Let me start off by saying that I don’t necessarily consider myself sexy, especially not in the hyped-up femme fatale kind of way. Objectively viewed, I am firmly in the average to above average range, depending on lighting and how kind my skin is being to me on any given day. I also don’t consider myself especially outgoing or confident. I have moved past being painfully shy but I’m still quiet. At parties I don’t try to be the center of attention and generally prefer to be in the kitchen talking with a small group of friends. Granted the conversation may very well be of the NSFW variety but it is just as likely to be about the merits of the space program or who would win in a fight between Doctor Who and Batman (answer, Doctor Who. Duh.)
So given all of this, why is it that 80% of my Facebook pictures involve heavy cleavage, exposed legs, or me spanking somebody? Sometimes all three at once? Well I could play coy by claiming it was all part of making my business a success. The first event that our production company, Pandora Promotions, was involved in was Queen City Cabaret and everyone knows you can’t have a cabaret without scantily clad women. But the truth is that it did not take very much convincing to get me on stage in a corset and stockings. I’ve always been comfortable in my body but several years ago I finally got off my butt and lost about forty pounds. That was at the end of my twenties and the net result of a little added maturity, an increase in my sense of self and what I wanted out of life, and suddenly have a much hotter body than I’d been used to did leave me eager to show it off a little. I said I don’t consider myself sexy but I do consider myself a sensual person. I enjoy my body and what it can do, be that run a marathon or have a really amazing orgasm. I like to flirt and love the tension between the metal and the physical, between wit and lust, that happens when you are engaging someone in that way. So given all of this I was more than happy to add to the ambiance of our shows by dressing a bit provocatively and working the crowd a little bit. When Doctor Bombay came calling and asked if I would go-go dance with them I couldn’t wait to get started.
But as many of you know, a balance between “sexiness” and “sluttiness” is a tricky line to walk in our society. I hate to get too serious in a post that includes the word “panties” in the title but too often in our culture a woman’s sexuality is seen as belonging to society at large rather than to the individual woman and everyone has an opinion about if she is sharing too generously or not generously enough. One of the problems I think has to do with the commoditization of sex and sexuality. Sex, and most often sexy women in the media are almost universally selling something. Even in this day in age there are a lot of people who make good money talking about relationships as an exchange of goods. Women are said to give up sex in exchange for some kind of monetary benefits, be it a few drinks or an engagement ring. If you are selling something that makes people viewing you the customer. And the customer is always right. So even though I do not agree with this premise, even though I dress up and dance and flirt a little because I want to and because it’s fun and not because I am trying to get anything from anyone, I am still trapped in this system. I do occasionally run into people who assume that because I am “advertising” I must be trying to “sell” something, although I’ve avoided any truly unpleasant situations.
I think that this line between doing something because you love it and because it makes you feel good and between doing it because you hope to get something out of it is where you find the difference between burlesque and stripping. Although I lack the coordination and dance training to do burlesque myself, I’ve seen quite a few burlesque dancers in my line of work. Some of them are drop dead gorgeous by any standard and some of them are frankly not. But just about every one I have seen has been a joy to watch because the dancer is up on stage doing something that they find really enjoyable and it’s something that makes them feel sexy for themselves. That is exactly what I am trying to do when I’m up on stage in a short go-go dress and I know full well that everyone in the audience is getting clear shot of my underwear. I’m proud of what I’m doing because when you are clearly having fun and feeling sexy then the people around you have fun and feel sexy too. And having fun and feeling sexy is about the closest we mortals can come to touching the divine mystery of life. So that is why, even though in my heart of hearts I wish my thighs were thinner and my stomach flatter, everyone of Facebook has seen my panties.
For more on this topic and to hear me talk about the differences between burlesque and stripping listen to Episode Three of The Charlie Tonic Hour.