Thursday, July 19, 2007

Burlesque and Body Type?

In Michelle Baldwin's book Burlesque and the New Bump-n-Grind, Miss Astrid is quoted:

"Does an eagle cry because it's not a swan? No. Is a dove sad because it's not a flamingo? No. And so it should be, ladies and gentlemen, with women. Different shapes, different sizes, tall, short, fat, thin are all beautiful."

Part of the neo-burlesque movement has been an acceptance of all sizes and shapes of performers and with groups like the Glamazons taking the airwaves on "America's Got Talent" it would seem that the general public is catching on as well. Do you personally find the community to be one that celebrates and accepts different body types? Or do you find that certain shapes and sizes gain more attention and success?

1 comment:

Zeugma said...

Within the communities I've been a part of, all different types are accepted by other performers. Within the audiences... it comes and goes. It's an ongoing battle, I think. There are those who will see the Glamazons and think "Wow! how sexy! More power to them!" and those that will sneer "What are those fat bitches doing onstage in their underwear?". I think the fact that someone hired them in the first place is a really, really good sign. And hell, that's why they call it a movement, right? Because it's in motion.

I've been told I need to lose weight to be a dancer (in front of my students, by an audience member, natch), and I've been told that my body is beautiful the way it is, and thanked for putting my curves onstage.

With audiences, it can depend a lot on the venue. We'd like to say that EVERYONE is supportive all the time, but it comes and goes. I know a girl who got heckled onstage at Lucky 13 for being "fat" (she isn't). I *am* a bit fat, and fine with it. I recently had someone laugh out loud when I shimmied enthusiastically at the Slipper Room... and her mother, who was there with her, looked mortified at her gauche offspring and tipped me $10 as I go-goed. After the same show, two hot NYU students begged me for my performing schedule while the skinny girls they were with looked on in disbelief. You just never know who will like you, and who won't... or why.

That said, I think there are scattered places that prefer to book thin bodies. I may not get booked at one or two places in New York, and I'm sure other cities have the same issue. But everyone's entitled to an aesthetic, and if tight bodies are part of the aesthetic of those clubs, then that's fine. I would not get booked at a club that catered to really big girls either. Like most of burlesque, I'm somewhere in the middle, and like most burlesquers, I think I'm cool with it.

(Obviously, I'm still wrestling with this one, but that's my initial two cents.)