Inspiration January 11, 2018
As if you had forgotten.
Women are impressive. Obviously, I already know that, being one, and working in an environment where I’m surrounded by some of the most driven and hardworking women I’ve ever met.
But if you ever need a reminder of that fact, let me tell you a good place to get that reality check: a burlesque show. You probably weren’t expecting that answer. Or hey, maybe you’re enlightened and you were. But I will be damned if I can think of a recent time in which I was more inspired to get my schlubby ass in gear.
And not because the women are attractive. I mean, they are, but let’s have a little more depth, shall we? For example, I was most recently blown away by Wicked Woman Silent Femmes, a show founded and choreographed by Kelsea Alabama and Noelle Frances. They also design and create their own costumes. Oh, and they’re performers.
You know how sometimes you can be the couch critic — scoffing as you watch someone dancing or playing sports on TV and thinking, “I could do that”? Well, the entire time I was at the Wicked Woman “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” show, all I was thinking was, “I can’t do ANY of that.”
I can’t even imagine how much upper body strength pole dancing takes. Look, I can’t even do a real push up. I do a “girl” one… and even then, I’m still kind of cheating. Meanwhile, these women are throwing themselves around with nothing but a pole and their own strength to keep themselves up — while wearing some of the tallest heels I’ve ever seen.
The shows feature pole dance, aerial artistry and contortion and, per the founders, “embody and encourage powerful female sexuality and commemorate women of past eras through thoughtful and dynamic performances to music of today.”
The performance I attended featured “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,” a 1920s silent German horror film, playing in the background as the women performed. They dressed in strange costumes with eerie makeup and accessories to fit the film’s unsettling mood.
And on every table, audience members could find a dedication to the “Wicked Woman of the Night,” Dorothy Arzner. The Wicked Woman shows always honor a chosen “Wicked Woman,” another way to hammer home the empowerment and pride of the evening.
I loved the dinner reading material, especially since I was embarrassed to admit I hadn’t known about this badass film legend. And I like to call myself a movie buff! Boy, was I missing out. I mean, think about how toxic the film industry was for women in the ’40s. They just made a whole show – FX’s “Feud” – to document the way men manipulated and took advantage of women in those days. Hell, look at how bad it is now.
But back in the TWENTIES, Arzner managed to negotiate her way into becoming a director for Paramount, and even snagged the honor of helming the studio’s first talkie, “The Wild Party.” She also invented the boom mic, which is still a vital and widely used piece of equipment on film sets.
But that’s not even the end of her story! Years later, Arzner, clearly a #WomanThatDoes, took it upon herself to share her many years of wisdom with the future of cinema at UCLA’s Film School. There, she taught and influenced Francis Ford Coppola, who would go on to direct “The Godfather.” So yeah, you can pretty much thank Arzner for “The Godfather.” (ish).
These days, it’s nice to have an all-around pleasant experience, especially if it happens to revolve around the uplifting and celebration of women. And Wicked Woman was a supremely pleasant experience — even with a creepy German horror movie on in the background (which, tbh, I was kind of into).
I even won a raffle to go to a Wicked Woman Sewing Workshop ($75), where Noelle and Kelsea teach participants how to make pieces for their own costumes, such as leggings or bralettes and thigh-highs. And I never win anything.
So, if you want to bask in the magic and strength of women, Wicked Women Silent Femmes is the first Monday of every month and the Wicked Woman Picture Show is the third Monday of each month. Doors are at 7pm, with the show running from 8-10pm at The El Cid in Los Angeles.
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