A day in a life as a stage assistant in burlesque

Last night I worked at the Speakeasy for the London Burlesque Week 2010 and I thought I'd share a bit of the backstage workings!

So I got there about 4 hours before the show started, caught up with the sound guy (who I know from other gigs) and waited for the acts to arrive. One by one the beautiful burly ladies turned up, ready to get transformed into their characters. I took notes on each act; you need to know things like what music they use, when they need the music to start, what props they need, how they'll get to the stage and what they will leave on the stage to be cleared up. We had 11 acts last night, so there was quite a bit of paperwork!

Backstage is quite 'cosy' so you all get to know each other quite well! Luckily, despite hearing of some negative sides to burlesque, I have never come across any. I seem to only work with amazing women (and men of course!), and so backstage was a supportive and fun place.

The show was a mixture of burlesque and dance, and quite a few of the acts debuted new acts, which was great to see. Well done for those who were brave enough to use Burlesque week to debut a new idea!

During the show, it is my job to make sure the acts have everything they need, and that they know where and when they need to be in position. You need to balance managing the stage (what props need to put where and when) and managing the performers - do they need water? Do they have any queries?

There had been an issue with a man from the audience. I had been told he was being a little weird/annoying, but when I felt him brush past my bum, I had my eye on him. Could have been an accident, but it didn't feel like one. I then saw his hand move out when a performer walked past him to get on the stage. I wasn't happy so I spoke to the manager about him, and wanted to keep an eye to get concrete proof before asking for him to be removed. He then got so drunk that he was he was basically sleeping standing up, so I used that as the final straw. He was promptly removed. A waitress later told me he had tried to grab her earlier too. I felt very protective of the ladies, who are obviously a little vunerable in their minimal costumes, as well as being angry that he felt we were there for him to get a quick thrill from. I have never experienced this before, so it is very rare, and I'm glad it was dealt with quickly and without fuss.

I had a miserable journey home, as I wasn't going to my home, but house-sitting. I couldn't figure out how to get there, so ended up taking a very long and stretched out bus route. I had almost been given a free taxi ride (for being beautiful no less!) but he was heading the wrong direction. I get so mad at how vunerable I can feel waiting on a quiet road for a bus. Men who feel they can shout out "Hey gorgeous" knowing how it makes lone women feel should be punished in some extremely vunerable and embarrassing way. I then got stuck sitting next to a strange man, who ended up touching my hair - I told him NOT to touch me again. Grrrrr. It took well over two hours to get home, so I very happy to get into bed at the end of it!