CONFESSION: I’ve done burlesque.
It’s a long story, but with Burlesque coming out in theaters today starring Cher and Christina Aguilera and so many bloggers doing interviews with “real burlesque stars,” I figured now would be a shameful time to deprive you of the story of how your little spa blogger once had a little stint in burlesque. Totally SFW, don’t worry!
The story goes like this.
Last summer (’09), before I found my place at Spa Week, I started a blog called The NYC Game. The game worked as such: I interviewed prominent New Yorkers on all their favorite things to do in NYC, and then I went out and did everything on their list—in exactly one week—tweeting, photographing and blogging every checkpoint. I discovered amazing restaurants, cocktails, spas, parties, people, art, zoos, activities and secrets to shape my love for the city. At the end of each “round,” the “NYC insider” would judge my performance, and if they believed I completed my goal of becoming a better New Yorker and having as much fun as possible, they’d award me a “prize” such as dinner at their restaurant (John DeLucie at the Waverly Inn before his Lion days), tickets to their fashion show (Erin Fetherston), etc.
During the fifth round, The NYC Game took a twist. My NYC Insider was media guru and Purple Lab NYC beauty brand founder Karen Robinovitz, and she doled out one serious girly, glittery ride. If you know Karen at all… you’ll know she sent me pole dancing, motorcycling in Louboutins, taking runway lessons with Trew, mixing Lychee Martinis with Colin, and getting my hair curled at Devachan. Now, Karen also once wrote a book called “How to Become Famous in Two Weeks or Less.” So when I met with Karen to get my list of sexy, glamorous rules, I “accidentally” thought that part of MY mission was to, indeed, become famous in two weeks or less. Whoops!
This is where the fun really got started. Rule #4 from Karen was to see a performance by Veronica Varlow, the world famous “Danger Dame” burlesque dancer based in New York City. When I got in touch with Veronica by phone (which was another whole crazy ironic story unto itself), I told her about The NYC Game, and how I also had to become famous in 2 weeks or less. “Well,” she said, “I’m performing at The Slipper Room on Friday night. I will call up the owner and tell them I have a world famous Burlesque dancer in town from the Czech Republic, one night only, and you shall perform.”
Two nights later I had booked a private dance studio and was learning my routine from the gorgeous, inspiring, Veronica Varlow in a one-on-one session. Burlesque dancing is rooted in confidence with a sexual exterior, and although I had always thought it to be just a bawdy form of stripping, I came to embrace it as a very beautiful form of art. Dramatic movements of the body, coordination of body parts and eye contact into a strategically seductive routine, a lot of humorous undertones, with a dash of feathers, leather and lace.
Burlesque photographer Taryn Longo captured it all (how I met her was another long story) and then afterwards I was thrown a huge Burlesque “coming out” party at Citrine nightclub on “gay night” (an even longer story). Burlesque stars of NYC and the gay male populace of Chelsea came to celebrate my upcoming performance. The next day I got written up online as all sorts of questionable things… it wasn’t taking me two weeks to become famous. It was more like two days.
Before I knew it, it was Friday night and I was backstage at the Slipper Room. My “famous-in-two-weeks” stylist Jillian Halouska was finishing up hair and makeup, I’d practiced my routine 100 times, and there I was, backstage with a dozen or so very naked, world famous burlesque stars, each one more sparkly than the last.
Glenda Glitterati The Burlesque Barbie (my burlesque name) was listed 2nd on the set list. Second! No time to freak out, no time to pee! I hadn’t eaten solid foods in a week (starring in a burlesque show is a stupendous diet, by the way), my mouth was dry, no water backstage to be found, my 8 feather boas were getting everywhere, now sticking to my sweaty neck, my hair wasn’t sitting right, and suddenly the red velvet curtain opened and I was in the spotlight.
Exactly what happened during my 2 minute performance, I have no idea. It was an absolute blur. Good thing I had Taryn to get a few photos.
Afterwards, Veronica Varlow told me I was perfect. My friends said I totally rocked it. I have no idea if any of this is true, but in the end, burlesque is truly all about uninhibited confidence, so that is really all that mattered. Burlesque the movie only got a half a star, but as they felt good about it, right?!
Conclusion? I feel very lucky to have had this experience and that I am able to spread to the world a newfound respect and appreciation for the art of burlesque. The industry is filled with vibrant positivity and a contagious lust for beauty and life itself. This is your moment, this is self-expression, and this is passion dressed in corsets, tassels and high heels.
This was probably the first and last time you will ever see Glenda Glitterati the Burlesque Barbie perform… I think I’d much rather be a “spa-lebrity,” famous for getting way too many massages and putting out YouTube videos about getting naked in the spa.
Needless to say, I can’t wait to see the movie! If you see it, let me know what you think. And, also, I’m wondering… if you were given a once in a lifetime opportunity to perform burlesque, would you?
To read more about my stint in burlesque and The NYC Game, HERE YOU GO.