We spend every dime we have on our costumes
(Originally published in the San Diego Reader May 8, 2013.)
Victoria Markovna sexifies everything. We’re warming up for class with ass-in-the-air pushups, and she encourages us to give ourselves come hither looks in the mirror while we do. Five minutes ago, when she arrived on the scene and stood in front of the room to explain the history of burlesque, I thought, Her? Burlesque? Her face looked too sweet, her hair too blond, her look too all-American to embody the dark-haired ’40s pinup girl I’d come to associate with San Diego burlesque. But when she gets on the floor to demonstrate what she calls the “burlesque pushup,” her sexy comes out full force, and because I’m here to embrace my sexy, I get on the floor and do it, too.
My fascination with burlesque started with Dottie Deville, a local dancer whose short-waisted, curvy body resembles my own, and whose You-wish-you-could-have-some-of-this manner (on- and off-stage) exemplifies the way I want to feel about myself. In one YouTube video from a December 2012 show at Bar Eleven, not only does Deville turn a bare and dimpled bottom to the audience, she also uses her fingers to wiggle it for their delight. I consider that performance a fist-in-the-air triumph for curvy, dimple-bottomed women everywhere. It was because of Deville that I decided to give up my exhausting desperation for a skinny, airbrushed butt and opt instead to love (and flaunt) what the good Lord gave me.
Besides her body confidence, the five-foot-tall former preschool teacher has a wild side that appeals to my inner bad girl. Even within the already-risqué world of burlesque dancing, Deville adds a touch more raunchiness with her signature bump-and-grind style. In each performance, just when the audience begins to settle in to her excruciatingly slow ladylike glove-peel, she’ll suddenly get down and dirty.
“I’m pretty sure I was a drag queen in my last life,” she tells me, letting loose a gleeful laugh. “I want my name to be in people’s minds.”