Burlesque is about self-love and confidence, but one New Orleans club failed to get the message when it reportedly fired a popular dancer because she was overweight.
If you’ve never been to a burlesque show, you’re missing out on seeing incredible female performers of all shapes and sizes whose charisma, talent and positive body image is truly inspirational. But the management at Lucky Pierre’s in New Orleans clearly didn’t get that memo because they reportedly fired a performer named Ruby Rage because she was overweight and didn’t fit their high “standard for burlesque.”
Rage was a dancer in The Blue Book Cabaret show at the club Lucky Pierre’s and had worked there for one year before she began noticing her name had vanished from the schedule. When she spoke with upper management, she says she was told her body type didn’t fit in with the burlesque show.
Lucky Pierre’s has reportedly defended its position, citing famous (and thin) burlesque stars like Dita von Teese as women they believe fit the impossibly high standard they’re seeking. They’re also making it clear that folks are using “a sensitive subject like body shaming to incite a misled mob” and that they let the dancer go because of expectations they have about “skill, costume and entertainment.”
Oh, yes, in case you’re wondering, Ruby Rage has a lot of supporters who are slamming the club for the way they treated her.
I want to be fair here and not accuse Lucky Pierre’s of terminating Rage’s employment because of her weight. And I sincerely hope that wasn’t the reason because it’s one that goes against everything that makes burlesque far more riveting than your average striptease performed at a typical gentleman’s club.
Unlike stripping, burlesque is an expression of self-love that has even more to do with theater and comedy than it does with taking off one’s clothing. The naked body is used as a prop in burlesque and a performer who has a “perfect” body and D cups isn’t automatically going to cut it based solely on her beauty. She has to bring her game, as well. She has to be able to transform into characters and appeal to both the men and women in her audience. Whereas stripping is purely about appealing to the male gaze (and the male everything else), burlesque allows us to watch a woman find joy in her body, no matter how much she weighs.
The good news is that Rage will not be unemployed for long. I’m sure that, given the publicity she has received, a club that understands what makes burlesque so captivating will snatch her up in a heartbeat.