My performance in last week’s Revealed was reviewed in Cultural Capitol this week. When I saw the review, I thought “Awesome, I’d love to see what they thought of my bitter Macy’s employee act.” But then I read it and realized that the review didn’t have anything to do with my performance.
Speaking of type, have you seen Jezebel Express lately? I know, most of you men out there are too fucking proud to admit what you really like—that middle-school era bullshit wherein you only admit to being hot for the girls that everyone else you know has already said—out loud, in the cafeteria—“she’s hot.” And most of you women are too kindly—and/or fearful of judgment—to admit when someone is NOT hot. Unless she’s bangin’ the boy you want, dig. So let’s be honest: Jezebel is a Whole Lotta Rosie, and she’s not making any apologies. But she’s totally, totally hot. I’d love to test my theory—show of hands versus secret ballot: men, would you like to roll around with Jezebel? Discuss. BTW, J.E. pulled a simple high-concept holiday strip: wrapping presents, she wrapped her own clothes.
I don’t consider this a negative review. It’s obviously meant to be complimentary. But I see this pattern over and over… people use my performance as a springboard for talking about size issues, and never get back around to talking or thinking about what I actually DO.
On the one hand, I’m glad that the reviewer points out that our cultural attitudes toward fat are really damaged. On the other hand, I’m disappointed that the review, ostensibly of my performance and the show, devolves into a discussion about whether people will secretly admit to wanting to fuck me. Read more…
Today, I love the curve of my hip.
The way his wrist felt heavy on my hipbone while we watched noir movies last night felt good, too. My big, soft body on the big soft bed – I felt solid, present, here.
I do not feel bad about my body today.
Last week, I stood up in front of twelve women of all ages, shapes and sizes. Women who’d shown up at a beginning burlesque class, who blinked nervously and asked “Do I wear high heels or sneakers?”. Women who smiled tentatively when I introduced myself as the instructor, and then more openly when I took off my coat to reveal my form-fitting dance clothes… maybe because I have hips, or because I remind them of their best friend, or because the fact that I’m standing there looking pretty damn sexy gives them permission to imagine that, even though they’re not stick-thin glamour girls, they might be sexy as well.
I stood in front of twelve women, and I taught them something about the art form that I love. (Someone in class is always surprised to learn that bump and grind isn’t just an R. Kelly song.) I gave them feather boas and demanded that they jiggle their butts. We laughed a lot.
And I told them some things I wish someone had told me.
Backstage, at a bowling alley in New Jersey, I start to wonder if this was a good idea.
It’s 10pm on a Friday night, and when I say that I’m about to perform a burlesque show IN a bowling alley, that’s exactly what I mean. The good people at Asbury Lanes have permanently pulled the pins from lanes 7-11 and erected a large, sturdy stage over them. It’s a popular performance venue for local bands, and the owners bring burlesque performers down from New York from time to time. Attendance is hit or miss, though striptease usually draws an enthusiastic crowd. A thick navy blue velvet curtain hangs floor-to-ceiling behind the raised stage, and through a slit on the side, we enter the backstage area, which sits over the back half of the shut-down lanes.
The first thing I notice is the amazing early-70s furniture strewn about carelessly. Mustard yellow loveseats, cheap laquered wood-look tables, and low-slung white pleather chairs cover the backstage area. In the corner, there is an ornate carousel horse, head still held high in a whinny as though awaiting her next ride.
The second thing I notice is that rather than renovating the floor, they’ve used long, patchwork strips of carpet to cover the bowling lanes. In the back of the alley, you can see the wood peek out from under the carpet and run into the black void of the pin deck. The gutters are still there, too, left uncovered so that people can see and avoid the small, slippery dips.
The third thing I notice is that there’s nobody there to see the show.
*** Read more…
So I’m backstage getting ready at a show, or maybe I’m at the movies with friends, or at the Sideshow at Coney. I could be anywhere. And I’ve really overdone it on something… popcorn, or fizzy Cherry Coke, or those amazing Nathan’s hot dogs. I’m overfull, and feel vaguely gross (or maybe I’m just PMSing and struggling with the body dysmorphia that accompanies PMS for me). Whatever the reason, I feel like an orca. And I put my hand on my stomach and, with a sigh, I say “Ugh, I feel kind of fat today.”
You know what happens when I say that? People freak out. I am not exaggerating when I say that I’ve seen every single person in earshot visibly freeze when I drop the F-bomb. Nervous glances are exchanged, hair is fiddled with. And then?
People jump into action. They scramble, frantic, for something to say. And they always come up with the same thing. People begin blurting out reassuring aphorisms, often speaking on top of one another, everyone eager to share the good news: “You’re not fat, you’re beautiful!”
So, I know girls do this to one another. I’ve heard it said to skinny girls as well (though in those cases, it seems the more common response is “Oh, me TOO. I ate so much today.”). And I understand that this reaction is at least in part a knee-jerk designed to combat skewed body image, and to discourage women from beating ourselves up over our appearances.
But here’s the problem: I AM fat. And I’m also beautiful. And, dammit, I may not be your idea of “normal”, but I have my own “normal”, and when I gain ten pounds, I face the same problems as you. My costumes don’t fit right. I have a weird blob of fat where I didn’t before. And, yeah, sometimes I feel like crap about it. I don’t like what’s implied in the way this conversation goes (and it has gone that way, without fail, every time I have had it). I find myself continually frustrated people feel like it’s appropriate to reject out-of-hand my expressions of displeasure with my body.
Obviously, a Public Service Announcement is needed. Are you ready? Here it comes.
Fat people are allowed to have fat days. Read more…
I am not a Christmas enthusiast.
I wouldn’t really call myself a Grinch, either. I like the twinkly lights that stud Fifth Avenue. I will dutifully plug in the eighteen-inch tall pink tinsel tree my mother sent me after my first year in New York, when she realized I really wasn’t kidding about ordering Chinese food on Christmas day. I don’t tell small children that Santa started off as a Pagan party animal, and I don’t sneer at people in fuzzy earmuffs humming carols. In short, I don’t begrudge people their own warm and fuzzy Christmas, but as for me? I just don’t GET it.
I don’t understand why we’ve designated one day for making children (in first world countries) smile (with money!). It’s so clear to me that this only reinforces the damaged relationship between love and material possession that exists in so many families. I understand that parents are in a hard spot, and that the cultural pressure surrounding the holidays is enormous. But in many families, the spendfest is used to relieve pressure, anxiety and guilt that build up year-round. I have several friends whose awful, awful parents made a big deal of Christmas and then held it up all year as their ‘proof’ that they were good parents who loved their kids, when they would have been better served by saving their $300 and actually treating the kid like a human being year-round. My own parents, in their zeal to forget having grown up poor, bought us so many gifts every year it was almost embarrassing – but no gift I ever received made me feel more truly or deeply loved for having gotten it.
I do know parents who have managed to revise the Hallmark version of Christmas, impressing upon their kids that celebrating Christmas is a fun cultural tradition, but that gifts aren’t the same thing as love or respect. These parents give me hope that somewhere further down the line, some civility and sanity will return to the proceedings. Imagine: Wal-Mart employees won’t be trampled to death by panicked parents who are terrified that their children won’t know they’re loved unless they get this year’s hot Wubble, and kids who grow up in needy families (or, heaven forbid, non-Christian faith systems) won’t be made to feel like second-class citizens, or like they’re underloved just because dad is a janitor and not a doctor. Read more…