Burlesque quickly became a passion from the moment I entered its world. Within 6 months I knew that this was something I wanted to do until the day I leave this earth for another plane of existence. So when 2016 became the worse year I have ever experienced to date, ending a destructive marriage and with it the publicly airing of personal matters that had encroached onto professional ones, saying that I had lost my passion for Burlesque was an understatement. I felt that it had been burnt into a blackened crust, never to return. A piece of my heart had left me. It didn’t leave me much of it.
Initially, even the idea of putting another festival together was like getting blood from stone. It seemed damn near impossible. I had no motivation other than that I couldn’t help to feel obligated to repair the damage that had been done, not for myself or my satisfaction, but for a community who prides itself on supporting each other. In a time when I couldn’t find the will to get out of bed let alone back myself, I had an outpouring of support from others which helped me to realise that giving up was not an option. That support overrode the murmurs of gossip and doubt that I heard existed. It was however my best friend and now co-producer Miss Cherry Lashes telling me “I will fight you tooth and nail if you don’t do this” that started the smallest of embers to get back up.
And so planning begun again. But with each step of the planning process, it seemed like there was an obstacle in the way. The only thing stopping me for giving up was that look of “I will reign down hell on you if you quit’” from Miss Cherry Lashes. Considering I had already been through hell in 2016, you can imagine how scary that would have to be for me not to defy her.
Slowly but surely, things fell into place. But then I wondered “is anyone going to apply?”, “are they really going to come support this event or are they going to wait to see how it goes this year first?” and finally “okay they are coming…. But is it so they can just see if it’s going to be a trainwreck and they want to watch it go down in flames?”. Without much faith in myself, how could I hope others would have have faith in me? George Michael said it best “Ya just gotta have faith”. Thankfully my co-producer had enough for both of us.
Once opening night arrived, I had resigned myself to the believe that what will be will be, but at least I can pay the bills. On the Friday, I kept wondering what could go wrong. Then by the second half of the King & Queen night, I sat, I watched and I started to take it in. People were enjoying themselves. They required little encouragement to do so, and the quality of performances were to an incredibly high standard across the board. Talk of how great the show was filtered through and by the end of the evening, I realised that my sense of obligation had dissipated and my faith was returning.
Come Saturday morning my anxiety, my fear, my fatigue and my morning cup of tea, came up in a hurry – something I have never experienced so intensely before. Not only did I have the festival to finish co-producing, that evening I was to debut my first new act in two years, an act that has been highly anticipated by many. If there was any a time to really show the world how much of a failure I was, this was the day it was going to happen. Having our new King shove ice-cream in my face surprisingly helped. By the time I took the stage, the fear had been replaced by a feeling of freedom, and as I watched the audience, and Judith Stein watched me side stage, the feeling of passion returned in a fiery blaze. I was back, and I felt better than I had ever been.
The next morning at the Golden Garters NZ Burlesque Industry Awards, my passion was joined by pride. Pride in my peers for achieving what they had achieved; pride in them having faith in me when it would have been just as easy to write me off; pride in myself for not giving up, putting on a great festival and proving to myself that I belonged on that stage; and pride in showing to those who doubt me (myself included) that I am and always will be a part of Burlesque. To all those that kept the faith, thank you. You are my heroes.
Passion reminds you that anything is achievable if you want it badly enough. If you lose it, it can return. You just may need to find it in others first to spark the ember again and to help you nurture it until you can hold the flame yourself. Let your passion burn bright, and always, always have faith.