Feisty Thoughts: Audience Consent

Last night I had the opportunity to perform at a wonderful show with a live jazz band in which the burlesque performers danced throughout the room and sometimes had interactions with the audience. Being a floor level show, I would consider this a more intimate experience and for a crowd who not only knows burlesque, and the rules behind it. And what are the rules you ask? Well it’s simple, from the time we enter the dance floor till the time we leave, we are in control. Period. 

So let’s talk about what that control means. Simply put, it means I can come up and lead an interaction with you. That could mean getting your help removing a glove, or it could mean me taking that glove and playfully smacking you with it. Whatever I want, I’m in control. Of course these interactions will be respectful and playful because that’s my performance style, if you are going to see a performer who is more known for shock performance, you may want to do your research. But regardless, by you sitting in your seat, and watching the show, you are willingly agreeing to these terms of interaction, especially if you’ve already seen multiple performers that night. 

So why the hell am I even writing this? Because last night as I go to lead an interaction with an audience member, another audience member, who my attention was not even directed to, pushes me aside and exclaims “Oh hell no.” From that particular moment, it was my intention to put all my attention to her, from afar. At that point every bump and grind, every finger lick, and every ass smack was directed directly at her. You mam, do not get to push aside a performer, especially a performer in heels. You do not get to sit through till the second half of the show, and decide at my act that you are now offended by the show that you were willingly watching. You do not get to touch a performer, especially when I wasn’t even directing my attention to you. 

She did end up removing herself from the show by the next two acts, which is the correct thing to do. Had I warranted the interaction something that needed to be taken care of, the staff and show would have IMMEDIATELY taken care of it, but I felt my direct attention embarrassed her enough to remove herself from the show so I didn’t make it a big deal. 

Regardless, the point I’m trying to make in this post is that audience members, if you are going to see a live show, you are consenting to the performance and interaction styles of that artist. I don’t go to see GWAR without expecting to be sprayed with fake blood. I don’t go to see jazz entertainment without expecting the possibility of the singer talking  to the audience during their act. I don’t go to see burlesque with expecting some sort of interaction depending on the venue. Know what you are consenting to and be honest with yourself. If you can’t handle it, then there is no shame in that. Just don’t go, we won’t be mad.