Ten of My Favourite Things About Tassel Twirling: A Thought for Every Year I’ve Been Teaching it.
1. It’s fun to watch. It says, “Look at me! I’m having fun with my body!” And having fun is not just sexy, it’s the sexiest.
2. It reframes the meaning of mammaries. It provides a function in addition to attraction and nurture: that of entertainment. And the person most entertained is often the twirler.
3. It provides instant gratification. The vast majority of people of all genders, body types, and configurations of ability can master the basic move in under a minute.
4. It confers the right to stare. All day long we go around worrying that we’ll be caught staring at someone’s boobs (which we are doing). Now staring is not just permitted, but encouraged.
5. It allows us to be stared at without feeling vulnerable. All day long we go around not wanting to catch anyone staring at us (we know they are, because we are staring, too).
6. It’s new. It doesn’t have a history prior to the 1920s.
7. It provides new fashion options. We get to try out all kinds of tassels, fabrics, rhinestones, and themed nipples.
8. It creates an aura of mystery. What lies beneath? If it’s worth decorating and celebrating like this, it must be spectacular!
9. It’s powerful. While elements of striptease build the tease, tassel twirling is always a way of celebrating our bodies, having fun, and showing off at the same time.
10. It provides an opportunity to find a signature move. Once we master the basics and understand the physics, the possibilities are endless. I sometimes teach tassel twirling without even twirling myself, as the process of learning to twirl isn’t just about learning the moves, but about finding out what happens on the our incredibly varied individual bodies when we do the moves.
I’ve been teaching tassel twirling for ten years, and I love it. It’s endlessly delightful to watch a roomful of people get topless together and have this silly, body-positive, fun-loving adventure. Thank you to everyone who has taken the journey with me!
Jo Weldon, commonly known as Jo Boobs or Jo Boobs Weldon, is a performer, photographer, author, activist, educator, and essayist based in New York City. Weldon’s body of work centers around stripping and striptease. She established and runs the New York School of Burlesque and wrote The Burlesque Handbook, the first manual ever published on how to create classical and neo-burlesque routines. Weldon is active in the burlesque community, contributing her knowledge and experience to projects and collaborations. Though she now works in the theatrical world of burlesque Weldon has never lost the influence of, and inspiration from lap dancing and strip clubs. She continues to work as an advocate for sex worker rights and freedom of sexual expression.