This is Jo Weldon's New-York-Based Blog About Burlesque with Original Articles, Striptease Tips, Interviews, Class Announcements, News, Photo Posts, Peeks into Performers' Closets, and More. You can ask a question, request an article about a topic, or book Jo to teach, host, or perform by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org . See schoolofburlesque.com for class schedule, or book a private session now through email.
I know I haven't been blogging while finishing my book...
I swear I'm not just laying around!
Join me for some quickie fun on facebook! Be my friend on Facebook Follow me on Twitter
If you send me a friend request, be sure to accompany it with a personal message.
I friend everybody who isn't a pornbot or a horndog looking for a sexy IM.
Nothing against porn or horndogs!
The book is almost done, and I shall return to blog again.
The book will be released by HarperCollins in May 2010!
My friend Basil Twist is involved in bringing these amazing puppets to New York.
From the website:
July 28-August 2, 2009
Grotesque. Charming. Sordid. Tiny.
Los Grumildos are automated puppets, miniature beings that skulk about a world somewhere between Victorian dollhouse and red light district. The brainchildren of Peruvian artist Ety Fefer finally land in North America at HERE Arts Center, after four years of touring catacombs, suburbs, festivals, and bars in Europe.
This voyeuristic experience was inspired by the characters that inhabit the shady areas of downtown Lima, Peru. Fefer creates a kind of magical world that serves as a home for these marginal creatures that tend to be rejected and despised by society. The hyperrealist details of each plasticine puppet bring out their most intimate feelings, but the narrative is left to the viewers.
"The Council has met with the burlesque community in response to their concerns and agreed to seek a clearer understanding of what constitutes adult entertainment. This will help define what reasonable measures premises should put in place prior to adult entertainment being performed. " The Camden Council's Statement on Burlesque
Certain comments below the Timeout article seem to be related to Penny's argument against burlesque. (I find it so ironic that this article is illustrated with an image of Julie Atlas Muz.) Penny diluted her argument herself in her discussion with Dr. Lucky when she said, "I'm a massive fan of burlesque," a position nowhere reflected in the inflammatory article. It appears certain kinds of burlesque are ok, others not so much. If it's not laden with politics, if it's just pretty, watch out! There goes the neighborhood.
'One of his most memorable interviews, he later said, was with Hinda Wassau, the burlesque star who invented the stripper pole.
'When [Walter] Cronkite, desperately searching for something he could get into family-friendly newspapers, asked her about the role of burlesque in boosting wartime morale, Wassau grabbed him by the lapels of his jacket. ''Let me tell you something,'' she snarled at the shaken Cronkite. ``The morals behind a burlesque stage are just as good as the morals at Radio City.'' '
One of my favorite burlesque shows of all times was Sealboy and the Blondes at the Slipper Room in 2008, featuring Mat Fraser and Julie Atlas Muz. I was in a dark place and it brought me to the light. And it ended with this cream pie fight:
Yossi Milo Gallery is pleased to announce Sexy and the City, a summer group
show on view from Thursday, July 9, through Friday, August 28, 2009.
Sexy and the City shows the alluring, romantic and sometimes scandalous side
of New York¹s people and places. Capturing private, intimate moments and
blatant displays of sexuality, these photographs span the decades from the
1940s to the present day, taken in landmark locations like the Brooklyn
Bridge and in the quiet, out-of-the-way corners of the city.
From Alfred Eis…
"The exciting strippers, the great baggy-pants comics, the shabby straight men, the off-key tenors, the fast-talking candy butchers and the chaotic chorus lines--all of the great moments of america's most colorful theatrical art."
So reads the back cover of Ann Corio's history of burlesque, published in 1968. Corio herself was a star in the 1930s and 40s, beginning when she was 15, and her self-deprecating autobiographical chapter is one of my favorite parts of the book. Of her first encounter with burlesque, she said, "Stripteasing was already in full swing when I arrived, and my eyes opened wide. What kind of show business was this? Girls were taking off their clothes and making gestures never seen in church plays....Then I noticed something...I was wearing less clothes in the chorus than the featured stripper at the end of her act....I wrestled with my conscience and my pocketbook and you know who always wins that match."
The American Burlesque Show
Hawthorne Books, New York, Ny 1967
"The trouble with the American burlesque show, from beginning to end, is either that is has been too dirty--or else that it hasn't been dirty enough."
The first sentence of Irving Zeidman's history of burlesque in the United States (primarily New York) cites a dilemma that continues to haunt burlesque even now, when burlesque is serving in most venues as a couples' or women's alternative to the more commercial, more directly sexual environment of strip clubs (although in New York we have a few venues that are decidedly more hardcore than any burlesque shows of the past--and my story on that is upcoming). Zeidman quotes Sime Silverman saying, "Were there no women in burlesque, how many men would attend?" in 1909. He describes the history of American burlesque as "the history of its producers' endless efforts to please both the censors and the audience."
"This will be Trixie and Monkey’s debut at the Hustler Club, the largest and newest club on the Block, the city’s radically diminished but still-breathing downtown adult entertainment district. Most of their local shows have been in very different venues—stripping for artsy crowds at the Creative Alliance or hipsters at the Ottobar. If there is any doubt that Trixie and Monkey will be out of their element here, it vanishes at noon, when the club opens and the house dancers hit the stage. These strippers begin their routines where Trixie and Monkey leave off...."
Read more of this great great article, featuring interviews with everyone from Gal Friday to Satan's Angel, at Urbanite Baltimore.
I am fortunate that I get to teach and constantly see people get excited about music, moves, and routines by which some experienced performers get bored. I also get to spend time with burlesque legends and have my respect for and joy in them constantly renewed. Burlesque just doesn't get old for me!
I was moved by the comments many of my students and other first-timers made to me at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekender earlier this month, and I collected a few of them. This is part one--there is much more to come!
Note, none of the photos in this article are by me; all are courtesy of the subjects.
"My experience to landing in Vegas for the first time, partaking in the Pinup Safari and working with various and amazing photographers, seeing my idols on stage, meeting the legends and making friends that will last a lifetime is only a snippet of the amazing experience that I am still processing. This is a weekend that I will continue to make a tradition for years to come!"
"PEEPSHOW is the new, sophisticated, ultra-hot show starring pop superstar Mel B (of the world famous Spice Girls) and General Hospital’s Kelly Monaco (Dancing with the Stars champion). PEEPSHOW is a full-throttle production show accompanied by a red-hot live band and 25 sizzling dancers and performers from the worlds of pop music, film, television and Broadway. Created by an award-winning team, PEEPSHOW combines sexy striptease, playful storytelling and celebrity star power."
I got to see this show while I was in Las Vegas for the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekender, and it was definitely some fun!
When I can, I try to go to burlesque shows that happen outside of the burlesque community of which I'm a part. I want to have an informed opinion, after all.
“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance—that principle is contempt prior to investigation.” http://ww…
Above: Kalani Kokonuts with Pearle Noir at the BHOF pageant this past Saturday.
In honor of Kalani's winning weekend, I'm reposting my interview with her from last year.
Kalani Takes the Stage at MEW 2006. Photo by Jo Weldon.
How did you get interested in burlesque?
I was stripping underage in a topless biker bar in Alaska, when I first saw a ''feature entertainer.'' Features are week long acts that are booked to perform about 3-4 shows a night.
They usually have centerfold credits or they can be porn actresses. Week after week the club would book different acts. Some were good, some were not so good. It seemed very glamorous to me. So I watched the features every night and learned. When I turned 21 I decided that if I wanted to perform and improve I would have to move where I thought the best performers were. I packed all my costumes into the back of my truck, I had six trunks and that was all that would fit. So I left everything else.
Then I drove from Alask…
Reigning Queen of Burlesque: Kalani Kokonuts
First Runner Up: Roxi Delite
Second Runner Up: Pearle Noir
Best Troupe: Nanda
Best Debut: Melody Mangler
Best Variety: Gigi and Pop
Best Boylesque: Hot Toddy
Most Comical: Little Brooklyn
Most Dazzling: Kalani Kokonuts
Most Innovative: Arabella Trapeze
Most Classic: Amazing Knicker Kittens
Enrollment for each class limited to 10 participants to ensure individual attention. Registration for all classes is by advance purchase ONLY. Tickets are non-refundable, except if we have to cancel in the event of an emergency. Each class is $75.
10 AM: Bump N Grind with Dee Milo!
The Bump N Grind is one of the defining movements of burlesque dance. Learn these hot moves from a legend of burlesque who was a star performer in the 1950s and still performs at the Burlesque Hall of Fame! Wear stretchy comfortable clothing and bring a pair of danc…
Operation Bombshell is the world's only burlesque school for military wives. Started by Lily Burana, herself an Army wife, Operation Bombshell aims to provide much needed entertainment and amusement for women whose husbands are deployed in the Global War on Terror.
Ms. Burana came up with the idea for Operation Bombshell after enduring her own "deployment blues." Her husband, then an Army Intelligence officer, was fighting in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Burana longed for something to lift her spirits. Later, during a little "retail therapy" lingerie shopping, she found that the salesgirl was herself a sad, lonely military wife, and Burana wished she could offer her some cheer and healing distraction. In that instant, Operation Bombshell was born.
Operation Bombshell teaches classic burlesque moves in an easy, accessible way. This is NOT a striptease class and the class does not involve any nudity. Students are encouraged to wea…
I'll be posting photos or videos of contenders in the upcoming pageant until I leave for Vegas, so if you want to recommend a photo or video of one of the performers on the list in the post below, send a link to me at email@example.com.
And, look for my upcoming regular feature, Teacher Tips, on Kelly DiNardo's The Candy Pitch!
'When Gypsy's activities on behalf of Spain's anti-fascists and other causes first drew the attention of the House Un-American Activities Committee, she used humor to deflect a request that she appear, offering her dressing room as an alternate venue for hearings. She was less successful during a later red scare when she was among 151 artists identified as subversives in Red Channels. But she had supporters. "Chances are that any investigations will show that if Gypsy approached any Red groups it was like her performance," the Milwaukee Journal wrote in 1950. "She stopped and always just in time."
'Gypsy "brings the con in striptease to the surface," writes Rachel Shteir. "She was promising sex, but she was delivering its illusion, playing three-card monte with her audience's desire." If Frankel's book is a thick biographical brocade, Shteir's Gypsy: The Art of the Tease (Yale…
"An intoxicating mix of private thoughts and public behavior, A Wink and a Smile exposes more than the human body by putting gender, power, sexuality and social identity under the glittery spotlight, as it follows the lives of ten "ordinary" women who do something extraordinary – learn the art burlesque dancing and striptease. Through their adventures, we see how a homemaker, a reporter, a doctor, an opera singer, a taxidermist and a college student, join the American cultural revival of burlesque, as it moves from fringe fascination to mainstream obsession, engaging a world where performance art and showgirl spectacle, music, theater and sensuality crash into over-the-top glamour - a world where many want to go, but very few dare."
On Saturday, May 2, I'll be performing with some of the subjects of this film at Quad Cinema in New York, so I took it upon m…
"Of all the roles available to pretty, young actresses, one of the most enduring is "stripper with a heart of gold." The latest A-list actress to join the elite club of movie strippers is Jessica Biel in her upcoming film 'Powder Blue.' Biel told Access Hollywood that her preparation for the role gave her new appreciation for the job. Hear hear, we say. We look forward to seeing Jessica Biel's heart of gold, and in the meantime, here are the Top Ten Movie Strippers." Best Movie Strippers
As we used to say when I worked in strip joints, if they're taking off their clothes for money, they're strippers! And we love it.
If you've ever seen Immodesty Blaize perform, you don't have to ask what burlesque is; she's it. With a larger-than-life stage presence and a smouldering charm offstage, Immodesty leaves a warm, curvy, sensual impression wherever she goes, and leaves every person she encounters with a happy yearning. Without further ado, I present the neo-legend that is the UK's gift to modern burlesque, Miss Immodesty Blaize.
When did you first see burlesque?
I blame my mother. We watched Gypsy together when I was very young, 5 or 6 I think. Obviously Natalie Wood was beautiful, but I thought Mazeppah was the coolest lady I had ever seen. I liked her humour and even then I knew she was HOT.
Were you a performer before you began doing burlesque?
I never went to stage school, however I used to travel the country as a little girl doing national dance competitions, with modern, disco and rock ‘n’ roll styles. It was all very ‘Solid Gold’ but I loved the sequins, spandex and the smell of h…
I'm a terrible blogger lately, I know. I've been facebooking, if you like, and twittering, but not blogging. I'm sure I'll return, as I'm hoarding some delicious interviews, but for now, if you want to find me on facebook or twitter, search for Jo Weldon.
Last week I performed a burlesque number at the first-ever US Pole Dancing Championship, as a guest not as a competitor--I love pole dancing, but I have no skill. Because it was a crowd unfamiliar with burlesque, I used music I thought would strike a familiar note, including a version of Hubcaps and Taillights, as heard in this clip at about 4.30:
This movie came out the year before I was born, and when I saw it as a child struck me in so many ways. I wasn't sufficiently amused by the line "Do you think she's talented?" until much later, when I was stripping for a living, during a particular era in strip joints between burlesque and pole dancing.
I have been extremely lucky to work with some of the best musicians in burlesque. I've been performing, or at least dancing, to live music all my life, including one glorious night with Spinal Tap, but most of the time I was just dancing along to the music. In burlesque with live music, there's real collaboration. The dancers rehearse their numbers with the bands, and the musicians watch the dancers to see if they need to give them a drum hit when a glove drops to the floor, if the music needs to be sped up or slowed down, or if they need to repeat a form until the dancer is ready to finish her number.
In New York we have live music at the Slipper Room every Wednesday night with amazing musicians including Brian Fisherman, with whom I've been performing for over 10 years, Le Scandal has featured The New York City Blues Devils and the Le Scandal Orchestra, Big Apple Burlesque features a live band every week, Brian Newman produces a burlesque show with his trio at Duane Park…