I’m not going to lie. When I got a call from Ruby Martini of The Bottom Line Burlesque and Comedy Troupe informing me that her group wanted to perform and fundraise for the UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders, I did a little research before accepting their offer. I don’t think I had ever seen the words burlesque and eating disorders in the same sentence before! What I found was a group of dedicated, fun-loving, talented women and men who spread laughter and body-positivity wherever they go. When I found out they practice in a church, I was sold! When I met them and saw what they stood for, I was charmed and honored that they chose CEED as their cause.
On Saturday July 11, the troupe performed “The Cleanest Dirty Fun You Will Ever Have” at the Common Ground Theater in Durham and all proceeds were earmarked for CEED. Dancing, magic trick (yes singular), juggling, singing, Monty Python-like costume parades, and loads of audience participation made it an entertaining and memorable night. My cheeks ached by the end of the performance from smiling and laughing so hard.
Everyone in the audience got to create our own burlesque stage names by combining the name of our first pet with the first street we lived on. Pat Sullivan, professor of genetics and psychiatry by day, took the prize as Judo Sargent.
Unbeknownst to the audience, CEED post-doc Hannah Woodrow (aka Camden Matherne) had been secretly rehearsing with the troupe so that when she was “randomly” selected from the audience, she could do a little number and tell everyone about our clinical and research work at CEED. She was joined by Heidi Saratoga (aka me) who thanked the Bottom Line players and audience for supporting CEED and for celebrating body positive messages throughout the performance.
Audience member Shadow Woods (aka Nathan Truesdell) asked how the relationship between the Bottom Line and CEED came to be because, “Well, it isn’t exactly a natural pairing.” After the show it became clear to all why it actually is such a brilliant pairing. Women and men with eating disorders struggle daily with body dissatisfaction and perfectionism—two things that the Bottom Line troupe addresses directly. In their shows, women and men of all shapes, sizes, and ages come together to celebrate what their bodies can do. If what they can do slows down a little with age, then they do a little less, but they put themselves out there nonetheless. Self-consciousness is checked at the door and the message conveyed is to feel comfortable in your own skin no matter what it looks like. Likewise, perfectionism is not the goal. Balls might be dropped, cues might be missed, wires might fall down, but it all gets rolled right into the comedy routine. The Bottom Line players laugh spontaneously especially when the unexpected and imperfect occurs. It’s not about perfection; it’s about good clean dirty fun!
On behalf of all of CEED, we extend our heartfelt thanks and admiration to the Bottom Line Troupe: Ruby Martini, Honey GiGi, Ella Vator, FiFi L’Amour, Hottie Scottie, Hurricane Velvet, Lottie LaRue, Pretty Pierre, Sexy Doc Sexy, and Amanda Holder.
by Heidi Saratoga 🙂