Burlesque Growing Pains: Finding My "F@ck It"
This summer has been a whirlwind! I've been checking many boxes off my burly bucket list, including:
teaching my very first non-private burlesque class with the DC Gurly Show;
finishing up the first chapter in a historical book on shake dancing; and
popping my international performer cherry at the Toronto Burlesque Festival!
As I ease into the middle of my second year performing, I am starting to view much of what I do in burlesque as "real" work. When I debuted, this was solely a hobby -- something to get me out of the house, something to remind me that I'm beautiful, etc. etc. But now it's way different.
These days, I appreciate my free weekends and only dance or kitten for actual money. I literally get sick to my stomach when I think of all the times I've performed for free or for $10 (yes, this was a real payment that I accepted a long, long time ago). Now, I try to keep things as professional and polished as possible, and sometimes I even worry about what I'm posting online for fear that it may "look bad" to producers or dancer colleagues. I also hate to bring muggle friends along with me to shows, unless they come with their own friends or are fine chilling alone -- I just want to go backstage, put on my costume, put on a killer show, and then take my ass home.
Yep... this $hit ain't just for fun anymore, y'all! Bebe Bardot is now serious business. And with all that said, I've started shifting my mission and goals to fit this new "Fuck You Pay Me" performance model. This business model requires a confident, unflappable attitude, which I like to call my inner "Fuck It".
Case in point: I was recently rejected for a festival I really wanted to get into. I was like, "Damnnnn, for real? Y'all really don't want ALLA THIS?!!" And then I waved my hands all around my bodacious body for maximum effect and angrily slammed my laptop shut.
But all the angry hand-waving in the world wouldn't change the fact that they surely did not want alla this. At first, I was sad. Then, my business sense kicked in (and by "business sense," I mean my mother's voice cursing me out in my head):
Business Sense/Mom: Why are you sad? Didn't you have to pay for your own flight there? And hotel? And food? And transportation?
Me: Well... um... Business Sense/Mom: So let me get this shit straight. You were gonna go there and pay for everything, but now you're gonna stay home and be sad... when you could very well just pay for some other shit and be happy. You're still paying for shit! I didn't raise you like this. And on and on my business sense/imaginary mean mom continued to berate me, until it dawned on me that I can apply anywhere in this entire fucking world to perform. This is how I found my inner "Fuck It" confidence and unflappability. I don't have to stay put if I don't want to. After all, as previously noted by Imaginary Mom: I'm already paying for the shit.
So here's what I did: instead of applying to more festivals, I cold-emailed most of my favorite producers in the country. I'm not gonna share what I sent them because my Business Sense/Imaginary Mean Mom tells me that all you hauxs will steal my marketing scheme. But I gained a big old dose of "Fuck It" and I sent them all emails and showed them what I'm working with, told them I was available to travel, and then sat back in discomfort and said "Holy shit this is never gonna work, I'm gonna get blacklisted!"
Not everyone replied... not even most of them replied, to be honest. But a few did, and that made it all worth it. I found my "Fuck It," took a big risk, (but still less of a risk than applying for festivals, since those cost $$$$ and are ultra-competitive), and it paid off in a weird and exciting way.
So now, after finding my "Fuck It" and cold-emailing people I respect and admire, I will soon embark on my Fall Tour! I'm gonna hold off on a few details because I know y'all love a good tease ;-) but these are the cities you can catch me in starting in September, dancing for some downright fucking FABULOUS producers. And it's all because I decided to take myself a wee bit more serious.
I guess I'm sharing this because I know we all put a lot of weight on festivals - who got in, who didn't get in, who's headlining or featuring or being crowned, etc. etc. - but there are some other boss ass moves we can make in burlesque that can really prove our worth to ourselves.
I'll still apply to festivals because they are fun (Toronto was a BLAST), but I'm not gonna hang all my hopes and dreams on that shit like it's the end-all be-all of burlesque success. Success is in the eye of the beholder, so let's all find our "Fuck It" and make our own way!! We got this -- we are all burlesque stars!!
Until next time,