Letter to the editor: Addy Indy story erred on burlesque

On Aug. 24, the Addison Independent published an article titled “WomenSafe to host burlesque fundraiser.” The article suggests that some individuals may feel that because sexuality and partial nudity are a part of burlesque, that it may be considered an inappropriate choice of fundraising entertainment for a local anti-violence group such as WomenSafe (WomenSafe does not only serve individuals who have experienced domestic violence).

As the organizer of this fundraiser, I would like to correct the misinformation printed in the article as well as educate the community about the art of burlesque (as the onus to educate the public shouldn’t fall on the shoulders of the artists).

On Aug. 25, I hosted No Strings Attached: a Burlesque Show and Celebration at 51 Main. This was indeed a fundraiser where all ticket sales were donated to WomenSafe (almost $3,000) but it was not an event hosted by WomenSafe as indicated in the article’s title.

I chose the show name “No Strings Attached” because the experience of Narcissistic Abuse and Partner Violence can leave an individual feeling as though they are a puppet being controlled. “No Strings Attached” alludes to the freedom one feels when they have complete agency over their lives. I was quoted stating the event would not be a “smutty strip club.” This quote presented in the context of the article does not accurately represent my views on stripping or sex work. I support individuals who are strippers and sex workers and do not wish to diminish their professions in any way.

Burlesque is an artform associated with mockery. It was my intention that the burlesque show would exemplify the ludicrous nature of not only antiquated but harmful and victim shaming ideas regarding policing the way girls and women dress or conduct themselves in order to maintain their safety from the “male gaze” (During my interview I was blatantly asked by the reporter how I was going to protect the performers from the male gaze during the event.), assault and harassment. I also hoped the public would recognize the beautiful likeness of an artform that celebrates self-agency at an event supporting an organization which helps individuals reclaim self-agency.

Burlesque artists develop their own characters and have complete control over their performances. For No Strings Attached, I hired Mistress Manifest, Clover Wilder (misprinted in the article and FPF as Crimson Wilder) and Andro Genderson Starlight to perform burlesque acts at the event. These artists performed beautifully and created engaging thought-provoking acts that left the audience with goosebumps and in awe. I’m disappointed that the article didn’t highlight the character development, humor, parody, athleticism and gender bending nature of burlesque that was shared with the reporter via a post on Instagram by Andro Genderson Starlight regarding the fundraiser and the two acts they performed.

Gena Mangiaratti of the Brattleboro Reformer did a great job informing her community in the article “Burlesque show to bring body positivity, feminism and laughs to Bennington.” I hope that if the Addison Independent chooses to report on burlesque events in the future the reporter takes a similar approach.

Bridget Gosselin


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