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. Although only a tiny fraction of the pieces in our care can be shown in this space, maintaining and expanding the collection remains our highest priority, preserving a little-known and little-regarded — but fascinating and extremely important — history for academic researchers, burlesque performers and fans, and the general public.
On these walls, you’ll see a selection of pieces that have been acquired by the museum over the last couple of years. Each of these objects tells a story — of the media’s fascination with burlesque dancers (a fascination which continues today), of the days when a burlesque dancer like Gypsy Rose Lee was a household name, of the rise and spread of a new kind of burlesque in the revival of the ‘90s and ‘00s, and of the people whose lives were shaped by the art of burlesque, and who in turn shaped the art. These pieces represent fragments of a vital community and of the ebb and flow of modern popular culture.
We thank the performers and their families who have donated pieces to the museum over the years, sustaining The Burlesque Hall of Fame as a unique cultural and historical resource. And we invite other performers, of all generations, to do the same.