Modern Burlesque and the Creation of Identity

August 24, 2010

*All rights reserved. This does not belong to you. Do not take it.*

Introduction

My introduction to modern burlesque came one summer day in 2009 at Whole Foods Market in Dallas, Texas; me sans makeup or any decently not-frumpy clothing. A woman who I later learned to be a burlesque dancer herself approached me and asked if I was a burlesque performer. I remember stuttering some excuse for “no” and she smiled friendly enough and offered me a card for a dance studio that taught burlesque. I fought with the decision for over a month; whether I had the self-esteem, whether it was a worthy expedition, would it conflict with family values, etc. I finally signed up, and much to my dismay I found I was the only student in the 6-week course. The teacher was warm and inviting and slowly taught me the basic history of burlesque and the beginnings of becoming a performer. What I didn’t realize until very late in the course was that in the process of teaching me how to be a dancer and a performer again, she had given me more than I had ever expected. Not only had I become dancer-fit like I used to be when I was younger, but I stood up straight, smiled more, and for once, I demanded attention when I came into a room rather than hiding in the shadows. Glamour became an aspect of my daily life; I could finally justify taking the time on my appearance if it boosted my confidence in everyday world. My wardrobe changed, my mood changed and for once I had began to realize who I was.

When I returned to Agnes Scott College in the fall of 2009, I chose to pursue burlesque in any way I could. As I began to introduce myself to performers, to create connections into that world and hear the stories, I realized that the transformation that had occurred in my life was not a singular experience. Modern burlesque is deeply rooted in the history of feminism and female sexual identity and proves more than an entertainment art form: it is a way of life, a personal identity.

I will present to you the immense impact this art form has had on the individuals that live the life of burlesque. I will show similarities in the individual identity to create a collective and powerful group notion of self, sexuality and femininity. I will share the stories and experiences of artists from many different backgrounds and their understanding of what it means to be a burlesque dancer. I will address the basic history about burlesque that is integral to understanding the art form, the accessories that make it possible, the connect (or disconnect) between family life and performing, and the communal experiences that make it worthwhile and important to this cultural group.

My research is an accumulation of formal, written interviews with performers from Texas and Georgia, two of the rising larger populations of burlesque performers, coming up quickly to the cities of Chicago and New York where the art began. These interviews are intermingled with historical research, photography, videos and personal recollections of events and experiences.

History

While every dancer has a different level of knowledge about how modern burlesque came to be, most have a basic understanding of the background to understand the importance of burlesque as an art form. The simplest yet solid understanding of the history was given by Austin performer Sin O’Rita, who said, “I know it all started from Little Egypt here in the U.S. then grew from Chicago and New York with Ziegler’s Follies. Then Vegas” (Email interview. March 25, 2010). More detailed is a description from Brigitte Noir, who said:

Burlesque is a relatively general term…it thrived as a risqué form of entertainment focusing on the tease of striptease. WWII popularized the pinup girl, and this culture swirled and grew into the mid-century when women like Tempest Storm and Bettie Page popularized the art. By the sixties, nude performers focused more on the sexuality of the performance edged out the aging burlesque star. Clearly the affinity for retro culture has re-popularized this form of entertainment and it’s enjoying a large comeback in multiple different incarnations (Email interview. March 24, 2010).

Robert C. Allen has written perhaps the most prolific text on the history of burlesque, Horrible Prettiness: The History of Burlesque in America. His interpretation of the history starts much before where most performers tend to mark the beginning. His most common dates are between 1890 and WWII in America, and began with Lydia Thompson bringing her troupe of “British Blondes” to New York City. The term “burlesque” was used to represent performances that were making fun of classic plays that were popular at the time. There was a shocking lack of political correctness in the acts that appealed to many, and they often flipped gender roles with women particularly playing men and dressing out of proper attire. Lydia Thompsons poem in ode to her troupe published in Allen’s book makes light of her recognition of the sexuality implicit nature in their acts and her intention to profit on it:

And way down in front by the footlights glow,
The bald-headed men sat in the front row.
They had big glasses to see all the sights
Including the blondes who danced in silk tights.
-Lydia Thompson (23)


For as much popularity as burlesque was gaining at this time, it also caused much uproar and unrest. Allen quotes newspaper writer Richard Grant White, who wrote:

It means something, this outbreak of burlesque acting all over the world. No mere accident has made so monstrous a kind of entertainment equally acceptable to three publics so different as those of Paris, London, and New York. And by monstrous I do not mean wicked, disgusting or hateful, but monstrously incongruous and unnatural. The peculiar trait of burlesque is the defiance of the natural and the conventional. Rather, it forces the conventional and the natural together just at the points where they are most remote, and the result is absurdity, monstrosity. Its system is a defiance of the system. It is out of all keeping… [Burlesque] casts down the gods from their pedestals (25).

The movement from theatrical burlesque to stripping, or early known as the “cooch-dance” or “cooch-show” is where most modern performers begin their history, but that is not to say that modern performers do not acknowledge and take part in the theatrical and humorous aspects of past burlesque. Performer Crystal Pistols addresses the working-class nature of burlesque then (and now), “I always liked the fact that it was the entertainment for the ‘poor to middle class’ of society. I feel like that is a large part of why it pokes fun at a lot of taboo subjects that higher society would consider quite improper” (Email interview. March 31, 2010).


Beyond the old roots of burlesque, many dancers take their inspiration from the notorious names of burlesque long after Lydia Thompson, such as Gypsy Rose Lee, Tempest Storm, Lili St. Cyr, and Bettie Page. They are the most often mentioned as the performers that integrated the humor of theatrical burlesque with the striptease. Unfortunately, these performers were also at the decline of burlesque, as performers moved into Hollywood, or into more sexual roles that no longer qualified as art. But these women were, and still are iconic for all performers in that they represent an important ideal in burlesque of the “spectacular female”, creating an identity for women onstage that is different than what would be expected for a woman offstage. He writes:

That first season of modern burlesque in America was disturbing – and threatening – because it presented a world without limits, a world turned upside down and inside out in which nothing was above being brought down to earth. In that world, things that should be kept separate were united in grotesque hybrids. Meaning refused to stay put (28-9).


This meaning has stayed with modern burlesque performers as they attempt to redefine what it means to turn femininity and sexuality “upside down and inside out” in a different era of female power. As Talloolah Love, part of Atlanta’s Syrens of the South burlesque troupe explained, “Though there are valid arguments on both sides of the fence as to whether Burlesque is feminist of if it’s just a cry for love and attention from the masses, I can only speak for me in that it has done more as a woman for me that I ever did before” (Email interview. April 5, 2010).

Beauty

I’ve always had some rebellious, theatrical streak that never quite came to fruition until my trysts into burlesque. As a child I lived a dual life of tomboy with glamorous tendencies rooting through strands of pearls, shimmery dresses and oversized heels (not to mention too much obnoxious red lipstick). I lost touch with this aspect of my femininity until learning burlesque. When reading the responses from other performers, there is a general sentiment and admiration for the glamour of it all: the hair, the makeup, and the costumes. Talloolah Love, one half of the Atlanta Burlesque duo Syrens of the South had a similar sentiment to mine, “I have always loved glamour. I always asked for dress up clothes before I ever asked for dolls or ponies as a little girl,” (Email interview. April 5, 2010) and discussed how burlesque changed her outward appearance as well, “I learned how to style my hair, do my makeup, and really care for my appearance and value my sexuality rather than hide it” (Email interview. April 5, 2010). Humorously, Black Mariah from Dallas TX wrote, “I’ve never been one to go through lipstick particularly fast. I blow through a tube of Rimmel “Temptation” red lipstick every couple months” (Email interview. March 25, 2010).


There is a higher respect for performers who create their own costumes rather than buy readymade attire. Performers like The Lady Miss Vagina Jenkins and Katherine Lashe of Syrens of the South receive much appreciation from the audience and other dancers for their elaborately handcrafted costumes. Even among fledgling performers, even if working off of a low budget is it considered better to create a costume than buy one. It is in this vein that Burlesque “schools” such as Ms. Indigo Blue’s Burlesque Academy and the Syrens of the South’s 123s and ABCs courses have several points of emphasis on costume-creation for the not domestically-inclined. Talloolah Love explained the beginnings of her passion for the costumes, “I had the good fortune to be surrounded by incredible visionaries and artists who really understood the beauty and glamour of yesteryear. It was like a reawakening of sorts to me and it came completely natural that I take the first step to performing on its stage” (Email interview. April 5, 2010).

Thrift is another crucial element to burlesque. As it is in art form, it is also paid as one. Though there are the select few who make good money on performing alone, often travel costs and supplies leave most burlesque performers with a small profit or they break even. Dallas performer Black Mariah added about the disconnect between pay and cost, “People think rhinestones grow on trees I suppose…” (Email interview. March 25, 2010).
The crucial aspects of burlesque costumes, whether glitter, rhinestones, fringe, or feathers – anything that helps draw attention to your presence – they infiltrate all aspects of a burlesque performer’s life. I find myself setting my hair with rollers, or buying items of clothing that I wouldn’t have dared before, with the hope that I might use it in a costume someday. Dallas performer Brigitte Noir wrote, “At home, I’m surrounded in the costume of the moment, what looks like the remnants of an exotic bird ranch, and leftover scraps and sequins and beads from the last costume I made” (Email interview. March 25, 2010).

When I first began my fieldwork, I chose to attend the Atlanta Burlesque and Cabaret Meetup at the James Joyce Pub in Avondale Estates, GA.  Despite my expanded knowledge about the proper hair, makeup and style typical for this type of group event, finding the perfect medium between dressed-up and over-dressed is a blurry line at best. My outfit was deemed acceptable, as I was immediately showered with praise about my hair, my earrings, and my dress. A woman with long black hair and painted eyebrows took interest in me immediately, she later became known to me as a Syrens of the South performer Ursula Undress. Her recognition of me, from somewhere neither of us could pinpoint seemed to put the rest of the group at ease. Two of the ladies were obviously dancers, in pin-up regalia, and they were soon introduced as the two founders of Syrens of the South, Katherine Lashe and Talloolah Love. I found out later that two of the men were husbands; one was a tech for all of their shows and the other was a photographer. Another smaller woman in the corner I found out towards the end happened to be another Syren, Rosie Palms. The initial reaction just based on appearance alone shows the use of costume (in varying degrees) as an identifying factor for the group. Had I been over-dressed or underdressed that initial recognition that put the group at ease about my presence, as part of the in-group would not have existed.

The spring before my infamous introduction to burlesque, a semester into college I got seriously ill. Due to the illness, I gained a good deal of weight and had both the makings of an eating disorder and depression. My summer in Dallas was meant as a recovery, and burlesque made that more than possible. Though I did lose weight thanks to the rigorous workout of training to be a performer, I learned more about being comfortable in my own skin, regardless of the weight. When talking to performers, I realized that this had been the case for many of the seasoned dancers. Sin O’Rita had a particularly poignant comment, “[With burlesque] I grew confidence I never had. I love my body as a size 14. Back in the day I was a size 5 and hated myself. If made me a stronger, more confidant person” (Email interview. March 25, 2010). Black Mariah seconded that opinion, “I really embraced the fact that I am a curvy woman. I realized there is a huge need for curvy female role models in America. Every show I had, women thanked me for performing as I proved to them that sexy is not size relevant. I have no desire to be thin ever again” (Email interview. March 25, 2010).

I remember the first burlesque show I attended in Atlanta was the solo debut of The Lady Miss Vagina Jenkins at Eyedrum Gallery. Her stage presence was astounding: she is large and boisterous, with handmade costumes with such attention to detail they make your eyes hurt to look at them. Everyone in attendance was on the edge of their seat as she took off multiple layers of gloves, gowns and stockings, going through one costume change and doing it all again to a compilation of classic Burlesque tunes, Beatles, Prince and some more modern songs. It wasn’t until after the show that I realized her proclivity in the Burlesque scene, the awards she’d won, the interviews she’d done. Her style immediately appealed to me because it was classic, sexy and riveting all at the same time. She openly recognized her body wasn’t the modern expectation of beauty, and she embraced every curve of it. It set in me a passion to know more about these women, to try to fill their shoes. As Ruby Manhattan described her experience:

“…I felt so proud watching these women that I didn’t know who didn’t have ‘perfect bodies’. They seemed so confident and boisterous. I wanted to feel that way about myself…. [Burlesque has made me love myself more. I’m a plus sized girl and always have been, but I never through I was a “sex symbol” until I started doing burlesque…I hold my head higher and walk with a little bit more of a strut” (Email interview. March 27, 2010).

Community
To be a burlesque dancer, there is both a deep connection with other performers and audience, and often a lack of family acceptance as well. This proves bittersweet for performers – to gain one bond, they often lose another. Both my parents knew about burlesque before I started pursuing it, and we went to shows both together and separately. They were very supportive of me taking the class, thinking it would bring back some of my confidence, but they didn’t realize to what extent. When I told them I was going to consider performing, my father was surprisingly quite pleased, with little problem viewing it as an art form. My mother, who has since started taking burlesque courses herself, is much more of the belief that with all of the benefits burlesque provides to the individual, it should not leave the private sphere.


I’ve hit on the middle ground of the burlesque performer, and I realize that I have it better than most. Brigitte Noir simply stated, “We don’t talk about it…” (Email interview. March 25, 2010). Sin O’Rita lives a precarious balance with her Pentecostal Preacher father, choosing to withhold some information about how exactly she performs (Email interview. March 25, 2010). Black Mariah has a similar situation, saying, “My mom has always been supportive of me in whatever I want to do. I think she hoped for a career she could gush about to her church friends, but things don’t always work out like our parents hoped for, right?” (Email interview. March 25, 2010). At the Atlanta Burlesque and Cabaret Meetup, the performers gushed over Talloolah Love’s young girl, who had made frequent attendance to her mother’s shows. They laughed about a rockabilly festival performance where baby got on stage with mom during the routine and proceeded to dance as mom’s clothes went flying. Though this is an experience neither other performers nor Talloolah wanted a repeat of, it made a point that as a mother Talloolah wants her daughter to know what her mother does, and that it is okay.


Ruby Manhattan has a split family life because of her choice to perform:

My mother doesn’t understand why a married woman with kids wants to take her clothes off for a bunch of strangers. She thinks I’m too old and too fat but I don’t pay too much attention to what she says, I just smile and nod and let her have her two cents. My husband on the other hand…he was a little wary of it at first until he saw me perform and one, had a little bit more of an understanding that it’s an art form, it’s not just “stripping” ; and two, saw how the audience reacted to my routine. Now he’s my biggest fan (Email interview. March 25, 2010).

But ultimately, many of the performers who have lost connections with their family often find solace in the massive amounts of audience adoration and participation at shows. Ruby Manhattan shared her debut story:

I remember feeling nervous, but not too much. I was mostly excited. During the show I felt almost high. I was proud and felt sexy and untouchable and on top of the world. Afterwards I had never been so proud of myself. The audience was so welcoming and just showered me with praise. Outside, after the show a group of women came up to me and said, “Okay, we’ve taken a vote and we love you!” It was one of the best nights of my life (Email interview. March 25, 2010).

So many of the performers shared similar thrilling debut stories, and overall the most satisfying part of burlesque was in fact the performance. That concept is what distinguishes burlesque from stripping. Tulsa of Belladonna De Lux wrote in The Age article “Confessions of a burlesque ingénue” (Huston, 2007), “Stripping is about what the audience wants to see…Burlesque is all about what the performer wants to show you. It has a sense of humor; it’s a joke, a dance, a circus.”


This aspect was apparent in my time at the 1st Annual Windy City Burlesque Festival in Chicago, IL. On a particularly cold night in April, throngs of people huddled into the Greenhouse Theatre to see dozens of performers bare it all in 5 different shows. Our particular show had 15 different acts, from burlesque to vaudeville to “boy-lesque” (men dressed in drag who still consider themselves male), and comedy. The house was completely full, with people sitting on stairs. Our hostess for the evening, dancer Ms. Pixy enters, welcoming everyone warmly to the festival with her martini glass and full length gold lame gown. Chuckling, her first address is “Ladies and Gentlemen! We’re going to play a game. The game is – if your ticket does not say Cabaret Stage, you win, because you’re on the wrong room. Would the winners please stand up?” A few people shuffle out of the theatre to the applause of the audience and the relief of the members who were sitting uncomfortably on the stairs.

Immediately, it is apparent that Ms. Pixy knows how to work the crowd, to get them riled up and excited for each performance. She stumbles and giggles, telling the story of her lover, “Mr. Martini” as she sips the drink delicately. This is an act that precedes almost all of her introductions of the performers, and with ample audience participation, it doesn’t get old. The sound system is fading out and she speaks with the microphone even though it isn’t working, not making the distinction until three-quarters of the way through the show.


As a piece of advice to any burlesque enthusiast, Brigitte Noir offered this, “When we’re on the stage, make noise. Hoot, holler, whistle – this is supposed to be fun, and the fun is the pastiche, not the sex, so when we’re offstage, hands to yourself, gentlemen!” (Email interview. March 25, 2010). This is exactly the environment that was created in Chicago. The most notable performer by far was a Miss Orchid Mei from Denver Colorado, an Asian performer in a gorgeous green gown and long, wavy black hair. She is the epitome of what classic burlesque is supposed to be, and she strips slowly and sensually. Her act also takes an oriental flair when she breaks our ribbon fans that match her outfit, creating waves around her form. The room is silent for the most part, with “oohs” and “ahhs” often. We are all mesmerized, and she smiles knowingly. As performer Ella Adorabelle from Baldwin Missouri who is known for mixing burlesque and classic ballet, the sound system gets worse, and the music is barely audible. The audience as if by instinct cheers and whistles louder as she bounds and leaps. Despite the musical pitfalls, thanks to the interaction and encouragement of the audience she can continue to smile radiantly and finish smoothly. This audience attentiveness continues as several more performers dance through the sound mishaps. Roxy Red Rockets from St. Louis does a science-fiction routine with blinking LEDS on her panties and pasties. Mimi Le Yu, also from St. Louis does a naughty bookworm routine, and Gia Nova, Playboy model from Atlanta did an Alice in Wonderland routine in a teacup, reminiscent of Dita Von Teese’s Martini Glass routine performed for Heff.

Black Mariah gave this insight on how she came to perform:

Before [my debut] show began, I was nervous. I think that’s the first time in my life I had been nervous about going on stage. All the nerves went away as soon as I began the number. I was very confident in what I was doing. I knew as soon as I began that this was what I was meant to be (Email interview. March 25, 2010).

This sentiment is echoed in many of the interviews, and was always apparent in the shows.  Backstage before the Syrens of the South student showcase, everyone is nervous. It is in the air when you walk in, though everyone smiles and laughs. The only two in the room that aren’t nervous were the two seasoned professionals, Talloolah Love and Katherine Lashe. Makeup is being painted on and wigs are being combed. There are snags in fishnets and rhinestones falling off, but that is the last thing on people’s minds. Katherine interviews each of the fledgling performers before they go on stage, asking them about their fears and worries. Their costumes and personas are varied; in a matter of hours I’ve watched them transform from man to woman, housewife to home-wrecker, business woman to vamp. Each performance goes without a hitch and as they come back stage scantily clad I sense that same sense of pride and accomplishment echoed in each of the interviews.

Courtney Crave shared her elaborate debut story:

The first solo burlesque routine I did was for Angela Ryan [burlesque performer]’s birthday party. I popped out of a giant cake and did a Marilyn [Monroe] styled “Happy Birthday Mr. President” bit for her, then I broke through the cake and did a strip to the song “Angela” by Motley Crue with her sitting in a chair on stage. I remember before the show feeling like I was going to vomit and wet myself at the same time…I remember not wanting to do my routine, but I was already onstage sitting inside this giant fake cake, waiting for the music to start so I could pop out of the top. Afterward I was so high and proud of myself that I couldn’t wait to go do it again (Email interview. March 25, 2010).

For Courtney, it is apparent that her community was already built before she decided to perform, leaving her more room to explore, to be as daring as she was with her debut, but it did not stop her from being as equally nervous as the other performers I interviewed. At the student showcase for Syrens of the South, it is apparent that these women who came from such different walks of life had obviously created a bond, not only with each other as new performers, but to their teachers, their mentors, and the audience that was so supportive of their debut. Regardless whether these students choose to continue a burlesque career, they have created a social and emotional bond with a unique group of individuals that will not be severed.

Identity

Self-identifying as a burlesque dancer seeps into all aspects of a performer’s life, from the physical and communal nature of identity expressed above, and into their emotional responses to their life as a whole. Many of these women have day jobs, from legal assistants to beauticians to seamstresses to stay-at-home moms. Regardless if they are splitting themselves from day to night, it is clear that there is a line. For some, like Brigitte Noir, it is a more definitive difference:

“[Burlesque gave me two [identities]. I have “friends” that come to most all of the shows and they don’t know my real name. They don’t know that I’m a graduate student and that I was once a news reporter and hope to be again soon. Brigitte gets away with whatever she wants. Shannon doesn’t ask for anything. It’s a fantasy that I recognize readily (Email interview. March 27, 2010).

For many other performers, however, the line between “real life” and the life of a performer is blurred. There are those like dancer Ginger Valentine who is successful living a life full of burlesque, as the creator of Ginger Valentine’s Burlesque Charm School in Dallas, TX who has fully claimed that identity, “I’ve had an unwavering need to perform since I arrived on this planet. [Burlesque] hasn’t changed my identity, I’m always here. I don’t wear a mask on stage” (Facebook interview. April 7, 2010). Courtney Crave has a similar sentiment, though burlesque is not her primary vocation, “Luckily for me, my alter ego happens to be who I am all the time. I didn’t need to create an alternate personality style to be a performer, I was that all along” (Email interview. March 27, 2010).  Ruby Manhattan said, “Ruby is part of who I am. I love her and I let a little bit of her come out every day, whether it is while I’m rehearsing of while I’m walking down the supermarket isle swinging my hips” (Email interview. March 25, 2010).

Conclusion

According to Erving Goffman’s Performance Theory, burlesque can serve several functions for the individual and community at large. In The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, he argues,
“…the social front can be divided into traditional parts, such as setting, appearance, and manner and that (since different routines may be presented from behind the same front) we may not find a perfect fit between the specific character of a performance and the general socialized guise in which is appears to us (Goffman, 29).

Though I doubt he ever thought his theories would be applied to burlesque performers, he holds an important point that ties all aspects addressed. Historically as we’ve seen, Burlesque was created to poke fun and make statements about the state of politics and female sexuality. As we have progressed as women and as feminist thinkers over the century, burlesque has progressed with it. The revival of modern burlesque from the depths of the overtly sexualized pornography industry makes a statement about reviving femininity and sensuality.

Though this is by no means a complete representation of how burlesque identity is cultivated and nurtured, it is a view into a lifestyle that has been lacking in representation. As the revival of burlesque grows larger, the media will pay more attention to the impact it has begun to have on female sexual identity as a whole. The beginning of understanding the overarching social implication of a new feminine identity through burlesque performance starts with the stories of those experiencing the change. As Talloolah Love summed up:

We are the carnies of the modern age, traveling the road on shekels we squirreled for months, to get on a plane if we are lucky, or in to our SUV’s to tote our feather fans, and hand sewn costumes, and homemade props, or in our tour vans that have no AC and no shocks, with scarce enough to buy pretzels and a bottle of water on the way home. All in hopes to spread our names or our vision to the masses. All to make fifty to a hundred dollars to rush home to be back at the day job in order to do it all over again in the next weekend. It’s a labor of love and then some, but we do it all for the sake of art and the roar of a crowd (Email interview. March 27, 2010).

I don’t know where I’m going with this compilation, but I know that it certainly has changed me, and I hope it has given you a better understanding of a rising popular folklore with grand social implications for the future of the woman, and all that term entails.

Sources

A Wink and a Smile: The Art of Burlesque. Deirdre Timmons. Golden Echo Films, 2008.

Allen, Robert C. (1991). Horrible Prettiness: Burlesque and American Culture. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.

Burlesque Magazine. (2010, April 12). Retrieved from http://www.burlesquemag.com/

Bastian, S. Learning Curves: A Conversation with Burlesque Documentarian Deidre Timmons. Retrieved April 12, 2010 from On Screen Magazine website: http://www.onscreenmag.com/feature-articles/learning-curves/

Deidre, Timmons. “A Wink and a Smile Trailer” 24 March 2009. Online video clip. YouTube. Accessed on 4 April 2010. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IjDNZJYuQAY&feature=player_embedded&gt;

Deven, M. (2009, April 16). Deidre Does Burlesque. Retrieved April 12, 2010 from Bitch Magazine Website: http://bitchmagazine.org/post/deirdre-does-burlesque-an-interview-and-a-smile

Doughton, KJ. (2008, July 29). “A Wink and A Smile”: Interview with Director Deidre Timmons. Retrieved April 12, 2010 from Film Threat Website: http://www.filmthreat.com/interviews/1206/

Gray, Francine. (2005, February 28). Dirty Dancing: The Rise and Fall of the American Striptease. Retrieved April 14, 2010 from The New Yorker Archives: http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2005/02/28/050228crbo_books

Queens of Vintage. (2010, April 4). Burlesque: A Short History. Retrieved from http://www.queensofvintage.com/burlesque-a-short-history

On Burlesque Festivals

Belmont Burlesque Revue. (2010, April 12). Retrieved from http://www.belmontburlesque.com/press.php

Burlesque Hall of Fame. (2010, April 12). Retrieved from http://www.burlesquehall.com/

Dallas Observer. (2010, April 12). Picture Show: Dallas Burlesque Festival at the Texas Theater. Retrieved from http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/dc9/2010/02/picture_show_dallas_burlesque.php

New Orleans Burlesque Festival. (2010, April 12). Retrieved from http://itsburlesque.com/

Pincurl Magazine. (2010, April 12). Dallas Burlesque Fest Recap. Retrieved from http://pincurlmag.com/tag/dallas-burlesque-festival

Windy City Burlesque Festival. (2010, April 12). Retrieved from http://www.windycityburlesquefest.com/

On Burlesque Academies
Ginger Valentine’s Burlesque Charm School. (2010, April 13). Retrieved from http://www.gingerv.com/burlesque-charm-school/

London Academy of Burlesque. (2010, April 13). Retrieved from http://www.londonacademyofburlesque.com/

Miss Indigo Blue’s Academy of Burlesque. (2010, April 13). Retrieved from http://www.academyofburlesque.com/

New York School of Burlesque. (2010, April 13). Retrieved from http://www.schoolofburlesque.com/

Studio l’Amour. (2010, April 13). Retrieved from http://studiolamour.com/

On Video Clips
Belmont Burlesque. “Ms. Pixy – Save You” 13 October 2007. Online video clip. YouTube. Accessed 4 April 2010. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqF5jvjI1AQ&feature=player_embedded&gt;

“Catherine D’lish with the World’s Largest Feather Fans” 4 October 2009. Online video clip. YouTube. Accessed 4 April 2010. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVHm30o91cA&feature=related&gt;

“Dita Von Teese – Martini Glass Dance (Pussycat Dolls Show)” 7 October 2007. Online video clip. YouTube. Accessed 4 April 2010. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xu55N302lJk&gt;

“Elle Adorabelle as Betty Boop” 15 November 2009. Online video clip. YouTube. Accessed 4 April 2010. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJT_tlsCqDg&gt;

“Ginger Valentine – The 1st Annual New Orleans Burlesque Festival” 6 November 2009. Online video clip. YouTube. Accessed 4 April 2010. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGExMS-jyNo&gt;

“Hot Talloolah Pie” 8 February 2010.  Online video clip. YouTube. Accessed 4 April 2010. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8lFWySRE6y4&gt;

Kristen Cherise. “Dallas Observer Party 2009 – Black Mariah” 4 March 2010. Online video clip. YouTube. Accessed 4 April 2010. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTMfwItSjbc&gt;

“Michelle L’Amour – The 1st Annual New Orleans Burlesque Festival” 5 October 2009. Online video clip. YouTube. Accessed 4 April 2010. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mU2y_XVgd_A&feature=related&gt;

“Miss Indigo Blue’s Triple Fan Dance” 14 November 2007. Online video clip. YouTube. Accessed 4 April 2010. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9nwOaYt7JI&gt;

“Orchid Mei – The 1st Annual New Orleans Burlesque Festival” 4 October 2009. Online video clip. YouTube. Accessed 4 April 2010. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikUe_s5vm9U&gt;

Ruby Revue. “Dallas Burlesque Festival” 25 March 2009. Online video clip. YouTube. Accessed 4 April 2010. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGAGjxITa0Q&gt;

“Sin O’Rita Classic Burlesque” 29 July 2009. Online video clip. YouTube. Accessed 4 April 2010. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyAkNsd2J_0&gt;

“Trapeze Disrobing Act.” 30 September 1902. Online video clip. YouTube. Accessed on 4 April 2010. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdxoZcHG9BY&gt;

“Ursula Undress performs at ‘Vegas or Bust'” 13 March 2010. Online video clip. YouTube. Accessed 4 April 2010. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hfCU9VrboA&gt;

“Vagina Jenkins Covered in Sex, Wine and Chocolate” 2 October 2008. Online video clip. YouTube. Accessed 4 April 2010. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0O6QM1mo5_g

Theory
Goffman, Erving. (1990). The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. New York, NY: Doubleday.

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4 Responses to “Modern Burlesque and the Creation of Identity”

  1. Helena Powell said

    Hi thank you thank you for this article! I am just at the beginning of my new identity, my real identity and have recently found burlesque. It has given me a way to be that person I really am, expressing my sexuality in a good way. Not covering it up not hiding it, and having a good time. Thank you again!

  2. Sherry said

    Would like more info into the school in Dallas. Is there one in Ft Worth/Arlington?

  3. Caroline said

    I love this article! I have been had an interest in burlesque and pin ups for awhile. This article really teaches you a lot!

  4. david said

    Really great and interesting article. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts
    dave

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