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21

The water was choppy and colder than I was used to, but on this triple-digit day there was no debate.

“It’s too hot”

“Right!?” He was faced-down on his towel, but the beads of sweat on his back agreed.

“I’m going in.”

I stood up, brushed the sand from my palms and pranced my completely naked, out-of-shape ass in front of everyone on the nude beach and walked.

As my body floated with the current, my belly and me had a moment. I laced my fingertips across my navel and exhaled with determination to get back into stripper shape. Fine – as close to stripper shape as a middle-aged broad can get.

“You just have to get all the way in, then it’s awesome!” I was thirteen, bragging about how I had the balls to brave the cold (it only took the afternoon to submerge myself completely).

Once I was swimming, my eyes surveyed the people along the shore. It didn’t matter that my body wasn’t perfect. That a crowd of strangers saw my cellulite and buddha belly in motion. I was comfortable in my skin. I wasn’t happy with my body at the moment – but holy fuck – I was happy.

A swell lifted my body – and the water mirrored my breath – sighing with me in the realization of just how far I’ve come.

Christine Macdonald
FCCmac

A safe kind of high: My unexpected relapse

You would think after fifteen years, my memories of “rolling” and free-falling inside myself would be strung together on a distant, blurry line, for which I am older and wiser living clear on the other side. For the most part, this is true.

I can’t remember my last night taking Molly (we called it ecstasy, or “X”), but it’s been so long, my cravings are nearly non-existent. There are times when I allow myself to enjoy a memory or two – and those flashes in my mind are always wrapped in a glittery bow of reckless abandon, stitched together with youth and frivolity. These warm and fuzzy emotions are always balanced by the harsh realization that thanks to a solid five-year, six-pill-a-day habit, my brain is now permanently damaged. My docs and I have a good thing going now, with regular maintenance of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) therapy. It’s a pain in the

Christine Macdonald
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Music and Chair Shows: Reflections of a retired stripper

Navigating six-inch heels on stage with smoke in your face takes practice. Sporting a smile while dancing to Me So Horny in those heels, and you’ll need a cocktail.

One of the unique challenges I faced during my ten-year career as a stripper was pretending to like certain types of music. Like suffering through a bad date, you realize something isn’t your taste but you smile politely and muddle through.

A typical Saturday night set on the main stage was shared with three other women, each providing the DJ with very specific song requests. I was always the Enigma or Nine Inch Nails girl with an occasional PJ Harvey thrown in for good measure. Pair that up with the Bel Biv Devoe and Naughty by Nature chicks and let the muddling ensue. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate a little Ice Cube with my INXS; I just didn’t feel sexy dancing on stage with them. I always felt like an extra on MTV’s Beach House.

My personal taste in music was a bit more edgy and alternative than what was played on mainstream radio. In classic narcissistic fashion, I took full credit for introducing the local

Christine Macdonald