Keeping the Glitterati Safe: Seattle Burlesque Community Leaders Sponsor Self-Defense Training
~ by Crystal Tassels, BSP Contributing Writer
This Saturday, the Seattle burlesque community will converge upon the Theatre Off Jackson. There will be no feathers, no sequins, no performances, and no sparkles (except maybe residual ones from the night before, because one is never glitter-free). Instead, the Emerald City sparkle tribe will be learning to protect itself, set boundaries, and feel safe while taking part in Seattle’s vibrant nightlife.
There are two main reasons why the Performers’ Self-Defense Workshop is important. First off, it’s a dangerous world out there. Between muggings, a string of recent car break-ins, and the occasional post-show creeper, being out late at night can be stressful. Secondly, this workshop is the product of the generosity and collaboration of our community leaders. When I think of these organizations and individuals, I imagine them all in sequined capes and leotards, swooping down from the sky in response to some rhinestoned bat symbol like the Stripper Justice League*. This gives me extremely special feelings. So thank you.
Professor of Nerdlesque Jo Jo Stiletto gave us a bit of background on how this workshop came together. I’ll let her take it from here:
“We are doing this for all the right reasons. We care about each other. We want each other to feel safe as we are out there doing our jobs and making the world a wee bit more magical. I am probably doing this 50% for the right reasons (see previous) and 50% for the wrong reasons (aka, taking a self-defense workshop from a former International Ms. Leather is way hot).
This really started as a conversation in [the Shanghai Pearl’s] kitchen. I don’t know how we jumped onto the topic of putting together a self-defense workshop. I think Shanghai and Lamalani [Silverts, a self-defense instructor as well as the aforementioned International Ms. Leather 2009] may have discussed it before. They started the seeds and I just offered the elbow grease.
In that first conversation, I recall my personal thoughts being on an attack that drag performer Robbie Turner had described in local media late in 2013. Then, in early March, there was a story about Ade [Connere] being attacked and a few other horrible incidents. My reaction was very swift: why can’t we make a workshop happen? That’s the day I wrote a few quick emails. Out of bad things we will make good. It is the way of the sparkle people.
Do you know how long it took to get people to say yes and lay the groundwork? About an hour.
Lamalani said yes. She lives in another state but she said she wanted to make this happen. Shanghai said yes; she’d help organize. Lamalani spoke with another former instructor from Home Alive, Janet Miller. Janet said yes. I wrote to a handful of ‘friends of burlesque’ and asked if they might consider sponsoring to help cover the costs. I wanted to keep this free to participants. They said yes. So I wrote to more people. I wrote to venues. And they said yes. Support was rapid and generous.
The first spark was easy. The rest was just organization, finding a space, and nitty-gritty details. I can do details. The rest was our community stepping up to help out.
Highway 99 Blues Club (highway99blues.com)
Stripped Screw Burlesque (strippedscrewburlesque.com)
Theatre Off Jackson (theatreoffjackson.org)
The Shanghai Pearl (theshanghaipearl.com)
Tuesday Tease (tuesdayteaseseattle.com)
Miss Kitty Baby Burlesque (misskittybaby.com)
The Mayor of Seattle Burlesque
Smooches and Science Present (https://www.facebook.com/SmoochesAndScience)
StellR Films (https://www.facebook.com/StellRFilms)
Jo Jo Stiletto Events (jojostiletto.com)
Please note: The Re-Bar offered their space, too. But, well, I have keys to TOJ and scheduling worked out.
All expenses are covered. We are providing compensation and travel stipends for our instructors, just like we should.
Registration is limited but those people listed above did provide enough financial support we will likely be able to do this again.”
The Performers’ Self-Defense Workshop will take place in the gallery above TOJ this Saturday at 1:00 PM. If you’re interested in attending, you can register for free here. Please note that participants must be over 21 and are required to sign a safety waiver.
*(Author’s note: The Justice League did not use a bat symbol, they assembled. Only Batman uses a bat symbol. Everyone knows that.)