I am currently a junior at Toronto Burlesque high. This doesn’t mean much, except I’m graduating soon and have to start thinking about which Burlesque Universities I want to apply for. With over 20…did I just say 20? years of performing experience I am starting to hoe a new row. The Burlesque world is as unique as the performers on stage. Each act choosing music that makes’em shake, shimmy and grind. Cloaking their goods in layers of glitter, fringe and fabulousness. Choreographing their stories and showing off. It’s revealing. It’s scintillating. It’s sparkly. What’s not to love? It’s an adventure I look forward to sharing.
Last year I was struggling to find where I belonged professionally. I’ve been a struggling actor for as long as I can remember. I mean I struggle with many things, but nobody struggles like an out of work, under-appreciated and all-around disappointment of an artist. I had set goals for myself that I had no power over achieving. With fingers crossed I auditioned for a tv series glimpse, a movie moment or commercial soul sale. I got none. I begged. I avoided. I flirted; all without result. Well, I guess there was a result…it just wasn’t the one I wanted.
I’ve seen peers around me dropping into real estate, settling into joe-jobs, and saying see-ya later to the biz. All the glitz and glamour, all the fame and fortune. Of which there isn’t enough to go around. I stayed. I dug in my heels, fingernails and teeth. My determination almost tangible. Of course I always had a string of Joe jobs myself (the list is too long for this particular blog, but I am sure we’ll get into most of them at some point); but the Biz was my main stream of income. When that changed.
It was then I noticed a shift. I didn’t feel like an artist anymore. When the artist’s internal motto shifts from “What’s next?” to “What do I do when I can’t do what I’ve done for as long as I can remember?”, it is time to reevaluate. My career was seized by a fight or flight reaction. It was time for action. So, what I did for a while was nothing. I was a nose flaring rabbit scared frozen, hoping that the future had T-Rex vision. And as long as I stayed still, I would be unharmed. Sadly, the future waits for no woman, and like a T-Rex, it has an amazing sense of smell.
I remember a plaque in my childhood bathroom: Give me the strength to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. Written in scrolled lettering. Well, I read that every time I went to the washroom. Each time expecting to truly understand it. I understand it now, it’s an addict’s tool, reminding them they don’t want to be an addict. And I am a performance junkie…and I have the strength to change. This is where burlesque comes back around.
All my life I have loved the Million dollar mermaid. Lusting after the rhinestones and refinement of the spectacular showgirl. I’ve longed for the whispery Monroe tones. The pin-up culture. The vintage vibe. It’s all in my wheelhouse. Add to that my stand up experience, my dance training, showomanship and a pair of big beautiful bouncy…well, you get it. I am stacked in my own favour. I took a breath, took my Hubby’s hand and signed up for a class. And now as I approach my final presentation at the junior high burlesque level, I realize this might just be where the warped, weird, wonderful me wanted to be the whole time.
Now, I have the control to choose my work. To pick through the piles and plan an act I can be proud of. I am now my own casting, choreographer and creative genius; working all the ways I work best. Against my mirror self and with the music. I’m not crossing my fingers to win a crown and title anytime soon but it’s nice just to be in the game…well, training for a game at least. And it’s a game I can’t wait to play. You should get ready to fall for this Klutz, she’s a beautiful disaster.