A Nude Perspective
by: Eileen Tull
Learn more about Eileen, a performer, writer, and theater creator living in Chicago, at ElileenTull.com.
Tweet with her at @Tullie23 and follow her on Facebook.
See also: Eileen was interviewed by Kendra on the Artfully Engaging blog about her show in the 2015 Minnesota Fringe Festival.
I spent the other night screaming with glee at my friends while they took their clothes off onstage. At some points my whoops and woohoos were intentional, and at other times the sounds I made were involuntary, impulsively responding to the surprising delight the performers presented. I was watching a burlesque show, or a nerdlesque show to be more precise. My friends at Plan 9 Burlesque here in Chicago were running their semi-monthly show, kicking ass and showing a little bit while they're at it.
For most of my life, I've never been comfortable with nudity. I blame it on growing up Catholic in Ohio, a deadly combination. Modesty and propriety were respected accomplishments, particularly for young women. This led me to develop a high level of shame when it came to my own body and my lifelong struggles with weight, while also placing judgment on women who dressed to show their bodies. In a nutshell, I carry a lot of extra weight on my body, made up of years of collecting this emotional baggage.
But here these women were, celebrating their bodies in raw and sexual and original form. As they took the stage, I released years of self-loathing tension by yelling out, "YES, GET IT!" as one of the performers threw her bra in the crowd and twirled her nipple tassels around and around.
"It's healing," one of the performers said to me after the recent Plan 9 show. I had never been able to succinctly describe what was so wonderful about burlesque. It is healing and reaffirming. It's also sexy and voyeuristic and many other things that may or may not get you off. Since stepping into the world of burlesque, I myself have been experimenting with showing my body onstage.