backstage w/ginger collins: the world is her burlesque, pole + jazz stage
ginger collins' is living her Hollywood dream
Nearly the walking definition on an old soul, you can't meet Ginger Collins without it leaving an indelible impact. While her career as an international, multi-genre performer in burlesque, jazz and pole is to seduce your senses and entertain your imagination, she's just as riveting and engaging a human without a stage or mic. We were lucky enough to steal some time off her calendar for a chat, but have since officially converted to stan status. Follow her on IG to sneak a peek at her performance schedule or hit her site to watch her clips or book an event. In the meantime, we hope this interview gives you a glimpse at what we love about this insatiably curious, endlessly talented and insanely humble mistress of seduction.
You have so many talents and interests, how do you keep your curiosity stoked?
Keeping my curiosity stoked is not a problem for me, it never has been! In my experience, there just are not enough hours in the day to do all of the things that I’m interested in! And I think I’ve kind of always been that way. I guess I’m a jack of all trades, but I learned not long ago that that phrase is often said as a negative thing, but the full quote is: “Jack of all trades, master of none but still often better than a master of one.” So ha ha! Now I no longer think of that with negative connotation. Yeah, so how do I keep my passion stoked? A broad answer is, I love beauty and since I find a lot of different things beautiful I want to pursue those. And I love expressing myself. So when I can combine self-expression and beauty, it’s a win-win for me. And when I can combine that with being social, I’m definitely an extrovert, it’s a perfect situation!
So are you willing to do things you’re not good at just because you’re curious or you’re able to express yourself? Some people don’t.
Sadly, I am one of those “some people” who likes to pursue things they’re good. Maybe that’s a character defect, I don’t know. I was just thinking today that I have an affinity toward the things for which I have a proclivity. I’m not interested in, say, playing the tuba because I don’t know if I’d be great at it. But as a kid, we had a lot of a variety of hobbies and pastimes that my parents encouraged us to do. We had music, sports, theatre, and community activities. I grew up in Seattle so we had the forest, ocean, and the mountains to explore as well, so I also love nature. So, I think that just created a broad array of interests for me which I’ll probably need a few lifetimes to pursue!
One thing I really appreciate about your dance is how in service you are to your body. What tips do you have for women to get into their body and move with their unique pleasure?
Oh, yeah, I love that question! Embodiment has been a long journey for me. I think I found pole dancing as a way to learn how to express myself but also tap into my femininity, my body, and a sensuality that seemed so intangible at the time. Pole dancing taught me how to take up space in my body and in the world. Pole then led into burlesque and modeling, which have been such big parts of my embodiment journey.
One of the biggest things, I think, that steals our ability to be in our body and to feel pleasure is comparison. Women often look at other women and think “I should be more like her”; or “my body should be able to do things that hers can do”, etc. But when we focus on the things that *our* bodies *can* do, the things that feel good, that are enjoyable to do, that feel natural and comfortable, we begin to experience a level of serenity, which can then breed more creativity and allow each woman to flourish in her own way! Does that make sense?
Yes! And are you saying that when you take up presence in your body in the way that it moves, you’re also less judgmental?
Yes, yes, exactly! Be less judgmental in the abilities and the limitations that your body has.
As a dancer, but someone who came to dance later in life, my body has limitations that
I wish it didn’t have. And I’ve worked hard to change some of them and some of them haven’t really budged. So being able to lean into the things that my body can do and just graciously accept the things that it can’t has helped me move forward in my pursuits.
To bring my energy into my body, to feel my body, to sense my body from the inside out has
been really helpful for me to become more present and perform better, to feel more
pleasure — in any sense of the word — and to really be present. Does that make sense? To sense my energy from the inside out?
Yes, definitely. And so do you think for other women, one thing would be to lose the judgment and just start feeling into what feels good for them when they move?
Yeah! Close your eyes. Don’t think about what other people are doing. If you have body image issues, don’t worry about it for a few moments. Feel the things that do feel nice and let go of the judgment; let go of judging others, judging yourself. There’s so much freedom when we give ourselves permission to stop judging!
I grew up not realizing that I was judgmental, but unconsciously thought I was supposed to be critical of other people. I thought that was how you advance, how you develop, how you grow as a person. But there’s a big difference between inspiration/awareness of other people and comparison. And so when I am able to stop the judgment and comparison, oh things just feel so much better!
What does it take to be your own boss when you are the brand?
It takes a lot of other people to support me supporting myself, ha ha! I am learning my limitations, my mental skills and weaknesses, what I can and can not focus on well, and when to get outside help so I can further improve. Friends are helpful when we can bookend tasks with each other, and I have some mentors in my life who help me to manage goals, emotional stress ,and my hopes and dreams, etc. They help me put things in perspective and keep me in the Now so I can keep my excitement for the future without future tripping.
Also, I have a lot of notes around my house; I have a lot of whiteboards on which I make a lot of lists… half the time I get about halfway through and then I forget and I move on to the next thing! So, I think I have probably undiagnosed ADD, but it serves me in getting a lot of things *mostly done*. Then I rely on grace for the things that I don’t get finished as soon as I’d like.
I think the way that I balance all of my passions is sort of like a “focus pie chart” I circle around however many items are on my current to-do list and give them the necessary, time dependent, attention. If one week I’m really passionate about a particular burlesque project. I’ll focus most of my time and energy on that and if I don’t have, say, a jazz gig for a few weeks put jazz-related tasks like a voice lesson and set list planning on the back burner for a few days.
I’m such an emotionally led creature, so I go with the things that are most time pressing and feel the most interesting at any given time. And I’m sure CEOs of major companies would cringe to hear that’s my method but so far it’s been working for me!
Well, you’re a creative, right?
Exactly! I may not on the Fortune 500 list, but I’m pretty happy with all that I’m doing these days.
"Being in your own presence creates such a magnetism for people, whether it’s an audience or an intimate partner. There’s no need to compare yourself to anybody; we all make one beautiful mosaic."
That’s what matters. In terms of an erotic mantra, something you might say to yourself to remind you of your sensuality, your aliveness, your limitlessness, what would that be for you?
“I’m beautiful, abundant and adored.” On days when I do feel a little insecure (insecurity and lack of self-confidence are things I struggled with in my past), I say that right before I go on stage. It helps me get into the zone a little bit better.
This leads into the next question, how do you handle stage fright, if you have it, whether it’s performing on stage, stretching yourself into a new skill or learning something outside your comfort zone?
Yeah, really good question. One of the tricks for me and I just used it the other day when I was at a jazz singing gig and I just wasn’t feeling very embodied. And I just bring my attention and energy back to my body, not in any sensual or technical way, just sort of sense my body in this moment in time standing on this part of the floor. That helps bring me instantly back into presence and into awareness and I instantly feel a bit better.
I’ve been working with a sexual intuitive here in LA. Her name is Susanna Brisk and she’s really helped me find the balance between my energy self and my physical self and bringing those two together. I’ve really felt a lot of improvement since I’ve been working with her! When I feel a little nervous and unsettled or I feel that adrenaline start pumping I just bring that awareness back to my physical body and I can focus on the actual task at hand instead of thinking about stage fright.
Another tool I use on stage if I get nervous or maybe I even made a mistake: I just smile through it. I look someone in the eye, almost aggressively present, and just smile so they don’t notice anything else. I feel my passion for performing and the gratitude and joy I have for performing, just let that wash over the audience. Then I think of it as a shared experience. I am giving to them my talent and skills that I’ve honed and they are giving to me their attention and their time and their encouragement/applause so it becomes a reciprocal service we have to each other. In any given part of a show, both the audience and I are creating this lovely shared experience. I can feel gratitude instead of feeling like I have to be perfect.
So again, you’re a jazz singer, burlesque dancer, pole dancer (and so much more)… all things that require such energy and life force, how do you channel the energy you need to get on stage, connect with and move audiences night after night?
Oooh, another great question! I’m also currently in school full-time right now for American Sign Language Interpreting. So I now have a lot less time to sleep, train, plan, and get things done. When I need energy, I’ll often kind of channel the general energy of an audience or a crowd. I can use that to amp me up a little bit. Also, I go back to the little girl that I was at whatever stage of life that really wanted to do this thing that I’m doing now and who thought, “Gosh, wouldn’t it be amazing, but probably impossible, if I could do that? If I could sing jazz in Beverly Hills? If I could get paid to dance in front of people? Perform in Hollywood, etc, etc….”
So when I really need to channel some extra motivation I’ll think of that little self and say, “Hey, we’re doing it, It’s happening! Isn’t this fun?” Finding that enthusiasm from years past helps motivate me.
I do sometimes fall into future tripping or wanting to be in the next stage of life and career. But once I realize I’m doing it I try to come back to the present and realize what I true: like, as we speak right now, I have piles of rhinestones and beautiful lingerie in front of me that I’m bedazzling and that just makes me so happy! I remember that there was a time that I couldn’t afford any of this. So I do need to check myself at times and realize how far I’ve come and that there’s time to keep going. I don’t have to be anxious about what the future might hold. I can just enjoy the present because I like what I’m doing now.
How do you stay inspired and evolving in your fields?
I’ve actually been thinking about that recently because, as much as I don’t want to admit it to myself, I don’t really find myself striving to be an “envelope pusher” or to do something new that’s never been done before. I guess I’m inspired by classics; I’m an old soul, to be sure! I love jazz standards that were written in the ‘20s, ‘30s and ‘40s and I want just want to have my turn to sing them! I love classic burlesque and I want my turn to be that rhinestone-clad, seductive Peeler of Lingerie. So it’s an interesting question because I’m not too motivated by finding something new, which perhaps would help advance my career, but I’m finding fulfillment in each little step of whatever the next right action for me, that’s integrity and comfortable in my spirit. I just want my turn at doing the things that I love.
What advice do you have for negotiating your worth in business?
That’s a tricky one because I’ve been noticing rates are going down. They should be going
up as the price of everything is going up, but a lot of people don’t have the budget... they want the entertainment but they don’t want to pay for it or they want to pay the same rate that they paid in 1980. There are times that I really want a particular job and booker does not have the funds for it. They want me, and I want the gig, but they just don’t have it the rate I asked for. In those cases, I weigh the benefits and see if there are other things will make me feel
excited about the job, even if it’s not a financial return this time.
Can I get great marketing photos? Will these lead to good new connections? Will they agree to book me again in the future with a bigger rate or recommend me to colleagues? I’ve definitely grown so much through jobs that that didn’t pay a lot, but really benefitted me in the long run. However, if I don’t see benefits and I feel resentment about it, I won’t take the job because it’s important to know your worth. I also feel a responsibility to not take too low of rates for the sake of my colleagues working in the same fields because if we all stick to our rates we will help set a standard for everyone.
Really great advice that I got from my mother early on is “if you can’t do it without resentment, don’t do it.” It’s better for everybody if I turn down a job that’s lowballed me than to show up at the gig just boiling with resentment. I just need to stay true to my rates and trust the universe will provide a better job for me soon.
Also, as a creative, it’s helpful for me to have multiple streams of income because even if all of them are maybe slow for a minute, I can go back to that the pie chart and put a few more
eggs in another basket and then come back to that first basket, see if my eggs have “evolved”.
What is a typical day like for you?
Before I started school, the answer was, “there is absolutely no typical day!” I’m currently in the middle of a one-year ASL program, so I’m in class Monday through Thursday and doing a lot of homework. But when not in school mode I tend to work in order of the most urgent to least urgent as far as costuming, learning routines, training, set lists, etc.
Before this school program I would have a nice cup of tea in the morning, check a few easy things off the list like mail or laundry. Then run errands / pick up costume pieces etc. then a voice or dance lesson, maybe training at the gym/pole studio, come home and rhinestone for a while (it’s my meditation). I often work one to three nights at a club in Hollywood either from 8:00 to 11:00 or 11:00 to 2:00am. Many days I have to wake up early and head to set. I’m also a professional hair and makeup artist (which was my reason for moving to LA in the first place!), so sometimes I have be on set by 7:00 AM. Those are tough days but I motivate myself to get through by saying, “I’m living the dream, I’m living the dream, I can sleep later.” But I do try to minimize those late nights / early mornings.
So there is really no typical day for me, which I like. I like the variety. I know a lot of people live well off of routine but, as much as I have tried, I just can’t seem to make routine stick in my life.
Last question, being such a master of sensuality and seduction, I wonder what is the one thing you wish all women knew about their power?
That’s quite a deep question because an awareness of my own sensuality and power is something with which I only recently become well acquainted. I, personally, have learned a lot through pole dance studios, through really kind teachers who supported all of my tears, through burlesque, through good friends who had more experience in sensual matters than me. Essentially, it’s been a group effort, haha!
Regarding the “power” part of the question: I, personally, don’t get off on the concept of power over people. I wish I was a domme (it’s such an great field!) but alas, that expression hasn’t seemed to catch me yet. The idea of power over people doesn’t particularly turn me on, but power together, power with, mmmm, that’s beautiful! I love the idea that my femininity and sensuality can inspire a romantic partners sensuality and bring them to life… to me that feels like creative power, like life force power. Not power over, but life force within me that can activate their best self or their sensuality, their own joie de vivre. I think that’s just such a beautiful aspect of feminine power!
Oh, and one thing I’d like to add: Lean into whatever strengths you’re rocking. Whether your body is voluptuous and curvy, strong and toned, short, tall, whatever, just know that it is correct! Being in your own presence creates such a magnetism for people, whether it’s an audience or an intimate partner. There’s no need to compare yourself to anybody; we all make one beautiful mosaic.
How were you moved, inspired, ignited by the stunning Ginger Collins?