Food for Thought


I am so very excited to start on a new project… more to come on that soon.

But in my hunt for chair members, I have had some very interesting discussions with some talented burlesque performers of color across the nation.  So why are most burlesque performers of color NOT getting the exposure they DESERVE?  We are talented, put just as much effort into our routines, and spend just the same amount of hours rehearsing and planning and crafting.
I truly think… NO, I know that there are burlesque performers of color in most major cities that have the talent and the ability to blow folks out of their seats, but yet and still you don’t see them.  This is very interesting to me.  One of the performers I am working with said this, “Your audience is not their audience.”.  Really?  Is that the case?  Or is it the producers and performers themselves?
Burlesque can be a community, but for the most part it is a group of huge cliques.  Yes.  I said it.  Cliques.  Women that join forces and promote EACH OTHER, NOT the community as a whole.  Are all performers like this?  No of course not.  But the ones that you see the most, ARE.  Even when performers NOT in their ‘circle’ approach them, they do not work with them.
Promoters and producers are the same way.  What does a performer have to do to get booked in a show?  Well, it SHOULD be simple.
~Have a good media kit with photos and video
~Try to attend the show you’d like to get booked in
~Approach them in a professional manner
~Put forth your best if you have to audition
Does that work all the time?  No, especially if you are of color.  For some reason performers of color have to try EVEN harder to get booked.  For example, how many performers not of color are working as a full time burlesque performer?  Now look at the amount of performers of color who are working as full time performers.  Few and far between, right?
I would love to hear others thoughts on this.  I have NEVER been a person to look at someones color.  I have never played the color card.  But since having my eyes opened, it is hard to ignore.
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One response to “Food for Thought

  1. As another performer “of colour” (albeit in Australia) I think there are a couple of factors:

    a) People are afraid to take risks. Somehow they feel POC performers are too risky, too different, too ethnic. Apparently every performance we do must reflect our ethnic heritage, which is OMG RISKY, or something.

    b) Internalised attitudes about beauty – for all the talk about burlesque being open to all body types and looks etc, there’s still an expectation of white, tightlaced, Bettie Page-esque. We don’t fit the typical beauty in many ways so we don’t often get noticed.

    I wrote an article about burlesque and race in Racialicious, and I’ve had some interesting followup. Quite a few people told me that they were interested in burlesque but were hesitant to do anything about it because they felt they’d be typecasted and didn’t want that. Some others would not consider the issues performers of colour may have – “oh, if you’re having problems it’s your own fault! Cultural appropriation is always OK! You’re just being sensitive!”. The scene isn’t exclusively discriminatory but neither is it especially welcoming.

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