How did you get involved with burlesque? What was your first memory of encountering burlesque?
I did some research online and found that the Wichita Burlesque was on Facebook. Then after some time a friend told me that Lola was coming over to her house to talk to her about the troupe and if anyone was interested in joining since they were looking for women of all shapes and sizes and preferably women in plus sizes. After listening to her I was hooked.
Why do you do it now?
I never felt sexy. Always have been told I was sexy but never believed it, never felt it. I have had a battle of self confidence with my weight since I was 10.
I have struggled with my weight all my life I have been to my highest of 270/size 24 down to my lowest 150/size 8. Now I’m kind of in the middle being around a size 14-18 pending on what I’m wearing. I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) at the age of 22 when I and my husband were trying to conceive and I just couldn’t get pregnant. Most of the doctors would tell me if I would just drop 75-100 pounds then I could become pregnant. It was so frustrating and depressing and the more depressed I became the more I ate. Then I found a doctor that could ease some of the symptoms, and then some weight started to drop off. I’ve had such a poor self image my entire life. Finally burlesque is showing me the true beauty and sexiness inside me that each woman possesses no matter what size you are. Now that I’m in the troupe I have a new self confidence and I feel so much sexier than I have ever felt before. To hear and watch the crowd cheer as I perform my routine is an absolute rush.
Is this how you make your living? (What’s your day job, etc. – and life/balance stuff you do is also good to share.)
No, unfortunately I do not make my living doing burlesque. Darn!! Because that would be a fun way to earn a living. I have worked in education for the last 15 years and currently I am an elementary school secretary. I balance my time fairly well I work full time and still have time to do burlesque, family and friend stuff.
Tell me about training. What are rehearsals like? On a scale of 1 – 10, how physically challenging do you find dancing burlesque?
We have weekly practices and they are great you can practice in front of peers, get the advice and encouragement you need, plus have some girl time. On a scale I would say the number falls about a 3. I do not find burlesque to be physically challenging but when practicing and doing your routine over, and over you do get quite the workout.
Please talk about the thought process that goes into putting together a dance costume. What do you have to consider?
I think about the style of the outfit especially if I am working to fit a theme. I think of the color choice of the outfit due to how well I will show up under the stage lighting. The accessibility to remove it, and the coverage I want and need. It’s got to be sexy but tasteful.
Any wardrobe malfunction stories you’d like to share?
I have had one so far while doing my very first performance at the Looney Bin. I was wearing a corset that was didn’t cover my trouble spot…my tummy. Oh how I hate my tummy, hate that I have a flap of fat just hanging there. Anyway I was doing my routine and I noticed during the last half that my corset had slid up over my tummy and there it was my tummy was hanging out for all of the audience to see. Oh I was embarrassed! Although that didn’t stop my routine I just went along and finished. The crowd cheered and they didn’t even seem to notice my tummy and my unsightly wardrobe malfunction. All they noticed my enthusiasm and smile oh..and not to mention my larger than life boobs…ha-ha . With burlesque everyone is going to have an issue with their costume and it’s ok. Sometimes the audience just assumes it’s part of the act.
What has been the most challenging part of dancing burlesque for you?
I have been having the most trouble in the being creative and being crafty. Good thing I have the other girls to get advice and a husband that has been in theater.
Have you ever had to handle hecklers, etc?
I haven’t came across any as of yet.
What do you tell other plus size women that want to pursue burlesque?
Do it! It’s Awesome! They will love it! Don’t be afraid to show your curves. The audience isn’t a one size fits all crowd. They like watching a voluptuous curvy woman perform.
How has dancing burlesque affected your life?
I have became more self confident. I have a hobby and one that makes me feel awesome about myself!
What do you think the rest of the world should know about you, burlesque, or what you do?
That burlesque is an amazing art of a woman’s body and the art of teasing. If someone doesn’t what burlesque is or if they have a perception that burlesque is something gross, dirty or improper they are terribly wrong. They need to come to show and see how much fun and how flattering burlesque is.