Saturday, November 24, 2007


Simon Casey of London-based bear burlesque cabaret troup Bearlesque was featured in the Are You Happy? feature of the Guardian on Saturday 17 November.
I'm not as energetic as Gene Kelly, but I do an act called Stripping In The Rain in a burlesque show - or, in our case, 'bearlesque'. There are five of us hairy, chubby guys. My act is done with an umbrella. At the end there's a lamp-post spouting real water.

Overall, yes, I'm happy. I've got a partner. It's incredibly cheesy, but seeing him smile makes me happy. Stripping is happiness for me. It's good fun, it's light-hearted. We're not out of the ordinary and we certainly don't go to the gym. The ideal male figure now is waxed. We're up there, hairy and unashamed. There has been some bare cheek on stage but normally it's just down to the underwear.

From a young age, I tended to find big, hairy men attractive. When the internet happened, that was the direction I headed in. I discovered the bear scene. It was accepting. I never felt embarrassed about how I looked. Around straight people, perhaps at a swimming pool, I'm more conscious of my body, I feel like I'm a bit tubby. That may be odd to hear in relation to stripping, but when I'm under the lights I know the audience is there. I'll keep doing it as long as there's an audience. I'll probably have to stop eating burgers at some point but I need to do that anyway.

The most active thing we do is the cancan. We really get those legs high, and that gets me happy. Seeing a bunch of hairy, overweight men joyously kicking the cancan - that's something unexpected.

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