Kingesis, Sexhibtion, Female Form: a Jo King Interview
Jo King really is a captivating and fun person to interview. As owner of the London Academy of Burlesque and with almost 38 years of burlesque and striptease experience, this showgirl is showing no signs of hanging up her stockings… and I for one couldn’t be happier about it!
Read on to discover what exactly ‘Kingesis’ is, explore confidence coaching and celebrating women’s beautiful bodies at the upcoming Sexhibition…
The title of your first Workshop at Sexhibition had me curious… what is ‘Kingesis’?
This sounds very full of myself to say; I designed Kingesis. But umm… obviously my surname is King and you’ve probably heard of the word Kinesis (movement and motion). Well I thought it would be funny if I renamed it and called it Kingesis because it’s my kind of movement, it’s Jo’s movement.
I wouldn’t dare to call it a therapy but it is therapeutic. It’s about releasing inhibitions and finding confidence in your form. Connecting with your feminine energy and your power, the power of being a woman. It’s an incredible power, if only more women were aware of it. If you want to know more… come to a class!
Has the London Academy of Burlesque always been about confidence coaching?
The truth is when I very first started teaching I thought I was just giving performers choreographic tips but what I didn’t know was that I was boosting egos, boosting confidence and making people feel good. I was 19 and you know it didn’t function in my head what I was doing.
Having been a striptease artist for so many years, what I had noticed is that sometimes the most stunningly beautiful women would come into the changing room and look into the mirror and complaining about their bodies. Then they’d get changed and they’d go on stage and you’d see this incredible performer and you’d think, is that the same girl?
It’s funny because actually all those bits of their bodies that they hated, they were actually showing. I always knew that there was something in performance that released inhibitions and helped with confidence. So that’s why I thought if I can bring that to women in the street… how amazing would that be? My ethos has always been about making every woman, regardless of age, shape, weight, height, ability or disability… feel fabulous about herself. That’s it.
So how does it feel to help people lose their inhibitions?
Amazing. I love love love love love what I do. The fact that I help people to feel better about themselves, it’s such an amazing gift. That sounds a bit yuck, but you know, it is amazing.
How do you think burlesque has changed since you started?
When I started in burlesque attitudes were actually okay because burlesquers in those days were not revered but we were treated very well. And then burlesque kind of faded out and it became striptease, which is fabulous too.
Then it went through a phase of burlesque not being thought of so well because we went from clubs to pubs and in pubs you get a different kind of clientele. Some of my pub clients I actually preferred because they were down to earth and wonderful. But in peoples’ minds they think that that cheapened it. And people think when you are doing something where your body is naked and you’re asking for money that that cheapens you. I’ve never felt like that, I’ve always loved, fucking loved it.
I think attitudes towards burlesque have changed, what’s funny is the attitudes towards striptease haven’t changed enough. There is this kind of snobbery that burlesque is okay and striptease isn’t. But most burlesque involves some form of striptease, and the truth is my darling child, if you are taking your clothes off, if you are a burlesquer or not, guess what? You’re stripping! And if you’re stripping, you’re a stripper. It’s all just semantics.
Do you think with Sexhibition that there is as much need to celebrate women?
I think it comes back to the thing with attitudes to burlesque and how they have changed. The attitude has only really changed in some areas. People have a preconceived notion of what it is and I still get phone calls from people who say can we have a burlesque show but we don’t want any clothes off or we don’t want any breasts out. It’s whatever is safe or acceptable to them. And then other people you could say the word burlesque and they would run a million miles. It’s the same as the word sex.
The British have a very archaic attitude towards sex. You know the Brits are actually very sexy people, it’s just that for the most part it’s behind closed doors. I think that the problem is that we aren’t really educating people and that people are scared of sex and women owning their own bodies and women doing what they want with their own bodies. Unless somehow they’re introduced to people who are as open and free as I am and many of my peers are, maybe they will never accept it or realise that it’s okay. I still think we’ve got a huge journey ahead of us.
What do you think it would take to get there?
I was interviewed for a feminist magazine years ago by a lovely reporter and she was saying, feminists are always saying what are you doing showing your body? I’ve always said that I’m the greatest feminist you’re ever going to meet. Surely the meaning of feminism is that a women has the right to be any kind of woman that she wants to be. So whether I want to be a sexy woman, or a masculine woman, or a crazy woman, surely feminism is my right to do what I choose to do? Isn’t that it?
I think we’ve got a lot of problems with religious beliefs, and I’m not a great fan of religion in any form or shape and I think in most religions nudity is considered a sin. But you’re born naked so you know, surely you’d be born with a covering, or a shell like a turtle or something! (She said cheekily!)
I’m not saying that every single person has to rush out and take their clothes off… fucking amazing if they all did! I just think whether it’s nudity, whether it’s religion, ageism, sexism, we just all need to be more accepting of one another. End of.
After the Sexhibition Workshops are you around in the evening?
I am producing the After Dark burlesque show, so I will be Mama Jojo. The fabulous Miss Polly Rae is going to be there, she was one of my students, and now she’s an amazing burlesque super star.
I’m really looking forward to Sexhibition, I think the one other thing I’d really like to add, is that I think it’s needed. I think it’s gonna be amazing and I think it’s just the beginning.
Get in touch with Jo via the London Academy Of Burlesque website for classes, hen parties birthday parties or one to one tuition. Plus don’t forget she has Kingesis, Glamour Puss, Strip Teaser and Showgirl Sexy workshops at Sexhibition.