During Covid19 shut downs I've taken this opportunity of my life and our industry being turned upside down and an entire season of busy showbiz being canceled or on hold to take a step back and breath. I deactivated my social media accounts and a four day timer, I abandoned most social media. And I took this time I quarantine to reflect while reading and listening to podcasts that were thought provoking to me as a feminist and Showgirl.
As I went and was sequestered in all this sequined medical worry, I kept a stream of consciousness here. I put it below to share it to see if anyone had thoughts or felt the same during their social distancing time alone. Be warned this does get lengthy....even my stream of consciousness thoughts are longwinded.
-should I shave off my eyebrows? That'd be fun, no?
-reflecting on how I was raised to be humble, and that I don't deserve to have an ego or take up space if I am not the ultimate epitome of success as by my parents standards and conservative expectations. But yet if an artist is too humble: YOU STARVE. so I really struggle with the illusion in showbiz we are required to create to market ourselves. I've been experimenting with transparency and genuineness in my marketing but I feel that I haven't found the sweet spot for that yet that benefits me more than it stresses me nor triggers my majour issues with my impostor syndrome. Talking to a professional about this and it's ties to depression have been very helpful. I always highly praise the idea of people getting help if they can from a professional. I understand that's a privilege but if you have it, it's a life changer. And it's helping me with these reflections.
-UPDATE EYEBROWS ARE GONE. SUPER FUN.
-How I felt I had to push my way into the FL burlesque industry just to even be considered in a sea of over-saturation. And how I had to daily prove "look I can evolve and play by your rules, I can fit myself into all these demands and boxes for your, look I'm uplifting the rules" and how bitter I was that I felt that it never paid off and that it was all for nothing when I still wasn't enough.
How I was trying to do the right thing, be vocal about how we all should do the right thing, and be visible about upholding "doing the right thing" and how it feels like for a loss and resulted in me losing my place in the industry locally. And no good deed goes unpunished.
-Reflecting on how I had to unpack and dissolve my bit of lingering jealousy that new performers have resources and community, where as I had to sink or swim in an Industry ten or so years ago where i was not welcome as competition. And now the culture has changed and I never got to benefit from that but it's assumed I did because "hasn't it always been like this?" No.... you're so lucky, but now I am happy for you and hope I can learn from you as much as you can learn from me.
-I reflected on mayhaps there isn't a place for me in burlesque any more, as it evolves into something better. I am white, and I should make space for other minorities, and I feel as though that even though I am fat/plus size and so not welcome on a lot of thin/commercially mainstream only venues and productions, I'm not fat enough, even with body dysmorphia and an ever fluctuating weight, just like what I face as being Bi/queer, I'm not yet straight, but I'm not gay enough for my communities because I'm "passing"....then with the demand that we all support the newer generations and that I am aging....do I even have a place on these stages anymore? Was I a one tassel wonder?
And was I champion of activism and inclusiveness in my industry but did my vocal demand for such ostracize me and thus promote my own exclusion?
-UPDATE- HOW ARE MY CHEWBACCA BROWS ALREADY GROWING BACK?! WTF I just got a roll on improving at multiple types of brows with my makeup!
-struggling while reflecting on: I also encourage keeping our local industry a safe space and constantly say "problematic people don't deserve a platform or success" the hypocrisy here is I have a history of being problematic before being introduced to social issues and unpacking a lot into my journey with becoming a better feminist.
So should I be "canceled" as well and should I bow out and leave this safe space due to a history of things such as stripping out a kimono for my fav anime character (this act has been long retired of my own volunteer) or wearing a 20s turban as retro fashion (at the time not knowing it was appropriation) or sitting in an audience members lap or putting my boobs in a colleagues or patrons face without expressed consent. Even though I have since changed behavior, as we all say "changed behavior is the best apology" should I no longer have a place here because of this past me I am no longer even the same person as? Or is it my responsibility to keep being proof of evolving into a better human of my own free will, and is it my responsibility to remain visible as a fat queer woman & "anchor baby" of euro immigrants to remain as an example and upholding "representation matters" both via myself and as a producer who purposefully books POC, fat & queer artists in areas dominated by the non minorities in the arts? I long wrestle with these ethics. I long wonder if my hypocrisy is hurting my local industry even if many are not aware of who I was before I arrive to improve myself and become better as an inter-sectional feminist and human and address my privileges, after all it's been about a decade....and I'm clearly not this person and worry that no one will hear if at least one voice isn't calling out in the dark, or white in this case....I wouldn't mind poc/minority thoughts on this if anyone had the Mana and wanted to reach out to me privately, I would pay you for your time/mana/emotional labor for me to be learn more especially if it helps decide what I should do? Do I bow out to keep my local industry a safe space? Or do I stay and be vocal and visible and continue using my platform and privilege to make a difference for good?
-while all performers scramble for income there is a list of free streaming and performing for free on platforms in exchange for tips.
In an industry the requires relevancy for survival of artists this may be a new exciting Renaissance of performance art. But this also comes with the cost of training people to expect us to work for free. It also comes at the cost of normalizing underpay and devaluing artists....is that worth it? And because I've been so vocal about performers working for going rates and against undercutting and other practices: does that mean there is no place for me in the new era of our industry ushering in? Do I say it was a good run, around a decade was enough? Am I already eliminated from getting enough visibility and relevance by merely taking a few days off of social media for my mental health?
Did I not estimate that cost correctly?
-I also reflected on how dedicated I feel I was, and how much i put into this so does that make me too stubborn to quit? After all I sacrificed (from disowned from my bio family to the financial risks, to lost jobs and relationships) to be here, do.......Do I still belong here? Do I still have a place on this stage here in the FL burlesque scene? Or was it all for nothing?
-I go back to fb today. i've flitted around tiktok and instagram loosly as they were social media platforms that did not stress me out.
One of the reasons I needed an FB break was that I was watching the social interactions between colleagues and learning of their patterns. I was constantly comparing myself to others in my industry(as one does for survival, we live in a capitalistic society, where artists need to art to survive and adapt, not just art for love and do what inspires us, if this was a different timeline and society mayhaps we wouldn't need to) their successes, the bookings and averages of bookings, what costume and character trends, and style of performance trends they all were getting positive results from, and then comparing to my own, trying to see where i could improve and fit into demands to "be a good fit" for their castings producers want.
I also was very aware of how in our industry you must play the game of thrones so to speak: you needed to align yourself with a social circle, and then you get into preference patterns. I did not live in a main city, when i lived in Ocala, and so i moved further south in hopes to be nearer orlando and this hoping the less travel distance would make me more bookable to orlando bookers, i was incorrect. if i do not live in any of the main cities i am not apart of the social scene attached to our states industry, so i was not apart of any social circles, so i've been thinking of moving in 2021 to an actual city, and hopefully that benefits me more. this ties into the subject of why I temporarily deactivated my fb accounts because I was watching (between marketing and trying to sell my brand and stressful levels of activism) my colleagues post about social gatherings with their chosen circles with burlesque/showbiz related nicknames for their groups of select peers, after they had happened, and how it was so great, these same groups all work with each other more and more. i was tracking the patterns and with dread realizing i was not invited, i was being left out and could not wear glitter, not even pink, on Wednesdays....and that corresponded with not being cast anymore. my inability to be included with their social lives felt as though i would no longer have a fair chance at bookings. for many many years i was determined to prove this method wrong; "if my work is good enough, if my costuming and acts are amazing enough then i wont need to play the social game, then it will compensate for not living nearby or being in their social circles" or "I can prove myself enough that it will be fine i'm not in any cliques" but that piled on and i was intensely aware of the patterns increasing with the presentation of quarantine and zoom being apart of daily life for both performers and producers and bookers. I could see where i was being left out or forgotten by multiple circles and even overlapping ones. this was frustrating for me, because it did one of two things: it proved either a: That i was wrong, and needed to insert myself into the social circles if welcome in order to succeed or B: my work was NOT good enough to compensate. both were very disheartening and only heightened by the stresses of covid19 online for me.
I also was dealing with the fact i needed to keep tabs on various situations in order to validate or defend myself for various discussions, debates and discourses and that was draining my mana. this comes from a past of being cyberbullied and constantly spoken over and always feeling unheard. taking a step back from that was difficult but now feels refreshing.
i live in an industry where relevancy matters and I was frustrated i couldn't keep up with the influx of content from those with the finances, time, energy and abilities to produce content. i felt the pressures of being fat, not queer enough, not fat enough, and not looking mainstream enough to keep up but still look "polished" and as professional as those who could throw something together and get farther with mediocrity. i always felt i had to chime in in multiple conversations, always speak up, post, be seen, be heard, remind people regularly i exist or else be forgotten, and thus lose irl gigs when this is over. if a showgirl is on the front of everyones mind and her brand and amazing costuming and quality of work and professionalism is on the tip of their tongues then surely it means i'll be chosen and thought of for castings and closed door castings for productions correct? "you're only alive as long as someone remembers you" they say in Westworld. so it's in my code for this for showbiz, in the era of social media relevancy is survival. it pays bills. it pays my rent.....
I was letting the stress of all this have way too much power to pressure and control me. i was giving it all far too much power. and that is going to result in changed behavior in how i care for myself about it. i can't change any of these things, which is unfortunate and may result in not getting what i want out of my career, but i can still use the data and knowledge to do what i can, while not allowing it to stress myself out. i cannot force people to socialize with me, no matter where i live, i cannot force bookers/producers to book me or respect me or invite me into their circles, no matter how much i prove myself or how high quality work i do, how professional i am or how well of a "good fit" i can prove i am to their shows, its all really beyond my control. i can control my brand, me, and my shows i produce, and if i end up getting only gigs i make for myself after covid19 social distancing ends, then that's what i will keep doing to survive, and i will not stress over what is not in my control. in spite of this, in spite of others. and we all know i am alive today out of sheer spite. so i will succeed out of sheer spite, by what i and i alone can control.
so it was a wise idea to take a step back and i'm glad i did. i'm glad i took an inside look at these things. i know going back i can now feel more in control and not allow myself to stress as much over it.
i'm glad i reflected on all these subjects and unpacked some privileges and issues in a quiet and analytical way separated by the "GOGOGOGO" culture of being online. it was difficult to do both.
I think i can go back with healthier sense of control, and self discipline to not stress myself out over things i cannot control.
so today...4-11-20, i go back to FB, in order to promote
More to come as I add to this daily. (4-8-20- 4-11-20)
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