Female February ft. Poison (Spectre Burlesque)
Updated: Jan 28
‘Every single body is a good body, and every body deserves the right to feel at home’
Listen to the Podcast:
Content Warning: this podcast contains topics such as Dermatillomania (Skin Picking Disorder) and Sexuality.
'In a world where a system has been put in place to beat women down for their sexuality, exploiting that for all its worth is my personal brand of revolution. It's a big fuck you to a world that made me feel unwelcome for my 'imperfections' ... This is my expression of intersectional feminism, this is just my way of trying to leave behind a better world than what I grew up in, by creating a space where everyone is welcome ...' Full Quote.
After identifying a gap within their city’s performing arts scene, two passionate puppies Poison + Holly created a Burlesque Company, May of 2017.
Spectre Burlesque Collective
'Ethereal but empowered, sinful and subdued. Sheffield’s very own erotic art collective. A family of unapologetic creatives, exploring body + sex positivity through performance art and burlesque’ Spectre Burlesque.
Tongue, meet cheek. A completely independently run company, where artists are the art + the bosses boss the stage.
Poison explains the name of the company, Spectre, was more than just an edgy term with a relevant meaning:
Something widely feared as a possible unpleasant or dangerous occurrence.
Indeed, spectre is a term classically known as a ghostly or widely feared being; something people are afraid of. The company saw this to play on the taboo of nudity + sexual empowerment, feared within modern society.
Spectre is also the Latin word for Spectrum, representing the core nature of this performance group: embracing different bodies, genders, sexualities + identities, to celebrate different types of artistic expression, including drag queens, spoken word artists, and more.
Poison’s Path to Performance
‘I can vividly remember the day I first found out about burlesque ... I was about 15 ... I’d been on YouTube for about 4 hours ... I came across videos of people performing in big burlesques showcases in America ... it was the first time I ever seen people who looked like me’
Growing up in the early 2000’s in Ireland, Poison explains the standards of beauty were unrealistic + harmful ideals. Tall + Thin, from your waist to your brows - #Relate.
After glimpsing into a world through an online lens, where bodies of all shapes: thick-thighed, soft + curvy features - are celebrated, Poison found somewhere that made them feel beautiful.
Self Care 1-2-3 with Poison:
‘Practical, Indulgent + Necessary’
1. Practical Self Care:
Improving the quality of one’s life through being organised, completing chores, future planning + forward thinking.
‘thinking what’s best for you tomorrow’
2. Indulgent Self Care:
Everyone’s favourite. Baths, self-pampering, taking yourself out for lunch... the little, or big, indulgences as a form of self love. It's devoting time, love + connection to yourself, for yourself.
‘[indulgent self care] serves it’s purpose. It makes you feel good, it makes you take time for yourself ... if you practise it mindfully’
3. Necessary Self Care:
The necessary forms of self care that nourish our body and soul on a daily basis. From the foods you eat, to your physical activity, internal dialogue, and more. The necessary forms of self care that you individually require to feel most balanced. This can take shape in any ways and will be unique to you. Perhaps it's meditation, spending time in nature, or listening to music... perhaps it's all those things!
‘every single day, before I go to bed, I thank every one of my limbs. I thank my feet for letting me dance, my legs for being strong, and my stomach for letting me eat food ... I thank every part of my body every day, because without it I couldn’t do what I do’
Yes, I have chills too. Jump to 13 mins on the podcast to hear Poison cover this, then rewind + play again, + rewind... until you these words tattoo your brain. This is a powerful practice + if you take anything from this blog post, take this ritual! Try it out + share your experience, I’d love to know - Email me, comment on this post, or direct message through Instagram!
‘It will force you to think about your body in way that you never had ... it will make you mindful of every single part of your body + what it does for you’
Difficulty Practising Gratitude
Something Poison + I discussed on the podcast was the difficulty of expressing gratitude. If you ever struggle to express gratitude - you’re not alone. We are experiencing a human existence and with that comes challenges. It’s very easy to lose sight of how fortunate our lives are. When storms come, they can darken even the lightest parts of our lives. Luckily, there’s something you can do about it.
Practising gratitude is good for almost every aspect of your life: psychological well-being, relationships, + even your physical health. But in truth, gratitude just doesn’t always come easy. Life isn’t easy, it’s a journey, + gratitude is a journey too.
Build your Gratitude Muscle
There are many gratitude activities + exercises you can do to deepen your self care roots, boost your mood + enhance the quality of your life. This includes the nightly conversation with your body (mentioned above), gratitude journaling, listing + letters. Something I do is simply take a moment before every meal, and thank the earth (in my head or aloud) for the food on my plate, 'blessed be.'
Further Reading on Gratitude:
Spectre Burlesque + You
‘It can be anything you want it to be, as deep, or as superficial as you want’
Spectre Burlesque aim to creative a safe space for everyone. In this way, everyone can find something they relate to that makes them feel both safe + visible.
Poison explains that the best thing about attending a Spectre Burlesque show is seeing what real people look like without clothes on. It’s real, unadulterated + unapologetic art.
‘[people] see a representation of themselves that they don’t see anywhere else’
Basically, go to a Spectre Burlesque show + expect to come home empowered. I personally felt in awe of the performers, their bravery, confidence + creative forms of expression.
Performing naked is undoubtedly a vulnerable act, but burlesque performers don’t look vulnerable - they look powerful as hell.
Spectre’s aim is for people feel more love for their body simply by watching the performers love their bodies so much.
‘as young people growing up, we’re taught that sexuality and sexual expression is very bad + wrong ... women are demonised for being sexual or expressing themselves in sexual ways. So, I think it allows you that space to discover things about yourself that you may have never known’
The Masculine + Feminine Energies of Burlesque
Poison explains that the overarching concept of shows is that all are welcome regardless of what dominant energy people feel they carry. Whether masculine or feminine, all identifications are encouraged to experience Spectre.
Yet, interestingly, there seems to be a role-shift that takes place within shows, in that performers portray a strong, confident + confronting masculine energy, taking control of the audience. Surrender to pleasure...
‘the more feminine or female energies are present within audience ... they’re participating and they’re watching ... as performers, all of us tend to express in quite typically masculine ways’
Poison explains the peculiar way in which burlesque can garner a balance of the divine energies within us, where both masculine + feminine are felt, tapped into, + expressed.
When Poison performs, they identify more with their feminine aspects, yet they feel a much stronger presence of masculine within them – strong and in control.
‘burlesque is the only time I ever feel like my gender is something that is completely fluid’
If you listened to the podcast start to finish, you will have heard my probing Poison for event spoilers!
To which they hinted about a very exciting + big collaboration, but without dropping any news bombs just yet (no matter how much I poked).
All we know is, watch out for April – good things are coming.
If you can’t wait until April (me either), a one-day festival called Harmony that coincides with International Women's Day will be featuring Spectre Burlesque + yours truly, this March 9th.
‘A brand new Festival featuring some of the brightest female names in music, comedy, spoken word, performance art, dance & more’
It’s a day + evening to celebrate the invaluable contribution made to the arts and entertainment industries by women in Sheffield, all over England, and across the globe.
Buy a ticket + fasten your seat belt. Spectre are putting on a empowering show to close the festival, featuring some of my very own super-shouty spoken word on body image + life with tits, including my latest piece called - the skin.
Thanks for watching/listening to this week's Post, bringing you the tits for Female February: a month of massage, tits + flowers.
If you haven't already, meet Nina + learn about massage as a form of self care. If you fancy a special Handle with Care discount on her holistic treatments, you can find the details at the end of the post.
Coming next week: Female February ft. Patagonia Essences, get ready to smell the roses!
A Mo[o]nday reminder: It's a Full Moon on Tuesday (tomorrow!) folks, what will you be letting go of? Find tips on Full Moon rituals here, and remember, to always, always
- Handle with Care