Lucky Pierre’s Club Is Proud to Discriminate

Dance is for EVERY BODY.  More Cabaret takes our final bow at the Burlypicks competition.
Dance is for EVERY BODY. More Cabaret walks up for our bow at the Burlypicks competition.

After a year of working at The Blue Book Cabaret show at New Orleans club Lucky Pierre’s, Ruby Rage found herself off the schedule. Thinking it was a computer error, she called the show’s producer. Turns out there was no mistake, just blatant discrimination. She was told that the upper management of Lucky Pierre’s didn’t think her body was right for burlesque. When people went off on Lucky Pierre’s for blatant discrimination and giving Burlesque a bad name, LP doubled down with a Facebook response:

We would like to thank everyone for their opinion on Burlesque. Let’s face the facts, in the long history of the art there is an expected image. Josephine Backer, Gypsy Rose Lee, Bettie Page, Blaze Starr, Dita Von Teese, and Mae West. This image was carried to main stream by movies like Burlesque and Cabaret.

If this leaves any doubt of the worlds expectation of Burlesque let’s take a minute to look at the photos by Stephen Le Marche who says, “I love the old world charm of burlesque” and “Burlesque shows off the dancer’s amazing physique.”

This concept is carried through the many burlesque clubs around the world. The Crazy Horse Paris, X Burlesque, Volupte’, Club Noir, Hubba Hubba Revue, Jumbo Clown room and Moulin Rouge.

The world has a standard for burlesque and our dramatically comical musical show will achieve that standard.

Please also take a moment to help clear any more confusion on what is burlesque and watch the video from the burlesque hall of fame 2014 Miss Exotic World champion LouLou D’Vil. As well as this clip from Carson Daily show.

Thank you for the continued support as we create the greatest show in America.”

Many of those mentioned in the statement, along with other big names in Burlesque, spoke out against the statement in seriously strong language.  As they should, because this is bullshit.

Even if the statement wasn’t just chock full o’ lies, using past discrimination to justify current and future discrimination is an age old tool that must be recognized and called out (and not in a “but she’s not even that fat” defense.)  If you’re planning on making a “they are allowed to choose who performs in their show” argument, save yourself the effort.  The question here isn’t whether or not this particular type of discrimination is legal, it’s whether or not we’re going to stand for it.

I cannot wait to live in a world where we chose our performers based on their ability to perform and not based on some stereotype of beauty, and where people fight discrimination instead of arguing that it’s not technically against the law, and I’m going to actively work to create that world.  How about you? Nobody is obligated to do activism but if you get the urge, here are some things that you can do:

Head over to Lucky Pierre’s Facebook page and let them know what you think.

Let Yelp know what you think of Lucky Pierre’s policy of blatant discrimination.

Write a review of Lucky Pierre’s for Google.

Show Ruby some love on Facebook.

Get the word out – share this blog or other articles about this on your social media.

Random Requests:

1.  I’m want to get in touch with Beth Ditto for a possible collaboration – if you know her, I would love an introduction you can e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org

2. It looks like I’ll be in Europe later this year.  I’m putting together a European speaking tour so if you’re in the area and interested in having me come speak shoot me an e-mail at ragen at danceswithfat dot org and we’ll work out the details!

Like this blog?  Here’s more cool stuff:

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13 thoughts on “Lucky Pierre’s Club Is Proud to Discriminate

  1. “what is burlesque”

    Weeeeell Burlesque was originally a vehicle for the lower classes to mock the upper classes, for women to dress as men and men to dress as women etc etc. So claiming they threw Ruby Rage off the rota to adhere to the “traditional type” of Burlesque is total BS.

  2. Choosing performers according to their looks rather than their talent is a longstanding disgrace. It simply doesn’t work.

    Mr. Twistie has often told me a sadly true story he witnessed years ago. There was a local band that started getting a strong following and a record company (this was long enough ago that there were still record companies!) sent out a scout to sign them to a contract. The guy got to the club after the band had played, but went to seek a member out to talk to him.

    He did sign a performer that night… one who couldn’t sing and didn’t play any instrument. Yes, it turned out he saw a guy who he thought looked like a rock singer, but said guy was just someone who came out to see the show.

    So why did the record company dude choose him instead of a band member?

    “He had a great goatee.”

    Lucky Pierre’s is being even worse. They had a talented burlesque performer in Ruby Rage for a YEAR, and then suddenly decided she didn’t look the part enough.

    Is it legal? Yes. But once upon a time it was legal to tell people they couldn’t eat at a public lunch counter because of the color of their skin. Once upon a time there was no law against beating your child. The first child abuse case in the US featured a little girl whose parents beat her, starved her, held hot flat irons to her body, and cut her with scissors. She was represented by the ASPCA because in the early 1880’s there were more laws on the books to protect a dog than a child.

    Laws change over time because we come to realize they are either wrong or inadequate to the situation.

    If Lucky Pierre’s had been able to point to dwindling audiences, that would have been a legitimate reason to cut a performer. And had that been the case, I have no doubt they would have used that legitimate reason.

    But no. They’ve decided Ruby Rage doesn’t look the part. I bet they wouldn’t have thought Mama Cass Eliot looked the part of a rock diva.

    Well I don’t want to live in a world where performers are chosen according to whether they are thin enough to ‘look’ right or where their choice of facial hair determines whether someone thinks they’re talented or not.

    To the battlements, mes amis!

    1. “She was represented by the ASPCA because in the early 1880’s there were more laws on the books to protect a dog than a child.”

      Oh wow! I didn’t know that, that’s incredibly sad. You’ve definitely sparked me to read up on this – that’s such an awful story of abuse. That poor girl! She’s quoted as testifying:

      “I don’t know how old I am. I have no recollection of a time when I did not live with the Connollys. …. Mamma has been in the habit of whipping and beating me almost every day. She used to whip me with a twisted whip—a raw hide. The whip always left a black and blue mark on my body. I have now the black and blue marks on my head which were made by mamma, and also a cut on the left side of my forehead which was made by a pair of scissors. She struck me with the scissors and cut me; I have no recollection of ever having been kissed by any one—have never been kissed by mamma. I have never been taken on my mamma’s lap and caressed or petted. I never dared to speak to anybody, because if I did I would get whipped…. I do not know for what I was whipped—mamma never said anything to me when she whipped me.”

      It’s so crazy that it took an advocate for animal rights to finally get children more rights and protection. It’s heartbreaking.

      1. I couldn’t find any documentation of it on a very quick Google search, but I was told long ago that the ASPCA was originally the Association for the Pevention of Cruelty to Animals and Children.

  3. Are they kidding? She is GORGEOUS!

    They make absolutely no mention of her performance history, whether or not she was popular with the audience, or even if she had attendance issues. The ONLY thing they mention is her size.

    This is unacceptable.

  4. I’m getting so sick of watching talented people get axed simply based on their body size. It’s been happening more and more lately.

    My husband watches American Idol – a show I can’t stand. But, since we have just one TV and I love my husband, I let him watch it without much complaint. But he watched an episode recently that had me livid – I watched them send home an incredibly talented fat woman and keep, instead, a thin woman with a fraction of the talent of the fat woman. I was so furious – when the differences in their skill level and talent where blatantly obvious. It was quite sickening to watch and it was apparent as to exactly why the fat woman was asked to leave and the, quite a bit less talented, thin woman was passed on to the next round.

    I think, of the 24 current contestants, there is only one person of size in the running now and, of course, it’s a guy. But then again these are the same people who didn’t even let Mary Lambert past the first round when she auditioned.

  5. “Thank you for the continued support as we create the greatest show in America.”

    Dunno how you’re going to do that if you’re firing what the producer’s describing as her greatest dancer over said producer’s objections. Sounds more like you, Lucky Pierre’s, mean the same thing every other mainstream performance art group means when they say they want the “best” – they mean they want the *thinnest,* and if they can sorta actually do the job, too, that’s just gravy.

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