Happy Loner Life

I write: happy loner life on the top of the page then cover it up with an ink circle curly q tattoo. I'm sitting outside at a table at a local bar, alone. I'm sipping a ginger cocktail watching my quickly changing neighborhood go by. I'm happy, relaxed and content. I love being in the company of my own mind. Solace gives me great comfort. Solace is reminiscent of being a device plugged into it's charger. Solitude energizes me.

The inverse drains me. Interaction with several people at the same time leaves me feeling depleted. I joke around that I like books way more than people (yes, I still read paper books). I never tire of turning pages that reveal more and more about the journey within them. I've curated a world where spend more time being authentic and less time having to code switch(look it up, if you don't know what that means). The landscape society has tended to, sprouted a people who cling to ways of being taught to us in childhood. They cling as if life itself depends on it. There are rules of engagement that are deemed respectable, correct. Typically, that roughly translates into: shut up and be pretty. It creates too much stress for me having to gauge how to operate with the right amount of respectability and pedigree. As someone who makes up her own rules, time spent with strangers is not always fun.  

Because I am a performer, I have to interact with a large number of people. I often quietly listen to the things that strangers say. I wonder if people think about the ways in which they impose their opinions onto others. A Christian zealot talks excitedly expecting me to share in her enthusiasm for the Bible. A random white person compliments me on being so well spoken. After I have stripped onstage, of course that means I want to hear your thoughts on my body! I'm lying. I do not want to hear about what you think about my body. I hear the worry of some family members as I share stories of my latest travel adventures. A lover cycles through the predictable phases: I don't care what you do. I want to be at every show. I'm tired do I have to go to the show? Can you not do what you do? OK, honestly, I do not like what you do but you love it so I put up with you doing what you do. People never seem to tire of believing that their opinion is factual.

Alone, I have my thoughts or the lack there of depending on what I choose. I may make up silly songs that only entertain me. I act spontaneously on my whims & go. I read and read and learn and read. I'm content. There's no committee to check in with. If not alone then I prefer the company of one or two people. There's a thing about actual connection and communication that I prefer. Large groups don't seem to allow for this. By my own design, I exist mostly in a world of people playing by their own rules. Even an introvert like me likes their company. I'm inspired and happy to have connections like this. They dare to stare in the face, everything that someone ELSE ever told them they believe in the face and stick their tongues out at it all. Unmitigated joy is what I derive from these spirits. I can relax and experience joy in their presence.

Still, the ultimate sense of ease for me is when I fly solo. Whether going to have a meal, traveling across the world or catching a show, alone is my preferred way to go. Society has too many people bound and tied. It stresses a weirdo like me out to be around normal people. I've learned how. I can do it. I do it when I need to. It's not like I can't enjoy the company of people. I do, just in small doses at a time.

If you know someone that is sparingly available for large social outings, they may be a loner. If I can't release my shoulders and speak without a filter, I'm likely feeling awkward inside. It's not personal at all. My alone time is an essential piece to my peace. Much in the same way extroverts are fed by being the center of attention, the inverse is true for the introvert loners of the world. Surely, there is an extrovert that lives inside me but she only comes out when I'm on stage. After the show she goes home alone. Loners of the world, I get you because I am you.

 

 

Toy Closet NYC - Sexy Toys

ToyClosetNYC.com is a sponsor of #GoldenLadyBurlesque

ToyClosetNYC.com is a sponsor of #GoldenLadyBurlesque

I had a chance to chat with Janine of Toy Closet NYC.  Toy Closet has been a sponsor of Golden Lady Burlesque from almost the beginning.  

Read what she has to say about being in the sex toy biz:

1) Who is Janine of The Toy Closet?

I wear several hats outside of The Toy Closet. I am the owner of a natural skincare company, Ms Jannie's Baby. I do small business consulting and corporate infrastructure management. As if that wasn't enough, we recently decided to take our adult line of t-shirts to the next level. I'm also a writer. I released a collection of erotica in 2013 and I am one of the sex & romance writers for HelloBeautiful.com. I stay busy, but I do try to maintain a balance.

2) What keeps you driven to keep selling the sexy?

I started selling toys nine years ago. I joined a multi-level marketing adult novelty company, that has since gone out of business. From the first party I did, I was hooked. I loved sharing romance tips and tricks, talking to women about their sexuality, and educating my clients. Sexuality is a very important aspect of a woman's life. I realized that there were so many women who weren't being sexually satisfied either through self love or within their romantic relationships, and I truly wanted to see that change. Women confide in me. I've always appreciated how significant that is. I love my job.

3) What's your best memory from working events/parties?

I'll give two. Since we don't have a brick and mortar location yet, our business is basically mobile and online. Three to four times per year, we do large trade shows, where we set up our store. I love these events because we get to interact with thousands of people. We also use these events as a barometer for the climate in the adult industry. We get to see up close and personal how people are reacting to our products. It's also an amazing opportunity to share our business in areas other than New York.

I have spoken at several colleges over the years. My presentation at Medgar Evers University in Brooklyn was by far the most rewarding. My mother came to help out. Afterwards, she told me that she finally realized what it is that I do and that I'm good at it. That validation I received from her was priceless! She's my biggest cheerleader and supporter.

4) What advice would you give single folks out there about getting someone to share their toys with?

Women are often apprehensive about introducing toys into the bedroom. I truly believe that it is impossible to be fulfilled in a relationship if you don't know what it is that you truly need to be happy. That may sound like an odd way to describe the significance of toys, but think about how many women have never had an orgasm. Some don't know what they need to be sexually satisfied. Toys are a good and safe way to explore one's body and identify sexual appetite and desires. Once you have identified what turns you on, you will be able to relay your turn-ons to your partner. Have a new partner watch or let them use your favorite toy with you. This also helps alleviate the issues that some men have about toys being a replacement.

5) Anything else you want the people to know about?

*Be sure to check out my websites, ToyClosetNYC.com and MsJanniesBaby.com.

*Stay tuned for new products and my next book.

*We offer fun-filled ladies' night toy parties. Contact us to schedule yours today!

*We bring the store to your front door and we have something for everyone.

Guess for the Best

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It really is amazing what happens when we focus on what we want instead of what we do not want.  I explained this concept poorly one time to a friend that has held a grudge about this endlessly.  I was on my way to a tour in Europe.  I was anxious about remembering everything.  I was anxious about making the flight because I kept having to look for things I didn't remember to pack.  I was told "Don’t forget your phone."  Then I could not find my phone anywhere.  I live in a studio.  How far could it have gone? 

 

While I’m frantically trying to find my phone, which will be my sole source of communicating while overseas, I think about the “what you focus on expands” concept.  I wish I had been told to remember my phone vs. being told not to FORGET it.  Because I surely did just that, forget that I had rested it in the top dresser drawer while getting out something that I didn't remember to pack.  All of that extra time to get to the airport had been eaten away by my memory lapse.  I run to the car and say filled with anxiety & mad at myself for killing all that time, “I really wish you would have told me to remember my phone instead of not to forget it.”  I have been being told about how mean & ridiculous that it was that I’d said that ever sense.  I’ve apologized for the delivery and poor explanation of what I meant.  However, I stand by the concept.  Somehow, this person can’t understand that rushing is not something that I handle well.  I typically plan so that rushing doesn’t happen.  This time I failed.

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The thing is my entire life I’ve been kept afloat (and in some cases flying) by focusing on what it is I do want.  If not in the clutches of depression’s darkness, I expect the things that I focus on to manifest.  Does this mean that it is full proof and happens all the time?  No not in every instance.  Trust me, there are many areas of my life right now that seems to have lost the manifestation boomerang.  But in many of the instances that make my life fun & fulfilling, yes.  It happens much of the time.  It doesn’t prevent uncertainty from feeling scary as hell but after all these years, I know that worry is just going to attract more unwanted negative blows to my life.  Some days, all I can do is walk around listing to myself all of the things that I am grateful for.  I do this to block out the voices in my head that want to tell me that I’m a failure & should just go apply to a proverbial McDonald’s for steady work.  A regular customer once said to me sometimes things get so rough all you can do is put your head down and just keep working until they’re better.  I always remember that when things get tough.  As a creative person, life is often uncertain & tough.

This both made me giggle & seemed the perfect image.  

This both made me giggle & seemed the perfect image.  

Then it happens.  By focusing on what it is that I desire and/or need the signal is shot out into the universe and boomerangs back in to my life as serendipity.   I put my head down and take as many actions as I can.  I pray that the universe guides me to take the next right action.  Then the something that I need shows up.  I can only explain it as massive action creating magic.  When I was younger, I would spend so much time focusing on the worry and the trying to figure my way out of things.  If the future is just our best guess anyway, why not guess for the best? Why not be careful and deliberate about how we phrase thoughts and the things we utter both out loud but especially to ourselves.  I may not ever get this person to understand that this concept is what I meant.  If people want to cling to perceived transgressions, they will, often for years.  Besides, that’s not my work to do for them.  I wish we would do more guessing the best about each other as a whole.  What IS my work is to focus everyday on experiencing the universal magic of life as much as possible.

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Mourning Loss

Mourning loss is something that many people I know are doing now.  It may be a job, a relationship, a life partner, a parent, a dream, a goal or former selves.  I never know what to say to myself even to make it better because time seems the only salve.  Sometimes there seem no right words.

Mourning loss is something that many people I know are doing now.  It may be a job, a relationship, a life partner, a parent, a dream, a goal or former selves.  I never know what to say to myself even to make it better because time seems the only salve.  Sometimes there seem no right words.

LOVE ləv/ noun 1. an intense feeling of deep affection. 2. a person or thing that one loves.

TRUST trəst/ noun1. firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something

DESIRE dəˈzī(ə)r/ noun1. a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen.

PROMISE ˈpräməs/noun1. a declaration or assurance that one will do a particular thing or that a particular thing will happen.  

Verb 1. assure someone that one will definitely do, give, or arrange something; undertake or declare that something will happen.

JOY joi/ noun1. a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.

SUSPICION səˈspiSHən/noun1. a feeling or thought that something is possible, likely, or true.

BETRAY bəˈtrā/ verb1. expose (one's country, a group, or a person) to danger by treacherously giving information to an enemy.

LOSS lôs,läs/noun1.the fact or process of losing something or someone. 2. the state or feeling of grief when deprived of someone or something of value.

DISAPPOINTMENT disəˈpointmənt/noun1.the feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one's hopes or expectations. 2. a person, event, or thing that causes disappointment. 

plural noun: disappointments

PAIN pān/ noun 1. physical suffering or discomfort caused by illness or injury.

SADNESS ˈsadnəs/noun the condition or quality of being sad.

SICKNESS ˈsiknəs/ noun 1. the state of being ill. 2. the feeling or fact of being affected with nausea or vomiting.

7 STAGES OF GRIEF:

1. SHOCK & DENIAL

2. PAIN & GUILT

3.  ANGER & BARGAINING

4. "DEPRESSION", REFLECTION, LONELINESS

5.  THE UPWARD TURN

6.  RECONSTRUCTION & WORKING THROUGH

7.  ACCEPTANCE & HOPE

Medical Definition of SUPPORT SYSTEM. : a network of people who provide an individual with practical or emotional support.

SELF-CARE  self-kair/ noun 1. care of the self without medical or other professional consultation.

FORGIVENESS ˌfərˈɡivnəs/ noun the action or process of forgiving or being forgiven.

CLOSURE ˈklōZHər/ noun 1. the act or process of closing something, especially an institution, thoroughfare, or frontier, or of being closed.

ACCEPTANCE əkˈseptəns/ noun 1. the action of consenting to receive or undertake something offered.

FEELINGS ˈfēliNG/ noun plural noun: feelings 1. an emotional state or reaction.

CLEANSE klenz/ verb 1. make (something, especially the skin) thoroughly clean 2. rid (a person, place, or thing) of something seen as unpleasant, unwanted, or defiling. 3. free (someone) from sin or guilt. 

HEALING ˈhēliNG/ noun the process of making or becoming sound or healthy again.

RENEWAL rəˈn(y)o͞oəl/ noun 1. an instance of resuming an activity or state after an interruption.

HOPE hōp/ noun 1. a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.

FAITH fāTH/ noun 1. complete trust or confidence in someone or something.

LOVE /ləv/ noun 1. an intense feeling of deep affection 2. a person or thing that one loves

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

If you can learn to love yourself and all the flaws, you can love other people so much better. And that makes you so happy.” - Kristin Chenoweth

 

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Getting Through Tough Times

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There is a duality in the way I think.  I can be feeling shattered by a thing and the default for my brain is to shift to thoughts of what I can DO to improve myself and life.  I always think about both sides of the coin.  It is during some of my most trying times that I create the best stuff.  The work that is most difficult for me during these times, though, is also a very important lesson for me to get.  That work is acceptance of what is and release of any ideas I have about a desired result.

I’m a thinker.  I’m a bull (Taurus).  I believe in universal law and the magic it can create in one’s life.  I believe in a Universal energy way bigger than me that can manifest miracles.  I’ve OFTEN in life had to create something out of absolutely nothing but an idea and faith in myself.  I’m good at getting what I want in many areas of my life.  This creates difficulty in trusting the Universe to guide me as it sees fit for my biggest, best evolution and growth when things aren’t going as I wish.

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I usually learn lessons the hard way.  I’ve been figuratively kicked in the gut by people who claim deep, everlasting love for me the hardest.  Some days it just feels like my heart is in a blaze of disintegrating fire.  I find myself doing things I'd advise my friends against doing.  Other days I truly trust that space is being cleared for bigger and better horizons (Side Note: Dear Universe, more of these days please... and about those bigger & better horizons *ahem*).  I think it’s better that I learn things the hard way because then I get the lesson The First Time!  Often, we can find ourselves stuck repeating patterns and not ever giving focused energy on learning the lesson.  For example, I know someone who is always entering into new relationships before their current relationship comes to a complete closure.  Instead of examining what this pattern is about they just keep hitting the repeat button on it.  However, the Universe is eternally patient.  It will keep giving us the same lesson repeatedly until we finally get it and grow.  

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I have to believe that nothing is by accident.  I hope to be writing a blog down the line reporting what wonderful miracle this pain filled clearing of energy and space has manifested in my life.  In the mean time, I can always choose to focus my energy on attracting experiences filled with love and happiness.  Until the new goodness shows up, I will allow my self to completely crumble so that I can be newly rebuilt on a strong, fresh foundation.  Growth isn't easy.  But growth and love are always the best answer.

Posted on October 14, 2014 .

Self Loathing in Conservative Clothing

I’ve seen a plethora of pieces passing me on the information super highway bashing sexual women, especially women of color - specifically Black women.  Often it’s in the attempt to pump up or encourage the existence of the “good women” who cook, clean and dress conservatively, etc.  You know, because only That is respectable behavior for a woman.  Others mask it in claiming these are the ingredients of a Queen self actualization and autonomy be damned.  I wish I had a nickel for every meme I see shouting down a woman’s choice to twerk.  I mean, we know how detrimental dance styles can be on a woman’s entire complex life (sarcasm intended).  Never have a seen a dance style kick up so much hatred towards Black women while simultaneously popping off a fun, trendy dance craze for white women.

These types of things represent the heights of hypocrisy that make me shake my head at society.   There is a breed of outwardly appearing “respectable” woman that is so desperate for a man; she’ll even knowingly date someone else’s man (and we all know what stellar examples of mates these men turn out to be).  I know, she thinks she'll be the one to change him.  I’ve seen it up close and personal.  There are super successful career women earning multiple six figures who don’t care if a man says he’s in a relationship.  She’ll over look that fact just to have a man appear to be by her side even if it’s just for one night at a big event.  I’ve heard stories of women willing to essentially trick off their children just so she can pretend on social media to be gratified at finding “the one”.  We will act as if a woman with a young child pretending that dating a man that doesn’t want children isn’t borderline child abuse.  Your child and you are a packaged deal.  Perhaps, she deludes herself into believing he'll just fall right on in love with her little one.  I myself work in the realm of sexuality and am naked on worldwide stages, so people assume that I have all types of loose behavior going on.  I don’t.  Clearly these women are reveling in slackness more than I am.  Another difference between women who openly embrace sexuality vs. these women is women who embrace all facets of themselves tend to choose self-respect, self-definition and refuse to settle.  These settling women are not to be hated.  I believe them to be deeply pitiable.  Their up bringing and societal pressures to have a man, any man have done them a great disservice. 

Yet, there is no shortage of beating down Nikki Minaj for her sexual marketing genius (yes borrowed straight from the book of Little Kim whether Nikki wants to admit it or not).  It’s a marketing ploy that sells and Nikki does it well.  I’ve seen Beyoncé berated by men and women alike for being sexual with her own husband who she’s building an empire along side and raising a child with.  Even married women get no pass when it comes to embracing the sexual parts of our beings.  I’ve seen Will Smith and Jada Pinkett given side eye for granting each other the freedom to be authentic and openly be who they are with each other.  It’s as if society wants more couples lying to each other for fear of being judged by one another.  It’s fine for some male hip-hop artists to use being a gangster and illegal activities as a marketing ploy.  Last I checked it was completely legal for a woman to choose to be happy about the sexual aspects of her being.  It is also legal for a woman to have agency over how she displays said sexual aspects of her being.  Yet, we keep persecuting women in the court of public opinion for it.  Stop worrying about what women outside of your household are teaching children and pay closer attention to what the women in the house are teaching the children in their very charge.

Can we talk about the fact that if a successful woman decides to be a sugar mama, the man is praised or left alone for his “come up”?  Yet, if a successful man decides to be a sugar daddy, it is the woman that is beat down for being a gold digger.  If a woman is sexually conservative, she’s bashed for being uptight, stiff and boring.  If she embraces the fact that sexuality is one aspect of her and it’s being worthy of celebration just as is her intellectual, financial, spiritual, familial self she’s degraded at every turn.  It’s as if a woman can’t win for loosing when it comes to being a proud sexual being. 

It’s cool if a woman makes self-loathing decisions as long as she dons a business suit or some other conservative garb.  Extra points will be given if she goes to church many Sundays.  So what if she sits in the pew hand in hand with the man who molested her daughter.  No one will make mention of these types of things.  No memes made, no poems written only silent, blind eyes turned.  I’m really going to need the interwebs to miss me with all this tomfoolery.  There need to be more messages directed towards women desperate to claim any man that comes along.  They need encouragement towards self-love, self-respect and self worth.  They seem to have no grasp of these concepts at all and no one calling them on it to boot.  I know more sexually liberated women with a higher sense of self valuation than many of the church going, conservative appearing, low self-esteem having chicks can ever hope to muster.  No, not all women who are conservative or church going or successful are self-loathing.  I don't think in absolutes.  However, I need to see more of the calling out of the truly self-deprecating women in "proper woman" hiding who are and less of the “if you twerk you hate yourself” crap.  Forget the wolf in sheep’s clothing.  There are self-loathing women in conservative clothing someone needs to write a poem for or make a meme about.

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.” – Audre Lorde

There does come a point as an adult where one has to make decisions for oneself despite lessons learned in youth about your value being tied to marriage or a man.  Whether one is monogamous or open to an alternative model for relationships, self-love has got to remain job one.  What can a child learn from a mother willing to expose them to a man uninterested in taking part in helping to raise them?  Let's remember children learn by what parents DO not by what they say.  What fulfillment comes from pretending online to be in a whole relationship when one isn’t?  If a committed life partner is the goal, what message to the universe does sneaking around with a cheater actually send?  There are women in hiding willing to debase themselves.  Meanwhile, women who live out loud with all their true colors boldly showing are insulted, mocked and disrespected.  Let’s get it together, world.  Let’s get it together.  We are all beautifully flawed beings trying to do our best to get through life without a playbook.  We all make it up as we go along.  We get blessings, we get lessons, we adjust and we keep it moving.  Stop acting like one kind of journey is more deplorable than another.  It insults my intelligence.  I can’t.

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"Sexuality poorly repressed unsettles some families; well repressed, it unsettles the whole world." - Karl Kraus

 

Hug a Weirdo


I’m a weirdo.  It started at an early age.  There are many aspects that make up my weirdo status.  It’s not so much weird as it is the acceptance that I am a proud walking set of contradictions, perfect imperfections and complexities.  So many of us try to hide from our complexities or shield them from those around us so that they are more comfortable.  One would think after a certain age we become too grown to play “societal charades”.  It is very much not so

I recently found out that, once again, my weirdo status caused someone to make assumptions about me (and even make decisions for me based on the assumptions).  I think about how I came to be the me that I have become.  I suppose it’s been caused by any number of my life experiences.  We all are a product of our particular life files, right?  I started off life by never wanting to get in trouble.  I never wanted my parents to be angry at me.  I never wanted to do the wrong thing.  I never wanted to make mistakes. This then extended to the world.  I only wanted people to like me.  I only wanted to be understood as a good person with a great heart.  It bothered me if I thought that people were interpreting who I was in a way that was different than how I perceived myself.   I had a case of giving too many F%$&s about what other people would think.  I like helping others.  This remains to be true.  However, with maturity comes a self-awareness that shifts the way in which I go about things.  I stopped trying to “get straight A’s” from every single person I met.  I was fresh outta f%$&s to give.  Fresh out!

I had a best friend once that was very forceful when it came to getting her own way.  Me being a person who always wanted things to stay on a happy vibe, I would often just go with her flow.  This worked out amazingly excellent for her.  There were peaceful and fun times had among us.  However, sometimes in the midst of our fun times, I’d be miserable.  There were times where I went along with things that I didn’t feel like going with.   It took quite a bit of work on myself to get to the point of saying no if I wasn’t into doing something.  I spent way too many years doing what would make other people happy.  I spent years and years doing what would keep me likable.  I see myself as a likable human and I wanted other people to see me this way also.  I hid who I really was in favor of favorable facades for the public.  Eventually, what happened though was that I found myself holding in resentments for allowing myself to ignore my own truth.  It was with this best friend that I got my first practice at defending strange little ole me.  I learned through my interactions with her how to push through the uncomfortable feelings I had about causing conflict.  I started speaking honestly and directly to other people as well.  Like anything, it started getting easier the more I did it.

 

At present, it is very easy for me to say in a very clear and direct way what is on my mind.  It drives me a little crazy inside listening to people talk around a topic or hem and haw while they try to get a point across.  It drives me even crazier having to deal with someone who flat out tries to avoid conversations that may be difficult but necessary.  Being a fairly direct person is something that people both appreciate and can’t stand about me.  This depends on the person and the circumstances of the exchange, of course.  Often, I choose silence for the sake of my own peace of mind.  There are times where it serves me better to stand off to the side and observe quietly.  At all times, whether silent or direct, it is a choice coming from inside myself.  We all have to navigate the world that we are in.  Many of us have to navigate numerous worlds.   The joy of working to get to a place where I am able to make choices for myself is that I get to keep feeling peaceful inside either way.   The discomfort that my directness or my silence may cause others is not my work to do. 

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I recently went to a church service that I absolutely under normal circumstances would not choose to be at.  However, my niece wanted me to see her perform as part of the youth day.  I went to church.  Sat quietly and was polite to everyone that I encountered.  I got to see my niece perform.  She saw that I was there like I said I would be.  I was peace filled in my heart, despite my disdain for this place and the people who run it.  I sat in the service sending love vibes out to everyone in the building.  Damn my opinions, ultimately, people come here so they can make it through the week or their lives.  Hey, life is hard, whatever gets you through…  While I make it my business to make choices that are right for myself, I also understand that life isn’t ALL about me.  At that moment, the love I have for my niece outweighed the negative feelings I have about church and the Bible, in general, and this church in particular.  This is the joy of being a thinking human being.  Nothing is black and white.  Communication reveals way more than assumptions ever can.  If only this person had the courage to have honest conversations with me they would understand this and so much more about me.  Honestly, it just felt like a scapegoat, a cowardly way of dealing with the situation.  If someone feels ill will towards me, it will be because of the truth not a lie.  Happiness is being mature enough to pick your battles. 

I am blessed to have found a place as a weirdo among weirdos (I am surrounded by the most talented, quirky and driven creative people ever).  However, we still have to navigate in the world at large.  I end up in different worlds socially and professionally.  I get invited back often, so I must be doing something right.  As frustrating as it gets to be constantly judged and misinterpreted, it’s even greater joy to have enough self love to wave my weirdo flag proudly despite it.  If you’re out there looking for the perfect mate, maybe look outside your self imposed box.  Weirdos can be pretty loveable!  If you’re a weirdo and you know It clap your hands *clap, clap*, if you’re a…  Wait.  Is that weird? Never mind…

Jeez Loueez - Power House of the Midwest!

I had the honor of performing in the year’s Jeezy’s Juke Joint in St. Louis, MO this year.  The show is a stellar spectacular with an entirely black cast of burlesque performers.  I got the opportunity to spend a little time chatting with the show’s creator, Jeez Loueez - The Powerhouse of the Midwest!  Here’s just a little of what she had to say about the world of burlesque.

Rufio by Kriss Abigail

Rufio by Kriss Abigail

Q) What is it that makes you fall in love with burlesque like it was the first time you fell in love with burlesque?

A) There is something about the journey of traveling and touring that really fuels my love for performing.  I've carved this ridiculous life for myself and have somehow started to become all of the insane things I wanted to be when I was a kid: Like a traveling stripper bum.  The entire process of packing up the car, picking out snacks, finding a really good playlist and going to Cracker Barrel is already a bit of a magical experience for me.  Add seeing friends I haven't seen in a long time (or friends I haven't met yet), slumber parties, amazing audiences, finding something cool about every city and it's heaven for me.

 

Q) If you had one wish what would you change about burlesque?

A) Oh my goodness this question is so hard!!  I love so many things about burlesque.  Yet, I know that everything evolves and changes naturally.  I think the biggest thing I would change right *now* (and this is purely a personal perspective) is that I wish we would all place more value on what we are doing, get off the internet and start doing something about everything we complain about.  Myself included!  What do we need in burlesque?  What do we need to survive as artists and as business owners?  And what the hell can we do to make these things happen?

JMI Photo

JMI Photo

Q) What first made you produce Jeezy's Juke Joint?  What keeps you producing it?

 A) When I started performing burlesque in Chicago in 2009 there were literally only a handful of Black performers in town.  Coming from musical theater it didn't exactly blow my mind, but it was still discouraging.  As a budding burlesquer and former club dancer I was figuring out the stories I wanted to tell and the characters and sexuality I wanted to present.  And unfortunately, there weren't very many people of color in the audiences either.  There were times where I just didn't feel like folks were relating to some of my performances like I wanted them to. I started researching other burlesque performers of color and found out about neo burlesquers like Harlem Shake, Brown Girls of Burlesque, Foxy Tann and the Wham Bam Thank You Maam's, Perle Noire, and many more.  I could not.stop.researching!  I took it upon myself to make a blog that highlighted Black burlesque dancers, hosts, and entertainers and started interviewing people like Sydni Deveraux and Ray Gunn.  The troupe I was with at the time, Vaudezilla Productions, suggested that I turn my Jeezy's Juke Joint blog into a show and I jumped at the chance.  I had never produced before, but I had so many people that believed in Jeezy's Juke Joint and who wanted to see more African American stars and newcomers on stages in Chicago. 

Each time we've had the event it's evoked so much emotion and gratitude in the cast and me.  The audiences are filled with people from all walks of life who are filling the space up with love and appreciation.  This show is near and dear to me for so many reasons, and the energy that transpires keeps me going.  We have so much history to be proud of that needs to be SEEN and HEARD!

 

Q) Congrats on your titles over the past few years!  For me, as a fan and Internet stalker of yours, it makes me feel great to see performers I admire winning titles. What do titles mean to you?

A) Thank you!  I love competing!  I think competitions are fun and silly and not meant to be taken too seriously.  I view each competition mostly as a competition with myself.  Though I wish I had the same type of drive and inspiration year round as I do when I'm prepping for a big event that's just not the case!  Every time I've done the Shimmy Showdown or the Tournament of Tease I show up ready to do my best and give my all and I leave feeling inspired whether or not I take a prize with me.  Actually winning a title to me just means that I kicked my own ass hard enough for other people to notice.  And like it!

Jeez Loueez is also a member of Foxy Tann & the Wham Bam Thank You Maam's.  Shown (left to right) Red Bone, Foxy Tann, Jeez Loueez

Jeez Loueez is also a member of Foxy Tann & the Wham Bam Thank You Maam's.  Shown (left to right) Red Bone, Foxy Tann, Jeez Loueez

To keep up with all that Jeez Loueez is up to, check out her busy schedule and more Here On Her Website!!!

Alone is Good

Self Care, Self Love, Sweet Self Talk as much as possible...

Self Care, Self Love, Sweet Self Talk as much as possible...

“In dealing with those who are undergoing great suffering, if you feel “burnout” setting in, if you feel demoralized and exhausted, it is best, for the sake of everyone, to withdraw and restore yourself. The point is to have a long-term perspective.” - Dalai Lama

I haven’t blogged much over the past six months.  My personal life has been going through many shifts.  Upheaval sounds like a good descriptor.  The result is not only a lag in blogging.  There are lags in other areas of productivity in my life as well.  I have felt extremely vigilant in preserving my time alone.  Sometimes, the time alone has been for brooding.  Most of the time has been for thinking, nothingness and planning.  Transitions are not very comfortable ever.  Some comfort zones can be breeding grounds for stunted growth.  I like growth unstunted.  I have come to the understanding that self care has always got to be job one.  Believing that I am somehow too busy to take self care moments to stop lead to the devastation of my soul.  I hit one of the darkest times ever in my life.  I’m not trying to sound dramatic.  It was traumatic.

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” ~ Maya Angelou

What I’ve learned about myself is that I like to hear many different takes on a situation first.  After that I like to go off alone to deliberate and come to my own conclusions.  My close circle is the jury but ultimately it is my courtroom.  I make all the final decisions.  I am very much a loner at heart.  I enjoy keeping company with myself very much.  It is really important for me right now to hunker down and take that time to recharge.  It’s a challenge, especially being a performer.  Also, I’m a worker bee.  I don’t like feeling as if I am not moving forward, closer to goals or simply putting in the full effort it takes to be an independent performer.  However, the universe always takes care of me.  Unexpected helping hands extend toward me in unexpected ways.  It could be friends making sure that I eat (even if it means coming to my door to get me).  It can be long time friends sending me texts just to make sure I’m ok in here by myself.  It can be a residual check from a past gig.  I get sign after sign that I am supported.  I get the message loud and clear that it is OK to be in a space of not knowing.  It is totally acceptable sometimes to just stop.

“Let your heart guide you.  It whispers, so listen carefully.”  ~ Littlefoot’s mother, Land Before Time

I’m enjoying the slower pace.  I’m enjoying getting eight hours of sleep whenever possible.  I’m happy that I have been working out several times a week.  I feel much better making healthier food choices more days than not.  I even gave up sugar for 30 days.  I chose not to beat myself up for the times I slipped.  I’m letting myself have the space to cry it all out.  I have been very careful about who I share what with.  I’ve been accepting of the support I get offered from friends.  It’s been an interesting space to exist in.  I’m slowly becoming comfortable with it.  It’s not an easy space for me to feel comfortable in.  Despite the discomfort, I know that it’s the best place for me to be in at this moment.

“[G]rowing into your future with health and grace and beauty doesn’t have to take all your time. It rather requires a dedication to caring for yourself as if you were rare and precious, which you are, and regarding all life around you as equally so, which it is.” 
― Victoria Moran, Younger by the Day: 365 Ways to Rejuvenate Your Body and Revitalize Your Spirit