No Ifs, Just Butts: An interview with Miss Jane Doe of Baby Got Back

Photo by Alexis Desauniers-Lea

Baby Got Back is a platform where we explore themes of the female body in public space. We use it to highlight some of the numerous issues we face as women in our society,–  Miss Jane Doe, the First Lady of Fierce

 Tell us about you! Who is Miss Jane Doe?

Well, I was a character when I first started performing burlesque. Now there is no character, its just me! I feel like I can do more with who I really am than having a character on stage these days! Growing into myself (which I still am) means that I have found a bigger calling in what I want to do with my journey in life! I can’t really tell you too much, you’ll have to wait for next year.

 Where did the idea of Baby Got Back come from? 

Initially, it was simply about a celebration of women’s bodies. It was about sharing a mutual appreciation of ass with our audiences and surfing this booty-obsessed wave in popular culture. As we’ve continued to do the show, it’s evolved into something far more politically relevant. We use it as a platform to highlight some of the numerous issues we face as women in our society, by exploring themes of the female body and sexuality in a public space.

This is the third installment on Baby Got Back. What do you think makes your show werk so well?

Whilst all of the performers in this show have come from burlesque backgrounds, this show has really deviated from what most people expect of the genre. Sure there is still a huge component of the show that is about striptease, but it’s in tandem with a range of other things. There’s a kind of punk/riot grrl approach to what we’re doing. The show definitely has a healthy element of absurdism. I think people, whether they are familiar with ‘Burlesque’ or not, are happily surprised at what they find at Baby Got Back.

Too often I overhear people slutshaming performers in the adult industry or belittling their career choice. Most recently after a burlesque show I overheard a punter suggesting a perfomer “get a real job instead of whinging about how Perth doesnt support art”. People seem happy to attend festivals, venues and shows yet devalue the artists behind them. How do you feel about the sexual double standard surrounding performers in the erotic arts/adult entertainment industry? 

Its a hurtful thing to hear people believe these comments. Yet, I feel like it is not their fault. More so it saddens me that we have become such an unsupportive judgmental society. Through my own journey I have also come to appreciate the body as a tool of expression- It is not taboo! The body isnt offensive, it isnt always sexualized and more to the point if that is what someone wants to do then it is their right to do so and that is regardless of them being a perfomer or a punter.

What is female empowerment to you? 
To me being healthy, happy, loving yourself and loving others is true strength and empowerment. The most powerful help those succeed, it means we all evolve

I think we have entered an age where even famous stars are trying to look like somebody else… I sometimes think we are all trying to look like famous people and they are trying to look like something other than themselves. My question is – Where the hell are we headed? I saw a woman once walk into a meeting, no makeup on just leggings and a singlet and I thought to myself WOW this is a woman, loving herself, being comfortable with herself, and it was a very insignificant moment for her maybe but for me it really made a huge impact on how I wanted to see myself, how I wanted others to view me

At a time where the most powerful man in the world, The President of the US, makes statements that condone sexual harrassment (grab that pussy), how important is it for female artists to make statements and create art about Rape Culture?

Photo courtesy of Alexis Desauniers-Lea

I feel such an awakening from my own personal struggles last year and the struggles of the present I feel such a power within me to be a part of wanting humanity to come together and get our shit sorted and start moving forward and addressing issues that we have been fighting for years! Im so grateful to be an artist and to have a voice! I really got thinking about my privilege as an artist and what this means and what kind of impact I could have even if its just one person! It blew my mind and made me REALLY think!

How do you feel about people  dismissing hiphop, twerking and other modern dance styles as inferior to classical burlesque?

I think we all just need to stop thinking someone is better than others because of whatever ridiculous reason they have, not everything is everyones cup of tea and that is normal. All dancing has history and they have all come from somewhere. Do your research into the history of a dance culture and what you will find is so interesting and moving and touching. To me all forms of dance are a way you understand a part of that culture, you understand them better. To me, music and dancing is a gateway to someones heart and someones life and history. There are some styles that might not be your bag but learning about where it came from will give you more understanding of its existence! In short, we should just stop being judgmental on the basis of how someone chooses to live their lives.

As a woman of colour and someone with Desi heritage, do you feel that there is a preconceived notion of your womanhood and sexuality? 

Im lucky that most of my life I havent had this pop up. My mum and dad were pretty open minded because of the life they had lived. If anything my dad was not very “traditional” in that sense. My mum however was a very traditional Filipino woman and had particular viewa on how women should be. Since splitting from my father she has definitely changed her views on a lot of things and I feel because of that she understands my view on relationships, life, and what is expected as a woman. I have a lot to thank my dad for because he made me a strong woman. One that thinks for herself, and one that wants more from her life. Its something I never questioned, it was something I just naturally did. I dont know if that was his intention but thanks Dad! 

What can viewers expect at Baby got Back this year?  

Expect to laugh, to think and to be turned on. I would say that it is equal parts striptease, comedy and social/political commentary. Baby Got Back is a platform where we explore themes of the female body in public space. We have all dealt with issues of sexism, body positivity, slut shaming and so on. There’s a serious undertone to the themes of the show, but we handle ourselves with a lot of love and good humour.

Baby Got Back is playing at The Lunar Big Top till Tuesday 14th February. Book your Tix here but be quick as their shows sell out quicker than you can say Jelly! 

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