The Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekender was a couple of weeks ago, and while I wasn’t able to attend (one day!), it did make me start to reminisce on the burlesque artists from years past — names like Tempest Storm, Blaze Starr, Lily St. Cyr, and Noel Toy.
I love burlesque, and I have a tremendous amount of admiration and respect for the women who paved the way for Dita Von Teese, Catherine D’Lish, Perle Noire, Dirty Martini, and all the other “greats” of burlesque today. At a time when women’s sexuality was still very heavily policed, these women were doing something incredibly radical and risky. And for women of color especially, the potential penalties were profound (which is part of why their near-invisibility today is so heartbreaking).
Apart from all that though, burlesque queens of the past had some amazing costumes. We’re talking garments I would give my eyeteeth to own today. I’ve pulled a few of my favorite vintage burlesque stars for this blog post, but there are lots more on the TLA Pinterest and on the Tumblr blogs Burleskateer and Burlyqnell. And while there are definitely some famous names on this list, I’ve also tried to include a few you may not have heard of before.
What’s your favorite photo of the ones below?