Review: A Pictorial History of Burlesque

Dear Constant Reader,

Here’s another book review, just for you.

A Pictorial History of Burlesque by Bernard Sobel (1956).

Mr. Sobel is a big burlesque fan. In this, his second book on burlesque (the first being Burleycue: An Underground History of Burlesque Days), he writes glowingly about the comedy, the variety, the clever parodies, even the “Amazon parade” (a chorus of pretty girls in scanty costumes). Then he bemoans the later addition of striptease, which ruined good old-fashioned burlesque. Despite that attitude, he does give peelers a fair shake, with an entire chapter (plus some) dedicated to some of the foremost practitioners of the art.

As promised in the title, the book is filled with photographs illustrating the history of burlesque from the days of The British Blondes and minstrel shows to “modern” (mid-1950′s) stripteasers and comics. There are individual chapters on comedy, music, management and other topics interspersed with a roughly chronological history of the artform.

Literarily yours,