Friday, October 31, 2008

Scrapbook Post: Halloween

I had started this scrapbook blog, but it doesn't make sense to run two at the moment when I haven't had time to do one, so here's a scrapbook post for the holiday. Happy Halloween!!

october2008 079
Julie Atlas Muz's feet backstage at Wanted! Wild Bandits of Burlesque.

october2008 127
Gal Friday and Bambi the Mermaid backstage at the Slipper Room.

Rudy balances on one finger on a strap-on dildo. Click to view larger.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Just a Thought: Hedy Jo Star

Coming across this ebay auction made me think about Hedy Jo Star, the famous burlesque costumer and stripteaser who was also one of the first, if not THE first, subjects of sex reassignment surgery, and who operated drag shows on the carnival circuit throughout the 1950s.

More about Hedy on

And while we're talking trans, here's a youtube tribute to one of my favorite trans performers--not a stripper, but also not without influence on my aesthetics:

Jayne County on Youtube.

And, since I'm as wound up and obsessed as everybody else at election time, back to politics!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Book Report: Fantasies by Lisa Kereszi

Photo by Lisa Kereszi
All photos in this review are the intellectual property of Lisa Kereszi.

I first became aware of Lisa's work when I saw this beautiful image of Julie Atlas Muz, taken in 2000, in BUST magazine in 2002:
Photo by Lisa Kereszi

At that time I was photographing shows in a sort of impressionistic fashion, trying to give a sense of what it was like to attend a show without concentrating on the quality of the individual photographs. There was no and it was difficult to describe the shows to people, so I ran several galleries on my website. Don Spiro and Laure Leber creating beautiful art images, and Norman Blake was taking journalistic shots, but at that time there weren't as many places to see images of burlesque shows. It was thrilling to see Lisa's images.

Photo by Lisa Kereszi
The above image is from Show World, where the Va Va Voom Room played for awhile, and where Deb DeSalvo made her video for "Take It Off," the song she recorded for Jill Morley's documentary Stripped. I'm in the video with Lily Burana, and burlesque revival pioneer Billie Madley is in Stripped.

Lisa photographed burlesque in the early stages of the current revival, attending the VaVa Voom Room in 1999, Tease-O-Rama in New Orleans in 2001, Exotic World in 2002, and New York burlesquers at the Slipper Room and other venues, including their homes, through 2003. She also photographed mainstream strip joints and other adult entertainment in New York, Florida, and the Philipines, as well as other locations.
Interestingly, the burlesque performers and some of their audience are shown, but the mainstream strippers are not--mainstream strip joints are portrayed as empty spaces. For me this makes sense, as strip joints when I worked in them were always a strange combination of public display and privacy--cameras were not allowed, and neither the dancers nor the customers wanted them there.

Photo by Lisa Kereszi
Above: Dirty Martini's feet.

Photography buffs will love this book, and for people like me who love both burlesque and strip joints, it's a pretty fabulous view of the beginning of one era and the end of another.
Click here to buy this book on

Posted by Jo Weldon, Headmistress of The New York School of Burlesque, for

Friday, October 17, 2008

Burlesque Hits Comedy Big Time!

Funny Bones Burlesque

"The Hysterical Festival is a celebration of fearless female humor launching in New York City in Fall 2008. Showcasing the wide range of ways in which women are hilarious, we aim to both entertain and break new ground for women in the comedic arts."

Based on the origin of the word "hysterical," I really love the title of this festival.

"hysterical 1615, from L. hystericus "of the womb," from Gk. hysterikos "of the womb, suffering in the womb," from hystera "womb" (see uterus). Originally defined as a neurotic condition peculiar to women and thought to be caused by a dysfunction of the uterus. Hysterics is 1727; hysteria, abstract noun, formed 1801."

I have wondered if many burlesque shows which are all striptease might still be considered comedy and variety shows--the performances ARE comedy and variety, only now the strippers are doing it ALL. Depending on the show, of course.

Posted by Jo Weldon, Headmistress of The New York School of Burlesque, for

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Best of New York Two Years in a Row!

The New York School of Burlesque has been honored by the Village Voice's "Best of New York" two years in a row!

Check out this year's mention, with a great recommendation of World Famous BOB's special classes!

World Famous *BOB*, photo Luke Ratray
Above: BOB, photographed by Luke Ratray.

And, in case you missed last year's mention, here it is.

We love the the Village Voice! I can't think of any paper we'd prefer to have saying nice things about us.

Posted by Jo Weldon, Headmistress of The New York School of Burlesque, for

Monday, October 13, 2008

NYC Screening of the Academy of Burlesque Documentary

Go Indigo!


(SEATTLE, WA) – A WINK AND A SMILE makes its NYC premiere at CMJ’s Music Marathon and Film Festival

Friday, Oct. 24 at Tribeca Cinemas, 54 Varick St. (at Laight Street).
Go-go dancers Sugar Magnolia and Miss Fleur de Lys will launch WINK’S weekend burly blowout, warming up audiences at 6:45 p.m. at the theater.
Film begins at 7:15 p.m. Tickets available at under A Wink and a Smile.

In celebration of WINK’S East Coast debut, Miss Valentine’s at Midnight and The Swedish Housewife present a special evening on Saturday, Oct. 25 with stars of the film – Miss Indigo Blue, The Swedish Housewife, Mercury Troy and New York City’s very own Little Brooklyn and Leroi the Girl Boi at Duane Park, 157 Duane St. (between West Broadway and Hudson).

Doors open at 11 p.m. Show begins at 11:30 p.m.
There is a $25 cover charge with a two drink minimum.
Location details at
For reservations call 212.732.5555.

A WINK AND A SMILE follows the lives of ten ordinary women doing something extraordinary – learning the artful striptease. The students of Seattle’s Academy of Burlesque have six weeks to peel and reveal their way into audiences’ hearts with little more than a tassel and a twirl. Burlesque professionals present entertaining, satirical and beautiful performances to illustrate lectures by the Academy’s founder and headmistress, Miss Indigo Blue. Modern chamber music, romantic crooning and romping circus tunes round out the lively 90-minute musical documentary now touring the U.S. to sold-out houses, great reviews, and smiling audiences. This is Deirdre Timmons directorial debut. A reporter of 15 years, she was intrigued by the variety of provocateurs and the riveting performances in this reemerging American art form.

“Men and women of all ages, colors and body types are boldly throwing down hilarious and stunning striptease acts that made me laugh, cry, and sometimes wonder, "How did they do that?" says Timmons. “I set out to draw back the velvet curtain and give the world a peek into this simultaneously intimate experience and very public artform.”

628 33rd Ave., Seattle, WA 98122

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Tease-o-rama Abstracts

I have been flat on my back with a horrendous flu since I got back from Tease-O-Rama, and this is the first chance I've had to post some photos. Although I got a lot of sharp sort of journalistic photos, at the moment I'm in love with my grainier, more impressionistic stuff. So I hope you enjoy a few of those.

My Feet on the way to the stage at Tease-o-rama 2008
My Godzilla feet on the stairs on my way to perform.

Kitten on the Keys Tease-o-rama 2008
Kitten on the Keys' pig pasties reflected in the mirror on the piano.

Dirty Martini Backstage at Tease-o-rama 2008
Dirty Martini getting ready to do her balloon act.

Right now I have to go to bed, because tomorrow I'm conducting my Classic Moves class, hosting a bachelorette party, having a student showcase, and performing on the early shift at the Slipper Room. But I do hope to get more photos up. In the meantime, you can find more in the burlesque group on Flickr.

Posted by Jo Weldon, Headmistress of The New York School of Burlesque, for

Thursday, October 2, 2008

What Was Burlesque?

A recent article bizarrely called "This is Burlesque," the wonderful show produced at Corio by Angie Pontani and Murray Hill, "New York's oldest surviving burlesque show." That distinction probably belongs more to the Slipper Room's regular Saturday night show, Mr. Choade's; or to Le Scandal if you include the time it ran as The Blue Angel (from which it evolved). TIB is in fact celebrating its first year aniversary. As the article more correctly states, however, the show IS a quite fabulous, and as far as I know it's the only burlesque show you can see at dinner time!

'Join the festivities at Corio from Thursday, October 2 - Saturday, October 4 as the dazzling weekly revue This is Burlesque celebrates its one-year anniversary. Catch downtown “King of Comedy” Murray Hill, neo-burlesque star Angie Pontani, The World Famous Pontani Sisters, smoldering songstress Melody Sweets and a host of other guests in a show that harks back to boozy speak-easy nights, Tin Pan Alley and vaudeville, paying homage to the magic and roots of burlesque. No two shows are alike, as comedy and improvisation run fast and loose, with a wild array of acts delivered up close and personal in an intimate lounge environment.'
This is Burlesque

Also in today's news, an article in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle notes, 'On October 1, 1922 burlesque was not quite the risque type of entertainment it became in later years. This ad from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle for “Radio Girls” at the Casino Theatre ballyhooed the show as “burlesque for the entire family.” Wonder what Cleora did in the show?'

What the hell DID Cleora do? Curious? Take a look at this search on Google Books. Clearly there's no stripping. Family entertainment is so not my thing.

Posted by Jo Weldon, Headmistress of The New York School of Burlesque, for

Godzilla Heads West to Tease-O-Rama!

I've packed my Godzilla costume. I have no idea if the lizard is going to make it in decent condition, but it's getting on that plane!

Above: Godzilla in the Mojave at Exotic World. Photo by Whitney Ward.

I actually have a real Godzilla head mask, but it's not as funny.

"The Best of The Best in New Burlesque"

Announces TEASE-O-RAMA 2008!
Presented by
Zumanity™ – The Sensual Side of Cirque Du Soleil
In Association with Hustler Hollywood
Good Gals Inc. and BUST Magazine

The Brightest Stars in the Glittering Galaxy of burlesque return for "The Best of The Best in New Burlesque!" Jaw-dropping entertainment by night, "How to" classes by day! See the show this year—BE the show next year!

Tease-O-Rama is proud to partner with Zumanity™, The Sensual Side of Cirque du Soleil®. See a special performance from the sexy and seductive Las Vegas production of Zumanity™ at our Friday night showcase in San Francisco, October 3rd, 2008! Also…

Tease-O-Rama's annual official event program has now expanded to include the FIRST EVER guide to all things burlesque. This is THE sourcebook on burlesque today for fans, event producers, performers and interested observers! The Big Book Of Burlesque will be given on entry to all Tease-O-Rama attendees iat all events. It's Gals and Gags Galore! Old Fashioned burlesque as YOU like it! Ooh La La!

Thursday October 2nd
The Rickshaw Stop
Meet and Mingle Dance Party - Rub Elbows with the stars of Tease-O-Rama!
155 Fell Street, San Francisco CA
Doors 9pm (21+) $8

Friday October 3rd Saturday Oct 4th
Bimbo's 365 Club
1025 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco CA
Doors 7pm $40 general ticket per evening
$100 VIP ticket

Sunday, October 5th
The Cerrito Speakeasy Theater
10070 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito, CA
Show 5PM (21+)

** Daytime Classes at FORT MASON all day SATURDAY!! **

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Self-Centered Leo-Cougar

I was so obsessed with my own birthday in August that I forgot about Madonna's. She turned 50 this year! It's true, I am a self-centered Leo as well as a cougar. But enough about me, let's talk about what I like. Here's what Madonna was doing 17 years ago:

Really, I'm just mentioning her birthday as an excuse to post this video again. But I do love Madonna's style.


madonna as dita parlo
Above: Madonna as Dita Parlo

Posted by Jo Weldon, Headmistress of The New York School of Burlesque, for