New Burlesque is a form of entertainment that primarily continues, reconstructs, reproduces and honors the style of American burlesque traditions
Burlesque as a sensation was brought to America from England in the late 1860s by Lydia Thompson and her British Blondes, a troupe who spoofed traditional theatrical productions and featured ladies performing men’s roles, in costumes considered revealing for the time period. Since that time it has assimilated vaudeville, minstrel shows, striptease, comedy and cabaret to evolve into the follies of the twenties and thirties to the girlie shows of the 40s and 50s, which eventually gave way to the modern strip club. Burlesque, in its various forms, is a unique traditional American Folk Art.
A new generation nostalgic for the spectacle and perceived glamour of the old times determined to bring burlesque back. This revival was pioneered independently in the mid 1990s by Ami Goodheart’s “Dutch Weismanns’ Follies” revue in New York and Michelle Carr’s “The Velvet Hammer Burlesque” troupe in Los Angeles. In addition, and throughout the country, many individual performers were incorporating aspects of burlesque in their acts. These productions, inspired by the likes of Sally Rand, Tempest Storm, Gypsy Rose Lee, Dixie Evans and Lily St. Cyr have themselves gone on to inspire a new generation of performers.
Today New Burlesque has taken many forms, but all have the common trait of honoring one or more of burlesque’s previous incarnations, with acts including striptease, expensive costumes, bawdy humor, cabaret and more. There are modern burlesque performers and shows all over the world, and annual conventions such as Tease-O-Rama, New York Burlesque Festival, The Great Boston Burlesque Exposition, and the Miss Exotic World Pageant.
The website, G-Strings Forever, is a free site which contains hundreds of original photos of burlesque, with links to neo-burlesque performers and dozens of articles about neo-burlesque in the mainstream media. It is run by burlesque performer and activist, Jo “Boobs” Weldon.
New Burlesque tends to put the emphasis on style and tend to be sexy rather than sexual, often involving humor. Unlike modern strippers, who dance in stripclubs to make a living, burlesque performers often perform for fun and spend more money on costumes, rehearsal, and props than they are compensated. Performers rarely strip to less than pasties and g-string and are often accompanied by live bands. In addition, to keep the effect of the tease, performers generally do not interact with the audience, which is usually at least half female.
- Dita Von Teese
- The World Famous Pontani Sisters
- Kitten de Ville
- Dirty Martini
- Lily White
- The Boston Babydolls
- The Pussycat Dolls
- Miss Immodesty Blaize
- The World Famous BOB
- Julie Atlas Muz
- Kittie Klaw
- The Ooh-La-Las
- Twilight Vixen Revue, a San Francisco-based queer femme burlesque troupe