Burlesque, Pasties and Reflections on an Era
Posted by Cheryl Sloane on
I spent today uploading a selection of pasties, nipple ties and body chains on our website. It got me thinking about seduction, tease and the art of the striptease. I have a nostalgic connection with Burlesque. At the age of four I was introduced to the musical Gypsy and immediately wanted to play the role of Mama Rose. Since my singing voice never really materialized, this dream has been relegated to showers, cars and home alone time. Although I did play Electra in an amateur production at a local theatre, my fascination with Burlesque and its higher art form predecessor, Vaudeville, has never waned. In fact, some of the first classes we offered at g boutique were burlesque dancing and pin-up photography.
Why pasties? Why Burlesque?
Bawdy, theatrical, uninhibited, teasing…These words all define American burlesque that flourished from the late 1800’s through the 1930’s when the Prohibitionists convinced municipalities such as New York City to tighten up laws and put too many controls on the burlesque clubs. In this short period of time celebrity strippers like Gypsy Rose Lee, Sally Rand & Margie Hart made a name for themselves along with comedians such as Jackie Gleason, WC Fields, Fanny Brice Danny Kaye & Red Skelton. Following the great age of Vaudeville, Burlesque kept the American tradition of variety shows alive and well almost up to the era of television variety. Many of these burlesque performers went on to be television stars.
In recent years Burlesque or Neo-Burlesque has made a comeback on the live stage. The desire to return to a time when strip had a lot more tease in it, when going to a strip show meant going to a comedy show or a magic show or hearing singers and orchestras is the spark that encouraged this revival.
As Laura Herbert, Executive Director of the Burlesque Hall of Fame in Las Vegas puts it, ”I believe that if your outfit can fit into your closed fist, you’re probably not a burlesque performer.”
A burlesque performer spends time creating a story, a scene. She costumes heavily and dances to tell the story. The strip is part of the story. These dancers used (and continue to use) their femininity with the confidence of an independent woman. Whether steeped in history or re-defined to tell modern day stories, these ladies are expressing their freedom through the artform. Burlesque dancers put on a show that includes stripping for pay. Strippers pay to put on a show and make money from tips.
In another life I was a theatrical producer. With my producer hat on I find the world of burlesque fascinating. Clearly audiences, especially male audiences, were paying to see an entertaining striptease. However, once they were in the club, they were exposed to so much more talent. Could it be that many of these celebrities would not have reached the heights they reached were it not for the opportunity to cut their teeth in crowded clubs where people were coming to see Burlesque. When the age of Burlesque ended, many of the comedians went on to do stand up, have television shows, etc. but the strippers, well their careers were virtually over. So, I think our culture owes a thank you to the ladies of Burlesque. Here at g boutique we will continue to pay tribute to the likes of Gypsy Rose Lee & Sally Rand by offering burlesque dancing, not pole dancing. By outfitting people in long gloves and feather boas and by supporting women who get it.
So take a look at the pasties, nipple ties and body jewelry by Tyes By Tara. These items are designed with Tara’s commitment to femininity, confidence and independence. They are affordable, accessible and a designed with joy.
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