From Bloomers to G-Strings: A History of Burlesque Underwear

Bettie Page "Guide for Strip-Teasers"

Bettie Page posing in the “Guide For Strip-Teasers”

As a burlesque performer or even an enthusiast you may have seen the old photos of Bettie Page in the “Guide for Strip-Teasers.” It was published in 1953 as a guide to show how much a stripper could reveal depending on what US. State she was in. Burlesque has changed a lot since 1953, most especially the underwear! Let’s take a journey through the ages from the beginnings of burlesque onwards, as a whole, to see how the last few layers of a showgirls costume have changed. One key area of debate is over whether the underwear worn in burlesque performances has kept getting smaller over time. In everyday life, underwear has come a long way and gotten smaller but trends in performance underwear don’t always follow trends in the “real world...

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BHoF in the Media

Here are just a few of the mentions of The Burlesque Hall of Fame in the media…

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Signs of Scott Ewalt by Jo Weldon (Part 1)

minskysshuttered

Burlesque signs have always rocked my world. As a child, every time I saw a burlesque sign on a lounge I got an illicit thrill, imagining women of impossible repute removing stockings with a knowing wink. I could picture the heavy lashes, the big hair, the chiffon robes. I was mesmerized. As a teenager, I was excited by the signs on strip joints in Atlanta. I knew that the Domino Lounge was one of the last of the old school burlesque venues in town, but the contemporary signs got me riled up with promise—one day I’d be of age, and I’d know where to go by the signs...
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Dorothy Dorne: A Life in Pictures by Jo Weldon

Last winter I spent some time going through paper archives in the Burlesque Hall of Fame collection in Las Vegas, with the help of Laura Herbert and Brian Newman. I was particularly interested in the sheet music and the notations on it. I intend to share more about the sheet music project later, but I got to see something so unexpected and charming and lovely that I want to share it with you. It’s a collection of scrapbooks from an early 20th-century burlesque and cabaret performer who went by various names, among them Dorothy Dorne. I spent hours going through them, taken to another world, amused and enchanted by the way her scrapbooks brought her to life, and took a few snaps...

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Performance Archetypes: The Half-and-Half

While I’ve yet to find conclusive proof of its origin, the Half-and-Half—in which a solo performer utilizes clever, vertically divided costuming and skillful choreography to create the illusion of a duet—has long been a staple of classic burlesque performance. Most commonly associated with dichotomous male/female numbers (like Zorita’s racy “Bride & Groom,” top), countless interpretations of the theme exist, including a wide variety of abstractions on Beauty and the Beast, from the ridiculous to the sublime: Devil/Angel,  Lion/Tamer, Savage/Virgin, etc. More on the history of the Half-and-Half, courtesy of Frank Cullen’s Vaudeville Old and New: an Encyclopedia of Variety Performers, Vol. 1:  “Almost always a dance act, in a half-and-half act, a solo performer was cos...

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