Miss Burlesque NSW
Tonight I took a step away from my usual burlesque, and debuted something close to my heart, with what I hope is a strong message.
Competing in Miss Burlesque Australia, NSW Final is always an honour, and an utter privilege. It’s not a space that everyone can take up, so tonight I chose to take my art to a different level, and making it do something more than just sparkle.
My unique act
My act, The Modern Mainstream Feminist, is the result of almost a year long process, looking at what is really meaningful to me and how I could use my voice in a burlesque space to create change. I consulted with many people from across Australia and New Zealand, and rewrote the Major-General’s song. I take the mickey out of myself and other feminists like me who intend to act but may get caught up or struggle to do it all (and therefore any of it), and instead implore us all to take meaningful action. It’s inspired in part by the Guilty Feminist – a book and podcast I, and many friends, enjoy.
Instead of everyone trying to work on everything all the time, we can each lend our voices to to a few focused topics, and instead lift up and amplify the voices around us for the issues they are supporting. By breaking it down in to smaller manageable chunks, we can make a lot of simultaneous change together, in one “collective song” – many parts, many harmonies, many melodies, but all essentially singing to the same tune for the same purpose: change.
Tonight was not about the reveal of flesh, but the reveal of the soul. I hope I have inspired people, or listen people up who have felt flat and disengaged with the feminism movement. I hope I have reinvigorated, or lifted up those who already do so much. But most of all, i hope I’ve made you think.
Homelessness and Mae
It’s not public or common knowledge that I’ve been homeless twice, or that I support a number of charities fighting to end homelessness. Tonight I take that step out in to the open and sing loudly from the stage about it.
I spoke on stage about my experiences of Homelessness – both as an adult and as a child. Now with a 5 minute time limit, it’s only possible to just scratch the surface. So instead I invited everyone in the audience, who might feel like a guilty or overwhelmed feminist – like me, to focus on just one or a few feminist issues that mean the most to them, and add their voices to actively support change in those areas. My costume was entirely sources from Vinnies or other charity op-shops, the proceeds of which go towards programs and support for people experiencing homelessness.
The everyday feminist
I finished on stage wearing a t-shirt that says “everyday feminist” which I have launched to inspire and empower more people to use their voice every day. You can buy an “everyday feminist” shirt or tank online and all profits will be donated to Homelessness charities.
For those wondering what homelessness charities I have supported in the past, here is a short list:
Jacaranda Cottage – a refuge for young women age 18-25 experience or at risk of Homelessness in the Sutherland Shire.
Orange Sky Australia – most recently I took the Sudsy Challenge, wearing the same outfit for 3 days to raise funds and awareness. They provide laundry services, shower facilities, and most importantly conversation and connection for people experiencing homelessness.
Asylum Seeker Centre, Newtown – I have helped fundraise and have met some inspirational friends. When people seek refuge in Australia, they often have little to no money or support and are at a high risk of homelessness.
The Social Outfit – I took part in a fundraiser for The Social outfit this year, wearing one piece of clothing for 5 days. Their programs train refugees and often give them their first Australian job.
The Wayside Chapel – I remember visiting the Wayside Chapel in the late 90s as a teenager on a school trip. It was one of those memories that stuck. I support them through donations, especially when others are fundraising for them.
Homelessness NSW is a great resource and recently marked Homelessness Week in August.
I will keep working to share information and support others to add their voice to the chorus.
If you would like to sing along with me next time, here are the re-written lyrics, now for The Modern Mainstream Feminist act by Mae de la Rue:
I am the very model of a modern mainstream feminist
I don the suit, I paint my face, present the world a pacifist
I’m told to smile, don’t rock the boat, it’s just a joke, you get the gist
But deep down right inside myself this woman’s really very pissed
For equal rights, we’re not there yet, is that the point you really missed?
The not all men, the gender gap, the patriarch’s misogynist.
To see the jocks, the blokey blokes ignore the point across the news
Is this the side of history the one the that you are going to choose? [Chorus repeat]
Equality and gender rights’ the fight we can’t afford to lose
Some casual misogyny’s the quickest way to light my fuse
Fix my suit and paint my face, present the world a pacifist,
I am the very model of a modern mainstream feminist! [Chorus repeat]
Domestic chores and household things are juggled by the women folk
A helpful man who pulls his weight is seen as the butt of the joke
But call him Dad, he’ll babysit, the world will give him the applause
I mention all the work I do, they’ll see that as the gender wars
Career success, become a wife, maintain the house and pop out kids
The expectation for my life is written before taking bids
My bodily autonomy, the right to choose was so hard won
Now’s the time to step it up because our fight has just begun! [Chorus repeat]
The toxic masculinity is seeping in to all the things
Keeping patriarchal ways so that really no one wins
Fix my suit, paint my face, present the world a humanist,
I am the very model of a modern mainstream feminist! [Chorus repeat]
I’m not the model feminist, I’m not even close!
There are more feminist issues than I can fit into one song, and trying to focus on everything meant I was actually doing nothing.
I mean look at me – I’m White Cis Hetero with a job, a husband, and a house. I can afford nice things.
But, it hasn’t always been glitz and glamour for me.
I have been homeless, twice in my lifetime.
Yeah, it can happen to anyone, at any time.
As an adult experiencing homelessness, I made out to the world like nothing was wrong. For months I had no fixed abode, living out of a suitcase.
My name, De la Rue, means Of The Street…
But, Experiencing homelessness as a child, I had no idea anything was wrong, my mother worked so hard to give me a ‘normal’ childhood.
Did you know that the fastest growing demographic of people experiencing homelessness is women aged 50-60?
As allies we’ve just got to start doing something.
If we all lend our voice to at least one issue, and amplify voices around us, together we can address many problems, in one collective song.
Find your voice and use it, every day.
1 in 200 people will experience homelessness tonight, that’s one person in this room. That’s where I’ll use my voice.
No matter where you rest your head, I’ll always stand as your ally
Come add your voice to our one song for minorities we’ll amplify
Forget the suit, but raise your face, approach the world as activist,
We are the very model of the everyday feminist!
This act would not be what it is today without the guidance, advice and support of an entire community over many months, but namely:
Bella de Jac, Ruby Slippers, Constance Craving, Eric the Fruitbat, Ruby Corvette, Demon Derriere, Michael Wheatley, Maeve Marsden, Libby Wood, Daryl Wallis, LadyHart, Empress Eyrie, Liane Barker, Porcelain Alice, Sheena, Jazida, and most importantly, my mother Mandy (who was in the crowd), and my husband Stuart.