This is Jo Weldon's New-York-Based Blog About Burlesque with Original Articles, Striptease Tips, Interviews, Class Announcements, News, Photo Posts, Peeks into Performers' Closets, and More. You can ask a question, request an article about a topic, or book Jo to teach, host, or perform by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org . See schoolofburlesque.com for class schedule, or book a private session now through email.
Minsky's Burlesque: A Fast and Funny Look at America's Bawdiest Era. By Morton Minsky and Milt Machlin. Arbor House, New York, 1986.
From the first sentence: "I was only fifteen and still wearing knickers when I got my first look at the bouncing, bawdy, and often stimulating world of burlesque..." to the edifying appendices at the end, this book is completely engaging. It is such a favorite of mine. Sure, today's New York burlesque shows are as different from Minsky's as Lili St. Cyr's were from Lydia Thompson's, but a huge part of the attraction to burlesque has always been the fierce brazen energy of live enertainment made with adults in mind, and this book portrays it beautifully.
Each chapter is headed by a terrible joke, such as:
STRAIGHT MAN: (running his hand over the bald comic's head): Ya know, Charlie, your head feels exactly like my wife's backside!
COMIC: (running his hand over his own head): Ya know, you're right!
'"We're all naked in the eyes of the Lord," says burlesque member Tanya Cheex, who's both Mary Magdalene and the Harlot of Babylon ("interchangeable in the view of some religious zealots").' Getting saucy with scripture
Tanya just sent me some letters they have received since this article was published. Here is one of them:
'To Whom It May Concern,
I just read the Toronto Star article about the upcoming bible
burlesque show. I find this is completely offensive. I'm not a prude, but
this is downright tasteless. Isn't there anyone out there who is clever? Let me ask you this question, would you host a burlesque review that depicted Mohammed or Buddha in the same way Mary/Jesus are being characterized? Why not? So then, why do you think it is ok to
present this show? Who are you afraid of offending? It's not harmless. It's not even funny. It's low-brow. How about
our kids, teenagers, university students, ourselves -- is th…
Michelle L'Amour performed a landmark tribute to Sally Rand at The Burlesque Hall of Fame Striptease Reunion in Las Vegas in 2007.
Who wouldn't want to learn fan dance techniques from Michelle?
She begins with a recommendation of types of fans to use, then clearly explains the theatrical definition of a reveal, and demonstrates how to hold the fans and how to think of them as an extension of yourself and as a costume. She breaks down a graceful walk and sprinkles the video with dos and don'ts that apply to any kind of dance performance. She talks about staging and what the audience can see as well as showing fan movement techniques.
Michelle's onstage charm translates beautifully into teaching. She has confidence and warmth as a teacher, and her voice is as easy on the ear as her body is on the eye (her posterior is known as "The Ass that Goes Pow!" for good reason). Technically, the video is well-staged, with gorgeous red and black tones, and with con…
'What is the difference between burlesque and striptease?
I don't really like to say that burlesque and stripping are totally different. I know a lot of burlesque dancers like to make sure you know that they are not strippers, they are burlesque artists, but I don't really agree with that. I don't think the term stripper is a bad word. Gypsy Rose Lee called herself a stripper, so if it was good enough for her it is good enough for me.' Dita Von Teese, the 'queen of burlesque', on fame, fortune and feminism
'"People want to see burlesque as classier than contemporary striptease, and that's absolutely not the case. That demonstrates a total lack of knowledge of the history of burlesque," Butler says. "Burlesque halls were tough places for the time. These were raunchy performances, and these were women transgressing the norm of their time, challenging norms about beauty and what a woman could do. These were tough, tough ladies."'…
One of my favorite elements of burlesque costuming is the pastie. Pasties are, as an item consistently associated with the choreography of a particular form of dance, unique to burlesque. I never get tired of the way they simultaneously conceal and call attention to the nipple. I love it when performers make delicate jewelry of them.
In 2003 I had the extreme pleasure of performing in the Lucky Stiff show at the Pussycat Lounge in New York's Financial District. The Pussycat has a cabaret venue upstairs and a regular strip joint downstairs. I've worked in the strip joint and I have to say it was different from any other strip joint I've ever worked in: it was all stage, topless only, people handing dollars across the bar to us, very little mingling, and no drink sales, table dances, or VIP rooms. Next door is a pizza parlor where the waitresses do lap dances in the back. The only place I can think of that remotely compares to it is the Clermont Lounge in Atlanta--which also houses rock shows on occasion.
Upstairs, the Pussycat's stage features live bands and other performances, which was where Lucky Stiff came in. The show was the brainchild of Tyler Fyre and Keith Bindlestiff, and it fused uncensored circus, sideshow, and anarchic burlesque. New York burlesque has had a long association with circ…