Thursday, July 26, 2007

Keeping your burlesque life a secret from your day job?

Submitted to the Burlesque Forum Mail:

"I recently started a new 9 to 5 desk job after having spent several years working at a retail store. The owners and customers at my previous job were very accepting of my burlesque endeavors, to the point that they'd come to shows and I could talk about my troupe and appearances at work. It was actually a benefit for them, in a way, because I was an attraction to younger clients. Now I'm at a company that's very image focused, even with their employees. They know I'm an "actress" - I didn't hide my performing background during the interview process, just the specifics of it. There are several people at the firm that have been pestering me about when my performances are, including a VP. I feel a lot of pressure to keep things under wraps (I'm also a fetish model). I've never had to be so secretive about my "other life" before. Am I making much ado about nothing, or should I proceed with care?"


Zeugma said...

I think it's always fair to politely say that you prefer to keep your performing life and your work life separate. If the problem is that YOU don't feel comfortable hiding it, maybe you could try to suss out the corporate culture there a bit before coming right out with it... maybe you could mention offhand that you saw a burlesque performance the other night, and get a read from that. If it's scandalous that you even WENT and looked at boobies, maybe you may choose to keep it a secret. But if the VP goes "Yeah, my girlfriend is obsessed with Dita von Teese", then they might not be in for such a shock as you fear.

Either way, I think proceeding with caution is the right move. It would be great if everyone loved burlesque, but some people just don't. And you wouldn't be asking for advice if you didn't fear a potential problem, so you're smart to think your approach through beforehand.

Good luck! Let us know?

Zeugma said...

Also worth mentioning: if you use the same name for fetish and burlesque, they WILL find out about one via the other. Just be prepared to out yourself for both, not one or the other. I've been through this myself, and you'd be amazed what people can find with just a little bit of digging.

Brett said...

While I don't bring the performer's perspective here, as the spouse of a performer and a producer/active Burlesque Hall of Fame volunteer, this has come up for me at 3 different jobs now! So: I agree that casually bringing it up in the "went to a show last night" context is a good way to feel out the office on this, but in my experience a lot of your co-workers will likely NOT know what burlesque is! Or, only have the vaguest sense of it. (when we're really immersed in the scene it's easy to forget that not everybody does this all the time!) So, another approach that has been effective for me/others I know is easing into it with other definitions: you perform in some "variety shows at little places downtown" or are a "cabaret-style performer some nights" and see if those get blank stares, or enthusiastic responses.