As a performer you have a whole other persona to your everyday muggle reality. No one, but your nearest and dearest, see the ‘real’ you…. and really, they are the only people you want seeing the real you, anyways. Your real life should remain a mystery to the general public, for the most part. Therefore most people will never see the emotional rollercoaster ride you go on as a performer. From the joy of being asked to perform in a show or being accepted into a competition or festival all the way to the flip side of things…. the downward slope of self doubt and constant mind games you play with yourself, “am I good enough, no I’m not, yes I am, no I’m not”… to the sadness and some what hurt that comes from rejection. That dreaded email that says “unfortunately, you were not successful”. Not to mention the endless hours of creating an act, rehearsals, costuming, rhinestoning and the list goes on. There is a serious amount of actual blood, sweat and tears that goes into each act. Honestly, go ask the performers competing in Miss Burlesque Australia.
Being a performer and putting yourself out there can be hard. You are putting your art on stage for all to see, and believe it or not there will be judgey eyes on you. Oh yes the judging and the critiques you don’t ask for. Common courtesy people, unless a performer asks specifically for your input or opinion, please keep it to yourself. Burlesque as an art form is all subject to interpretation. There are so many different genres and styles of dance and theatre that come under the umbrella of burlesque, which can make it even harder to put yourself out there and be understood. Especially to the general public that immediately think burlesque is just like the movie ‘Burlesque’ <insert palm to face>. In answer to that …. best said by Miss Alyssa Kitt herself “jazzy… just like the movie… except a lot more filth and less money!”.
The emotional rollercoaster is a huge juggling act. Trust me if you are judging me, you can bet your ass I’m judging myself far harsher than you ever could. I’ve had panic attacks, sleepless nights and even made myself sick over thinking and worrying about an act and what people think of it and me. A lot of which, for me, stems from a rather toxic environment that I started my burlesque journey in. Although now, having an incredible mentor, a beautiful burly fam, an amazing husband and supportive friends/family to help keep me focused and bring me back down to earth, when I’m spiraling into a full on self doubt tornado keeps me pushing towards my goals.
So many people see me as a happy go lucky person, a poised pinup, a confident woman and yes for the most part that is me. What you don’t see is the pain behind my eyes, the anxiety, the self doubt, the worry, the longing for acceptance…… and you aren’t meant to see it, Delza isn’t any of that. She is fierce, confident and tenacious. But muggle me carries all the troublesome aspects and the raw emotions. Hidden well behind winged eye liner and red lipstick. Would you believe, on the days I don’t have my wings and red lips I actually get questioned pretty often by people “are you ok”? ….”You don’t look yourself today”. Wow people, can’t a girl have a day off and enjoy a nude lip for a change. I don’t always need my wings sharpened ready to cut someone. Geez!
With COVID-19 upsetting just about everyone’s lives, I found that it has bought on a lot more emotion than I would normally deal with. I am naturally an emotional person and wear my heart on my sleeve, so you can imagine just how much more emotions I was dealing with. Before the pandemic hit Australia with a big smack in the face, I was full steam ahead, busy working on shows and acts and then…. <insert stop sign> it all just stopped. And not just for me, that’s for almost every single performer out there. Cancellations of every show I was booked for, the New Zealand Burlesque Festival that I had been prepping for, cancelled. Which hit me really hard. I found myself in limbo. Nothing to work towards, nothing to prep for, just nothing and no direction. Where was I going now, what should I be working on….. lost, completely lost. To make matters worse the government had banned beauty salons from operating which meant I couldn’t work in my muggle job either (you can read all about that in my blog Under House Arrest). Far too much time off, and far to much time to get inside my own head.
I didn’t give up. Kind of a stubborn bull really. I continued my sessions with my mentor (aka my burly mama), Miss Alyssa Kitt. I focussed on other aspects of my burly life as much as possible. Eventually, I’d be back on stage, so one must be ready for that day. With all my frustrations of self doubt I was set tasks to work on stripping back who I am and how I’m feeling. Most, if not all, performers are searching for (at some point in their career) that pivotal moment where they feel the acceptance they so greatly need, want and desire. Not realising it was inside them all along. Yes, easier said than done of course. Whilst some may be as confident as all hell (praise be), we all ride our own rollercoaster of emotions with set backs and achievements. Strip back those feelings…. your emotions are valid no matter what. Keep pushing through, keeping creating, keep being you.
Love Delza xoxo
Please note : everything I write about comes from my own personal knowledge and experiences. This is not an advice article
Images by Fate Photography