Sep 26, 2012

Burlesque Icons Through the Ages

Victorian Burlesque also known as, “extravaganza” became popular in the London theaters in the mid 19th century. At the time burlesque was characterized as musical theater parody--adaptations of plays the likes of Shakespeare. Actress Madame Vestris  became famous for producing some of the first burlesques in London.
Madame Vestris dressed as six of her favorite characters (Apollo, Page, Don Giovanni, 
Captain Macheath, Maria Darlington, and Mandane)  (image source)

Theater port card of the British Blonde
Burlesque troupe (image source)

American Burlesque was an offshoot of Victorian burlesque, first popularized in the 1860’s in New York, by the British burlesque troop the “British Blondes." American Burlesque quickly evolved into a performance genre unlike its predecessor, assimilating lewd humor, decadent costume, and the strip tease into the acts. By the 20th century burlesque could be found in establishments throughout the United States. As its popularity grew, stars of burlesque emerged, including Josephine Baker, Mae West, Gypsy Rose Lee, Bettie Page, and our most contemporary burlesque icon, Dita Von Tesse.

American Burlesque Icons 

Josephine Baker, American-born French singer, dancer,
and actress, she rose to fame in the 1930's. (image source)
Mae West, American actress, and sex symbol.
She rose to fame in the 1930's in vaudeville and 
on the stage in New York. (image source)


Gypsy Rose Lee. American Burlesque performer famous for her strip tease,
and witty humor. Lee rose to fame in the late 1930's,  her 1957 memoir was
adapted into the acclaimed musical Gypsy(image source)

Bettie Page, American-born model best known
for her "pin-ups". She rose to fame in the 1950's 
when she appeared in Playboy magazine as 
"Miss January 1955".   (image source)
Dita Von Teese. American Burlesque dancer, costume designer, 
and model,  dubbed the "Queen of Burlesque". Von Teese 
played a major role in reviving burlesque in the 1990's.  
(image source)

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