Author Photo Courtesy of Fancy Feast
This section of the seder concerns itself with the eating of the Hillel sandwich, a mix of charoset and maror pressed between matzos, which is just about the most Jewish thing I can think of. It serves no significant religious purpose, so it’s basically codified snacktime. But of course, in every snack, a lesson, in this case, one about the confluence of the bitterness and sweetness of life, a culinary crash course in feh, you take the good with the bad. That's how we do everything, isn't it?
The holiest day of the year is the day of fasting and atonement. We break a glass at the culmination of a marriage to remind us of the destruction of the temple, even in our greatest joy. Later in the Seder we'll tip out a little of our wine, to remember that others suffered for us to be free. Lest we should forget and celebrate in too full-throated a manner, in an unqualified way, and lose our sense of balance with the world around us.
I’ve spent the last decade performing burlesque under an alter ego I’ve named myself, Fancy Feast. It's a name which signifies opulence and abundance, and also mid-grade cat food - taking the good with the bad here, too. These days, burlesque is the umbrella term for artistic striptease performance with roots in the vaudeville and cabaret circuits of the past (add some fringe to the Borscht Belt, and we're nearly there).
My performance work is both deeply personal and mediated, presented with remove. Working in nightlife keeps me out on the clock while my friends are partying or relaxing with loved ones. I’ve chosen a career path that requires heels and makeup, which is antithetical to the rest of my Birkenstock and Docs lifestyle. Based on the compromising photos of me out there, a future in politics is out of the question. Most crucially, because I perform in a niche segment of an already niche industry, there is nowhere to go but where I am. There’s no ‘and then’. The reward is more work.
But, I can tell you how a standing ovation feels, or the sensation of fans throwing roses at my feet. I can tell you about the disguise I’ve made for myself that has gotten me into some of the most exclusive events and hallowed spaces in the world - and I’ve gotten paid to be there. None of this would have happened if I hadn’t made up someone to be, and spent ten years getting good at being Fancy Feast.
So what if I am dragging a heavy suitcase full of fringe and sequins and feather fans through the slushy New York streets at 2am? So what if my feet ache at the end of the day? So what if some of my best friends will never know my real name? Feh. It makes for a more interesting sandwich.
Fancy Feast is a burlesque performer and producer who was named Miss Coney Island 2016. Find her on Instagram @fancyfeastburlesque and on Twitter @fancyburlyq. She is writing her first book.
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