December FitShowgirl Spotlight: Fancy Feast
With only one more month left in the year, I could think of no one better to round out 2016 as Fit Showgirl Spotlight for the month of December than the Femme-tastic Fancy Feast.
Fancy Feast is an all around genuine and loving weirdo. She has been crowned Miss Coney Island 2016 as well as Miss Bushwick Burlesque 2014. Fancy is known for blending humour and edge in her gender-bending performances, which is exactly how she likes it. If you’ve ever seen her perform, I guarantee you like it too.
She is the producer of such shows as The Unbookables, Maim That Tune, Now You See Us, Now We’re Drunk, and one half of the producing team of The F*ck You Revue. Not only a professional naked person and a producer Fancy also takes the stage as a highly sought after Femm-cee. If you have not had the pleasure of seeing her work you can find her on Instagram, Facebook, and Vimeo. I highly suggest you look her up.
Every opportunity I’ve had to work, socialize and just plain be in the presence of this woman has been an absolute pleasure. She takes pride in what she does and pushes the envelope not only in her art but in life by starting conversations about important topics like gender, politics, body acceptance and human rights. I hope that just by reading this post you to are inspired by Fancy. Just as I am, daily.
I’m sorry that even though we are in the same city I don’t see more of her, but that’s the hustle life.
What is your name?
How long have you been performing?
I’ve been doing burlesque for five years.
What type of performance do you do?
I do mostly striptease performances that err on the side of the weird, subversive, and comedic.
What does fit mean to you?
It’s tough right? All of these phrases can be loaded and have different layers of meaning for people. I have a strained relationship with the word. To me personally, it’s about feeling strong and physically capable in comparison to myself only, feeling better in my body than I might otherwise be. But we as a society use that word to indicate that someone is slim with lots of visible musculature, or it can be used as a weird ableist term, or it gets used as a distinction that carries a moral value — as if the opposite of fit is “unfit”, unfit to do what?
When do you feel your best?
When I am dancing, when I am naked, and when I’m cashing checks.
How often do you workout or are you active?
I work out 3-4 times a week formally, and I usually walk 4 or so miles a day regardless.
Do you have an exercise or workout regiment?
I have benefitted tremendously from the tutelage of Roz the Diva and Carson O’Gin (two great performers and strong ass women in their own right) who have helped me create programming that works for me. The most formal regime I have got going on is my focus on strength training and weight lifting.
Do you prefer to work out at home, the gym or attend classes?
I love going to the gym, but I go to a very, very silly gym which makes it a lot easier to enjoy myself there.
Is there a specific type of workout/exercise you haven’t tried but are interested in?
I have always wanted to do yoga in a more serious and frequent way, but honestly 99% of teachers have no idea how to modify moves for bigger bodies. Like, certain poses would mean I would suffocate myself in my own boobs, some don’t take into account 3D tummies, etc. When I take yoga classes I call in advance to ask if they are fat-friendly and when I get an astonished, sputtering response, I know I need to keep looking. So I am very open to suggestions for inclusive, body-positive yoga spaces!
Also, breakdancing. It’s the coolest and most amazing and improbable way that bodies can move.
Is there a certain area of your body you concentrate on when working out? What do you do to target that area?
My goal is to get strong af, and having well-rounded programming is an important piece of that. My powerhouse is in my butt and thighs like a lot of women, so squats and deadlifts are super fun for me. But I have never felt as confident in my upper body so I’ve been trying to focus on chest, upper back, and arm strength. I’m also always working to strengthen my core, the muscles in my abs and in my back, especially because I have large breasts and I want to have the internal support I need to lug those puppies around.
In all of these exercises, lifting heavy is key. There’s this fear that gets drilled into women, that we are not allowed to pick up bigger weights, that we shouldn’t use the heavy stuff because we might “get bulky”, which is horseshit. Strength is our birthright and our bodies crave the kind of work that heavy weights offer.
Do you have a favorite piece of workout gear or accessory?
I like slaying in pigtails and a skull onesie with my sports bra hanging out.
I feel like social and main stream medias portrayal of fitness and a chiseled bodies truly contradicts the idea of body positivity. I love and praise your Facebook posts voicing that your fitness journey is about becoming stronger not about losing weight. As an empowered woman in the body positive community how do you feel about the mixed messages that the media sends and what would you say to other plus sized women struggling with line between being stronger and losing weight?
Representation is everything. There are very few mainstream images of fat women doing anything, ANYTHING, unless it’s a weight loss narrative. It’s the only story fat women get, with the understanding that we are allowed to exist and be visible as long as we are apologetic about our bodies and trying to shrink ourselves. It wasn’t until I started reading more about the intersection of the weight loss industry, patriarchy, and capitalism that I stopped internalizing the messages that my body was a problem. Making women feel like shit makes a lot of money for a lot of companies, and keeping women focused on their perceived imperfections keeps them distracted from things like asking for more money at work, asking for raises, and creating community with other women. It was like seeing the Matrix or something. Once I became aware of how people were profiting off of our negative self-image, I decided to stop paying attention to the voices that cashed in on my insecurity.
I have a condition called PCOS, which among other things, makes it nearly impossible to lose weight. So what I did was think about other ways to talk about pounds. Instead of trying to lose weight, I’m trying to put more weight on the bar that I lift. That is the only weight talk I will permit or engage in. I set that boundary with everyone I take classes with or work out with.
My trainer and I recently had a conversation about the fear of not immediately having mastery of one’s surroundings. Women, and especially fat women, are hyper aware of their bodies in fitness spaces and I think there is concern about not being taken seriously. We freak out (and it’s a legitimate freak out!) about being mocked or laughed at if we’re not as strong, not as fast, not as coordinated as we’d like to be RIGHT AWAY, as if the only way to be good at something is to do it perfectly the first time. I was in that same boat. My first couple of months working out in a gym environment, I cried on my walk home every time. I wanted to be better, stronger, more confident than I was, and I was impatient with myself. But I had the support of a bunch of amazing femmes who were rooting for me, and I kept at it, and now I feel capable in a way I never have. And I’m trying to document it when I can, not just of the triumphant moments, but of all of the intermediate moments, setbacks, insecurities and complicated feelings that accompany the Facebook-friendly plot points.
Incidentally, I have heard from some of my fans that they started lifting after seeing me do it! Fuck yes! We have the opportunity to become the representation and much-needed images that ads won’t show us.
What are your words of advice for others on how to stay fit & focused in the nightlife world?
Our bodies do so much amazing work for us, especially those working in nightlife. We invest in our costume pieces, we invest in makeup, we invest in practice spaces for our choreography… and we need to invest in our bodies as well. That’s how I think of my work outs. It’s a big beautiful thank you to the instrument I use to express myself and make my living.
I think it’s also important to grow your own garden. Comparing ourselves to others will never feel that good or yield positive results. There’s no one size fits all way to work out or feel at home in one’s own body. So try things, quit things, collage together the pieces that work best for you. And be deeply kind to yourself. Don’t say anything to or about yourself that you wouldn’t feel okay hearing from one of your friends. We need to be our own friends and cheerleaders in the kind of work that we do.
Also, sleep a lot and drink a lot of water, motherfuckers. There is no substitute for that stuff.