Monday, November 26, 2012

Ten Tips for Trying Burlesque on Glo

Jo by Rocket

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!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

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

Saturday, November 24, 2012

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 hundred years old. And in her introduction, Libby says, "...the art of striptease as we know it today is a true red-blooded stars-and-stripes invention, born in the burlesque theatre about half a century ago." Striptease instructors agree!

She also says, "Recently, there has been a great striptease revival..." !!!

Check out the table of contents:

I love the similarity to the section on classic moves in my own book. She even has a very short description of how to make pasties out of buckram, in a way very similar to the method I discovered fiddling around in my sewing studio ten years ago.

Here's a sample of the illustrations and instructions. It's not super detailed, but it's obviously the result of experience and thought:

She even talks about earring removal, one of my favorite topics in my striptease class!

I absolutely adore striptease for its own sake. It disappoints me when burlesque performers and aficianadoes with their own agendas, most of which I actually share on some level as I also love a narrative, a comedy, a circus, a political statement, make a point of belittling classic burlesque striptease. After all, making the every day act of removing your clothing into a theatrical event is an achievement, and doing it well--meaning that the audience can see and appreciate what you're doing, and delightedly falls a little bit in love with the tease and the teaser--is very much a skill. Classic striptease is actually an entirely modern response to the rise of a culture in which people are seen more than they ever had been in previous centuries. With the rise of new media technology,people now are photographed, filmed, displayed more than ever in human history. Striptease, particularly on the stage, is a way of saying, "Flesh is genius." Removing an elaborate costume with a wink and smile that says, "The glitter and glamour and rhinestones are all quite fabulous, but it's the personality under them that's the biggest deal," is a huge message. There's nothing trivial or trite about that!

Striptease is the ultimate form of theater. It's the ability to think about what the audience can see while making them think about what they can't see. It's about making the naked body, so freely available for gaze in every form of media, seem infinitely precious with every reveal. It's a friendly way to say, "Hey, you know how you go around all day not wanting to be caught looking at me, and I go around all day hoping no one is staring at me, and I go around all day not wanting to be caught looking at you, and you go around all day hoping I'm not staring at you? It's okay--you can look!" And sometimes even, "I dare you to look!" A playful, mischievous striptease isn't about being pretty. It's about being fully engaged and engaging. It's about the joy of the body, saying,"Check out this awesome thing--I live in it!" If that isn't the experience you've seen in a burlesque show, go to a another show! As the glove comes off and the audience applauds (with their naked hands!) at the sight of the stripteaser's hand making its appearance, you'll realise there's a bigger message here than mere consumption. That stripper's taking it off for YOU! Isn't that special?

You can find this out-of-print book by searching for it on,,, EBay, and other sources for used books.

Below: A contact sheet of photos showing Libby Jones tutoring actress Jan Sterling on how to striptease, in preparation of Sterling’s role as a showgirl in the 1954 crime film: “THE HUMAN JUNGLE”

Friday, November 23, 2012

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 favorite peels in the comments!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

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 choreography yourself just for fun: