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A Look Back: 20 Glorious Photos of Vintage Burlesque Dancers

blaze starr

Blaze Starr

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 heavily policed, these women were doing something 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 a few teeth to own today. I've listed some of my favorite vintage burlesque stars for this blog post, but there are lots more on the TLA Pinterest. While there are definitely some famous names in this piece, I've also tried to include a few you may not have heard of before.

What's your favorite photo of the ones below?

gypsy rose lee 2

Gypsy Rose Lee

dorian dennis 3

Dorian Dennis

tempest storm

Tempest Storm

miss topsy

Miss Topsy



tootsie roll

Tootsie Roll



barbara yung

Barbara Yung

lonnie young

Lonnie Young

ronnie bell

Ronnie Bell



princess ahi

Princess Ahi

lilly christine the cat girl

Lilly Christine, The Cat Girl

jean idelle

Jean Idelle

jadin wong 2

Jadin Wong

dixie evans the marilyn monroe of burlesque

Dixie Evans, The Marilyn Monroe of Burlesque

mei ling

Mei Ling

april march first lady of burlesque

April March, The First Lady of Burlesque

noel toy

Noel Toy

Satan's Angel

Satan's Angel



Cora Harrington

Founder and Editor in Chief of The Lingerie Addict. Author of In Intimate Detail: How to Choose, Wear, and Love Lingerie. I believe lingerie is fashion too, and that everyone who wants it deserves gorgeous lingerie.

6 Comments on this post

  1. Bob Streeter says:

    Hello, I stumbled onto this page through a facebook group I follow. I wonder if you have any info on an exotic dancer named Trixie La Monte (or LaMonte) who performed mostly in Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New York from maybe the 30s through mid 1950s. This is not to be confused with another Trixie Lamonte in Australia. My Trixie La Monte died in the early 2000s and I now own her personal photo collection, contracts, etc.

  2. Shawna says:

    Great photos…but missing one of the greats…Sally Rand!

  3. Auna says:

    I absolutely love Princess Ahi’s costume! It looks like something you could lounge in waiting for a special someone to get home.

  4. Cath says:

    I absolutely love all of them! It’s so amazing to see such luscious and gorgeous women, burlesque dancers and pin-up models have always been an inspiration for me~
    If I had to pick a favorite, it’s safe to say that Dorian Denis and Saja are tied for the spot…just look at those curves – incredible!

  5. Yushin says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I love looking through the photos. I love how their outfits are almost simple but the girls look so beautiful in them.

  6. sherry says:

    I absolutely love Gypsy Rose Lee and would love to own the costume Princess Ahi has on.thanks for the fotos. loved them all

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