I have loved the art of burlesque for many years now. Many misinterpret the art at times; that these women are stripping purely to entertain leering men, glaring lustfully from the shadows of old, darkened theatres. Although the leering lustful part may be true to a certain extent I'm sure, for me it's the drama of it all, the art of the tease itself, the elaborate costumes, musical accompaniment, the glamorous performances & giant props, such as martini glasses, a la Dita Von Teese & giant rocking horses, a la Immodesty Blaize. They are stage acts, entertainment with tasteful, censored nudity. The art of burlesque & the striptease is to
tantalise, look but don't touch. Its origins were seemingly a far cry from the stark-naked lap, pole & table dancers of today, most of whom enter the room completely naked from the start, with not a pastie or sequined merkin in site, not that I am here to insult or judge that in any way...
I've always imagined how glamorous it must have been for the queens of old to be standing on that stage, doing their thing. Although something I could never do myself; both lacking confidence & not wanting to remove my clothes for anyone else but my man, I still admire & appreciate their gutsy approach, beauty, grace & talent.
The original meaning for 'Burlesque' is as follows... "Burlesque is a literary, dramatic or musical work intended to cause laughter by caricaturing the manner or spirit of serious works, or by ludicrous treatment of their subjects.The word derives from the Italian burlesco, which itself derives from the Italian burla – a joke, ridicule or mockery... A later use of the term, particularly in the United States, refers to performances in a variety show format. These were popular from the 1860s to the 1940s, often in cabarets and clubs, as well as theatres, and featured bawdy comedy and female striptease."
The transition from burlesque to burlesque striptease was a gradual one. It was the early 'Soubrettes' who exhibited their feminine figures, whilst performing live in singing &dancing acts; usually adorned in elaborate stage costumes to make-up for the fact that some of these ladies couldn't sing or dance at all, but needed to fill the time between scene changes behind the curtains if theatres, getting ready for the next act.
It was the burlesque 'strippers' that behgan to replace the Soubrettes by 1932 in the US. The likes of the glamorous Sally Rand, Gypsy Rose Lee & Blaze Starr took to the stage, each act as grand as it's predecessor. It was by the late 1930s that it was common-place for burlesque shows to present up-to six strippers a night, each one supported by a comic. Some of the most famous comics of their time such as Eddie Cantor, W.C. Fields, Eddie Al Jolson & Abbott & Costello where amongst the many who started their careers in burlesque shows.
But it was the rowdy & 'uninhibited atmosphere' of the burlesque establishments of the time, the free-flow of alcoholic liquor & Prohibition, that caused an uproar & seriously affected the world of burlesque. New York saw a dramatic clamp-down on burlesque shows & by the1940s, burlesque began to die-out... But the magic didn't stop there & those who were avid followers of the art of burlesque, found new joints & in seedy hovels the art lingered & people gathered. It was by the 1970s, when nudity became commonplace in theatres, that it became neglected & reached its "final shabby demise."
Of course, as we know with the advent of the past decades 'Burlesque Renaissance', its revival & the advent of Neo-Burlesque that this age-old art will never die....
Fred Astaire & The Follie Girls:
Sensational Sandra Storm In Action!
1940's/1950's Stripper Strip Dance Burlesque:
Blaze Starr- Burlesque Queen:
An amazing, must-see movies for all vintage burlesque fans...
Classic Burlesque Stripper Strip:
|Sally Rand, queen of the fan-dance...|
|One of my favourite acts was Camille 2000. |
Her look was perfect, her costumes elaborately ornate, her hair, a dream...
Lots of Love,
x TCB x