When I returned from the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend earlier this year, I wrote about four days in the desert with the most amazing group of people I’d ever met. I was amazed by the inclusion I felt on that trip and my heart warmed as the moniker, “just a photographer,” began to fade away. Since then, the phrase, “One of Us” is thrown at me with disturbing regularity and, on some nights, almost sounds like a veiled threat. I jest.
Since returning from Vegas, I have shared more and more of my time with Vancouver’s burlesque performers and they have reciprocated in kind. I had a handful of scheduled photo shoots away from the stage, some impromptu shoots wherever we happened to find ourselves, and a series of birthdays, chance meetings, outings and adventures that had nothing to do with either performing or my camera. In short, I was making friends.
When I received an invite to the Vancouver Burlesque Family Picnic from Connie Cahoots and Blue Morris, I was touched (I’m still trying to discern if it was a picnic for the Vancouver Burlesque family or a kid-friendly picnic for Vancouver Burlesque performers. I think it was both with heavy emphasis on the former.). I showed up late for the event having spent the day at Wreck Beach burning my ass and shoulder with one of The Glitter Gang. When I arrived I was drunk, sunburned, and wearing a panda hat; it was BHoF all over again.
When the invitation to the reception for Nicky Ninedoors and John Bews’ wedding arrived, I was again warmed by the gesture. My attendance was not reliant upon a picture taken or a review written; Nicky and John were inviting a friend to share a special night with them. I probably can’t explain how much this meant to me.
I always joke about professional detachment. The “Don’t Hit on the Girls or You’re Finished” mantra still stands, though it’s bent into a pretzel (that still hasn’t broken). But it is impossible to not be drawn to these performers on a multitude of levels. Miss Ruthe Ordare and I constantly joust over who my new “crush” is. Here’s a hint: In any given week, it’ll be the brunette whose performance I’ve never seen before. I explained to Miss Ordare that all the “crushes” are placed into one of four categories: Can’t, Won’t, Shouldn’t, and Maybe. Maybe, of course, is just a subsection of Shouldn’t.
I am well aware that a burlesque performer that doesn’t flirt is a rara avis in terris and I am a notorious flirt and flatterer of women. But what it comes down to, and I think this is what I was trying to say while rambling on here, is that when I am at their shows, in their homes, at their parties, I’m not hanging out with beautiful women and men. I am spending time with my friends.
I am very glad, I am thankful, to have the privilege to say so.
As I write this, I find myself preparing to play a part (albeit a very small one) in an upcoming show. I suppose we all knew this had to happen eventually.
I hope they know, “One of Us” is probably the kindest and greatest thing a group of people could ever say to an individual in their midst.