Wednesday, February 29, 2012

[Glamour Guest Post] n Glamours: Burlesque and Witchcraft (Mama Fortune)

Want to be part of the glamour discussion?  Once a week, I have a guest post spot for people from all magic-y/gender-y/sexual orientation/personal glamour orientation walks of life to talk about what glamour means to you both mundanely and magically. Any spellwork or personal revelations are welcome! Essays should be between 500-1000 words and be sure to include a brief bio about yourself and any links (blog, Etsy shop, etc) that you would like included.

Send it to me in the body of your email with the subject "Glamour" to
corvaxgirl [at] gmail [dottie] com

About Mama Fortune: I am an artist and burlesque performer in Vancouver, British Columbia. I've been practising witchcraft for fifteen years, with a focus on the practical side of things. Recently, I've begun teaching tarot and magic.
My blog is

Twin Glamours: Burlesque and Witchcraft  Or: What glitter can do for you.

When I was in my early twenties, I had a brief affair with a Satanist. He looked remarkably like Marc Bolan, wore a leather jacket no matter the weather, and loved Conan the Barbarian. One night, over drinks in the world's ugliest faux Irish pub, he lent me a copy of Anton Szandor LaVey's The Satanic Witch.  I'm sure I was supposed to be very scandalised and maybe a bit titillated. I read the book from cover to cover, and when I was later asked for my opinion I declared, with one eyebrow arched, “That book is about my MOTHER.”

I still have the book. It's dated, and nobody could claim it's a great work of literature, but I hang onto it because it continues to hold relevance in my life despite my disagreements with it. I will return to this fact later. But first, my mom, the accidental Satanic Witch.

Growing up, my mother always stressed the importance of 'looking nice.' This is not to say she was one of those women you see on Toddlers and Tiaras forcing her kids into makeup – she was nothing of the sort. I was a teenager in the 1990s, when grunge was king, and my mother never once questioned my fashion choices, even when they veered into the unusual; black lipstick and combat boots were my uniform throughout much of highschool, and my mother simply encouraged me no matter what my style to try and look my best in my own way. To look put together, even if that included vinyl pants. My mother knew looks mattered.

Human beings are visual creatures. We judge one another by our appearance long before we utter a word. Most would agree that this is a pretty simple fact. (Whether or not it's fair is not relevant.) Another basic truth is that physical appearance, to a large degree, is easy to manipulate, So easy, in fact, that I am constantly surprised by how many witches and magicians overlook the opportunity to do so.

During the aforementioned black lipstick phase, a friend and I once conducted an experiment for a class. We stopped strangers in the park and asked them a series of bullshit questions on camera, supposedly for a class assignment. In reality we didn't care about their answers – we cared about their reaction to the interviewer, caught handily on film. My friend was clean-cut, with brown hair and a button-down blouse. If memory serves, my hair was violent red and black at the time, and my makeup was straight out of Siouxsie Sioux's liner notes. I also wore an inverted cross necklace just to make things even more entertaining.

Not surprisingly, our hypothesis was proved correct: we got very different reactions. That silly little experiment hammered home at an early age the fact that people will assume all manner of things based on how you present yourself.

I'm thirty-years old, now, and I am a burlesque performer. Burlesque is a world inhabited by people (mostly women) of all shapes, sizes, and styles. The one thing every last professional of the art has in common, however, is the understanding that looks can be manipulated... and used to manipulate. Burlesquers are natural witches in the way old Anton would have understood.

In The Satanic Witch, LaVey discusses 'the Law of the Forbidden,' “Nothing,” he states, “is so fascinating as that which is not meant to be seen.” He has an entire chapter devoted to the correct way in which a lady should 'accidentally' expose herself! Now, while his suggestions are for everyday life, reading them I am struck by how similar they are to the art of the tease. Burlesque performers are strippers, yes, but strippers who seem to intuitively grasp the ideas LaVey talks about – simply taking off your clothes is not enough. He also discusses at length a witch's mode of dress. He suggests the aspiring witch look to the cartoons in men's magazines, as these are exaggerations of a style designed to elicit a particular response. Striptease is really no different – the corsets, false eyelashes, garters, and spike heels are all part of the act.

And that's really it. It's an act. My friend Diamond Minx, when seen at an event, is a vision in rhinestones from head to toe. You would think the woman lived in a state of constant luxury, all glitter and champagne. But here's a secret... I've seen her in sweatpants. It's a glamour. A glamourous glamour, to be sure, but as changeable as all the rest.

Glamour is not just for the stage. There is just as much a need for it in the office, at the PTA, or on your online dating profile. Your appearance is a statement, and may vary depending on circumstance: a corset in a fetish club is not shocking, but the same outfit in church is. This has nothing to do with calling out certain looks, either. This is about deliberate intent, not personal taste. Glamour is powerful everyday magic, and in my experience the witch who overlooks it is doing so out of sheer stubbornness and ego. It's as though nobody wants to believe that others could possibly judge them on their appearance, because we're special, and above such trivial things.


You can charge a piece of jewellery with the intent to draw love, but your chances are going to be better if you bother to comb your hair, brush your teeth, and tailor your clothes.

2012 is a big year for many of us. And so I encourage all and sundry to not neglect your glorious meatsack. Put your best foot forward physically as well as spiritually – take a moment to examine your style critically and make sure it's 'on message' with your goals. If it isn't, tweak it with intent. Glamour is the art of pairing the physical and the energetic. Use it!

“I advocate glamour. Every day. Every minute.” - Dita Von Teese


sara star said...

This a really on point post as I sit here in clothes that are very old and worn and I need to dye my roots... I find that I have so many priorities above glamour. I spend most my money on books and witch supplies. But I gotta start springing a little for decent clothes. I might be tired when I get home, but I really do need to take care of my hair and skin.

Thanks for the friendly reminder that glamour is witchcraft too.

MG Ellington said...

Thank you for this wonderful post.

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