(There’s a special offer for my readers at the bottom of this post!)
It seems ironic that, as International Women’s Day approaches this year, I find myself trying on corsets and watching women strip. But there is a great healing afoot in the world, and at the center of it, women are moving beyond the struggle to reclaim our sexuality to personally define healthy femininity for themselves—embracing our curves or lack thereof and loving every part of our bodies, every part of ourselves.
I became enchanted with an amazing artist recently, when I went to see a solo performance about an unusual and profound healing journey. Kel’Wil’ took the audience to the source of the detachment from her body that made her sick, and we all came to discover, with her, that inner place of understanding and natural healing. She ended with some exciting metaphysical word play that turned my mind and soul on. After the show I wrote to her about the two Greek verbs for knowing, (eidow and gnosko), which I write about in the forthcoming Jayne with a Why.
I learned that this artist is not just a burlesque dancer but a burlesque therapist. Then, before I knew it, I was having my own showgirl awakening! First I took her Showgirl Archetype Quiz and much to my (what’s the opposite of) surprise, I learned mine is the…
Take the quiz and see what yours is! (Tell me in the comments, I’m dying to know!) (Especially if you’re a guy, tee hee…)
Of course, I have been playing with the showgirl archetype for decades, since I first stepped on stage as a DecoBelle fresh out of a women’s college. I resisted it, judged it, laughed at it, but completely loved the companionable kinship, the rigor, the flirting, the joy of dancing with a group, and the practice of not taking myself so seriously. Now in my Zumba classes I play with non-performance showgirl movements all the time, inviting my students to release happiness and energy in every class one shimmy at a time. Imagine my delight to meet someone who actually has a philosophy of burlesque! (Philosophy is sexy!) The day after I put KW, (a.k.a. Kellita Maloof, a.k.a. the Showgirl Shaman a.k.a. the Mr. Rodgers of Burlesque), on my to-do list for this year, she called me to plan some antics. I hosted her new presentation last week, Be SEEN, and came away with a deeper understanding of her “three R’s” of Reveling, Revealing, and Receiving, and how to find the sweet spot between overexposure and underexposure, between collapsing and posturing, between being insecure and overbearing. Because we all need attention, and there is an art to getting it in a way that feels meaningful and joyful.
On Saturday I was invited to a final performance of participants from her most recent Burlesque from the Inside Out class. (First my friend and I stopped by Dark Garden to try on corsets in solidarity with our costumed friends on the first weekend of Carnevale in Venice! Read my travel memoir, Ten Days, Ten Pounds, about my discovery of this fantasy ritual of release!)
The thing is: I get really embarrassed watching burlesque. I know people love it, but it makes me feel squeamish and uncomfortable. The thing is: I didn’t feel that way seeing Kellita and her artists do their things! Her show is not exactly for kids but she makes everyone feel comfortable and engaged and helps the audience see what is really going on. She preaches the gospel of glitter with such heart and honesty that everyone feels like they are being seen. And she really did channel Mr. Rogers and Glinda the Good, all at once, before tearing it up (and off) to Led Zeppelin. It was pretty magical!
“Burlesque,” she says, “is when a performer comes on stage, something magic happens, and when they leave the stage they have fewer clothes on.” In between, there is a profound exploring fear and desire, wanting and knowing, but most importantly feeling and understanding. You should get to K(no)w Kellita!
Here’s that special offer for my readers!
IF you can go see the next Burlesque from the Inside Out show on April 7th,
AND you can RSVP for said show by March 14th,
I’ve got a GOLDEN TICKET for you!
Contact me if you’re a yes.