Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Good g_d I hate Burlesque. HATE!!!

I went to Crtical Mass on Friday (woo taking over the street with bikes!!) and there was a post-Mass party with booze, dancing, and oh yes, burlesque. Can't do anything without burlesque these days now can we? (Of course not.)

So I was there, hoping that it wouldn't be so bad (really I knew, but who knows what was going through my mind) and so I was inside the bar when this was going on. What happens? The guy comes out dressed as a cowboy and he wanders around stage blah blah. Then a woman comes out dressed as a horrible stereotype of a First Nations woman (complete with headress). He proceeded to grab her and she fought him off. Then she shot "arrows" at him while he shot "bullets" at her, which ultimately led to her shooting him in the shoulder. She then proceeded to care for him, which apparently meant a strip tease and then removing his clothes. Yeah b/c after I fight someone off I always want to strip naked for them.

Besides being spitting angry from the whole "burlesque" thing, which btw was a bunch of conventionally "pretty" body types, I could not get over how racist this was. And it was only me. No one else was sitting there going 'how fucked up!' But then again, the audience was white as white can be. (The woman playing the First Nations woman was Asian.) So how is burlesque transcendent again? I forgot.

Grrrrrr.

Edited to add: It's very telling that male stripping is seen as comical and female stripping is objectifying. Surely that is not because of power imbalances having to do with patriarchy that make burlesque about the male gaze now is it?

19 comments:

manxome said...

Ewww.

At the bar I worked at in college, they had a fundraiser semi-strip thing where a couple of guys danced. It was fun because they danced their asses off - I remember one was, after all, a theatre/dance major.

So when I was taken to a club for my 21st birthday, even though I had no real interest in it, I thought at least the dancing would be entertaining. Nope. These guys could barely shift their weight back and forth, stripping down within the first 30 seconds of the song. Someone called out that it was my bday early on, and I was called up and got a brotherly kiss on the cheek. Thereafter, more and more, after each song someone would have some dumber made up thing to celebrate, go up, and the kisses got less brotherly. Early into this I was told the guy tried to give her the tongue. Eventually no one had excuses, they just lined up so that after each so called dance we sat for 10 minutes while 20 or so middle-aged women made out with the guy on stage. It was flippin' groce.

Again, eww. I had forgotten about that. Gee, thanks, for reminding me. ;)

Andrea said...

Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. To both of those accounts.

Fun re-write of the mass rape of First Nation women by invaders, there. I'm sure they'd appreciate it.

Laurelin said...

omg, that's absolutely fucking sick. Misogyny and racism, with the rape of First Nation women made into some kind of joke- I can't believe that anyone could be so callous and cruel. A wonderful 'among white people' joke. Sick fucking bastards.

lost clown said...


Fun re-write of the mass rape of First Nation women by invaders, there. I'm sure they'd appreciate it.


Yeah, I'm sure. I still am fuming over the fact that everyone was giving me that "loosen up" look and couldn't see what my "big problem" was (is, I'm still really fucking pissed about this and how no one saw how fucked it was). But then again, it's just harmelss fun, right?

GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR....

(no means yes, right? excuse me I need to go break things)

Sam said...

Oh but it's ironic racism, or at least sarcastic racism, and possibly reclaiming stereotypically racist imagery for progressively unracist deconstructive intent. You need to read more of Susie Bright justifications for Hustler's racially sexist goodness to understand how very pro-woman and pro-First Nations it all really was despite what your unBrightened eyes saw.

Violet Socks said...

Perhaps someday I'll understand why so many women (who seem otherwise intelligent) think Susie Bright is fantastic. Her stuff is so shallow and inane I can't even stand to read it.

Andrea said...

Violet> Only if you have a frontal lobe lobotomy.

lost clown said...

Oh but it's ironic racism, or at least sarcastic racism, and possibly reclaiming stereotypically racist imagery for progressively unracist deconstructive intent.

Oh yes, I forgot. How unprogressive of me.

~ nellenelle said...

Burlesque? Damn, I'm getting old, this is the first I hear of this being anywhere around now! But can understand and appreciate how you felt.. abuse, followed by submission.

hexyhex said...

You've actually tapped into something I've been trying to work out for a few weeks now. I've seen a few mentions to burlesque on feminist blogs that I read, but the things they're describing don't seem to match up at ALL with the neoburlesque movement going on around here (I'm Australian) which is largely lesbian and very performance based. The Suicide Girls recently toured their "burlesque" show down here, and almost all the dykes I spoke to about it looked kinda confused and said "But... they were just stripping?"

So, I have to ask... is this the kind of thing that is usually labelled "burlesque" in the States?

hexyhex said...

I mean "this kind of thing" as referring to the just-being-a-strip-show, not the racism. That's a completely different shade of wrong.

lost clown said...

I did a post about burlesque awhile back now, and even though there seems to be a little performance in each, it's mostly about just stripping. The solo burlesque performers just kind of danced on stage and removed different layers of clothes.

Though I am leery of all burlesque. I've been to some queer burlesque shows and honestly didn't see much of a difference.

You know the funny thing is that I knew it was going to be sexist so when they dragged out that disgusting First Nations stereotype I was looking around for someone else to be offended b/c usually it's ok to be sexist but not racist. I'm still amazed that not a person in the house was offended, NOT ONE. So besides being told that I'm a hairy legged prude for being anti-burlesque I was also 'over-reacting' to the racism. Awesome, but it was a sea of white people. *sigh*

hexyhex said...

Hrmmm. Neoburlesque around here almost always involves either music performance/caberet or some physical performance, such as circus arts. The stuff that's just stripping... well, it's done in strip clubs rather than "burlesque" nights.

I may be only seeing part of it, though... I've never sought out burlesque performances aimed at men, and in fact don't know whether or not any of them exist around here. I think I may need to investigate this...

lost clown said...

They say that the burlesque isn't for men, but the audience and the show tell a different story.

DOn't mix your stripping with my circus. I prefer to be in just circus, thank you.

hexyhex said...

That's kinda my point, though... I've never attended a Sydney burlesque show in which men were even well represented, let alone nearing a majority!

I've seen some awesome circus burlesque that I, as a feminist and a circus performer, wouldn't be the slightest bit bothered with performing on the same bill as. Same with the musical burlesque. But, I point out again, what I'm talking about seems to be miles away from the "get your gear off" stuff you're describing.

This confuses and infuriates me. :( While Í'm happy to support the performance style that the words "neo burlesque" bring to my mind, I'm not about to rally what sounds like stripping with a fancy new name.

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Anonymous said...

Having been a burly-q performer for a total of 4 months and has a minority, I thought it would be transcendent but I didn't feel that way at all. Weird isn't it? It's suppose to be empowering but it didn't feel that way.

In defense of the Asian playing a Native, depending on what kind of Asian she was, some Asian cultures do have indios blood in them. Essentially natives, but North American natives.

Anonymous said...

I am absolutely fed up with Burlesque, and your experience of that native american performance sounds gross. The thing that pisses me off most about the recent burlesque revival is that its being peddaled as somehow 'feminist' and 'liberating' for women, unlike normal stripping. What, because the burlesque scene is more accomodating to all body shapes and sizes? GREAT, so now fat women, and chicks with tattoos and pink hair can be sex objects too! Fantastic! What a step forward! Jesus....
I just see it as pretentious stripping for middle class white girls who wanna take thier clothes off, but are too snooty to get a job at stringfellows. Id have far more respect for them if they did just that and stopped trying to pretend that they are being revolutionary and interesting. I think the burlesque genre does have potential to be genuinely subversive (as, indeed it used to be in the victorian times, when it was a form of low-brow entertainment for the working classes, and was used as a satirical tool to poke fun at the political establishment and gender norms). Most Burlesque I see at the moment is nothing more than bland titillation in a retro head-dress. grrrrrr

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