Friday’s Essay – O BurlyQ, How I Love You!

Betty 'Ball of Fire' Rowland

Betty 'Ball of Fire' Rowland

O Burly Q, how I love you!  I stumbled upon you nearly by accident.  A few years ago I was feeling like I needed to give my self-esteem a bit of a shot in the arm.  And, like some kind of wicked street drug you delivered!  I am now addicted to tassels, satin gloves, garter belts, feathers, wigs, rhinestone encrusted brassieres and high-heeled shoes that could give a girl a nosebleed. And, yet, it’s more than the glamour and fancy costumes. It is truly about empowerment and art and creativity and self-esteem.  I love that when I hear a song on the radio I might imagine a crazy striptease routine to go with it.  I love watching a fellow burlesque performer find a new way to remove a glove or a stocking.  Anyone can take their clothes off.  People do it every day.  But making it fresh, sassy, raunchy, gross, political or glorious? – that’s art!

I am a Rosebud – official member of the Rosebud Burlesque Club and graduate of Ms. Cheripop Purr’s Burlesque Academy for Wayward Girls.  I have made great friends and have had great fun.  I have grown as an artist – I have created a stage persona who is very cool, I can sew my own costumes, choreograph my own pieces, and perform half-naked in front of nearly 400 people.  I have grown as a person – I have more self-confidence, more friends, a deeper appreciation for art, and a desire to create more art.  When I consider it deeply, becoming a burlesque performer is bringing me back to the person I wanted to be twenty years ago.  I wanted to be a performer, an artist, but I chickened out or I forgot about it or ‘life’ got in the way.  Through burlesque I can be a dancer, a choreographer, a clown, an actor, a stripper, a singer … all the things (and a few more) I wanted to be when I was a kid.

It is unlikely that I will make a living – or want to make a living – as a burlesque performer.  And, that’s just fine, because for me this artform isn’t about making a living.  For me this artform is about living a fabulous and fulfilling life.  I need art in my life.  I need to create and perform and deepen my character.  I don’t need to pay the bills with this art – that would probably make it less enjoyable, actually.  I just need this art to feed my soul.




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