Social Media Etiquette for Nearly Naked People


Photo: Don Spiro

Burlesque Etiquette with Jo Weldon: Social Media Etiquette for Nearly Naked People

We couldn’t think of anyone’s advice we’d rather take than Miss Jo “Boobs” Weldon, Founder of the New York School of Burlesque and author of The Burlesque Handbook, which is why we’re thrilled to have her as our Burlesque Etiquette contributor!  Have a question you’d like Jo to answer?  Please title your email “Etiquette- _your issue___” and send to editor [at]PinCurlMag [dot]com and we will send them right over to her!

Burlesque as it is would not exist without social media. I suppose that’s true of almost all independent entertainment today!   With its low cost, big impact, and almost unlimited outreach, social media has enabled performers and producers with very little capital to get started and to find their collaborators and audiences at rapid speed.

Technology has advanced more quickly than we can have analyzed its full effect, and just when you think you’ve figured it out, they’ve changed it! But the basic tenet of etiquette holds true:  step back and take a look at your decisions and imagine how you’d evaluate your actions if you saw someone else taking them.

Online etiquette is covered regularly on the internet, and we’ll touch on a few of the most common concerns, with a particular eye toward what happens when people are nearly naked.

As always, rest assured, all of us have made these mistakes from time to time.  Think hard about whether your profiles are professional, personal, or a mix, and it will help you consider ways in which some of these issues might apply.

1) If your online profile serves you professionally in any way, keep it less personal than you otherwise might. The lines between professional and personal get legitimately blurred in the burlesque community, where most people who perform together frequently are also friends, but remember that if your stage names is your profile name, any producer, performer, or investor who researches you will come across it. Yes, there are privacy settings, but too few people apply them with any finesse. Also, rest assured, if you have more than 200 friends, some of them aren’t really friends, and even if they are, it’s safe to assume that one in ten of your genuinely loving friends is a gossip. Bickering with your partner online is just about as unprofessional as it gets, and your friends are embarrassed for you. Occasionally being vulnerable — “I had such a bad night, I need some love!” — can be endearing and is sometimes well in order, but airing your entire emotional life might not be great for your career.

2) Think twice before you advertise your event or service on someone’s personal wall. This should go without saying. I’ve seen some interesting ways of trying to get around it — “I heard you were shopping for a car” — but generally speaking, if you’re likely to get more business by posting it on their wall than by messaging them privately, your motives are suspect.

3) Don’t assume that because you don’t mind if people post ads for their shows or services in your group or page, they shouldn’t mind if you post in theirs. They are entitled to run their page however they like. Before you post, go back over their page through a few days, and you will be able to tell very well how the page is intended to be used.

4) Post pictures judiciously. I discussed this already in my article on photo etiquette, but it bears repeating. Nudity and near-nudity will have entirely different effects on the viewers live than it in a still photo. Also, tagging people in these photos may put their account at risk–no matter what a social media’s policy is on Wednesday, it could change or be enforced differently on Friday. Also, if their act has a pastie punchline, you may be revealing too much of their act.

Jo Weldon by Karl Giant

Jo Weldon by Karl Giant


5) If  you have an issue with something someone posts, particularly a professional issue, it is not necessarily inappropriate to respond online. However, name-calling is useless and makes you look foolish and out of control. Describe exactly what bothers you and leave them an opening to respond, and your opinion will be more respected, and your chances of repairing your relationship with that person in the event of a misunderstanding or otherwise fixable situation will be greater.

6) Consider refraining from blind tweets or posts. I’ve mentioned this before and I’ll mention it again. When you say, “I can’t believe some people are doing a monster themed show for Halloween when they know I’m doing one,” or anything statement in which everyone knows who you’re talking about and you know they do and they’re meant to, you look like you’re afraid to confront the person, and you need to gather support from a bunch of online groupies before you have the nerve to address the situation. If you’re trying to use such tweets or posts to intimidate or control a situation, you should know that it doesn’t work and you stand a chance of losing the respect of the people who read it.

7) If you are making a serious business proposition, it is probably better to use personal email than direct messages, simply because the user has more control over it. Most people on Facebook are thoroughly confused about why they are getting so many announcements about shows in other cities, etc, in their FB inbox. Your message stands a good chance of getting lost in the torrent. And let me say once more, for good measure, do NOT use texting shorthand in professional messages, even on Twitter.

8) It’s probably not a good idea to make someone look bad on their profile. If someone owes you money, and you haven’t yet asked them about it, or they’ve told you they’re trying to get it to you, or you are in many other ways still in conversation with them, don’t post on their wall! The only reason I can think of to post on their wall, and it’s still not a great one, is if they’ve stopped responding to your emails and calls. I say it’s still not great because it shows you visibly angry and out of control, which is not a good professional face. It may well be in line, if no resolution is made, to make a public statement about their business practices to help other people avoid being in the same situation, but be very careful about your phrasing and motives. Be very clear about what constitutes libel and slander. If you can’t prove it, don’t say it online–that’s a public statement and if you’re wrong they can sue you.

9) Don’t make personal comments under photos or flyers such as, “Wow, I guess we’re all getting older, aren’t we?” You’d think this would go without saying, but…

10) Don’t hit on people on their Facebook walls or make creepy comments under their photos. Unnnnnnkay?

As always, I hope you’ll add your opinions and etiquette concerns in the comments!

Want More Jo?  Check out her previous Etiquette columns: Photos & Pasties, How to Annoy Producers, How to Annoy Performers,  I’m Just Saying, Headliner Etiquette – Part 1


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  1. Loved this post, agree with everything! Too many people ruin their professional appearance via personal chatter on Facebook. And I agree with the above, this does apply to everyone, not just those in their birthday suit 😉

  2. Thank you very much for this post! Whilst the article as a whole was succinct and poignant, your fourth point on photo etiquette resonated particularly with me.

    The posting and tagging of pastie-punchline-pics is of particular debate in the South African burlesque community. Some artists happily accept images of themselves nearly-naked on Facebook (as long as it is a beautiful and tasteful image) and others object to this practice in general as they believe that it simply spoils the acts distastefully. Others believe that people won’t bother to come to ‘in-the-flesh’ shows if they can see images of the performers’ ‘boobs’ online at any time.

    Personally, I don’t mind it when people take photographs of me at gigs – with ubiquitous smartphones one actually cannot avoid being captured digitally, so I ensure that throughout my acts that I am in poses that may translate ‘alright’ on film. However, I do have strict privacy settings on social media such as Facebook for the reasons of professionalism. It is far more effective to have a few enigmatic images of yourself available online than taxonomy of cheap snaps that give you a false sense of being a busy, desirable photographic muse. By all means have amateur pics taken at shows displayed to evidence your presence at a certain gig for publicity’s sake, but do be selective.

    I don’t follow the logic of equating the aim of the show with the destination and not the teasing journey i.e. that a potential audience will not come to a show because they have seen a photograph of a pastie or a g-string. People don’t come to burlesque shows merely to see a bejeweled breast or two, there is far more intrigue in this art form than that and I believe that it is a bit reductionist to give our audience that little credit. However, it may be off-putting to some who are not as familiar with our craft to be inundated with less aesthetically appealing and over-revealing images which serve as a disservice to the performer.

    From an art-historical perspective, the artist-artwork-audience relationship has certainly changed with the invention of the camera. Where in performance art, such as burlesque, the artist and art object are most often one in the same (the artiste created the act which they perform) the amalgamation divides when another takes a photograph or film of the act. The audience member then becomes the artist and the performer the art object. The agency which is there during the process of the act is thus removed to a certain degree – viewing a YouTube clip of a set simply CANNOT give the viewer the same experience as a live performance. I believe that this is also to do with CONTEXT. The digital media especially can proliferate to so many varied platforms that the placing changes the audience through location and this CONTEXT alteration changes meaning. Context and meaning are in a direct relationship, always.

    I love the added ambivalence that social media adds to the already textured realm of vintage cabaret strip-tease. Discussing these topics in the global community adds to both our individual and joint capacities for being professionally well-informed. Thank you and please feel free to respond!

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