Review: Burlesque: Exotic Dancers of the 50s & 60s

Dear Constant Reader,

I reviewed another book, just for you! This time it’s Burlesque Exotic Dancers of the 50s & 60s by Judson Rosebush (2010).

Like The Bare Truth: Stars of Burlesque From the ’40s and ’50s and The Queens of Burlesque: Vintage Photographs of the 1940s and 1950s, this is a collection of photographs, mostly of burlesque performers, but some are belly dancers. They appear to be booking photos, not publicity pictures. Era is obvious in the hair & makeup, but also the toplessness and even nudity of some of the performers.

The book opens with a short essay on the history of burlesque and the little that is known about these photos. The photos are nicely presented on glossy paper, one to a page. They’re in no particular order, other than photos of the same performer are grouped together. Information on the photos, like the dancer’s name and tagline, is reprinted at the bottom of the page. It’s easily readable on the original and so appears superfluous. Sometime information from the back of the photos is presented, but it’s not distinguished from the compilier’s own notes.

The photographs are a great source of inspiration for costumes, hair styles, makeup, and poses. Some of the performers are long forgotten, some are complete unknowns (that is, there’s no name on the photo), and there’s one or two you might know…