And How Do I Wink at You?
Applying burlesque performance techniques…to blogging.
This weekend, I took a “Hairology” workshop with Jo Weldon of the New York School of Burlesque.
“I love me,” she said as she leaned back. “I love you,” she countered as she leaned forward toward us.
We gasped. The difference was profound. The “I love you” feeling was so inviting. Her eyes changed. Her body language changed. The attitude went from “Look at me” to “Join me onstage and do things to me.”
As writers, especially writers on the internet, we are constantly asking people to look at us.
We are saying “I love me.”
I love my writing, my work. Look at me.
But how do we wink at our readers instead?
What does that change in body language invite?
Cheering. An expression back…you can reply to this photo with your own eyes. Maybe lift your eyebrows. Maybe you say something to yourself.
If both of these people are on a stage, you know you cannot actually go up there and interact with them.
But the second photo pulls you in, and makes you feel personally involved.
And now, I’m going to tell you that you cannot talk to her. You cannot touch her. She’s going to finish her show, and then leave.
How does that feel.
Writing that is welcoming, that is performative — That invites pleasant discussion, invites cheering, invites eye contact…invites a little bit of danger, even…the playful kind.
The sexy danger.
What is wrong with most readings? Have you ever been to a literary event? Aren’t there a lot of people who talk like they’re on some kind of NPR podcast? Or maybe they read long, baroque paragraphs?
Many readings lack the performative aspect. Stories that read well when you’re alone by the fireplace may not read well in a crowded bar when people are drinking and want to socialize.
What about a reader who talks with passion, who invites the audience to speak back? To call out? A reader who has some kind of reveal…who takes you on a journey that never seems entirely safe, where you’re never precisely sure where it’s going?
Would it be so bad if our writing was a bit more like burlesque?
Who here likes sexy danger?
Sexy danger doesn’t even have to mean sex. Sexy danger is just a sleeve that falls off the shoulder. Someone who doesn’t say a whole lot, but seems awfully confident.
Sexy danger is that BDE.
What does the reader want? To see us, and to feel equally seen by the performer. To be a part of the show.
How do we seduce readers without promising sex? How do we tease them on our special stages? How do we turn them from napping old dogs to jumping, yelping puppies begging for a walk?
How do we pretend not to know what they want after teasing them with it?
And how do I wink at you?