The Importance of an Alter Ego
Sarah Louise Jackson / Ruby Red
“There’s an old joke that strippers work for money and burlesque dancers work for applause. For many of them, it’s not the way they make a living - they just do it because they like to do it” Eric Hall
Sarah Louise and Ruby Red are two very different people, like Jekyll and Hyde they are quite the opposite of each other. If you could have met Sarah as a child you would laugh at the comparison to who Ruby is now. She was a strange child who never had the right thing to say, you could call her social awkward. She was like this until about sixteen when leaving high school. Ruby is essentially everything that Sarah could never be, confident, eloquent, graceful, outgoing and articulate. She completes her. An alter ego has the power to boost your self image and allow you to view your body from a different perspective, essentially boosting your confidence. Superman had Clarke Kent, Barry Humphries would be absolutely nothing without Dame Edna Everage and many people would not know the name Kelly Fletcher, (the burlesque performer Immodesty Blaize). These people embraced their alter ego’s in the same way in which Sarah does, by using their alter ego to do the things, which they feel they cannot. Ruby rose from the ashes of Sarah’s life after a particularly difficult period, looking to escape the pressures of life and being a photographer she found escape in performance. Using Ruby as a temporary release from her job, studies and home life and soon Ruby demanded a life of her own. As Sarah is a very creative person anyway she expresses herself through photography but there in lies the problem of how do you express your inner sexual deviant through photography and the solution is the importance of an alter ego. The work presents the question of how for you can take an alter ego in burlesque? How far does an alter ego allow you to push yourself out of your comfort zone? The work is Sarah’s way of pushing herself as a photographer, seeing how far Ruby can push her, push her with her photography and push her confidence and performance. As you can see, ruby is a very useful person to have around.
An alter ego is essentially a form of escapism, the layers of makeup, glitter and clothing create a barrier from the outside world. It allows you to perform without fear or embarrassment, it allows you to spend a few hours away from your life, a few hours where you do not have a job, or rent to pay or dishes to wash, you are free to let go and dance without care or conviction. Just the act of taking on a different name can change the way you perform giving you confidence and a new freedom. It is not just the name, it is everything, step by step as you transform each new layer of makeup, each false eyelash, the pasties, the corsets, the hair pieces, bit by bit, piece by piece you get further and further away from reality and closer and closer to fantasy. Then the your whole persona follows, the alter ego develops character and personality of its own and the transformation is complete. Then you are so far from how you began that what you began with is essentially invisible behind the layers, who you are is distorted by your alter ego, this is the point you must get to in order to perform as a burlesque dancer. In order to take your clothes off you must first put on a new personality.
When the spotlight is on you itâ€™s like nothing you have ever felt before, a mixture of utter excitement and complete terror
Stripper! (and you can call me that anytime; it was a term that was good enough for Gypsy, and itâ€™s good enough for me!) Dita Von Teese
left Burlesque has the power to change a shy introvert into a seductive temptress. Being unafraid is a very freeing experience.
below I chose the name Ruby Red because of my hair colour. Later on my grandmother re named me Scarlet Ribbons after a song she used to sing to me when I was little and trying to get to sleep. I may be called Ruby Red but there will always be a place in my heart for Scarlet Ribbons.
above The really talented and seductive dancers can make an entire routine just from the removal of gloves. Making the audience sweat on the edge of their seats with anticipation, waiting for the rest to follow. You don’t have to get naked to seduce, it’s all about the tease.
right People ask what I do in burlesque, I tell them it’s a lot of taking your gloves off with your teeth and flossing your arse with a feather boa.
“...maybe one day I’ll upgrade to a martini glass, but for now I’ll settle for pulling a chair out from between my legs”
Mark Collins www.markcollinsdesign.com
Sarah Louise Jackson www.sarahljackson.com