To mark ten years of 21st Century Burlesque Magazine, Burlesque TOP 50 voters were asked to choose their most influential burlesque figure of the past decade. You voted in your thousands across the world, and now we can present your top ten.
With thanks to our lead sponsor, Sublime Boudoir, who have another spectacular event coming up in New Orleans in July 2018.
Since its inception in April 2011, Sublime Boudoir: Seduction of Senses has brought audiences elegant burlesque, cabaret, and circus performances in fantastical settings, while entertaining the senses with unconventional visuals and signature cuisines.
Founded with the intention of highlighting well-known performers as well as up-and-coming artists, Sublime Boudoir provides a collaborative creative environment for industry professionals.
The company seeks to redefine and challenge traditional ideals of the industry by combining burlesque with complementary artistic mediums. Painstaking research and attention to detail provide audiences with an immersive and multidimensional experience, Seduction of Senses.
Constructing annual events on a global level, the creative team represents a vast range of cultural histories and perspectives, from Europe to Indonesia to North America. They have travelled the world in search of inspiration and the most exciting new performance artists. Complemented by breath-taking floral design, music, and cuisine, every production epitomizes luxurious elegance, underlined by cabaret’s signature playful humor.
THE MOST INFLUENTIAL BURLESQUE FIGURE OF THE DECADE
DITA VON TEESE
Dita Von Teese is the undisputed figurehead of contemporary burlesque; a dedicated, poised, professional and imaginative ambassador who brings countless new fans to the art form through her exceptionally curated tours, appearances, books and products. While she is constantly imitated (and at times shamelessly duplicated), her iconic aesthetic of opulent, escapist glamour is yet to be equalled. Dita has shown great generosity and support to me and 21st Century Burlesque from the very beginning, and we congratulate her. HMJ
The definitive icon of Neo Burlesque, Dirty Martini is fiercely intelligent, endlessly imaginative, and badass AF, reducing even the most seasoned burlesque stars to a gushing fangirls when she walks into a room. From her anti-showgirl balloon pop and unforgettable Zorita tribute, to her lascivious swan and the rock star bravado of Purple Haze, Dirty’s prolific repertoire is legendary. I’ve interviewed her in a suite at the Ritz, in bed during an impromptu sleepover, and on hilarious long-distance phone calls, and I discover something new and fascinating every time. Dirty, it’s been a blast. HMJ
Jo Weldon is the Headmistress of the pioneering New York School of Burlesque, and the author of The Burlesque Handbook – a treasured bible for countless would-be burlesque stars and seasoned pros alike. For many years she has managed the judging process at the Burlesque Hall of Fame weekend, and together with Indigo Blue she has created the gold standard in burlesque education. Jo is one of the very first people I came across when I discovered burlesque and I live for our reunions. She is wild, wise and extraordinary in so many ways. Oh – and check out her fabulous new book – FIERCE: The History of Leopard Print! HMJ
MISS INDIGO BLUE
I was sat at the back of Indigo’s pastie construction class at Tease-O-Rama a world ago when my fascination about burlesque really took hold. Her passion and expertise were as bright and evident then as they are now. Indigo has treated us to so many breathtaking performances – her triple fan dance and groundbreaking Miss Exotic World stepdown number are just two – but her other enduring gift to the burlesque community is undoubtedly BurlyCon; a unique and uplifting educational and social convention which marked its tenth year in 2017. Indigo is more than worthy of a place in this special list. HMJ
Two-time Miss Exotic World Catherine D’Lish has defined contemporary burlesque costume with her iconic, pioneering and luxurious creations, chiefly for long time friend and collaborator Dita Von Teese. She has mentored some of burlesque’s brightest stars and remains the ultimate mistress of classic burlesque striptease. Catherine has amassed thousands of new fans in recent years thanks to her sumptuous line of glamorous, feather-trimmed dressing gowns, robes and leisure wear. She was one of the first burlesque stars I ever interviewed, and I’m as in awe now as I was then. HMJ
Michelle is one of the most versatile, fearless burlesque superstars around. From her spellbinding Sally Rand tribute to the heart-fucking La Panthere, her performances are truly unforgettable. Winning the Miss Exotic World title in 2005 as a virtual newcomer nobody had heard of, she has achieved global notoriety with her viral sensation ‘Butthoven’, and recently revealed her life-long, painful battle with Alopecia to great admiration and support from her peers and fans. As an artiste, producer, teacher and Queen of Burlesque, her contribution to contemporary burlesque is tremendous. HMJ
Perle Noire has a unique presence, poise and command on stage, dancing from the depths of her soul with an energy that brings audiences to their feet worldwide. At first she was best known for her sensational Josephine Baker tribute, but recently she has made serious waves with her show-stopping House of Noire collective, which won Best Large Group at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend in 2017, and counts Miss Exotic World 2016 Poison Ivory as a member. Perle won Best Debut at BHoF in 2008, and was awarded Miss Exotic World 1st Runner Up in 2015. HMJ
KITTEN ‘N’ LOU
Kitten La Rue and Lou Henry Hoover have become one of burlesque’s most beloved and celebrated partnerships. Starting out as members of The Atomic Bombshells and debuting as a duo in a drag king show in New Orleans, the couple have become renowned and adored for their delightfully kitsch and comical routines. Lou was also the first drag king to be awarded Best Boylesque at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend, and together they were voted No.1 in the Burlesque TOP 50 poll in 2015. Their hard work and dedication to their craft is an inspiration, and clearly our readers agree. HMJ
I remember watching a recording of Imogen performing her legendary Marie Antoinette routine on Australian television many years ago, and being blown away by her charisma, flamboyance, humour and mischief. A veteran showgirl with decades of performance under her belt, it felt long overdue when Imogen was crowned Miss Exotic World in 2012, receiving the acclaim and recognition of the entire global burlesque community. An ardent ambassador for the history of Australian burlesque, and inspirational breast cancer survivor, Imogen’s high concept acts are as breathtaking as they are exhilarating. From the fabulous flamingo fun that won her the crown, to the spellbinding Moonlight stepdown number, her creations are always innovative and superbly executed. HMJ
Rounding off your Top 10 Burlesque Figures of the Decade is a hot-damn Honey Badger of Burlesque with a big heart, big mouth, and even bigger talent – Jeez Loueez! Kicking off her burlesque career with Foxy Tann and the Wham Bam Thank You Ma’ams, Jeez has gone from strength to strength as a showstopping soloist, hilarious emcee, accomplished producer and outspoken advocate on social and racial issues affecting the burlesque community. Crowned Miss Viva Las Vegas in 2012, Jeez has consistently upped her game, kept audiences on the edge of their seats, and her peers relentlessly on their toes. And now, thousands of readers across the world have voted her into your top ten most influential figures of the decade. Go Jeez! HMJ