Beth Anne Fischer is a woman of many talents and artistic proclivities. Her performances run the gamut from erotic spoken word to her newest interest — burlesque. I sat down with Fischer at an Ottawa café recently to talk erotic art and ask her about her upcoming projects and performances.
Xtra: So, upcoming shows! You’re going to be doing a feature set of erotica at VerseFest’s Voices of Venus show on March 9. What have you got planned? What can people expect from the show?
Beth Anne Fischer: First off, I want to say that I’m really excited about [this show]. I’ve never done a full erotica set. Faye [Estrella] asked me to feature at Voices of Venus, and I said, ‘What would you think if I wrote and performed an erotic set?’
X: So it was your idea to go in that direction. Are you using it as an opportunity to create more erotic work?
BAF: Yeah. I had maybe one-and-a-half pieces at that point, but it was an idea I had been thinking about for a while. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try something new. It was back in January when she asked me, so I’ve spent the past two months creating new work leading up to March 9 as the debut of my new stuff.
X: Can you tell us a bit about what you’ve written?
BAF: [laughing] It’s all about the sex!! No, it’s more like a celebration of sensuality…
BAF: …and a bit of the process of…like, right now I feel really comfortable with my sexuality, but for a lot of my life I didn’t. So the set also includes some poems that tell the story of how I got there.
X: With being queer or with sexuality?
BAF: Both. Sexuality in general and being queer, too. It’s interesting because, within the poems that I’m sharing, I have one poem that I’ve written about my sexual revolution.
X: As in interior revolution?
BAF: Yeah, about when I learned that sex is supposed to be fun.
BAF: [laughing] I mean, there was a point in my life when sex was scary, and I didn’t know what I was doing. It felt kind of good, but not all the time. I didn’t know how to say what I wanted or how to express myself.
X: So you were only having half-assed experiences.
BAF: Yeah. [making a spanking gesture] Half. Assed.
X: Sort of a funny expression to use when we’re talking about sex, but… [laughing]
BAF: [laughing] But then I met this one person, and he totally popped my sexuality bubble. Being like, ‘Sex is supposed to be fun. I’m going to tell you you’re beautiful all through sex. We’re going to talk, we’re going to laugh, we’re going to do this, then we’re going to stop and do something else.’ I totally learned what sex is supposed to be like. I would have been 21 then. So I have a poem about that, and a bunch of other poetry about women and some [where it’s] ambiguous. There’s a strong queer element, but there’s also this understanding that it’s not one or the other and that there’s this [continuum] of sexuality. Although I might be with a woman, I’ve been with men — does that make me bi? I don’t know. You’d probably have to have a conversation with me afterwards to see how it all fits together.
X: What do you want people to get out of this new erotic work?
BAF: I wanted to create something where people will feel sexy, like mmmmmmmmmm, and they feel good and get more in touch with their sexuality. But, also, for people to realize that there’s a process to getting to feel good about sex and to share some of my stories of getting there.
X: Nice. So what’s motivating you?
BAF: In recent years, I’ve come to understand the power of sexuality — for women especially. For me, feeling good and confident in my sexuality translates into more self-confidence in general.
X: So other areas in your life are benefiting from that confidence and connection?
BAF: Yes, exactly. The spirit-sensual is a part of me and, since I’ve been able to tap into that, I’ve also been able to tap into a different part of my personality. I’ve had a different kind of connection with myself and the world around me. What I can give as a human being has changed. So that happened in my personal journey, and I thought, ‘I want to do more of this. I want to be part of space where people can feel good and sexy and spend time focusing on that aspect.’
X: Are you hoping to inspire people to have the same kind of opening that you did?
BAF: Yeah. I’m hoping to inspire people. Maybe they’ll hear something in my poetry that they haven’t tried before and want to try it. Or maybe they’ll just feel turned on and their attention will be brought to their sex. I mean, for most of my life, I didn’t know very much about my cunt. I didn’t know anything about it. ‘What does it look like? I don’t know! I’ve never looked there!’ I just want to bring people’s minds to those kinds of things. But the idea for this show was just one of those ideas that come out of your mouth and you don’t really know where it came from.
X: Sounds like your brain caught up afterward.
BAF: For real. Then Faye and Allison, the organizers, decided to give the show an erotica theme. Now it’s this whole evening of erotica, which is really exciting.
X: I feel like that invitation to bring forward erotic work has been really great for people — it’s so often sidelined.
BAF: Yeah, for sure. It’s definitely sidelined and it’s super-taboo for women to talk about sex. So I think it’s cool that this female series is going to have all females up on the mic, in public, talking about sex.
X: And amplified!
BAF: [laughing] Amplified in the room! It’s pretty sweet.
BAF: The other interesting thing that came forward when I started creating this [material], which I wasn’t expecting, was dance.
X: Oh, wow. You’re doing some movement too, that night?
BAF: Yes. I’ve choreographed a burlesque routine to be part of the poetry set. I’m really excited about that because I danced for 10 years of my life, and then I stopped for about eight years. That’s another facet of my sexuality that’s really blooming. I’ve never really done this before… I’ve only done burlesque twice now. And this will be my first choreography. At the VerseFest show, I’m going to be performing to “Fever.”
X: As in “You give me…”?
BAF: Yeah. Fevah! [throwing her arms up in the air] I found this really nice instrumental version by Michael Bublé.
X: So it’s all smoooooth and loungey?
BAF: Yeah, totally.
X: Is erotic performance the direction you feel pulled in right now?
BAF: Well, I’ve done a lot of performing. When I was in high school, I did musicals and community theatre. I did dance. I did improv. I did First Nations theatre in university. I’ve been doing spoken word. I’ve always known that I love performing, but I had never really found a particular aspect that I felt really inspired to do.
X: In terms of a genre or type of performance?
BAF: Yeah. But what I realized in the process of writing this set is that I want to continue and write a whole erotica show. I feel like I may have found my niche as an artist.