The Jelly Problem: What do with jealousy?

Ever wanted to tear your hair out because performer X got that gig you really wanted? Or got given shit by someone because you were the one who got the gig? Jealousy- its awful when you’ve got it and awful when it comes after you!

Green eyed monster

But you are not alone-everyone in the burlesque world gets jealous or gets affected by jealousy at some point, and its responsible for a lot of the bitchiness and unpleasantness we see.  Just today I have heard about a girl getting hate mail, another quitting burlesque because of people resenting her success, and seen several passive aggressive comments that most likely stem from gelatine-based emotions.

jelly_light_red

When I’m jealous, I usually feel a mixture of these things;

– Wanting something that someone else has

-Feeling it is unfair that someone has something and I don’t

-Feeling that they do not deserve this thing or have achieved it for reasons other than merit

-A fear of being supplanted or overlooked in favour of someone else

And you know what? Its bloody awful! When you feel jealous, you feel crap, inadequate and angry. You can feel your inner dark side wanting to break out.

darkside

And if you are the target of jealousy, watch out!

Snowman jealous

So why do we feel jealous? To be honest, you can hardly hope to avoid it. Thanks to facebook, we are always getting a face full of  SOMEONE’S better fortune. As Chandler said to Joey, “Sooner or later, somebody’s gonna come along that slices a better cheddar. Then where you gonna run?

joey-friends-hombre

And in burlesque, the fact is, we are all competing against each other, for the same jobs, for recognition, for a title etc.

Toy story jealousy

Things to remember when jealousy strikes!

1. Don’t go Wicked Witch of the West

No matter how annoying and unfair it seems, you can’t stop the thing that makes you jealous.  And as tempting as it is; don’t bad mouth them or try to sabotage them.

Witch jealous

2. Its alreet to be jelly, like

Its always supposed to be such a flaw to be jealous.   But is not. Jealously is totally normal, its totally understandable, and it doesn’t mean you are a bad or shit person if you feel it.  So admit you are jealous, if even if only to yourself.

Jealous egg

3. Facebook is EVIL

Burlesque making you feel shit? Facebook making you feel shit? Get offline, take a break from performing, don’t get involved in social politics. Hide that annoying person from your news-feed. Spend time with proper friends, family, pets, who love you. Remind yourself of who you were before burlesque consumed your life.

facebook-y-u-no-fuck-off

4. Don’t be inadequate cat cos you’re not

If you are feeling crap about yourself, after taking a break (see point 3), start working on yourself. Do a class, put together a new act, take a new direction. Do something that gives you back your confidence in yourself as a performer, or that makes you feel you are working towards something. This can take you out of the inadequacy spiral and help you start afresh.

inadequate cat

5. Remember the only opinion that really matters for an entertainer….

audience

This guy is always going to be around, but he doesn’t have to rule our lives, or ruin our lives. If you look him in the eye he doesn’t seem so important!

Greeneyed monster

The Promotion Problem: Should you Fake it Til You Make It?

I was recently talking with a friend of mine about “faking it til you make it”- projecting the illusion of success until so many people believe you that it becomes the truth. This  got me thinking about the ethics of promotion and marketing (if such things can ever go hand in hand!).  What is promotion, and how can we put it to best use without going too far?

Whilst most of us would be uncomfortable with using lies to promote ourselves, or even with too much exaggeration; most of us could also probably stand to be a bit more forward when it comes to self-promotion. It would be great to be able to hire a real PR wizard, but the majority of us can’t afford this, and we have to do it ourselves. Its up to us how we represent ourselves, so where is the line between dressing up the truth in a sparkly dress and taking it out on the town, and putting sequins on bullshit?

Promotion is necessary-that is how we advertise our product and get work.  So how do we get it right? How do we make sure our promo is not too dull, not too over the top? Wikipedia clarifies PR as follows…

“What good PR really does is find the great stories, information, perspective and achievements that are already there…s

So PR is pulling out the great things you do and are, and making sure everyone knows about it, rather than inventing something that is not there, leading others to believe something that is not quite true.

As I have said in many of the burlesque advice sessions I do, its definitely good to project an air of business and success on line. Seem busy, seem productive, seem in demand, by blowing your horn about what you are up to. And when writing blurb- don’t undersell yourself, promote your good points, be dazzlingly factual. Easier said than done, right? Most of us have horribly buggered up our blurb and promo stuff at some point- underplayed ourselves so no one would want to book us, or grossly overblown our own merit etc. When I think of some of the bloopers I have written in the past… cringe! But its a learning curve, and its bound to happen.

Here are some examples of different ways to present yourself on-line:

You meet your friends for lunch. They are performers in their own right who run a successful show in a nightclub. They ask you to perform in a couple of months time, over lunch. How do you sell this?

Post 1. The everyday post

“Went for lunch today with @Rosie Lips and @Dita Goodrack #burlyteaandcakes”

PR impact: Not huge, it lets people know you have been up to burly stuff but is pretty functional and descriptive

Post 2. The rose-coloured tint post

“Great lunch today with @Rosie and @Dita, interesting conversation and wonderful ladies, some exciting projects coming up soon! #excitingburlesquetimes”

PR impact: Good, keeps people interesting and makes you sound busy and exciting. Yes, this kind of post is also a bit annoying sometimes, but it does the PR job.

Post 3. The overblown post

“So honoured to have been invited to lunch with international showgirls @Rosie Lips and @Dita Goodrack, and to have been specially selected to perform at their no 1 show! #successfulshowgirlsuperstarsOMG”

PR Impact: Strong but use with caution, can backfire if overused/misused.

Obviously the line can be very fine, and its not always easy to decide if your promotional statement goes too far or not far enough! You sing a couple of songs at some small gigs, should you market yourself as a SINGER? You do a few TF shoots, are you now a SUCCESSFUL MODEL? And so forth.

Things to think about…

Who are your audience? 

Who are you aiming your promo at? If you are pitching to the burlesque world, it might be worth considering that people will be able to spot hyperbole, to an extent, because they know you, they know the scene, the shows, the agents, the bookings, and each other. You can still make yourself sound good, of course, but outright fibs or huge exaggerations might be counter-productive.  But if it is an outside audience that doesn’t know you from Adam or Eve, then perhaps be a bit more grandiose can work better.

What are you trying to achieve?

Have a plan. Have a brand and play to it.  Think about of what you are trying to convince people, what you are trying to achieve. What is your marketing goal, how do you want to be seen? As suggested by Ivy Wilde, it is good to remember that things like social media are a tool and what you put on there, represents you as a professional product as well as a person.  Are you drawing attention to your achievements? Are you bigging yourself up a bit, making yourself sound good? Do you want people to think you are doing well at what you do? Great, that’s PR. If your promotion would lead people to think you are way more accomplished, successful, famous or whatever than you are, or that you are doing things that you are not, then it might be worth a rethink. Because if you make the people who are paying expect more than you can give, it could backfire. You don’t want to disappoint your bookers or the viewing public.

BUT!!! And this is a big but (huh huh),  it really is possible to convince people that you are what you say, especially if you are pretty, charismatic, and they are drunk/or don’t know a lot about whatever it is you are claiming to be queen of.  I know it is controversial and we don’t like the idea that success in life doesn’t necessarily come from hard work, skill and talent, but you CAN become famous just for being famous, by pretending to be famous. Sally Rand, Gypsy Rose Lee, Lydia Thompson, they were shameless publicity hounds who would not let a small thing like the truth stop them from marketing themselves as the queens of burlesque, and eventually they became the queens of burlesque. Obviously, they were all marvellous, but you get my gist. I am sure we can think of many celebs who got where they are through clever marketing alone. And to be fair, being a PR evil genius is a talent in itself! Shameless self-promotion is part of burlesque history.

I love how home-grown burlesque is, how hard we work to get where we are. We practice, we slog, we devote ourselves, we work our way up from the ground, and we hopefully see rewards. Perhaps it would be a shame to see all that left behind for a culture of slick marketing and a glossy schtick. Perhaps it would encourage art less if we all start valuing fame over art. Or maybe that is how burlesque will move on. I personally want to earn my way to success then get noticed, not blag my way to the top THEN get earn it, if you get what I mean. But I am aware that this is probably not always the most effective way to do things, in a cut-throat media-soaked world. After-all, a certain Mrs Marylin Manson marketing herself cleverly was a big reason why the modern revival got a kick-start in the first place!

Other viewpoints welcome, please comment!

The truth about being a performer; in pictures

Being a burlesque performer is like, soooo glamorous, and like soooo exciting, you know?

Networking for jobs is such fun.

th_ComputerFrustration

You travel in style, with great views.

train toilets

And the dressing rooms are always amazing

mens loos

Handsome men rush to help you with your many suitcases because you are just so precious.

heavy-luggage

You go to the most glamorous locations.

airport

And you only eat the finest foods.

LITTLE CHEF

Burlesque performers earn lots so you always have money in your purse.

empty-wallet1

You are constantly surrounded with fabulous people.

workinghome

The audience always loves you

bad audience

And everything always goes according to plan

carbreakdownDog boa

Train delayluggage damage

Yes, being a burlesque performer is the most glamorous job there is!

Britain’s Got Talent wants YOU!?

BGT

Britain’s Got Talent! Long running TV talent show where acts get slated ahem judged by Simon Cowell and various other famous folks. The prize is to perform at the Royal Variety Show for the Queen. Every year, thousands of hopefuls queue up around the country for the chance to audition for the show, and anyone can audition.

BGT1. queue

What they don’t make massively public is that there are teams of people on BGT whose job it is to solicit acts outside of the audition process that you see on the show. These people contact hundreds of existing performers and invite them to audition, often giving them “special” privileges like no waiting time and even providing their props for them. Why do they do this, you ask? Well, it is because they need to make sure that there are certain types of acts on the show that will make it interesting. Anyone who has ever worked in TV will tell you that nothing is left to chance, and the acts that get shown on BGT are no exception. They want funny, sexy, controversial, potential winners. They want the ones that will get mocked by the public for being awful, they want the ones that the judges can be really mean to. That is what makes good TV, apparently.

BGT audition

How do I know this? Because for a few years they have been head hunting me, and many of my performer colleagues, to go on the show. Last year and this year in particular, I have been heavily encouraged to take part. They wanted me to do my Giant Trampoline Striptease, I would not have had to wait around, and they were going to provide the trampoline for me, so I didn’t have to lug it around.

Trampoline

So am I going to do it? I was really in two minds for a while, and my thought processes went as follows:

Pros

– Its a random and possibly fun thing to do

-It offers exposure to a wider audience

– You never know what doors could be opened by taking an opportunity

Cons to consider

– WHY have they head-hunted you? What role will you fill (person people will love/hate/mock/be offended by?)

– Even if you get through, where can it really go from there?

– No matter how popular you might be, you WILL get slated by the public, online and probably elsewhere. Can you handle this?

– The show is not held in high regard within the actual performance world; will you actually be lowering your credibility by going on it?

– Why should you hold yourself up for judgement to a guy who enjoys acting like a tosser (Cowell or similar bad guy character) who knows little about what you do?

– The contract they make you sign is immense, they totally own you, and it really got my back up when I read it. Like signing away your soul, it was!

So there are more cons than pros, but that doesn’t mean the cons necessarily outweigh the pros. If it went well, it could be great. I spoke to other burlesque ladies who had been on the show and did not find anyone who did not experience a reasonable amount of negativity because of it (as well as some positives), or a burlesque lady who wasn’t attacked for the way she looked, and her general worth (cos strippers be bad, yo, and confident women? They deserve to be torn a new one online).Here are some comments I found about a singer on BGT- NOT a burlesque performer!

“This is plain disgusting, bad singing and she’s fat.  This girl looked like a prostitute/stripper instead of a sexy entertainer.”

“What a slut”

“i  want to stick my cock in her anus”

“she is prostitute.if she is not she will not do that”

Brilliant, right? And even when I have seen women complimented for being hot, its been in an annoying slightly pervy “we validate your hotness, you are deemed worthy” kind of way.

The girl from the show wanted to reassure me about this kind of thing,  and whilst she was very nice, she was SOOOO positive, SOOOO flattering, SOOOOO adamant about how much they wanted me for the show because I am brilliant and they love me and I am unique…. To be honest, all this made me more suspicious. Obviously somewhere they have learned that creative folks and wannabes crave adulation and praise (don’t know where they got that idea ho ho ho) so they pile it on. But I don’t like that shit, it makes me uncomfortable, and I have a pretty darn realistic idea of how fabulous and unique and brilliant I am- and am not. So why are they so OTT? Why do they really want me on the show?

pointandlaugh1

Yes, this sounds a bit paranoid, but does it really? Maybe they saw something in me that I don’t, maybe they did think I would be great etc, but realistically, I don’t think so. The show has a history of humiliating people for entertainment value, so maybe its not paranoid, but wise to consider this stuff, if you are not particularly thick-skinned (which I am not). And even if it did go well and the intentions were good, the show can’t control the public and the inevitable unpleasantness.

Anyway, after much pondering, I decided not to do it. These are my reasons.

1.I won’t trade dignity for fame, and I think this is clearly a risk with BGT, in fact it seems to thrive on it.

2.I don’t have any family friendly acts beyond the trampoline so it couldn’t go anywhere anyway.

3.As much as I would love to do the Royal Variety Show, I don’t feel its likely, because I am not good enough.

3. I am soft and couldn’t handle the degree of slating and fat/ginger shaming I would no doubt incur from the wonderful British public. And also I don’t need to invite that crap into my life.

4. I don’t believe in competitions that confer short lived and often  ill-founded status. I want to succeed because I am damn good and have worked hard at it.

5.I object morally and ethically to the way some people are treated on that show.

6. Simon Cowell and that ilk actively decide to humiliate others for their own gain. Not cool.

7.I don’t think burlesque translates well in that environment; the audience probably wont “get it” and it loses its impact.

Dont get it

So looking at all those reasons I am not sure why I pondered so long about it.  I know that others have been on it and done well, got something out of it.  I suppose I believe in grasping opportunity  when it is offered, but in this case I  just had to realise that this opportunity was probably actually a trojan-horse filled with rich TV execs looking to exploit people for TV ratings.

Cowell

Obligatory Anti-the Hump Disclaimer:

In this blog I am not talking about anyone else’s choices but my own, because everyone is different in terms of goals and outlook.  The burlesquers I know who have already been on BGT handled themselves brilliantly. It takes a lot of balls to do something like that show.  If you want to go on BGT, have at it.