By Dr. Lucky
Twitter & Facebook: @DrluckyPhd
You have memorized Dr. Lucky’s Top Ten Tips for Budding Burlesque Babes and have mastered the basics. You have subscribed to the Patron Saint of Glamour and understand that less = less and more = more. You’ve been performing for “awhile.” You have acts, you get booked, you are a star. You may even have fans who post comments on social media about how great you were in a show. You have a handle and a YouTube channel, even your own blog.
If this sounds like YOU, then these tips are for YOU!
1) You still suck.
If you don’t think you suck, you are in real trouble. Everybody sucks and if you don’t realize this you will never get any better. Sucking is a permanent state of being. Sucking less is a goal we can all work towards and even accomplish. Think about it. Makes perfect sense now, doesn’t it?
2) Don’t be a diva.
Stop bitching about conditions and pay. I assure you that someone paved the way for you to even have this shitty gig in the backroom of some crappy bar with no dressing room. Divas don’t get booked in burlesque and if they do, they often don’t get booked again. Don’t let your backstage antics be the reason others waiver about hiring you.
3) Develop a unique vocabulary.
Have a signature act or acts. Figure out the move or moves you love to do and work it/them. Have a style that’s instantly recognizable. Since you have accomplished the Top 10 Tips for Budding Burlesque Babes, you’ve done your research. Now don’t simply steal cute moves you see others do. Develop a style that is your style.
4) Support your colleagues.
Watch your fellow performers perform. Don’t be stuck in the fucking mirror for 2 and ½ hours while your colleagues are knocking themselves out on stage. You can learn a lot from watching other performers, regardless of your personal opinion of the performance. In fact, you can probably learn more from the act you didn’t like than you can from the one you loved. Go to shows when you aren’t performing. Support the scene.
5) Take classes.
Clowning, improv, dance, sewing, designing, art classes – continue to develop your craft and your creative spirit. Don’t worry, there’s a dream catcher that comes with this tip. But if you don’t realize you suck (see #1), then you probably don’t see the point of taking a class. Take a look at some of your favorite performers. I assure you they continue to develop their craft by, among other things, taking classes.
6) Fix that shitty costume.
A stapled line of slack fringe on a white bra? Come on! At least you’ve realized that your underwear is not a costume. But halfway to the finish line is still not a winning position, my friend. Being “busy” is absolutely not an excuse to look like a fucking train wreck. If you are that busy, prioritize and get rid of something in your life. Fix the zipper. Comb your damn wig. Run the seam through the sewing machine. If you are too busy to maintain, you are too busy to perform.
7) Learn to say no.
Stop being a fucking diva (see #3) and realize that the show will go on without you. Don’t take crappy gigs or work so much that you can’t develop your acts (see #2 and #5 and #6) or support the scene and other performers (see #4). Practice with me. “No.” Good. Now, one more time, “N-O-O!” Remember this is fun and if you are not having fun, then you need to prioritize.
8) Don’t bitch about other performers.
Stop complaining about the newbies. You were a newbie about a minute ago in burlesque time. I assure you this will happen to you. Guaranteed. Make sure you are looking in the mirror when it does. It’s not a cute look. In general, try to keep unsolicited opinions to yourself. Of course everyone sucks next to your brilliance but remember there’s something for everyone in burlesque. Someone loves that act you hate.
Burlesque is an amateur art form which means simply that it doesn’t take a lot of training, schooling, or frankly “skills” to get on the stage. However, to get to the top requires professionalization and a shit load of gumption. You can feign your lack of talent by developing a professional portfolio. Get professional photos taken. Get a reel and documentation of your signature acts. Develop your social media following. But you need a website. Treat your act like a business.
10) Go Global.
Pop that little bubble you live in and recognize there’s a big beautiful world out there. You may be the hottest shit in your little shitty town, but I assure you the majority of people in the world don’t know who you are and frankly they don’t care. It’s your job to make them care. Go to national and international festivals. When you go out of town, try and get gigs. Use your networking skills to connect to other performers, producers, and venues. Once outside your bubble, you’ll realize that there are bigger fish the world over. Take note of other’s commitment to detail, both onstage and off.
And now, one more bonus tip for you Middling Burlesque Babes: Develop your ASSets without getting too COCKy. Your EGO will get in the way.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Lucky has been performing, teaching, and writing about burlesque for over 2 decades. She has published articles in peer-review academic journals and popular press alike, and has lectured extensively about burlesque history, including at CUNY, MICA, University of Texas, Burlesque Hall of Fame, BurlyCon, New York School of Burlesque, Helsinki Burlesque Festival, Toronto Burlesque Festival, and at New York University where she has taught burlesque in the Drama Department since 2005. She has been featured in documentaries, including Faux Queen and Obscene Beauty, and in various media including NPR (twice!), Big Think, NY1, and in Time, The Toronto Star, The Washington Post, and many others. Her book, Neo-Burlesque as a New Sexual Revolution, is forthcoming. http://www.doctorofburlesque.com