I’m thrilled and proud (maybe even a little giddy!) to be joining the awesome group here at Shameless and to be starting my new weekly column Shameless Women.
Every Thursday I will profile a new incredible woman, each from a different walk of life. Different professions, causes, backgrounds, ethnicities, orientations, and anything/everything else! I will ask five standard questions. The answers will inform, inspire, and explore the varying perspectives of the women in response to the same questions.
So without further delay, let me introduce the brilliant and beautiful Coco La Crème…
Coco La Crème is notorious when it comes to seducing audiences with her glamorous brand of boundary-busting burlesque. As well as performing with Toronto’s Skin Tight Outta Sight Rebel Burlesque, Coco also runs workshops and creates her own “wearable lingerie art, like pasties and burlesque costumes.”
Miss La Crème shares some advice and wisdom with us, and tells us about Josephine Baker’s pet cheetah, Chiquita.
What drives you to do what you do?
I’m basically driven by an intense need and desire to create work that connects with an audience. Whether that means bringing to life an incredible costume, creating a challenging performance piece, or teaching women about their bodies and sexual power - it all works for me. I love to see people’s reactions to my work and get feedback. Plus, if I didn’t have an outlet I’d probably explode!
How does being a woman empower / challenge you?
Well, the modern burlesque scene is a woman’s world so I’m pretty lucky in that sense. The challenge really exists in trying to push boundaries and get people to think while they’re being entertained. It’s not difficult to get up on stage, look pretty and twirl around a few times. It’s a lot more interesting to add in social & political commentary and to question our notion of “beautiful” and who is allowed to be “sexy”. In this sense it’s a lot more challenging being a political person of colour in burlesque than it is being a woman.
What advice would you give to young women who want to follow in your footsteps?
a) Do your research, learn about the history of burlesque and the people who made it happen.
b) Be confident in your gorgeous self and in your performance.
c) Challenge yourself to come up with new and creative ideas. Don’t copy other performers.
c) Practice, practice, practice.
Name one person, place, or thing every young woman should know about?
Burlesque icon and fierce woman of colour Josephine Baker. She faced so much racism and still managed to become the most widely recognized and highly paid performer of her age. She refused to work in segregrated clubs, helped the French government sneak secret messages past the Nazis and was the only woman to speak at the March on Washington with Dr. Martin Luther King. Plus, she had a pet cheetah named Chiquita who she used to walk through the streets of Paris. Très glamoureuse!
What is the most important thing we can do in order to change the world?
Rid ourselves of shame in our bodies and instead indulge in the simple pleasures of life. Wouldn’t the world be so much better if we weren’t driven by our insecurites? Learning to love ourselves helps us love the world and treat our planet and our fellow earthlings with respect. I’m counting on the next generation of ladies to love themselves often and well.
Want to see Skin Tight Outta Sight Rebel Burlesque? Their next production is “Trick or Strip!” with Mysterion the Mind Reader. Oct. 31st at The Cadillac Lounge (1296 Queen St. W.). More details at www.skintightouttasight.com/upcoming.htm
Skin Tight Outta Sight also offers burlesque workshops and are available for private parties and corporate events.