From our very first meeting at Veggie Galaxy, Lilith Beest has been instrumental in the growth and success of Burlesque Boston. As one of the four founding admins, Lilith spearheaded the blog section of our website and conceptualized our performer Q&A's, as well as our Instagram performer highlights (#MCM, #TCT, and #WCW). She even took on the gargantuan task of creating an archive for all of the marketing materials that producers and performers have put together throughout the years. tldr; Lilith Beest is a total babe and badass, and Burlesque Boston simply wouldn't be what it is now without her.
What is your gender (today) and what are your pronouns?
She/her/dude in normal life, they/them when performing because my characters tend to be all kinds of binary-breaking.
What led you to become a burlesque performer?
I had been to a lot of shows and desperately wanted to be onstage with the people I admired. I have always been a goofball and fell in love with burlesque as an art form because you can do so much with it. You can be sexy, sultry, funny or even political - it's open to what you want to say, and there was so much I wanted to say. But directly? Going to shows, talking with the performers and producers, and kittening! That got me backstage and eventually onstage, and then I dug my little claws in and never left, haha!
What is the first burlesque show you saw?
The first show I ever saw was put on by The Boston Babydolls (current name The Boston BeauTease) at my local art house cinema, along with an old-timey movie called "Lady of Burlesque." I loved that first taste of burlesque. It felt really powerful and political to see real women's bodies as opposed to the photoshopped ads I was inundated by every day. But the first show that I saw that I really connected with was the Slaughterhouse Sweethearts's first show, which was also at my local cinema, the Coolidge Corner Theater (which is where I spent most of my free time). There I was introduced to the idea of modern burlesque by people who looked like me and liked horror movies like me.
What do you love about burlesque/performing?
Why did you join Burlesque Boston community?
Because there is no community that is inherently safe and I wanted to help our community be as safe as it possibly could. I had seen shadows that allowed shady people to take root and have access to women's bodies unquestioningly and without recourse, and I really hated that. So I wanted to help bring light to that and share information that would help make everyone safer and more knowledgable, as well as foster an environment where performers - new and experienced, young and old, of every gender - felt comfortable asking questions and coming forward.
What do you love the Burlesque Boston community?
We're all so weird and awesome. Everyone in the community is driven, and being surrounded by that is such a gift. Everyone has their own influences and experiences which give them completely unique voices and stories to tell. Everyone has something beautiful or important to say and give, and we're all always inspiring and pushing each other to do something new or better or weirder, and that's just so wonderful. I really love how different we all are.
What is your biggest takeaway from working on BB?
It is really hard work to foster the kind of environment that BB strives for. It takes a community to build a community, and it's unfortunate that even good people and performers can support people who directly affect the safety and integrity of our community. We have not been, and continue to not be, unaffected by the #MeToo movement, and that's disappointing to say the least. But I have seen many good steps forward, and I have seen how much good BB has done to raise up and make more visible the people in our community doing good work, and the people who have been underrepresented. Progress is always slower than you want it to be, but I am very proud of BB and the other community members not in BB who have also worked hard to increase safety, diversity, raise important conversations, and push us to be overall better.
What is your favorite thing you worked on for BB?
I loved highlighting people on Instagram (#MCM, #TCT, #WCW etc) because it's fun and it feels good to tell everyone how awesome an individual person is, but will be most proud of the "Archive"... once I finish, hahaha.
Is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
Your art is important. There are always a million reasons you can think of for why you "shouldn't" do something, but there's one very good reason why you should, and that's just because you want to! You're important, and your voice matters, and you matter, and you're not alone. Anyone can get involved in burlesque or drag or queerlesque, or even make up your own sub-genre! Many of the people in the community have mental or physical disabilities or challenges, so we all work hard to support each other and help each other reach our goals. So no one should ever feel like they can't belong, because you absolutely can. Talk to us, be nice, put in the work, have passion, and no matter what your skill set is, there's a place for you. Just as a reminder, I can't dance, can't sew, don't enjoy being "sexy," typically DO NOT STRIP, and yet still somehow I have carved a space for myself out of sheer fucking tenacity. You are perfect just the way you are, and our community is a beautiful escape from the rest of the world that I encourage everyone to be a part of.
Burlesque Boston's Blog is a collection of contributions from burlesque artists.