Brown Girls Talk Burlesque

During the first BGB All Stars Show, we took some time to chat about burlesque. ūüėÄ

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Also, I recently shared some of my thoughts with Corset Magazine (The Go To Magazine for All Things Sexuality)  too.

 Check it out HERE!!

ESSENCE REVEALED¬†–¬†Essence Revealed is first generation Bajan born & raised in Boston. ¬†She got her BFA at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and MA at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education. ¬†Her writing has appeared places such as $pread Magazine, Corset Magazine, BurlesqueBible.com and 21st Century Burlesque. ¬†She’s been published in two anthologies:¬†Pros(e)¬†& ¬†Johns, Marks, Tricks & Chicken Hawks. ¬†She now performs & teaches nationally and internationally both solo and as a member of Brown Girls Burlesque. ¬†Her favorite thing to do besides reading is to lay on the beach in Barbados to rest up for a night of calypso dancing. ¬†Help Essence get to the Milan Burlesque Awards!

Female Empowerment

English: This barnstar is sugested for human s...

When I was an undergrad I became a Sexual Health Advocate. ¬†Honestly, I think this is where my interest in helping people talk freely about sexual topics began. ¬†We were put through training and sent off on campus to do various workshops with different groups of fellow students. ¬†It’s there that I met Amy Jo Goddard. ¬†I secretly had a crush on her and her girlfriend at the time. ¬†I don’t know that I ever told her that. ¬†Hey, Amy Jo, if you’re reading out there, yes, it’s true :-). ¬†I got to lead workshops about safer sex, sex toys, contraceptive options and I even owned my own plastic speculum which I used in workshops about GYN exam related topics. ¬†We gave people tools to use when communicating about sexual topics with new partners. ¬†We taught ¬†facts and stigmas around STI’s. ¬†I even got to teach people how to put a condom on with no hands. ¬†Yes, I’ve been talking about sex with strangers for a while now.

I wasn’t studying anything having to do with human sexuality. ¬†I just was very interested in freeing myself from a very strict up bringing & healing as a sexual abuse survivor. ¬†I was fascinated by the fact that so many people seemed uncomfortable talking about sexual topics. ¬†Volunteering and community service was at the core of who I was. ¬†This was a perfect fuse of all these things. ¬†Amy Jo however was actually studying Human Sexuality. ¬†“How cool was that!” I thought.

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I had the opportunity to work with her in a play she wrote, produced and directed called Vulvalution. ¬†It is one of my favorite projects to date because I got to play a very butch character named Blue, *b-boy stance* ;-). ¬†I think it was around that time that she ¬†had a book called Lesbian Sex for Men coming out. ¬†We lost touch soon after that I believe. ¬†Then the Facebooks happened and¬†re-connection¬†happened and lo and behold she was a full-blown sex educating star-uh! ¬†She’s even been endorsed by Justin ¬†“Bringing Sexy Back” Timberlake. ¬†Whaaaaat?!?! ¬†Needless to say, this is a totally biased plug but a totally honest evaluation: ¬†Amy Jo Goddard is doing the dern thang.

She has a free class coming up April 3rd at 8pm EST:

Coming Home to Your Sexual Self… When You Didn’t Know You Had Left

Free Call on Wednesday, April 3rd with Amy Jo Goddard, Sexual Empowerment Coach
Register here.

It can happen so easily — when sex falls to the bottom of the priority list, when the relationship plateaus, when you look in the mirror and can’t remember when the last time was you had amazing sex, powerful orgasms, deep intimacy, and truly satisfying pleasure.

Or when something happens with a partner and you feel knocked off your center, disconnected from your sexual confidence and power.

Could this be you right now? Is it possible that¬†you’ve¬†left yourself somewhere along the way‚Ķ perhaps without realizing it?

My friend and colleague¬†Amy¬†Jo¬†is a sexual empowerment coach who does amazing work with women and couples on their sexuality and relationships. And she’s offering a free 75-minute call, no strings attached, for people who feel like they’ve gotten off track sexually and want to find their way back home to a place of radical self-love, authenticity, and openness to all the pleasure, abundance and rockin’ great sex that life has to offer. It’s called “Coming Home to Your Sexual Self… When You Didn’t Know You Left.”

What a great topic! ¬†To get on the list for this free call, go here. Come home, beautiful! It’s time!

ESSENCE REVEALED¬†–¬†Essence Revealed is first generation Bajan born & raised in Boston. ¬†She got her BFA at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and MA at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education. ¬†Her writing has appeared places such as $pread Magazine, Corset Magazine, BurlesqueBible.com and 21st Century Burlesque. ¬†She now performs & teaches nationally and internationally both solo and as a member of Brown Girls Burlesque. ¬†Her favorite thing to do besides reading is to lay on the beach in Barbados to rest up for a night of calypso dancing. ¬†Help Essence get to the Milan Burlesque Awards!

Overcoming Jealousy

"Jealousy and Flirtation" depicts a ...

What needs to happen within when overcoming jealousy? ¬†I remember what it feels like to have the feeling wash over me at times. ¬†Yet, I’ve never truly understood jealousy because being in a relationship does not render the rest of the universe unattractive. ¬†Yet, I hear over and over again from some people that they find it disrespectful to have their partner look at another person. ¬†Let’s say your walking down the street with your significant other. ¬†A beautiful human comes walking along. ¬†Guy/gal busts their brain cells to look not right, not left but straight ahead. ¬†Guy/gal fails and instant argument ensues. ¬†Accusations of disrespect are thrown. ¬†I never quite understood how acknowledging another person’s physical beauty could in any way shape or form be¬†disrespectful¬†to an entire relationship. ¬†The sum total of a relationship has got to hold more weight than that, right?

I wonder if jealous people believed without a shadow of a doubt that they are an amazing partner, the jealousy would still play itself out in this way? ¬†I have long felt like I make a really great girlfriend. ¬†I don’t say this to sound arrogant or¬†conceited. ¬†Knowing this does not mean thinking I’m perfect. ¬†In fact, it means that I am very in touch with my imperfections so I work on myself as much as possible. ¬†There may be moments where I feel jealousy. ¬†However, what I do is check in with myself before I react. ¬†Usually jealousy, in my case, means I feel threatened by the attention my partner is giving elsewhere. ¬†Often, it is my ego feeling bruised for not consuming ALL of my partner’s attention. ¬†I make it about me and my worth or the lack there of.

The Mask of Jealousy

Jealousy in myself is seldom the cause or fault of anything that someone outside of me did. ¬†It is usually a moment of insecurity. ¬†That is for me to deal with. ¬†It is not something I think deserves an argument. ¬†It is not my partner’s job to make sure my self-esteem tank is on full. ¬†If someone is going to leave, they are going to leave. ¬†There isn’t enough “guard dogging” in the world that ¬†can prevent it. ¬†In fact, it may push them too it when it had never been an initial goal. ¬†I know, I’ve had the experience of feeling like if I was going to be constantly accused and have arguments¬†about it all the time, well, mind as well go ahead to justify the stress.

Usually, the check in leads me to remember that the way I am in relationship with people is something valuable. ¬†There is no room for feelings of jealousy after that. ¬†My inner self gets a little swagger: “Go ahead, let ’em¬†try to find another you. ¬†I promise you, you’re a rare gem ;-).” ¬†Then all becomes right sized in my world. ¬†How could I possibly think something like looking at another beautiful person speaks in any way about my worth in a relationship? ¬†It cannot.

I REALLY want to hear what people who think jealousy in relationships is justified have to say.  So, what say you?

ESSENCE REVEALED¬†–¬†Essence Revealed is first generation Bajan born & raised in Boston. ¬†She got her BFA at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and MA at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education. ¬†Her writing has appeared places such as $pread Magazine, Corset Magazine, BurlesqueBible.com and 21st Century Burlesque. ¬†She now performs & teaches nationally and internationally both solo and as a member of Brown Girls Burlesque. ¬†Her favorite thing to do besides reading is to lay on the beach in Barbados to rest up for a night of calypso dancing.

 

Year in Review 2012

file9431235020845Welcome to Lucky 2013!

I don’t know about you but at the end of every year I think “Wow, that went fast!” ¬†What did I do in 2012… ¬†In the effort to do things differently and be kinder to myself, I decided to blog a personal year in review 2012¬†. ¬†Then I thought well good. ¬†That’s done. ¬†But should it be shared in a blog? ¬†I got all in my head about it: ¬†who the heck besides you and your mom cares?

So, I decided that I would simply go ahead and do it and invite all of you to do the same for yourselves. ¬†Forget about what didn’t happen in 2012. ¬†Lucky 2013 is upon us. ¬†What are we going to go after this year? ¬†No resolutions for me to share. ¬†I will not be making any resolutions this year like last year. ¬†I do have goals that I have decided to share with only myself and my absolute 300% supporters.

Big THANKS to everyone who I worked with this year.  You all made it a very exciting ride!  I appreciate every interaction.  Because very little is accomplished as a lone island.

What I did do in 2012:

Performed in my first burlesque festival – The 10th Annual New York Burlesque Festival.

Voted Audience Favorite at the Bowery Burlesque Pageant.

Nominated for Best Burlesque Performer at the Glam Awards.

Will be heading off to perform in the first annual Minneapolis Burlesque Festival at the end of the month.

I went to my very first Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend to watch and be a volunteer escort to Legend Jean Idelle and have subsequently been involved in a Burlesque Legend’s Calendar and tribute show at the new Slipper Room. ¬†The proceeds from this project will be used to help our burlesque legend’s get back to BHOF this year.

I was blessed with the opportunity to teach Sensual Dance & Booty”twerk”aerobics all over the country including a few universities.

Traveling to perform was one of my favorite blessings in 2012 which I did solo, with my Brown Girls Burlesque sisters, Sweet Spot (Sabrina Gilbert & Ainsely Burrows’ erotic poetry event) and Women, Sex & Desire (Gesel Mason’s modern dance conversation piece).

Not only did I reach my one year Blogaversary here on WordPress in 2012 but was humbled by the fact that 29,000 visitors came by to check it out.

My writing was published in Corset Magazine, BurlesqueBible.com & 21stCenturyBurlesque.com. ¬†Book wise, I was published in Audacia Ray’s ¬†Red Umbrella Project’s 2nd publication Pros(e) which came out of an 8 week Becoming Writers workshop taught by Melissa Petro. ¬†Contracts were mailed in to be included in David Henry Sterry’s upcoming anthology¬†Johns, Marks, Tricks & Chickenhawks which is the sequel to the New York Times best seller¬†¬†Hos, Hookers, Call Girls & Rent Boys.

Directed by Mimi McGurl, the solo theater piece which jumped off this entire creative project called Essence Revealed was premiered at the DC Black Theater Festival.

Looking at what we did do often times puts what didn’t get done into a better perspective. ¬†What did you get up to in 2012? ¬†We have a brand new 2013 to complete more. ¬†Happy Lucky 2013!

reveal

ESSENCE REVEALED –¬†Essence Revealed is first generation Bajan born & raised in Boston. ¬†She got her BFA at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and MA at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education. ¬†Her writing has appeared places such as $pread Magazine, Corset Magazine, BurlesqueBible.com and 21st Century Burlesque. ¬†She now performs & teaches nationally and internationally both solo and as a member of Brown Girls Burlesque. ¬†Her favorite thing to do besides reading is to lay on the beach in Barbados to rest up for a night of calypso dancing.

Beauty of Feminine

Sweatpants

Being a burlesque performer has led me to experience the stark difference in reception I get when in and out of “burlesque drag”. ¬†How people perceive feminine beauty is something I purposely mess with. ¬†For years I’ve heard men say that they don’t like women who wear make-up and definitely not women who wear a great deal of it. ¬†However, as I go through the urban jungle of New York my, ahem, field research shows very different findings for me personally. ¬†I know this experience is not the same for all women. ¬†I have a friend who could be wearing a trash bag with a freezer bag hat and would still have to deal with street¬†harassment¬†and cat calling on the street. ¬†However, with me it is a totally different experience. ¬†There have been many a time I show up for a gig casual, get ignored, change into performance mode and get sudden attention.

When I am not in showgirl mode, I trend towards being a no make up wearing sweats/jeans, tee-shirt, sneaker woman. ¬†I’ve never been the type of woman who would “never leave the house without make up”. ¬†I’ve had those friends. ¬†We are getting ready to run out to the corner store for snacks. ¬†I have to sit and wait for lipstick, mascara, eyebrows, etc all to be applied first. ¬†The thought bubble over my head reads, “Really?!? ¬†Just to go buy some Cheese Doodles?”. ¬†But I’d sit and wait patiently. ¬†Whatever makes you happy. ¬†I on the other hand am perfectly happy to roll out in the same grey sweat pants day after day after day with no shame. ¬† When I am dressed down, I can pretty much move through the streets of NYC without being bothered. ¬†Mostly I choose to dress this way because it’s comfortable for me. ¬†I admit though some days it’s because I’d rather not deal with the¬†harassment.

dressed down

It’s ¬†not so shocking to me that no one wants me to “smile” or “have a nice day” or any of the other litany of things I get told, wished or crassly bombarded with. ¬†Perhaps, it is because my casual seems to read as tomboy on most days. ¬†I had the experience recently of standing in a room full of Burlesque folks and very few people recognized me. ¬†One person, who’d seen me perform only the week before said she was wondering who the soft butch lesbian in the corner was. ¬†Hilarity to me. ¬†I often end up in conversations with strangers. ¬†I talk to everyone. ¬†If the conversation leads me to talking about being a burlesque performer or sensual dance/booty twerk teacher, I’ll hand them a card. ¬†I forget that the card looks like my on stage persona. ¬†The silent skepticism on their faces reminds me that I look very different to other people. ¬†Enter ¬†Clark Kent/Super Hero joke here.

Photo by Frederick V Nielsen II

Photo by Frederick V Nielsen II

I took a business class last year. ¬†Most people were discussing traditional business ideas. ¬†There was a man who was opening a winery, a music school owner, real estate¬†folks, etc. ¬†I talked¬†about Essence Revealed and ideas I plan to create in the future. ¬†After several¬†weeks in the class the instructor said she wanted to have a one on one session with me. ¬†She explained that because she was seeing the entire picture of what I was building. ¬†However, because my classmates do not, I needed to be able to¬†“sell” my classmates¬†and look sexy when I come to class. ¬†Her thought was I needed to sell the image visually. ¬†What’s funny is that it never occurred to me that “attractive” or “attracting” needed a specific look. ¬†I feel good when I walk out the door and that’s good enough for me.

fred&shelly

It leads to questions for me. ¬†Are people being honest when they say that they don’t like women who wear a¬†lot of make-up? ¬†Men, in particular, are very visual creatures. ¬†Does attractive or what is attracting “look” a certain way. ¬†I tend to have “look” fairly low on my what attracts me to someone totem pole. ¬†And also femininity is defined in very limited ways it seems. ¬†Is a woman less feminine dressed down in sweats or is that simply a societal construct.

dressed down 2It has been my experience that only after I am in relationship with someone do they express that they love that I can dress down or “put some sparkle on it”. ¬†Very seldom, have I ended up in relationship with someone who met me in my dress down mode. ¬†I don’t feel any less of a woman, no matter how tomboy I am dressed. ¬†However, how I’m physically adorned surely dictates whether people feel like they should give me a “pound” or a “hug” as a greeting. ¬†What has your experience been?

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ESSENCE REVEALED¬†–¬†Essence Revealed is first generation Bajan born & raised in Boston. ¬†She got her BFA at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and MA at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education. ¬†Her writing has appeared places such as $pread Magazine, Corset Magazine, BurlesqueBible.com and 21st Century Burlesque. ¬†She now performs & teaches nationally and internationally both solo and as a member of Brown Girls Burlesque. ¬†Her favorite thing to do besides reading is to lay on the beach in Barbados to rest up for a night of calypso dancing.

Sexual Attraction

The Kinsey Scale attempts to show that sexual attraction does not go only one way for everyone. While extremely limited, it is a start. There are many people attracted to multiple genders. However, the treatment they get within the LGBTQ community is enough to chase a person back into the closet. Some women who are attracted to women are repulsed by the idea of dating men. That then translates into the ill-treatment of women who are attracted to more than just women. If someone is a male who is attracted to multiple genders then the level of disdain raises even higher. A friend and I joke that the B in LGBTQ is silent.

Kinsey's scale of heterosexual and homosexual ...

It took years for me to allow myself to even be open to the idea of dating women. However, all it took was a few weeks being out as someone attracted to two genders for me to believe that I had to “choose a side”. At that stage of life, I was fine with dealing with heterosexual people who no longer wanted to talk to me. ¬†I was not at all prepared for the level of passion filled¬†mean¬†this ¬†brought out of some people within the LGBTQ community. I was not strong enough to want to deal with it then.

People that are attracted to more than one gender are judged for being greedy, confused, selfish and unable to be in one relationship. ¬†It’s acceptable for them to be the butts of jokes, snubs and downright disgust. ¬† I completely understand, for example, the idea that someone not attracted to men would not want to sleep with someone who does. ¬†I also, though, support people loving who they love no matter the sexual orientation, race, culture, religion or spiritual way of ¬†life, for example. ¬†Someone choosing partners differently than I personally would, doesn’t make them bad people. ¬†I always wonder what the point of creating Us Vs. Them dynamics within already marginalized communities is?

Like many people, I have a long list of ways in which I could be marginalized in society (race, sexuality, gender, child of immigrants, burlesque dancer, etc.). However, on an emotional level, the biased treatment pales in comparison to that from some ¬†of the LGBTQ community. ¬†Unlike, say, race attraction to multiple genders cannot be visually determined so it’s easier to hide from that judgement. ¬†Or is it?

It was like coming out of the closet all over again when I started dating men and women. ¬†There were people who suddenly stopped talking to me, treated me differently or would do their best not to acknowledge my presence. It was upsetting because all of my relationships have been real. ¬†It was as if they, were now rendered into nothingness. ¬†The good news is that I have grown strong enough that other people’s opinions about me hold little weight. ¬†That’s their business. ¬† The esteem that I have for myself is what truly matters as I navigate life day-to-day. That’s way more than enough for me to wrangle with on some days. ¬†I don’t really have the space for entertaining the opinions of others. Most of the labeling doesn’t really work for me.

Even outside of the LGBTQ community the fun doesn’t stop. ¬†Some people assume that because someone is attracted to multiple genders, they are attracted to anyone. ¬†Couples feel free to proposition you with invites to a¬†threesome without any mutual attraction ever being there. Somehow, the person attracted to multiple genders is suspected of being attracted to any and everyone. Women who think it’s cool to “mess around” with women but never be in a serious relationship with one pop up everywhere. No thanks. There is an assumption that a monogamous relationship with one sex isn’t possible. ¬†Lovers become paranoid: ¬†“I have to worry about you being attracted to men¬†AND¬†women.” ¬†Uh, wrong. The only worry is making sure that we are both getting what we need within the relationship. Then there doesn’t have to be a worry about¬†anyone. Where does it say that having multiple attraction to humans means no choice in what type of person to date and an attraction to everyone? ¬†Was there a memo, a meeting, an e-mail that I missed?

Things have certainly changed for the better in some ways. For one, I now see queer teen age couples arm and arm on the subway and walking around openly. I realize, though, that I live in a major city with a great deal of LGBTQ support.  So, for the person who does not live in a major metropolis, I pray for a world with acceptance.  For the person who wants to speak their sexual truth, I pray the right circumstances and strength for you to do so. For all of us I pray for the ability to treat people with love or at the very least respect no matter who they love.

I’ve had more difficulty accepting myself as bisexual than I ever did accepting that I was a lesbian. It felt traitorous. A few years ago, I admitted to myself that I was still interested in men in more than a “Brad Pitt is slick hot sexy” kind of way. But I worried what my friends, exes, and the Community would think. I never even broached the subject with my parents. Because what bothered me the most was that people would think that being a lesbian had been a phase for me, when that was so very not the case. What I feared was that I would no longer be part of a community, that I might be seen with my boyfriend and not be recognized as something not the same.
‚Äē¬†R. Gay,¬†First Person Queer: Who We Are (So Far)¬†

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ESSENCE REVEALED¬†–¬†Essence Revealed is first generation Bajan born & raised in Boston. ¬†She got her BFA at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and MA at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education. ¬†Her writing has appeared places such as $pread Magazine, Corset Magazine, BurlesqueBible.com and 21st Century Burlesque. ¬†She now performs & teaches nationally and internationally both solo and as a member of Brown Girls Burlesque. ¬†Her favorite thing to do besides reading is to lay on the beach in Barbados to rest up for a night of calypso dancing.