Burlesque Begging

by admin on May 9, 2012

I am a burlesque dancer, and except for rare cases like Dita von Teese, the overwhelming majority of us do not make a living at burlesque. It’s an expensive passion, with way more money going to costumes, studio and venue rentals, workshops, travel to festivals, etc. than the amount of income that comes in from doing shows. It’s akin to having a theatre troupe, where you basically do it because you love it and don’t expect it to be lucrative. Most of us have day jobs; a lot of us hate those day jobs and wish we could do our art full-time, much like any struggling artist. Some of us even joke about wishing for rich benefactors.

Others, on the other hand, actually try to put the “benefactor” wish into practice. Scrolling through my Facebook news feed this morning, I found a public event that a fellow dancer had created. Since it is a public event, I don’t think I’m violating anyone’s privacy by putting the link here: (I think I’ll edit that out – Admin).  Here is the text describing the event, which I literally read with my mouth hanging open in horror:

“Friends & fans, here is your opportunity to contribute toward the success of Sweet LillyBee in her effort to shine in all corners of this continent & perhaps beyond! You can become a sponsor or a backer!!

I have created degrees of sponsorship for your ease.

… ”1) Sponsor Mavis: SLBee super-van/burlesque-mobile!! This is the train that brings me everywhere. It’s my luxury liner, with a complete set up for safe, sane travel that includes REAL coffee & food, a comfy place to sleep, plenty of room for passengers & gear and is pretty much cheaper than a plan ticket to wherever I may be going (and transports my personal attendant as well). Mavis is in good condition and her mechanic is prepared to keep her on the road for a long time coming. All current repairs/maintenance come to about $2000.

”2) Sponsor a trip: Help SLBee offset the expense of travel! St Louis- $200, Vegas- $600, Denver- $400, Philly- $450, Detroit- $350, Ohio-$150. These are my current trips. I may also be traveling to New Mexico, Arizona, California & Washington this year. If you want me in your town PM me to work out the details!

”3) Sponsor goods/services: Help keep SLBee looking good! You can either pay for or provide goods/services such as: nail salon, hair salon, depilation, massage, facials, pedicures, make up, hair prooduct, medical adhesive & remover, glitter, jewelry, shoes, costuming. PM me to aquire my preferred brands/salons or to arrange to personally provide said services.

”4) Sponsor technological/administrative goods/services: Website design. Tech support & maintenance. External hard drive. CD’s/DVD’s. Flash drives. Data entry. Press releases & web based marketing blasts. These are all neccesary things:)

”5) Sponser SLBee branding: Sponsor the launch of a line of collectible merchandise items!

Become a backer of Sweet LillyBee. You can send a private message to XXXXXX, include “backer” in the subject line and be sure to indicate your preferred area of sponsorship. Or let me know if you’d like to “subscribe” to an ongoing sponsorship (with/without a specific area of interest).

You can paypal to the above addy.”

I know that you have mentioned, in the past, sites like the one where the woman asked strangers to donate a dollar to her to help her get out of debt. I think that’s tacky enough on its own, but this to me is even worse, since she has many members of the burlesque community on her website, and we all struggle with expenses every day. The thing is, when you choose to practice any kind of art form, that is your choice. You are NOT a charity case. And the pampering services are just amazingly over the top – if I can’t afford my professional hair colour before a show, I’ll just do it myself, and I would never dream of considering something like a massage or facial to be a performance expense. I myself am pretty broke this year because I’m trying to make a go of freelancing as a day job, so guess what – I didn’t apply to any out-of-town festivals. That’s life. Not only is this woman throwing dignity out the window by begging and being extra-greedy by listing over the top expenses, but I also think in this case, the gimme factor is compounded by her making herself out to be a special case among performers. I am not easily shocked by human behaviour, and I was actually appalled by this. 0505-12

The Arts, imo, should be subject to the free market just as any other commodity is.  That means the success or failure of an artist is dependent on people appreciating their talents enough to pay to see it or buy it.  In other words, each ticket sale, every sale of artwork is a vote of appreciation and if there is little or no consumer interest in one’s art, it’s unlikely to be successful.   As a former art major in college, I participated in juried gallery shows in which submitted pieces of art must pass approval by a jury of teachers.   What is perceived as good art is highly subjective and those juries can get quite brutal.   Just because you consider yourself an artist does not equate to being successful as an artist.  (My gallery items which passed the jury were Raku pots and oil portraits.)

I have friends who make a decent living painting portraits.  It’s not glamorous, artsy fartsy artwork but it keeps them fed and housed nicely.   Their customers have voted with their dollars to support their talents.   So when an artist must go begging for someone to fund their artwork, one has to why he/she would advertise the fact that they cannot make it commercially and must be funded through donations.


{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

Cat May 9, 2012 at 9:05 am

There have been beggars in the world ever since people began to live in communities. A few people have always felt that other people should pay for whatever they happen to want: birthday parties, expensive weddings, travel, etc.

This lady wants someone to pay for her to enjoy what she likes to do. It won’t be I.

When is it good to do so? Well, I support a little girl in Bolivia via Compassion International. I also support my church. If people want to sponsor someone, I suggest an aid agency that helps those who cannot help themselves-like children being raised in poverty, here or abroad.


Justin May 9, 2012 at 9:13 am

I initially went to college for radio broadcasting 13 years ago, and had worked in high school for an independantly owned station and loved the freedom and creativity. However at that time most of the jobs with freedom were going away. At a conference I ended up having lunch at a table with one of the speakers, and he gave a piece of advice that I have carried with me:

“If what you love is the freedom to do what you are passionate about, go into business, perfect that craft, make a lot of money, and buy a small radio station so you can exercise that creativity.”

What I took from this is the idea that if you want to take a path where you may not make money but you are going to do it for the love of the game you have to do your time and set yourself up for that freedom.

I took a different path and left broadcasting completely 9 years ago. I still crave some of the creative freedom to do my own thing, though what that is has changed, but having taken the advice to pursue a more lucrative career and work to become proficient at it. I am close to having the means to go out on my own.

I have little respect for people who have to resort to begging, especially when the people who are seeing it make the sacrifice of holding a second or even third job to finance their passion.


ferretrick May 9, 2012 at 9:22 am

I don’t know-I agree the over the top requests and list of demands are tacky in tone, not to mention the requests for extras like massage that have a tenuous relationship to the actual quality of the artistic product at best. But in principle, how is this different from any theater, performing group, or other arts organization that solicits donations to pay the bills? No performance arts organization that I’ve aware of, particularly amateur groups, can stay in business on ticket sales alone. The comparison to visual art is simply not applicable where someone can make a living doing portraits or photographing weddings or whatever-two different mediums and an apples and oranges comparison. People don’t think anything of the symphony or the opera or the local theater group soliciting donors. Why because this is a one woman show is it any different?


Jojo May 9, 2012 at 9:42 am

The city I live in hosts one of the biggest arts festivals in the world. As a result, many gifted artists visit the city, fall in love with it and stay. To say there’s competition for jobs in the arts sector here is somewhat of an understatement. My mother teaches a craft that brings her into contact with lots of other artists and craftsmen in the UK, very few of whom earn enough money to pay rent let alone afford basic materials for their work.
I too have an ‘arty’ job. I’m content in the knowledge that I’ll never earn any money unless I change career or move country – it’s my choice to stay and be poor!
If you don’t have a clever niche ( I once saw a brilliant ‘Chav’ – UK equivalent of a Redneck- burlesque!) with which to sell yourself or a generous funding grant then you just have to resign yourself to the fact you have a great hobby.
What irks me is one particular gentleman on Facebook who has had a relatively good run over the past decade after moving to the city from a remote rural area where arts jobs simply don’t exist.
Recently he’s fallen on hard times for a number of personal and recession driven reasons. The inordinate amount of time he spends whinging about the people who have got up off their behinds and managed to secure funding grants ( who in his opinion don’t deserve them) and about having no work is roughly the equivalent of what most other people would invest in retraining and getting a job to fund the lifestyle he wants to live. He’s been in a privileged position and to be as naive as to think it would last forever and not make any provision for his future was his own fault, but to go on entitled rants when there are far more talented people than he working for less than minimum wage to fund the work they love, just pushes my buttons.
Somehow I don’t think advert girl is going to get many responses- maybe $10 from a generous aunt? At least she’s going out of her way to be entrepreneurial about her art, posting on Facebook, however, is perhaps not the best forum. I’m in complete agreement with Admin, if you’ve got to ask for help than you really need to look at diversifying and editing your product.


Shelly May 9, 2012 at 9:45 am

While I agree the begging is in poor taste, I don’t agree with admin that she is advertising the fact that she isn’t very talented since she can’t “make it”. I don’t think that’s fair. Acting/dancing/music and other creative industries are ones in which you can be very, very talented and never catch a break. Anyone that lives in NYC has a number of talented friends that eke out a living waiting tables while waiting for a paying job doing their passion. My best friend has an MFA from Yale’s drama school, which is probably the most competitive in the country – and he still has to temp from time to time to make ends meet.


Daisy May 9, 2012 at 9:45 am

My dear son-in-law, a trained and accomplished photojournalist, had to accept that due to Internet-driven changes in photography and journalism, the career he worked so hard to achieve was never going to pay enough to cover a mortgage, a car payment, and a college education for his son. Reluctantly, and with real grief, he took a “day job”, and turned the photography into a hobby. Somehow it never occurred to him to ask anyone else to bankroll his passion. Perhaps Sweet LilyBee could get a reality show: Lifestyles of the Crass and Clueless.


Carol May 9, 2012 at 9:59 am

I’m in a theatre group, and we are all people with day jobs who do this for fun, because we love Shakespeare. We generally make enough money to be able to put on the next show, as long as we don’t get carried away with eleborate props or sets or costumes.

More money would be nice though, and we keep saying we want to do sponsorships, or memberships, as other theatre groups do, though we haven’t really set it up yet. If we ever do it though, the plan is to give something back. Say you give us $100, then you’d get season tickets, and a full page ad in our playbill, or something.

Meanwhile we do say that we would welcome the support of our audience, be it via their time (helping with the house, sets, etc.) or money. I’m interested now, to know if that is considered ‘tacky’ at all, or just a logical thing for a community theatre (We’re the Dead Playwrights Repertory, just cause, why not plug it!) to do.


wowwow May 9, 2012 at 10:15 am

In an area of Illinois that I live in, there is a new “boutique” cupcake/cake shop going up where the owners asked for the start up costs of $10,000 on a website –and they got it. I am incredulous that people want to start businesses using other people’s money, but there are $10,000 worth of people out there willing to do it–so how are you going to stop that when that many people are all for it?


--Lia May 9, 2012 at 10:32 am

I’m going to be very curious how her fundraising effort turns out. I’m going to guess that she collects exactly $0. She may not see that as a terrible thing since she invested no money when she passed the hat on facebook. It’s not even like the old days when you had to pay postage to reach your mailing list. And now that I’ve admitted to my curiosity, I’m going to suggest that you quietly unfriend her– so I’ll never be able to find out. It’s like any other spam. You do your best to hide your address from the spammers.


Smitty May 9, 2012 at 10:37 am

I have absolutely no problem with this. Artists have had sponsors for a long time, much longer than the current attitude that the market is king and should be the sole measure of value. There is not necessarily a direct one-to-one correlation between artistic value and monetary value.

A question to all the people who are slamming this woman for “begging”: do you feel the same way about theatre festivals or symphonies, for example, that solicit sponsorships? In my region there are several theatre companies with permanent, annual festivals, and when you attend a performance the program includes a lengthly list of all the sponsors. There are even tiers of donors; the Platinum tier, Gold tier, etc. to indicate the level of sponsorship. Anyone who attends the symphony, opera, theatre, etc. has surely seen these donor lists, and has probably been solicited for donations over and above the cost of the ticket. How is this different?


admin May 9, 2012 at 11:36 am

A festival, theatre group, etc is a group of people, probably incorporated in a way to be able to receive tax deductible donations and legally obligated to provide their donors with financial statements. A single artist is very unlikely to be incorporated or to have a 501(c)3 tax exemption and is therefore not as legally accountable for how the donations are spent.


Powers May 9, 2012 at 10:46 am

What’s incredulous about starting a business using other people’s money. That’s what a loan is.


admin May 9, 2012 at 11:33 am

A loan would imply that the lenders will be paid back, often with interest. I read nothing in the solicitation that indicated she was soliciting for loans.


Kim May 9, 2012 at 11:01 am

Agree with Wowwow, it really is amazing that people ask for handouts like this, for whatever the reason – and actually GET the money! People have put up sites asking for money from strangers to pay off their debt, to finance all kinds of ventures, and people are always sucked in. I really don’t get it. I would NEVER reward these gimme pigs, but other people do!


AMC May 9, 2012 at 11:06 am

Admin is right on. I have a good friend who is part of a burlesque group that performs locally. They pay for their expenses by charging admission to shows, selling handmade clothing and other items, and holding bake sales. They also accept donations, but only solicit at their shows. Similarly, I have friends who do roller derby and fund it as a group through similar means. The more successful they are and the more fans they draw, the easier it is to fund their activity.


Cat Whisperer May 9, 2012 at 11:06 am

Wowwow, what you’re talking about is called venture capital and it’s not charity, far from it. I would bet money that the people who fronted the money for the cupcake shop received some promise of remuneration: they likely have a stake in the company and either receive a portion of the profits, or they have some ownership stake in the appreciation in value of the company.

Many start-ups solicity venture capital from investors to get off the ground. If you’ve followed the history of Facebook, for example, there was a point where the founders had to pitch their company to outside investors in order to keep going. These investors are venture capitalists, which basically means individual investors or investment companies who are willing to take high risks to secure a stake in potentially lucrative investments.

It isn’t charity when the people who put up the money receive a stake in the business and have the potential to profit HUGELY from the investment.


Stacey Frith-Smith May 9, 2012 at 11:12 am

This is an entitled case of overinflated self-valuation. Personal Facebook pages are not the best venue for soliciting support for corporate ventures or charity, although there is certainly an advertising element to Facebook. The off-putting factor here is the “something for nothing because I’m so fabulous” angle. That is a strange form of mendicancy. If she were soliciting sponsors in the traditional sense employed by nonprofits, she’d have some regulations to comply with. If she were soliciting investors as some do who are pondering start-ups or expansions, she would need to offer some potential for return on investment. Here she seems to be merely soliciting.


LiLi May 9, 2012 at 11:14 am

@ Carol
I think non-profit theater groups fundraising/looking for sponsorship is quite different from what the lady in this story is doing. She is looking to support a lavish lifestyle on other people’s dime. I work in non-profit theater from time to time, and as I’m sure you know, the reality is you’re trapped between keeping ticket prices affordable and accessible to the general public while balancing the costs of putting on a quality production (not lavish, quality). And as you said, many theater group give something in return for membership/sponsorship. In those situations, the goal is not to make money for pedicures but to provide art to the community and ultimately the community will support it if it feels worthwhile. And to be 100% clear it has nothing to do with Shakespeare vs. burlesque, I fully support burlesque as an artform. However while I would totally give a little money to support a fledgling Shakespearean Troupe find space/build costumes etc., I would not in a million years give money to this lady so she can get massage and a luxury bus.

Just curious, were people just giving them money or was it an investment?


Calli Arcale May 9, 2012 at 11:26 am

wowwow — well, really, a lot of businesses are started up using other people’s money, but usually it’s in the form of venture capitalism. You solicit investors in your idea, then they get some portion of the profits down the road when it’s finally successful. There are things like Kickstarter now that aim to collect large numbers of small donations to make it possible without having to impress (or sell your soul to) some investors. I’m okay with that sort of thing. But keep it reasonable, folks. Begging your Facebook friends for money to pay for massages before performances is not only rude, it also demonstrates a massively inflated sense of self-importance, that you consider these things essential to the business.

I could see something a bit different from this — soliciting donations to a fund that can be used to give grants to struggling artists in a particular community, usually with some sort of verification of the applicant’s actual need. Maybe a fund that covers festival admission fees for those in need, if applicable, or other non-negotiable costs, or to fund a “costume closet” to be used by those just starting up and who may not have assembled an adequate wardrobe yet.


TheaterDiva1 May 9, 2012 at 11:51 am

Wait – look at #1… She has a “personal attendant” and still wants people to cover her expenses? Really? REALLY?!?


Ashley May 9, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Oddly, if she was offering some kind of reward or prize in return for donations, I wouldn’t be so bothered by this. But the fact that it seems to only be happening just so she can pay for a hobby she can’t afford on her own, that’s the off putting bit.


Cat Whisperer May 9, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Okay, admin has come out in favor of 501(c)3 tax-exempt organizations soliciting donations.

But what about individuals, or for-profit entities? Cirque du Soleil, for example, is not a charitable organization in any sense of the word, but they have sponsors and I’m sure they have a branch of their organization that does nothing but market Cirque to sponsors and in so doing enhances the revenue stream.

What about hugely successful individual artists like Lady Gaga and Bruce Springsteen? These are people who have net worths in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Yet they actively solicit sponsors for their tours. This is exactly, precisely the same thing that Sweet LilyBee is doing: trying to get people to give her money so she can do her thing. The difference is, apparently, that Gaga and Springsteen don’t need the money, they have millions of dollars, and Sweet LilyBee needs the money.

What about professional athletes? At the highest level of the major pro sports, these athletes get contracts for their professional services that are in the tens of millions of dollars, even hundreds of millions of dollars. And yet virtually every pro athlete in the major sports has an agent whose job it is to get sponsorship deals for the athlete: contracts with shoe companies, beverage companies, even endorsement of non-sports items like cell phone companies and so forth. These athletes make no bones about where the money they get is going: it buys them gazillion dollar homes, fleets of luxury cars, supports their wives/girlfriends, buys them “bling” and makes it possible for them, their families and entourages to live lives of unbelievable luxury. Isn’t that tacky, tacky, tacky?

…And what about someone who has the dream of being able to quit their day job and do something they love, like, for example, having a website that’s all about something they love? Wow. Wouldn’t that be an absolute dream, to start a blog for fun, as a hobby, and through astute promotion and savvy sponsorship deals, make enough money to ditch the day job and do the blog full time? There are bloggers who have done just that. And you can bet your bippy that they weren’t shy about promoting the benefits of sponsorship of their blog. The successful ones didn’t sit on their duffs and wait for sponsors to find them: they crafted presentations to pitch the benefits of sponsorship and went out, hat in hand, to find sponsors and sell themselves.

I don’t see anything wrong with someone who has a dream going “commercial” and making the dream a reality. Selling yourself as a product, e.g. Sweet LilyBee the Burlesque Queen, is no different than a pro athlete getting an agent and lining up endorsement deals to put money in his bank account. If that’s what you want to do, and you’re thick-skinned enough to deal with the criticism of the envious, then I say go for it. And more power to the people who are successful: they give hope to all of us that maybe we can turn our passion into a living.


Xtina May 9, 2012 at 12:48 pm

As if it’s not bad enough that this woman is asking for so much, and asking for people to sponsor her hobby-turned-potential-career, it’s her tone that does it for me. The “I’m so great that you would be priveleged to be associated with me and give me money” vibe I get from it. There is no promise of *anything*, any benefit at all to the giver in return for the sponsorships, just that you get to spend your money on her.

While I can see the correlation some posters are making between this and sponsorships of “the arts”, it’s not the same. People in theater troupes or symphonies are probably part of a formally organized group who is tax exempt or otherwise somehow recognized in the community. This woman is just some random person who wants to turn her hobby into a career at no cost to herself. Many other people have been in her position, and they funded their own way or found alternate ways to support themselves while practicing their art.


Ann May 9, 2012 at 12:57 pm

I really need a new ski jacket to keep me warm at my winter hobby that I can barely afford. Can you all help me out? Ta.


LovleAnjel May 9, 2012 at 1:59 pm


I am guessing the cupcake shop used a site like Kickstarter for their fundraising. This is not a straight donation. I have seen it used for everything from movie projects to albums. A specific monetary goal is set, with an end date to achieve it. People offer a certain amount of money towards that goal, but do not pay it right away. If the goal is not reached by the date, no one is out any money. If it is reached, the “investors” get something in return – even $1 will get you something, even if it is just a sticker and a shout-out on the company’s website. Higher levels get more and better stuff – t-shirts, autographed books, seats at the Hollywood premiere. This is very different from saying “buy me a massage! pay for my gas!” with nothing offered in return. I’m betting the cupcake shop offered baked goods, t-shirts and private party catering to its “investors”.


Library Diva May 9, 2012 at 2:21 pm

In addition to the difference between being a small theater troupe with 501c3 (non-profit tax-exempt) status and being an individual begging, there’s something in the tone of SLB’s request that’s more off-putting. Usually, the arts groups find a way to work for their money. They ask their audiences to give a little more, they offer businesses the chance to advertise in the program in exchange for either money or services, or they’ll put on some sort of fundraiser. The community theater troup I’ve attended in the past sells snacks and baked goods outside the theater and offers the audience a chance to buy a 50/50 ticket. They’re soliciting to people who’ve already shown interest in their offerings, and they’re keeping their requests modest. The 50/50 usually garners about $60 for the winner.

SLB probably has Facebook friends whose interest in burlesque begins and ends with being a supportive friend, and maybe some whose interest in burlesque doesn’t even go that far. To me, this is no different than begging for support of any other random interest or event, whether it’s a wedding, a birthday party, a child’s school field trip, a new car, or anything else. I agree with OP: “the gimme factor is compounded by her making herself out to be a special case among performers.” I’m sure all of SLB’s Facebook friends would welcome an infusion of cash into their personal interests and hobbies, too, but they’re not out there begging for it.


Sarah Jane May 9, 2012 at 2:31 pm

She forgot to ask for a sponsor to powder her “SLBee-hind.”

Sorry, couldn’t resist 🙂


LiLi May 9, 2012 at 2:36 pm

@ Smitty

Admin pretty much nails it in post 19. Non-profits are (at least in theory) held accountable and need to show that the money they they are raising goes into their stated purpose. Plus (at least in the US) there are tax incentives for business to give money to non-profits, with the understanding that yes, artistic value does not always correlate to the ability to bring in working capital through normal operations. Festivals and organizations ask for money so they can provide more opportunities for artists to express themselves and, ideally, be discovered or actually make a living.

This lady is over the top. She’s not asking for money for needs, she’s asking for wants. Numbers 2 isnt so terrible but the rest? You don’t ask for help with massage money. You don’t ask for donations to start a merchandising line. A personal attendant? Really?


Orwellian May 9, 2012 at 2:41 pm

I recently donated $30 to an artist so she could go to a sloth sanctuary in Costa Rica to learn about them and get inspiration for her art. In return, I received a hand-written thank you note and several small pieces of art. I did it through the Kickstarter site which vets them and doesn’t give them your money unless they reach their funding goal. There are mechanisms out there for her to use to raise funds that aren’t so gimmie-pig.

What bothers me is that she keeps talking about luxury for her transportation and things or services to pamper her and nothing really about why she loves burlesque or what her art means to her. It sounds like this is less about art and more about ‘loot at me!’


LiLi May 9, 2012 at 2:48 pm

@ Cat Whisperer
Cirque and the celebrities you mention aren’t soliciting donations, they are entering into mutually lucrative advertising arrangements. If they don’t have a certain level of celebrity, the “sponsors” will laugh in their face. But as it stands, everyone’s likely making a huge profit.

If SLB was was selling advertising, I don’t think anyone would really have an issue ie give me $2000 to fix up my car and I’ll paint your logo on the side. Even the most hard up theater company I’ve worked with has at least said “if let us borrow X we’ll put your name in the program.” Savvy business is to be commended.

Ashley says it well, from what is presented it feel like “hey I have a hobby, I can’t afford it, I want nice things, give me money.”


Justin May 9, 2012 at 3:01 pm

@ Cat Whisperer, in the cases you site people are soliciting companies to advertise with them by association. In most of these cases of recognizable celebraties the company advertising gains a positive association with a named figure. When I’ve run businesses in the past I’ve made donations to local groups in the business name to get advertising in their program. In all of these cases the advertiser gets something of value back.

It seems like the person soliciting money here is just taking. She isn’t offering put put magnetic signage saying whatever the sponsor wants on her vehicle in exchange for the $2000 for example. If she were she would be selling advertising, not begging.

The other issue here is targetting, she isn’t approaching people who she thinks may be interested in sponsoring her individually, she is broadcasting and hoping it sticks.


Library Diva May 9, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Cat Whisperer, I see a few differences between SLB’s begging and Lady Gaga receiving sponsorship. Lady Gaga’s sponsorships are more akin to a business proposition. She and her managers invite companies to enter into a mutually beneficial relationship, or the company does the inviting. They target their pitches. SLB is just spraying her desire for CA$H CA$H CA$H everywhere, without offering anything in return. You’re right, what she should do is try to find companies that would be willing to sponsor her, rather than ask on FB for cash from her high school classmates, her co-workers from four jobs ago, her neighbor down the street, and her fans who are probably as strapped as she is.


Elle May 9, 2012 at 3:59 pm

“Selling yourself as a product, e.g. Sweet LilyBee the Burlesque Queen, is no different than a pro athlete getting an agent and lining up endorsement deals to put money in his bank account.”

Well, there is a significant difference. If you’re Cirque du Soleil, a professional athlete, or Lady Gaga then you are offering something for the sponsorship – advertising for the most part. I see no sign that SLBee is offering any value in exchange for sponsoring. Similarly theater groups that offer sponsorship usually offer something like season passes, special seating, invitation to a special party and other things that provide some kind of value to the sponsors.

Now being a successful artist does require self promotion. And there are ways of getting sponsors that wouldn’t be so tacky. Need $2000 of car repair? Maybe there’s a shop that would be willing to do it in exchange for you spending six months performing as a Fred’s Auto Repair themed dancer. Need some cash for costumes? Great, the platinum level sponsorship level will get you a 90 minute performance at a private party. At the aluminum level you get a nifty tote bag.

Sponsorship requires value in exchange for value.


Another Alice May 9, 2012 at 4:38 pm

What I find REALLY strange about this is that there are no benefits for the person sponsoring. Many, many artists are raising money for their own productions – Kickstarter is designed specifically for artists to appeal to their fans to help fund a new album, or a new piece of art, or whatever. The difference is, you get something for it. A donation of $10 might get you a CD, $20, a signed copy of the CD, $1000, a private performance at your house for a party with your friends. I think it’s an excellent way of finding the financial means to create new art, and BOTH parties benefit: The artist, and the people who were already fans of him/her anyway. In addition, the fans know exactly where this money is going to, and fans, as the admin suggested is with all art, have a very easy way to “vote” for the art they want with their money. Amanda Palmer recently raised $500,000 in less than a week from her fans using Kickstarter, and now has the money to produce a new album and tour. But again – certain amounts of monetary donations got fans things they’d want.

This person, as opposed to the artists I’m referring to, instead listed a bunch of stuff she already pays for herself, as part of her job, and said, “Hey guys, pay for it!” It doesn’t make any sense. (Unless, of course, there are benefits to levels of sponsorship that weren’t included, but even so, these are all odd things to ask to be paid for). As I said, most calls for donations from artists these days offer mutual benefit, and not only that, they’re for a SPECIFIC project. It is detailed in the description, and not meant to be a “please maintain my lifestyle” form of begging. If that were okay, then I’m a teacher – so since I’m all tired and stressed out from work (like, oh, everyone), I should solicit donations for weekly massages and manicures?


logisticslemur May 9, 2012 at 5:35 pm

Even if you look at this in a purely capitalistic way, there is nothing proprietary about this offer. Sweet LilyBee has already admitted that she is not very successful in an over saturated market. There should be no way she can logically think anyone would want to invest in her.


wowwow May 9, 2012 at 6:52 pm

Evveryone who has posted concerning my comment.

The cupcake business solicitation was not a loan, a venture capital, profit shares, nor any kind of partnership.

They solicited donations via a website called Kick Start where they asked for $10,000 donations to start their business. The most anyone got for their donationwas a certain number of cupcakes for each level of donation.They received the entire amount they needed for the renovations and new equipment.


Jenny May 9, 2012 at 7:21 pm

I have to disagree with the Admin about artists being able to make it. Most Opera and Ballet companies have patrons and fundraisers – even filling the houses all nights would not cover the costs. It would be a real loss if the government or charities stopped funding Orchestras, Operas, and Ballet.


FunkyMunky May 9, 2012 at 10:52 pm

I love that while she is begging for funds, she only wants pre-approved brands.

This is either a hobby, which is her own financial responsibility, a business, in which case investors should see some return.


HaveForgotten UserName May 10, 2012 at 12:36 am

I think the old mantra, “Don’t ask, don’t get” seems to apply here.
She’s a burlesque dancer, chutzpah is probably her middle name.
Besides, what is the difference between this and applying for arts funding, give or take the odd pedicure?


Merry Mrs May 10, 2012 at 12:49 am

@Wowwow That’s still not a donation that’s buying cupcakes. It’s basically taking preorders, albeit gathering a termendous amount of preorders. Yes some of the motivation to buy those cupcakes was to “pay it forward” by participating in launching a business but it still wasn’t a donation.


Cupcake May 10, 2012 at 12:57 am

The difference between this and all the other sitations people are trying to compare it to is that this girl isn’t offering anything in return. When you sponsor a theatre or museum, you usually get free or discounted tickets and invitations to VIP events. When you invest in a business, you hope/expect to make money eventually. When you sponsor an athelete or musician, potential consumers see that this person is associated with your products and buy them. When you sponsor Sweet Lilly Bee, she gets a facial.


Marie May 10, 2012 at 3:32 am

I know about the story with the cupcakes, because I follow Kickstarter. Kickstarter is a website where creative projects, businesses, individuals, groups, etc. start up campaigns to raise money for their projects. People who contribute get something out of it, and often, it’s people who want to support small businesses and the arts. I think it’s an incredible program, and definitely NOT tacky in and of itself. However, the way some people push their Kickstarter projects on others can definitely be, at the least, annoying.

That said, I actually know Sweet Lilybee, on a casual business level. A long time lurker of this site, the last thing I expected was to read about her here. She’s actually quite talented, so I’m sad to see this from her. It’s very disappointing.

I do think it’s tacky to leave her business name up, as it’s her actual stage name. It might be polite to edit that out.


lkb May 10, 2012 at 4:23 am

I wouldn’t donate to this cause (it’s just not my thing) and I suspect the woman will not get many donations, but count me among those who considers this similar to every other sponsorship request out there.: TV commercials, pre-movie trailers, rock-star tours, symphony/ballet donor levels. I’m just rather “meh” about the issue.


Lychii May 10, 2012 at 4:24 am

This doesn’t bother me at all. If LilyBee has fans who are willing to sponsor her massages and spa treatments, more power to her! If she doesn’t ask, she won’t find out, yeah?

Sometimes people can become successful by simply being bolder than others, not necessarily more talented, hardworking or honorable.


Margo May 10, 2012 at 7:46 am

When I read the Op I was a bit surprised at the comment about being ‘appalled’ – it came across to me as a bit clueless – that SLB had perhaos heard about various Kickstarter (or similar) projects and hadn’t really throught it through. The tone comes over to me a jokey – I didn’t see that the first item was really saying she wants or expects a lavish, luxurious bus, more that the description was tongue in cheek and she’s talking about a beat up old VW or Winebago.

And as she asks people to e-mail her it seesm to me that she’s putting a set of things she wants/needs out there and is open to discussion – that discussion might well be along the lines of ‘can we arrange that you do x for me and I get you guest listed next time I’m in your town’ And if her facebook friends are mostly people who have been to her shows before it’s a lightly different dynamic.

It’s not uncommon for artsits to solicitor their fan base for help/support – the ‘return’ is that the Artist you like is more likely to come to your town where you get the chance to see them live / take time to make new songs that you’ll enjoy etc. For sucessful Kickstarters these are often outlined more explicitly but some types of art are more deleverable than others (for instance, in Amanda Palmer’s case, backers can pledge as little as $1, which gets them a download of the album when it’s made. Higher levels get CDs, vinyl, posters, house parties etc. If you are a burlesque dancer it’s harder to come up with a ‘$1’ level reward )

I’ve sen lots of Kickstarts where the lower level reward is “Our heartfelt thanks” – and I don’t see anything wrong with that, as no-one is forced to become a backer. I think SLB is saying something similar, but rather clumsily. I wouldn’t give her money (I don’t know her, and it’s not really my thing) but I might be quite happy to give top an artist whose work I do know and like because sometimes, you plan long term. For instance, I backed a icktarter to help fund a musician to tour to my country. The reward level I could afford had, as the reward, a ticket for a show. I can’t go, but I akced it anyway on the basis that is she comes here once, it will help her build a bigger fanbasde here, links with venues etc and the chances of her coming back again, at a time I can see the show, is better. Similarly, SLB’s sponsors may get to help keep her in business, so their return is that she continues to work, and they get to see her perform not only right now, but into the future.

And if she gets help, and doesn’t respond, thank people, give them a shout out or otherwise show her appreciation then she will find they are al ot less willing to help next time round.
(this is one reason why Amanda Palmer can raise $500,000+ in 2 days. She has spent the last decade building connections, building a fan base who know she appreciates them, and being generous with people who help her out. )

A bit long windedm, but basically not all returns are finacial or have a financial value.


Rattus May 10, 2012 at 8:45 am

I don’t have a problem with an artist reaching out for help in supporting his or her art. Everybody has something they wish to support, whether it be their church, children, political groups, or a disease. In my case, it’s animals and the environment. In my husband’s case, it’s bands who register with a specific website in order to garner financial support to produce their recordings. If the whole world chose just one area to sponsor, think what a sad place this would be.


Enna May 10, 2012 at 9:07 am

I thought wealthy patrons tended to patronise organisaitons like threatres, galleries etc not individuals. Why doesn’t the OP’s firend see if she can join a profession organisation? They may be able to give her the best finanical advice, know what her rights are so she doesn’t get ripped off and the best way to earn money and save it.

Asking for handouts is tackey.


Wink-N-Smile May 10, 2012 at 9:13 am

ferretrick – I think one main difference is that the opera/theater/etc. solicit their donations AT their venue, with people who have already shown an interest. “Did you like the show? Would you like to donate so we can continue to offer quality performances like these?” Sort of like PBS – they don’t call you. They show something that will draw the people in, and then solicit during the breaks.

Putting up a posting on Facebook, however, casts far too wide a net. The problem with an overly-wide net is that it needs to be even stronger. A small net can be fairly weak, and still hold the fish it catches, because of the size. But a really wide net, with the potential to catch oodles of fish, needs to be strong enough to hold them all. This one is not. No references to excellent performances. No samples. No pictures (well, maybe there were pictures, just not included in the submission). If this had been sent to a mailing list of people who had seen her perform, and voluntarily signed up to receive news, that would be better. This, though, going to anyone who finds her online, is just not good enough. She didn’t even offer a video, or public recognition of the donation, or anything.

Another thing – theaters will give you a receipt, so you can claim it as a charitable donation on your taxes. Here, well, you can paypal it at the above addy.

No, there is enough difference to make this supremely tacky.


Wink-N-Smile May 10, 2012 at 9:21 am

As for begging to support your dream – I agree with those who said you should earn your dream, yourself. Work hard and save up, or resign yourself to poverty, and pay for your dream yourself.

Now, if I saw a posting like this: Ever since I was a child, I wanted to perform at Carnegie Hall. I knew that would take money, so I did odd jobs, babysat, and as soon as I was old enough, I got a steady job after school, and I saved almost every penny. Meanwhile, I worked my tail off, practicing, so I would be good enough. After 20 years of working and saving, I had to admit I wasn’t going to be cast in a professional performance at Carnegie Hall, because hard work means a lot, but you have to have talent, too. So, I started saving some more, with the goal of financing my own show, so I can perform there, just once! I finally had enough to pay for the show, and was just closing my savings account, getting ready to start the arrangements to produce my very own show, when the bank was robbed. Please click here to see the police report. Honestly! This is true! I lost all my savings, and now, after 30 years of saving, I have to start all over again. In another 30 years, I still won’t have the talent, and I’ll be too old to do it. Please help me have my dream. If everyone donates just a dollar, I can rent out Carnegie Hall for one night, and perform. Sign up for my mailing list, and I’ll email you a link to an electronic video of the performance, so you can see what you paid for! I’m not talented, but I have worked my buns off, and I can give a creditable performance, so you’ll surely get a dollar’s worth. Please help. Make donations to XXX account, and you’ll get a receipt for your taxes. It’s deductible!

That I would support. Begging because of circumstances beyond your control, after you’ve done everything you can, is fine. Begging because you’re just too lazy to work is not.


Wink-N-Smile May 10, 2012 at 9:24 am

Shelly – if you have talent, and just need your big break, then you advertise. “I’m doing a performance on XXX date, at YYY place. Please come see me, and tell your friends!” You don’t beg people to pay for your career, though. If you are that talented, and you do your marketing properly, the word will spread.

Marketing – the other side of the coin cannot be ignored.


Wink-N-Smile May 10, 2012 at 9:28 am

wowwow – I helped start a start-up. They showed me their business plan, and I gave them a loan, and got a receipt and a promise of 5% interest.

They worked their tails off, but due to lack of interest in the community, their business failed to thrive, and I forgave the debt, mostly because I knew they couldn’t possibly pay it back, so why bother fretting about it. I valued the friendship too much. They have moved on to working their tails off in other areas, instead.

Did the people in your town help them out, as part of a business deal, or was it just random begging?


Wink-N-Smile May 10, 2012 at 9:41 am

As for Bruce Sprinsteen and pro athletes having sponsors – the sponsors get something out of it. They get advertising. “OMG! Bruce is drinking a Mountain Dew! It must be good! I’ll drink it too!” Sounds like a teeny-bopper wrote a jingle, but the sense is there – the sponsors get visible advertising, and thus their sales increase. It is, therefore, a business transaction, where value is traded and BOTH parties benefit.

It’s not at all the same as begging for massages, facials, and REAL coffee (as opposed to imaginary coffee?).

Theaters which post listings of their sponsors also give value back. The sponsors get public recognition, and that is good PR for them and/or their companies. Also, those playbills often have ads in them, from sponsors. It is a business transaction, where both parties benefit, and value is exchanged.


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