Many moons ago, a few friends and I decided it would be a fabulous idea to check out the seedy delights of Kings Cross in Sydney. Our road trip through sleazy showrooms and seamy strip joints brought us to an esteemed establishment where we were ushered to seats with another dozen or so punters. Soon after, a young woman ambled on stage in a tiny white bikini. She alternated smirking at the audience and looking for obvious guidance to a gentleman standing at the back of the room. She reminded me of a kid in their first kindy concert, but with fewer clothes. It was vaguely, darkly, humorous at first, watching a stripper in training. It became more interesting if you watched the trainer at the back of the room – the pupil on stage was trying to mimic the teacher’s clunky gyrations and gestures, awkwardly pulling her bikini bits to the side to flash this and that and then looking out at us like a deer stuck in headlights.
Let’s forget for a minute that we were not experiencing a slice of the often sad and unsavoury underbelly of our city and judge this strictly as a performance. Earlier that evening I had seen unmistakably more seasoned strip artistes flaunting their talents. The surrounds were equally salubrious but I didn’t get the same depressing, distressing feeling I did at this last show. Those other women had looked as though they enjoyed their work and took pride in it, no matter how that kind of work may be judged by others. As a result, the audience got caught up in the moment and responded with enthusiasm. The white bikini girl was so uncomfortable and frightened, it was painful to watch for everyone.
Now I’m trying to equate anything I do with a strip show, but I have certainly performed at gigs where I have been less than prepared, proud or comfortable. But I’ve realised that no matter how much I wish the stage would open up and swallow me on occasions, it’s my duty to look like I belong there, look like I’m enjoying it and do the best job I’m capable of. A performer that has committed to their art and is comfortable in their own skin, feels authentic to an audience and they react accordingly. So there, I learnt all about commitment from a stripper!