Archive for October, 2009

“Would you believe I devise my entire show based upon a single one of these jewels[swarovski crystals]?  It’s true.  I choose a color from my collection (I keep a three-tiered box full of samples at all times), and with it I can imagine a whole world.  It may take hours, days, this thinking process.  Catherine and I will sit, sipping Dom Perignon and dreaming up ridiculous, over-the-top fantasies… and suddenly one of them works!  And then we set to work, creating the dress, the prop, and the corset- the setting, if you will for this crystal.”

Dita Von Teese, Burlesque and the Art of the Teese

This was when I gave up on Dita Von Teese.

I needed a hero, you see.  I wanted to be a full time burlesque performer, and here was someone who had done it.  I wanted to know how such a thing was accomplished and instead I got this; a magical world in which everything was pretty and nothing was hard and an attractive young girl went from working in the mall as a teen to lazily sipping dom perignon and being paid to fantasize about swarovski crystals and corsets all be cause she…wore 40’s lingerie?

I’m sorry, that’s not a reality I’m familiar with.

In the word I know very act of creating art is hard.  And making a living by creating art is at least 10 times harder.  And burlesque is an art form, which automatically means that no one wants to pay for it.

Men who will drop hundreds of dollars at a strip club won’t pay more than ten to see a girl take her clothes off and actually enjoy it.  If I could enjoy being a stripper, I would do it in a heartbeat.  But I’ve been to all levels of strip clubs, I’ve talked to strippers who love it and strippers who hate it.  I know my personal limits and stripping is beyond them.  And I don’t care what Dita says, I just don’t believe that stripping will be any more classy or any less detrimental to my self esteem if I wear a garter belt and seamed stockings while I do it.

Still, one must make a living.  The question is how?

Burlesque itself could easily be a full time job, between making costumes, buying props, choreographing acts and performing till 2 to 5 in the morning.  Performing alone pretty much cancels out a 9 to 5 for me.  There are those who can function on little to no sleep.  I am not one of them.  And on top of that I don’t want burlesque to be the only thing I do.  I also write, paint, act, dance and if I try to give up any one of those things I go a little bit nutty.  Trust me, I checked.

So what’s a girl to do when she’s relentlessly creative but still has to make rent?  When her drive to create far exceeds the spare time a real job would leave her?  Is it possible to make a living while doing things you love?

That’s what this blog is about; making art and making rent.  It’s not about glamor and fantasy.  It’s about passion and reality.  It’s about finding ways to make more more money and ways to spend less.  It’s about finding other people who are doing what you want to be doing and asking how they did it.  It’s about finding crazy, fun and unexpected ways to get by.  And in a way it’s about figuring out how to live in this world and figuring out my place in it.

It’s figuring out who I am.

Because I’m definitely not Dita.