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 fantasies.
Today’s burlesque makes a point of welcoming all comers. Most performers create their own costumes, choreography, and stage identities, and embrace newcomers regardless of their age, appearance, ethnicity, sexuality, or level of physical ability. “Sexy” lies not so much in one’s looks or body type but in the confidence of your step, the knowing wink, the slow tease, and the courage to bare it all.
Step into our Bawdy Shop Studio and try some of burlesque’s best moves for yourself in our exhibition Becoming Burlesque! Jo “Boobs” Weldon, Headmistress of the New York School of Burlesque and author of The Burlesque Handbook, has written up some quick lessons anyone can follow to start strutting like a burlesque star today. And we supply shimmy belts, feather boas, gloves, and fans so you can really get into it. Enjoy yourself and have fun!