Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Frederick's of Hollywood 1947-1973: 26 Years of Mail Order Seduction--Book Review

I often wonder where, as a child, I got this idea of glamour. Yes, the Dean Martini show; yes, the old gentlemen's magazines I found where I wasn't supposed to be looking; but where did I get this idea of fashion so fierce it could barely exist in real life?

The answer is here in this book: Frederick's of Hollywood catalogues. The cute? You can't handle the cute! I got my first pair of stockings and real garter belt when I was in high school in the 1970's, inspired partly by Rocky Horror and primarily by the fact that real stockings even existed. Though I love a pair of fishnet tights, you'd be hard-pressed to get me into pantyhose, which I have always associated with all the least desirable qualities of being "ladylike." I wanted a little more freedom than that, and since I went to a high school where leg coverings were required, stockings it was. Remind me to tell you sometime about how those garters and stockings caused a ruckus in 1979!

I'm not so much reviewing this book as tempting you with it. I know it's cruel, as this one is out of print, but I found it on ebay after glimpsing it at Lola Starr's studio, and I have faith that if you're as set on it as I was, you can find it too! Happy hunting!

If you know me, you know I love a 70s jumpsuit!
And if you know me really well, you'll have no doubt that the image above is my favorite in the entire book.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Brief Burlesque Glossary

This was originally intended for The Burlesque Handbook. It was originally five times longer. I kept editing and editing and it was still too long, and ultimately even this version didn't make it in. I had forgotten all about it! I've written more burlesque glossaries, some based on vintage terminology, one very technical, and one illustrated and really mean and filthy! I'm illustrating with some old photos just because I haven't seen them myself for awhile.

Catherine D'Lish, Two-Time Miss Exotic World
Attribution: Giving specific and upfront credit for the source of inspiration or influence. Contrary to maxim, this is the highest form of flattery.
Backstage: Behind the stage or in the dressing area, usually out of sight of the audience.
Bump ‘n’ grind: A bump is a snap of the hips, and a grind is a circular motion of the hips.
Burlesque: A style of performance featuring low-brow humour and high-brow strippers. Brittanica says: "In burlesque the serious is treated lightly and the frivolous seriously.”
Burlesque Routine (Number, Act, Piece, etc): For the purpose of this book, by "burlesque routine," we mean a 3-5 minute live performance piece, often including pantomime or physical acting, that includes stripping.
Choreography: A repeatable series of movements, usually dance-based and performed and timed to specific music. Subject to copyright.
Costume: Among other things, a costume is an outfit constructed or adapted for the purpose of theatrical performance. A lingerie set is not a costume, but if decorated and made breakaway, it can become a costume.
Drag: Clothing, hair, makeup, and/or costuming which transforms, questions, and/or exaggerates gender. Usually male to female, but can be female to male, female to female, male to male, or androgynous. Can also refer to being in costume or stage makeup, but usually connotes gender drag.
G-String: A triangle of fabric that covers the pubic area, held on by the most minimal of strings or bands. Most often a g-string is legally required, though some performers choose to make their privates public in certain venues.
Merkin or Mirkin: A piece of fabric, or anything else glued over the pubis to conceal the bits. Basically, a g-string without the string.
Opening: In a number, the beginning of a performance. An opening should be planned in keeping with the maxim, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression." The closing of a number should be a bang, not a whimper.
Pastie: Anything glued over the nipple (although they can also be stuck to other parts of the body, such as the derriere). They are usually circular but can be any shape, and are usually made out of fabric but can be made out of anything, including cheese. Often tassels are sewn to the tip of the pasties, and performers twirl them by bouncing or shimmying.
Peel: To remove a garment in a slow and/or dramatic manner, revealing flesh inch by inch.
Reveal (Noun): A moment in a burlesque number during which the performer shows something to the audience which was not previously seen, often a body part but often even more effectively a costume part, a prop, or a characteristic of the performance. A “Big Reveal” is the climactic, most memorable event in a number—it may be something as common as a pastie or as unusual as the performer bringing a white tiger onstage.
Safety Pins: Often used in place of sewing or glue. Should be in every burlesque performer’s bag for quick fixes to the stress and strain constant stripping puts on garments, as well as to share in order to make friends.
Miss Kitten Deville
Shimmy: A prolonged shaking of the hips or shoulders, which is greatly accentuated if a performer’s costume is fringed.
Showgirl: An elaborately costumed performer, usually in a headdress, who may or may not strip.
Stage Litter: What burlesque strippers leave behind after performing, preferably only removed clothing (which a performer should place or fling away from him or herself and should NOT have to dance upon or around). Generally, water, food, confetti, wax, fake blood, etc. on the floor makes it hard on the act that follows, so an experienced performer usually leaves behind only clothes and a remembrance of charisma.
Swarovski: Particularly high quality crystal used for garment embellishment, jewelry, and home decoration. Known to inspire acquisitive and obsessive behavior.
Tagline: A brief memorable description of a performer that follows his or her name, like “The Girl with the Twirl.”
Tassels: Narrow bits of fringe that are usually affixed to pasties for the purpose of twirling; also, tasseled pasties are often referred to simply as tassels. “Assels” are tasseled pasties on the derriere.
Upstage: Toward the back of the stage, hence downstage is toward the audience. "Upstage" is also a term used to describe the act of deliberately taking over the space of another performer, generally to the detriment of the cohesiveness of the show as a whole.
Zeitgeist: Something that reflects the spirit of an era. Burlesque in the 21st century reflects its own time and place and has a zeitgeist of its own!

Feel free to quote and use as you like, as long as you attribute it to schoolofburlesque.com.