All right. As much as I want to launch into an all-out defense of ecdysiasts, burlesque, and the mostly-unpracticed art of the true striptease, I'm not going to. Instead, let's look at the magic word: ratings.
Good harpists are rare. Very rare. Incredibly rare right up until the moment you place an ad saying you need one, and then you'll have two hundred unemployed ones camped outside your apartment five minutes later. So they have novelty value. However, they don't have a lot of built-in publicity value. Quick: without Googling, name a famous harpist, living or dead.
Okay: slow, without using any search engine at all, name a famous harpist, living or dead.
Believe me, we could wait here until Mark Burnett cast a season full of people who could all make fire and ninety-nine percent of the population would still be trying to sneak over to Wikipedia. Professional musicians would know, those who are really dedicated classical or orchestra music fans can come up with someone, and if we're very lucky, a few more will say 'Harpo Marx actually played, right?' and yes, he did, and better than you'd ever expect. Concert-level. But he's the only one the majority population stands a chance to know, and he's been dead for over four decades. Plenty of time for someone else to have come along and stuck in the public consciousness, but...
Now: ecdysiasts. Ask a similar question of the population, and while we're still not looking at a majority who can give a fast answer even after you explain what the word means, I'm betting a larger number will say 'Gypsy Rose Lee' or 'Blaze Starr' or one of the features on the circuit than came up with the harpist. More people know strippers, more people are aware of strippers, and -- this is crucial --
-- more people hate strippers.
Our senior burlesque artist is a novelty act. No argument there. He is not to striptease what William Hung is to singing, because he has some idea of what he's doing out there. For some, he may be as hard on the eyes as William is on the ears, but that's personal taste. However, his presence is going to get viewers from both the positive and negative fields -- plus that very large portion of the audience who tunes in for amusement value. You're going to get 'Brave guy! Hope I have that kind of courage at his age.' You're also going to get 'Can't -- stop -- laughing...' But in very loud numbers, you will also have 'How dare he! He's corrupting the children! I want this network fined out of existence! I have to keep watching this every week so I'll know how offended I am!' And they'll tell their friends, assuming they have any, and those people will watch so they can be offended too. A good senior burlesque artist can pull in an extra million people just by himself, simply through getting people angry at his mere existence.
A good harpist? Well, let's see. How many people truly appreciate, are amused by, or get offended at the presence of a harp player, and will watch just to see how far that person goes?
Much smaller number.
It's not just about the talent, it's about the marketability of each talent, how many people that talent impresses or angers, and character. And that's character as in 'No one would have believed that personality if we'd made it up.' The senior burlesque artist has the second and third wrapped up. The harpist only had the second, and it was a very, very small second.
So the ecdysiast moves on. The harpist goes home. That's television. And yes, if the harpist could have taken off her clothes while performing, she might have had a better chance. I would have been curious to see that, but just to figure out how she planned to keep her hands on the strings while removing her undergarments. Flexible toes only go so far.
But if A&E or Bravo ever get back to their so-called artistic roots and hold an orchestra-assembling reality show, she's got a shot...
And I thought Alexis Jordan was the most talented person of the night. So it goes.
(And it takes a lot of talent to take off clothes -- if you're doing it right. Essentially, it's another form of dance. There are people who claim dancing isn't a skill, and they're generally the ones who can't...)