I think it was the cupcakes that pushed me over the edge, but it could just as easily have been the 'lovely tea sets for sale from Mrs Stokes Vintage China!' (Their exclamation mark, not mine, I assure you)
What is it with the Burlesque movement? Why this mindnumbing appropriation and romanticisation all things American and vintage? (And by vintage, they actually mean a teeny decade's worth of gear)
You see tonight, I'm off to see my friend perform her Clockwork Orange routine at a Burlesque show in Bath.
And there it all is, right there on the flyer, nestled in nicely between Cherry Blush, Kitty Curvaceous and the double act Moreorlesque, screaming out at me. Cupcakes. American domesticity at it's worst meets UK Steampunk HighTea. Objectification. A clingy, needy desire to be adored, to be thought of as what? Sexy? Cute? Perky? Quirky? Cultured?
I don't know. And with my alarm bells wailing, I still can't put my finger on the precise wrongness here.
And we all know how the punters are going to be dressed tonight. Themed to within an inch of their lives, sticking to the dress code as though it were their true phenotype. Tight floral prints and matching tattoos stretched across their various curves, pencil skirts and fishnets, manicured fringes, painted nails, eyeliner and red lips. A uniformity as chilling as a Midwich child.
And we can have a pretty good idea of what is going to be happening on stage.
But what I want to know is, what is it that's being said here. What's the message when some plump, middle class, privilaged girl strips down to thong and tassels and starts to thrust her arse in my face, from high on stage. Whilst I nibble my cupcake from the vintage china.
And what does it say about me (and corsetRich) that we find it dull and boring?
When I pierced my nose, ripped my bra off and started wearing a tie and monkey boots in the late 70's, it was as a revolt against an establishment so arrogantly sexist, racist and ageist as to begger belief. So I find it a little jarring that an entire 'movement' mostly women, should suddenly start appropriating cupcakes, domestic goddesses and Betty Page, in fact doing a lot of the things associated with patriarchal society at it's worst. And let us not forget that eventually, even Betty suffered from extreme depression, violent mood swings and converted to Christianity. So what's looming for the burlesquers? Valium, tranquilisers and all the neuroses of the 50's?
I know there's a lot of trumpeting of how burlesque accepts and beautifies the female body in all it's shapes and forms, but does it?
And if you listen closely they are still worrying about what they look like, and possibly feeling even more objectified and meatlike than if they had stayed working in the dayjob.
All this cutesy cutesyness, the rigid feminity, the tassel swinging (and God knows I love a tassel myself) the plumpness: it all conspires to push me over the edge back into the empowerment of punk. To rise up and revolt against this burlesque enforced smiling, pouting flesh show.
And yet, I still can't figure out what is actually being said by the burlesque girls, and to the burlesque girls.
But I have a feeling it's not so good. There is no message of individualism, empowerment and equality, maybe there is nothing in it at all, but my alarm bells are still ringing.
Republished from AC.com