The worst thing about them is how dull they were.
"If hearing the words – spread sheets, task lists, goals and detail oriented really get you going, then we WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! "
What if they really get me wanting to run from the room scream "Oh the humanity!"?
Then I explained to her that, as I'd already gone through the Academy and had been shooting the scene for five years, I wasn't all that interested in it because I'd already lived it.
"Well, maybe it's not for you!"
Hadn't I just said that?
They were surprised when I told them I didn't have any interest in shooting the show. I think they figured that A) I was such a fan of burlesque and B) I was so jaded that anything shocking would be an improvement. What they didn't count on is that A) no, really, I'm very choosy and B) shocking burlesque is part of what's made me so jaded.
Well, that and shocking dance and painting and slam poetry and comedy and...
It's easier to be shocking than surprising. It's easier to get a rise from an audience by repeatedly shouting "fuck" in a theater than displaying an honest feeling. And I find easy to be boring, whether it's a comic preaching to the converted or a burlesque dancer revealing a strap on (or worse) in the last minute of her act.
"Well," said the producer, "if they're talented they should be able to do both!"
Sure, and I've seen it done. Not often, but enough to demonstrate that it's not a complete fluke.
But that seems to happen when the performer brings the shock along as a grace note. It's a shock, yes, but it's also unique like Julie Atlas Muz being stripped by her demon possessed hand or Waxie Moon's act that turns into a BDSM scene on stage. Or it's just plain weird and funny, like Ben de la Creme and a couple inflatable sheep or the moment Pinkie Special played a tampon as a guitar for an air guitar solo (sorry, no work safe pictures of that one). And throw Armitage Shanks into the mix with his occasional dabbling into Grand Guignol for fun! I want that! I want to laugh and stare and hoot and maybe even think a little after.
I'm not laughing when a performer enacts a heroin overdose (complete with a blinged out needle) that ends with an adrenaline shot to the heart. Or watching a routine that centers on suicide to a Nirvana song. Or self-harm. These are the acts that lose me as an audience member.
Ah, well. This will pass. In the meanwhile, I think about a review I read of a performance artist in New York City. The reviewer wrote that he was kind of disappointed that the piece ended with the performer shitting in a bowl on stage. Not that it was shocking but that he'd seen it in the last show the performer had done.
Seriously, once you've enacted The Aristocrats, where do you go from there? When does the shock become schtick?
... but after a while, all the pictures from Burning Man look like the same picture over and over again.
Seek freedom, absolutely.
But while a horde of inhuman monsters that want to feast on your flesh are literally at the gates? No. I just don't see it.
"This week in the books section, I write about the sad state of mainstream science fiction, and why Cory Doctorow is one of the few sci-fi writers who is actually doing his job:"
Which is a sign of how sad mainstream SF/F is these days, indeed.
- Current Mood: cynical
Three years ago, I published a book of photography from Seattle's burlesque scene called Tassels and Emeralds.
Today I'm announcing the follow-up and what was a book has become a periodical. The first issue features photography from the first half of 2009, including such incredible acts as The Atomic Bombshells and The Heavenly Spies as well as pictures of Through The Looking Glass : A Burlesque Wonderland.
24 high-gloss pages, $8