The popular femme blog Jezebel recently quoted Laurie Penny's article for The Guardian in which she denounced burlesque. I posted it on my Facebook page because I had so many mixed feelings about what she said and how burlesque is viewed. The comments heated up my page. Below, I'm including a few of the more thought provoking ones, but I invite you to go to the Jezebel page for additional comments by the general public and professionals alike.
Canadian Wolfman: [There are] too many generalizations and non-issues in the article. If your manager is taking out all of your subversive acts, ditch your manager, gather up your fellow performers, form your own new troupe and do burlesque the way you want it to be done. Build an audience who appreciates what you're doing. LOTS of troupes are doing just that.
Jo "Boobs" Weldon: There's a misconception that comes up constantly when people are offended by partial nudity: "if certain people object to porn, then why don't they object when actresses get naked in multi-million dollar movies?" Those people DO object to the actresses in expensive movies as well as in cheap porn, but because it's harder for them to fight the movie people with money, they go after the lower-income people in porn, and say, "but it's the billion dollar porn industry!" as if there were as many millionaires in porn as in mainstream movies. And burlesque usually happens in bars, not fancy theaters. And most burlesque performers make substantially less than most strip joint strippers.
Delirum Tremens: I find most of the comments on that really offensive. And not even because so many are saying that there is little difference besides class between "stripping" and burlesque (which I don't agree with, but I'm not offended at being conflated with "strippers"). And [what is with] the idiot who said something can't be art if it buys into dominant paradigms or whatnot? I guess most of Western art just isn't art!
John Woods (The Wet Spots): A friend of mine works both in burlesque and in straight strip joints. Her experience has been that many burlesquers are in such a hurry to differentiate themselves from strippers that they sometimes make unfortunate generalizations about them. She herself sees differences between the scenes and a whole lot of similarities. I believe class is a part of it. The great unwashed working class male (read strip club patron) and his boozy, objectifying ways has long been a boogeyman to the upper class reformer. And to the hipster. So if burlesque and strip aren't that far apart, does it mean we should think less of burlesque? Or that we should think better of strip? Finally, burlesque is such a big tent now that it encompasses everything from confrontational performance art, to historically accurate re-creations, to comedy, to pandering music video titillation. It's all of the above.
Penny Starr Jr.: Ugh! I am so over the stripper vs. burlesque debate. We're all strippers! What we do is outside the realm of "normal" (being ashamed of your body). Taking your clothes off in public is a challenging concept to many people, and upon talking to objectors, I find they are quite afraid of their own bodies. How sad. When I hear people say that an act was "too strippery", what I've discovered was they thought the act was boring. I've seen entertaining strippers and boring burlesque, and none of it had anything to do with nudity/costumes/props or showing your taint to the audience. Good performers are good performers!