Sooo over the years I have taught burlesque, drag performance, dance and the different aspects of cabaret performance to a range of folks, people in various bodies and disciplines. A few years ago I started teaching more and, originally, my students were burlesque and neo burlesque performers who I called: Young Feminist Whores but, then I launched my first Queerlesque course and a series of Stage Readyyy workshops: dance, make up, lip sync, fatlesque – which has been amazing and inspiring! – and all of these: open to all genders, ages, sizes, different focuses in the industry and levels of experience. These ‘lessons’ are different questions and queries that have come up over these workshops, things that I felt were important to share with the whole class! And I wanted an excuse to update this blog about Burlesque and Periods with new performances, new info and bloody brilliant technologyyy!
Let’s Start With The Basics…!
GRACE GOTHAM in Period Piece
Can I do burlesque on my period?
Of course you can darling! If you are not used to using tampons or other inserted products on your period, there could be a certain… period… of adjustment BUT I have included some non tampon options belowww too! Performing on your period can come with it’s own challenges and you may need some time to find your own preferred ways or a marrying of a few or getting an app and not booking shows around your flow if that’s something you need to do but Burlesque is all about choice and choices so make your’s yours!
Personallyyy I don’t mind performing on my period because I have lots of little things I do to make myself feel fancyyy and also I love the power of bleeding and writhing in front of hundreds of people who are cheering and jeering at my feet. What can I say darlings… I’m a Diva!
BONNIE KNOCKERS in Period Drama
What sort of period paraphernalia is best?
Here are a few of my suggestions, from my own experience and from my studious research…
Everyday Tampons: Your run of the mill tampon is totally fine, nothing fancy, but the string will need a little extra attention. I suggest either blinging the string or accessorising with a tassel LOLS! However: tucking the tampon string into your vagina, next to the tampon, or just trimming it quite short, so that you can still take it out but then it doesn’t hang from your body or around your spangly bits. Don’t forget to check before you go onstage! WE’VE ALL DONE IT THO! I like things in burlesque that remind people that there are BODIES underneath these costumes and not doll parts; pubes, strings, etc but I understand it’s not the ‘look’ for all venues. Those middle aged gays in the front row at Duckie were in fits of tears and worship when I last forgot…
Sponge Tampons: I need to thank, very much, Ophelia Bitz and Fancy Chance for recommending these little wonders to me back when I started using my pussy in performance!
First, lets talk about Sea Sponges! They are fabulous for the environment, flexi for the budget and gentle on the body. Check out Holy Sponge (owned by a queer womyn) – their sumptuous Ritual Sponge Kit with Salted Caramels is on my wishhhlist! – and other brands recommended to me (that I have not tried): Jade & Pearl Sea Sponge Tampons, Jam Sponge, Sea Clouds and Joy Division. These little babes can be reused over several cycles, come in a few different sizes and all will come with instructions for use and also care. Lots of info online too!
Another type of sponge I can recommend is Beppy, these are more like make up sponges, opposed to from-the-sea sponges, and I prefer their ‘wet’ tampons, which aren’t that wet, just have a bit of lubricant to make insertion easier. These are not shaped like ‘normal’ tampons. They are more like, a date, flatter, wider and larger depending on which tampons you normally use. There’s no string so they’re a bit trickier to take out but when they’re in your vagina they expand so that makes it simpler. They are however much more pliable than a cotton tampon and pretty simple to insert if you’re used to tampons and easy to move, shimmy and strut as you would any other time of the month. You can buy them on their website, on Ebay and in sex shops in Soho. They’re more expensive than your usual tampon but perfect for performing! They are one time use also.
Diva/Mooncup/Whatevercup: Perhaps better for the points in your period when things are a bit lighter as with lots of splits, kicks and grinding the cup could perhaps slip and spill if everything is in full force OR if your costume allows a last minute empty and rinse… There are many kinds of menstrual cups and if you’ve not tried them before: these flexi cups sit in your vagina and collect your menstrual blood and tissues, which you then empty, rinse and reinsert. In this case, again, there is no string and the cup is flexi so you can move with ease but everybody and every body is different SO maybe do a few rehearsals to see if this is a good option for you.
Costume Option For Period Dayyys! There are many period panties on the market darling! So maybe consider a) simply a more full coverage brief or even blinging up a pair of period underwear! There are lots of colors and styles available, more than I even realised, and though I have yet to bite the bullet with trying one of these garments, I WILL do that ASAP! Because I like the eco and cunt friendlyyy approach! LUNA do Boxer Briefs and other styles! MODIBODI have a ‘sensual’ selection that could work for stage and also plus size options up to a 26! MOON AND STARS PADS are on Etsy and made in Northampton, with lots of colours to match your lewwwk!
THE CLAMS in their Water Ballet!
I do not feel sexyyy… I feel bloated, achy and hungryyy...
Fair enough! I hear you! Exercise is often discussed as a way to alleviate cramps, get the rest of your blood flowing and to lift spirits when you’re low, tense or just plain pissed off so a little rehearsal and those moments on stage can do that too. And lots of grinding, swirling, bumping and shimmying could be just what the Menstrual Dr ordered! In my experience, you might feel a bit yuck but as soon as I step on stage I feel the ancient YES of my body, of these cycles and I call on that energy to lift me and I am beyond my physical body and feelin’ fiiine! And THANK F*CK it’s only a few minutes! Or go-go those cramps awayyy all night long!
FANNY DENT in Hello Flow
CBD vape pen from Medipen UK, yes!
CBD Ultra balm, yes!
Holly Golightly hot water bottle backstage, yes!
Rose Tea Bags as part of your kit, yes!
Back up pain relief in your make up bag, yes!
Wipes or a wash cloth, yes!
A cuddle with naked friends! Yesss!
Dark chocolate and lots of water, yes gawd!
Essentials oils for aromatherapy, you’ve got this thing!
AND if you can afford it, treat yourself to a car home, or even part of the way home…
I know we always say ‘the show must go on’ and, yes darling it must and it will and it will be amazing, but that doesn’t mean that sometimes that show doesn’t feel like the last thing you want to do AND SOOO comfort and cherish your little mighty self and also honour your efforts and discipline in times when your body has to push to pull through for you.
Hope this was helpful darlings!
And hope you have glittering and fabulous fun all times of the month!
Rubyyy / Rebecca / Rose