An open letter to the women of the now established burlesque scene (as well as rollergirls and fashion/pinup models)

First of all, congratulations 
You have established a new environment for women to express themselves on their own terms instead of being some musician’s girlfriend
You now have cool names to rival the coolest name ever (Rockula, of course) and colorful personas to go with them
You are now on stage more than your boyfriend’s mediocre band and your burlesque/fetish/bondage/fashion show/roller derby event draws more people than his sucky band ever did
You get to post your pics on Facebook so that all of your girlfriends can tell you how beautiful you are as your stalker male friends try to compliment you in the least creepy way possible (although it never works)
Your collective self esteem has skyrocketed in the last 10 years as women have proven themselves to be on the same artistic and intellectual level as men
However, since then, there has also been enough time to show that most of you are just like the boyfriends whose shadow you worked so hard step out of
Just as a vast majority of male dominated bands in any local scene are comprised of mediocre artists putting out the same rubber stamped performance as their counterparts in every major city, so are the ladies
Welcome to the middle

I first started to notice the burlesque scene developing in Minneapolis and, as usual, dismissed it  out of habit
There had been scattered performances here and there before but I started to check out the performances in the same building as the Urban Wildlife
I was playing with Autonomy at the time and I was in full jaded asshole mode but their performances seemed to be more than chicks stripping in vintage outfits
I was especially amused by their stage pervy male stage assistant who affected mock embarrasment as he oggled the girls whilst picking up their discarded clothes

About this time, I started dating Laura
Our relationship was mainly based on the intellectual challenges we lobbed at each other on a constant basis
We joked about the fact that she embraced the term “arm candy” with a passion with her colorfully adorned lanky frame towering over my cool all black persona
We both knew that she was looking to step out of my shadow
The most comic example would have to be when we were backstage at an Impaler show
She had attended lots of their shows and was frequently the only woman in the pit
I had met them once
We walk up to then and what do they all yell?
“HEY ROCKULA!”
We agreed that a good common goal would be to find a way for Laura to shed the title of “Rockula’s Girlfriend”
As prestegious as that title may be, we both knew that her potential far exceeded being arm candy for a local scene personality
She has since graduated from college, is working for the Dallas Observer and looks to catch up with me in the “musical know it all” category (although there’s a ton of ground to make up and she’ll never match my level of purist snobbery)
This is what the burlesque/rollergirl/fetish/bondage/fashion show scene has done for artistic minded women looking to establish their own identity
It is a wonderful development that allows more people to find value in artisic fulfillment, thus giving monetary value to more art

Just remember this
There are millions of people just like you with the exact same ideas and aspirations
Sure, it earns you popularity and admiration
You get to feed your ego on your peer’s adoration
But make no mistake about the fact that you are no more unique than the thousands of clone bands, DJs and rappers that you date
It’s great that you have found new artistic fulfillment and some much needed self image building because you worked hard to put yourself there
Just don’t confuse a huge friend’s list, hundreds of pics of you and your friends seductively posing at the club and a line of drooling scene boys at your dressing room door, with artistic achievement

Of course, no one can deny that women have been achieving just as much success in music as men but it is still an environment dominated by men
And most all female bands end up proving my point by using a gender specific name and exploiting their sexuality
For every role model like Kim Gordon and L7, there was an army of girls that would grow up to want to be just like Kittie
Call me hater if you like
Allow your internal dialogue to default to the stock accusation that I’m just jealous and intimidated by empowered women
Just know that I am not writing this as some mysogynist stab at uppity scene chicks
If anything, I am aknowledging that women are truly equal to men when it comes to all things intellectual and artistic
Laura introduced me to the word “Himbo” which applies to all the male bimbos out there that are all surface flash and no substance underneath
Up until now, the Himbo occupied the local artistic celebrity slots
Now he is finding himself being edged slightly out of shot by his girfriend in the burlesque troup headlinging the show

If you still don’t see my point then I will say this
The past few decades have been really brutal for the local musician
They pour their hearts into an artistic statement and hammer it over and over until it takes the shape you see on the stage
They spend thousands of dollars on equipment and toil in mediocre jobs to earn the money
They live in sub-standard conditions and sacrifice many comforts to enable their artistic lifestyle
Only to earn a middle spot on a 5 band bill, a couple of drink tickes and a $20 for the band fund

I ask all of you newly empowered women to pay attention to their plight
It is yours now

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