Showing posts from 2012

The Naked Truth--From Judith Lynne Hanna

As a burlesque performer with a substantial history as a strip joint stripper, I'm frequently asked what the difference is between burlesque and strip joint stripping, and my favorite difference to cite is that nobody ever asks strip joints strippers what the difference is between burlesque and stripping.

Burlesque performers do need to differentiate their style for professional purposes, in order to help the venues and produers who book them choose the right kind of performance for their intentions. Some also prefer not to be conflated with the sex-industry-immediacy of strip joints, while others actually also work as strippers and want to differentiate for professional reasons alone. Many burlesque performers are perfectly comfortable being called strippers and don't care if their moral turpitude is aligned with strip joints.

Of course, it rarely occurs to anyone to consider whether or not strip joint strippers would want to be conflated with burlesque. There is sometimes a…

Jean Idelle at The Burlesque Hall of Fame

The Burlesque Hall of Fame staffers and friends have always worked hard to find women who performed burlesque in the 1940s-1960s and 70s and bring them back together. Some of the most moving things I've ever experienced have been seeing legends find their tribe again for the first time in decades. The following story bears witness to the incredible experience these women often have, and gives you an idea of what it's like to hear their stories an get to know them, and to see them perform with all the knowing charm they had half a century ago.

"LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- She crushed the color barrier, crashed the party and did it all dancing. Now at the age of 82, Jean Idelle is burning up the stage for the first time in decades. News 3's Reed Cowan has more on the life of Jean Idelle who went from obscurity to headlining in Las Vegas."

Burlesque dancer, 82, takes the stage one more time

How To Rock Red Glitter Lips--from Veronica Varlow!

"The #1 question I get asked by women after I do my shows is…”Where did you get your glitter lipstick?”

"Ah, yes. It’s a magical concoction of sorts. A little bit of this, a little bit of that. I mistakenly bought tons of “glitter lipstick” in the past that never did the trick. I learned the secret formula backstage from my burlesque sisters at The Slipper Room."

Get Veronica's secrets here!

And in case you haven't seen it, here is a a clip of me "teaching" how to makeup glitter lips to our boylesque friend Hard Cory at my book release party show hosted by Storybook Burlesque:

Striptease Expertise

Above: Me stripping out of a red stocking at the Toronto Burlesque Festival.
I am incredibly passionate about striptease and the opportunties it provides and the demands it puts upon a performer. I believe that it is a sensational and radical way to think about communicating to viewers that can inform the stripteaser's self-presentation onstage and off. I think the combination of mischief and glamour with the earthiness of sensuality is a step forward in the evolution of self-realization and the acceptance of shamelessly individualized (as opposed to state-regulated) sexuality. I could (and at some point will) got on for hundreds of pages about this. I'm so serious about this kind of fun!One of my favorite classes to teach is Striptease Expertise. Below is the content of the handout I share in the class, a set of tips that serve as reminders for the theories and techniques we explore as a group. It is not the full content of the class, just bullet points of key concepts.


Stage Kitten Etiquette in Pin Curl Magazine

In my almost-monthly column for Pin Curl Magazine, I get to discuss ways and manners in the business of burlesque. I've written about stage kittens before, but every time I do it I find new ways to appreciate them! Following are some excerpts from the newest issue of Pincurl.

“Stage kittens have become iconic elements of many burlesque shows. These are the fabulous creatures you see getting so much time are often also part of the glue that holds the show together. A burlesque show bonus, a stage kitten is the person who picks up the costume pieces and props after a burlesque number. They may also set up props, assist the emcee, gogo dance, sell merchandise between sets, and a whole lot more. A stage kitten can make a show run more smoothly, helping the performers make seamless transitions from number to number.” – Murray Hill

Top Tips for Stage Kittens:

1) Ask the producer (or whoever contacted you to book you for the gig) exactly what they need from you. Since stage kittens can h…

Ten Tips for Trying Burlesque on Glo

When The Burlesque Handbook was first published, I did a series of burlesque tips articles for various beauty and lifestyle magazines. It was a lovely challenge to try to make what I know about performing useful to people who may not be going onstage. MSN did a gallery of photos with ten tips. Check it out!

From the article:

Build Tension

Weldon says: "Burlesque performers know that just standing still and breathing can build anticipation in the audience once they've established that they're prepared to entertain them. Be willing to be still for a few moments and let your partner drink you in."

You can read the rest of it on!

Sally Rand and Gypsy Rose Lee on What's My Line

As if body language wasn't enough, Gypsy Rose Lee and Sally Rand were both delightful speakers, clever and quick and shameless. It's sometimes hard to explain why a particular stripteaser or fan dancer is so enchanting when what they actually do is not unique. For me, a huge part of the beauty and importance of a number is not a skill set--perfect dance timing is more important for the chorus than the lead, and virtuousity can become monotonous to watch. But personality is the singular force that drives a great entertainer, and it's vividly portrayed in both of these clips. Enjoy!

Gypsy Rose Lee

Sally Rand

Recommended Reading: Striptease by Libby Jones

I can't believe I hadn't seen this book until recently! A friend posted it on my FB page and I immediately hunted it down, found it at Powell's Books, and snapped it up.

Published by Simon and Schuster on their Parallax imprint in 1967, this neat little book breezes through basic principles of striptease in about 50 pages. (Though 80 pages long, the last 30 pages are devoted to beauty.) It's a great way for beginners to grasp that striptease is process of intention and presentation worthy of mastery.

It's adorable, and it reminded me that a lot of the principles of striptease I teach are actually universal. The more I teach, the more I find that I describe steps and principles the way I do not because I'm inventive, but because I'm observant, and that other burlesque instructors observe and teach some of the same things. It's very reassuring!

For instance, I often point out to my students that the Stripteaser, as a category of performer, is barely a hu…

Top Five Stocking Peels on youtube.

I'm doing a Top Five Friday today! These are the top five stocking peels on my mind this week.

I'm including one of my own so that my self interest is really blatant and that my self-serving ways will provoke you to include your own in the comments!

Inga Ingenue at Viva Las Vegas, coming to a slinky soft tragic end:

Midnite Martini does a toe-tally devastating peel:

April O'Peel makes the bench her bitch:

Dita Von Teese gets naughty on national television:

Me, getting down:

My striptease video includes tips on how to make the stockings cling to your toes and how to slide them off without catching them in your knee joint, among other things:

You can buy this DVD here.

You can read about how to buy stockings in my article, Stalking the Stocking.

Julie Atlas Muz, in a routine sadly missing from youtube, does a number in which she comes out dressed as a cop, strips to lingerie, pulls her stockings from her toes directly onto her head, and thereby becomes a robber.

Share your f…

Record Breaking Fan Dance!

"One of this year’s BurlyCon highlights was the successful attempt to break a Guinness World Record for “Largest Fan Dance”. This feat was accomplished by 252 dancers in tradtional costume waving their feather fans to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony for a full five minutes. The attempt took place at the ballroom of the Doubletree Hotel on the second day of BurlyCon. Volunteers stationed outside made sure all fans and costumes were on par with Guinness requirements before people were let in (specifically, fans had to be within the 12” to 50” range). As the eager particpants walked into the ballroom, volunteers did an official head count, not including official volunteers, videographers, and photographers (of which I was one). Over the next half hour people streamed in with giant fans, small fans, and everything in between."Read more about this superfun event at Burlesque Seattle Press: A look back at BurlyCon’s record-breaking “Largest Fan Dance”.

And you can learn the choreograph…

Making Introductions: Etiquette Guidelines for Performers and Emcees

I cover the professional relationships between performers and hosts in my most recent article in Pin Curl Magazine!

Kate Valentine (Miss Astrid): "I appreciate it when dancers keep in mind that the emcee is a performer too. I often need physical and mental space backstage before I go on & for the duration of the show. Personally, I love a performer that sees the whole picture and thus is a pro and a team player. Your job is so much more than your 3 minutes on stage. My biggest pet peeve is when someone brings their diet/exercise regimine/body issues/gluten intolerance into the backstage space. Self loathing talk is contagious among women!"

World Famous BOB: "My few tips are: please don’t ask an mc to do a “comedy bit” with you as part of your act the night of. Good mc’s already have material and are not obligated to be in your act. Do- provide your tag line or anything special that can help the mc introduce you properly- this is especially helpful if the host d…

Social Media Etiquette for Nearly Naked People

"Burlesque as it is would not exist without social media. I suppose that’s true of almost all independent entertainment today! With its low cost, big impact, and almost unlimited outreach, social media has enabled performers and producers with very little capital to get started and to find their collaborators and audiences at rapid speed.

Technology has advanced more quickly than we can have analyzed its full effect, and just when you think you’ve figured it out, they’ve changed it! But the basic tenet of etiquette holds true: step back and take a look at your decisions and imagine how you’d evaluate your actions if you saw someone else taking them.

Online etiquette is covered regularly on the internet, and we’ll touch on a few of the most common concerns, with a particular eye toward what happens when people are nearly naked."

Read the Entire Article

Tips on Getting Booked!

Oh my goodness. I've been writing so much for other publications, I haven't had a chance to write for my own! I'm going to bring my blog back slowly and gently, starting with a taste of what I've been up to on other sites (I swear I was thinking about you the whole time!):

From Pin Curl Magazine Online:

In this month’s installment of a two-part article, we will discuss how performers can annoy producers. This doesn’t mean that in every case the performers are doing anything dishonest or unprofessional; it merely means that these behaviors often irritate or turn off producers. Please note that it is not about just knowing specific actions that might irritate producers. Like all etiquette issues, the essence of understanding how to behave is making an effort to put yourself into the other person’s position. You are unlikely to be able to read their minds, but you stand a much better chance of interacting successfully if you at least try to understand why they want what t…

Tempest Storm's Birthday in the Huffington Post

Tempest performing in 2004 on the stage by the pool at Exotic World, in Helendale, CA. Photo by me.

"Calling someone a legend before they celebrate their 21st birthday might sound hyperbolic. But, in the case of burlesque dancer Tempest Storm, it just might apply -- with a notable caveat.

"Storm, a fiery redhead known during the 1950s and '60s as "the Tempest in a D-cup," was born on Feb. 29, 1928, a leap year.

Photo by Brian Smith.

"That means even though the calendar says she is turning 84, she is only celebrating her 21st birthday...."

Read more about Tempest Storm's life and her current career.

School of Burlesque Merch Available for the First Time!

Lola Star designed and made this adorable compact with the New York School of Burlesque! You can get this design on a mug, magnet, shot glass, t-shirt, or tote bag as well. Check out her other gorgeous designs, with lots of fabulous tributes to Coney Island!

Lola Star's Online Shop

Awesome Blog Post from Sparkly Devil!

Above: The awe-inspiring and amaze-inducing Sparkly Devil.

I freakin LOVE Sparkly Devil, and have been fortunate to know and love her long time. She's a fierce and gorgeous and super smart lady, and you should read her blog! Below, one of my favorite recent posts:

"The heyday of burlesque was cultivated in simpler times, when the 4-martini lunch ruled, computers were giant hulking beasts that only the government owned, and phones took forever to dial 9 and were connected to a wall.
"As the burlesque revival has grown since the late ‘90s, it’s been fundamentally shaped by the technological innovations that our generation has access to. Today, we can pick a concept, do a keyword search on iTunes, order the costume on eBay, promote the new act on Twitter, videotape the performance from our phone and then post in on Facebook – in less than a week’s time.
"That said, having the tools to create an act readily available at one’s fingertips does not mean a great act …

Five Tips for Rightly Twirling the Tassels

If you want to learn the most basic twirl, here's where to begin!

How to Twirl a Nipple Tassel

You can do it!

This is just the tip (ha) of the iceberg when it comes to all there is to know about tassels, assels, and tasticles, but if you want to get started, you'll find instant gratification in the basic bounce.

A Wonderfully thought-Provoking Post from Sydni Deveraux

From the fabulous Sydni Deveraux:

"Today, I got a message (a group message on Facebook) asking me to vote for them in a burlesque competition, something like “Send me proof that you voted (a screen shot), and win a prize! First come first served, hurry! It’s a limited time offer” (message somewhat changed to protect the messenger). I was….to be honest, horrified. This, on the heels of countless emails from people to vote for them to place on a recent countdown list of the best burlesque performers-I ask you the reader if you see anything wrong with this picture?

"To be clear, I am a competitive person. I wish I weren’t, but I am the product of parents who competed in natural-bodybuilding pageants (I know-weird, right?) and over a decade of select sports. I’m not a wishy-washy “can’t we all be the same” kind of hippie when it comes to performing. I don’t think about this as a woman in a kind of feminist statement kind of way. I think about this in a “I want to see a real …

Teaching the Boys to Twirl

A couple of weeks ago L Magazine approached me wanting someone to write a few tips on how to twirl tassels, and wanted to make a video to go with it. I immediately suggested teaching boys, and since no one on the magazine staff was ready for the learning experience, I recruited two of my dear and daring friends. They literally jumped at the opportunity.

Read the entire article

There are many other ways to twirl tassels, including many without bouncing! There's an entire chapter on tassel-twirling and how to make pasties in The Burlesque Handbook.

Showgirl Accounting, from the Reigning Blog of Burlesque

I get offers to perform at benefits all the time, and I am usually happy to do it. In fact, one of the reasons I was inspired to create Pink Light Burlesque was because I was getting requested to perform at breast cancer benefits so frequently, and although I am always thrilled and honored to do it, I also feel survivors can represent even more powerfully. Some benefit events have budgets for entertainment, and on a weekend night when I normally could not afford to cancel other gigs that make up a quarter of my monthly income to perform for free, this makes it possible. If I am not already booked, I am almost always willing to donate my time and name and services for free, if I feel that the benefit is intended to do a real service. A misunderstanding that comes up with surprising frequency is when event organizers tell me I can deduct my donation of a performance, when in fact I cannot.

Above: Julie Atlas Muz with money raised at a Starshine Benefit for Exotic World.

From Miss Indi…

Stalking the Stocking

The visual impact of stockings is erotic and forceful. When I was a child I was so fascinated by the images of stockings in old lingerie ads that I painted them onto my Barbie dolls. I've been doing stocking peels onstage since I was in high school, going to Rocky Horror and portraying a poetry-reciting stripper character I had created called Prunella DuBois. I even got into trouble one day in high school for wearing stockings under my dress instead of pantyhose. As a dominatrix I found some quite unusual uses for my stockings, and accumulated bagsful of used stockings for nefarious purposes. I'm not a stocking snob, but I enjoy a good stocking peel more than the average person, and I have more garter belts than I can count.

Above: Me peeling out of red stockings from Frederick's of Hollywood at The Toronto Burlesque Festival. Photo copyright Mopo.

Above: Gal Friday teasing with an authentic vintage stocking in the School of Burlesque studio at The Slipper Room. Photo by D…

Pink Light Burlesque in TIME

"Jennifer Burke used to prize her breasts as her best feature. But it wasn’t until she had a double mastectomy that she found herself performing a burlesque striptease in front of an enthusiastic New York City crowd...."
Read more: