Curves Ahead: Burlesque Superstars Gypsy Rose Lee and Dita Von Teese

Dita Von Teese Costume Closeup Few burlesque performers achieve the national and even international spotlight to become true superstars. However the performers whose costumes make up this exhibition, Gypsy Rose Lee and Dita Von Teese, most certainly did.

Long before her first name lit up Broadway, Gypsy was already at the top of her field, known for her “high class” performances and lavish lifestyle.

Today, Dita Von Teese stands as an exemplar of glamour in a world gone casual, not only touring the world with her entourage of burlesque greats like Dirty Martini, Perle Noire and Jett Adore, but publishing books, appearing on television, promoting her own line of lingerie, and recording albums...

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A Half-Century Half-Undressed: Celebrating 50 Years of the Burlesque Hall of Fame

A Half-Century Half-Undressed

For 50 years, there has been a Burlesque Hall of Fame to tell the story of burlesque. Started in 1965 by Exotic Dancers League founder and president Jennie Lee, the Burlesque Hall of Fame has always served two functions: to remember and celebrate burlesque’s history, and to inspire new generations to make the art their own and carry its story into the future.

Jennie Lee displayed the collection in her bar, the Sassy Lassy, and then in her home, before moving it to Helendale, CA in the 1980s. On her death in 1990, the collection’s care passed to Dixie Evans, who ran the museum — now called Exotic World — until 2006...

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Just a Peek: Highlights from Recent Acquisitions

Just a Peek: Highlights from Recent Acquisitions

In 1965, Exotic Dancers League founder Jennie Lee invited burlesque dancers to bring their photos and memorabilia to the EDL’s annual Stripteasers Reunion in order to create a “Burlesque Hall of Fame”.

Thus began the collection that remains to this day at the heart of this museum. Over the years, Jennie Lee added to and expanded her collection, eventually installing it in her Exotic World museum in Helendale, CA. On Jennie Lee’s death in 1991, her friend and fellow dancer Dixie Evans took over as steward of the collection, continuing to add pieces throughout the ‘90s and ‘00s.

In 2010, the museum relocated to Las Vegas and in 2010 re-opened in its current location...

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Not-So-Hidden Histories: Performers of Color in Burlesque

Not-So-Hidden Histories installation view

Lottie the Body

Shake dancers. Shimmy dancers. Hoochie-coochie girls. Exotics. Savages.

The history of burlesque is full of women (and some men) of color. And yet today, few remember these stars. Most history books barely mention them, even in passing. People old enough to remember going to burlesque shows in the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s don’t remember them. It seems as if minority performers simply did not exist.

But at one time, the pages of burlesque and pin-up magazines were full of performers of color. Black, Asian, Latina, South Pacific Islander, and Native American dancers were very much a part of burlesque history, and not just as chorus girls for white headliners. They were integral players in the history of burlesque...

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Las Vegas Stripped: 60 Years of Burlesque in Sin City

Vegas StrippedBurlesque has been an integral part of the “Vegas experience” as long as there’s been a “Vegas experience”. Following the decline of the Minsky burlesque empire in the East, a decline brought on by the combined forces of LaGuardia’s anti-burlesque reformism and changing tastes in the post-War era, the last of the burlesque Minskys, Abe’s adopted son Harold, brought burlesque to a new frontier. in 1956, Harold Minsky brought the Minsky name to the marquee at the Dunes, followed by revues at the Silver Slipper, the Aladdin, and other Vegas showrooms. Throughout the “Rat Pack” era, Vegas stages were graced by the likes of Lili St. Cyr, Tempest Storm, Candy Barr, Liz Renay, and our own Jennie Lee...

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