Well, I was raised around women, a lot of them, in fact.
It wasn’t long before I sketched them, painted them, which led to a nearly innate task of photographing them.
In 1999, I photographed a few friends of mine who started a Burlesque Troupe in New Orleans, resurrecting a nearly-dead stage art in a city whose culture was both ripe for it since its founding, and would most likely sustain a new generation’s shot at it. The Calendar I shot, for better or worse, produced some well-known iconic images, some proto-Nouveau-Burlesque drama, and a lot of lessons to be learned for myself, the girls, the venue, and for many to come. One part common sense, one part courtesy.
Being Grandfathered in nearly any scene since the now-reknown Shim-Shamettes association carries weight, there is not only a responsibility to practice what I preach to newcomer photographers, but to advise Burlesque girls and Showgirls of any kind, from a different perspective.
I have the best seat in the house.
I hear the blaring soundtrack, and the soft footsteps of the dance moves.
I hear the comments of the audience, and the concerns of those backstage.
I know the stage names, and the birth names.
I see the girls in Showgirl battlegear in the venues, I see the girls at home in baggy sweatpants, hanging up their clothes.
I know the official biographies, and I know their personal confessions.
Most importantly, before the show, and after the curtain closes, what I do is representative of their craft, and I show the world how they wish to see themselves, and how the world wants them to be seen.
In a world of cell-phone photos, cheap digital cameras, photoshop, lightroom, and costless, material-less practicing, nearly everyone takes such things for granted.
From the audience, photographers, venues, entourages, and even the girls themselves – there are simple manners, techniques, and ceremony (if you will,) that one side sees that the others do not.
I will address this quite often; in fact, it will be the primary aim of this blog.
For the most part, sit back and enjoy the show.
For the rest, feel free to ask.