The burlesque community erupted in response to a single social media post from a venue employee in New Orleans.  The response was immediate and fierce, with burlesque performers around the globe lashing out through social media posts.

Lucky Pierre Drops Performer Due to her Size ; Dirty Martini’s Response ; Producer Bella Blue’s Statement

A group of burlesque performers in Atlanta responded differently- with a powerful visual campaign.

Talloolah Love. J Merritt Photography
Talloolah Love. J Merritt Photography

Talloolah Love: “I wanted to do the #iamburlesque” project to further encourage all women to not let this elusive mainstream ideal be their internalized sense of what is beautiful. I am so thankful for Ruby and Bella’s strength of character. Though this project came as a result of ugliness, from those ashes came something spectacularly beautiful.”

Roula Roulette.  J. Merritt Photography
Roula Roulette. J. Merritt Photography

Roula Roulette: “As an art form that strives to be inclusive, expressive, empowering; it is important that we not get lost in the commercialized ideals of beauty. We are celebrated for our differences, including the shape and size of a woman. There is no one size fits all. That is how #iamburlesque ”

LolaLesoliel & Mickie Sinn. J Merritt Photography.
LolaLesoliel & Bunny Wigglebottom. J Merritt Photography.

Lola LeSoliel: “I participated in #IAmBurlesque because my body and skin are powerful. I’m proud of my presence in spaces where people have the opportunity to see me exemplify burlesque. I look forward to when ‘burlesque artist’ evokes the same entertaining variety as ‘comedian’.”

Bunny WiggleBottom: “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be welcomed into the nurturing bosom of a community of creative and passionate individuals who inspire you to dream? I have found my tribe of exuberant ecdysiasts! I am a proud member of the burlesque community. #IAMBURLESQUE.”


Sadie Hawkins. J. Merritt Photography
Sadie Hawkins. J. Merritt Photography


Sadie Hawkins: “Every day, we are bombarded by unrealistic depictions of not just women’s bodies, but all bodies. Pop culture often inaccurately depicts burlesque as conforming to those representations, when the new burlesque was established as a safe place for bodies of all sorts to participate in performance art. #IAmBurlesque is an opportunity to showcase the variety of real bodies of the artists – not just the size spectrum, but the tremendous diversity of heritage, gender expression, age, ability, and so forth.”

L-R: Talloolah Love, Roula Roulette, Bunny Wigglebottom
L-R: Talloolah Love, Roula Roulette, Bunny Wigglebottom


Back Row L-R: Bunny WiggleBottom, Pinky Shear, Mary Strawberry, Mickie Sinn, Sadie Hawkins.  Front Row L- R: Roula Roulette, Chameleon Queen, Lola LeSoliel, Tallolah Love.  Project Shot at The Burlesque Atlanta Camera Club Studio at The Goat Farm.
Back Row L-R: Bunny WiggleBottom, Pinky Shear, Mary Strawberry, Mickie Sinn, Sadie Hawkins. Front Row L- R: Roula Roulette, Chameleon Queen, Lola LeSoliel, Talloolah Love. Project Shot at The Burlesque Atlanta Camera Club Studio at The Goat Farm.

Mary Strawberry: “This project is important because people do burlesque not to be put into a box but to break out of it. Having such a welcoming community to express yourself and create art that speaks to so many people is what makes us thrive and blossom.”

The Chameleon Queen: “My reasons for getting on board with #IAmBurlesque is that we shame our own bodies enough, it’s reprehensible that with the every human Art of burlesque another can do that to us. It’s our Art conveying the biggest reveal of our minds and hearts through our bodies, and no one should stop a heart from telling its story.”

Mickie Sinn: “We all have insecurities, no matter our size and shape. Burlesque puts the power of vulnerability back into your hands, even if it’s only four minutes on stage. For me #iamburlesque is a reminder that there is strength and joy in facing those insecurities with honesty and openness.”

J Merritt Photography:  “Burlesque encourages all women to have a positive body image. That matters greatly to me because I have a daughter. I do not ever want her to feel ashamed of her body. I was honored to be asked to photograph this event and thrilled to be a part of it.”

A note from Talloolah:

So, an infuriating thing happened about two weeks ago in New Orleans. As a result, something beautiful happened in Altanta. J Merritt Photography and 9 other strong beautiful women dropped everything they were doing last Sunday to put together this photoshoot. The shots were so gritty, and lit harshly, the results were so painfully real. I didn’t have to tell James my thoughts on what I wanted, he just got it. When he sent the shots, I was shocked at first. It’s amazing how the concept of self, and the actual reality can be so different but sobering. When I started performing 14 years ago, I was told I was too fat to perform by the mainstream. But that’s not what Burlesque said. Burlesque had already taken me in, balmed my self perception and told me age, color, size… none of it matters. Don’t be a dick, or a diva, do your art to the best of your ability, have standards and morals that you stick to, and you will have a home. So when a club owner in New Orleans decided there was a specific cookie cutter made that was the definition of burlesque, I got mad. No one defines burlesque but those who get it… and you, sir… do not get it.

Brava to Bella Blue for standing behind her burlesque brethren. I cant imagine that that was easy… Brava to Ruby Rage for not letting silence give consent. Telling a producer or a club owner that they don’t have the right to decide what their image is through their performers is as bad as telling me that I can’t wear the color red. They do have that right, absolutely. But to say that burlesque has a look or a shape is downright wrong. Shockingly wrong. There’s an incredible article written by one of my burlesque idols, Dirty Martini: “It seems to me that if you limit a show to “standard” acts, it becomes a “standard” show. Boring, predictable and perhaps palatable to some, but certainly not the best show in America.” I am glad that Lucky Pierre’s has finally apologized for their public statements. A little late, and a little lame to say the least… but I hope we can all shake the dust of this and that we all can stand behind one another together… fat, and thin, and everything in between and proclaim proudly, that “I am burlesque”. ‪#‎iamburlesque

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