2015: review and resolutions.

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Gonna keep it short, gonna keep it sweet. 2015 was an eventful year; I graduated, started my masters degree, got a cat and much more. But in a lot of ways, I’m glad it’s over and I don’t wanna dwell on the past. Something I realised in 2015 was that I let go and forgave a lot of the bad feelings that I previously had and now I wanna keep moving on.

And here as my resolutions:

  1. Say sorry less, say thank you more.
  2. Be more kind, be more compassionate.
  3. Work harder, rehearse more.
  4. Say yes a little more.
  5. Get my cat to lose weight (seriously, she’s a tubby little kitty)

I have a few hopes for the year ahead but for now, that’s all I want to say.

Until next time,

Angie x

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Life is not a romantic comedy: things I learned from my last breakup…

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So this isn’t exactly news but I’m single again…it’s been this way for a bit now and to be honest over the past few years, I’ve been single more than I’ve been in a relationship. This year I met someone who I thought was wonderful…I loved the bones off of him. But it didn’t work out. It ended in a shitty way but it was probably all for the best. That’s life I’m afraid… I’ve dealt with it, moved on and don’t want to dwell on it. BUT I don’t want it to be a wasted experience, I don’t want to walk away from my first adult relationship without learning a few lessons. SO here are a few things I learned:

  1. You cannot save someone who doesn’t want to be saved.
    Being with someone who is so deeply troubled is hard, hard work. Especially if they take it out on you and you have your own shit to deal with. You cannot save someone who is set to self-destruct and doesn’t want to be saved. It was a conversation with a very good friend on the way back from Glasgow that helped me realise this; “his problems will always be greater and more important than yours. You cannot save someone who doesn’t want to be saved”. These are words I’ve heard before but never really understood until this year. To the lady that said them, I love you very much.
  2. You don’t always get closure. But that’s fine.
    I cannot count the number of relationships that I never got closure on. And when someone doesn’t pick up your calls, answer your messages or just refuses to talk to you like an human being, you can choose that’s it’s done. Take back the control.
  3. It doesn’t have to destroy you.
    In previous years, I’ve gone to bits and I was scared of going through it again. So instead I feigned indifference, threw myself head-first into everything else and moved on. Hey presto, I’m fine.
  4. Life is not a romantic comedy.
    This is the big one for me. They’re not going to turn up at your door when you least expect it or throw rocks at your window. They’re not going to call you in the middle of the night telling you they still love you or try to win you back. Life doesn’t work that way, ‘true love’ will not always prevail…maybe some people are the exception to the rule, but I don’t believe that I’m one of them. They’ll probably never contact you again (minus a pitiful ‘I’m sorry’ text) and they’ve probably moved on. That’s it. In my experience, no matter how much you still love them or want to work it out, they probably don’t feel the same way and they’ll probably never tell you. But maybe that’s okay, you can’t be with the wrong person to meet the right person (or some bullshit like that…I’ve got coursework to finish)

So there’s four things I learned. And I’m still helluva young so it’s not a big deal… I’m so used to being chronically single that the first month of a relationship I’m usually internally screaming (see THIS video). Anyway, expect for reflective posts in the next few days.

Until next time,

Angie x

It’s okay to cry.

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My name is Angelique and I am a self-confessed cry-baby. Just about anything sets me off; I cry when I see an emotionally-fuelled advert, film or viral video. I cry when I see someone else crying or even when imaging someone cry…I cry as easily as I blush. In fact, I often cry when someone yells at me, or when I’m embarrassed… and then I get even more embarrassed because I’m crying. See the issue/vicious cycle?

Reasons why I don’t drink very much very often

I’m gonna make this quick because there’s not a whole lot to say, the point is short and sweet. I’m writing this today because I want to send a message out to all other criers out there: IT’S OKAY. It’s okay to cry because you’re having a hard week or because you’ve had a nasty shock or because you watched that episode of Futurama where Fry gets to say goodbye to his mum in a dream (DON’T JUDGE ME). The point is, you shouldn’t feel ashamed of having emotions or the way you express them. I’m okay with how much I cry, it’s normal for me. I just wish other people would be too.

I’ve had a lot of emotional moments lately and how other people react really shapes how I feel about it. Crying reveals very raw emotion that a lot of people aren’t that comfortable about. Maybe it’s because as a society, we are very emotionally repressed or maybe it’s because crying is perceived as weakness and lack of control or even a manipulative act.
My experience is mostly people panicking, getting impatient or just not knowing what to do…here are the worst things you can say at this point:

“Oh god, turning on the waterworks/here come the tears”
“You cry too much”
“You’re too sensitive”
“Oh god don’t cry/get upset”
“That’s a stupid thing to get upset over.”
Etc etc.

It’s just not very constructive, if anything it can just make someone feel ashamed or like crying even more. Anything that invalidates the experience is less than helpful. Here are some phrases that are slightly more helpful and/or comforting:

“Let it out”
“It’s okay to cry”
“Let me get you a tissue”
“Do you want to talk about it? You don’t have to if you don’t want to”
“Is there anything I can do that would help?”
Etc etc

The best moments recently have been where two separate friends witnessed me having a moment and just hugged me and told me it was okay to cry. No judgement and in fact, very few words needed; just reassurance that what was happening was okay and allowed. I’m so tired of apologising over and over again between sobs, hearing someone say “it’s okay” is such an intense relief.

Art by Ambivalently Yours: https://society6.com/ambivalentlyyours

Crying should be a THING. Let’s make crying a normalised act that is okay. Sure it’s not always convenient, like if you’re in the middle of work and someone has yelled at you or if you’ve stalled on a roundabout and just can’t get it together…but it’s still okay to cry. Remember that.

Lots of love to you all,

Until next time,

Angie x

Why nobody cares that you don’t like burlesque: an open letter to so-called ‘critics’

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So I’ve just returned from a short three-day stint at the fringe; I’m tired, smelly and I’m covered in glitter? Any wild guesses at what I’ve been up to? YES folks! PERFORMING! Performing of the burlesque nature…

Sexy South-West ladies shaking it up North!

Sexy South-West ladies shaking it up North!

…and yet after a wonderful three days shaking my stuff and taking in some amazing comedy, a bitter taste has been left in my mouth. If you are part of the community, you know exactly why…THIS:

Burlesque

Ahh, yes, we have another so-called ‘expert’ trying to be edgy and playing devil’s avocado (yes I know it’s pronounced ‘advocate’ but I love a good Dad joke). I’m gonna cut to the cheese here; this isn’t anything new, edgy or original. We’ve heard this before, a million times, it’s not controversial… now, if you continue reading, I will attempt to pick this piece apart. You yourself can read it HERE.

First of all, I would like to point out the first burning issue with this piece: the photograph used. This may seem a little irrelevant, but that image is not of a burlesque performer. It’s actually a promo shot created by the National Trust team at Killerton House, which was used to promote a short, daytime show that myself and my business partner was in. You can read more about this event HERE and HERE (read the comments; they’re hilarious). While this is a little mundane, it highlights just how misinformed this article is. I don’t know if the writer herself chose this image, but whoever did, it was a poor choice. This is not one of the amazing images I’ve seen of performers, fans in hand, shaking their stuff, pulling amazing/impossible shapes. It is of a woman, dressing up in what she views as burlesque.

My beautiful business, Fantastic Ms Fanny, partner shaking and shimmying last Halloween. Image by Celtography.

My beautiful business, Fantastic Ms Fanny, partner shaking and shimmying last Halloween. Image by Celtography.

The second issue I have with this article is just how misinformed it is. The person who wrote this, like many of the critics, are so far removed from the industry and have not seen enough shows. Burlesque, like many performance arts, is DIVERSE. There are a LOT of styles; classic, neo, American, British, Boston, comedy, sideshow, aerial, whiptease, boylesque, drag kings and queens, story-telling narrative, character, WHATEVER. There are so many subcultures, trends and little pockets of communities that have their own style. This person missed out on a LOT of diversity that was at the fringe; I went up to the fringe with five ladies; Between us we had a unicorn, a face-sitting and menstruation act (that were both subversive and satirical and combined a number of theatre skills), a vampire and dolly, a fallen showgirl, ‘Where’s Wally?’ and a Mummy…that’s a lot of diversity between just five women. I saw showgirls, werewolf showgirls, singers, goddesses, fire assels and everything inbetween. Another performer, Bethany Blue, part of the Moreorlesque sisters, has pointed out that she is in a show with a performer, Fanny Dent, dressed as a tampon… it’s very clear that this girl has been to watch two very traditional shows and decided that’s reflective of the whole industry (even though it’s actually like reading two scientific papers, ignoring the whole body of literature surrounding it and writing a review based on those two papers).

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You wanna talk about diversity in burlesque? Let’s talk about diversity in burlesque…depicted above; myself as Pris, Top Cat and a demon queen. Images by Neil Lewis, Celtography and Tony Barrett Powell.

A third issue, really, why does EVERYONE have to be subversive and satirical? Quite frankly, if you wanna cover yourself in sparkles and strip in a beautiful, opulent costume, be my guest; subversive is not for everyone, sometimes you just want to see something visually stunning and sometimes it’s just not what you do. And these girls don’t pretend they’re being subversive and edgy, like this writer thinks they are. They just want to make something beautiful. Burlesque, as an art, has changed and grown since it’s first definition, and there isn’t really a suitable ‘one size fits all’ definition anymore. Even if you are watching something that’s very classic, you could argue it is satirical, as it’s sending ‘something’ up. It’s all about how you interpret it! I have had around three different interpretations for my ‘The Red Shoes’ act, much like you could look at a painting and see a number of different images and stories.

One of my favourite burlesque showgirls; Oceana Pearl. Image by Joe Earlem.

One of my favourite burlesque showgirls; Oceana Pearl. Image by Joe Earlem.

And of course, the fourth issue is a biggie, the whole “why are we pretending that burlesque isn’t stripping” that is the main point of the article. Love, have you spoken to any of us in the industry? Because most of us actually do call ourselves strippers or have an opinion on the use of the terminology. There’s nothing wrong with strippers and stripping and sex workers, etc, and I feel that denying burlesque is built on that would be shaming where it came from. Many burlesque artists, famous and or not, began in strip clubs. I have friends who grew from these roots. It’s something that I am not 100% qualified to write about because I’ve never set foot in a strip club, nor have I worked as a stripper. I have friends who are/have been strippers and sex workers, but I feel that this particular matter could be picked apart by somebody who has more experience and expertise that I do. All I can say is that I support and respect what they do.

tAqiafY

A final note I’d like to end on, is the slight air of disdain in this article. I know at no point does she really express her dislike of burlesque, but many a previous critic has. We all love to complain, we really do; whether it’s about the weather, public transport or the next door neighbour, we love a good moan. And because we have the interweb in our hands, we can now let the world know exactly what we’re thinking. Everyone is of course entitled to an opinion and we have, to an extent, freedom of speech…but there are times when I can’t help but think “Who cares?”. Why can’t you just look at something you don’t like and be a bit more diplomatic? “Hey, it’s not for me, but I can understand the appeal for others!”

Image by http://wealldraw.tumblr.com/

Not everyone loves burlesque and as I said before, everyone is entitled to their opinion and when you put something out there, somebody is inevitably going to express that opinion. But it’s getting boring and a tad irritating, because guess what? Constantly complaining about things you hate gets dull and obnoxious, especially when you are trying to be provocative and borderline offensive to a community of people. It’s not cute, funny or edgy and it’s definitely not original! Any laughs you get are just kind of cheap. It’s not gonna stop us doing what we’re doing, and people aint gonna stop watching. If you don’t like it, don’t watch.

Haters, keep on hating. Shakers keep on shaking! Image by Fudge Photography.

Haters, keep on hating. Shakers keep on shaking! Image by Fudge Photography.

Until next time, Angie x

From coast to coast…adventures in Weston-Super-Mare!

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SO as many of you may or may not know, I recently handed in my final year research project…and what a sweet relief it was.

I’m not much of a party animal and to be frank, I was fucking exhausted once it was all done. Therefore, my post-dissertation celebration was a booking I had taken from the wonderful Miss Lou Leigh Blue and Mr Screaming Keating; The Copper Feel Cabaret at Tattoo Kulture Convention’s Seaside Shindig at Weston-Super-Mare Winter Gardens.

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I was going to be staying at Miss Blue’s in Bristol afterwards with Ana Kiss, Roxy Stardust and their other halves (and the pussy cats!) and as I was also going to see a whole load of lovelies I only get to see once in a while, I thought it would make a suitable weekend of celebration! It was also a chance to get some good experience; I was performing an act I don’t usually get to perform, a Dr Sketchy’s AND I was dancing with a live band!

So I packed up my costumes, and made my way to Somerset…here is the photographic evidence:

Arrival!

Arrival!

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The Copper Feel Cabaret team, assemble!

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Pre-show photo

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Image by Tony Barrett Powell

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Image by Tony Barrett Powell

Aye aye sailor! Image by Tony Barrett Powell

Aye aye sailor!
Image by Tony Barrett Powell

Ahoyhoy! Image by Tony Barrett Powell

Ahoyhoy!
Image by Tony Barrett Powell

Sometimes I am deeply thankful that I remember to shave my armpits... Image by Tony Barrett Powell

Sometimes I am deeply thankful that I remember to shave my armpits…
Image by Tony Barrett Powell

Post-show glory! Image by Tony Barrett Powell

Post-show glory!
Image by Tony Barrett Powell

And the drinking begins...

And the drinking begins…

Sillies with Lou Leigh Blue and Roxy Stardust

Sillies with Lou Leigh Blue and Roxy Stardust

We are available for weddings...

We are available for weddings…

The birth of Boo...

The birth of Boo…

Back at Boo's with beer, curry and Netflix

Back at Boo’s with beer, curry and Netflix

Waking up in cat lady heaven...

Waking up in cat lady heaven…

I don't pay taxes!

I don’t pay taxes!

WHAT IS GOING ON

WHAT IS GOING ON

Pre-show love!

Pre-show love!

Someone get me to a vet...because my swans are sick! Image by David Hammonds

Someone get me to a vet…because my swans are sick!
Image by David Hammonds

Getting down with Boogie Me Image by David Hammonds

Getting down with Boogie Me
Image by David Hammonds

Local newspaper coverage! Shame about that headline...

Local newspaper coverage! Shame about that headline…

Double-page spread! Well done Miss Blue and Mr Keating!

Double-page spread! Well done Miss Blue and Mr Keating!

There’s even this wonderful showreel of the Sunday show made by Mr Hammonds:

And I decide to keep my own video diary of the Sunday:

Overall, it was a wonderful, fun-filled weekend and was the best way to round off term 2 at uni! Thank you so much to Lou Leigh Blue and Screaming Keating for having me and for their hospitality! Love to you both and everyone I saw that weekend ❤ (thank you especially for all your patience and putting up with my hysteria…)

Until next time…

Angie x

Shakin’ all Over…

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Here’s a little preview of a little something I threw together for a show in February. I had this stunning costume I commissioned my good friend Kitty Kane to make for me:

Image by Tony Pattinson

Image by Tony Pattinson

Image by Tony Pattinson

Image by Tony Pattinson

But I haven’t been able to use it all that much! So I decided to get my moneys worth out of it… I was performing for a masquerade-themed show so I figured what better than this costume? I found a sexy song from the swinging sixities, sewed up a new fringed panel skirt and threw on a bombshell blonde wig. The result?

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Image by Tony Pattinson

Image by Tony Pattinson

Image by Tony Pattinson

Image by Tony Pattinson

Image by Tony Pattinson

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Image by Tony Pattinson

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Image by Tony Pattinson

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Image by Tony Pattinson

And here’s a little videographic evidence:

Not a bad start and definitely worth rehearsing, developing and working on!

And the fun doesn’t stop there; this weekend just gone, I got to do one of my favourite things…dancing with a live band!

Image by David Hammonds

Image by David Hammonds

Image by David Hammonds

Image by David Hammonds

Image by David Hammonds

Image by David Hammonds

And here is the videographic evidence right here:

(What do you do when your glove gets caught in your headdress? Carry the hell on!!)

Enjoy!

Until next time,

Angie x

Relapsing: Handling Anxiety, Self-Soothing and Bouncing Back.

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As I mentioned in one of my most recent posts, it’s no secret that I have had difficulties with my mental health but it has been a while since I’ve talked about my anxiety.

I haven’t really talked about it on here yet because of two reasons
1. I have been anxiety-free since May last year and there hasn’t been much to report…
2. I have very few positive things to say about it.
I’m an optimist, even in the face of crappy times and I try to find the good in all situations… but I find dealing with anxiety a lot harder than dealing with depression. I would much rather just have depression on it’s own than have anxiety dumped on top of it; feeling low I can handle with but constant terror is completely debilitating and frightening.

Being free of chronic anxiety for almost a year was an absolute blessing (minus one or two minor freak-outs that passed) but I was unfortunate enough recently to have it re-triggered. I don’t want to go into how my anxiety was triggered and what happened, but I will tell you that once it reared it’s ugly head, I felt pure unadulterated fear. My heart was pumping, stomach churning, body shaking, mind racing; I couldn’t sit still for love nor money and I could not focus myself onto anything. I started to dissociate and then my thoughts began to eat me up; “What if it gets worse? What if this lasts forever? What if nothing ever feels real again? What if I have anxiety for the rest of my life?” The worse these thoughts got, the more I dissociated. The more I dissociated, the worse the thoughts got.

Luckily while I was in this bizarre acute state, I had my fella with me. He was an absolute marvel and stayed by my side for three days; he listened to me cry and freak out, talked to me in the bath so I didn’t have to be alone with my thoughts, made sure I ate and slept, took me to see some bunnies, drove us out to the moors and in general just made sure I was okay. It’s very early in our relationship and I am incredibly grateful that I can finally be honest with someone about what goes on in my head and that someone will go out of their way to be there for me if I need them. By the fourth day he gave me the tough love and insisted we go about our separate lives as normal (so I wouldn’t become dependent on him) and we check in later on It’s what we both needed, especially as he works all weekend and isn’t going to quit his job to care for me, so I need to get used to handling being on my own…bit selfish?! (Kidding…)

My boy.

Three days on from that, I was fine. I was back down to earth and I spent two days on my own in my bedroom making costumes. I looked back at that past week, as surreal as it was, and breathed a sigh of relief that it was over. Okay I lied; there is one positive experience I can take from this; it’s over, it’s done, I can keep on going and I now know that if I relapse I will get over it. I used to be so scared of the day that I would feel this crippling anxiety again. Yes it’s unpleasant that it happened and to know that it could happen again but it’s even better to know that I can get through it and get back to functioning without fear. So how did I do this? To an extent, I got lucky; I have a very caring boyfriend by my side, but in the past I was not so lucky and had to get through it on my own. But company appears to be the way forward! So here are my steps towards tackling anxiety and practising self-soothing.

What happens for me is that I feel pure TERROR: I can’t sit still, I’m restless, I feel sick, nothing is soothing or comforting. You want to run and run and run and cry and you cannot bear it…being concious is agony but you cannot sleep, you cannot eat,  you cannot function. What the hell do you do? This is how I bounced back…

Ahaaaa!

1) LET IT ALL OUT – Cry, scream, write it down, run around your back garden for ages, do whatever it is you need to release what’s inside you. For me, crying is extremely cathartic and talking about it out loud helps rationalise it.

2) SEEK REASSURANCE – Try to seek out some company from someone you love, trust and find soothing. This could be in person, over skype or on the phone. Talk it out, cry, scream, just do what you need to do to help you realise it’s not real, it’s all in your head and it will pass. If there is no one around (it might be late at night, everyone you love and trust might be away, perhaps there is no one you think will understand, etc) there are services you can phone (I have never done this but I imagine it might be of some comfort) or you can write it all out in a diary or even an email/message.

3) BREATHE – Inhale for four seconds, hold it for two seconds, exhale for four seconds. Concentrate on this, take note of what you can feel in your body, notice your heart rate slowing; it’s going to be okay, you are alive, you will be okay. If you can, try some mindfulness practise…there are plenty of really good free resources out there.

4) SOOTH YOURSELF – whether it’s with a cuddle or a fluffy object or some nice calming smells, find what works. Enjoy the small pleasures, remember that the bad feelings will pass but these good feelings are constant. Life aint so bad… Sometimes, I like to a pair of gloves that I’ve sprayed with perfume so that if I feel overwhelmed, I can inhale the scent inconspicuously and focus my attention.

5) DAMAGE CONTROL – often when this hits, you have responsibilities; the world keeps on spinning and you have to keep up somehow, which can add even more onto your anxiety. Touch in with colleagues, friends etc, make sure everything is okay at work, re-organise your diary and re-schedule appointments. This will help you feel back in control. In my case, I had to re-arrange meetings and photoshoots I had booked and get some extenuating circumstances for my university work. One of the first things I did was contact my mentors so tat they could help and guide me.

6) ABSORBING TASKS – Do you have a hobby that steals all of your attention? Engage with it. For me, it’s costume-making; nothing is more absorbing and focusing that gluing rhinestones onto a pair of pants or constructing a pair of fans or swearing at my sewing machine for hours on end… it’s a very grounding technique as you are concentrating and using your hands which brings me back down to earth wonderfully. If you’re not into it then try reading, exercising, watching an addictive television programme! Whatever it is the sucks you in.

7) GO OUTSIDE – This is optional and would only be something I would recommend in nice weather… but it’s something that really helps me; I like to hula hoop in the park, breathe the air and notice the trees, flowers, birds etc.

8) SEEK ADVICE – This bit is also very optional but sometimes speaking to a professional can be very very valuable. If you decide you want to do this, I would either advise researching services in your area or speaking to your GP about your symptoms and options and insist on a referral.

9) DEBRIEF AND PREPARE – Check in with yourself; how do you feel? How did you feel? What did you learn? Did you get through it? Could you do it again? Are you ready for face the world? Prepare yourself by making plans, tidying your space, making lists, making sure you have the food you need and that you’re ready for work or whatever the days/weeks ahead have in store for you.

10) CONTINUE WITH YOUR LIFE – Ease yourself back into your routine one day at a time, take it slow and if you still don’t feel right, remember that it will pass, take it one day at a time.

So there you have it; how I dealt with my awful breakdown the other week. This may not be what works for you but this is what gets me through; after four years I’m glad to say I finally know how to harness my anxiety. There’s no step-by-step guide for everyone out there so if this one doesn’t work for you, write your own ❤

Until next time,

Angie x