Rosie Rotica is the pen name of a local blogger, burlesque performer, and rhinestone enthusiast. We caught up with her to find out what it’s like to have your creative pursuits be stripped naked and laid bare. Also what it’s like to strip almost naked and bare.
Simple question with a long answer, but what is it that you do?
I haven’t quite figured that out yet. For current projects my favorites are: Performing burlesque around town and a particular subset of costuming in which I cover everything in as many rhinestones as I possibly can. My most recent project, completely unrelated to the other two, is a blog that began as a place to review sex toys. Over time it has since turned into something closer to a blog about sex toys, and sexuality, and life experience, and everything that should be in that sex-ed class everyone wishes they had.
From all that I gather you are a multi-discipline person.
Or completely lacking in discipline. One of the two.
We’ll err on the positive side. From having so many projects that draw on so many skill sets how do you manage it all?
The short answer is I don’t. Although they manifest in completely different ways they come from the same place for me. I hate to say it’s just sexuality because that makes it too simple, but it is a matter of talking about sex and life and putting it out for others to see. One is just more explicit and the other is more just a factor of it. The rhinestones I just picked up because of burlesque, and it’s the kind of hobby where you don’t have money for drugs.
While you did say these three things are because of a lack of discipline, it does sounds like they feed off each other.
Yeah, definitely. One is just a lot more dressed up than the other. I’m sure other burlesque performers would say it comes from a different place for them, but for me this is me dressing up my idea of one aspect of sexy and parading it around on stage, and hoping people like it.
From what it sounds like one is more dressed up and the other sounds a bit more candid if I’m getting that right?
One is more clearly performance. One of my favorite things to do is mash the idea of something that is supposed to be sexy with something that really really isn’t. Like I’m going to do this sexy mermaid number but I’m actually a reverse mermaid and then flopping around on stage. It has my idea of sexy and my idea of humour in it, but it’s performance.
The writing is not actually about being sexy. It’s really not supposed to titillate or arouse. It’s suppose to be a more frank discussion on what I do and what I like. If that happens to be found as kind of hot to someone, great, but that’s not my aim.
Even if there’s not the intention to titillate, two out of three of your outlets could be considered not safe for work or at least more risque than average. How’s dealing with that?
The short answer is I keep really quiet until I know I’m in a safe area. Which kind of sucks, but that’s how it is.
The day job that lets me fiance the rhinestones is in a more conservative field so it doesn’t really come up in my day-to-day. Not that I need to parade around in corsets, high heels, and pasties at the office every single day to feel good about myself. But here have been many moments where I’m asked “What did you do on the weekend” and I say, “Nothing. This glitter is in my hair for no reason at all”.
Always that tense moment of “What if they find out”?
Most of the time I wouldn’t mind if people find out anyway. The only person I really really kind of sort of being right there watching or reading over my shoulder would be my mom. Because it’s kind of weird. At the same time I know she doesn’t disapprove of what I do, but she doesn’t want to know the nitty-gritty details.
A lot of the time with burlesque at least is everybody takes a little while to “come out” to their parents about what they do. For me it was after I won the Halifax Strip-Search. The prize was to get flown to the Toronto Burlesque-fest and perform in a larger competition. Before I left my mom just looked at me and said, “Go shake what I gave you”.
You can’t get a better blessing than that.
I can only imagine that if letting your mom in on it gave you pause then it’s got to be another order of magnitude for non-relations.
There is a moment of hesitancy when bringing up what I do with people whom I don’t know so well. Not because I’m afraid that they may judge me. If they write me off based on that they probably weren’t people I wanted to know anyway. But because it can be exhausting to explain every time be it burlesque or sex toy blogging. Though I do find more creative types to be more open-minded and understanding. “Oh she writes about sex toys, do you have any recommendations” kind of responses.
It’s putting a lot of yourself out there when you do find a safe space though.
When I get to share I’m really shitty at doing it any other way than putting myself out there. I’m terrible at self-censorship, and it always sounds forced when I cut parts of myself out of something I do. I can’t tell this from any point of view but my own, and in doing so I’m trying to make it accessible for anybody.
One huge thing I didn’t want to do when writing the blog is assume who’s reading. I don’t know the gender or relationship status, and I don’t have any sort of history of whoever might be reading. So all I can do is write about how I used what I used. How I liked or didn’t like it, and how they may be able to use it themselves. Accessible, but still all my point of view.
There are some people reading this who panic about even showing their sketchbook. Any general thoughts you have on putting yourself out there?
I hate to say “Just do it and go for it” because I say that as someone who has never had a problem with putting myself out there. Never had a problem singing, or speaking on stage, or ripping my clothes off on stage so I don’t have any tips there.
Unfortunately “Be yourself (if yourself is me)” isn’t great advice.
No it isn’t. The way I do it is I focus so much on the project itself and doing the best job I can do on that. I do worry about if an act will go poorly, but the idea is to focus so much on getting it done that I don’t have time to worry about anything but finishing until after the fact. So my advice is focus on completion and not sweat the mistakes as they come up.
You mentioned earlier creative people being a bit more accepting. I imagine having a community to share with as well as having resources to help make the things is a boon. Is community important to the things you do?
Absolutely. With burlesque, the events that I attend wouldn’t even exist if it wasn’t for the efforts of the community. I started with a now defunct group, but there is no shortage of talent who are keeping the scene alive.
And you’ve done a bit of outreach with blogging yourself.
I had a small group of bloggers that I invited to meet up a few times, and I definitely want to start that up again. It helps to get together with a few other ladies over tea and complain about how we keep breaking our blogs every time we try to update something. You help each other with technical stuff and share ideas to help get posts moving. I’d like to get a regular group together and just write. It’s nothing new and earth shattering, but it would be nice!
You hear that hypothetical reader?