Am I a professional or an amateur? Somebody please shoot me.

Alright, alright.  That’ll do, pig.  That’ll do.

Enough with the professional stripper vs. amateur stripper debate.  You’ve all heard it, right?  Well, you’ve heard it if you’re involved in burlesque in any way.  That State of the Union Address of Miss Astrid’s sparked a lot of conversations.  Too much if you ask me, and it seems like everyone with access to a computer screen and a keyboard is weighing in.  And I reckon that since I myself have access to a computer and a keyboard, I should pay up with my two cents.

And I say enough, already.

Maybe sitting down to add commentary to anything right now is a bad idea, given that two days ago I had my wisdom teeth barbarically ripped from my head and am now enjoying the wonders of vicadin.  But no, actually.  I feel like that gives me every right.  Because when I’m stuck at home and all I want out of Facebook is gossip and fucking singing puppy videos, it’s demoralizing to see post after post about this professional vs. amateur thing.  It’s bad for the recovery, I tell you.

So keep that in mind as I proceed.  I’ll try to be as non-Lewis Carroll as I can.  Here’s why I’m tired of this debate:  who cares what the peanut gallery has to say?

Miss Astrid made some great points and it was an insightful speech from a respected burlesque professional.  But do we really need Excel spread sheets and categorical breakdowns of what makes a burlesque performer professional?  Do we really need to hear performer after performer complaining on the internet about how sub-par shows are calling into question the legitimacy of professional burlesque performers?  It’s kind of whiney, you know?  It’s like the Burlesque websites have become that coffee shop down the street from me filled with kids in skinny pants talking about David Foster Wallace.

This is an art form.  You do it because it’s in you to do it.  Not because you like telling your friends about it or because someone once called you chunky butt in 7th grade.  You do it because you’re a performer and you love it.  And if you’re talented, dedicated, smart, and a little lucky maybe you’ll make some money at it.  You’re an amateur until you achieve something remarkable and people take notice.  That’s art.  There’s no concrete divide between amateur and professional.

If you need that, then you’re not doing it right.

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4 thoughts on “Am I a professional or an amateur? Somebody please shoot me.

  1. And here comes Phaedra to cause some trouble, because sometimes I’m just too opinionated for my own good…

    First of all Ray-Ray, let me say that I hope you recover from your barbaric teeth removal, and I hope that you thoroughly enjoy the vicodin.

    Now, on to the debate. Don’t worry, I won’t actually be debating the amatuer vs. professional topic. I think it is important to discuss the aesthetics of our art, as we each want to perform at our best, and also want our colleagues to perform at their best as well. What is a bit troubling with this debate is that it feels like many people will comment on if they agree or don’t agree with Ms. Astrid, but there are hardly any solutions being suggested.

    To play devil’s advocate, I think the spreadsheets and catagorical breakdowns were an attempt to address the issue with facts (although the spreadsheet I’m thinking of describes more so how that producer operates, and not the burlesque world as a whole). I can’t fault them for trying to problem solve.

    I even read a blog post today that was answering a question from a newbie performer asking “Do I belong?” The person who answered actually gave a couple of suggestions, like not overstating your abilities, be realistic when promoting yourself/ your show. This, I think, is valuable feedback and should be shared.

    I really wish more top tier burlesque performers would comment on the topic and offer advice and options for making burlesque better, because the better the burlesque is, the more people will want to see it. And the more people want to see it, the more room there is for quality performers to enter this industry. Supply and demand, baby!

    Complaining is annoying, but I hope you will think twice about wanting people to shut up (because sorry, I know I won’t shut up), and instead, question them on what their solutions are.

    BTW, I bet watching cute singing puppy videos while on vicodin is awesome!

  2. Top tier performers aren’t commenting because this debate is for the burlesque bourgeoisie. (And don’t think I’m mistaking my place; I’m very much a burlesque bourgeois pig.) They, by doing the awesome shit that they do, are making burlesque better and as for advice, well, you learned from one of those top tier performers. And the best advice she ever gave me was shut up, listen, and pay your dues.

  3. I was keeping up with commentary on the subject for a few weeks, then it got very repetitive. Then I got busy focusing my energy on a duet 🙂 I think it’s great to discuss art, but it’s greater to make art.

  4. Well said, girl. You stated in three sentences what it took me several ranty paragraphs to say.
    And I’m glad you took a break from following online commentary to work on that duet. It was fucking fantastic.

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