POST SCRIPT :
Bella Blue was the first to reply when this article was released, and, instead of listing a bunch of quotes, I will take the liberty of summarizing it. Bella is a long-time, rightly famous performer who has several successful shows and productions (The Blue Room, Dirty Dime Peepshow, 101 Showcase, etc.) throughout the year in New Orleans (and elsewhere,) and is the creator of the New Orleans School of Burlesque http://www.nolaschoolofburlesque.com/ and we have worked on and off together, Burlesque and otherwise, a lot over the past 6 years. I love Bella. We love Bella. We’ve got good reasons to.
I’m gonna have to very respectfully disagree here. I don’t feel that belittling or admonishing fans is a proper way to handle it. I can’t ever see replying back to someone with a response that cuts them down. I feel like that’s being vindictive and not solving the real issue which was feeling disrespected and having feelings hurt. I guess each scenario is different of course. And everyone will react their own way. But I just don’t see how cutting down the other person fixes the main issue.
Bella’s gotten her fair share of nasty comments from people, and, though I have not heard her directly reply to them personally, I have heard about the ordeal from her afterwards in passing, and the whole sitiuation simply rolls off of her; she doesn’t let it get to her. It’s a good strength. Bella’s confidence isn’t unjustified, she’s a solid performer and very vocal and important fixture in the community, and, if she tell you she’s seen it all, she’s seen it all. You’ve never seen ‘thick skin’ so lovely!
I would like (busy as she is) to formally chime in on this, even a paragraph that I may reprint, because again – what works for her may not work for you, or maybe it will be perfect for you… never a bad idea to learn in a discipline where we’re all learning… and you, I, and everyone else can learn a lot from Bella Blue. I need to hang out with her more.
I can see some hardcore feminists jumping on you for writing a blog, as a male, offering advice to female performers. Get ready for that!
Well, I can see that apprehension, before one gets into why I’m doing this. But first. Feminism, hardcore and not, has far, far too many measured branches, it’s hard to know what one’s disposition is, even which specifically named categorically. So, I keep it simple : That inequality is ridiculous, and a woman has, by birth, every damn right to do everything a man can and will do – whatever they want to – without being considered one iota less of a woman, much less a human being. Everything goes both ways, and we can’t forget that women are still fighting for that. How can anyone really argue with that? I’ve studied a lot of Religion, Anthropology, Sociology, etc, so I know the details that are relevant to Feminism today, and how the Patriarchy took over and why. I’m not an Academic Feminism Major by far, but I do take far more interest in the subject than your average man. I would be disappointed if any Feminist of some specification (or anyone, really) was upset about my insistence that Performers realize their rights, power, and myself attempting to contribute to the Burlesque family as a whole. If I fail, it’s on me, not my plumbing.
However, Burlesque, though primarily female-centric, extends to both (or more, if you will) genders, and to more than dancers : Magicians, Emcees, Comedians, Stage Kittens, even the Merch-person and photographers. We’re in this together because we’re supposed to be.
Secondly, I don’t consider this a vain, authoritative blog. Sure, I laid out ‘rules’ for Photographer Etiquette, and gave solid advice to Performers, but these posts are collective information, not mine alone. I invite contributions, questions, all to provoke constructive dialogue. We need this, I need this, maybe even you do. I have the unique position of hearing everything at once (see http://fortheloveofsirens.tumblr.com/post/75844760436/introduction for reference.) That’s all.
This blog, the more you read it, is myself waxing poetic about collective support. It comes from a good place, and I thank those that appreciate it.
Elena Boudreaux was a performer for a few years here in New Orleans, and keeps up with the scene, despite an indefinite hiatus. She writes :
…Oh, I agree in theory. Unfortunately, if it is in an attempt to prevent further hurt, I have just never encountered good results except when someone else was backing me. Otherwise, the offender seemed to feel entitled to sling the insults even more strongly.
…But, I can say that I genuinely like seeing this dialogue, as I dropped out of performing in ALL aspects for many years from this very thing. Whether fat or thin, when your size precludes even people’s statements of how talented they found you, it wears away at you. I would hate to see other performers drop their art for the same reasons I did.
Sad to hear, but we welcome her back to the stage with open arms and for admitting her reasons for leaving and hopefully returning are important to us all.
Harlow Queen (my love) writes :
…This doesn’t just apply to women, it applies to men too. It may happen to one more than the other, but I know plenty of male performers who get scrutiny for what ever reason from some asshole. Because even if you are not underweight or overweight some asshole is going to find something to not like about you. Its what people do. Friend or stranger. But it happens too often. Jian endures this first hand with many ladies in this town, myself included. You don’t have to be female to have these things affect you. Its not all about us. Its about everyone. And what the whole thing comes down to do is don’t really thing about it as what should we say it how we should react. It comes down to don’t be a dick. Be kind. Its not a difficult task.
Not only true, but it reminded me of something I forgot to initially mention : that through some twisted supposed camaraderie, occasional male audience members say some very uncalled-for things about performers that are not true, excessively sexist, or much worse, and I usually immediately put them in their place, without ever mentioning it to performers (why worry them?) The only positive thing in that whole situation is that I conveyed to the offender that what they’d said was a very rude, stupid thing to say… but more venomous than I’m posting here. I may be an only child, but I find myself quick to defend you all as my sisters (and brothers) without realizing what I did, and how I did it. Apparently it’s in my nature.
…because picking on any of our immediate and extended family unprovoked is simply not okay. Go about it how you will, but please, do your best to convey that, and let it get around. Be well, be strong, be brave, be proud. Goodnight for now!
P.S. Bella may be civil, but don’t mess with her too much, she will chew you up, and spit you out, boy.