by Rai Fordyce
Do not ask me how I came to learn about burlesque. I wouldn’t know when to pinpoint the first time my cherry popped in regards to this whole lifestyle. I do know that I have always wanted to be a stripper, plain and simple: pole, heels, and ass clap. At age seven, I declared, “Daddy, I want to be a bar dancer.”
I wish I were joking.
I could not fathom how an individual born naked into this world and under certain comfortable weather conditions would have to cover that. I do agree with decorative threads, but at every point of my awake being? I went to strip clubs after becoming a legal drinking adult. The women that I would encounter were these power houses of sensuality.
Men would sheepishly come to the stage, bring an offering at which to “make it rain,” and then experience these modern Magdalenas for all they had to give in that very moment. My eyes were like jawbreakers, my mouth was agape, and my skin tingled. As a present to myself for one of my birthdays, I muscled up an outfit and a song. I gathered women that I adored and trusted.
I began for what I believe to be my destiny in life.
After the shrill screams of my lady folk when I shimmied my first pair of Dorthy red sequined tasseled pasties, I was inspired. I did not however just voyage into the unknown of a more coed audience. The local population would have to buy me dinner first.
Fast forward to a couple years later, a break up, and a break down. I needed to express myself to the world. I created events to which I and other ladies could show our own interpretation of fine art as well as join a dance troupe or two. The ball was spinning down a path filled with satin, silk, lace, buttons, and nylon. Little did my prepubescent self know that my dream was about to come true.
Hello, my name is Rai of Sunshine and I am a rookie burlesque dancer.
A normal night for a burlesque dancer first begins with a lot of communication with women. Women who you love, respect, admire, and see buck naked quite often. We have all pick our music that stirs our souls from within and wear the clothes that come to life only to be taken off then discarded. (Spelling word of today is: striptease.)
I personally just select my song that inspired me that week with no intentions, planned dance moves, or expectations. One girl in my troupe, Alice Wonder, explains to me she chooses the song from the “music waves, the lyrics, and how it makes me move, and what story I can tell with the dance.”
Another fellow dancer, Misty Snatch, is most clever in her interpretations with lyrics. One of my favorites, which is hard to choose, she is head to toe nun cradling a cross with her hand. She lip syncs the words, “You don’t own me/ don’t try to change me in anyway.” Or the other routine dolled up as Queen of Hearts lip syncing to, “Off with your head/ Dance till your dead.”
Recently, Vixen Variety was given the opportunity work at an event called Summer Nights, which is held in the Red Room. When we all met that night our bags were swollen with a collection of decorative costumes pieces. Backstage I’m heart-warmed when two girls drop trousers in front of me and put on their safety thongs in a synchronized fashion. I have found fellow exhibitionists.
That evening we had to wear pasties on top of our bras to keep within the city of Norman’s laws. Before we go on, I always get so nervous. My heart thumps fast and I almost back out at the last minute. I’ve never had any real kind of background performing in front of an audience until this year. But once I am in front of all these darkened strange faces, I smile wide, wave to them, the music begins, and I come alive.
I asked a fellow dancer, Smokey Taboo, if she felt the same way. “(I feel) numb and on fire at the same time. And a little scared but always hungry for more. It empowers me where insecurities live during the day… but mainly during the act.” Empower, it’s a good word. A sense of accomplishment is felt when you’ve seduced your crowd, made them laugh, made them hoot and holler. I once talked with an attractive man after one of my shows, he explained to me that he felt flirted with even from afar, but from his background in performance, he knew better than to be pulled in by a siren. I must be doing my job right.
So cheers with a drink of bubbly to the dancers before us and the dancers after us. We are all connected with our urge to express sensuality to the world as well as having a nice giant set of crystal encrusted ovaries.