Zita The Aerialist

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Courtnee Fallon Rex as Zita the Aerialist from Paul Hawxhurst on Vimeo.

Performed June 9, 2010 for “There must be something in the Air”, a benefit for Versatile Arts. Music from the Batman Begins soundtrack by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard. Video footage courtesy of Block My Eye Films.


I performed as Zita the Aerialist from 2005-2013. During which time my focus was to tell compelling stories through aerial, often as a mechanism to cope with the challenges in my life.

My signature aerial silks piece started as a homage to sexual relationship, to not giving up on loving someone, even when you get bucked off. The act began as a physical illustration of the struggle to shed the defenses that bind us, finding strength in being vulnerable, and how sex can contribute to the art of self discovery.

The character is established earlier in the show as someone who is timid and quiet – until they find themselves seemingly alone with their obsession.

The piece morfed meaning, and genders (I now know I am non-binary) over the years, representing first a specific relationship, then connection as a whole, and then my relationships within, including the one I have with my sexuality, and the one I have with my darkness — which I performed on black silks rather than red.

When I first started performing the piece, and for quite some time thereafter, I urgently had to get to the green room as soon as the lights cut. Often the wave of convulsive sobbing would start while I was still curled up inside the silks. I’d come down as quickly as I could, choking down a river.

When I was safe from audience scrutiny, I would completely loose my shit. Something totally overwhelming would rip through my body like a hurricane, and last for extended periods of time. Sometimes, when I was lucky, there would be a puzzled someone or two there to hold me.

Though I’d come to many theories about it, and over time that response softened a little, I still had no real idea why it was happening. This work took more out of me than I ever let anyone know. It was beyond worth it, but always came at a price.

Due in part to this reaction, I didn’t perform the act often, perhaps once a year or two. The opportunities to perform this piece, rare due in part to the nudity, always coincided with a big level up in my personal growth, often cauterizing in physicality what had been a long psychic healing process.

Each time, the dramatic swell into my big drop felt angry, and forceful, and sexual. It represented for me both what I valued about my personality, and the inevitable struggle for power I felt deeply ashamed of.

Only now do I see what I was trying to tell myself, and those who saw this in person who were being transformed along with me.

Zita was something special, this act was something special, and I am honored to have had the courage, and the support, to have done this in my life.

John Cornicello, June 2010