Interview with Julie Atlas Muz

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. This week, we are talking with 2006 Miss Exotic World, Julie Atlas Muz. Based in New York, Muz has performed on stage and television, appeared in numerous documentaries, and was featured in art exhibits at the Whitney Biennial and Deitch Projects.  

Julie Atlas Muz (photo by Karl Giant)

Photo by Karl Giant

If you missed it, be sure to check out our previous interview with burlesque legend Judith Stein.

BHoF: Why did you choose burlesque as your art form?

I moved to New York City to be a dancer and a theater maker.  In experimental theater/dance making, there is so much rehearsal for so few performances...

Read More

Interview with Judith Stein

Judith Stein

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. First up is Judith Stein, “The Lady Divine”, who performed throughout the 1970s across North America and as far away as Micronesia and New Zealand. Known for her humor, Judith Stein has become “Mama Beaver” to a whole generation of new performers.

BHoF: Why did you choose burlesque as your art form?

Time, money, and adventure!

Back in the very early 70s I was an impoverished university student who needed a job that would mesh with my class schedule. Someone suggested I apply as a go-go girl, working nights in a small bar in Eugene, Oregon.

Having never seen a stripper, e...

Read More

Who’s Who in BurlyQ: Toni Elling

Toni EllingThe elegant and classy Toni Elling is a burlesque icon who broke down many barriers as an African-American woman performing in the 1960s and 1970s. Born in 1929 and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Elling worked as a telephone operator for nine years before her big career switch. Reportedly fed up with being passed over for promotions based on the color of her skin, the 32-year-old Elling decided to pursue burlesque at a time when many of her peers were retiring from the tassel twirl.

Toni Elling

Elling derived her stage name from her famed friendship with jazz great Duke Ellington, and is affectionately called “the Satin Doll” and “The Duke’s Delight”. She also hung out with Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis Jr., Jackie Wilson, and boxer Joe Lewis, to name a few...

Read More

Who’s Who in Burly-Q: Sally Rand (1904-1979)

Sally Rand portraitNot many performers come to burlesque after having had a successful career elsewhere, but that’s exactly what Sally Rand did. Rand started in the theater as a teenager in Kansas City and enjoyed some success. Deciding to make her name in Hollywood, she joined the Ringling Bros. Circus and traveled west until she reached California, where she quickly started racking up bit parts before joining a stock company headed by young Cecil B. DeMille, who put her in leading roles in his silent films.

Rand’s beauty and physicality worked to great advantage in the silent film era. Unfortunately, a severe lisp pushed her out of the movies after talking pictures became the norm...

Read More

RIP Novita, The Pixie of Burlesque (1932-2015)

Novita, The Pixie of Burlesque

We are saddened today to announce the passing of Novita, The Pixie of Burlesque. Novita was one of the founding members of the Exotic Dancers League (EDL) in 1955, a section of the American Guild of Variety Artists (which Novita had been a member of since age 13) dedicated to earning better pay and working conditions for exotic dancers, which in 1965 gave birth to the Burlesque Hall of Fame.

Born Rose Marie Locke in Houston, Texas, Rosie Mitchell, or Novita as she would come to be known (a name given her by her mother), began dancing at age 3. By grade school, she was performing regularly and beginning to distinguish herself as an artist, ultimately winning a scholarship to the Denver Art Institute...

Read More