Female performers have long been a part of the entertainment district. From singers and dancers to comedians and magicians, female entertainers have always been integral to the scene. And while this hasn’t always been easy—particularly for female entertainers who are trying to break into male-dominated industries—the industry has continued to grow and change over the years.
In this blog post, we will explore some of the historical aspects of female performers in the entertainment district. From gender discrimination to the #MeToo movement, read on to learn more about how these women have fought for their right to perform and make a living doing what they love.
The plight of female performers in the entertainment district
When looking at the landscape of entertainment in the District of Columbia, it is clear that female performers are not well-represented. While there are a few notable exceptions, such as Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba show and Broadway’s How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, most productions featuring women tend to be smaller, less famous shows catering to a niche audience. This lack of visibility and opportunities has led to many female performers working in the District struggling to make a living.
One such performer is Dalia Cabral, who has worked as an aerialist and contortionist for over a decade in the District. In an interview with The Washington Post, Cabral explained that her income has always been relatively low: “I have done mostly bachelor gigs [in] dive bars and things like that because they don’t really pay too well or they pay minimum wage … usually you can make $100 or $200 a night.
When [the recession] hit, I started seeing less work and people were getting laid off left and right … just because there was so much work down south [in Southern] Florida. It was tough at first but eventually I got back on my feet.”
While Cabral is currently able to sustain herself through performing, many female performers in the District do not have this option. Many of these women have turned to sex work in order to make ends meet; according to one study conducted by Street
The rise of the #MeToo Movement
The #MeToo Movement has brought forward many stories of women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted. One such story is that of female performers in the entertainment district.
Female performers in the entertainment district have long been subject to sexual harassment and assault. This is due, in part, to the fact that they are often unaccompanied and vulnerable. Many times, these assaults take place while the performer is performing or while they are waiting to perform.
In recent years, there has been a rise in awareness of this issue and as a result, many perpetrators have been held accountable. However, it is still an ongoing problem for female performers in the entertainment district.
The fall of Bill Cosby
The fall of Bill Cosby, once one of the most beloved and successful icons in American entertainment, has been a long time coming. The once infallible comedian, TV star and producer has been dogged by sexual assault allegations for over 40 years. In December 2017, Cosby was convicted on three counts of aggravated indecent assault against Andrea Constand.
Since then, more than 60 women have come forward with accusations against the comedian and actor, who has since been banned from television and radio appearances. Many of these women were aspiring actors or comedians when they met Cosby, only to be sexually assaulted or harassed by him. In some cases he even gave them drugs in order to make them more susceptible to his advances.
Cosby’s fall is indicative of a larger problem in Hollywood: the lack of respect that female performers feel from their peers and bosses. For too long they’ve been marginalized and ignored, which has led to an environment where sexual assault is almost always considered acceptable behavior.
The power of social media
Female performers in the entertainment district have long been an integral part of the city’s landscape. From vaudeville and burlesque to cabaret and drag, female performers have occupied a unique space in the American entertainment industry.
While many female entertainers find themselves performing in undesirable areas, such as seedy bars or sleazy clubs, others have found success working in more reputable establishments. Regardless of where they work, female performers must contend with sexism and misogyny on a regular basis.
Despite these challenges, many female entertainers continue to ply their trade in the Entertainment District. Their passion for performance and dedication to their craft has helped them carve out a niche for themselves in one of the most competitive industries around.
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Female performers have long played an integral role in the entertainment district, whether it be through singing, dancing or acting. Though their contributions often go unacknowledged or unappreciated, female performers continue to blaze a trail in the entertainment industry and deserve recognition for their hard work. As we celebrate Women’s History Month, let us also take time to appreciate the incredible females who make up today’s entertainment scene.