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Bebe's Burly Blog is Back!

Hello friends, old and new!

Photo: Atomic Cheesecake Studios

I started this blog to document my burlesque and vaudeville journey. I wanted a personal and intimate record of this time in my life, and I imagine one day I'll be a cute little elderly 4'8 lady reading these entries while laughing, or crying, or thinking deeply about my younger years. I never imagined that many, many people would start to read my thoughts and actually feel something of their own.

When I started performing burlesque in 2017, I was completely alone. More alone than I'd ever been in my entire life. I had a one-year-old baby, isolated from all my family and friends, and lived in darkness a lot. I had taken one class with Studio Holliday in 2012, but fun fact: I did not become close friends with headmistress Gigi Holliday until 2019, when I was at the lowest point I had ever been in my life. (My burlesque debut was with Maki Rolle, who I met in Gigi's class, and Cherie Sweetbottom, doing nerdlesque!) I didn't meet the House of Knyle family until late 2018. All of the burlesque battles I fought to get where I am, I fought them alone (and with integrity and honesty, I am proud to say.) I don't have problems standing up for myself, even though my default mode is extra soft. Trust -- i have stood on my own a lot, with no one else in burlesque beside me or taking up for me, and I earned my own self-respect. There's nothing more stabilizing than self-respect -- it sustains me.

So from 2012-2017, I was alone without much of a community -- practicing, learning, studying, kittening, and staying quiet. People didn't even really know my name (and I kept changing it anyway so there's that, lol). Reading, writing, thinking, dancing by myself, in my dark room... that was my life. When I debuted, things began to take off so fast that I knew I needed some way to process everything I was feeling, seeing, and doing. I think during this time, others began to see that I was extra-passionate and cared deeply about burlesque.

But I was still alone. In 2016, I gave birth to my son by myself in a hospital room. My son's dad was there, of course, but he slept over on the couch a lot, out of sight -- the whole labor and childbirth took about 14 hours. No family, no friends, because I didn't have anyone close to me in Washington, D.C.. I almost died from a hematoma and had to go into emergency surgery... when I woke up, I was still mostly alone but now I had a baby in my arms. And no one knew I had almost died alone in a room with two young surgeons. I would have just been another dead Black woman in a maternity ward. Like I said... I didn't have a community, y'all. This is a very new word to me, and I sometimes have much resentment when it's thrown around during good times, but you're all alone during the darkest hours.

Alone. It depressed me, it rocked my spirit, it made me suicidal to the point where only my son was keeping me alive. And I had no one to talk to except a mirror.

That mirror is what saved my life --- my own fucking reflection. Sometimes I say burlesque saved my life, but that's not true. It's something beautiful in me that I saw reflected back, some little fiery spark of passion that was sputtering and flickering and it looked almost... almost ... burnt out. But it wasn't burnt out. That fire was just starting to grow.

Fast forward four years later, and I am officially out of that dark place. Next week, I'm moving into my first 2-bedroom apartment (mostly bc my son is getting so big, he needs his own space) and I recently earned a lot of respect from my colleagues at work, more respect than I ever imagined I'd garner. I wrote a chapter for an academic textbook. While I know that doesn't make me Alice Walker, I still feel incredibly proud of myself.

I'm not the richest or most beautiful or most talented woman in the world, but right now I have everything I need to be happy and it has offered me the greatest clarity I have ever felt in my life. I feel a strength of character that I've never felt before. I'm walking into my power, and honestly owning it without any apologies.

Coming out of darkness, you see light so clearly. And anyone trying to drag you back into darkness, you fight them like hell.

To anyone reading this, please keep fighting for yourself. Even if you are alone, more alone than you've ever felt. The perfect community will find you, because they will see your passion and your fire and your commitment and your self-respect, and they will gravitate towards that. I focus on what and who feels good to me, what feels right when I talk to myself in the mirror. That "right" feeling and that self-respect is what I rely on when I feel dark times coming back (as they often do), and that feeling also protects me from others who wish me harm!

I love many people in burlesque, but they aren't why I do this. I do this because when I'm at my lowest and I don't know where to turn, I turn to internally to *myself* and I somehow always end up dancing. It's my true spirit! And no one can remove a spirit -- it's permanent, immovable, and it never dies.

Until next time and always with love,


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1 Comment

Cherry 324
Cherry 324
Oct 27, 2021

This is such a beautiful post! I’m so glad that you are in a better place, and I know what it’s like to be alone. This post is just confirmation to keep going forward. Thank you again!

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