SIFF News: Deirdre Timmons' A Wink and a Smile

Local director learns to twirl her tassels.

Seattle director Deirdre Timmons followed 10 women enrolled in Seattle's Academy of Burlesque for her debut doc A Wink and a Smile. (It screens at the Egyptian at 9:30 p.m. Wed., May 28, and 4 p.m., Sat. May 31.) She told me about the film, and Seattle's burgeoning burlesque scene, during a recent visit to her Madrona home, which was a slice of yellow stucco quaintness until my Chihuahua, visiting her Chihuahua, pissed on the floor. Our conversation prior to the accident:Why do women take this seven-week crash course? We've become a very unglamorous nation that's all about downsizing. Burlesque, on the other hand, is all about upsizing. Everything is exaggerated and larger than life. People miss that sort of extravagance.Beneath the feather boas and pasties, what's the difference—if any—between burlesque and stripping? Burlesque is stripping. But these performers are not doing what they do for the sake of sexual titillation—that's the big difference. It's stripping with a healthy dollop of humor, and that doesn't make for an easy scenario for men to objectify.Women in your film describe burlesque, which you've done, as "empowering," because it celebrates the female form in all shapes and sizes. Is that a crock, or what? The class really did enable me to see myself as being sexy and funny. I'm not just this mom headed to Nowheresville. Burlesque really forces you to grapple with your body and accept it. You have to, if you're going to share it with others.You have a kid—how did the whole mom-dancing-naked thing go over with her? My daughter's 11, so she actually wasn't allowed in the venue. But she watched me practice. She's at the age when her body's just starting to develop, so I think it was good for her to be surrounded by this attitude that all bodies are beautiful. I had her make sure my boobs and tassels twirled in the same direction.

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