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How do the 40's and burlesque go hand in hand?

LizzieMaine

Bartender
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Where The Tourists Meet The Sea
Burlesque was more than just strippers in the '40s -- it was sort of like vaudeville's bratty little cousin, with comedians, novelty acts, and musicians alongside the gals taking their clothes off. It peaked during the Depression era, where you had people like Sally Rand stripping at the Chicago World's Fair, and it got even more notoriety when Mayor LaGuardia shut down the New York burlesque theatres in 1937.

But it continued in other cities, and a few burlesque personalities became major celebrities during the '40s. Gypsy Rose Lee was probably the most famous of them, making guest appearances on mainstream radio shows, writing articles for mainstream magazines, and appearing in movies. It also got a shot in the arm during the war era, when there were a lot of sailors on liberty looking for things to do while ashore.
 

dhermann1

I'll Lock Up
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9,156
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Da Bronx, NY, USA
The second year of the 1939 New York World's Fair, aka the 1940 World's Fair, pretty much degenerated into a burlesque show. Most of the major nations were engulfed in war, which really yanked the rug out from the whole enterprise. If you look on Youtube for the home movies of the Fair, you'll see lots and lots of clips of girly shows. Pretty tacky and dreary.
 

reetpleat

Call Me a Cab
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2,681
Location
Seattle
LizzieMaine said:
Burlesque was more than just strippers in the '40s -- it was sort of like vaudeville's bratty little cousin, with comedians, novelty acts, and musicians alongside the gals taking their clothes off. It peaked during the Depression era, where you had people like Sally Rand stripping at the Chicago World's Fair, and it got even more notoriety when Mayor LaGuardia shut down the New York burlesque theatres in 1937.

But it continued in other cities, and a few burlesque personalities became major celebrities during the '40s. Gypsy Rose Lee was probably the most famous of them, making guest appearances on mainstream radio shows, writing articles for mainstream magazines, and appearing in movies. It also got a shot in the arm during the war era, when there were a lot of sailors on liberty looking for things to do while ashore.

A burlesque dancer on the radio? Not my preferred choice of venue.
 

ZombieGirl

One of the Regulars
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296
Location
Minnesota
Also for a nice little history lesson on burlesque, in addition to a documentary on its modern form, you might want to check out A Wink and a Smile. It's a fun doc about Miss Indigo Blue's burlesque academy in Seattle.
 

Silver Dollar

Practically Family
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613
Location
Louisville, Kentucky
A lot of comics and comedians came out of burlesque as well as the strippers. The one that shocked me the most was Pinky Lee who used to have a kids' show in the mid 50's. I watched it faithfully. He was sort of like a 1940's Pee Wee Herman. He started as a burlesque comic and wound up having the kids' show. What a shock when I found out.
 

ZombieGirl

One of the Regulars
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296
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Minnesota
LoserVonTeese said:
its sounds fun... its there a beingers class or instructional dvd? :eek:

Miss Indigo Blue is based out of Seattle... I'm not sure what part of CA you're from but I guess it's a possibility for you. I've checked into DVDs just for the fun of it but all I've seen are silly Carmel Elecktra-type work out videos or belly dancing, which is great but just not my thing.

What I really like about Burlesque is that all shapes and sizes of people (that's people, not women) are welcome. There's a place for everyone!
 

GrrlFriday

New in Town
I've taken classes with a woman named Jo Weldon at her New York School of Burlesque. Obviously, that's not Northern California. But I think dancers/teachers form enough of a community nationally that if you emailed her and asked her about instruction out where you are, she might be able to suggest someone.

If that doesn't work, Jo has a couple of DVDs and a book available on Amazon.
 

CherryWry

One of the Regulars
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139
Location
New Hampshire
There are some burlesque work-out videos available (The Pontani Sister's Go-Go Robics is fun) and I know I've seen listings for workshops and instruction in different cities from time to time.

I have Teaserama and Varietease on DVD: they're both 1950s burlesque films, combining comedians, contortionists, musical acts and dancers. They're interesting to watch for a variety of reasons.
 

doctor dan

New in Town
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31
Location
chicago,il usa
A little off subject but I was fortunate to see one of the last Burlesque shows in Chicago. What's funny is, picture 9 boys the oldest being 16 and the youngest being 14 driving the family wagon down to Chicago to see the show. I was 15 years old at the time and one kid was so short he hardly could reach the counter to pay. It cost $5 dollars to get in and when you got to the door a man behind the counter would ask you if you were 21. He looked like someone you would not want to run into on a dark night but after anwsering yes he would hold out a giant of a hand and take your $5 dollars and you could go in. We sat in the third row and we were intertained by a musical act, a magician, juggler, short play, and lastly a stripper. When the stripper came on I know when she saw how young we were she gave us special attention as if doing her act just for us. What is funny is that all of us spent most of the time trying to avoid eye contact and looking at our feet. I still remember her chuckling, because we were way to young for that experience, and the look on our faces made her smile. We always planned to go again but never did, they torn down the theater the next year.
 

dhermann1

I'll Lock Up
Messages
9,156
Location
Da Bronx, NY, USA
When I was a kid growing up in western New York State, wherever we went to War Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo for basketball games, the bus would drive by the Palace Burlesque Theater. The closest any of us ever got to that place was driving by, but ooh hoo, did we react like crazy in the back of the school bus! I think it closed some some around 1970. But its hey day must have been the 40's and 50's.
Edit: It was open from the 1920's till 1977.
 

missminna

New in Town
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11
Location
London
burlesque

US performers in the 40's/50's seem to have cleverly adopted the name of another genre 'burlesque' to distance themselves from crasser styles of stripping (perhaps it was Gypsy Rose Lee who did this, I remember reading that?).
In Europe burlesque was adult cabaret/vaudeville and its female performers with sexually powered acts were largely cross-dressers and older women, often dressed as school girls or other characters, merkins seem to have been strangely popular!
Burlesque seems to be reverting to it's roots back here, tassels and a pretty face are no longer enough..you need talent again which is a good thing.

Minn x
 
Messages
11,580
Location
Covina, Califonia 91722
When it comes to the 1940's and various attitudes shifting at that time I have heard this explanation proposed:

Here in the US we have a dual personality with Puritanism and the world of the flesh that swings in about in tension. It swings like a pendulum and this gives us the era of Prohibition as well as the Roaring Twenties. During the WWII years the Puritan tendencies were some what pushed aside with the concept of providing comfort and relief to the service men and the factory workers, etc.

As the war ends and our service men return from all of those overseas assignments they came back with a more worldly view from European Far East and Middle Eastern views which continued the wane of puritanism in the US. Also they carried the horrors of the war and the need for relief also continued. Because of the reality of war and then the hard post war problems especially in the war torn areas attitudes shifted a bit more and we get a gritty world that has intruded on American life. That which was perceivied as seediness, that was always there but usually hidden previously, it becomes a bit more forward in the life of all Americans. We see this represented in the film noir era. Burlesque was tame compared to the realities that had been lived thru and was tolerated more than previously with the changes from WWII.

There is a reactionary swing back later in the 1950's to represent an idylic US. That's about the time both vaudville and burlesque is invited to become a now traditional part of Las Vegas as well as the Casino segements of the US today. It's part of the Naughty reputation that Las Vegas has still to this day. Lido de Paris comes to Las Vegas as a topless show I think around 1955. As they say the Archbishop called for a boycott, and Americans called for reservations.
 

Puzzicato

One Too Many
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1,843
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Ex-pat Ozzie in Greater London, UK
ZombieGirl said:
Miss Indigo Blue is based out of Seattle... I'm not sure what part of CA you're from but I guess it's a possibility for you. I've checked into DVDs just for the fun of it but all I've seen are silly Carmel Elecktra-type work out videos or belly dancing, which is great but just not my thing.

What I really like about Burlesque is that all shapes and sizes of people (that's people, not women) are welcome. There's a place for everyone!

There seems to be a bit of a cross-over between burlesque and bellydance. Princess Farhana was in Velvet Hammer before she crossed over to bellydance (this is a burlesque DVD, she has some bellydance ones as well http://www.amazon.com/Moves-Cool-Chicks-Burlesque-Workout/dp/B000OCXNT4 ) and in the UK Gwen Booth is a wonderful bellydance who also performs and teaches burlesque under the name Miss Minnie.
 

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