The Burlesque Hall of Fame bids a fond farewell to board member and former director Laura Herbert. For over 15 years, Laura has been intimately involved with the organization, including serving as Executive Director from 2005 to 2011, during which time she shepherded the museum through some of its biggest challenges and most explosive growth.
Laura has been part of BHoF’s story since her first visit to Exotic World in the late 1990s, when she first fell in love with the museum, the Miss Exotic World pageant, and of course with Dixie Evans. From that moment on, she has been instrumental in the preservation, promotion, and expansion of the Burlesque Hall of Fame organization, creating and maintaining the museum’s first website, pitching in with the production of the pageant, and leading its expansion from an intimate, slightly anarchic afternoon event to the four-day Weekender format we know today.
At Dixie and Charlie’s request, Laura stepped in as the organization’s Executive Director in 2005. Shortly thereafter, when bad weather, structural concerns, and other organizational challenges combined to force the closing of the Exotic World ranch, she helped organize a small group of volunteers who, under the direction of board member Jaye MacAskill, meticulously logged and packed the entire collection, artifact by artifact, prior to its relocation. In early 2010, after four years mounting temporary exhibits in third-party spaces, including exhibitions underwritten by former Board member Todd VonBastiaans, Laura was responsible for selecting the historic Emergency Arts building as the museum’s first dedicated, year-round home since Helendale, putting BHoF on the map, literally and figuratively, at the vanguard of downtown Las Vegas’ thrilling revival.
With the museum’s presence firmly reestablished, the collection safe and sound, and by mid-2011, the stability to create the organization’s first-ever full-time paid position, Laura turned her efforts to finding a replacement Executive Director to lead the next chapter of the BHoF’s evolution from beloved roadside attraction to respected, sustainable and effective cultural institution.
As the museum (much like the burlesque community) has continued to evolve, so have Laura’s own goals and commitments, ultimately leading her at the end of June, 2014, to resign her last remaining role with the organization as a valued member of our Board of Directors. Thanks seem inadequate given the years of time and immeasurable love Laura has given to BHoF, but we thank her all the same and are proud to have had her help illuminating the spotlights in which BHoF will continue to shine.