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Monday, December 19, 2011

I Feel Fat All The Time

Recently a friend told me she wants to love her body but she always feels fat. I dedicate this article to her.
No woman is immune from "feeling fat". But notice we don't say "I have fat on my body all the time." What we are describing is the FEELING of being fat. For every woman, the feeling of being fat represents something different. Try completing this sentence: "I feel fat, and that means I am _______." Some examples would be: unattractive, too much, not enough, gross, unlovable, a mess...just to name a few.

Now, continue the sentence with: "if I am _____, that means__________, and that makes me feel__________."

For example:
"If I am unattractive, that means I will never live my dream of having a partner who truly loves me, and that makes me sad."
"If I am not enough, that means I will never get anything I want in this life no matter how hard I try, and that makes me mad!"
"If I am too much, that means I am different than everyone else, that no one will ever understand me, and that makes me feel sad and alone."

What is fat? Fat is a tissue. An assemblage of molecules and acids. But for a woman who is feeling sad, lonely or angry in a world that takes drastic measures to prevent her from feeling the fullness of her truth, it is easy to trick ourselves into believing that if we did not feel fat, we wouldn't have to encounter these intense feelings so often. That's what it looks like on TV anyway. So we put all our attention on how we can reshape, reform and reinvent our sweet, precious bodies. But as many of us have discovered, you can still be lonely in a differently shaped body.

So, what is the antidote? Well, it sure as hell doesn't begin an X or end with a drine. Have you ever met a girl who looks really pretty, but because she so clearly doesn't love herself, she is really un-beautiful? Her beauty is there, but it leaves you with a feeling of emptiness? And then, have you also met a girl who is incredibly "imperfect", yet completely enchanting because of how much she enjoys being exactly who she is? Her self-love is infectious, and you cannot help but fall under her spell. With this kind of woman, it's not in what she has, it's in what she believes. She refuses to buy into the idea that her scrumptious self could be anything less than lovable.

Burlesque is the living practice of being this kind of woman. There are some who think that burlesque is a step back for feminism, and that stripping is an objectification of women, period. To me, it is the exact opposite. When I went to my first burlesque show five years ago, what changed my life forever was seeing women who looked exactly like me, with real bodies, making the rules about what it means to be beautiful . They were not trying to fit into someone else's definition of sexiness, or waiting for something to change in order to feel the fullest expression of their beauty and power. And if you couldn't groove to their beat, well, you could just move on over. The same bodies I would see being squeezed, cursed and quickly covered up in the gym locker room were being flaunted and adored. I saw teeny-weeny AA cup breasts, G size breasts that came down to the belly button, and each woman walked around in mere pasties and a g-string with an ease and confidence that was impenetrable. These were not mere objects of male desire. These were objects of pure feminine power. The kind that is gorgeously unapologetic, perfectly imperfect, simultaneously embodying the beauty that dwells in the darkness and the light.

Today, act as if you are a woman who has the world in the palm of her hand. A woman whose beauty is eternal, and leaves a legacy in her wake. Act as if you are a woman who turns every head as she walks into a room. A woman that is flown across the world because her beauty is legend, and someone is prepared to pay millions of dollars for the inspiration that comes from watching her take one sip of coffee. When you live your life from this spot, you evaporate the chains that tie us down to the belief that we will only experience our fullest power when we don't feel fat. That is bullshit. You are this woman. Feel your power now.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sunday Morning

Feeling so grateful this morning. Yesterday I taught my Holiday Charm and Cheek 101 to an incredible group of women.  It is always so powerful to see the moment when a woman forgets about getting the dance moves right and just has fun with her beauty.  When you can see on her face that she couldn't be more pleased with herself, and nothing has changed on the outside. Imagine seeing that look on the face of every woman in your subway car in the morning? That is my dream. 

This Sunday morning I woke up early and put the lights on our little New York City apartment tabletop tree to surprise Kev when he wakes up.  I flipped channels between Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy Cancer and The Birdcage while drinking piping hot Earl Grey tea. Today we will decorate the tree, and Kev will slow roast something, his favorite thing to do on Winter weekends. Then I will head over to my dear friend Dara's studio - Sacred Brooklyn - to teach another Holiday Charm and Cheek 101.  I love teaching striptease over the holidays. The two go together like eggnog and nutmeg, really.

                                                          What are you doing with your Sunday?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Personal Is Political

One of the first things I read this morning was the following article in the NY Times:

KABUL, Afghanistan — When the Afghan government announced Thursday that it would pardon a woman who had been imprisoned for adultery after she reported that she had been raped, the decision seemed a clear victory for the many women here whose lives have been ground down by the Afghan justice system.       

But when the announcement also made it clear that there was an expectation that the woman, Gulnaz, would agree to marry the man who raped her, the moment instead revealed the ways in which even efforts guided by the best intentions to redress violence against women here run up against the limits of change in a society where cultural practices are so powerful that few can resist them, not even the president.       

The solution holds grave risks for Gulnaz, who uses one name, since the man could be so humiliated that he might kill his accuser, despite the risk of prosecution, or abuse her again.

I am enraged. I want to flail myself on the floor in heartbreak and pound my fists.  How can I, as a woman, even get out of bed when across the world one of my sisters is enduring this kind of atrocity because she is female???!!!! I could cry a river of tears.

I am writing this blog because I don't know what to do, other than tell everyone I know about this and get them as fired up as I am.

This morning I woke up feeling aimless, concerned mainly with what I could achieve and entertain myself today. The positive is that after reading this article, my passion to celebrate the feminine and strengthen myself could not be burning brighter. Because I know for a fact, that every time I celebrate myself as a woman, it sets another woman free.  Good breeds more good. Freedom breeds more freedom. 

Today, I did yoga to strengthen and center myself. I called my best friend and told her I love her madly.  My husband drove us to a different store to get the organic, free range chicken to stand for the Great Mother of us all. I looked into holding a fundraiser/movie screening for the film Miss Representation. I chose to save my money and not spend it on unnecessary items just to fill the void.  I dedicated my self-pleasuring to Gulnaz, her lawyer, her sisters in prison, even to her rapist and the judge, that my love of my body and the part of me that is most feminine would send shock waves of love and pleasure across the world. 

The personal is political.  What are you doing today to celebrate and give thanks for being born a woman? Share with me below....

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday Morning

Morning Veggies
This Sunday morning I am sipping a green juice made of kale, romaine, lemon, ginger, grapes and honeycrisp apple. It was blended in a juicer that was gifted to me by a dear friend.  It makes the juice taste extra yummy to know that it contains her love.  I'm listening to a song called Mallard Island Hymn off of the National Parks soundtrack.  I'm wearing a cotton robe and fuzzy leg warmers. My feet are cold. 

Today I am off to celebrate the end of the Fall harvest with our local CSA (a farm share we participate in in our neighborhood).  Farmer Fred will be there to meet the members and talk about the season.  Then returning home to watch a movie and make candy apples.  Kev just came over and gave me a kiss, we both have green lips from the juice.

What are you doing with your Sunday?

Sunday, October 23, 2011


For months now you have been asking for a class that will teach you the confidence, power, sensuality and sizzle that comes with learning burlesque, but without the pressure of a performance. At first I resisted, but at last you have seduced me. I surrender to you...and I present to you....Burlesque Undressed.

What first drew me to burlesque years ago was the unparalleled confidence burlesque dancers possess. This is not a confidence that unravels on a bad hair day, this kind of confidence is indestructible. As I began to study burlesque, what I noticed was that not only did I feel sexier and more sensual, but I felt like I could do anything. I no longer felt ashamed of my "flaws", inside or out. In fact, I found myself suddenly proud of them. I felt even more alluring because of them. After years of trying to be prettier, thinner, smarter, wittier, etc. in my quest to become compelling - I finally realized that compelling has nothing to do with perfection. Compelling is when a woman takes the impulse to shame herself about being imperfect and flushes that sh*t down the toilet.

There is nothing sexier than shamelessness. Join me November 1st, and let's turn those flaws into your best friends.

Sunday Morning...

Sitting here at the dining room table on a Sunday morning with my sweet husband. I'm wearing my pink pajamas, pink robe, and pink piggy slippers. The paper is strewn across the table amongst now empty coffee mugs and the rind of a brie wedge. We are listening to French Cafe Pandora.  Tonight I am going to perform at a birthday party and teach the ladies a striptease, then coming home to watch Vicky Cristina Barcelona and eat homemade potato leek soup with crusty bread.  Hopefully I'll be able to fit rearranging my bedroom furniture in there somewhere. 

How are you spending your Sunday?


Friday, October 7, 2011

Return From Paris

Today marks a full week back from my 8-day vacation in Paris. Before I left I was warned of just how much I would love it there. As predicted, I was charmed beyond all recognition. One of the things I found most illuminating was the attention that is placed on beauty in Paris. The architecture, the gardens, the sculptures, the people. As my husband so wisely said on one of our afternoon walks: "It's like there's room for beauty in the budget here."

Room for beauty in the budget.

If I had to sum up the mission of The School of Charm and Cheek in one sentence, this one comes pretty close. We are about making room for beauty in every corner of life. Not as a superficial act, but as an act of deep spiritual responsibility. Let me clarify - I am by no means suggesting that we all take out a loan for extreme makeover. Beauty is not defined by what we have. It is how we prioritize beauty, and leave our creative mark on everything we touch that counts the most.

Beauty is important. Our sight is a sense. It inspires us to greatness and nourishes our soul. Yet how many of us have ever cast aside our longing for beauty - in our homes, our appearance, our surroundings - because we felt it was too frivolous, or a waste of time? That if we put too much attention on beauty, it must mean we are shallow, or have our priorities out of order? Sometimes this can be the case. Pursuing beauty from a place of ego alone (solely to impress others and gain their approval) is shallow, tremendously unfulfilling, and a place of spiritual starvation. True Beauty is much different than the ego driven kind. True Beauty comes from a place of deep self approval, despite what others might think. True Beauty is a tangible expression of that which is most intangible - the voice of our very own soul. True Beauty shapes our lives with meaning, and is a daring act of supreme self love.

The archetype we seek to embody at The School of Charm and Cheek is The Femme Vitale. The Femme Vitale is ruthless in her love for and practice of beauty. She creates art with everything she touches. She is a beauty advocate and activist. This does not mean one has to have an eye for style, or know their colors. It is simply the practice of loving what you love, and expressing that love with pride and abandon.

So today my darlings, I urge you to make room for beauty in the budget. Not just your financial budget, but in how you budget your time and attention, which are far more precious and valuable. Let your soul be fed, your creativity be inspired. Fill the world with the beauty that only you are capable of.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Flushing The 'Tude

Hey Lady! I've got a question.  When you visit the ladies restroom, have you ever noticed an increased feeling of competition with other women? Like the air temperature seems to drop about 15 degrees?

What's up with that?

Last night I when I hit the restroom while out at a show, I was unsurprised to receive a round of icy glares and stony faces from my fellow line-waiters. This has not been not an isolated experience for me. I always notice my defenses go up when I'm in the bathroom with women I don't know. I myself even avoid eye contact and get a little, well, snubby.

I found this curious, so I did a little research with my girlfriends and asked if their experiences have been similar. Their response?

"Well, yeah."

What does this say about us as women? To me it is not that we are mean spirited, it is simply evidence that we are tragically insecure. Is being in a confined space with a member of the same sex really enough to raise the competitive hairs on our neck? Is there really that little to go around? Is it because when we are out at a bar or restaurant we are aware of our attractiveness? Come to think of it I feel the intensity of this coldness more at a wedding than I do at say, a coffee shop.
I vote that we reform this wacked out ritual. Next time you find yourself in the toilette, compliment a woman as she applies her lip gloss, smile to the woman who joins you in line. If you see a sister futzing with a safety pin trying to hold her straps in place, offer to assist. Let's flush the unnecessary 'tude once and for all!

I'm dying to know your thoughts and experiences on this....comment below my darlings!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Look Mom, I'm In Penthouse!

One day you are wishing you could own a pair of feather burlesque fans, and then before you know it, you find your name in Penthouse.

Aren't wishes funny that that way?

A few months ago a woman came to my burlesque class to check it out. After the class she contacted me to say that she is an editor at Penthouse Magazine, and that she is writing a three page story on burlesque. And she wanted to feature me in the article. Me. In Penthouse.

It made me remember being a kid, every Saturday going to Stewart's gas station/general store with my family for an ice cream cone. As I was waiting for my family to receive their sundaes, I would wander around the shop with my black raspberry cone, sometimes stopping to look at the magazine rack. My eyes could never help but wander to the top of the rack, where the headlines of Playboy, Penthouse, and various other magazines wrapped in plastic lay hidden behind a cardboard insert, blocking their images from sight. I remember feeling that familiar tingle of intrigue and curiosity, mixed with a hearty helping of eternal damnation, wondering what lay beyond that thin piece of cardboard. I also recall feeling like I needed to go bathe myself in the baptismal bowl at church because of it.

Fast forward 20 years later to my office in corporate America, where and article like this would be my greatest fear come to life. Not even because of the nature of the magazine, but because not a soul other than my husband and a few friends knew about my burlesque performances. If the IT department had glanced at my internet history however, it would take them mere seconds to figure it out. I would spend hours at work looking at performer's websites, watching videos, daydreaming about costumes; quickly closing the window when someone would walk in, terrified of anyone discovering this part of me. Not because I thought it was shameful, but because I had so little faith that that could be for me. That I would have enough courage to live out this desire to be a part of the burlesque world loud and proud, a desire that was completely contrary to where I thought my life "should" be going.

Today, I couldn't be more proud of being featured in Penthouse. Believe me, five years ago when I embarked on this journey, if I had seen this article in my future I would probably have run the other way. But I held this sucker up with a grin from ear to ear on my last Skype date with my parents (selectively turning the pages), and they were so proud of me! Not just because it is my first piece of national press, but because it is a physical representation of how completely I have trusted my deepest truth, however and wherever it may lead.

Why is it that sometimes our deepest truths, the things we want more than anything in the world, are often the things we try most desperately to hide? What's up with that? Have you ever felt like there is a window in your soul that gets X'd out everytime someone walks in the room? Like you are sitting on a suitcase with something alive inside trying to get out?

I encourage you today to slowly unbutton whatever covers
your deepest truth, and expose as little or as much of it as you like. If you find your name in a piece of pornography someday as a result, you can always blame it on me.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Drunk and Happy

One of my most treasured possessions is the stamp that we use to admit people to Glitterbox Burlesque.  I want this stamp to be my logo.  I love it so much it makes me want to weep.  This image embodies what The School of Charm and Cheek is all about - surrendering to the deep state of rapture that comes from realizing ones own beauty.

Do you see how tickled, turned on, and reverent she is about her own reflection?  I have to admit, I do this all the time.  I do! I have been known to spend copious amounts of time in front of the mirror, just studying and enjoying my beauty.  This may sound narcissistic, but I assure you, it is quite the opposite. Narcissism is what happens when a person's primary concern is on what other people think. This, on the other hand, is about being a slave to one thing only - the Divine as it is expressed in your beauty, and allowing yourself to be as as inspired and moved by your own reflection as a pilgrim arriving in the holy land. 

I find it curious that in a culture that spends about $7 Billion on beauty in this country alone, we so rarely choose to just indulge; to take it all in, and roll around in it. We collect and store our beauty in a basement, like a rack of vintage wine, delicious and satisfying, yet dust-covered and fermenting because we are too afraid to open a single bottle. Can you imagine how different the world would be if we spent as much time basking in our reflections as we do tearing them apart?

We've all had moments in life that bring us to our knees in gratitude at the privilege of being alive. Like when you see a gorgeous summer sunset and you feel like you are staring straight at heaven itself.  Or when a baby falls asleep in your arms.  Or when you hear the fact that when otters fall asleep, they hold hands with their mate as they float along so they won't become separated in the river.

When we can experience this fullness of heart, humility and rapture while staring into the heart of our own beauty, it is then that we are truly living the life that was intended for us.

So today, when you meet your next mirror, blow the dust off and pop the cork on your beauty. Guzzle that wine like it's Armageddon day. Then pass your glass to the next woman - drunk, happy and content.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Feathers are a Feminist Issue

This week I graduated my very first 6 week series, Sacred Seduction. This class prepares five students for one main event: performing a group Burlesque routine in a real NYC Burlesque show.

One thing you should know about me, is that I am a slut for rituals. Nothing gets me goin' like a good blessing or intention setting. Which is why I filled this class chock full of them, and made sure that throughout the entire series, we were all really clear about why we are doing this.

What always surprises me about burlesque, is that it is a dance, but it is so not about the dance. It is about freeing yourself, expressing yourself, and transcending any belief that you are too old, fat, pimply, dimply, flat chested, uncoordinated...or whatever other fill-in-the-dis-empowerment-blank that comes your way. It's about claiming it, right here, right now. These women are not dancing just because they like sequins and feathers. Some of them don't even like sequins and feathers. They are dancing for their Light. They are dancing for their own daughters, and for yours. They are dancing for every woman who has ever doubted herself, held back on her genius because of how she might be ridiculed.

Take Belle Du Jour, who is 7 months pregnant with baby Sebastian, dancing for every woman to know it is ok for a woman to be a Mommy, and hold onto her sassy sensuality. Or Glitzy Cougar, who is 58 years old, and has never felt more beautiful in her life. She is dancing for every woman who has ever put her sensuality on a shelf, or felt like she is resigned to a life of short hair and turtlenecks after she turns a certain age. Then there is Calla Lily Rapture, who is celebrating her birthday on performance night, and claiming every ounce of the gorgeous gift she is, unwrapping herself for all the world to see. We've got Ginger Altar, who after backpacking the length of India alone, describes this experience as the bravest thing she's ever done. And last but certainly not least, there is Madame Rouge, who after a lifetime of being afraid of exposing her delicious body, is tossing everything she's ever known about "supposed to" out the window, revealing her innate beauty with a gusto that just brings me to tears.

Every time I see a burlesque show, it changes me. The reason: burlesque requires you to stand in your most profound vulnerability, literally naked. And counter-intuitive to everything we've been taught, it is here that our deepest power lies. Burlesque is a dance of discovery, for the performer and audience member alike. Discovering that our power does not live in the hard shell we wear each day, it resides in the softness that lies behind it.

This Tuesday night, June 14th, the world will change. The Earth will not be the same after these women dance their Light. Come join us if you would like to bear witness to this extraordinary act of beauty, and have your world changed too.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Note From My Dressing Table

Recently in my office building there was a small fire in the floor above us. No one’s safety was at risk, but when I heard the firemen were considering evacutaing, my mind immediately went to one place: my makeup.

That may sound vain, but to me, makeup is a very sacred. I regard makeup the same way an artist regards their paint and brushes. I don’t wear makeup because I feel I have to, I wear it because I want to. I take so much pleasure from creating art in this way and sharing it with the world. I love making my lips look like they just had a good makeout session, my eyes look like a Cape Cod sunset. I love having the ability to invoke the bronze glow of summer right in the heart of winter. I love being able to imitate and honor the Femme Vitales I idolize.

I love the ritual of getting ready with girlfriends. Some of the fondest memories of my teenage years are my best friend Becca and I, parked in some parking lot in our small town, covering up our adolescent blemishes as we un-covered our souls.

I consider makeup to be a feminine rite. I remember my 13th birthday, knowing I was truly a teenager when I received a Caboodles case full of bold shades from the drugstore. I remember buying my first big-girl lipstick at age 15 (Ecru by Lancome) for a whole $17. I remember the tissues that littered my Mother's purse, all covered in big frosty pink kisses. When I am feeling low makeup lifts me up, brings me back to level. It is the one thing I can count on to make me feel fabulous, always.

I didn’t intend for this blog to be a love story but there you have it. Makeup deeply nourishes my soul. Below I have shared some of my all time favorite products for your playtime. Have fun today as you fingerpaint the canvas of your beauty!

Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs - I love this product for a bronze glow anytime, I use it before every performance and all summer long.

Matesse - apply a little lotion or oil to your skin before evenly shaking on this loose glitter, it will stay on for hours!

Foundation and Concealer
I love Mac for my face makeup. I use Mineralize for day to day as minerals do not clog the skin. Before I go onstage I use Pro-Longwear, especially if I’ll be go-go dancing, workin’ up a sweat!

Trish McEvoy makes a wonderful product called “Finish Line” that turns any shadow into liquid liner. The key here is the angled brush she makes, it is killer for creating that defined, clean line.

I love all kinds of shadows. To me, even more important than the shadow is the brush. Mac makes a great fluffy shadow brush that gives superior control when you are contouring or playing with several different colors.

Bobbi Brown makes a wonderful mascara called “extreme party mascara”. Wacky name, great product.

Lash curler, I love Shiseido. False Lashes, Mattese with Duo lash glue is my fave.

I use every brand of lipstick from drugstore to department store and everything in-between. The important thing is that I play with liners and glosses too, and the countless combinations these three tools can create. Try lipstick with just liner, just liner with a dot of gloss, gloss first and then lipstick on top, filled-in liner with just a swath of lipstick on top . The possibilities are limitless!

The lipstick I am crazy for right now is Wet and Wild, Silk Finish with Blue Pearl (#521A). It is a bright fuschia that really pops, and it's only $.99! I pair it with Mac Magenta liner. (But this will change in about a week, I could create a monthly magazine of lipsticks that I love.)

There you have it! Enjoy and have fun, and if you have any favorites you'd like to share, I'd love to read them in your comments!

Big, fat red lipstick kiss to you,

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Three Hot Tips To Own Your Beauty

Today a girlfriend of mine emailed me and asked me my top three tips to own your beauty. I was so delighted, as I have been desiring to know which of my secrets you beauties want to know most.  Enjoy these tips, and email me at with more of your Q's!

1. Don't try to look pretty

Owning your beauty and looking pretty are two very different things.  Looking pretty is what we do when we want other people's approval.  When we need external validation to convince us of our beauty. Owning your beauty is a much different game.  As women, our beauty is eternal, and never leaves us.  The last thing you want to do is ask yourself, "do I look beautiful right now?".  You are always beautiful. It is not something that needs to be questioned, it is a simple truth.

2. Own your walk

A woman's walk enters the room long before she enters it herself.  Each woman's walk is different and unique, but there is one universal rule: go....slow. No matter what. Even if something catches you off guard, resist the urge to speed up as you walk away.  A Femme Vitale is in no hurry, she is always right on time.

3. Play with your beauty

Owning your beauty is a spiritual practice. Allow your body to be the canvas of your soul.  Play with your purpose in what you wear, your clothes, your hair, your makeup, your body language.  This is not so you can "look good to others".  It is to allow the Divine to speak through you. There is not another person on Earth who has beauty like you, nor will there ever be. Don't ever waste the beauty that is uniquely yours.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Turning Emergency Surgery Into Art

Recently my Mom had to have a major emergency surgery, having a large part of her colon removed.  It was a big deal, so I flew down to South Carolina to be with her and my Dad.  As I was packing, I started feeling nervous about the trip. Nervous about being able to support my family with out tapping myself out, nervous about being able to cope with seeing my Mom in severe pain. Then I thought, "how would a Femme Vitale do this trip?"

So I went to my own website to search for the definition: "A Femme Vitale uses her rapturous beauty, her feminine charm and her erotic power to bring pleasure, love and joy to everyone she meets. She is shameless in her self love. She owns her body from head to toe. Her beauty transcends her age, her shape, her size. She knows how to turn herself on, and from that, she turns on the world."


Here is a photo diary of how I turned what could have been an exhausting and emotionally draining trip into a work of art:

Each day I gave my Mom epic foot massages with Lavender Sleep Balm. Ahhhh.

I mustered the courage to get on my Dad's horse, Bruce.  Bruce is really big and has always freaked me out, but once I sat in the saddle and felt his warm, grounding energy beneath me, I swear it felt better than a massage.

Bruce's hoof prints.

Each day I ate a nourishing, beautiful lunch at Magnolia Cafe.  If I could describe the energy of this place it would be like the cafe in the movie "Fried Green Tomatoes".  Pure heaven.

Mini-skirt's in April! God Bless the weather in the South!

My Dad's love of horses + his birthday + my inability to resist hospital gift shops = This.

The legendary beet and citrus salad at Magnolia.

I made sure to gift my Mom and her nurses with these beautiful magenta orchids.  I also baked the nurses blueberry muffins to say thank you for all their magnificent care.

I figured the decor in the ICU bathroom could use a more positive spin.

Every day I would have hour-long Qoya inspired dance sessions in an empty guest bedroom.  I would shake and shimmy all the stress out of my body, and gyrate all the goodness of the day right in.  Thank you Qoya!

More ICU Love notes.

Each night I would get home from the hospital and make my Dad healthy, nourishing, home-made meals like this Spring Veggie pasta.  At 5 o'clock I would pour a glass of white wine, turn on Louis Armstrong, and cook while the most beautiful amber light streamed into the kitchen.  It was a gorgeous way to practice gratitude and to pour my love into the food that nourished us.

And then we'd finish off the meal with Rocky Road in a juice glass.

Normally when packing for a short trip I pack light, but this time I did not edit my choices one bit, not even in my shoe selection.  I only brought things that made me feel gorgeous, hot and sexy.  Every day I would get all dressed up, and my Mom and the nurses couldn't wait to see what I'd be wearing that day.

The doorway at Magnolia Cafe.

The moral of the story for me, is that when times get tough it is very easy to forget about what keeps life juicy and fun.  I am grateful to have had this trip to use as an experiment in healing through beauty, charm, and cheek. (And I'm grateful that my Mom is doing much, much better). 

How are you living life as Art today?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Bigger Than Me

Friday night I went to see The Strokes concert at Madison Square Garden. They are a NYC band that started small, and it was their first time performing at MSG. As they came out onstage I wondered, did they ever think they'd make it this far? Did they ever even think to dream that big? Did the lead singer ever think that his voice, as fecund as the smell of a dive bar, as heady as the first wave of a whiskey buzz, would be something that is not only appreciated, but lusted after by 20,000 people?

It got me thinking, when do things shift from it being about you and your little talent, to being something that is 20,000 times bigger than you? When do your creations go from being something you and your circle of friends love, to being something the world would not be the same without?

I imagine it must feel similar the experience I had after I launched my new website, Kitty Cavalier's School of Charm and Cheek. The response has been overwhelming. Sacred Seduction (my 6 week series) has two spots remaining and it has only been available for a week. I have offers flying at me from bloggers, coaches, authors, speakers; all of them in love with my mission and wanting to spread the word. (Thank you Goddess) I've become constantly possessed with new ideas, to the point where I now must walk around with a notebook and pen at all times, a diaper for my creative musings.

This morning I read an article about one of my spiritual and creative heroines: Mary Oliver. I was tickled to learn that Mary also never leaves the house without her notebook and pencil. Here is one of her poems that always inspires me to bring forth the voice of that which I know I must do. This bud's for you Suz.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My new website, my old heartache

I am over the moon excited about sharing my deepest passion with you, and my new website - Kitty Cavalier's School of Charm and Cheek. As I sat down to type this message I expected to be overflowing with fluffiness and joy, which I do feel. And at the same time, I am filled to the brim with heartache.

It is usually those with the deepest wounds that create the greatest change in the world. Instead of sensing our cultural insanities like a low hum in the background, they feel them acutely, like a bullet in the back. The change-makers are the ones who take this great pain and transform it into their tale of triumph.

We all have our individual "pet" wounds. The wounds where we think, "if only the world was relieved of this, oh how things would change". Mine is the way the culture teaches a woman to believe that her body is anything less than sacred, beautiful and holy. Which then causes her to believe that she must meet an impossible list of qualifications in order to feel good about herself. The tricky thing about this list of benchmarks however, is that there is not a woman alive who could even come close to meeting them all.

For every woman who wishes her hips were smaller, there is a woman who wishes her hips were more round. For every woman who wishes her breasts were fuller, there is a woman wishing she could wear t-shirts without feeling self-conscious. It reminds me of the story "The Emperor's New Clothes". We are all striving so desperately to be perfect, sexy, beautiful, young; yet it is this exact desperation to change what is already perfect, which makes us feel so downright ugly.

We all do it. Even women who love and adore their bodies are not exempt from the sneak attack of self-judgement that comes when we pass our reflection and see something other than what we'd see in a magazine. You can blame the media, but it is not their fault. Media messages are simply a reflection of the beliefs and trends that thrive in a culture. So, who's fault is it then?


And mine.

It is all of ours.

The fact that a 13 year old girl will make herself vomit until her teeth fall out; the fact that girls are hating their bellies for how they stick out at the age of 4; the fact that girls are being sexually violated because they are so disconnected from their bodies that they think they have no right to say no - these things are downright CRIMINAL. If someone knocked your daughter's teeth out, what would you do? If someone railed against your 4 year old for having too round of a belly, would you give them what-for? Of course you would. And yet, here we are, squeezing our flab in the mirror and commiserating with our girlfriends about the size of our thighs. We don't think twice about the warfare we put our bodies through every time we find them wrong. But I am telling you girlfriend, it is killing us. And the only way to stop this cancer from spreading through our future generations is to take a stand. NOW.

I have dedicated my life to finding a cure for this insanity. The School of Charm and Cheek is the asylum we have all been longing for. The members of this tribe of truth are what I call Femme Vitale's. We are all familiar with a Femme Fatale, a woman whose erotic power is considered dangerous and deadly. A Femme Vitale is a woman who uses her rapturous beauty, her feminine charm and her erotic power to bring pleasure, love and joy to everyone she meets. She is shameless in her self love. She owns her body from head to toe. Her beauty transcends her age, her shape, her size. She knows how to turn her lights on, and from that, she turns on the world.

The School of Charm and Cheek is Femme Vitale Academy. A place where a woman can come and learn how to truly own her beauty, and bond with a culture of women who are pursuing the same truth. We have classes in the sensual art of Burlesque which give expression to the Seductress that lives within you. We offer Primp and Polish classes, which are like having a slumber party with your best girlfriends, and sharing all your best beauty secrets. We have sensual movement workshops, so a woman can work out the way her body was designed to - in a state of pure pleasure. All the things you wish your Mom would have taught you, if she had known herself.

Right now I am obsessed with the song "Dog Days" by Florence and the Machine. Listen to these lyrics:

Run fast for your mother; run fast for your father,
Run for your children, all your sisters and brothers
Leave all your love and your longing behind.

You can't carry it with you, if you want to survive
The dog days are over
The dog days are done
Can you hear the horses
'Cos here they come

The dog days of senselessly disapproving of our bodies are OVER. So dance with me today, my dear Femme Vitales. Dance for your Mother and Father, who created your sexy, succulent body. Dance for your children, that they may never know the feeling of self hatred; all because of how you chose not to buy into it in your lifetime. And most of all, dance for your sisters and brothers, that we may all find the courage to tell the Emperor he is buck naked, and that he looks just great.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Yes To The Prom Dress!

Can I just tell you how freakin' good it feels to be a woman in hot pursuit of all her dreams and desires?

This weekend I had the privilege of teaching
Body Love Burlesque to an incredible group of women. I got to shine my light and feel their glow as we mixed and stirred and shook the confines of what it means to be a woman who owns her beauty. One of my favorite parts was Karen, who started off the class saying "I'm 58 years old, I'm supposed to be wearing turtlenecks and have short hair". And yet there she was, in her violet lace bra and panties, rocking our world with the way she shimmied into her bliss. And Ali, who didn't even plan on attending the class and told me she planned to leave after 10 minutes, smiling like a 2 year old as she learned how to tassel twirl for the first time. Ahhh. What a privilege it is to be celebrating our feminine form with a little bump and grind. Especially in a world where you could be arrested for doing such a thing a few thousand miles away. Thank you Goddess for our freedom.

And then, after feasting on that banquet of beauty and delight, I dashed off to my friend Rochelle's surprise birthday party for her boyfriend, where I got to tease and tantalize with my "Fever" fan dance. Rochelle is the founder of
Qoya, and she is my one of my biggest inspirations for expressing my Divinity through dancing. It was pure bliss! The room was so full of warmth and love. The room squealed as I came out and surprised everyone with my big white feathers. And then Ro and I got to play the most delicious tug of war with my glove. Divine!

On Sunday, I went on a road trip upstate to my hometown to capture footage for my movie. Yes, I am starring in my very own film! My friend Ariane is making a short documentary film about my Burlesque journey called The Diary of Kitty Cavalier. It is so beyond thrilling to even be on this ride, and then to I get to see it on the big screen!  It doesn't get much better than that.

And throughout the whole weekend, there was Kev. My handsome and darling husband who does it all behind the scenes. He packs the pasties, he fluffs the boas. He feeds me,  he waters me. He follows me with a pooper-scooper as I make a mess of glitter and feathers trying to get out the door. He is my chef, my bodyguard, my masseuse, my coach, my cheerleader, my therapist, my announcer, my hero. And above all, my true love.

I am so blessed.
I am so grateful.
I am so happy.

I feel like a teenager who just got home from the prom and wants to sleep in her dress.

Thank you God, Thank you Goddess.
Thank you family, thank you friends.
Thank you to every woman who chooses to luxuriate in her divine beauty today - and in doing so, restores the world to sanity.
Thank you me, for saying Yes. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Paperwhites, such is life

In the realm of horticulture, I'm more of a vase than a flower pot. My thumb is far from green.  Yes, I fantasize about having a garden someday, but truthfully that fantasy has alot more to do with the wide brim straw hat than it does the dirt under my nails. Which is one of the reasons I am so grateful that every year my Aunt Nancy brings me a Paperwhites kit to remind me of the promise of Spring.  This kit is the easiest thing you could imagine: add water, insert bulbs. That's it. Easy peasy.

Somehow this year I've managed to screw it up anyway. But fortunately, these little guys decided to take matters into their own hands. Despite my error in shallow bulb placement, hundreds of spidery roots began shooting upwards through the soil with the determination of a California Redwood. Then, four beautiful little flowers started to bloom, each as delicate as a tea cup; polished and perfect, like an an Easter egg.

In these final days of winter, it helps to remember that sometimes that all it takes is a little water and some sunshine to create a miracle.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

From Poultry to Pleasure

Exhausted from a full day of work. Stuck on the A train with a sick passenger. Bloated from a lunch of pizza and ice cream. "How the fuck am I going to conjure up the creativity to do this?"

This is the question I asked myself as I made my way uptown to meet my friend Kendra. She is starring in a fabulous play called Next, and there is one scene where she does striptease out of a satin robe. She asked me to help her choreograph it, which I was happy to say yes to in the moment. But in my present state was not certain I had the mojo for the job. I was feeling, in a word, schlubby. That feeling I get every Winter here in NY where all my shoes have a salt crust, it's too cold to wear anything but pants, and my skin starts to resemble the pallor of an uncooked chicken.

When I arrived, half an hour late due to the train debacle, Kendra was waiting in the studio with a cotton robe and a blond wig. What (pleasantly) surprised me, was that as soon as I put the robe on and started moving to the music, my chemistry started to change. I went from feeling like my brain outweighed my body to having all my senses engaged. My mind focused and I felt no worries. All that mattered was the music, the character, and the moment I was in.

As much as try to resist it, I really do think I've found my creative soul mate in Burlesque. Nothing else makes me feel more like who I really am, or requires me to operate on all 4 creative cylinders quite like Burlesque does.

What is your creative soul mate? The one that both takes you out of yourself, and plugs you into yourself at the same time? Share with me, my darling reader.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Who Am I?

One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is Christmas Eve Mass with family.  As a young girl,  I loved seeing the members of our small town in upstate New York put a little extra sparkle and glamour into their normally casual appearance.  This year, I pressed my edge and went full out - a black 1940's hourglass dress with patent leather pumps, a purple hat with a feather sticking out, white vintage gloves and a jacket with faux fur cuffs. Looking in the mirror, I felt fabulous and gorgeous, but was surprised to also be feeling a little anxious. I mean, people get dressed up on Christmas, but not really this dressed up. It was pushing all my buttons of the messages I received as a child about how a woman "should" look. Reverent and humble was the name of the game, not  flamboyant and flashy. Was I being inappropriate? I mean,  who was I to be wearing something this glamorous and daring? Could I really pull this off?

It reminded me of when I was a child. There was a married couple in our Church whose daughters would come to visit over the holidays. I believed they were from New York City, because they always dressed with a certain panache and sense of style totally foreign to our tiny town.  I looked forward to seeing them every year at Mass, as I felt like I was catching a glimpse of what was possible for me as a woman once I grew up and got out of this small town life (which I now appreciate, but couldn't wait to abandon in my youth).

So I went for it, tossed my reservations aside and charged on in the name of extravagant beauty, a daring kind of elegance, and the risk being looked at as a wacko wearing a costume instead of clothes.  A tribute to the girls I had once admired, and had now become.

As I walked down the stairs so we could make our way to Mass, vindication arrived as I received the best compliment I could imagine: watching my 5 year old niece insist upon wearing her pretty Spring coat instead of her bulky winter one, her summer sandals with a tiny heel instead of her winter boots, and asking her Mommy if there were any gloves she could wear with her coat that might look like mine.

So, to answer the question of  "who am I to be wearing this?".  That's simple. I am Kitty Cavalier.