Stripper Talk #15: Accessing “Sexiness”

Author of Stripper Talk, Sydni Deveraux

Hello world! It’s Stripper Talk time again! This is a place where I field questions and answer them to the best of my ability, hopefully giving anyone who’s interested in burlesque some insight.

This week’s question comes from “BB” who wishes to remain anonymous. 

Hello Sydni,

My problem I am coming to you is this:

I am having trouble letting myself be sexy. I feel awful in my skin and presence when attempting to do anything sexy.

I am fairly new to burlesque with just over a year under my belt, but over 10 years experience with performing in general. I love being on stage and neo-burlesque style comes to me with ease. I feel totally comfortable and sexy when I am doing a silly, raunchy, playful and even dark humored routine, but as soon as I attempt a serious sexy strut or slow and sultry classic strip I feel so uncomfortable; I immediately do a silly face or air hump to break the serious tension. I don’t allow myself to be sexy. I don’t believe I am sexy enough to do a routine where I am acknowledging myself as a sexy woman. I am an average figured woman (not small enough to be considered skinny and not large enough to be considered a big beautiful woman) Too average to be sexy. This problem came apparent when attended a Lola Frost beginner chair dance workshop. I entered the class and looked around at all the beautiful sexy women- I know I should not compare myself to others, but I did- I felt not sexy and that I didn’t belong there or that I didn’t belong in the burlesque world at all. I love that anything is possible with burlesque and I want to go as far as I possibly can with it. This hang up is holding me back and I have no idea of how to get over it. Any tips, advice or stories will help… or even assurance that I am normal for that matter. 

Thank you so much Sydni, you are so inspirational I am grateful for your time and blog. Your words and wisdom are life changing. 

 xoxo “Bumbling Beauty”

Hi BB!

Thanks for the compliment, and for sending in such a great question! I’m sorry to hear that you’re having a hard time with this, so hopefully my thought on this matter can help you- I feel like a lot of women (in every walk of life, not just burlesque) struggle with this.

 **I should add a disclaimer to my answer to you- it is quite possible that I will dive into some nerdy, perhaps metaphysical stuff that I’m into in order to give you an answer that I’m content to give you. Take what you want, leave what you don’t- ok? Let’s go!

 I think this idea that women have about “being” sexy is such a strange one. The idea that you have to subscribe to a certain set of “sexy” facial expressions (ex: that “o” face, or looking slightly bored), movements, etc., is extremely limiting to the idea of sexy, don’t you think? I suggest that you set aside some time to really explore what “sexy” really means to you. Look at the performers, women and men that you admire for being what you find sexy and try to discover what other adjectives also apply to them. What are the ingredients (think qualities) in this sexy person soup that you want to enjoy for yourself?

I have to tell you- I especially love this question, and that it came to me because only a few years ago I had a lot of the same feelings as you did about wanting to goof off in moments of seriousness due to personal discomfort. At the time I was primarily identifying as a neo-burlesque performance artist and was known for my acts that injected humor and campy theatricality. I kept being pulled to try more classic styles, but I was also uncomfortable with it. (Tip: You need to sit with this discomfort, BB- find out where it ultimately comes from. Then do something about it- own it, change it, or discard whatever belief you have in there.)

My personal journey as a woman led me to classic burlesque- it chose me and not the other way around. My ongoing evolution of “woman” is mirroring my evolution as “artist” or “performer”. I don’t think that classic burlesque is necessarily more “sexy” than other stylings of burlesque, and I certainly don’t think that every performer has to have a classic act or engage in being “serious” onstage or what mainstream culture deems “sexy”. It works if you work it- neo, classic or otherwise!

I think it would be wise to try to shrug off any perceived notions of what “sexy” acts like, and then try to discover what makes you happy. Maybe play with the idea that “confident” or “happy” is “sexy”! My journey to “sexy” on stage is when I look “happy” and having a good time, nothing more, nothing less. That way, my humor (which is filthy) can shine through at the right time without going to a place of being a character- I’m just being myself.

Things to consider:

1)    There’s nothing in this word that says that “sexy” can’t be “funny”. A well-placed air-hump can be glorious- after all we are in the business of bump-and-grind, my darling!

2)    Your physical appearance has nothing to do whether you are “sexy”. Sexy isn’t an eye-color, a waist measurement or a breast size.

3)    Sexy= confidence. Sexy on stage= being confident or playing confident.

4)    Other people’s sexy isn’t going to be yours. I am not sexy when I try that cute-girl thing that many performers much smaller than me can do. You are wise to try not to compare yourself to others- I suggest you do more work around it!

 OK! So here’s some simple exercises you can do to bring sexy back!

1)    Smile at yourself when you are in a mirror- especially when you are rehearsing. Try rehearsing your whole act with a smile or a variance of your smile. I think smiling is great because it’s a moment of confidence shining on your face. Audiences love smiling ladies (and men) in burlesque- this exercise can help you get more confidence in your body. You might not choose to smile when you’re on an actual stage performing, but it will help infuse confidence into your core. (Major feather-tip to Catherine D’Lish, who makes me do this in all rehearsals with her!)

2)    Tell yourself: “I love myself”. No- seriously. If you don’t love yourself or like yourself, where is that “sexy” gonna spill out of? If you don’t believe it at first, that’s ok- just keep telling yourself. The brain is pretty cool- you can reprogram it! If you don’t believe me- there’s this awesome thing called Google- start learning! 😉

3)    Write a list of all of the qualities you have that you think are sexy. (Just a hint: humor goes on this list.)

4)    Know that a veritable well of your own essence of “eau de sex” is inside of you. If you tell yourself that you’re “not sexy”- your “sexy” (that’s deep down inside of you) isn’t going to show up to prove you wrong. (It’s that brain thing again)

5)    Stand up straight. ALL OF THE TIME. Body language can send cues to our brain and vice versa. If I’m having a “not-confident” day, I check in with my body and fix it really quick! Pull in your core, support yourself as you walk through this world!

6)    Make eye-contact with people. People you talk to all the time. Strangers that don’t look crazy on the street. (But don’t stare- that’s when it gets weird)

7)    Smile more. At first it might feel fake- think of something happy- and then smile! The more you smile the more you’ll have things to smile about.

8)    Learn to take a compliment. NO excuses or unwarranted explanations! Just say thank you!

9)    Play up your attributes, day in and day out. Over time, your attributes will grow if you acknowledge and allow for it.

10) Be grateful for the body you have. Be grateful for your life and for the wonderful feminine energy that graces you. Please know that you can be grateful for your body while choosing to improve it (this should be entirely personal preference), if you see fit. If you’re not choosing to change, then you better be in the helpful habit of loving yourself, otherwise you’re just making yourself miserable. I personally believe that the only way your body ultimately chooses to make those changes for you is because you’re appreciating it. Your brain is a powerful thing- it’s running the whole show!

“Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change” – Dr. Dyer

 To sum it up, sweet BB- find and cultivate your confidence in all areas of your life in order to access it onstage. From there, I personally think the “sexy” will have no other reason but to spill out! And no matter what, try to do things that you’re pleased with, that make you happy- you needn’t do anything on stage just because you think someone expects it of you.

 I wish you all the success that you crave!

Sydni Deveraux

*Would you like your burlesque question answered in Stripper Talk? Email me at GlitterWonderland@gmail.comWant to see more of me? Check out

9 thoughts on “Stripper Talk #15: Accessing “Sexiness”

  1. Thanks Sydni! BB, I felt like you had literally crawled inside my head and were expressing my biggest challenges and fears as a newer neo performer. As a “funny” girl, I am doing my first dark seductive act in a few weeks. I am scared s@*!less! Sydni, I am so thankful, I saw this today and I am excited to try to bring sexy back into my world too!

  2. Yes yes yes! All these things!!

    I’d also say… Think about your own journey to sexy in your personal life: did you just go for how it looks in movies? Or have a bit of fun? All the little moments you tailored to you as you learned what pleased you rather than what someone else might find sexy are the hottest… Maybe that’s a man’s shirt and knee socks instead of a corset and stockings. It’s finding a moment of intimacy with yourself and sharing it – luxuriating in what you like. And that can be funny, silly or vulnerable… To me it sounds like you’ve already found your sexy place on stage!

    Be a bit selfish… Just be you. It doesn’t have to be the same sexy as everyone else.

    And as Sydni said, that’s the confidence in your sexiness! Trust me, people already find what you’re doing REALLY sexy. You sound like you’re having a great time up there!


  3. Wonderful post Sydni I think you nailed it, and great comment Vicky. As an audience member I think funny is sexy. As a performer I love to show that I am witty and not take myself too seriously.

  4. You are awesome, Sydni. This was a beautiful response and helpful to not only the performer posting the question but to all of us who hadn’t realized it was something we had considered at some point as well. Thank you!

  5. Great blog! Hang in there BB. Performing Burlesque can be the best thing you ever do for yourself. I believe it helped shaped me as a woman and person. Burlesque accepts all!
    Another tip:
    HAVE FUN!!!
    Don’t worry so much about all the negative things. It isn’t life or death. It’s Burlesque!


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