Thursday, July 30, 2009

...But Is It "Art"?

Camden Council has decided that burlesque shows where there is stripping and nudity should require adult entertainment licenses, like strip shows and lap-dancing venues do. And I know I sound like the oldest prude in the book but they're right.

And I do feel mean about this because I have a number of good friends who perform burlesque, and for the most part what they do is genuinely alternative and intended at least in a positive way. The thing is that already I've seen amateur burlesque nights springing up around London and they are really using that term to mean "stripping but we can't be bothered to get a license". I fail to see how the line can be drawn. The council will still have authority to grant licenses if they want to.

On top of that I am still not totally comfortable with burlesque as an art form. A number of comedy clubs have sprung up recently offering a "cabaret" of comedy and burlesque. I am not, and am never going to be, comfortable going on stage when the last performer has just stripped off. And it is tangibly restricting my career, just as it used to when I worked in finance and wouldn't socialise in strip clubs.

To give a concrete example of why I feel that way: I was asked a couple of years ago to do warm-up at a highly prestigious burlesque show happening in Edinburgh at the festival. I said I thought I'd feel uncomfortable surrounded by glamourous dancers, to which I was told "no-one will be looking at your face". Confused I asked what they'd expect me to wear and was told "Don't worry, we'll lend you a basque". To be honest that's what I was most worried about so I declined the job and it was given to a male act who performed in jeans and no doubt got his own BBC series on the back of it or some such.

Some venues will still apply for and be granted licenses and for the rest of the burlesque world I can only suggest doing something wildly alternative and positive - keeping your kit on! No-one is suggesting demanding licenses for venues where nudity doesn't happen.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Oh Look... having a good old moan in The Observer!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Dear The Independent Sports Section

I wonder if you remember on March 23rd this year you carried an opinion piece by the then Sports Minister Andy Burnham bewailing the limited coverage of women's sport in national media in the wake of England Women's victory at the the cricket world cup? I wonder in the light of that whether you shouldn't rename your current supplement Great Male Sporting Moments since aside from a brief appearance by Jane Torville all fourteen of the moments commemorated celebrate men's sport. Should your younger female readers conclude that the only physical excellence to which they should bother aspiring is to have a man swing them round an ice rink in a leotard and miniskirt*? Or will you be bringing out a second series next week of Great Female Sporting Moments with classic scenes of Paula Radcliffe, Dame Kelly Holmes, Dame Ellen MacArthur, Laila Ali, Mia Hamm, Martina Navratilova, Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, Dame Mary Peters, Rachel Heyhoe-Flint and of course the 2009 England Women's Cricket Team? If so I look forward to reading it.

*Not that this isn't a very difficult thing to train for and do - just that it doesn't really represent the breadth and depth of female sporting ability.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What Not To Wear

This, for starters, is revolting. Women in Sudan being given lashes (not the mascara kind) for wearing trousers in public. Now the issue is that the lashes were given under Sharia law which is only supposed to apply to Muslims - the women were mostly Christian or animist.

Of course the notion that non-followers of a religion should adhere to it's laws is stupid - but still one I hear a great deal in the UK on issues like abortion and gay marriage. But more importantly:

1) Who exactly gets to decide whether a woman in Muslim or not? Is she herself genuinely entitled to a free choice on the matter? I strongly doubt it.

2) Where is the righteousness in following the laws of your religion out of fear of being flogged rather than out of personal piety?

3) Assuming the Muslim community wishes others to follow Islam - how exactly do they think this is going to attract new converts?