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  • Writer's pictureMarlene DeMure

Anatomy of an Act: Ultimate 90s Girl Crush

This act has grown near and dear to my heart, I must admit.

It is, from the outside, a simple and unobtrusive act. But to me, the performance of it is what gives this piece it’s art and fire and roar, so to speak.

As before, let’s start with how this act came about and the inspiration behind it, shall we?

I had just completed and started performing my debut solo act, Live Deliciously, and so I was looking to put together something that would play to my strengths (slow burn) but still be wildly different from my first piece. I didn’t have a wildly incredible back story to fuel this act, but I did have a lot of emotion, and so there you go.

My Fishnet Follies graduating ‘class’ contained some wonderful people, like Miss Gatita Negra, Tiki Tease, and Violet By Nature. One night, I believe while attending a Hubba Hubba Revue show, which was themed, “O, Canada,” we began to talk above the pulsing music and excited chatter about what kinds of acts we wanted to do next. By some happenstance, the majority of us wanted to do acts that were purple in tone, and so laughingly, we decided to call ourselves the Candied Violets.

A kind of sub-group of the Fishnet Follies, if you will. Mostly I think it meant that we were all good friends—still are!—but we also contemplated a group act that would showcase our collective and individual talents. As is the way with many group acts, it hasn’t yet come to fruition, but the point of this is not the group act, it’s that we all loved the color purple and somehow that justified diverging from the main point of this essay so much.

By the way, if you have a chance, check out each of the people mentioned above because they are amazing!

The other mechanisms behind this act besides color scheme was my desire to feel like, ‘that girl,’ and my pain over a broken heart. I wanted to be, you know, that girl. The one in those 90s sitcoms whom everyone desires but seems untouchable, not out of your league but just a world apart, you know? Desired. More specifically by someone like the person who had just recently ripped my heart out, but that’s really a story for another day.

And the 90s thing was a theme that I somehow stumbled upon, probably from copious amounts of Buffy, but it worked!

Suffice to say, there will probably always be some part of me that is trying to work through that, and I’m not ashamed of that. Add to the equation the fact that I had never felt sexy before, ever; it’s still a difficult feeling for me, but it comes around slightly more often now. In creating this act, I was trying to emulate a different persona, and I think it worked out. In my head, as the song begins, I feel like the woman who isn’t sure, who is reaching out and wanting.

But as the act progresses and the song goes on, I’m the one who’s being reached for, and that’s a powerful feeling. I hope you won’t judge too much when I say I enjoy it quite a bit. Especially at the end with the spectacularly heaving bosom and thrusting hips.

To achieve this goal, I gathered the following costume pieces:

A lavender and black bra and panty set. A thin white men’s tank top. Acid wash women’s jeans. A violet plaid overshirt that buttoned up the front. One pair of pasties I made myself from buckram.

Not showstopping, I know! The tank top, jeans, and button up all came from Target and probably cost me, collectively? $40. The bra and panty set was probably close to $60, and I would estimate that I spent maybe $100 on rhinestones. To some people that all sounds like a lot, and to others in the burlesque world, that’s laughably little.

But shit. Put me in those things and put my song on the speakers and I feel like magic. Not like light, airy magic but like something you can’t stop watching, a heavy glamour. Watch me flip my hair, watch me bend backwards, watch me rend my tank top in half, watch me run my hands over my own body.

Maybe my back hurts because I didn’t stretch enough in rehearsal or my knee is aching from a torn meniscus, or I had a migraine when I got on the stage, but now none of that matters. You see and I feel.

You might see that I’m smiling, because that’s it – the magic is working. I’m working… out that emotion and gaining satisfaction and I’m suddenly a different person. Isn’t that the best part of burlesque? Magnifying the smallest pieces of ourselves until they become something solid that we can share with others.

I tried to submit this act to several different festivals, and struck out each time. I understand! I’m a newer performer, it’s not a flashy act, and from the outside it looks much too simple for a festival. No one has to book me for this act, but damn I wish people would sometimes – because they would mean that they too, saw the magic and the fire and the roar that starts out small and ends in full force.

If you’ve seen me do this act, I hope this has opened a small door into this piece for you, and brings out the facets like it’s a diamond just polished. I hope you enjoyed the anatomy of this act, Ultimate 90’s Girl Crush.

Maybe I need to work on a new title.

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