WHERE DO YOU LIVE?
I'm a Londoner
WHAT DO YOU DO?
OOOOH! I "do" all kinds of things!
Work-wise - I run my own business - I'm the founder of the first burlesque and striptease school in Europe - The ""London Academy of Burlesque"" and I teach burlesque, striptease, sexy dance moves, and physical theatre techniques. The focus is on improving the students' self-confidence, body-image, and connection with their own sensuality (through movement and mindset exercises). I am also a producer, a speaker, a choreographer, and a performer. I'm in the process of working on a one-woman show with the help of my great friend and published writer, Victoria Sadler, and at the request of many people, I am also (slowly) writing about my life as a striptease burlesque entertainer.
Hobby-wise - I write poetry, dance whenever I can, and I restyle dolls into burlesque angels and various other bizarre incarnations!
Life-wise - I cook, clean, take care of all my parental duties, and occasionally, I rest.
TELL US WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE YOUR AGE?
I don't spend a huge amount of time considering my age really. I'm usually only aware of the fact that I'm no longer 26 when someone else talks about ageing or when I ache a lot after doing something that wouldn't have caused me pain, before.
So, thinking about it, I would say that being 59 is unpredictable, amusing, challenging, and lucky!
Let me try and explain... It's unpredictable because of other people's reactions to age. My lengthy career and my expertise in my work have brought me a lot of respect and admiration, and I am seen as wise and knowledgeable by many people (Haha!, No honestly, I am!) but there are definitely others who are surprised (and even shocked) that a woman of "my age" is involved in this industry. So, you just never know how others will react. Also, I think that I am predictably unpredictable because most of the time I have no idea what I'm going to do next!
When I get negative or horrified reactions to my work, I find it amusing. I know that it's probably because of the other person's baggage/upbringing/lack of understanding. I remember the lovely group of psychiatrists I taught, and how one of them said: "If some of my patients came to see you first Jo, they wouldn't need to see me!"
I also find it amusing that there seem to be rules about what should or shouldn't be worn by women of a certain age. That's just so bloody hysterical!! Why would I let anyone else decide what I can or cannot wear? It just reminds me what a non-conformist I am.
I had my first and only child when I was 45 (after being told I would NEVER have kids). She is a miracle and I love her ridiculously, and although being a mum is challenging at any age, it is definitely more so when your child becomes a teenager. Why didn't anyone warn me? It's a roller-coaster ride of emotions and my challenge is, to be a great mum and to not lose the plot!
And finally; I'm lucky to be here (after three near-death experiences), I'm lucky to be a mum, I'm lucky to have a career doing something that I love, and I'm lucky to have amazing people in my life!"
WHAT DO YOU HAVE NOW THAT YOU DIDN’T HAVE AT 25?
Self-confidence and self-esteem - which I think can only truly blossom through life experience. I am comfortable being me and don't need anyone else to value or validate me in order to value myself. I worried about my looks when I was 25, but I have learned to accept and love myself over the years. I don't really watch my figure, I'm a burlesque performer, so I let other people do that! ;)!
I now have the wisdom to know that I don't know much! I never stop learning and there is always something new to try, taste, see or experience by keeping an open mind and an enthusiastic spirit.
I have the ability to allow myself to change my mind or say no to someone/something - these were virtually incomprehensible concepts to me when I was young.
At 25 I was stripping and travelling around the world, as and when I pleased. Now I have roots and responsibilities - I am responsible for another human being which means earning enough money to pay bills, keep her fed, clothed, and a roof over her head. I have roots because kids have to go to school and that tends to keep you in one place.
I am more aware and appreciative of peoples actions and the world around me. I have gratitude and I feel grateful every day for a variety of things.
WHAT ABOUT SEX?
Sex is the gift that just keeps on giving! It's an important part of being holistically healthy for me. Being intimate, open, and sexual, ignites my passion for life. Communication is key and so I have to be with someone who is not afraid to say what they want and who will also listen to my desires. I have always been very aware of my sexual and sensual powers and love, love, love being a woman. I used to say that my favourite things in life were laughter, sex and dancing! I suppose I haven't changed that much!!
I am incredibly fortunate to have more than my fair share of friends. It's fascinating how some friendships endure and evolve. One of my friends has been in my life since we were at infant school, another since my first job at 17, and then there are those who I have met more recently but still have a strong connection with.
My relationship with my daughter is incredibly strong. As an independent parent, I have been the nurturer, disciplinarian, friend, nurse, teacher, role-model, mother, and father. For everything I inspire in her, I feel that she inspires me more. I have learned so much about myself through being her mum.
As for my intimate and/or private relationships - that's where they stay - intimate and private. No "kiss and tell" here - maybe I'll keep that for my book?
HOW FREE DO YOU FEEL?
I'm not free - I'm expensive! I don't know who originally said that but it does make me smile.
I feel very free, most of the time. I was always a non-conformist and a bit of a rebel. I'm not one who cares for constraints and limitations imposed upon us by people who don't know how to live OR who are secretly doing all the things they say we shouldn't! However, being a parent has tamed me somewhat and there are definitely things I don't say or do in case it affects my daughter. Only 4 years or so until she's 18 and then the floodgates will open and the true force of my freedom will flow once more!!!
WHAT ARE YOU PROUD OF?
Following my heart. Facing and conquering challenges. Being true to myself.
The fact that I've taken risks in all areas of my life and have (for the most part) had wonderful experiences.
I'm proud of being able to say that I have changed people's lives for the better, through my work, my friendship, and my love.
I'm proud of bringing up my daughter without any idea of what I was/am doing other than my best.
Single-handedly starting a brand new business in 2000 which has since made burlesque and striptease accessible to everyone.
My ability to see the funny side of almost every situation.
WHAT KEEPS YOU INSPIRED?
My inner voice that keeps telling me that I've still so much more to achieve, a hunger for knowledge and enlightenment, and an intense passion for helping people to discover their own passion.
My daughter, obviously - inspired and motivated.
Music, sunshine, travelling, the sea, interesting conversations, an awareness of a multitude of possibilities.
WHEN ARE YOU HAPPIEST?
When the sky is blue (not a great fan of grey skies).
When I'm dancing, stripping, performing, or teaching.
When I see that my daughter is happy.
When I'm by the sea or on holiday abroad.
When I'm in good company.
When I'm with a caring and passionate lover.
When I am helping people and doing something worthwhile.
When my bra fits and doesn't cut into me!
When I am surrounded by colours.
When I hear good news, birds singing, great music, and laughter (not necessarily all at the same time).
AND WHERE DOES YOUR CREATIVITY GO?
Into everything I do, think, feel and say.
WHAT’S YOUR PHILOSOPHY OF LIVING?
Love yourself, and treat yourself and others kindly. Immerse yourself in the moments that matter! It's more rewarding to follow your passion than fashion.
I will be lying on my death bed when I'm 92 (my daughter has made me promise that I'll live till then) and someone will say, "WOW! Jo, you've lived such an amazing life and you've done so many incredible things. You must be ready to go now?"
To which, with my dying breath I'll reply "Oh yes, but I just want to..."
ARE YOU STILL DREAMING?
It's more goal-setting than dreaming really as I intend to make my "dreams" my reality.
WHAT WAS A RECENT OUTRAGEOUS ACTION OF YOURS?
I dance (well) and sing (badly) wherever I feel like it - the street, supermarkets, train platforms, I talk to the whole world and their uncle and happily tell people off (loudly) if they are rude or obnoxious, and I take my clothes off for a living - So nothing I do ever seems outrageous to me!
However, my next truly OUTRAGEOUS action will be performing at the Advantages of Age Vintage Cabaret Night on June 16th. Coz this bitch is vintage outrageousness, don'tcha know!