It. Was. Amazing.
The shows were out-of-this-world. I was left awe-struck many, many times. But what has really stayed with me is it's heart. The Show Me Burlesque Festival has heart. It has wild, open, unabashed true love. I think this is a direct reflection of the producer of the festival, Lola Van Ella. She is a gifted leader and a wonderful role model in the Burlesque community. After last weekend, I decided I want to be Lola Van Ella when I grow up! I have noticed that events, festivals, retreats, what have you, always take on the energy and approach in which their producer emanates. And Lola Van Ella emanates love. She's also super silly, smart, funny and sexy :)
She does it all: sings, emcees, dances, strips, produces, teaches...probably a lot more things that I'm not even mentioning here. She has so many talents. But one of her most important virtues is building other people up. She creates community and brings people together to make sexy stripper art. By raising up our art form (showcasing it on a platform worthy of it's importance) and also bigging everyone up to higher heights around her, she achieves so much. And she does it all with a smile on her face and an open heart beaming full of love and gratitude. When Lola tells you you're going to be amazing on stage, it sure does feel good!
Another noteworthy aspect of Show Me was it's diversity. Diversity in body type, gender, sexual orientation, culture, race, everything! Even diversity in approach to Burlesque. I have been to many festivals that have favored the classic aesthetic. Nothing wrong with a good old bump 'n grind, mind you! Many festivals have left me going home from the shows wishing I were thinner and that my costumes were sparklier. Show Me DEFINITELY inspired my costume-crazed mind. But maybe not just to be sparklier. Maybe to be more elaborate, creative, cleaver, beautiful, interesting...
I watched voluptuous babes such as Sassy Von Staddler and the one and only DIRTY MARTINI absolutely KILL IT on stage. Sassy went on right before me. She OWNED that stage. She is so flexible and so powerful. That night was the first time I'd seen Dirty Martini's swan act and I am a forever fan. It was hilarious, sexy, smart and weird. It was everything I ever wanted out of a Burlesque act. Yep, the definition of Burlesque. Right there. If anyone asks me what Burlesque is again, all I will do is point them to a video of that act.
These two, along with many others that took the stage over the weekend made me realize in a completely new way that it really doesn't matter what your body looks like. As long as you completely bring it to the stage, THAT is all that matters. You bring You. Bring yourself to your fullest and do it with more conviction than anything, and you will have the audience eating out of the palm of your hand.
Performing Burlesque showed me early on that one of my major roles in life is to get on
|My Belly Burlesque Act|
I am happy to say that Show Me has shown me a shift within myself. An acceptance of my body in a different way than ever before. I have gone in and out. Up and down. Through a long road that winds and dips and curves (dangerous curves ahead!) To a place now that feels like: it doesn't matter what my body looks like, as long as I own it. As long as I rock it! As long as I take my talents (and talents I have honed!) on stage with me, with complete confidence and unabashed commitment...that is all that matters. It clicked. This time it feels like a different click.
Needless to say it's been a really intense week. I have felt a lot of emotions and thought about so much. I have been exposed to 3 days of beautiful, eclectic stripper art and allowed myself to feel it all. I was a little bit more sensitive than usual, it being my moon time, so I spent a lot of time crying. I wasn't sad though. I was so, so happy. I was just feeling all of the feels, and I am a big crier, so all of my thoughts and epiphanies were coming out of my eyes. Like little stripper rhinestones, each one an important milestone in an art stripper's career process.
Back to the diversity! I have not seen a festival with this much diversity before! Rivaling on, if not surpassing NY's festival with it's level of representation of EVERYTHING. I want to make sure that the shows, classes and events I am bringing to the San Diego community are fully representational and open to everyone. Everyone. I want to put it out there that the events and classes I create are a safe place for every type of person to be there, express themselves and find themselves through art.
I am so impressed with Show Me for it's diversity, representation of all types of people, it's inspiringly high level, it's community that supports and surrounds it (the crew, band, musicians, support staff, volunteers) and how good the performers are treated and taken care of.
A brief recap of some of my highlights:
Thursday - The Speakeasy Soiree
Friday - The Red Light Revue
Show night for me! I went through a myriad of thoughts and emotions that night. I was so nervous! I had made this show into such an important one in my mind. Maybe put too much pressure on myself. I had reviewed my choreo and asked Di'Lovely to work with me to make it better, I added more bling / dangly bits to my costume, I practiced more than I usually do (though probably as much as I should be) and then I blanked out on stage for 4 counts of 8. Just fully blacked out, couldn't remember my choreo and couldn't get back to it for 4 freaking counts of 8. Not that the audience knew but I was devastated after I got off stage. Then I couldn't stop thinking about it. Before I went on I couldn't watch the show because it was making me so nervous and I was starting to have an existential crisis about Burlesque. Perfect timing. Right before I'm about to go on, I start to have a love / hate relationship with one of my biggest passions. In the end I just freestyled a bit and NO ONE knows the difference besides me. My cousins from Columbia came out to watch me and an old family friend from ages ago too! It was so good to have them there.
|The Red Light Revue Cast|
After the show upstairs was the Van Ella Bordella...a stripper pole in the middle of the room and the Van Ella Band playing 90's hits. It was the best, weirdest, sexiest combo ever. That was the most "stripper" I've ever seen at a Burlesque Festival. There's this huge dichotomy between being a stripper at a strip club and being a burlesque performer...it's really not that different (except strippers make more money!) and there shouldn't be a divide. This was an example of fusion of the two worlds in a way that I have never seen at a festival before, or ever before actually. There was audience interaction, there were dollar bills flying in the air. And there was some of the sexiest stripping I've ever seen! All to live 90's music. Wont forget that one for a while, whoa! That night I suffered some gnarly insomnia and struggled with replaying my act in my head, over and over.
There were two hoopers in the Friday show which was amazing to see! Johnny Nuriel ended his act with an LED hoop and the audience went wild for it! His, Mr. Gorgeous and Dirty Martini's acts really stick out in my mind. I didn't get to see lots of the show though, do to me performing in it and being a nervous wreck! Eva Mystique was my backstage buddy who was super sweet and I got to see her kill it on stage, so sexy!
Hands down the best burlesque show I've ever seen. And I'd like to think I've seen some damn good burlesque in my day. The duo talk-show style emceeing from Jeez Loueez and Lola Van Ella was classically hilarious. The acts were incredible! Favorites include: Axis D'Evil (hoop burlesquer with a slick way to hide her hoop in her costume), Shellbelle Shamrock's Michael Jackson act was spot on, Icky Muffin is my new favorite aerial Lyra burlesque artist, Ray Gunn was a creepy, sexy, sexy bird, Midnite's aerial burlesque act gets me every time, I got to see Vivacious Miss Audacious perform for the first time (a fellow old school hoop burlesquer), athletic pole dancing by Patti Zikmund, Willy LaQueue got us all with his pop and lock style of dance stripping, contortion by Dahlia Fatale, and the ending with Duo Izhonny was epic. They brought out all of the stops - fire, headstand twerking, costuming like no other, fan veil work, beautiful makeup, beautiful moments - unforgettable.