Channeling Marilyn

Marilyn Monroe isn’t a mere mortal movie star anymore. She is considered an icon and a goddess, and for good reason. She had unforgettable allure, sexiness, passion, and inimitable style. No one can ever be quite like her, and we are blessed to have the legacy she left behind after her death in August of 1962.

She had many heartbreaks in her life, but that is not what we mostly remember about her. We remember her ability to let loose her sensuality and sexuality in her own unique style.

I started doing Marilyn Monroe singing telegrams back in 2000. I didn’t know it at the time, but those Marilyn Monroe singing telegrams would have a profound impact on my work as a burlesque dancer. Before I did my first one, I didn’t think I could really do it right. After all, I didn’t look anything like Marilyn Monroe. But I needed the money, so I jumped in with both feet. First, I got the hang of doing the Marilyn Monroe makeup. That was loads of fun. I bought a wig and her “Seven Year Itch” dress at a costume store. I learned a lot of the songs she performed in her movies, and I was able to master her voice and mannerisms. To my surprise, I actually pulled off my very first Marilyn Monroe singing telegram successfully. Marilyn had such a definitive style that she is recognized universally. The experience of doing those telegrams was so empowering that it inspired me to learn everything I could about her. I saw all her films that air periodically on Turner Classic Movies, and I read several of her biographies.

The thing about Marilyn that had the greatest influence on me had nothing to do with the impressive volume of her work or her illustrious husbands. It was her insistence on being her own person. She was her own creation. She didn’t try to fit into someone else’s mold or be what someone else thought she should be. Instead, Marilyn went out and created her own mold. I think all women should channel a little bit of Marilyn.

Be inspired to be who you are with a vengeance. Add a little of Marilyn’s style to your own if you can. Buy a bottle of her favorite champagne—Dom Pérignon. Wear her favorite perfume—Chanel No. 5. Or do what I do—carry around a book of great, insightful Marilyn Monroe quotations in your purse. Still, it’s most important that you develop your own style.

Marilyn loved being feminine and sensual in all that she did. It’s with that feeling that I proudly wear a rhinestone necklace to ballet class. I love to get dressed up just for the hell of it—even when I’m just going down the street to the drugstore. Celebrate everything that is gloriously feminine and sexy. I am proud to be a burlesque dancer. It is who I am. I don’t care if some people think it’s absurd. After all it was Marilyn Monroe who said, “Imperfection is beauty. Madness is genius. And it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” Thanks Marilyn.

For the Love of the Dance … Not for the Money

When I tell some people that I’m a burlesque dancer, they automatically think I’m some kind of sex trade worker or at the very least, loose sexually. This can’t be further from the truth. In all my years doing strip tease telegrams in New York city and the five buroughs, my motivation was never about having sexual power or even sexual prowness. I grew up loving the the strip tease after seeing the movie “Gypsy” with Natalie Wood and Rosalind Russell. Later I put myself through college as a showgirl in Nevada and became even more drawn to the idea that the famale form could be celebrated with beauty and taste. That is what I always tried to delever in my strip tease performances. With the emergence of the Neo Burlesque movement here in New York and in other cities, I find that the Burlesque dance is as valad a form of entertainment as anything else out there. It can be thought provolking and seductive without being vulger gross or pornographic.  Pornography! That is the problem that the burlesque dancers today face and what I faced in the 1980s doing strip-tease-telegrams.  For most men a strip tease has to be a an act of pornography or at least a prelude to some sexual act of they’re not getting their money’s worth.  It’s a shame that so many people view the strip tease in this limited way. Why not celebrate the beauty of the strip tease as performance art? I believe that the strip tease involves using everything in one’s creative arsenol in delaying that final article of clothing from coming off. Because everyone who does a strip tease has different talents, no two strip tease performances can ever be the same. It’s as individual as a person’s thumb print. I read somewhere that the difference between a stripper and a burlesque dancer is that the stripper dances for money and the burlesque dancer dances for appluse. I have been fortunate enough in my line of work to be able to do both. As a professional singer I can sing as I perform my burlesque routines and that allows me to do singing burlesque-a-grams and allows me to create dances around a certain song or birthday theme. However I can honestly say that the strip tease is so beautiful to me that I think I would merely do it for the applause if I had to.