Happy Birthday, Dixie Evans!
If you've ever heard of The Burlesque Hall of Fame, it's Dixie you have to thank. She took over the burlesque museum, Exotic World, when it was a ranch in the middle of the desert, and kept it going by starting the Miss Exotic World Pageant. This museum and event became The Burlesque Hall of Fame and The Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekender you'll often hear referred to as BHoF.
She and Jennie were ahead of their time, demanding recognition, respect, and rights for strippers, and crediting the influence of strippers on popular culture in a way many people weren't prepared to appreciate. They were activists and advocates and we owe them so much.
Dixie was one of my personal mentors, and one of the most powerful things she taught me was to welcome everyone. She always loved the history of burlesque, and celebrated new performers as the future of burlesque. Just a few months before she died I got to sit with her and tell her how I had traveled all over the world sharing the message that burlesque history matters, and teaching tassel-twirling and fan-dancing to all. Dixie always loved to hear stories about travel, and her eyes lit up. Then she leaned forward and held my hand tightly and said, "Don't forget to tell them to make sure they do it their own way."
She didn't say, "Make sure they do it the right way," or "Make sure they do it the way they should." She said, "Make sure they do it their own way."
I was privileged to know her, and to take this picture backstage in Las Vegas -- and I'm privileged to share her message about making burlesque your own, every time I teach.
You can read my 2007 interview with Dixie right here on this blog: