Tuesday, 15 May 2012

♥ Liz Goldwyn's 'Pretty Things'. The Last Generation of American Burlesque Queens ♥

                                 “The most comprehensive study on the era of burlesque.”
                                                                   (V Magazine)

         Ah, 'Pretty Things'.... A beautiful pink & gold, bountiful book bursting with burlesque beauties. Indeed my favourite book on the study of all the glitter & glamour of America's greatest generation of the original queens of the striptease.

I mentioned Liz Goldwyn's enthralling intricate expose on the subject rather briefly, in passing if you will, in my last blog post, but have decided to dedicate a whole article to the book in question, as it is sooooooo darn purdy!

I remember when I first saw it- the only copy left, all alone & getting quite dusty, on the very top shelf in 'Foyles' on Oxford Street. My boyfriend & I had ventured in one day to look at the wonderful, colourful & detailed array of books that they always  seem to stock on their countless shelves.... There, looking down upon us like a burlesque queen center-stage in her heyday, un-touchable to the admiring masses was THE book! Speaking to me from her dusty heights, out of reach, she waited like an impatient lover, to be embraced, caressed... My boyfriend must have seen me gazing in awe at this big, pink & gold book that caught my black, fluttering lash-framed, sparkling eye, as less than a few days later, this masterpiece of marvel was presented to my fair hands, as we sat on a bench in Belsize Park, about to enter our favourite Greek restaurant of all time, on what was our six month anniversary... Ever since then, 'Pretty Things' has taken pride of place over the countless, wonderful books I own.

The author, grand-daughter of the Goldwyn of Goldwyn Mayor legacy, Liz Goldwyn, trained as a journalist in her early years & turned her attention to the ladies of the tease after discovering numerous vintage costumes of burlesque dancers at a flea market in New York... And here we are, taking a look at her incisive
'retrospective' of the sounds, smells, sights & marvellous spectacles of burlesque’s golden age. In 'Pretty Things', Goldwyn takes us on a rather intimate tour to the very depths of this world of glitz & fleeting flashes of flesh & into the lives of the women whose burning ambition, undeniable sexuality, vivacious verve & joie de vivre, brought the regular cabaret stage to life.

The past decade plus has seen burlesque's heady & worldwide resurgence- with both festivals & competitions being held around the globe. There's now even a rather naughty school, aptly named the 'School of Burlesque' which has opened in New York City. Hmmm, I doubt they have to sit through double math!! Even if they do, I bet they get to be in full-bust corsets & stockings, even full- costumes, sitting in martini glasses getting asked complex equations that most likely start like with "if you needed two pairs of nylons & three pairs of pasties, all costing $4 each..." Hahaha, now that WOULD be something, huh?

"Liz Goldwyn illustrates an era in classic American entertainment with hundreds of archival photographs, costume sketches and newspaper clips."

With this sudden renaissance of the tease, as I like to think of it as, many books have gone into publication such as 'The Burlesque Handbook', Dita Von Teese's 'The Art Of The Teese' & many, many more. But for me, an owner of a few books on the art, I have to say that it's the unique & rather exciting, constant page turner that is 'Pretty Things' & its earliest heroines & formative past, that's captivated me & left me reading this gem over & over & over again...

"Liz Goldwyn's life-long fascination with the inimitable glamour of classic burlesque inspired her to spend the past eight years corresponding with, visiting, interviewing, receiving striptease lessons from, and forming close relationships with the last generation of the great American burlesque queens. Goldwyn invites us to step back into an era when the hourglass figure was in vogue and striptease was a true art form."

With the release of the 'Pretty Things' documentary on HBO in 2005, Goldwyn saw the extent of the burlesque insurgence as her documentary was watched worldwide!

Here's some great images I found on the net of the book- my camera needs charging, so I couldn't upload my pics of my copy
:-) & some of the ladies mentioned in the book...

The wonderful Beverly Lane...

       A dazzling Tempest Storm...
A seductive Sherry Britton...
A beautiful Beth Bradley...
The legendary Gypsy Rose Lee...






Do watch 'Behind the Burly Q' Trailer (2010) below, for an intro to the full-length feature 'Behind the Burly Q'.
Much like 'Pretty Things', this feature tells you all you need to know about the burly q's & their lives on & off-stage...
Directed by Leslie Zemeckis. With Alan Alda, Joan Arline, Beverly Arlynne, Al Baker Jr..

Get your own copy of 'Pretty Things' (book & the DVD) & 'Behind the Burly Q' DVD on Amazon...

Lots of Love,
♥ Lover-Doll Presley ♥

x TCB x 


  1. Replies
    1. Aww, thank-you so much for your kind comment Noe- much appreciated!

      It really is a great book and has some fab pics, too! A must have for any fan xx