Goodtime Mama Jojo is trailblazer of the industry known to everyone who is familiar with burlesque and Striptease. Get to know her in our burlesque legend.
Goodtime Mama Jojo Burlesque Guru
Burlesque legend Goodtime Mama Jojo is the founder and headmistress of the London Academy of Burlesque. This has added to her reputation as one of the most experienced teachers and burlesque performers in Europe. She may now be in Spain but with a show tonight, we wanted to bring you a few words from our guru.
We are forever grateful that she has been instrumental in the development of the Burlexe burlesque show. Anyone who has seen the show will recognise her words instantly… So here are a few more.
What does burlesque mean to you? Burlesque has been more of my life than not. To me it’s an opportunity for people to revel in freedom of expression.
It’s about women finding confidence in their bodies that they perhaps wouldn’t have in other art forms where they’re told to be a specific shape or size. I love the fact that it gives women that confidence. It’s about humour, it’s about beauty, it’s about glitz and it’s about OTT.
What’s your mission statement? The reason I got into burlesque is because I fell into it and realised I loved it. I want women to learn to love themselves. I’m not a psychologist but I use something I call stripper psychology. I help women to love themselves through my craft.
I disguise my psychology through movement and laughter and glitz and glamour. It’s about teaching women to unlock that part of themselves, which very often has never been unleashed. Or for some reason someone somewhere told them they weren’t attractive or they weren’t worthwhile or they weren’t sexy.
Although sexiness isn’t all we are, sexiness is an essential part of the female and male psyche. We need that. We need to feel we are sexual beings because we are meant to be so.
I want to put them in touch with that and make them realise, ‘It’s OK to be sexy and it’s OK to love yourself’ because in our society you’re not meant to like yourself too much because you’re thought of as big-headed. It’s far better to love yourself than not.
What is sexy to you? Very often sexy can be a smell. Sexy can be a look. Sexy can be a sound. There are lots of things that are sexy, like a facial expression. It’s just a tiny little thing.
I think confidence is sexy, it’ s really important. I find humour incredibly sexy. Lack of humour is not a good thing. And I think empathy is sexy. I think when people show they actually care, that’s a sexy thing.
(Images © Ruth Roxanne Board Photography)
What advice would you give to wannabe burlesquer dancers or striptease artists? Come to the London Academy of Burlesque and be taught by the best that there is, obviously.
I think never work for nothing, always make sure your expenses are paid. Your fares should be paid at least but I understand that it’s really hard at the minute, people don’t have the money to pay them. If you work for someone for nothing once, the next time they pay you.
Also, don’t get too far up your own arse, nobody can pull you back out. That’s advice. Lots of the girls can be precious: ‘I’ve done it for three years, I’ve done 100 gigs, I don’t do anything for less than a £150’. Good for you, I bet you don’t work much.
Always do stuff for charity because you’re doing something that’s a really important art form and you want to help people with this. It will help us be accepted more when we are accepting.
Any other tips? I would say find your comfortable persona. Try out being different people on stage and see what sits right for you. Don’t try to emulate people that you cannot be better than because then you’ll be a poor man’s copy of someone.
Find your little tack because it’s about you. People will come and see you because it is you.
What advice were you given? All the girls gave me advice when I started. They told me about smiling. Don’t be scared to smile. Not that I ever was because it gets you tips. I was told to know my music. That’s something I pass on.
I was told, if it doesn’t move make it sparkle or shimmer or tassel or swing. And that’s something I do. If you bling it, it works. I say get fringing because it moves and makes you look like you’re moving more than you are.
Ever taught people who couldn’t do it? Everyone can always do something. There are people that are not as good as others. And there’s a reason for that: it’s because they don’t think they can be.
Something I always say to my students is, ‘There is nothing I teach you that you can’t do.’ Physically, your body is capable of doing everything I show you. The only thing that stops that happening is your mind, you have the power.
Check out How to Learn Burlesque Dancing with Jo King and watch our quick-fire answer to: what is burlesque?