Book Review: Behind the Burly Q

Dear Constant Reader,

How about a book review? While at BurlyCon, I had my copy of this book signed by the author. It deserved to come out of the to-be-reviewed pile and back to its place of honor in the library.

Behind the Burly Q: The Story of Burlesque in America by Leslie Zemeckis (2013).

When Leslie Zemeckis interviewed former burlesque performers and their family members for her documentary “Behind the Burly Q”, there were too many stories to fit into her film (disclosure: I haven’t watched the documentary yet). Thus the book was born. And we’re so grateful it was. This history deserves to be preserved before we lose it for good.

The book is a series of essay on individual topics, not a strict chronological history of burlesque. Some chapters focus on one performer (“Texas Justice”) or on a type of performer (“The Tit Singer”) or some other aspect of burlesque (“The High Cost of Stripping”). The chapter “Interlude Before Evening” is a good prelude to Goddess of Love Incarnate: The Life of Stripteuse Lili St. Cyr.

It’s a nice bite-sized way to get some burlesque history, reading a chapter hear and there. The book is thick with quotes from those Leslie interviewed. It’s peppered with photos from the author’s collection, many of which came directly from the performers themselves.

Ms. Zemeckis has a clear affection and great respect for the art form and for those involved in it, which shines through strongly throughout the book. Highly recommended.

Now I need to see the documentary…