by: Doc Wasabassco
I have been doing my best lately to keep my eyes on my own paper, to literally mind my own business, and to adhere to Craig Ferguson’s three-step checklist before taking to my bully pulpit. 1) Does this need to be said? 2) Does this need to be said by me? 3) Does this need to be said by me now? I feel in this case that the answer to all three is yes, so here we go. What follows is an expression of my own opinion. As with all opinions, you are entirely free to disagree.
Eyes off my own paper:
I have recently had the opportunity to see a range of male MCs host burlesque shows. It is very much the industry norm that most MCs in burlesque are men – something that we’ve been working to change in my own company. Working in nightlife I seldom get a chance to attend events outside my own shows. I have no intention of criticizing the talent or abilities of these MCs. As a sometime MC, my own abilities run from serviceable to entertaining. All of the MCs that informed this writing are far superior in talent than myself. This is not about talent. This is about the choices being made.
In the cases of the male MCs I watched, each and every one spent some percentage of his time on stage talking about his own penis. Sometimes they mentioned their penis in terms of how it reacted to the performers, sometimes they mentioned it in terms of jerking off to the performers, sometimes in terms of anecdotes about their sex lives for humorous effect, sometimes they just mentioned their penises for no apparent reason. Some mentioned their penises just a few times, and others spent their entire time on stage referring over and over again to every aspect of being the owner and enthusiastic user of a cock. Some went to great lengths to identify themselves as feminists and allies and supporters of women… and then proceeded to talk almost exclusively about their own genitals.
Some people will see no problem with this, proceeding from the idea that burlesque shows are meant to be bawdy and/or sexual by nature, and to be honest many of these MCs comments, jokes, and anecdotes about their junk got laughs. There will always be people who love dick jokes. But I DID look around at female performer friends in the audiences, and they – the people meant to be shown the most respect by the very job description of an MC – were not amused
I believe in the simplest terms that the job of an MC at a burlesque show is to present the performers to the audience. In doing so they are called upon to be entertaining and usually humorous, but I do not believe they are meant to be the star of the show. To my mind the performers are the stars and the MC is a facilitator. I believe ultimately that it’s the job of the MC to elevate the performers and respectfully present them to the public.
Therefore I think it’s a questionable choice for the man in the suit to fixate on his dick rather than the performers and their accomplishments. The great majority of burlesque performers are women – in the shows I attended almost all of the performers were: women who deal every day with never-ending harassment on the street, at work, in social situations, and online. So it’s infuriating that in a world, industry, and art form of their own creation, women encounter male MCs choosing to step onstage and present the verbal equivalent of a dick pic. The MC has chosen in a very real way to be the man who walks into a room full of women and starts swinging his dick around. Gentlemen, we know you have a penis. We rest thoroughly assured that you use it for masturbation, and that yes indeed for sex with partners as well. Were you going to talk about the show now? The art? The women on stage? The audience?
A male MC stands onstage in the middle of a show. A beautiful, talented, intelligent, and clever woman has just completed her routine, a routine that perhaps was a commentary, or an act of empowerment, maybe it was pure ownership of her sexuality, or a moment of brilliant comedy. In a few moments another woman will take the stage and bring a whole other statement of skill, movement, emotion, and craft to the audience. At this moment with any number of things one could say about either woman, why would an MC choose to talk about his own genitals and how he’d like to use them? There must be ways for you to be charming and funny when introducing a performer without mentioning jerking off to her.
I have gone on before about the recent trend in this industry of male performers feeling compelled, when choosing a stage name, to name themselves after their own genitals. This is a similar phenomenon. It’s like toddler boys who, having developed full awareness that they own penis, cannot stop touching themselves and sharing their awareness of owning one with the whole world. Is this ALL we have to offer?
Gentlemen, I invite you to find other ways to be charming and entertaining, to maneuver inside a sexy event without making it about your own sex organ, and I beseech you to please stop talking about your dicks.
The founder of New York City-based Wasabassco, Doc Wasabassco has created exceptional striptease variety events and unforgettable entertainment for over a decade. A showman, impresario, producer and emcee, Doc is also a proponent of style, believes that the best show is always risqué and surprising but never shocking or crass, and holds himself and his shows to high professional standards.