That pretty much sums up what we do and who we are. We are the face of Outlaw Burlesque and as such we feel the need to stir the pot and give you something a little off-kilter. Make no mistake, we are professionals in our own right. Professional jackasses perhaps? We love and live to entertain. There's something to be said for the special bond that we all have...going on 4 years of being together in this great family, we Heathens are a really, REALLY special group. A family of misfit toys. And there's no stopping for us in the future. Let's keep the train rolling... -Aurora Sans
Well why should I help? Why should I care? Why should I spend my valuable time helping others? I'll tell you why....
Hey folks it's your friendly neighborhood stripper/family gal/artist/humanitarian/animal lover/accountant. It's that time of the year again where those in need come out of the wood work. Why do we Heathens care so much? We care because we are just as much a part of this community as you are. You support us, we support you. "Do unto others" seriously applies here.
One shining example of why we do what we do happened over the weekend. The 5th Annual Cleveland Heavy Metal Food Drive was this past weekend at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland. I was once again (having been my 4th year in a row, participating at this event) floored by the outpouring of kind souls so generous and giving. This is a big reason why our heavy metal community in Cleveland is so special. We are family. We are there for each other in good times and bad. The bands kicked so much ass and rocked so hard. They are not just talented musicians but also dear friends to me. Bill Peters, the Metal director at WJCU & owner of Auburn Records, put on this event for it's 5th year. With the help of the Auburn Records crew, Bill had another extremely successful turnout and loads of donations, both cash and food, which was executed flawlessly. He is just one example of those that I admire, respect, and that inspire me.
We are still hanging onto our trophy from the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland for raising the most money as an entertainment group in 2012 from last Christmas. If you get a chance, swing by the Spitfire Salooon to catch a glimpse of it :)
We continue to perform for charities throughout the year and in fact, I will be performing with gal pals Dot King & Ava Adore as well as the rockin' Hemi Devils and my good pals Shades of Remembrance for a Toys for Tots benefit on Saturday, December 21 at the Maple Grove in Maple Heights.
Now I must give credit to one of the most exemplary groups in the Cleveland area. The Basement Beauties. This group has done so much in the way of helping in the community in so many different ways, shapes, and forms. As their mission goes, "We exist to connect dedicated people, talent, and all available resources to do all the good we can, in all the ways we can, in all the places we can, at all the times we can, to all the people we can, and as long as we ever can." Vicci Simpkins has been at the helm since it's inception in the basement of Twist Social Club in Cleveland, 2008. She is one of the most inspiring women in my life. I continue to learn from her and I am quite certain I'm not the only one. Yet another special group here in Cleveland that has adopted me as family. From the Cleveland Dragon Boat Fest to the Gay Games to the Warehouse District Tours we have been all over this great city doing what we do best...help where we are needed.
And finally (this is just a short break....I've got a lot more to say) I leave you with the immortal words of my pal Iron Ingo from Germany, "give a little bit to help a lot."
With some of my favorite Basement Beauties Joei, Judy, myself and Vicci (left to right.)
Here I am with Cleveland heavy metal royalty Bill Peters!
with the one and only Iron Ingo & my pal Rachel circa 2010
In a community of many burlesque performers you meet and see a lot
of fun things, people, and acts. It is inspiring as well as intimidating! It's always enjoyable to see uniqueness, not the expected beautifully choreographed, dazzling rhinestone, tassel reveal strip tease show, but comedy acts full of interesting props, role playing acts with multiple people, it's not so much a sweet solo anymore.
The intimidation is mostly the anxiety of what to come up with next, how to portray your vision, what has not been done before, venues that have not been reached, with such endless creativity, I feel sometimes stumped, stunted, and scared.
It is a challenge! I have spent a great deal of time and money pressing my imagination! Stretching my dollar making duct tape shimmery pasties, mix matching costumes, adding a small detail here or there, building giant cardboard props, gluing, taping, borrowing, trying, and rehearsing. Everyone is different and in all and all it is fun, and it is intimidating! Such is Life, and what is life without it all!!
In this life, I have learned a lot from my group of merry heathens! I have received a great deal of support through them as well as our community. We are always looking for more and more ways to give back! Whether a compliment to our Burlesque sisters, gratitude and prizes to our audience members, cash and food donations to the ones in need, and a helping hand in general.
What will we come up with NEXT!!!!
So, I've been trying to think out this post for quite a while now. I even did up an outline and everything, because it's fairly important to me. I decided to toss the outline though, and just say what comes to me, and hopefully it will get my point across.
I have been encountering, with increasing frequency, what I call "burlesque snobbery". And frankly, I don't particularly care for it.
There are a lot of people who like to tell you what burlesque is and isn't. Or should and shouldn't be. It should always be glamorous or it should always be to a certain type of music or it should be only certain types of dancing.
Well, I think that's total bullshit. I'm sure all 4 of my readers are pretty aware of the history, but I hope you'll indulge me in a brief timeline.
Approx 1880's - Burlesque begins as women in tight clothing parodying the attitudes and social and gender roles of the upper class. Often women playing men's roles, doing parodies of popular opera or music of the time.
1900's - Theater owners begin circuits - Burlesque shows become touring casts with usually a 3 act show. First act is usually the entire ensemble doing some sort of parody in formal attire. 2nd act is solo or small group performances, anything from skits, to stand-up comedy, to magic, to dancing girls. Red Skelton was a burlesque performer. As were Laurel and Hardy. 3rd act is usually a full 1 act musical comedy - a play. This was generally the training camp for vaudeville, and vaudevillians would often return to burlesque if they weren't making any money. It wasn't classy, but it was fun.
1930's - As all the comedy acts start to drift to radio, movies, and eventually television, theater owners revamp burlesque to include only the dancing girls in a desperate attempt to keep afloat. This is where the strip tease becomes the biggest part of burlesque....some 50 years after the art began.
So, class, what did we just learn? Comedy, singing, acting, and various other forms of entertainment once made up the meat of burlesque.
So why are we now telling people that if they don't do a traditional bump and grind, and aren't traditionally glamorous, they aren't burlesque?? Who the hell gets to decide that??
A lot of modern day performers hold to the traditional bump and grind jazz style act. And that's absolutely just fine. But some people don't....and yes, I am talking about myself and the Heathens here, amongst others. Anything that was once called burlesque, in my opinion, is still burlesque. I think of what I personally do as a mixture of all the different eras of burlesque, set often to modern music. Comedy, parody, social commentary, and boobies all rolled into one little package. Sometimes it's not glamorous, because that wouldn't make the point I'm trying to make, or fit with the story I'm trying to tell. Sometimes, to be honest, the costumes aren't glitzy and showy because some of us just don't have all day to sit around gluing rhinestones on shit.
Aurora and I hit on the term "outlaw burlesque". Like country artists who didn't make it in Nashville because they were a little too rock n roll...some of us don't always quite fit in. But you know what? That's fine, because we have hell of a lot more fun doing it exactly the way we feel like doing it. We take chances. We bomb. We get back up and try again. We do free shows. We make stupid faces. We dance with the audience. And we have fun doing it.
I'll be damned if anyone is going to force me to call myself a "performance artist".
I am a burlesque performer.