life before then I just didn’t think about it and slowly the pounds went on. BUT it didn’t affect me when I first got up on stage. I was thinking more about the fact that I was about to get semi-naked in front of a room full of strangers. My weight didn’t come into it.

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Photo credit: Chris Parker

I gradually put on more weight. Late night pizza scoffing on the way back from shows (I never had an appetite before I performed) took their toll a little but (again) I should state it wasn’t anything that really bothered me as far as performing was concerned. In my home life I might have been a little concerned that I had E cup boobs (although my husband certainly wasn’t) and that my waistline was getting bigger but I was still rocking the hourglass and looking hot, so onto the stage I went and did my thing.

As I started to perform more however I was approached after shows by audience members who would say things like “it’s good to see someone curvy up there” or something along the lines of “it’s great to see someone representing real women”. This is where I started to have a bit of an issue with it. It’s the “real women” tag.

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Photo credit: Kissy Kat Club Portsmouth

As much as I know people weren’t saying these things in a negative way, and in fact it was their way of complimenting me, it didn’t make me feel altogether great. It made me feel like I was being singled out as the big girl on the bill. Not that there’s an issue with being the big girl on the bill, but when you want to be complimented on your performance, costume and character then show after show get the same reaction, it becomes a little disheartening. Sometimes I would graciously accept the compliment and smile; sometimes I would smile but feel a bit sad.

When I turned the big three-oh in 2010 (and after a 3 week travelling trip to Vietnam and consequently then seeing the holiday snaps of a size 14 me) I decided that I didn’t want to enter my 30s and be overweight. So I joined slimming world and over a year and half lost 2 stone, and then I started to go swimming and lost a bit more, and then I started to do workout videos and before you know it I was a size 10 for the first time in over 6 years.

Photo credit: Warren Jackson

Photo credit: Warren Jackson

In this time the comments decreased by a vast amount, I felt more comfortable in my skin on-stage (I’d taken to wearing skimpier stuff) and I can hand on heart say my weight change didn’t affect the bookings I got. They increased, but only as my skill as a performer did. I never thought I was or wasn’t being booked due to my weight, it was on merit alone.

Then one time in the last few months of performing (and I would like to say at this point I was a size 10, with a 26inch waist – not necessarily flat – and for comparison to the above, now a C cup) someone said those words to me again: “it’s just so great to see real women like you up on stage” and this time – maybe because I knew I was retiring from performance – I did say “yes but we’re all real women, aren’t we?” then felt as uncomfortable as the poor lady did as she backtracked and ran away. I didn’t mean to be confrontational, I didn’t mean to upset her but it did upset me. Like those three years of diet, exercise and weight loss were nothing because I was still being viewed by this person as the one with a bit of jiggle compared to the slimmer girls I was performing alongside.

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Photo credit: Neil Kendall

It happens on the other side too: around a year before the above a slim friend of mine was described by someone who had reviewed a burlesque performance as “painfully thin”. This performer is one of my favourites, she’s amazing on stage and I have never thought of her size in any way. She’s ridiculously hot and she would be whatever her size.

Something else to consider (and this is from my own experience of being slim – I was a size 8 in my early 20s) is how horrible it is when people decide that you must have an eating disorder because you can’t put weight on. Being criticised for being “too thin” is just as bad as being told you’re overweight.

Let me make it clear: I love burlesque because it celebrates the female (and male) form in all of its glory.

Shapes and sizes for me do not come into it, and I can say for the most part that those I have spoken to performers and promoters alike are looking at the performance as a whole, not the size of performer but their skill as a performer. If you have the skill your size doesn’t matter, if you move like a pro you know the right angles and you will look perfect from every one of them.

So why are some audience members so transfixed on people’s size? Why in fact do people think that it’s legitimate to comment on how someone looks rather than what they’re doing when they’re on stage? After some though I came to the following conclusion: it’s not really their fault.

We are bombarded with photos of women daily; newspapers, magazines, websites all telling us we should look like this, or this, or be this way or that and unfortunately sometimes this is in the most horrid way possible (don’t get me started on the daily fail’s sidebar of shame).

As summer is coming up I am sure it won’t be long until I see the usual photos of Marilyn next to some size 8 woman on a beach with the caption “remember when real women looked like this” or last years “fuck society – this is more attractive then this” (points to Marilyn first, then points to slim girl on beach).

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This is the type of crap I’m taking about if you’ve been lucky enough to avoid it on the net.

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The same thing will come up, Marilyn was a size 14. Maybe she was in vintage sizes, but being someone who makes their own clothes a vintage 14 is a modern 10, it’s a 26 waist, a 34 bust and a 36 hip. Why does the label of a “real” woman equate to comparing someone who is bigger than a 10 to someone who is a 10 or smaller? Surely we should all just be accepting of the size we are without the comparison.

So what is a real woman? I’m pretty sure to be a “real” woman you just have to exist, rather than be imaginary. The “real” tag is one of the worst things be bandied about since the phrase “girl power” took the world by force in the 90s and trivialised the achievements of women. It’s a marketing ploy to make those of us who aren’t slim feel better and be critical to those who are. Do people think about how it must feel for a slimmer person to see these posts and know that they’re suddenly being ousted as “not a real woman” because they exercise/diet/are naturally slim? I have as many friends who are naturally slim as not, and their size, weight and shape is none of my concern.

So I’d just ask this: can we please just stop? Can we think of something other than peoples weight to focus on? At the end of the day there’s enough of that crap in the media. So how about we compliment people on the size of their achievements and successes and not the size of body – and next time you’re at a burlesque show and would like to compliment a performer tell them what you loved about their act rather than bringing up their size.

The above is based on my personal experiences of performing from 2008 – 2013