Cheryl is a rock singer who has used corsets to help with pain relief while giving her a unique stylish look on stage. This is her story.
My name is Cheryl. I am a semi-professional singer and I perform with several original, tribute and cover bands in the Chicago area. I’ve always been drawn to Victorian inspired fashion elements. My Fluevog button-up- style boots cost more than anything else in my closet!
But I had yet to take the plunge with corsets. They were always something I wanted to add to my wardrobe, but I was paralyzed between not wanting to throw away money on cheap pieces but not having the money to get a bespoke corset made.
A few years ago, I started experiencing severe menstrual pain due to (then) undiagnosed endometriosis. There were days when I couldn’t even stand upright, the pain was so intense. I managed the pain with drugs and time off from work. For my day-job, it was no real issue – I could easily take a day off or work from home when things got really bad. But as a performer, that was not an option.
My bands rely on me to be there at every show and to sing and dance with gusto no matter what. For months, I lucked out that none of my shows coincided with my cycle, but that luck ran out one day. A particularly bad cycle hit just a day before a very important show. I knew that standing upright the next night would be a struggle, let alone singing and dancing for two hours.
Then, I recalled a piece written by one of my favorite bloggers, Jen Yates at www.epbot.com. She wrote about how she had found relief for similar issues by wearing corsets. And what was her favorite corsetiere? Orchard Corset. Within a few clicks, I had ordered my first corset, a CS-411 in purple satin, for overnight delivery.
As a singer, one of the most important aspects of proper technique is breathing. I was a little nervous as I laced up that 411 the first night – would I be able to breathe enough to sing properly? How much of a sacrifice to my singing would it make? And would I be able to dance in my corset? How much would it limit my movement?
The corset helped immensely. My pain was greatly reduced and I was able to get through the show with my usual vim and vigor. I won’t lie – wearing a corset does reduce your overall lung capacity.
But proper breathing technique isn’t just about capacity; it’s about using what breath you do have efficiently.
Photo credit: Alex Cohen
After a few tunes, I was able to adjust and found I had plenty to breath to do everything I needed too. I also discovered another interesting benefit – using my diaphragm to push again the corset, I was able to get additional support and sing even more powerfully than normal.
As for the dancing? It helped in that aspect as well! By giving me extra core support, I was able to move with even more abandon than usual! After one show in the corset, I was hooked and now I wear them for shows whether experiencing pain or not! Lacing up before each performance has breathed new life into my show wardrobe and now all my old black dresses have a completely new look to them!
Photo credit: Bob Housholder
Photo credit: Alex Cohen
I can't quite lace the size 24 to reach the modesty panel completely yet, but since I wear it over black dresses, it's not an issue. The 345 has become my favorite. I don't lace my corsets too tightly when I perform. I still need to have some room for deep breaths! I go middle of the road - enough to nip in the waist and give me support, but not so much that I can't breathe deeply.
Photo credit: Allison Wolcott
My favorite music to perform is stuff that is loud and screamy. Think Great Gig in the Sky, Heart, ACDC, Queen, etc. One time I got to do a short Iron Maiden set at work and it was a definite highlight!
My main project is a Pink Floyd Tribute band called Think Floyd USA. I've been in that band for many years now and am one of three female backup singers. We have a lot of fun dancing and getting into the music together.
In addition to that, I front a rock cover band that performs songs from the late 70s to early 80s called Ginger, a female fronted Bee Gees tribute act called She Gees (I don't corset for that one because we have specific costumes, though I might start stealthing), and an original outfit that plays folk/blues/rock tunes called Barrett's Hidden Agenda.
For performers looking to wear corsets, I'd advise to take it easy and know your limits. Practice singing in the corset before performing so you really know what you can handle.
But don't be afraid! The corset could be the element that helps you take your performance to the next level!