I am a 33 year old married mother of a 4th grade girl. I have been involved in burlesque for a while and performing for a year. Discovering burlesque as an art form and getting involved both happened in my thirties after wife and mother were both established titles. Though this is not uncommon in our trade, it does present different obstacles than someone that was performing pre-family.
I decided to interview my husband and daughter to get their take. I wanted to know how it has affected my husband to have a wife that was a retail manager and mom when we met become a woman busy with shows, costumes, rehearsals, workshops—OH and taking her clothes off for people on stage. Also though, I was curious to see how it is viewed by my young, impressionable 9 year old girl.
Said nine year old has the best definition of Burlesque that I’ve heard- maybe ever! (How dare you call me biased!) “Burlesque is an entertainment thingy that is done in clubs or theaters. Plus, boobies and butts” An adorably accurate take if you ask me. The elder interviewee’s vision definitely comes from the point of view of a performer and left me to wonder if he’s campaigning for free lifetime tickets to Angel Burlesque shows. To him, burlesque is “A specialized type of musical theater designed to highlight some of the best qualities of women (and men). It’s often both sexy and funny at the same time, which has got to be extremely difficult to pull off convincingly, and yet AB does consistently at every show.”
I never in a million years saw myself doing ANYTHING on stage. I’ve always had problems with social anxiety when it comes to all eyes being on me. Not to mention, I’ve had body issues all my life. However, I have also always wanted a creative way of expressing myself. You might, then, wonder why I have chosen to stand on stages in theaters and show my body. When asked how he feels about his wife performing, Mr. Spanxx stated it well: “She has needed some sort of creative outlet for a long time; I’m a musician, her best friend was a musical theater performer, even our daughter is now acting with YAT. I think she felt left out until she discovered burlesque.” This is true and when I found that something that just fit, the anxiety and nerves were suddenly manageable. Frankie Jr also loves that it gives her mom “a chance to express herself”.
The downsides expressed by each of them were quite similar. This is not a lucrative business (at least, for me). It is a hobby of passion. One con listed is that “budgeting for costume materials can be tricky”. I felt this was a kinder way of saying that this shit is expensive and we are broke. But, I married a classy dude. It takes up a lot of time and energy too. They are not always fond of the “hectic schedule” and that it “stresses her (meaning me) out!” Lil Frankie hates that she is not old enough to see her mommy perform. And Sir Spanxx, being the history buff that he is, wishes neo burlesque was performed in the old theaters and venues that it thrived in when it was first brought to the US. He also wishes he could change “people’s old-fashioned (and inaccurate) perceptions about what modern burlesque is.”
The negatives they listed were few and far between, especially when compared with the positives they listed. Here are some direct quotes from the interviews that left me smiling and dabbing the corners of my eyes with a tissue.
Q. How do you feel about burlesque?
A. It is a great idea when it comes to pretty nerds who like showing their butts!!
Q. Have you seen a change in your mommy since she started burlesque?
A. A little. It stresses her out when she has a show coming up. But she seems to be happier now!
(This last one is a negative to her, but I find it positively hilarious)
Q. If you could change something about your mommy doing burlesque, what would it be?
A. A little less S-E-X.
A. Performing has made her a lot more confident in her own skin, and she just appears happier. She’s quite impressive when she’s on a burlesque high.
Q. How has it affected you?
A. Before she and I met, I went through a period where I was nearly agoraphobic (afraid to leave one’s home). I worked, and avoided doing anything else if possible, as I was terrified of awkward interactions with other people. Some aspects of that remain in my personality even now, in that I tend to be kind of a shy, hermit-type. Going to ‘Frankie’s’ burlesque shows has not only gotten me out of the house regularly, but introduced me to a whole bunch of truly special people.
Q. How has it changed/affected your relationship?
A. Though the hectic schedule can be difficult, the fact that we both have creative interests that are solely ours has actually brought us closer together.
Q. How do you feel when she performs?
Q. What is your favorite routine/ performance she’s done and why?
A. Well, right now it would be Beetlejuice, but in my biased view every routine she does is typically better than the last. My favorite show would be the current finished run of Nerdgasm. In a tiny, intimate place like TOTS, you feel very connected to what’s going on, and there is absolutely not a bad seat in the house.
Over all, I think they’re just fine with the way I’ve chosen to spend my free time.