happened to come to me while I was on an assignment during winter quarter for The Athens News. I covered a Valentine’s Day burlesque show presented by a group called Boxcar Burlesque. The show was fabulous and the women were confident. They were obviously having fun performing their dances. I later e-mailed the founder, Dolly Derringer, and asked if she and the rest of the group would be cool with me doing a multimedia piece for Soul of Athens. Derringer was gung-ho, as were the rest of the women. Once Soul of Athens started I began to hang out with the women of Boxcar Burlesque every chance I could. I attended rehearsals, bake sales, dinners and then finally “Spring Tease,” their spring showcase.
The women welcomed me into their club almost immediately. I could not have been more delighted. They were funny, eager to learn new burlesque moves, and very comfortable with themselves, especially their bodies. When I asked the girls how they were able to do that, they all agreed being a part of Boxcar Burlesque was what made them feel better about their bodies, even their “flaws”. Flaws? What flaws? These women’s “flaws” were ones only they could see. I can relate to that. No one is perfect and a majority of women (and men) could easily list issues with their own body image if asked. Yet these imperfections did not hold them back from expressing themselves on stage. This amazing confidence that all the women have makes me wish I had found this group sooner. If I had, maybe I would not be as self-conscious about my own body. Working on this project helped me realize our flaws do not have to be treated as such.
You may watch my piece and think “How outrageous, why would these women do this?” And that is fine. However, these women are not strippers working for a buck. They are expressing themselves through the age-old performing style of burlesque. Friends, family and significant others come to support these women because they know how hard they work to make their costumes and choreograph their acts. It was a great pleasure to be around these ladies and watch them work towards their big show. These women went from being subjects to some of my newest friends. This is what makes Soul of Athens such an amazing project to be a part of.
Big thanks to the ladies of Boxcar Burlesque (Dolly Derringer, Arizona Fury, Minxy Boodle, Kitty Couture, Priscilla Swift, Syrenka and Vicki Von Doom) who made me feel like one of the gang, to my amazingly helpful and supportive senior producers, Josh Birnbaum and Jennifer Cecil, who helped me to make this piece the best it could possibly be, and to Stan Alost for somehow convincing me to be a part of this crazy production once again.
Rachel S. O’Hara