Who’s Who in Burly-Q: Jean Idelle

Jean Idelle with her fans

Jean Idelle with her fans

Jean Idelle, often called “the Sepia Sally Rand,” was the first black exotic fan dancer. She was active from 1950 – 1963 and performed internationally during a time of intense segregation. Jean was instrumental in integrating whites-only dance clubs. Her famed fan dance broke racial barriers long before the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and she was known to travel with a chauffeur and security guard for protection.

Jean was discovered at 20 years old by a Broadway talent agency while attending the famous Katherine Dunham School of Dance. Although she had never even laid eyes on a burlesque show, she began working with a choreographer who trained her to become a burlesque fan dancer.

She soon became the headlining attraction at Minsky’s Rialto Theatre in Chicago and o...

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Who’s Who in Burly-Q: Bettie Page (1923-2008)

Bettie Page

Bettie Page fetish photo

As the “Queen of Pinups,” Bettie Page rarely needs an introduction. Her trademark jet-black hair, blue eyes, and bangs influenced generations of pinup models and burlesque performers to come, and her physique still inspires countless artistic renditions.

Much of Bettie’s life has become pop culture history. She was born on April 22, 1923, in Nashville, Tennessee. After graduating salutatorian of her high school, she moved to New York City with dreams of becoming an actress.

She worked secretarial jobs to support herself and soon became a popular “camera club” model known for her lack of inhibition and playful demeanor.

In the early 1950s, she began working with photographer Irving Klaw...

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Who’s Who in Burly-Q: Blaze Starr (1932 – 2015)

BLaze Starr on the cover of Man magazineBlaze Starr is an iconic redhead, with a sultry voluptuous figure and charisma that has stood the test of time. Born on April 10, 1932 in Wayne County, West Virginia, Starr was raised in a large family and was the second oldest out of 11 brothers and sisters.

Starr left home for Washington D.C. as a young teenager. She was discovered by a promoter while working at the Mayflower Donut Shop. The promoter convinced a young Starr to wear a red and white cowgirl outfit and perform a striptease while playing the guitar. According to her 1974 autobiography Blaze Starr: My Life as Told to Huey Perry, Starr was so embarrassed that she covered herself with her hat and threw up when she got offstage!

After a few rough years in Washington, D.C...

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Congratulations to our 2019 Living Legend Award Recipient, CAMILLE 2000!

Camille 2000We are pleased to announce that Camille 2000 has been selected to receive the 2019 Living Legend, to be awarded during this year’s BHoF Weekender. The Living Legend Award is given each year in recognition of both a performer’s active career and their continued achievements as a mentor, teacher, and icon in the burlesque community.

Camille 2000, “The Girl for Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow,” has been a continuous inspiration for today’s neo-burlesque movement. She originally performed in a “traditional burlesque” style, but once established as a performer, she stepped out of that box to perform more shocking acts.  She is probably best remembered for her Black Widow act, which was an ode to the Marquis de Sade.

In the 1980s, Camille joined the Screen Actor’s Guild and performed p...

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Interview with Dita Von Teese

In honor of Women’s History Month, and inspired by the #5WomenArtists project led by the National Museum of Women in the Arts, we are asking burlesque artists to share with us their thoughts on their art form. We’re closing out the series with an interview with burlesque superstar Dita Von Teese. Since starting burlesque in the early 1990s, Dita has gone on to be easily the most recognizable burlesque performer in the world. She has appeared on CSI, America’s Next Top Model, and Project: Runway; published two books, Burlesque and the Art of the Teese and Your Beauty Mark; appeared in videos for Green Day, Thirty Seconds to Mars, and Marilyn Manson; modeled for Jean Paul Gauthier, Vivienne Westwood, and Moschino; released an album; and launched her own fashion lines – all while tourin...

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