The Ladies of Burlesque

Queen Bees

Sometimes I wonder what it is that makes anyone, male or female want to take their clothes off in front of others. I’ve given it some thought, but no way in hell would I do it.  Now, if I were ten years younger and had a rockin’ body…?  Well… Uh, No!  At least I don’t think so.

In a way, I wish I could be so bold but I never was or have been.  Heck! I wanted to try out for cheerleader in high school but when it came to my turn, I looked out at the crowd and high tailed it out of there.  I never regretted anything more in my life. Now if you asked me to rock climb or slide down a mountain on ice with only an ice ax to break my fall, well that’s different and I’ve done that. I ran a half marathos and won a cycling race in my age category, I’ve done a century ride (100 miles in a day), climbed mountain peaks… well, you’ve read my stories.  Oh, and I’m scheduled to go sky diving soon, weather permitting, but that’s different.

I’m sure there’s a psychological explanation for that.

Queen Bee’s is a small theater in the North Park area, in San Diego. I went to a Burlesque show and last night I witnessed the most tremendous array of bodies in all sizes, shapes, ages and… ethnicity do just that.  They were simply amazing.  I was in fact impressed and jealous that these women had the guts to do what they did and they did so with gusto and grace.

Backstory:  This was my second time attending and I was sooooo reluctant to go the first time and found so many excuses not to attend again from there on.  Truly.

I – DID – NOT – WANT – TO – GO!!!

But, my sister, who is in the show, insisted.  My hub, said “No way,  I don’t want to see your sister naked!  You go, if you want to!”

I didn’t “want to” but, when Sherene said, “I don’t have anyone in my family I can share this with, except Brian…”  Brian, her husband goes to all of her shows.  Well, once her son J.C. went, but not to see her, but because a friend of his was in the show and invited him. Otherwise, oooh, ick no way!

For my across the globe, across the country, conservative friends, hang on. <Big Smile>

I totally get it.

I also get and would so much like to have someone I could share my screenwriting with, someone that actually gets it and won’t get all hot and bothered when I kill someone off or get upset that a sympathetic character dies or  heaven forbid has sex, or whatever.  My writer sister didn’t want anyone to die, have sex or use “swear” words,  she writes for children so her mind thinks only “G” material and not of the string variety.  I let her read my work once and she “G’d’ it immediately.  What? I’m supposed to use marshmallow guns?  No one dies?  I explained to her that it’s called  an “inciting incident” and a necessary “evil” is a must.  No, no she cried.  That’s not you!   That was the end of that.

Even though, Sherene can’t reciprocate, I do understand the importance of family support.

So, off I go…

I pick Brian up, because he’d had hip surgery and couldn’t drive, but we’re early, so we grab a bite to eat in an old timey diner next to the theater.  Yummy onion rings.

 

We wait in line for the doors to open and once in, I get a gin and tonic and sit in my seat facing forward wondering what in the hell I’m doing there.  I text my husband and ask him “it’s party time, except for me. I feel like such a stick in the mud!  When did I get so old?”, I ask.  He responds, “Sorry, Me too.”  I turn to Brian.

Brian is busy talking to some lady across the aisle from him and it’s loud and I am so unconnected.  A bunch of rowdy women seated behind me catch my eye and ask me if I had someone in the show.

“My sister”, I replied.

“Our Zumba instructor”, they said.  They’d never been and were giggling like school girls. We made friends and suddenly I find myself forced into having a good time.

The Emcee (is that what she’s called?) is a voluptuous redhead with ivory skin in a black corset and silver pointy nails. She never strips.

Burkesque queen

She announces that these girls have been working very hard and are pretty much all beginners and her expectations of the audience was for tear down the wall cheers and clapping.  She  said the audience were all invitees, family and friends of the performers with the exception (she jokingly says) of possibly a “perv” or two in the mix who might have snuck in. “You know who you are”.  Everyone of course laughs.  It was then, I realize she is right.  These were all family and friends of those who would be performing.  A non hostile crowd.  Hmmmm

This is not the strip joint type crowd. It was a small but humble theater. There are two young men sitting in front of me, perhaps in their mid thirties. One had a green Mohawk, but he was well dressed and clean cut looking otherwise. Green though? he was a looker too, quite handsome.  The other young man seemed to be more conservative and equally good looking.  A young lady sits between them, but it appears they are all together.  The crowd was mostly well dressed people and some more so, like they were attending a gala.  There were young (over twenty one because everyone was carded) and old alike. All were quite friendly. In fact, I gathered many were of the artsy types,  so why am I being a snob?  I got over it.

When the show began, it started with two solo routines with rather large women. The women came in all sizes  (boobs and bodies), ages (my sister is in her 60’s) and what surprised me,  varied ethnicity.  I was slightly embarrassed for them (?), not sure, but they were fantastic. There were routines with and without clothes, like hip hop, one with bare minimum, which was a shocker and a ballet spoof at the end. There were young ladies who were extremely fit and more experienced and poised and then there were the moms.  With bodies like any one of us. They obviously had to be fit to do the routines they did, splits, twirls and kicks plus dance but they jiggled in the usual places they might not have when they were young, yet fit.

One especially large gal, strutted her stuff and made sexy moves like she was flirting with her man and him alone.  She went through the whole song, fully dressed and put out more sexuality than most women would scantily dressed.  She smiled and flirted and shook her booty, until the very last. And then, in the last few seconds, she took it off to briefly show her stuff and the crowd roared!!!  I laughed so hard and cheered ……………..  Way to go girl!!!

 

Bees cast 1

They jiggled and they jogged and gave it their all.  Throughout, I watched the conservative young man in front of me, who never yelled but would nod his approval and on occasion stood up and clapped at the exquisite routines, especially of the big gals.  It wasn’t like he knew them but more like he admired them for having the chutzpah to get up there and be proud.

My brother in law Brian, leans into me and said it’s “woman empowerment”.

 

Yes, I could see that.  It wasn’t about showing off your body so much as, this is my body and I’m okay with it!

Pictures were not allowed of the performances, but we did get a group with their teachers. The man in the middle, teaches hip hop and his wife the rest.

Bee's cast

I still can’t figure how they get those “things” to jiggle like they do?

Do they sell that stuff at WalMart?

 

Sherene and I

I’ve had a cold and it sorta shows here. Lookin’ tired. It was way past my bedtime.

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AADA- Acting’s Finest

A few years ago and I won’t name how many years back, but it’s been awhile, I was privileged to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

This was no ordinary school, I mean it’s attendees were such notables as Anne Bancroft, Robert Redford, Paul Rudd, Anne Hathaway, Kirk Douglas, Jessica Chastain and many, many more. See: https://www.aada.edu/alumni/notable-alumni#decade:all/orderby:all/display:panel

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We are here at AADA

 

I was honored to get accepted.  I’ll never forget the day I saw the ad in the paper looking for people to audition for the school.  I was in Grand Junction, Colorado at the time and the auditions were in Denver.  I applied and submitted my photo and they sent back what they wanted to see for the audition. At the time, I was 49 and I really didn’t think I’d be considered. After all, they  want young, fresh, malleable students, right?

For some reason, I didn’t let that deter me. So, I prepared my song and a monologue.

The monologue was from a stage play called “Judge Lynch”. I was this hillbilly redneck woman whose husband had just lynched a black man for a theft while the real thief was a white man hiding in their woodpile.  Very controversial piece and I put on the southern drawl and nature of the woman as I saw her.

The song I would sing was “Another Hundred People” from the stageplay “Company”.

At the time, I was associated with a group that had formed at a local coffee shop located in an old, downtown warehouse building. They were trying to generate traffic by putting on artsy events.

When I first moved to Grand Junction, it was shortly after a bust. A bust being where the town had vacated due to the oil shale companies closing down and everyone pretty much connected with it moving out or walking away from their homes. So there was nothing going on there.

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Singing Class

Those of us who had lived in bigger cities were hungry for something, anything to put the arts back into our lives.

So, this coffee shop put out a casting call for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and I auditioned.  I got the part of Nurse Ratchet and was so excited!  First rehearsal and only two -three people show up. We call the no shows and the next time we got a few more but missing others.  After about the third attempted rehearsal, the play was cancelled. So much for that.

However, we had others showing up who had not made the cut for the play and who kept coming to the Tuesday night meetings and from there we formed an improv group, did poetry readings and such. And through that I met a man name “Bob”.  “Bob” would have been the director of our play, and was no novice to theater and show business. It was he who suggested the song and monologue I would do for my audition.

Now “Bob”, not his real name, was obese. It was quite evident from the start that he was also extremely talented and smart, even if he was a bit brusque at times. Anyone who make a point of letting me know that I was meant for the stage, because as he put it, I didn’t have the boobs for film is brusque. The looks maybe yes, but no boobs.

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In Hollywood, actors Work to Live. She was an advance student.

In my opinion, maybe a long time ago that might have been true, but anymore now, no one seems to care. But, I still liked him. I just blew that part off. But that’s neither here nor there.

Anyway, I went to his home, which he shared with his mother, to rehearse.  The first time I went,  I look for his mom, he said she was in the kitchen. He then proceeds to lead me down the hall and eventually to his bedroom.

Yes, I said bedroom, but that’s not the interesting part. It was the hallway.

The hallway was predominately filled with pictures of him with stars and performing in all these musicals and stage plays.  This guy had been a genuine Broadway star! It was hard to believe and yet I was fascinated with this man on the wall, compared to the man next to me, who in these pictures was a third if not one fourth the size was now and he was gorgeous. How did this happen?

I couldn’t help myself, I blurted out, “This is you?!”  He says, “Yes” and I say, “Wow!”, as he continues to nonchalantly usher me to his room.(Now you know why I didn’t use his real name) I never asked, “Why?”.

His room was anticlimactic by comparison. It had a small bed and lots of electronic equipment and a keyboard piano, which is where I rehearsed the song with the orchestral background and then recorded the background tape for the audition. This guy had tons of scripts and sheet music piled high everywhere and it made me sad. He may have been brusque, but he knew his stuff and I couldn’t help but admire him. I couldn’t feel sorry because he would never have allowed it and yet… I do wonder where he is now or if he’s even alive.

I still sometimes wonder what it was that happened in his life to bring him to where he was at that juncture. Yet… well, I’ll never know.

For the monologue, I would go up to Aspen to rehearse with another actor, who’d played a bit part in “Forest Gump”, and who it turns out had other things on his mind, so I finished rehearsing on my own from there on out. At least “Bob” was on the up and up.

Never the less, I made the cut and off I went to L.A.  What was nice is I had a choice of locations. New York or London.  I couldn’t really afford to go to either New York nor London, and even though a part of me really wanted to see those places, I chose L.A.

Another reason was because my grandmother had been quite ill and she lived there and I knew I’d have a place to stay with her, plus I’d get extra special time to be with her.

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The Mimes

It couldn’t have been a better choice.

Every day I’d get home, she’d ask me what I’d learned. She was so proud and protective.

One night I was getting ready to go to a party and she tells me not to take any drinks from anyone, because someone could put something in it. I laughed and asked her how she knew such things and she replied unabashedly, “I watch TV”.  In the meantime, I pooh-poohed it saying, “Abuelita, I am 50 years old, who’s going to want to lace my drink?”

Weeell, I never told her, but she was right. I don’t know how, but I had not even finished half a beer when I felt it.  If it had not been for me spotting a young student, only 14 who was in my class, with a beer in her hand no less, I might have finished that drink. As it was my mommy protective instinct kicked in and I gently imposed myself up on her making sure she didn’t finish the drink in her hand and that she got home safely. After I sobered her up, I called her aunt and uncle to come pick her up. She was a sweetie from England and was really okay with me interfering. However, had I finished my drink, it would have knocked me on my ass.

Ahhhh, “someone” was looking out for the both of us and No, I didn’t tell grandma.

Later, I would borrow some of grandpa’s clothes for my hobo dance and perform it for her. She just loved it! She loved for me to sing for her and never tired of listening even when she heard it over and over again. I think she had as much fun as I.

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Me, closeup
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My hobo dance group

Yes, I made the right choice. We got to have some special times together and I even got to take her to get her US citizenship, which she was so proud of finally attaining. She died a couple of months after I left.

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Grandma “Abuelita” becoming a US Citizen, what a proud day for both of us!