What does the phrase "Body Positive" mean to you?
Body positive means not being afraid to show my body. Not being shy. Being proud of what God gave me.
Why is performing important to you?
I've always performed in one way or another. I love moving my body to music. It's what I love. It's all about the music. I love to move my body to the rhythm.
What was it about your chosen art form that drew you?
I've always been into dance of all kinds. When I was a little girl, my favorite movie was Gypsy. I used to dance in the mirror and pretend I was Gypsy Rose Marie, instead of Gypsy Rose Lee. I was always drawn to burlesque. I love the art of the tease. I've always been considered a tease myself. I started studying burlesque 8 years ago, and have been constant student. It wasn't until I suggested I join Elvis for this year's America's Got Talent auditions that I started performing it. And now from a fluke, I'm getting jobs as a dancer!
What has your journey to body positivity been like?
My journey to acceptance was sudden. I was a Catholic school girl, a cheerleader, and a tease, but pretty innocent, really. I was a working makeup artist and a 49er cheerleader when I got married in my early 20s. My honeymoon was a surprise. I found myself at a nude resort on a tropical island. I had barely taken my clothes off for anyone including my husband, and I was at a nude resort. I had to decide if I was going to stay in my room, clothed, or be nude in front of a bunch of strangers. I wore my two piece bathing suit to the nude only beach, and was soon approached by two female security people who told me I couldn't have clothes on. When I didn't respond immediately, one of them told me to look around the beach at all the varieties of bodies, and told me that I wasn't any different from all of the others. I realized the wide variety of ages, shapes, sizes, and colors, and really looked at the other people and took it in. And they looked at me since I was the one with clothes on which made me stand out. When the suit was off, I no longer stood out. It was an abrupt lesson in body acceptance, but experience forced me to learn to become comfortable with showing my body.
What, if any, impression(s) do you hope your audience walks away from your performances with?
I don't care. I'm doing it to enjoy myself. I just go up on stage, and act like myself.
What do you want people to know about your story as it relates to participating in this project?
Age is no object! I'm in my middle sixties. I'm living the dream!