zahra stardust’s strong argument

September 25, 2010

Awhile ago when I did the interview with Red Devotchkin I got a comment from Tiara the Merch Girl pointing me towards an article by Zahra Stardust, another aussie vegan burlesque performer.  At the time I was busy getting ready for a show, so I filed it away and found it today.


Zahra really lays it out in this opinion piece and I am really glad someone so well spoken sat down and wrote this.

For those non-vegans who read this blog because you do burlesque or you know me and are supporting me, it may not be a comfortable thing to read but I encourage you to give it a look through.  If you have questions or want to argue a point back, please do! I try to be a very non-preachy vegan but I would love to discuss this topic with anyone.  I can also say it is great as a strong pro-feminist look at the sex industry and burlesque that every body should read to be enlightened.

Here is part of her opening to get a taste for it:

In burlesque, performers would deconstruct ideas about what constitutes a ‘woman’, using artifice, caricature, pastiche and comedy. Sex workers around me were educating their clients about safer sex, female pleasure and unquestionably subverting ideas bout heteronormativity and monogamy.

In so many senses, the erotic stage had become for me a place about ending oppression – about challenging attitudes towards beauty, the grotesque, nudity, gender, stereotype and inequality.

But at the same time, I had started to notice other oppressions around me which appeared undeniably intertwined the gender oppression I was fighting to eliminate. In the adult industry, stereotypes about race, class, sexual orientation and species were all completely bound up with stereotypes about gender.

Being vegan, I noticed signs advertising ‘$5 steak and Live Nude Girls’ or Nandos ads for fried chicken that read ‘Aussie chicks taste better’ (compounding ideas about the edibility, consumability and sub-human status of certain nationalities, genders and species).

Often performers would appear to celebrate animals onstage, but used means that continued to oppress animals offstage.

For example, I would see Catwoman shows on the stripping circuit that celebrated animal, feline mystery and power but often had performers dressed in leather, parading the skins of dead animals which had been treated and tanned with toxic and polluting chemicals.

Performers would often dress as beautiful winged creatures like peacocks or flamingos with giant feather fans, but these gorgeous plumes were often plucked from farmed ostriches and chemically dyed.”

You can read the whole article here.


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