FFWD REW

Discovering my inner sex kitten

Pasties and a g-string beer and pop

Let’s face it. I am not a sexy person. Awkward yes. Sexy no. So after the millionth time my boyfriend laughed at me while I was doing a “sexy” striptease for him I decided I need to get my sexy on.

Enter Kabuki Guns Burlesque. I first learned about the Calgary burlesque troop when a friend invited me to their Burlesque Fest at Broken City. The fest includes a performance by its amateur class a saucy little number that looked like a lot of fun.

I pictured myself up on the stage in little more than fishnets and a corset heaving my little B-cups skyward and with the prompting of a couple more pints of Alberta Genuine Draft I signed up for the next beginner class. That night I laid awake in bed wondering what the hell I got myself into.

Clutching my sparkly black heels I enter the bare pastel-walled fluorescently lit community hall. My heart feels as if it is going to leap out of my chest but I relax a tad when I see a dozen other ladies of all ages and shapes in workout gear and high-heels scattered around the community hall some looking as uncomfortable as I feel.

We start with fundamentals: how to shake our tits (we are told to practise while holding a steering wheel — just not while driving) how to swivel our hips in sexy “Africans” by using our knees drawing circles in the air with our finger resting on our hip to get just the right motion for a “porn star.”

With the basics mastered we are led through a can-can style routine — one involving a feather boa and a chair (I’ll let your imagination run wild). Our incredibly exuberant and graceful teachers Cherry Whip and Daisy Deville tell us we look sooo sexy. I feel more like an elephant in heels than a sultry burlesque diva.

For the next six weeks I religiously practise my shoulder shimmies porn stars and butt jiggles in my bathroom mirror all the while trying to seduce my reflection with a “sexy burlesque face.” It’s hard not to laugh but one day as I lean into the mirror with a pouty-face and shake my tits for all they’re worth I’m kind of turned on. A sexy seed is germinating.

It’s getting close to performance night at Kabuki Guns’ ’80s Prom Night. I don’t know whether to cheer or throw up. I have started to feel pretty sexy as we strut our stuff to Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” in the community hall where we practise (and even sexier by myself in my living room). But the thought of shakin’ my goods in front of actual people makes my stomach plummet and my knees turn to jelly.

Even worse once I actually squeeze shimmy and grunt my way into my black satin corset I realize I can’t move anything between my legs and my arms. Which makes sexy shimmying difficult — and knocks my confidence level down a notch… or two. Maybe I’ll pass out onstage from lack of oxygen.

I spend the day of the show trying not to think about being half-naked in front of a bar full of people. It doesn’t work. Everyone in the office keeps asking me if I’m excited. I’m not. I’m a basket case. I get nothing done while secretly rehearsing the steps beneath my desk.

Dicken’s Pub is enormous. Or at least it looks that way when I arrive. Sparkly red streamers backdrop the stage and already people are starting to arrive decked out in ’80s threads. Sequins shoulder pads crinoline fluorescents and hairspray spread as far as the eye can see.

I am glitterfied by Daisy an experience I don’t plan to repeat. The bright blue and red glitter is wet and cold as she applies it to my eyes and lips. It dries making my eyelids and lips immobile. The red sparkles crunch between my teeth. I can’t wait for the glittering bowel movement.

Shooters. Just enough liquid courage to shed my inhibitions not so much that I barf or fall onstage. After two shots I head toward our “dressing room” (a corner curtained off with plush red velvet) to don my costume and pasties (the sparkly round things that ensure even if my tits pop out of my corset no one will actually get the Janet Jackson treatment and see my nipples).

I do things in the wrong order. Putting on the pasties first is a bad idea. My corset has to go on at the end otherwise I can’t bend over to pull up my stockings. So I’m perched on the edge of a chesterfield completely naked save for my pasties and undies behind a flimsy curtain with people drinking not two feet away on the other side frantically trying to put on my stockings but mostly I’m just succeeding in sticking my feet through the giant holes. My newfound fear: someone is going to walk in on me.

Successfully dressed incident-free I head out to have one more drink before the show starts in the hopes of silencing the worst-case scenarios running through my head. Do I have sparkles on my teeth? Are my tits going to pop out? What if I fall and sprain my ankle onstage? What if…?

The first strains of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” blast from the speakers. There are thousands of people in the audience (perhaps a slight exaggeration). My stomach makes a break for my throat. I have to pee. I step onstage and… it’s all a blur. Apparently I make it through without making an idiot of myself. Afterwards my friends who came to cheer me on tells me how wonderful and sexy I was. I remember nothing.

I need another drink.

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