Dear Constant Reader,
I’m catching up on my book reviews! The Burlesque Hall of Fame is usually a chance to meet our Legends in person. However, it’s happening virtually this year. While trying to decide if I should submit something for the on-line showcase (answer — probably not), I was flipping through this book.
Legends of Burlesque, Then and Now presented by Gina Bon Bon and Julie Mist, 2018
This is a collection of photographs of burlesque legends, from their glory days onstage and also from the present day. It’s a large format hardcover book, but with matte paper pages, which make the photos seem slightly muted. Each Legend is featured on at least two, sometimes more, pages of photographs, with a Quick Facts side bar with, generally, their legal names, career span, acts, and prominent bookings or awards. Some have additional brief information and anecdotes. Toni Elling talks about dealing with racism and Kitten Natividad about surviving cancer. Many reveal what they have been doing since they left the stage.
Also included are a couple of people (and a place) who don’t actually qualify as legends, but have been important to honoring the legends and keeping their legacy alive. The place, of course, is the Burlesque Hall of Fame.
The book opens with profiles of some prominent performers (and a couple of lesser known ones) who had passed away, like Ann Corio and Dixie Evans. Sadly, since the book was prepared, a few of the Living Legends are no longer with us. Our legends are a dwindling resource and should be cherished.
This is by no means a comprehensive volume, either in subject or scope. There are just over 3 dozen performers covered, which doesn’t include everyone considered a legend. The information about them is just a tantalizing taste of their stories. There are other books and documentaries that cover more, but this work was created by legends about their fellow legends which gives it an interesting perspective and a bias quite different from works created by those outside the industry.
I had a fantasy of going to BHoF and overcoming my shyness to meet as many of the Legends as I could, but alas, not this year. While we’re unable to gather in person this year, perhaps reach out to your favorite legend and just say thank you for creating the path we follow.