Welcome to the new edition of Stripper Talk! Sydni and Holli-Mae have decided to join forces to bring you Sydni’s popular question and answer series to 21st Century’s audience!
To ask Sydni a question about anything pertaining to being a fancy lady (or mancake) in our shining world of burlesque, please email GlitterWonderland@gmail.com.
This edition brings a question from Bella Sin of Ohio, USA:
I have had this question in my mind for some time and I hope you can please shed some light upon it.
Recently I have attended some family friendly functions where there was a burlesque performer. The first thing I hear is, ‘This is a family friendly non-strip performance’. I paused and asked, ‘How can it be burlesque if there is no tease element?’ They stated there were children in attendance and she was not stripping. I waited for the performance. As she entered the stage fully dressed, she did remove articles of clothing down to a corset, underwear and bustle, and she also did do some suggestive moves. It was interesting for me to see the audience reaction – some looked away and took their children somewhere else and others were odd lookers that keep watching. But it really got me thinking – is burlesque a child friendly show even if there is no removal of clothing? Is it still burlesque or does it move to interpreted dance?
I have performed in Pride (LGBT celebration) and I do a full show, but I have always been uncomfortable with the fact that there are children in the audience, so I stop doing them. I myself offer a performance that is friendly to family, in my mind. I simply fan dance in full costume (i.e., In a full dress long gown and I title it ‘Fan Dancer’. There is no clothing removal and it’s always a classic song, is that still acceptable?)
I do not know if I’m becoming a prude or something like that but I just don’t feel like what I do is acceptable for children under 18 to see, and it furthers my mind to the idea that we are all going to love the body acceptance of it but when some ones little kid is 5 to 8 they don’t comprehend what that really is.
Please help clear my mind.
Thanks for your question. I’ve also been approached to do ‘family friendly’ or, even funnier, gigs where it’s all adults and they want a burlesque dancer (classic striptease) but no raunch, no ‘strip’. I’ve found this confusing because unless you’re doing the comedy/vaudeville/sideshow aspect of burlesque, you’re doing strip, and not stripping certainly takes the cherry, the frosting and the eggs out of the cake, doesn’t it?
I don’t think there’s such a thing as family friendly burlesque when it comes to the striptease dancer. We’re dealing in a language that talks about sexuality, and even if we weren’t to take something off, our costumes, movement and makeup are hypersexualised enough to cause questions in a child’s mind, regardless of whether they can articulate them. Just like many mothers wouldn’t want to see a Barbie come to life in front of their young children, I’m sure parents aren’t too keen on someone in fishnets parading to classic strip songs. It’s a language that, regardless of cognitive understanding, I think translates. There is no other purpose for the shimmy except to titillate. The bump invokes the thoughts of bumping with another in the night. The grind? FORGETABOUTIT.
A fan dance with clothes is an interesting concept in that I absolutely don’t think this would be seen as striptease in description, especially since you’re not removing clothes. However, are the movements suggestive? The fluttering, the close and reveal (the fan dance is all about the ‘hide and reveal’) – it’s a big flirtatious dance typically, and the movements suggest that we should be admiring the body they frame.
Personally, I don’t do ‘family friendly’ events. I’m not a family friendly performer, and that’s alright with me. If they ask me to be, I suggest clowns, jugglers and aerialists to them that I think would be the trick, and I also let them know that, in my estimation, there is no such thing as ‘family friendly’ when it comes to us strippers.
Always ask about events that aren’t already set out to be 18+; if there’s a possibility that children might be able to attend, make sure that the advertising notes you as a STRIPTEASE act, and that the MC gives a friendly warning. After that, dance your heart out. You’ve done what you can and they should remove their children if they’re uncomfortable. You don’t need to be held accountable for any different parenting that’s going on.
Use your best judgement!
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Keep in mind you have a right of refusal if children end up in your audience. If you are booked for a show and before your performance you see children, it’s ok to ask them to be taken elsewhere before you go on. I’ve had a mother tell me “It’s ok, they’ve seen worse” or something similar. It may have been ok with the mother, but it’s not ok with me. I’M not ok stripping in front of YOUR children. It’s not always a perspective the parents think of so it’s important to put it out there if that’s how you feel.
As a performer and a mom I would say that “family friendly” is such a per family decision…I really dont think that burlesque fits this mode for most families, but you NEVER know which family is going to feel what.
As a mom I am split. I dont mind my son seeing burlesque, he watches me practice and sits clapping for me or gets bored and plays with toys/my other costuming. I wouldnt care if he saw performers male or female strip. I honestly cant see this mind set changing as he grows either. We arent shy about nudity in our house and I am less concerned with sexuality than violence. (besides he looks at breasts and still thinks “LUNCH!”)
On the other hand.
Performing has been my step away from being a mommy, my chance to be fancy and not look like the mommy of a always active toddler. This is set for a spin when I have discovered I was performing in front of children. I admit I have felt REALLY uncomfortable. Usually because I feel that the act has been a sneaked in performance and that parents (and I) weren’t warned. In a situation where I KNOW that its been announced, the audience and I know ahead of time, I feel fine about it (minus a little more nervousness). I’ve only danced like this at private events and I’m not typically doing it.
I really like having a space in my life that is not covered in plastic animals and cherrios. The fantasy of the performance is fine for some little ones, its all bright lights and sparkles, but we cannot take the sexuality out of our acts. Its up to the organizers to make sure that parents know and that they arent stripping us out of our striptease.
I’m almost wondering if its just a question of education. Perhaps what they really want is cabaret! The movie “Burlesque” may have confused people…and so it starts…