Showing posts from June, 2008

Now Available: Thesis, Finding Aid, Digital Exhibit

Hello, everyone!

This is Layne Fargo - you may remember me as the graduate student who's been bugging the kind people on this list for the past year or so with questions for her burlesque-related thesis. Well, my thesis is finally completed, and the finished document (which features quotes from several community members whom I was lucky enough to interview) is available online at this address:

I completed several other burlesque-themed projects during my final year of graduate study at Ohio State which might be of interest, too. One is a finding aid for the Charles H. McCaghy Collection of Exotic Dance From Burlesque to Clubs (housed at Ohio State's Lawrence & Lee Theatre Research Institute) giving a detailed, searchable listing of the contents of that collection. That can be found in the OhioLink finding aid repository here:

I also curated a dig…

Cyd Charisse Passes

Click the immage above to read about Cyd Charisse at

If anybody ever set a standard for the way a glamourous dancer should walk across the stage, it was Cyd Charisse.

I first became really conscious of Cyd Charisse when I was in high school because my best friend's mother, Carol Richards, did Cyd's vocals in Brigadoon, and then my best friend performed in our school's production of Brigadoon. I remember my friend (who had her mother's singing ability and regularly blew me away with her talent and her genius) moving like a hurricane in a dance scene, and thinking, "Oh, that's so for me!" The dancing I felt I could get near; the singing, most definitely not (as those who saw me play and sing Black Dog at Houses of the Unholy can attest). There was no youtube then, and I really had to bust my buns to get my eyes on more of Cyd's performances, but when I did, this is what I saw:

Cyd Charisse was not a burlesque dancer, but the charact…

The Mermaid Parade

Above: Me at the Mermaid Parade this past weekend, bringing in the New York School of Burlesque School of Fish.

The Mermaid Parade is not strictly a burlesque event, but it's definitely an event cherished by the New York burlesque community. Like Wigstock, it's been a meeting ground for performance artists, drag queens, and people who just love dress-up ( or undress-up) since the 1980s, and, like Wigstock, has fostered a sense of community based on the joy of costuming and playfulness. When I moved to New York permanently in the 90s after years of traveling back and forth between NY and Atlanta, I immediately became devoted to these annual events. It's almost like a family reunion for me!

Above: Mermaid Parade, 2006. Tigger, Erochica Bamboo, Laura Herbert, Taylor Mac, Me, Dirty Martini, Francesca.

The Burlesque Revival Association in the 2002 Mermaid Parade.

Bambi the Mermaid and Bunny Love at Ruby's after the 2002 Mermaid Parade.

The Mermaid Parade is produced by Coney…

Want More Information about the Situation at Coney?

These are the people to contact:

Save Coney Island

Posted by Jo Weldon, Headmistress of The New York School of Burlesque, for

Coney Island Hearing

I rarely post notices, but this is important, not just for burlesque (which would not exist in New York as it now does if it weren't for the shows in Coney Island), but for so much more that matters to New Yorkers concerned with standards of community, historicity, and ethical building and land development. The following comes to me via Lola Staar:

Please attend this Public Scoping Hearing, June 24th, 6PM

Please voice your opinion about the City's Plan to redevelop Coney Island at this Public Scoping Hearing!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008, 6pm

Lincoln High School
2800 Ocean Parkway
Brooklyn, NY

This is your opportunity to officially voice your opinion, on public record, and Change the Future of Coney Island.

Please review the City's Plan and attend this hearing, prepared to testify and make a statement about this Plan and how you feel Coney Island should be redeveloped!!

The City's new plan almost completely abolish…


In fan workshops, once we master some of the hand positions, we talk about the conceal/reveal opportunities afforded by fans. Although of course we play with the bigger ostrich feather fans, we also play with several different sizes and types of fans.

Above: Dirty Martini's fans backstage at Pinchbottom Burlesque. Photo by me.

Fan dancing has a history outside of burlesque fan-dancing, as well, and a search for "fan dance" on youtube locates videos featuring Asian and Spanish dances having nothing to do with burlesque, as well as bellydance videos. I've seen all these translated for a burlesque audience, as well as fire fans and fighting fans!

Fans also have a history having nothing to do with dance, and I've long been fascinated by The Language of the Fan, though I've never played with it onstage.

Pinchbottom once produced a show in which all the performers did a fan dance--and none of them did remotely the same thing. Little Brooklyn used big foam "nu…

Burlesque Italia!

Current TV just sent me this adorable clip of young ladies learning about burlesque in Rome!

She says she gets upset when people call her a stripper, but we'll not make much of that, shall we, fellow strippers?

Right now some of my favorite strippers are also in Italy! Miss you, girls!

Kitten on the Keys, Julie Atlas Muz, and Dirty Martini in the Mediterranean Sea. Photo from Kitten on the Keys.

Posted by Jo Weldon, Headmistress of The New York School of Burlesque, for

42 Versions of Harlem Nocturne

When I interviewed Dixie Evans for this blog, she mentioned how some of the dancers would fight over who got to use the song Harlem Nocturne. In my classes, I talk about overused songs in burlesque, such as Night Train, Lament, and The Stripper (and of course there are many more modern songs that get used repeatedly), and I actually encourage my students to use them. Of course, they might not want to subject some of the most experienced performers in burlesque to them, but if they are new performers, they're bringing in new audiences, and those audiences may have never seen a woman do a fan dance to Harlem Nocturne or a shimmy to Night Train. I also think that since much of this music, such as the material on Striptease Classics, was produced and arranged to accompany sexy showgirl or striptease performance, it's the best to use to learn. Although almost all neo-burlesque performers play with more recent music--I've even choreographed a Fosse-tribute chair dance to Jethro …

Mike Albov's Photos from the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend

As much as I miss having the time to take and edit photos, I'm thrilled that I'm getting to see all these other folks' photography. One of my favorite photographers, who as a bonus uploads his shots to flickr to share almost immediately, is in the process of posting his BHOF 2008 pix right now. Here are a few photos of redheads, in order of appearance, from the private Friday night event:


Catherine D'Lish

Tempest Storm

Visit Mike's flickr photostream to see many more dazzling moments from throughout the weekend.

Photos used with the express written permission of the photographer.

Posted by Jo Weldon, Headmistress of The New York School of Burlesque, for

Costumes from the Burlesque Hall of Fame

There were several gorgeous costumes which had been worn by burlesque legends on display at the Burlesque Bazaar that was part of the weekend's events. Here are a few snaps! If you click on any of these pictures, you'll be taken to my flickr photostream where there are several more shots and more details.

Blaze Starr's Gown

Kiva's Beaded Bra

Posted by Jo Weldon, Headmistress of The New York School of Burlesque, for

Beware of the Terrible Underboob

'Somehow in Vegas, city of sin and beacon of debauchery, excess and immodesty, a burlesque show of all things was censored this weekend. Never mind that there are strip clubs every five hundred feet, including all nude joints where everything ends up on the floor. Never mind that just outside Clark County limits anyone of age with a bit of cash can indulge in a sexual escapade at a totally legal brothel. The Nevada Gaming Commission simply cannot allow these women, professionals dancers some of whom have traveled more than 13 hours to disrobe in alluring fashion, to perform unimpeded.'
Miss Exotic World contestants have it covered … mostly

That's right. After the Thursday night opening party, Palms officials told the BHOF organizers that the dancers need to cover their breasts from the areola down, as required by the Games Commission.

The Palms was a bit odd in so many ways. Other guests at the Palms kept reacting to the BHOF revelers like we had three heads, and I kept …

Special Categories Winners!

There are special categories awards for performers at the Miss Exotic World Pageant, and here are this year's winners!

Most Classic
Evie Lovell

Most Comical
Clams Casino

Most Innovative (Tie)
Clams Casino
Trixie Little

Most Dazzling
Lux La Croix

I'm hoping more pictures of the their acts are forthcoming so you can see why they're superlative. It was such a great show!

Posted by Jo Weldon, Headmistress of The New York School of Burlesque, for

When the Glass Broke--Key West Burlesque

Because I was working and didn't have much opportunity to take pictures, my beloved friend and business partner Whitney Ward, who is my regular annual date for the Miss Exotic World/Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend, took lots of pictures and put them on my computer for me to blog at will. Possibly my favorite of her captures is this sequence from the show at the Sunday pool party.

Red Rooster Revue

Posted by Jo Weldon, Headmistress of The New York School of Burlesque, for

Miss Exotic World Pageant Winners!

Did I really think I was going to have time to blog on this wild trip???

I just have to make this post happen, though. Thanks to all the performers, the producers, volunteers, and audience of the show, and congratulations to the winners!

Best Debut

Perle Noire
Image from Perle's myspace

Best Duo

Jewel of Denial and Kat Bardot
Image from Jewel's myspace

Best Boylesque

Sin Jyn
Photo by Daniel R. Kane

Best Troupe

Peak-a-boo Revue
Photo from the Revue's myspace

2nd Runner Up for Miss Exotic World

Trixie Little
Photo by me

1st Runner Up for Miss Exotic World

Lux La Croix
Image from Lux's myspace

Miss Exotic World 2008

Angie Pontani
Photo by Whitney Ward

And thanks to our judges, Catherine D'Lish, Lily Burana, Lisa Kereszi, Grant Philipo, and Viva La Fever! The performers were all outstanding and they had quite a task.

When I get home I'll post more photos. In the meantime, search on flickr for "exotic world" and "burlesque hall of fame," and yo…

My Bust by Liz McGrath in the Breast Defense Show

This is waaaay better than even what I fantasized about!

I'll be posting many more pictures from this and the rest of the weekend in my flickr photostream, which you can access by clicking on the photo.

Posted by Jo Weldon, Headmistress of The New York School of Burlesque, for

Kids These Days! A Report from Alpha Psi Ecdysia

Some of my students from upstate are performing in Manhattan Thursday night! Here's a report on how this came about. I wanted to edit their workshop feedback because I got shy reading it, it was too sweet. But I'm not going to censor the piece because it's too complimentary, that's for sure.

Article by Lucida Sans

Most college Greek societies require creepy hazing rituals or at least four kegs for anyone to take their top off; Alpha Psi Ecdysia needs only to schedule a meeting. That's because Alpha Psi Ecdysia is not a sorority, but the official burlesque troupe of SUNY New Paltz—one of only three burlesque troupes on an American college campus and the only one to operate out of a public university. A.P.E. was born this Spring, when new-girl-in-town Lucida Sans (that’s me—hi!) realized that her sexy and talented classmates--including a champion hula hooper, a fire dancer, a girl with a sexy lobster costume and nowhere to wear it, and some of the most badass co…