I finally did it: my first burlesque solo!

Phew! What a manic ten days. A trip to France, Switzerland and Italy, two performances in Liverpool, before rushing off to Cardiff to watch Meilyr Jones perform (again).

Now that I’ve had time to reflect, I want to tell you about Lemon Tart‘s first EVER solo burlesque performance, which took place at the Jazzesque Showcase in the Buyers Club, Liverpool.

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Being a writer by trade, I’m big on burlesque which demonstrates strong storytelling. For me, an act needs specific plot points which extend beyond ‘remove gloves/dress/bra’. No matter how visually pleasing the performer, I will inevitably get bored without a quirky story and a few laughs.

I started toying with the idea for my act back in August. A lifelong fan of fairies, I’d lusted over an extremely pricey pair of fairy wings at Green Man festival and after a few too many shots I finally caved. It was the perfect excuse!

I sat in my tent mulling it over with my friend Jonny, who suggested the song ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’ by Björk  – GENIUS. An idea was born. Wouldn’t it be great if the tooth fairy fell in love?

I hadn’t shown my act to a soul before the big night, which I predicted would be a grave mistake. Although I’m reasonably confident in my acting skills and comedic ideas, the thought of showing anyone whilst not onstage made my blood run cold.  My fruity sister Little Peaches got a sneak peek that very morning, but as predicted, I fell to pieces.

There was just one thing for it – I would hope for the best.

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Mandatory backstage selfie

Being first and foremost a comedy writer, humour was a must.

On the big night my pal Mike stepped in (i.e. was bullied into) the role of a bloke suffering from toothache. He did a fantastic job of setting the scene by wandering onstage gesturing at his toothache, before knocking himself out cold with paracetamol and wine.

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Image by AB Photography

To make the tooth fairy suited to an adult audience, I wandered onstage drunk (partly acting, partly thanks to three glasses of wine for courage), clutching a bottle of 22% alc. Listerine.

Other props included a giant sparkly tooth brush I used as a magic wand, and chocolate coins to chuck into the audience.

During the act I became flustered and forgot SO MANY THINGS.  My timing went to hell, and I was so eager to do my big reveal – teeth falling out of my bra – that I whipped it off far too early – WHY ARE YOU TAKING YOUR BRA OFF PUT IT BACK ON RIGHT NOW!!?!!

Yep, things went wrong. But you know what? I bloody did it.

I got on that stage and I carried on until the end. My bra didn’t get caught in my hair, I didn’t slip on my skirt. The audience pissed themselves when I used a white g-string to floss my teeth (and other regions). I came alive on that stage.

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Image by AB Photography

Afterwards, I was still shaking as strangers congratulated me. One person said she really appreciated the small touches – glitter “fairy dust” falling out of my opera gloves – which meant a lot.

It was only later that I realised I FORGOT MY BLOODY FAIRY WINGS. Raging!

There are plenty of things I can improve for next time, but I’m proud that as someone with such low confidence I actually did it. It felt great standing up there practically in the nuddy, proving that women of all shapes and sizes can be creative, witty and beautiful.

Love and Lemons,

Lowri XOXO

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Image by AB Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why do People with Mental Health Issues Stop Taking Their Meds?

It’s only Wednesday, but this week has already been pretty rough. A lot happened on Sunday, and the memories have been making me feel sick with shame ever since. I’m finding it impossible to talk about with anyone, so perhaps articulating those thoughts in this blog will prove cathartic.

On Sunday, I wasn’t myself. For those that don’t know, I suffer from borderline personalty disorder.

Although I’ve been pretty darn happy lately, I’ve also started to feel like a failure. I’m experiencing doubt in my abilities as a writer, and having recently graduated, each job rejection is a blow to my self-esteem.

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Sunday was a culmination of self loathing caused by career and relationship worries, and lack of medication for a couple of days (which causes insomnia, which never helps my state of mind).

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On Sunday afternoon a friend encouraged me to take a walk. I wandered down to the docks, next to the River Mersey. Water always gives me a sense of peace, and growing up on an island, I always had easy access to it if I needed to blow off steam.

When I’m down, it’s a comfort to know I can end it if I choose to. I never would, but sitting near the ocean, or walking over the 100ft bride in my Welsh hometown is like a backup plan if it ever gets too much.

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Next to the Mersey I jumped the railing, just to get that little closer to the water. I didn’t want to sit on a bench, with strangers walking right by me. I wanted to be alone. There was a little gate, with stairs leading down to the water.

I sat on the stairs, huddled against the wall and rocking back and forth. A jet ski kept whizzing by as if it were looking for something.

A security guard appeared, followed by two more. I broke down, frozen to the spot for a few minutes, before announcing I was going home. They muttered into their walkie-talkies, watching until I was out of sight.

I sat under a tree next to the big wheel to compose myself. Two police vans waited nearby, but I told myself I was being paranoid.

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I didn’t even notice two policemen, then three, surround me. I hyperventilated. Why wouldn’t they go away?

They lead me to a police van and I calculated whether I could outrun them. Even in that state, I still cared very much what all the tourists watching thought of me.

One policeman was kind, and told me a story about a colleague who had had mental health problems.

The other said I was giving him attitude because I wouldn’t state my name. I eventually admitted  I was just tired and not feeling myself, probably from lack of meds. His response was ‘but WHY would you not take them when they make you better?’ He was impatient and couldn’t fathom why I would make everybody’s lives more difficult.

It took a long time to convince me to willingly go to the hospital, as opposed to being sectioned.

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Being escorted by police through the hospital was the most humiliating moment of my life.

My friend Justine came. I had calmed down a lot by the time she arrived, and the crisis team were happy to let me leave. Justine fed me pasta with avocado and we watched girly TV.

My beautiful, amazing boyfriend abandoned his weekend trip a day early, despite my telling him not to. I feel terrible about it, but seeing him walk through the gate at the train station meant the whole world to me. I can’t believe how fortunate I am to have someone who doesn’t walk away from me at my worst.

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Today I’ve been feeling pretty lonely, so I tried to find some resources exploring why don’t people want to take their medication? FYI, I take antipsychotic and antidepressant medications.

I used to have a schizophrenic friend who would skip his medication at regular intervals, and I would wonder exactly what that policeman had wandered.

So, here are my reasons:

  1. The conviction that I’m suddenly cured.

2. Feeling so good, you wonder whether there was anything wrong in the first place. Maybe I imagined the whole thing? Did I even deserve those uni extensions? What if I needlessly wasted 12 days on a psychiatric unit whilst someone else was busy topping themselves? Better check, just in case!

3. Exhaustion. It’s hard to express just how zonked I feel a lot of the time. Although medication has been a blessing – when I’m taking them and stable, I’m the me I was always meant to be – they also take a lot out of me. I’m still exhausted after a 10 hour sleep, and it takes HOURS to wake up because my mind is so foggy.

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So, this week has been a  bit crap. I feel fragile. I missed deadlines writing for a digital content agency I’ve only just begun work for – something the regular me would never do. I’m mortified that I effectively got fired for the one thing I’m supposed to be good at.

BPD often feels like taking one step forward and two steps back.

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I often convince myself that people only like the medicated part of me. They don’t like ME, only the edited version they think they know.

So what’s the point of anything? Nobody REALLY loves me, so nothing really matters.

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Obviously in a good state of mind I know this isn’t true, but in my own little world, I believe the harsh thoughts.

So it’s been an eventful week. I’m still a bit shaken and need time to process, but as usual – I’ll be okay soon.

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Burlesque & Bubbly

Burlesque & Bubbly is your tasteful alternative to the conventional hen party, all powder pink and rosé champagne to match your lipstick. Rather than just getting trashed, it’s an opportunity to learn flirty techniques, shake your tail feathers and become a strong empowered woman who don’t need no man (unless you’re the bride to be – don’t dump him on my account).

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Hosted by professional dancer/nutcase Rachael Mellor and based in Fonseca’s at the heart of Liverpool’s gay town on Stanley St, it’s apt that her sessions should be sign posted with rainbows.

Guests are encouraged to dress up in all their Ann Summers finery (not the crotchless pants) and will inevitably flap about tightening corsets (‘TIGHTER!!!’) and applying more of just about everything. It felt a bit like the girly sleepover I never had because nobody wanted to be my mate, and many bosoms were squeezed in admiration._DSC9721 copyThe event is tucked away in a cosy curtained basement away from prying eyes. After being greeted with a glass of fizz the hens prepare a special sentimental keepsake for the bride. Then it’s on to an activity to devise your own sassy burlesque persona involving the name of a first pet (mine was a cat called Ben so it didn’t really work).

cerdiau.jpgThe dance lesson involves learning five key burlesque techniques which are incorporated into a routine in which the bride takes centre stage. The song comes from the film Burlesque and the routine is simple, but champagne makes most people tipsy so they won’t notice you being rubbish anyway.

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Rachael and our gorgeous Aussie bride Barbie Von Possum who definitely should have been named Kylie Down Under.

Afterwards hens receive three glasses of wine each, and the opportunity to play with Rachael’s box of props so Facebook can see just how fit you can be and why on earth didn’t they see it before?

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I’d never been to a hen party before and literally lower my voice to utter the word ‘penis’, so the thought of willy straws, willy piñatas and probably an actual well-oiled willy had me a bit scared. However, this was a lovely alternative to the traditional last night as a free woman.

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received_10156532930965374It’s a safe environment to explore your sexuality away from the prying eyes of strange men, except for barman Niall who’s a bit strange in that he wasn’t paying any of us attention. Gobshite.

It also isn’t strictly for hen parties. Finally turning 18 or 80? Just want to get together with the girls? Divorce finalised? It’s all good – various styles and themes are adaptable to your shindig.

Regular readers already know my take on burlesque; it’s not about what flesh you’re flashing, but what you aren’t. It’s about expressing another side to your personality through narrative and costume, and propping other women up with admiration and encouragement. It’s about being proud to expose your vulnerabilities.

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Rachael also runs weekly Jazz-Esque classes which fuse jazz routines and burlesque techniques. She’s a boss teacher and I’ve grown to consider her a close pal. She recognises that it’s all in good fun; we aren’t trained dancers and some of us aren’t comfortable getting our knockers out (as you can tell, I am!). Beginners classes start in March.

kairiEasy going and an all-round good egg, Rachael is supportive even when you’re rubbish and always has a massive grin. I know we’re biased, but Burlesque & Bubbly is a genuinely great event. There’s no penis paraphernalia in sight, and you might even learn a few moves to impress potential roosters. You’re guaranteed a clucking good time (sorry).

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Photography by Mina Bihi