Burlesque Roundtable: Getting Serious
Welcome to our second Burlesque Roundtable. (Did you miss the first?) The hope is to create an open dialogue to discuss relevant burlesque questions in an honest manner. Have a questions you would like to propose or two cents you would like to throw into the ring? Please do so via comments; we would love to hear from you!
Q: In order for burlesque to continue to grow as an art form, to be taken seriously, and to keep burlesque growing in popularity, the number one thing that must change is ______________________________ .
Violet O’ Hara (Dallas) The number one thing that must change is our level of professionalism when conducting business. Communicating in a respectful manner and conducting all business transactions with integrity would help our community to grow and be recognized as a serious art form.
Roxie Moxie (Austin) I do think we need to get more serious about our art. Gone are the days when a girl could just walk back and forth on a stage and strip out of a store-bought Leg Avenue costume and call it “Burlesque.” The Burlesque market is saturated now and audiences expect more. You’ve got to be a skilled artist – offer something unique and unexpected to your audience if you want to be taken seriously as a performer.
Trixie Minx (New Orleans) Ladies not supporting ladies is by far the greatest weakness I’ve seen in burlesque. It’s sad really.
Jo Weldon (NYC) The number one thing that must change is respect. It bores me when people who’ve been performing for a long time tell young performers what they’re tired of. Why should new performers care, if they’re not being treated with respect? They don’t need anyone’s permission to do as they like. The more experienced performers aren’t coming to the newer performers’ shows, for the most part, and the newer performers’ audiences aren’t jaded and they’re THRILLED to see some of this stuff more experienced performers think is old hat. BUT On the flipside of that coin, newer performers should take some time and get to know what proceeded them–it’s mighty annoying when they call themselves “the first ever all-live-music neo-burlesque show!” or think they’re big rebels or massive geniuses against classic burlesque because they’re doing some punk rock or political protest thing we all did fifteen years ago, or references to current pop culture that burlesque has always done. It’s just a matter of respect, perspective, research, and being true to what moves you. Do it; but just get over yourself, whether what you need to get over is that you think you’ve done it all or you think you’re the most innovative thing ever even though you haven’t done a shred of research besides going to one show and copping an attitude!
The number two thing that should probably change is resistance to critique. Having someone in the dressing room tell you you’re a genius won’t help you improve as a performer.