Camille 2000, Rest In Power

Above: Archival photos of Camille

Above: Photo by Marie Baronnet

Burlesque legend Camille 2000 (Camille Sands) passed away today after a lengthy battle with cancer. “The Girl for Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow” was awarded our 2019 Living Legend Award for her contribution to burlesque. Her work, like her signature "Marquis de Sade" act, consistently pushed against and expanded the boundaries of the art. More than that, she was an active supporter of today's neo-burlesque performers, with a vocal online presence and a steady stream of performances at festivals and local events. She will be deeply missed.”
--From The Burlesque Hall of Fame, July 28, 2019

Somewhere on my old phone I have photos from a few years ago of Camille in the bathroom at the Orleans Hotel shoving redhots down the back of my pants. If I find them, I'll add them, but for now I'm sure you can enhance this memory gloriously in your imagination.

My birthday twin, Camille 2000, was as fiery as a Leo could be. She often talked about how she started out doing showgirl style burlesque, then decided to do something more subversive. She incorporated themes of S/M , including knifing herself and bleeding onstage. Though she scared some of her previous employers, she became the darling of others, and is now known as the godmother of performance art neo-burlesque.

I think it's important to acknowledge pioneers of expressions of queer sexuality and subversive sensibility in our art form and all others. Among the advantages of seeing and hearing our foremothers having embraced identities and concepts that we relate to is the relief of the awful burden of being unique. We are not alone. It means the world to me, the generousity of our legends in sharing this history and giving us a sense of history rather than being suspended alone in a contemporary bubble. We are not solitary outsiders -- we are part of a lineage. We have heritage.

She was always eager to share her stories, to help others release their own fire. I was honored to work with her on developing her classes. She loved teaching her workshop "On The Wild Side." She adored her friends in the new burlesque scene and honored their creativity and skill, often including them in her performances.

Above: Camille and Tigger Performing Together at The Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekender, 2012.

I called Camille before this year's BHOF Weekender, just to check in, knowing she was struggling with her health. She greeted me, as always, "I love you, Pussy." She was so excited to hear from me it made me cry. I don't think we can underestimate how meaningful our connections to our legends are. She was overwhelmed by the honor of  being named Legend of the Year. As always, she was excited to talk to me about the upcoming weekender, planning her performance in detail. 

And she made it!

She rode around the hotel hallways in a wheelchair decorated to look like The Iron Throne, but with middle fingers instead of swords. She was accompanied by a bevy of nurses in latex and vinyl as well as friends in t-shirts that said "Fuck Cancer."

Above: Camille and Bambi The Mermaid

When I had called her, she had sobbed as she told me she just wanted to make it through to get to the weekender and to get on that stage one more time. She described the number to me in detail, as if to make sure someone would envision it even if she wasn't actually able to do it.

With her determination, and the determination of her friends, she did do it. Always a collaborator, she worked with Bambi The Mermaid and Whitney Ward to create an incredible spectacle to the tune of Amazing Grace. She sat in a throne, dressed as an angel, and was helped to her feet by Bambi and Whitney, who guided her around the stage.

Photo by MC Newman

I was sitting with Imogen Kelly,  who has fought her own battles with cancer, and we were both so simultaneously inspired and devastated we could barely sit through the closing of the show.

Camille has been not only a legend to me but a role model and a friend. I am so lucky to have known her, and because of that, to grieve her. I am truly struggling for words. My heart goes out to all her friends and family.

For even more insights into her badassery, read this in memoriam that includes an interview with the classic QNA

What made you choose burlesque over an alternate form of art? 


See Camille interviewed by Rama Rau:

Read Precious Ephemera's article on 21st Century Burlesque:


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