Abstract (from author): In both neo-burlesque and roller derby, there is a two-way communication between the audience (both male and female) and the performers/athletes that celebrates what the women (and sometimes men) on stage and on the track are doing. Using interviews with several burlesque performers and derby players, I demonstrate that there is a sense of community at both events between performers and audience, and that the art form of burlesque is not about monetary gain or exclusively for the pleasure of men. The burlesque performer is continually in communication with the audience through eye contact, performer-initiated physical contact, and invited audible response. I draw a parallel to roller derby as another outlet for women to express themselves outside of a traditional patriarchal frame for an audience of both women and men, paying particular attention to the acceptance of a wide range of body types, the creation of community, and a celebration of strength and skill not usually associated with women.
I’d like to take a moment to share the following information (provided by Hannah Rodas in my 2367 class that meets Tuesdays and Thursdays).
Project Welcome Home Troops:
Power Breath Workshop
October 10-14 in Derby Hall
Limited Space! You must register!
Hannah will be hosting this event as a Veteran Facilitator.
It is free and open to any military Veteran (Active Duty, Guard, Reserve as well) and their family members.
There will be some light refreshments and a tea bar during the workshop as well.
If you (or other students) are interested in attending this course please check out the brochures (linked below) and visit http://www.projectwelcomehometroops.org/ for more information.
You may also e-mail Hannah at firstname.lastname@example.org if they have any questions or would like to submit a registration form. She is also organizing a Women Veterans workshop for November and will provide more information on that soon.
I’ve been binge-watching “Casual” while tidying up the house this morning. A cover of Queen’s Radio Ga Ga cut into a scene and brought a flash of memory. Such was the pull of it, I had to pause and go in search of an original version.
Ah, Freddie. I didn’t experience his voice until the mid-80’s. My musical memories of the time? Hiding (yes, hiding) to listen to this kind of music, as it was verboten in our world. It was the music of the devil (which devil, I never quite understood). I wonder if my brother remembers how we’d listen quietly in his basement bedroom… where concrete walls met slabs of wood cut from our property and milled through our father’s small sawmill. I wonder if his memories come in flashes like mine… recalling the boom-box and our attempts to capture our favorite songs as they played on the radio… fingers poised on the PAUSE and RECORD buttons hoping to catch the entire song without the pesky voice of Casey Kasem introducing it or a commercial following it.
I talk in class about Freddie Mercury and his death – which came too soon and was far too horrible. We talk about the constraints that organized religion places on us, who we love, and how. I am struck this morning – cue a bit of existential crisis – about how much has changed in my lifetime and yet, how very little is truly different.
I watch technology develop and spread exponentially and am thrilled by it. This morning, when I wish to hear Freddie Mercury’s voice? A few keystrokes are all that separate me from a video of his live performance more than thirty years ago. The days of mix tapes have given way to downloading.
We can edit music and videos on our handheld phones to produce studio-worthy masterpieces of sight and sound. It is a good time to be a consumer of art – even if we must wade through so much trash to find it. The story goes that term “Radio GaGa” was inspired by Roger Taylor‘s child who referred to a song as “ca-ca” once. Oh, there’s a fair amount of ca-ca out there still 😉
Changes. Lots of changes… and yet… so much remains the same.
I watch as my students struggle with the same dilemmas I faced with my brother all those years ago. They – like us – want to live their own life. They have parents and professors, peers and pastors who box and bind them (that’s far too much alliteration for a Saturday morning, sorry ’bout that). Youth always struggles with societal expectations as it sheds skin after skin in awkward growth to adulthood.
Some of us choose to hide in the basement listening to the devil’s music (or playing D&D… such rebels, we were).
Some of us hide who we are for fear of real and imagined consequences.
Some of us are far more resolute much earlier. We stake our claim to life -unapologetically- consequences be damned.
These things remain the same: We are bred and trained to be someONE by tribes and families not of our choosing. We do not choose which society we are born into or when. We’re tossed dead-center like a bulls-eye into a real-life Bronfenbrenner diagram before we even know what an ecological system is.
We grow or stagnate. We agree or disagree. We capitulate or fight. We may compromise or we may realize that some compromises are too soul-crushing to even consider. Some of us spend far too much time looking at the road away from home before we dare to pack our bags to search for another. I did… this road, in fact.
I miss mix tapes. Freddie mourned the death of radio. My father clung to record albums. My great-grandparents likely groused about people listening to music on machines rather than gathering around actual music instruments to create it. What will those born today mourn? Who knows. It is the familiar that we miss… regardless of its form du jour . My students will likely never understand why I wish to hold a book with paper pages… and their children will likely never quite get it when they grow nostalgic for the small, glowing screens of their cell phones.
The music remains… the passion remains. The hunger to create and desire to share that which we create? That remains. We use words and music and art to share all that is human… the good, bad, and ugly. We love – as we live – sometimes quietly in dark rooms… other times fiercely… out loud… in the brightest light of day.
There is no real point in all of this,
except to say:
I see you.
I see your passion for life and your struggle to best live that life. I watch – with fascination and delight – some of the stuff you do – and the ways in which you do it. I wince as you make some of the same mistakes I made. I wish there was an easier way to learn, but we’ve all been there, done that. You’ll make beautiful brush-strokes in life and you’ll scrap some canvases to start anew. I see myself in students, sure, but often I see you behaving in ways so unlike mine at your age. I envy your bold dance moves across life’s stage.
We share – this place and this time – with wonderful soundtracks playing across the messy business of life and learning. I give you Freddie and you share your favorite artists with me. I see you. I hear you.
Some of the wonderful music students have shared with me recently:
As not all Carmen courses are visible, I wanted to post here to clarify deadlines for our first assignments.
NO ASSIGNMENTS are due this weekend. While I had planned to collect some (mentioned in class) I want to be certain everyone has a fair amount of time. To that end, NONE of you will have assignments due until next week.
Remember to get your books! Then, go out and enjoy the weather as you can. You will have plenty of work in the weeks ahead.
BOOKS NEEDED (as mentioned in class)
5440: NO textbook to buy. All readings provided to students electronically.
3440: One textbook is required (see post about the two editions from which you may choose)
2367: Second Shift by Arlie Hochschild (link to book on Amazon, available from numerous other outlets.
We (HDFS) use the Discovering Human Sexuality textbook by Levay-Baldwin-Baldwin.
We have been using the 3rd Edition and are moving to the 4th Edition.
In an attempt to ease the pain associated with new editions (and their price tag), I am permitting my AUTUMN 2018 students to use the 3rd OR 4th Edition.
I struggled with this decision. It will complicate my life somewhat. Dr. Miller has moved to the 4th edition and I will next semester, but I’m going to do my best to allow those who’ve managed to get a used text the opportunity to use it.
To that end – I’ll be rearranging some quizzes because SOME material IS different. The majority of it is not, and I do not believe your experience in my course will suffer as a result.
To avoid any confusion, I’m placing a link to the amazon version of each edition. This is NOT to say you should purchase them from Amazon! It’s just a good way to provide info on both.
We’ll speak about this in class, but here’s the info (and links) for both.
3rd Edition: The Black Book
4th Edition: The White Book
I can’t believe the summer is gone – well, I still have veggies growing so it’s summer at my house until the last squash is picked 🙂
The corn is finished, though. Is that not sad?
I’m looking forward to a
wild busy productive… yes… PRODUCTIVE fall semester.
I’ll be teaching one section of HDFS 5440, one section of HDFS 3440, and two sections of HDFS 2367. Information about the courses I teach is available via page link above or by clicking here. I’ll be adding a page soon to share information about current/upcoming research for those who are interested.
I’ll be a faculty mentor in OSU STEP as well. It will be a very productive semester, indeed.
For those who are curious, I answer some of students’ most frequently asked personal questions on a page devoted to that silliness. Some are not so silly, I suppose.
I have silly dogs, though.
Let’s get going then, shall we?
See you in class.
One of my fond childhood memories – all twisted up in the sad bits – is of sleeping in the same room my mother slept in when she was a child. At the time, of course, I had no concept that it was special or somewhat of a legacy experience. While the mattresses changed over time, here I was in the same iron bed frame that surrounded my own mom.
At the time, I also didn’t realize that the experiences I was having were so vastly different from those of my cohort. Certainly I realized we were poor and I felt the uneasy shame of secrets about just how poor we were… stories for another day… because this is about good bits.
The bedroom was one of two, flanking a dangerously steep staircase on the second floor of a classic Sears Roebuck home. People would order these homes from a catalog and put them together like enormous puzzles. This home was originally four rooms in all. Two rooms downstairs and two up, with a porch wrapping around two sides of the house.
Grandma’s room was across the “hall” which was, in fact, nothing more than a stepped-down landing that joined the doorways of the room. Under her double bed lived a white enameled chamber pot with a red stripe running around the edge of the lid. That was one of my jobs, as a very young child, to carry that pot down the steep stairs, out through the add-on kitchen and around the back of the house down a path to the outhouse to empty it. I lived in fear of spilling its contents on the journey.
In the bedroom I shared with my brother across from grandma’s room were two matching beds. Decades before we slept there, my mother and her sisters slept in one and her brothers all slept in the other. They must have been practically stacked like cordwood… four to six children per bed. My bed had a high small window above it, which was open a great deal of the year. Grandma believed that fresh air was important, so when it was far too chilly for comfort, that window would still be open and grandma would pile the quilts on our bodies… one atop another atop another. Now, they sell weighted blankets to give folks this sensation. It’s the soft weight… heavy enough that movement seems difficult… thick enough that you feel safe… and you stayed. You stayed until you were awakened by your bladder or the smell of breakfast. You prayed for the latter.
There are so many stories in that space and time…. the fear of the hoot owl outside, the loneliness and lack of intellectual stimulation, the raised voices and tensions of poverty, the tired adults, the neglected children, the survival mode we all found ourselves in… but there were moments of utter indulgence as well. I remember sucking on slivers of honeycomb pulled fresh from my aunt’s hive. There was fishing as the sun rose and watching my grandfather cook our catch in a cast iron skillet over open flame by the lake. I chomped on carrots straight from the ground and washed them down with cold creek water from a mason jar. I recall hiding in the green bean tee-pee trellises, long after we’d finished the chore of picking beans, and whispering secrets to my brother in the sun dapples there. I miss slabs of homemade bread topped with goat milk butter. I can almost hear the sounds of that place… the cacophony of clucking chickens, the hooves of baby goats prancing on dry dirt, the splashing of the creek where it broadened and then narrowed to a bit of falls. I long for the suspension of time that I’ve felt in only one other place since.
Today, though, it is the quilts that bring my memory to focus on the homestead. I miss the quilts. There is a perfect imperfection to quilts, regardless of how tight and careful the stitch. After washings and use, the different squares wear in different ways, batting puckers here and there, and the whole lot softens in a wonderful way. There is no duplicating that. No high-priced facsimile found in any branded shop will ever compare to a quilt that was patched together by candle or kerosene light in the stillness of night while children slept nearby.
I miss their substance. I long for that soft drowning… being absolutely engulfed in mismatched quilts pulled from the cupboard nearby. I do not miss Grandma at all. I lived in fear of her most of the time, but I understand her more with each passing day. I do not miss the house and in the years after her death, it was purchased and renovated so as to make it practically unrecognizable anyhow. Those things are all gone. The outhouse gave way to indoor plumbing while we still lived there. There were no more baths in the copper tub in the front room after that, no more mad-dashes by moonlight to the outhouse, no more hauling water by hand for grandma. I wonder how many times she pumped that handle while raising thirteen children in that farmhouse.
These things are all gone. These ways are all gone, but today I wax nostalgic for the quilts. I’m going to buy some old quilts. I don’t want to make a new one… I want the well-worn quilts of my memory. I want the imperfections. I don’t want the stains, though. I smile. So, I’ve researched overdying processes. I want to find the lost quilts, the unloved and misused quilts. I want to gather a stack together. I’ll play around with dying them to mask unwanted stains while allowing patterns to remain. I find myself wondering what grandma would make of such an idea.
I think of the time women spent laying out scraps to make the prettiest patterns possible. Is it sacrilege, perhaps, to consider stripping them of color or dying over their hues? Ah, but then I think… grandma and her ilk were making due with what they had. They were taking scraps from children’s clothes that were beyond mending, pretty church frocks that had worn through, colorful sheets torn in washing… they were stitching together memories and doing it in as pretty a way as possible in what must have seemed like bleak circumstances at best. When we were tucked in under those quilts, we were nestled in cotton and history and suffering and exhaustion and resilience and creativity… all patched together in pinwheel patterns or crisp rows of colorful squares.
So, I suspect that if grandma had found a quilt that was stained, she would have taken to it with a bar of fells naptha soap and lots of elbow grease. If it was beyond help, she would have dyed the damn quilt top… or simply flipped the quilt over and gone on to deal with more pressing issues like homesteading to feed her brood.
None of Grandma Clara’s quilts remain, to my knowledge, at least not in the hands of my family. My other grandmother did pass down a quilt and the last time I saw it, it hung over a window in my father’s house. Of all the things in that house, I think that is the only thing I pine for. To be wrapped up in the work of a woman I never met… Grandma Marie… that would be wonderful indeed. I suspect I would not dare to dye her quilt… I’d take to it with needle and thread and mend it religiously until it found its way to my daughter’s hands.
The quilts, I suppose, are a metaphor for the sorting and culling I’m doing in my life and of my memories. I am pulling out the scraps, weighing their value and usefulness… I’m playing around with their placement to see if patterns emerge… I am considering form and substance… deciding there is room and reason for both. I’m stitching things together in a way that suits my life in the here and the now. I am keeping what is good, discarding scraps that are of no use, and trying my best to find the luxury and comfort in perfect imperfection. I’m quilting in my own way, Clara.
Representatives from The Big Girl Burlesque will be visiting my HDFS 5440 classroom on The Ohio State University Main Campus (Townshend Hall, Room 247) on Thursday, March 29th from from 11:10 am to 12:30 pm.
If you are in another instructor’s 5440 or you’ve taken it with me previously… YES, you may come. But it’s standing room only, so you may need to grab a square of carpet. If you wish to bring a friend? The same thing applies. Make certain they are adults and tell them that chairs aren’t part of the bargain. Note: guests should not ask questions of speakers unless “paying” students have exhausted all of their inquiries.
The Big Girl Burlesque is a troupe of like-minded women who believe that size has nothing to do with sexy! They own their curves and love their bodies. They invite you to come see what a body positive burlesque experience can be! Empowered and exciting, the troupe invites you to come out to see them at their monthly shows.
For more info on where you can find them, follow the Big Girls on Facebook at
Psst… They have an upcoming show (April 6th, 2018) at Club Voodoos here in Columbus
In addition to normal class readings that prepare students for topics on sexuality and how people express it, students were asked to read David Owen’s “Neo-Burlesque and the Resurgence of Roller Derby: Empowerment, Play, and Community.”
Students are encouraged to visit Leonard (Yes, Spock!) Nimoy’s FULL BODY PROJECT featuring full bodied models in a variety of clothed and naked poses.
Many of the images I’ve used for the BGB in the past (and some currently as well) were captured by the talented lens of Lightning Images.
A more common media portrayal of burlesque (Cher’s Welcome to Burlesque from the film: Burlesque)
Due to their age, the following videos are all in the public domain and are available at ARCHIVE.ORG
A vintage video clip from the 1930’s featuring Sally Rand:
Undated, The performer known as Kalantan:
A 1940’s era burlesque performer:
My dear friend, Bashka, shared this link with me today on facebook. It is a video drenched in pain and yet… full of hope. I share it here with students (and visitors) in hopes that it will remind all of us of the importance and urgency of life. Breathe then Labor then Push, indeed.
<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/209223693″>Breathe and push Sikh-American civil rights advocate Valarie Kaur s plea to …</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user24977624″>St. Ignatius Church -Baltimore</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
If you visit the video through vimeo, you can actually download it as well.