Friday, July 22, 2016

Person About Town with Kenice Mobley!

Good morning!

I'm not writing a full-length post today, but I wanted to share with you a podcast that I was featured on recently with one of my favorite local comedians, Kenice Mobley.

In the Boston burlesque world, there's a lot of crossover with comedy, sideshow, and circus, which affords me the opportunity to meet lots of people who are amazing performers in other disciplines. Kenice asked me to be her interview subject for Person About Town, which is a fun, informal sit-down interview show where she conducts interviews with different people at their favorite Boston hangouts.

In the episode, we talked a lot about male burlesque; points of distinction, highlights, pet peeves, accidentally punching other performers in the face, costuming, that one time each of us were in a strip club, and why the tofu at Christopher's is the bomb.

I'd be happy if you took a few minutes to listen in!

Thursday, July 14, 2016


I always told myself I was never going to be one of those people. You know the type. The burlesquer with 15 selfies a day on Instagram, complete with hashtags so obscure that there's no hope in hell they'll ever catch on (#glitterinmycoffee).

"We need to have a selfie intervention with you," my brother said to me, as I wistfully contemplated the social-media-enabled serial selfie posting persona I'd since become.

"Why did you post that? It has nothing to do with anything," he said, referencing the photo below.

It has plenty to do with my big, stupid face.

I mean, he was right. I was just at a cool-looking rest stop somewhere in New Jersey, and I wanted to photograph myself with it so I could put another notch in my #traveldale hashtag. I wasn't performing, and it wasn't a particularly moving piece of artwork. But since when the hell did that matter?

In general, I'm pretty satisfied with how I use my performer Instagram account. Relentlessly photographing myself with other performers and in fun, new locations isn't a super-important part of my personal life, but it's something I get to do and it's a tool I can use as a performer. When you're on stage a lot, I've found that people kind of dig what you're doing and where it takes you. And of course barring any qualified raison-d'etre, you don't really need to justify posting photos of stuff. That's just kind of what our generation does.

Truthfully, if my IG and FB accounts disappeared tomorrow, it wouldn't shake me to my core (to say nothing of my blog). I'd probably just go merrily about my life, albeit with fewer people at my shows. Ever since Anja Keister showed me how to use Instagram and chastised me with "Where are more posts?" in my first lackluster week as a user, I've felt a subtle obligation to check in with the world via mediocre photography.

Pictured; Motivation.

After all, fans like when you do that. Other performers like when you do that. Random strangers with Russian lettering on their profiles that I can't read also like when you do that. As someone who performs burlesque, it's worth noting that 90% of the marketing I do for my shows and performances is through social media.

When I post a photo of myself in my stage getup, or show a hint at a routine I might be working on with a carefully-orchestrated costume shot, I know that someone out there is getting excited about what I've got planned. When I post a photo of Sirlesque goofing off backstage, I know that followers are getting to see us in our element, and in some small way, becoming a part of it. When I take photos with other performers I share the stage with, I get to introduce them to my little piece of the world back in Boston, and write a short, visual memoir of the amazing time I had.

I'm sure this was exciting to someone.

And like all performers, I feel like I am entitled to a little vanity, if only because it's expected. Another reason on top of that is that it makes clear business sense. If Lilith Beest and I hadn't been picked up by a high-traffic IG account (Monsters Holding Bitches, if you're curious), I doubt we would have sold out "They Live; We Strip - A John Carpenter Burlesque Tribute." The impact of being proactive with our marketing and social media could not be denied.

In retreating back to the personal, Corinne Southern, a burlesque producer and performer from Providence, Rhode Island, gave me the purest version of the IG selfie appeal.

"People like to feel like they are part of the backstage action. I think it makes your audience feel like they have a personal connection with you," she said.

Corinne Southern

Although backstage areas all sort of blend together into the unremarkable after a while, it's kind of important to realize that very few people actually get to have that access. When people are doing makeup or putting on costumes, the process is personal, and the area restricted to performers only.

As someone who very rapidly made that transition, I was fortunate to have never really experienced the exclusion, so I just assumed it wasn't a huge deal to share those photos. But lots of other performers tell me it is, for their fans.

Again, I don't see why this is a highlight for anyone.

Then there's the photos that show us we're vulnerable. I know that for a lot of people (not just performers), selfies are a way of ensuring that we like the photo that contains our likeness. When people are taking photos OF you, you don't really have much control over what the photographer chooses to display. It's for precisely that reason that I wasn't aware that I had criminal levels of duckface in all my performances until it was far too late.

At least with selfies, you can make your image truly your own.

Once I started really getting into the swing of things with DAMYS, the advertising became a bit more focused on me. Despite my protests, the people around me were telling me that my likeness was just as important to selling the concept as the name in the title. Seeing as how so many of us are somewhat unhappy with our self-image to an extent, you can see my own struggle with this fading away as the years went on;

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4 (upcoming!)

So in that way, I can see how self photography feels safe. And while I wouldn't use a selfie for promo, it's been a way to compare what I think I look like to how other people see me. That in itself has been a learning experience.

Although, please reel me in if I start to go overboard.

I will never apologize for how awesome this photo is, however.