BCAUS 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.
In our current sociological climate, it is not uncommon for the survivors of abuse to experience backlash upon sharing their story. This creates a paralyzing situation for members of the community who experience or witness abusive behavior -- fear of community backlash, and lack of adequate support services have prevented members of the burlesque and variety community from coming forward with reports of misconduct.
BCAUS believes that we must protect each other. We believe that all members of the burlesque and variety community are entitled to safe spaces in which to create and share their art. In order to create those spaces, members of the community must feel empowered to come forward.
BCAUS exists to protect the burlesque and variety community from abusive behavior, to educate community members about best practices, to provide a variety of support services, and to provide an anonymous reporting system in an effort to provide accountability and eradicate unsafe spaces in the Chicago community. Our goal is to ensure the mental and physical well-being of the community, particularly with respect to physically and verbally abusive behavior.
BCAUS 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 BCAUS.
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.
Elements of a safe video or photo shoot:
- It is recommended to have a contract to set - at minimum - the following parameters in writing prior to the shoot:
- Licensing and use of images for marketing purposes
- Pay, if any.
- Location and length of shoot.
- Number of photos that will be turned over, and whether they will be edited.
- It should be clearly stated whether the shoot will be nude or semi-dressed prior to the shoot. This term cannot be changed during the shoot by either the photographer/videographer or the model.
- All models are entitled to
- Unrestricted access to communication and transportation options.
- A minimum of one other person of their choice to come to and stay for the duration of the shoot.
- Knowledge of who will be at the shoot prior to the day of shoot. No additional individuals may be brought on without express written consent.
- Although the ownership of photos and videos varies based upon contractual terms, models’ 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 model. Requests to remove photos or videos should be honored quickly and politely.
BCAUS accepts reports of abuse from any person, whether or not a signer of the Code of Conduct, about any person or enterprise, whether or not a signer of the Code of Conduct. Reports are maintained from and about: burlesque and variety performers, hosts, photographers, videographers, producers, stagehands, venues, patrons, and anyone else connected to the burlesque community.
The purpose of the reporting system is (1) to provide a safe, anonymous method to report abuse to the community, (2) to educate members of the community when their actions are negatively impacting others, and (3) to notify the community of abusive behavior in the event of repeated, documented abuse.
BCAUS does not investigate or certify the veracity of any report. Details are collected and maintained in a database for the purpose of identifying patterns of abuse, and (in the case of pervasive, documented abuse) notifying the community appropriately. We request that incident reports be completed by the people who directly experienced or witnessed the incident, rather than third parties.
BCAUS is not a union, it is an action group. As such, the reports we accept are about abusive behavior and not labor disagreements.
BCAUS accepts all reports, but retains reports only about the following types of complaint (at its own discretion):
- Abusive language (including but not limited to verbal sexual harassment, racist, sexist, misogynist, transphobic, homophobic, body shaming, ablist, xenophobic, classist, or violent speech)
- Threatened Physical Abuse (including but not limited to threats of violence/unwanted touching/assault)
- Physical Abuse (including but not limited to acts of violence/unwanted touching)
- Physical Sexual Harassment (unwanted sexual touching, sexual assault, sexual pressure, sexual quid pro quo)
- Image misrepresentation (unapproved photo/video/advertising issues)
- Privacy violations (posting or failing to remove photo/video without consent, "open-door" dressing rooms)
Reports will be reviewed by the Board, and complainants will receive a response within 48 hours (if contact information is given). Responses will include the Board’s planned response, along with relevant resources for the complainant. Complainants are given the opportunity to approve or reject the response.
Responses by BCAUS can include, but are not limited to:
- Reaching out to the accused with notice of the report, and/or materials educating as to why such behavior is inappropriate
- Notifying the burlesque community about an individual who has exhibited a documented pattern of abusive behavior
- Notifying relevant producers of unsafe activity occurring at their production.
Responses will be chosen as the Board deems situationally appropriate.
Community members will be able to request reports on individuals and receive, at most, the following information:
- The category and general timeframe of the alleged incident (verbal abuse, sexual assault, privacy violations, etc)
- The self-reported severity and level of intent of the alleged incident
- If the allegation was supported by physical evidence (photos, emails, police documents, etc)
- Whether the claimant gave BCAUS permission to contact the accused
- Whether the claimant reports that the situation has been addressed/resolved with the accused.
- The number of claimants who reported this single instance.
- The total number of claimants reporting all instances.
Reports are permanent and will not be removed from records.
In the interest of honest communication and transparency, the parties listed below comprise the BCAUS Board, who catalog incident reports in the database, respond to incident report requests, determine responses as a group, and provides educational materials to claimants and those who have been charged with alleged misconduct.
Casey Howard (Gin Fizz)
Rebecca Taylor (Slightly Spitfire)
Megan Hartmann (Eva la Feva)
Mark Lancaster (Saucy Jack)
Jasmine McNeely (Jeez Loueez)
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.