Nerdlesque Code of Conduct*
The following is a voluntary code for conduct within the burlesque and variety community. This is not a legally binding document. Nothing within this document should be construed as legal advice, and should not be relied upon as such.
What is The Nerdlesque Festival?
The Nerdlesque Festival is the first ever festival dedicated to nerd and pop culture related burlesque! Created in 2014, this festival showcases the best in Nerdlesque from across the planet! As the popularity of nerd-friendly burlesque and cabaret rises daily, this festival aims to encourage and foster the development of nerdlesque as an art form and a community. Our sexy nerd powers combine to turn New York City into the epicenter of glittery naked nerdery!
The Nerdlesque Festival’s goal is to create a safe place where all the dweebs, dorks, geeks and freaks can get together, without fear or shame, in celebration of our dedication to the art of burlesque. As much as this is an event to entertain and amuse, it is a community-building weekend. Featuring shows, classes, and networking events, the Nerdlesque Festival strives to contribute to strengthening the Burlesque Community while increasing opportunities for nerdy performers as well as their exposure in the world at large!
Code of Conduct
In order to ensure a safe space for producers, crew, performers, and audience members, the following guidelines are set. Should anyone act in violation of these standards, we encourage witnesses and harmed parties to come forward and report their behavior to Nerdlesque.
Burlesque is a particularly vulnerable form of art. Burlesque is often sexual and arousing, however sexual performance should not be conflated with consent. At burlesque shows, the following standards are suggested as best practices to create safe performance spaces for performers, audiences, and crews alike.
Elements of a safe bar or theater show:
Notice to production members, prior to performance date, of individuals associated with the production, including hosts, performers, photographers, stage crew, etc. Should a performer opt out of a performance due to a “safe space” conflict with another production member, producers and/or venues should respond proactively.
Notice to production members, prior to performance date, of the photography and videography policy of the show. Performers should be informed who will be allowed to photograph or film performances, whether performers will be allowed to approve media before it is posted, where such media will be posted, and who to contact to have media removed.
Private changing space, free of anyone outside of producer-approved production members. If venue employees must access space, give clear notice at time of booking. Producer should specify at time at booking which production members will be given dressing room access. Producers are encouraged to limit dressing room access to only production members while they are changing costumes.
No one should be allowed to take photos (including selfies) in dressing rooms if any other person can be seen, unless consent for the photo is expressly given.
Hosts should be empowered to give clear instructions to the audience about their expected behavior. This should include instructions to refrain from touching performers and crew, as well as instructions to use respectful language with all production members, and information about the photography and videography policy for the show.
Hosts should be informed of appropriate/inappropriate language to use in the particular atmosphere of burlesque, particularly language about consent and respecting performers.
All production members should be referred to by their pronouns.
Crew should be notified of and empowered with the responsibility to foster safe environments both with production and audience members. This includes the power to give verbal instruction or, if necessary, work with the venue to remove individuals exhibiting problematic behavior, or with as history of exhibiting problematic behavior.
Complainants should be supported in the event they feel uncomfortable about behavior by production members or audience members.
The above standards are primarily applicable at performances, however in order to keep the community safe, the following guidelines are recommended at all times, including at shows, in off-time, and digitally.
Elements of a safe community:
Refrain from the use of abusive language or behavior. This includes but is not limited to language and behavior that is: racist, sexist, misogynist, transphobic, homophobic, body shaming, ableist, xenophobic, classist, or violent.
Refrain from touching without explicit consent. Consent can be revoked at any time – because someone was comfortable with touching on a previous occasion does not guarantee they are comfortable this time. Ask consent each time.
Refrain from any sexually harassing behavior, as defined in Appendix One.
Refrain from violence or threats of violence.
All community members should be referred to by their pronouns.
Refrain from entering dressing rooms unless you are specifically given access by the producer. Limit your time in the dressing room to periods when you are actively changing costumes or are required to be there due to the format of the show.
Refer to performers exclusively by their stage name, and not their legal name, unless you have been given specific consent to do otherwise. This includes online and in person, particularly tagging on social media, references in print media, as well as onstage.
Although the ownership of photos and videos varies based upon contractual terms, Performers’ ownership of their image as their brand should be respected. Best practice is to ask for consent before publicly posting video or photos of any performer. Requests to remove photos or videos should be honored quickly and politely.
Support and believe community members who come forward with reports of abuse. Fostering a culture of belief is integral to encouraging people to come forward when there are issues.
Sexual Harassment Policy
Sexual Harassment is defined as one or a series of comments or conduct of a gender-related or sexual nature outside the boundaries of consent, that is known or ought reasonably be known to be unwelcome/unwanted, offensive, intimidating, hostile or inappropriate.
Sexual harassment includes but is not limited to:
Unwelcome remarks, jokes, innuendoes or taunting about a person's body, attire, race, gender, gender identity, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, marital status, sexual orientation, ability, or other status protected by law;
Negative stereotyping about race, gender, gender identity, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, marital status, sexual orientation, ability, or other status protected by law;
Unwanted touching or any unwanted or inappropriate physical contact such as touching, kissing, patting, hugging, or pinching;
Unwelcome inquiries or comments about a person's sex life or sexual preference;
Inappropriate comments about clothing, physical characteristics, or activities;
Requests or demands for sexual favors which include, or strongly imply, promises of rewards for complying (e.g., job advancement opportunities), and/or threats of punishment for refusal.
Special consideration is recommended when community members engage in physical or emotional relationships with one another, particularly when one party influences another's professional consideration for employment opportunities or when an imbalanced power dynamic exists. Relationships are also not immune to sexual harassment or sexual misconduct.
All or part of the above grounds may create a negative environment for individuals or groups. This may have the effect of "poisoning" the community and performance environment. It should be noted that a person does not have to be a direct target to be adversely affected by a negative environment.
*Adapted from BCAUS’s Code of Conduct