You know that well-used phrase ‘blood, sweat and tears’? I’ve used it intermittently in the past to describe creative projects, but honestly those words have taken on a whole new level of meaning over the last ten months as I’ve worked on the creative content for my upcoming book with Working Class Publishing, currently known affectionately as #10YearsOfBurlesque. My wrist has been strapped up for weeks as a result of consistent late night editing sessions, we’ve been experiencing the hottest days on record in the UK and there have been tears of both overwhelm and joy as a result of experiencing some of the highest highs I’ve ever known along with unwavering support from the global burlesque community.
I don’t think you can ever be fully prepared for the experience of publishing your first book. I self-published a few small run titles back in 2009-11 so I had an inkling of course, but they were on a significantly smaller scale compared to this and – I can’t lie – I’m the furthest I’ve ever felt from my comfort zone. Print (for me) comes with a feeling of permanence that demands the highest levels of quality – leading to a constant internal struggle between representing my work over the past decade versus wanting to shoot brand new, previously unreleased versions of everything. As it stands, I believe I’ve only re-shot three burlesque performers from my existing archives for #10YearsOfBurlesque – which I feel shows very good restraint!
Additionally, I knew I wanted to go beyond my existing portfolio of work to create a book that came as close as possible to fully representing the wonderful diversity of the global burlesque industry. Compiling a list of my all-time favourite burlesque performers from around the world, I wrote to each of them individually, asking them if they were interested in being a part of my #10YearsOfBurlesque book. I couldn’t believe my luck when the replies started coming back – the amount of support pouring into my inbox has been overwhelming and I’m so grateful to everyone who has given their time and energy to create brand new, unseen content specifically for the publication.
The most incredible, career-defining week for me throughout this entire experience so far was in June, when I flew out to attend the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend in Las Vegas. I feel like I’ve made friends for life within the Seattle, New York and Minneapolis burlesque communities. You made me feel so included. I spent a significant part of the week enjoying the company and conversation of many incredible Burlesque Hall of Fame title holders past and present; as well as the distinct pleasure of meeting several of our burlesque legends, who had me feeling all the feels on Friday night at the Titans Of Tease event. The recent passing of the incredible Camille 2000 only weeks after collecting her Living Legend Award on stage has left a hole in my heart. It feels like a very timely reminder of why this book is so important – as documentation of the incredible burlesque performers who continue to pave the way for our future generations.
So where are we in the book publishing timeline? August 1st 2019, was my official artwork deadline, which saw just under 1,300 edited images delivered to Working Class Publishing ready for the design phase of the book. Not all of those images will make it into the book of course, but I can’t tell you how excited I am for this next chapter, when it all starts coming together and begins to take form as a tangible object! My next deadline is September 17th for the written content – including the foreword, which has been written by someone incredibly exciting and may have landed in my inbox this week… I’m keeping that under wraps for now though!
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