There’s a smiling redhead lounging in a chair. She’s going to tell you what it’s like to take off your clothes.
Her name is Lady Ginger. That’s the name she asked appear in this story and that’s all you really need. This story will have a part two and maybe even a part three, with description and background and even an illustration of Ginger in her full burlesque regalia.
But that will come later. Right now, she’s going to take you to the moment where she’s standing in the wings, waiting to be called.
She’s going to take you through butterflies and pasties and the “stage kittens” waiting to pick up the pieces of clothing she is about to drop, one by one, in front of a room full of strangers.
Lady Ginger of Michelle L’Amour’s Chicago Starlets is going to tell you what it’s like to take off your clothes.
“Well, what’s usually happening is you get done with the opening group number, whatever the opening group number happens to be. And then you’re just rushing and rushing and rushing to get yourself ready. Because even if you’re not till the end of the show, you’re like, ‘Nope, I need to get in my costume right now.’ Because the last thing you want to do is be panicking, have something go wrong while you’re like, two numbers away from your number and you’re supposed to be in the wings and that type of thing.
“So you’re immediately just getting ready, your hands are shaking, because you’re running on the adrenaline of having just come off stage. It’s painful because you’re usually just ripping off one set of pasties to put on another set of pasties. Which is not comfortable at all.
“Our dressing rooms are not what you see in the movies. They’re not like these glamorous, well-lit, beautiful, makeup-tabled places. You’re sitting on the dirty carpet of a stage on the top floor, or you’re crammed into what is really a storage space, trying to get your stockings on, get your shoes on, not run anything, not lose anything, not tear anything, not break anything.
“You’re comfortable talking with the other girls. We’re obviously all friends, but there’s a lot of that nervous, sort of joking and chit chatting and that type of thing. If you’re lucky, you get to watch somebody else perform, which is always exciting. Because it also calms you down. You can watch the audience, then, and get a feel for their mood and what they like and what they don’t like. Sort of what you’re going to walk into when it’s your turn.
“I usually go down two numbers before my number. I don’t want to be going down just the number right before me. I want a chance to be on the right level, because sometimes you’re upstairs, sometimes you’re not on the same level as the stage. You could be up a flight of stairs, or whatever. I actually want my feet planted on the floor that I’m going to be walking out onto.
“In my head I’m usually running through the number. Sometimes visibly running through it. Especially if it is a new number. Just marking it, or what we call marking it, which is sort of half doing it. You’re not full out performing it backstage. And really, just taking deep breaths.
“I don’t get nervous, like, scared nervous anymore. Unless it’s a brand new number, and then sometimes I am really nervous. Because, you know, it’s a debut.
“But I get excited. I get those butterflies but they’re excited butterflies. I’m just really anxious. I just want to get out there. I just want to do this. Right now. And I get really excited and it’s fun and then as I know they’re getting ready for me, I just get this incredible calm that just sort of comes over me. All of the background noise of the other girls or the stage kittens or whatever, that are to the side of me, that actually goes completely away. I don’t hear them anymore.
“And I’m literally just waiting and laughing, usually, because the host will probably tell like a funny something about you. ‘Lady Ginger was upstairs and blah, blah, blah.’ I am so dialed in to what’s about to go on stage that I am laughing, I am doubled over, I am cracking up. But I am completely calm. And just waiting for them to exit the stage so I can get on the stage.”
“Wow,” I whisper.
“Yeah,” she says.
Lady Ginger’s going to be back in a few weeks to tell you a little more.