Lessons in life, love and the art of tease By Michelle L’amour
Tease Tips – Lessons in life, love and the art of tease
By Michelle L’amour
United we strip.
Community. The C-word. I said it. It’s a word that elicits a visceral response. If you’re like me, you may have struggled with this word and what is actually means to be a part of a ‘community’ or to be more specific, to be a part of the burlesque community.
When I first got into burlesque, I didn’t realize that there was a national community and a growing international community. I felt very isolated and uneducated, but then, I found Exotic World, presently known as The Burlesque Hall of Fame. There, I found something very special. I had a connection with the past and an urge to carry their torch into the future. I felt purpose, love and acceptance. But, in the years that I have been doing this, my relationship and feelings about the community have ebbed and flowed. I’m sure yours have as well.
Just like with anything else, the more you know, the more you might not want to know. That’s why they say ‘ignorance is bliss’. Back before Facebook, Myspace, twitter, instagram and snapchat, we had yahoo groups. Yeah. Dating myself! Those groups were a way to share information and promote festivals and various shows going on in other cities. It was a safe group (for the most part). It was also very dedicated and specific. Sure, sometimes there were topics that would come up that we would all chime in on but generally it was positive. With the introduction of social media, the community has gotten so much bigger and A LOT noisier. So much so that I’ve had to limit my time because I became so frustrated with the things that I saw. The amount of complaining and negativity was astounding. I was internalizing all of it and it made me very unhappy. The more I knew, the more I wish I didn’t know! I had to take a break.
I kept the community at a distance for a few years. I had vision and desires for what I wanted with my own career and I had to keep my eyes on my own paper. I couldn’t handle the barrage of negativity coming at me every day. I had to actively pursue positivity. And to be honest, I’ve been hurt by the community quite a few times. I know that I am not alone in that experience. I’ve been heart-broken by students, other performers and people I thought were my friends. Things were getting nasty. Things were getting heated. I couldn’t stand the heat so I got out of the kitchen! I didn’t turn to social media to air my grievances because I don’t find that to be classy and I didn’t want to add to the noise. Instead, I tuned into myself to figure out if: a) I wanted to be a part of this community that had hurt and disappointed me and b) if I liked doing what I do enough to have the association with the noise. In the end, here’s what I found.
I love what I do. I love the community that I have built around myself. I love that the experiences I have had are because of the community. I am so very grateful to be able to have great and interesting friends and have wonderful performance and travel experiences because of the community. I love that our interest in sexual and sensual performance binds us together. We are weaving a fabric of history that we will eventually take off and pass on to those after us. I love the women and men that have come before me and have paved a path so that I can pave my own. As we head into this weekend at the Burlesque Hall of Fame, let’s remember that we are united. We are all misfits in the eyes of society. Let’s not argue about who is the greater misfit. We all have our stories and our demons that we battle. Let’s not tear each other down, especially now in this political climate. Let’s build each other up. Strip away the hurt. Build the love.