"What is Your Worth?"
In burlesque we have the relationships like in any other world, These tend to be nurtured and produced by the stage. No one ever thinks what it takes to actually produce, manage or organize a show, Some of my travel have open my eyes to this very fact. Not all Producers, Performers or Show are Equal but we might use the same equation.
Local to International groups are facing the overly popular problem with the growing recognition of burlesque, That is good in my eyes but it grows this bubble that comes into a great big issue.
This has become a very lucrative avenue of business of course that depends on your ability to become a business minded arts promoter. This comes with some challenges!
These are the working conditions that can be thought of from local to international
Limited Resources (Venues, Sponsors, Print Media or any kind of Marketing)
Level of Community Support (City Officials, Fans and Promoters)
Production Value Varies ( From Novice to Pro)
Under Pricing Production Cost
Under Cutting becomes more popular (Even Acceptable)
Different Levels of Presentation
Drama between troupes (internally and externally)
Bullying and Exclusion of Performers
Local Business taking advantage of the "trend"
Inadequate performing facilities
with anything art related the value can be very subjective, It maybe a hurculian task to explain to people why your art is worth money specially if there is no basic understanding of what you do. (I.E Perception) This statement came from my roommate Internationally Known Goth Industrial DJ Nemesis.
I must confess my self trying to market a very niche market is having to reinvent your ability to be able to promote your business with tools of the real world, After all your performers want paid and your audience wants a good show.
Production is not for every one, Being a producer means (your it) You are responsible for the whole show so if anything goes wrong you have to be able to answer questions and have a back up. You have to be an event planner, promoter, social media marketing wiz, computer nerd, internet hashtag guru and never be away from work via your phone with all your sync apps to be able to produce more then a show but and audience.
A producer has to answer all questions and manage the ever so amazing A Team of people to make them flow and sync together and make it a glittering time for all around... does not sound to hard? right?... sings "I want to be a producer"- Remember that movie... The Proceeders! Ahh Those are the days of the rose colored glasses!
Let's Flip This-
"Once i was told by a very savvy Drag Queen- You are an Entertainer First and Foremost you are here to Entertain, This is a job not a hobby for me this is my job"
That brings us to the Entertainer point of view -
Often times people think that as a burlesque entertainer you are making the big bucks and living a fancy life, part of the allure for new burlesquers is the "Life Stye" that seems to come with the stage. Burlesque is a very very very very pricy career and let alone hobby, Some people at times don't understand why i do prefer not to have Monthly productions, Theme Shows, Low Door Admission, Poor Entertainment or Over Book A Cast Show.
It's hard for to understand why some girls "Pay to Play" If you think about if you know your costume is not going to be even covered by (Pay Out) that can rage in some cities form nothing to $300.00 is you are very lucky, Your Costume is your running over head but you have to start counting The hairspray, Bobbie Pins, Tights, Stockings, Shoes, Safety Pins, Make Up, Eyelashes, Pastie Glue or Tape, Wigs, Perfume, Glitter (it gets expensive), Props, Hair decor, fake nails, rhinestones, trim (to decorate that last bit of your costume), music, cd's or ipods to put your music in, rehearsal time, promotion time, getting ready for the show, (shoot i broke a nail) nail glue, gloves, garter belts, fringe (fabric or beaded)..... I get dizzy thinking about it. Oh Time this 2x since you are doing two numbers. Knowing your expenses is a way to track you profit.
I recently heard the expression "If your doing it for fun or as a hobby ... why should you get paid?" Valid point? Yes but there is two sides of this You are getting paid for your work and "exposure" but when you are looking at it in a way you are not getting paid you are nearly re investing on your hobby. For those of us that consider this a living undercutting is offensive and disrespectful but we are all different like producers "Not Two Show Girls are Created Equal"
In general we all have a common denominator and that is the art it self, We have to respect that denominator and understand that we are all in one way or another impacting each other with what we do and how we do it.
But what about the audience!!!!!
After all they are the ones that make these shows happen, What you think that it would be fun to perform to a room of 2....? We need to give them a show and by a show some of us mean a high energy varietease! Our audience like to see different things but in general they develop tastes and those we have to be catered too, Respecting your audience and teaching them to respect you is a world in it self. You should be very thankful they came to see you and they should feel special that you worked so hard to put 203484 rhinestones on your costume for the night just for them to see it and have fun! Honestly giving things away at shows is nice (raffles) have become a way to make extra income for shows but think how much they are getting hassled (Tip Bucket, Bar Drinks, Tipping Bartenders, Service Fees, Parking Fees, Food, Wait Staff and Vendors) Giving them something just for the showing up is nice! Discount cards, random pictures, conversations making your audience feel connected to you is the key to everything!!!
PS If you have attended one of my shows and or follow me (THANK YOU SO EVER MUCH SMOOCHES)
WHAT ABOUT THE TEAM OF KITTENS (Stage Hands, MC, DJ and Sound Manager)
It would be rather tacky to pick up your own clothing, Play your own music, and cue your own intro would it not? The kittens are paying their dues or helping the show cast as hired help, It never seems to amaze me how this job gets looked down upon so often when i the single most important job in the show! Having a kitten that is well versed in the stage management skill of clothing pick up and stage prop set up is crucial for us all to survive, They are the unsung heros of burlesque and stage production. They work from entry to exit and i know my kittens are the best people in the world to me and so is my production team, but some times no one does them justice. Remember they are priceless! Having a good team is imperative to a good production, The DJ sets the tone for the room, The MC gets the energy flowing, The sound manager keeps tabs on levels of music, sound quality and volume. These people are incredibly important and they are worth so much more then you can think of!
Other Important people- The sponsors, media write up, event writers, vendors, social media, friends, family, vendors, graphic designers, printers, flyer team, location allowing you to hang flyers, friends of friends and your burly family!
IT TAKES A VILLAGE PEOPLE!!!!
Now - This should get you thinking about YOUR WORTH as an Entertainer and YOUR WORTH as a Producer, YOUR WORTH as Show Staff and YOUR WORTH as an audience member and Importance as a show supporter.
Flip a Coin at this point point of time - Remember if all fails the one to blame is THE PRODUCER!
With love - B
Burlesque Performer and every day glitter seeking glamour lover!