I am, this week, back in Kenya, a land Germaine Greer might like to visit with a view to grasping the stinging nettle of reality where women are concerned. Here, in the slum areas where I work, she could justly rail about inequality, about sexual violence, about all the things she complains about on behalf of Western Womanhood. And, hopefully, having met and worked with women who REALLY have something to complain about, she would shut the flying fuck up about the woes of prick-teasing girlies who use the word “rape” to mean anything from an unfriendly glance to a nasty Facebook message.
One of the things I do here is (albeit I LOATHE the word) female “empowerment” and, being me, I use sex to do this. Teach a woman about Punani Power – show her how to use it properly – and her entire life changes. I know. I see it happen all the time out here with women who have been to my workshops.
It struck me that, had I the money to ship some “Empowerment Gurus” out to help the women of the Third World, the people I would bring with me would be the women I saw last week at Burlesque Baby. From the fabulous star Kitty De Ville, all the way across the evening, these were women in control. They were smart, focussed, strong, sexy and frequently very funny. They were Woman, hear them roar!
It amazed me to hear (girl gossip is a sadly underused form of espionage) that the Guardian, last London Burlesque week, refused to cover the shows because they felt that Burlesque could be seen as “anti-female”. Any more ludicrous and that remark would have to have been made by Germaine herself (odd name, I am suddenly aware, for a woman whose remarks in any argument are so often not “germane”). Burlesque is the kind of Girl Power that makes the Spice Girls look like a safety match against a volcano.
I had the unbelievable good fortune to spend a few minutes in the ladies’ dressing room, talking with Kitten De Ville – a lady who, physically, resembles a beautiful cocktail of Marilyn Monroe and a young Jerry Hall. She is fabulous. Onstage she is a high-energy kitten with class, offstage, a smart, sexy woman with the body of a supermodel. She began to practice shimmying her booty at four years old and has never looked back – although she should, it is a lovely sight! She has run the gamut of onstage sexuality – and in the kind of heels she wears, that is a serious accomplishment.
While working as a good old go-go dancer at Club Fuck, she created The Velvet Hammer…having worked out that she could make men pay three times as much to see her tease as they would to see her strip. She is a role model for oppressed women. The ladies in the room agree that there is very little bitchiness or backbiting in the burlesque world. Which they put down to being relaxed with their physicality and sexuality and having a healthy body image. I’ll drink to that!
Read Copstick’s review of Kitten De Ville’s London show