17 May 2010

Hestia does Burlesque - last bit (I promise!)

I am costumed up. My hands are shaking so much that I abandon all thoughts of eye-liner and new feathery false eyelashes.  My face is now pancaked chalk white, my brows coal black, my eye make-up is scarlet and orange, my lips are crimson.  I look like a psychedelic panda/hooker.

We’ve been working on our routines all afternoon and I STILL don’t have an ending. I decide to pretend to faint at the end.  If it was good enough for Des O’Connor at the Glasgow Pavilion, it’ll be good enough for me.

By this time there are BLOKES involved in the workshop day.  Ian, who runs Club Noir with Tina and a couple of lads who are working the dreaded camera.

I’m now leaning feebly against the wall, unable to even exchange a smile with the other girls. The perspiration is lashing off me – not a good look when you’re only in your underwear.

The other women are also barely recognisable.  There are whips and feather boas, spectacles, notepads and make-up heavy enough to sink the Titanic.

Ian lets us all pick a number from a hat ( a glittery one, of course).  I’m number 19.  My heart sinks.  Could it be worse? I’m going to be LAST on.

Sure enough the Theme from Gypsy starts to play and so, it begins…..

Everyone puts in a sterling performance, but my favourite act is undoubtedly from the 40th birthday girl herself. She decides to parody the whole thing and does a mock-strip, getting caught up in the curtains, unable to get her shoes off, unable to unhook her bra.  It’s hugely entertaining.

All too soon it is the turn of No 19, or Alison Wunderland as she has been christened.

I am completely terrified.  I walk to the side of the stage and Madeleine cues up the Theme from Gypsy for the millionth time that afternoon.  There is whooping. There is clapping. There is foot stamping.  There is a potential diahorrea case shaking in the wings…..

My leg muscles won’t work.  Madeleine asks me if I’m ok.  I can’t even nod.  It is, literally, show time.

I can’t do this. I can’t do this.  I can’t do this.  I can’t do this… just keeps rattling about inside my head.

But there, behind the panic and the fear is something else.  A small voice that says: 'If you can’t do this, what are you?  Yes, you’re a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister….all these stupid ROLES… and now you’re HER…... Get on with it!'

I will one foot to move in front of the other and then I’m out there, sashaying my way nervously to the front of the stage.

I open my kimono just the way Tina told us – revealing little, just a flash of hip and thigh.  I turn away from the audience, keeping that crucial contact by looking back over my shoulder like Betty Grable.  I open my kimono to show off its pattern.  I slowly peel it off and toss it to the side of the stage….My God - I am doing it! I am doing it! And it’s FUN!

In the end I opted to get down to the pasties, but didn’t twirl.  I had no idea how I finished my act, but I sidled off-stage somehow! We were all done!

Instead of all covering up modestly as we had earlier in the day, we were walking around like real show girls; like it was perfectly natural to have sequinned boobs and a face as brightly painted as a baboon’s bum.

Once we had all changed back into our civvies, we older gals decided to celebrate by going for a drink in a nearby pub.

We plonked ourselves down, admittedly, somewhat theatrically.

The American author pointed to me and said: ‘Do you know you’ve still got on all your make up?’

I nodded.  I was never going to take it off!

The bar staff sidled over.  ‘Have you lot been on stage somewhere?’

‘We have,’ drawled the American.

‘Are you actresses?’ they asked, scanning our faces for signs of fame.

‘No!’ we chorused.  WE’RE STRIPPERS!

Epilogue:  The DVD duly arrived and I watched it with the same fear reserved for watching Daleks.  Willie had no idea I’d done the workshop and sat beside me in a fairly stunned silence as my brief moment of burlesque stardom played over the screen.  I think the correct word to describe him was ‘nonplussed’.

‘Do you want to take a copy back out to your ship?’ I asked coyly.

 * a pregnant pause*

‘Nah.  Just make sure you hide it behind your Tai Chi DVD, away from Sonshine,’ he replied (see: Dwindling Sex life again)

Ouch! *sigh*

There are moments when I catch my reflection, maybe when I’m packing my shopping at the supermarket checkout and I see myself hurtling towards 50, menopausal, boring, hair scraped back in a pony-tail, jeans, fleece, trainers….I conjure her up in my soul, I feel her tapping her sequinned toes and batting her mile-long lashes.  She’s still there and she is just waiting to get out.

Burly image:  the gorgeous Bernie Dexter


  1. You're wasted on Willie; my DH would bit thrilled if I did something like that ! and the DVD would get worn out .....
    But really, who in the real world has the time or inclination to be that high maintenance ?

  2. Ali, you have so much cool! These are all memory moments - all of them! And you have the DVD to prove it!

    Methinks is might just be Willie that needs the life! ;-)



  3. Ali, you are kind of my hero. I would LOVE to do this sort of thing, but I don't have the courage!

    You are truly Wunderful ;)

  4. LM - yes, you DO have the courage. It was brilliant fun and I am aiming for a Fan Dancing workshop next.

    I have met people whose lives have been transformed because of burlesque.

    I'd recommend not going with a friend though. Best way to make friends is to go alone ;-)

    Bonnie - a little stick of dynamite under his behind should do the trick :-)

    Viv - it's AMAZING how old-fashioned he is - usually at moments when I least expect it! Bloomin' men!

    Ali x

  5. They are ALL old-fashioned when it comes to stockings and corsets - they can't get enough of them ;-)

  6. The Des O'Connor line made me laugh. Lets hope nobody in your audience does a Sid James!

  7. Sounds fantastic, Ali! It's like the Empress on a girls' night out - good for you!

  8. A very belated comment since only just discovered you - I could read all day but the sun is shining so will save for poor weather - however the burlesque stories are fantastic - I would love to do it too - have you been to a show ever - we went to Volupte in London and it made me realise it is not what you have got, it's what you do with it! Viva la diva xxx

  9. Hello AWL! Thank you for stopping by! I just discovered you too ;-)

    I have been to a couple of shows in Glasgow and LOVED them. I particularly love clever/witty burlesque rather than just straight tease.

    And you're dead right - it's not what you've got, it's what you do with it that counts. Like with so much else in life!

    Ali xxx

  10. Admittedly, I'm rather late to the party, but I just had to respond to the "over 50, menopausal, boring..." comment.

    Don't sell yourself short! Not everyone over 50 and menopausal is boring. And menopause? I don't understand what all the fuss is about.

    And now you've had burlesque lessons... if anyone ever accuses you of being boring just whip out those tassels and give them a show!


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