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  • Writer's pictureKitty Bardot

The Beginning

This is the first picture I uploaded to Facebook some thirteen years ago. Shortly after this, a friend of mine mentioned a burlesque show in passing. She said out of all of our friends she knew I would love it the most. So, I bought some tickets. And she was right. I remember the Capitol Theater teaming with people, its aging lobby packed shoulder to shoulder while people made their way to their seats. As excited as I was, I had no idea that the next two hours would change my life forever.

From the moment the emcees stepped onto the stage to the final curtain call, I sat on the edge of my seat, imagining myself under the stage lights. It was a real Roxy Hart moment for me. I envisioned myself, sparkling and stripping to the sound of rumbling applause. I saw women shaped like me dancing and celebrating their bodies in ways that I'd been raised not

to. They were confident, glamorous, and a bit edgy. All the sequins in the world couldn't hide their grit and I loved it all. I belonged on that stage. I had found my people.

I spent the following weeks email stalking the director/owner of the troupe. This was a time when social media was just beginning, and folks rarely used it for anything more than sharing music and pictures. After several emails I finally got through and Burlesque Le Moustache was holding auditions I scheduled mine for the following week and set to work on a routine.

As a stay-at-home mom living a relatively sheltered life, I had no idea where to start so I went with a traditional pin-up style housewife costume. (All clothes from my closet, including the garter belt and stockings.) I picked a song, Knock Me a Kiss by Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five. I choreographed a routine. The day of my audition, I showed up at the theater in my costume and was escorted in by an older gentleman who offered me wine and poured me a glass.

I sipped my red wine and felt terribly awkward and out of place. The people that I had believed were my people did not agree. They watched me with suspicious eyes and sideways glances. I may have left if the two emcees hadn't introduced themselves and made me feel welcome. Two glasses of wine later and I met Dannie Diesel, the mistress of the troupe. She was happy to meet me, took my music and introduced me to the crowd of uninterested troupe members.

I moved through the routine like I was moving through a dream. It was unreal and somehow more real than anything I'd ever done. Time stood still in the dusty shafts of stage light. By the time I stood, topless and exposed, I was trembling. I looked down at my naked breasts and apologized for not wearing pasties. I had no idea where to get them, so I chose to go without. Dannie rushed the stage and barreled into me with a tight hug, nearly lifting me off my feet. She squealed and welcomed me to the troupe.

I stuck around and watched as they began practice for their next show then was told to be back same time next week. Still trembling with excitement, I left the theater and walked to my car. It was a long drive home. I couldn't believe I had made it. I daydreamed all the way home about my future. I continued to daydream in the weeks and months that followed. I've honestly never stopped. And the adventures have just kept coming!

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