This weekend, El Vez, the Mexican Elvis, and I hosted the grand spectacle that is the Miss Exotic World Pageant. I have been a longtime fan of El Vez, and emceeing with him was a lot of fun, and incredibly hard work. Not that it is hard to share a stage with him, but we, in tandem, had to bring up what felt like hundreds of burlesque performers, from all over the world, most with complicated intros and set ups, with the cast off complications of the previous acts strewn about the stage and needing to be removed by the diligent and unflappable stage crew.
Still, it was an unforgettable night, despite the lack of food, down time and overabundance of tequila. My feet were pounding hard from my unforgiving pumps which felt not at all like a sneaker, and so about halfway through the show, I abandoned them and put on my trusty but ugly orthopedic clogs. That is a hard night, when you have to change your shoes. Yet, the worst part of the evening was that I had to stay stationed backstage, and so I didn’t get to see every performer, and that was a tragedy, because judging from the reaction of the crowd, and the few acts I was able to watch full frontally on my precious few moments away from the stage, this was the best show in the world.
The winner was the incomparable Julie Atlas Muz, who did a showstopping number with a giant inflatable balloon. She began with playfully batting the balloon about the stage like a kitten, then she actually climbed inside! There was an absolutely breathtaking moment when she opened the balloon and the escaping air blew her lovely golden hair all about. Then she stuck her pretty head in, and her impressively lean and lithe body followed. We were all aghast, stammering and screaming at this gorgeous girl now standing inside this giant balloon! She looked just like a Varga girl, a bubble bombshell, an airborne fantasy floating off a champagne flute. Then, she pulled a pin out of her clever g-string and popped the balloon from the inside! I was weeping and clapping and hoarse from screaming “WE HAVE A WINNER!!!” before the contest had even finished!
I have a longtime admiration for burlesque, and I am convinced there is nothing as beautiful as a woman’s body unclothed. Being able to celebrate the female form is feminism in its most genuine and heartfelt incarnation. When some “feminists” cry out against burlesque, claiming that it supports the ‘male gaze’ and call it ‘porn’ they are merely revealing their inherent misogyny. The ‘male gaze,’ although present at burlesque events is so far outnumbered by the ‘female gaze,’ that someone might suspect that we are lesbian separatists.
In fact, many of us are headed for that exclusive state. I myself have just had enough of men. I have been working in comedy, probably the most male dominated industry next to contact sports, and frankly I am just sick of dick. I have all these dents at the back of my throat and I just don’t need any more. Let me spackle it over and start anew. At this point in my life, I want to be left alone with the women, and thank God I am not the only one.
My first strip show was held in my own home, during a slumber party celebrating my 9th birthday. We were kids but we weren’t kidding. We had no pasties, no g-strings and no shame, and when my mother caught us, she was so embarrassed she couldn’t even punish us, because then she would have to admit that we were doing something wrong, and for her name it would have forced her to explain it to us, and that was far more intolerable to her than just letting us get away with it. I’ve been getting away with it ever since!