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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Sequins In The Sand

Sequins in the Sand, BHoF’s inaugural exhibition in its new Vegas location, celebrates 20 years of the Miss Exotic World pageant, from its roots in the Helendale desert to the glitz and glamour of the Vegas stage. Using photos from legendary burlesque photographers including Don Spiro, Derek Jackson, Bob Debris, and others, as well as artifacts and documents, the exhibition tells the story not just of a growing competition but of the revival and growth of burlesque itself through the 1990s and 2000s.

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