It’s after 4am and I’m still awake.
I have wanted to tell this story in my journal for a long time, and I think now, more than ever, it is the right time. Here, settled down for the night, listening to the outside noises in Brooklyn, unable to sleep, I have a lot I want to share with you. The following story is who I am. My heart spilled out on the page. Enjoy….
When I first got out of high school, I was a film projectionist at an old movie house that would show films from the 1930s/1940s and 1950s. I was always dazzled by the old-fashioned glamor and style of the heroines in the films. They were strong and sexy. They never backed down and never needed saving.
Later, I discovered vaudeville burlesque from the 1930s and 40s. I was fascinated with the costumes, with the classic style, with the innocent and playful peek-a-boo dances. In 2000, I saw my first burlesque show in New York City. I had never seen anything like it. The women were all ages, were all shapes and sizes, and were empowered, saucy and amazing. They were glamorous! They were comfortable in their bodies. It was beautiful to watch and see an old art revamped. Over half of the audience was comprised of women, cheering along. The room was electric, positive, fun and powerful- I’ll never forget it.
On the way home, the radio was playing Eartha Kitt’s version of Santa Baby. It was near December, and I imagined doing a routine to that song, singing at an old fashioned microphone and doing a classic burlesque routine.
But I was too scared to do it.
Next, 2001 came and went, then 2002 as well. Every winter that song would play on the radio and I would imagine doing that act, but I wouldn’t. I was afraid, and the song only mocked me.
I had other dreams too–writing a screenplay with my now-husband, Burke–doing a movie with a positive message. We would work on the screenplay on my days off from a desk job that I didn’t like very much. I wanted to get the screenplay out there somehow, to make a trailer for it or something….but once again, I was frozen by fear.
Then suddenly my life and my perspective changed. In December 2003, while volunteering at an animal shelter, I was attacked in the face by a rottwelier.
The rottweiler ripped half of my nose away from my face. It severed my septum, and my right nostril completely. Basically, you could put your finger on the tip of my nose and lift it away. The dog’s upper teeth missed my left eyeball by only a few millimeters.
In the following eight hours of doctors stitching me back together again, I had a lot of time to stare at the ceiling and think about my life.
I had no idea what I would end up looking like or how I would heal. I thought about all my dreams, all the things I had wanted to do. With my nose off my face and my eye having problems, I knew I might never get to do them.
The only reason – the ONLY reason that I had not done so many of the things I dreamed of in life, was because I was afraid of what other people would think of me.
That was it.
I hadn’t lived my dreams because of what other people might think of me.
And when I say “other people” I’m not talking about my family and my loved ones, I’m talking about people that I didn’t know passing judgments on me or saying bad things about me if I were to try and do burlesque or try to get our film, Revolver out there.
I lived in fear. I let my dreams go to the wayside every day while I went to work in a cubicle in the city. I wasted years of my life.
While on that operating table, I promised myself that if I made it through the operation okay, that I would do everything to lead my own life, just doing my dreams and being me.
It took a year for me to recover fully. At the end of that year, I mustered up my courage and took the burlesque stage for the first time and sang and danced like an old starlet out of the 1940s. I felt great! That encouraged me even more and during the year, Burke and I put our promo trailer for Revolver together and put it out there for the world to see.
EVERY SINGLE DAY I wake up grateful. I have gotten a chance to tour around the world, I’ve gotten a chance to meet amazing people and hear their stories, I was honored to be on the Emmy-Award winning MTV show, MADE, where I was able to help an outstanding teen have the confidence to hold her head high and to be herself no matter what adversity stood in her way. I have been given the chance to work with women and teach them to go for their dreams and to help them feel comfortable in their own skin and with who they are.
I am a different person than I was just a few years ago. I made the leap to go for all my dreams and I will still continue to do so….these are the things that make me feel alive and on fire and I’m not going to apologize to anyone for that.
How strange that it took a rottwelier attacking me in the face for me to stop letting other people’s criticisms rob me of my life.
And to You reading these words, whoever you are….please follow your dreams in this lifetime, here, today – no matter what they may be. Don’t let other people get you down. Don’t let fear keep you from trying. Don’t let anyone make you feel less than worthy. Stand up for yourselves and follow your hearts.
And with that, here is one of the dreams that I hold most dear.
It’s after 4am and I’m still awake.