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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Burlesque History Lesson

burlesque posterBurlesque as a sensation was brought to America from Britain in the late 1860s by Lydia Thompson and her British Blonde's, a troupe who spoofed traditional theatrical productions and featured ladies performing men’s roles, in costumes considered revealing for the time period. Since that time it has assimilated vaudeville, minstrel shows, striptease, comedy and cabaret to evolve into the follies of the twenties and thirties to the girlie shows of the 40s and 50s, which eventually gave way to the modern strip club. Burlesque, in its various forms, is a unique traditional American Folk Art.
New Burlesque

A new generation nostalgic for the spectacle and perceived glamor of the old times determined to bring burlesque back. This revival was pioneered independently in the mid 1990s by Ami Goodheart’s “Dutch Weismanns’ Follies” revue in New York and Michelle Carr’s “The Velvet Hammer Burlesque” troupe in Los Angeles. In addition, and throughout the country, many individual performers were incorporating aspects of burlesque in their acts. These productions, inspired by the likes of Sally Rand, Tempest Storm, Gypsy Rose Lee, Dixie Evans and Lily St. Cyr have themselves gone on to inspire a new generation of performers.

Today New Burlesque has taken many forms, but all have the common trait of honoring one or more of burlesque’s previous incarnations, with acts including striptease, expensive costumes, bawdy humor, cabaret and more. There are modern burlesque performers and shows all over the world, and annual conventions such as Tease-O-Rama, Yard Dogs Road Show , New York Burlesque Festival, The Great Boston Burlesque Exposition, and the Miss Exotic World Pageant.

Today's Burlesque revival has found a home in New York City, where select nightlife venues have been inspired by the trend. Several notable troops include Pinchbottom Burlesque, Starshine Burlesque, and, during the summer, Coney Island's Burlesque at the Beach.


New Burlesque tends to put the emphasis on style and tend to be sexy rather than sexual, often involving humor. Unlike modern strippers, who dance in stripclubs to make a living, burlesque performers often perform for fun and spend more money on costumes, rehearsal, and props than they are compensated. Performers rarely strip to less than pasties and g-strings.

Notable New Burlesque Performers

Dita Von Teese
Hope Talmon AKA Cyrelle St. James
The World Famous Pontani Sisters
Kitten de Ville
Erochica Bamboo
Dirty Martini
Kalani Kokonut
Miss Immodesty Blaize
The World Famous BOB
Julie Atlas Muz
Michelle L'amour
Miss Sneaky Kiki

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