Installation view of Coby Yee Exhibition

Coby Yee: The Hardest-Working Woman in Chinatown

  In 1960, burlesque star Coby Yee – “China’s Most Daring Dancing Doll” – opened the Dragon Lady nightclub on the eastern border of San Francisco’s Chinatown. In addition to being part-owner, Coby was the hostess and public face of the business. Each night between her featured spots at Forbidden

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Photo of bally for Jennie Lee's show at the Canadian National Exhibition, 1956. Image shows several female performers lined up next to a collage of images of Jennie Lee. A red striped tent wall is visible behind them. To the right is the show's talker, a man in a blue suit with a microphone. In the foreground, a man in a military cap looks on.

ONLINE – Bump & Grind Beneath the Big Top: Burlesque in Carnivals, Circuses, and Fairs

From its late 19th century beginnings in the United States, burlesque thrived both in the theaters and nightclubs of major urban centers and as a midway attraction at circuses, carnivals, and fairs. What circuses may have lacked in glamour and big-city sophistication, they made up for with crowds, big ones.

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View of "Spectacular, Erotic, and Slightly Shocking"

Spectacular, Erotic, and Slightly Shocking: A Timeline of American Burlesque

With roots in the tragicomedies of ancient Greece, American burlesque first emerged in 1860s. Driven by the industrial working class’ hunger for entertainment, an individualistic mindset at odds with the Victorian morality of turn-of-the-century America, the poverty of the Great Depression and the economic resurgence of World War II, burlesque

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Lada Redstar Performs at the Burlesque Hall of Fame

Dancing the Revolution: Feminism in Burlesque History

Most burlesque dancers throughout history would not have considered themselves “feminists”. In fact, many clashed with the feminists of the day who were attacking their livelihoods. But feminist principles are found throughout burlesque’s history. Women in burlesque defied social and gender norms to assert themselves and their bodies. As artists,

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Body of Work: Midcentury Burlesque Through the Lens of F. Roy Kemp

Canadian photojournalist F. Roy Kemp spent the 1950s documenting the New York burlesque scene, producing thousands of images that give us a glimpse into the public and private lives of performers unparalleled in other photographers’ work. Through October 2019, the Burlesque Hall of Fame will feature selections of this work,

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Detail of Dita Von Teese Costume

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

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,

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Poison Ivory, 2016 Miss Exotic World

Becoming Burlesque

In 1927, struggling vaudevillean Rose Louise Hovick stepped onto a burlesque stage for the first time, transforming herself into the urbane, sophisticated stripper Gypsy Rose Lee. Burlesque has always been a domain of transformation, allowing ambitious farmgirls, impoverished workers, and runaways of all kinds to become new people, to become

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A Half Century Half Undressed

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

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

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Just a Peek

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,

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Not-So-Hidden Histories

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

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,

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