The Burlesque TOP 50 2017: An Essential Guide

Holli-Mae here! Is it really that time of year again already?  Welcome to the 9th year of the Burlesque TOP 50 – an annual list of the Top 50 burlesque figures of each year, determined by public vote (VOTE NOW).

Created as a light and celebratory way to bring the global burlesque community together at the end of each year back in 2009, I never imagined it would become as popular as it has been and continues to be.

Many of you have followed the poll from the very beginning, but the glittery mass of burlesque performers and fans grows every year and I realise it may be a new discovery for some of you.  So for the benefit of newcomers and those of you who want to brush up on the process, here is the essential information you need…




Who decides who makes the Burlesque TOP 50 list?

The voters – that’s you – decide the final result of the Burlesque TOP 50.  Every year people write to me asking to be on the list or send me statements explaining why I should include them. I do not decide the list. Thousands of voters from around the world decide.

Obviously hundreds of different people are voted for and they can’t all make that final list. Last year I published bonus lists for some of the national scenes outside of the United States and for non-performing specialists such as costumiers and photographers, so it’s not just about the TOP 50 anymore – the process honours and celebrates as many people as possible!  So if you’re in the UK, Europe, Canada or Australia for instance, get your national community voting like crazy; you will get your own chart!


When does Burlesque TOP 50 2016 voting open and when does voting end?

The voting dates have changed slightly this year. Voting opens on Wednesday November 1st (VOTE NOW). Voting ends midnight GMT on Sunday December 10th to allow more time to process the votes and prepare the results for publication. Reminders will go out about deadline, so don’t panic!


Who can I vote for?

You can vote for anyone – there is no shortlist. And yes, you can vote for yourself if you choose. You will fill in a voting form which requires a minimum of five votes and allows a maximum of ten. Please note: If you enter the same name more than once, it will count as one vote.

You can vote for performers as individuals, or as a duet, troupe or cast, and you can vote for burlesque legends, too. Inevitably burlesque performers dominate the list each year, but please consider all those who contribute to burlesque and our community – not just performers. For example, you can also vote for producers, photographers, costumiers, stage managers, teachers, curators, writers, industry journalists, etc.  Last year I published extra bonus charts for some national scenes and non-performing specialists, and I intend to do the same this year, so every vote counts!

NOTE: There is now a required vote box for a non-performing burlesque figure. Everyone involved in burlesque should be able to think of at least one non-performing contributor to the burlesque scene who deserves recognition. You can use your other votes to add additional non-performers if you choose to.

NEW FOR 2017: To mark ten years of 21st Century Burlesque Magazine, you can vote for the Most Influential Figure of the Decade this year.

Also, your vote should be with 2017 in mind, rather than just voting for your all time favourite people.  Think about people who have really contributed to burlesque in 2017, be it onstage or off.


How do you ensure that the vote is fair and valid?

This year the voting collection is being done differently, but email addresses are collected to monitor spamming issues and let you know when the results are out. It is also very easy to detect unnatural spikes and patterns as votes come in. I have eyes keeping watch on social media, noting anyone who is campaigning for votes or pressuring people, and people forward me spam emails to make note of.

Everyone is allowed to submit a vote form, and every year thousands of you do from across the world. It is because of this high number of votes distributed across the world that the poll remains sufficiently representative and inclusive.


I want to post about the Burlesque TOP 50 and encourage people to consider voting for me in an appropriate way – how should I go about this?

If people don’t post and share about The Burlesque TOP 50, some of their peers and fans won’t know about it, so of course I encourage you to spread the word and understand that people would like to have their contributions to burlesque in 2016 acknowledged in the list.

What is NOT considered campaigning: Posting a link to the voting form with a comment similar to: “Voting is now open for the Burlesque TOP 50 2017. If you have enjoyed my performance/events/work/contributions to burlesque this year, I hope you will consider nominating me.”  Note that this is polite and doesn’t directly ask for or demand a vote, or list reasons why someone should vote for you. Obviously you can encourage people to follow the rules and considerations above when you post – I appreciate it when people encourage others to vote thoughtfully.

What IS considered campaigning: Frequent/repeated direct requests for votes (you can still repost the voting link, of course). Spam messaging or emailing asking for votes. Any use of technology for mass voting or corrupting the result. Offering incentives for votes. Any attempt to mass organise voters. Basically, anything that resembles campaigning, pressures people or attempts to corrupt the voting process.


When will the results be published?

The results are published in a countdown which begins in the New Year. I’ll give people a chance to recover from New Year gigs and parties before I roll out results.  The best way to keep tabs on results is to sign up for email updates – go ahead and enter your address below:



So there you have it – I hope you all feel ready to vote and share with confidence! Remember – relax – it’s just a poll and, in the words of Jo Weldon, ‘It’s just burlesque!’



Further Reading:

J.D. Oxblood’s Burlesque TOP 50 Breakdown

Shoshana Portnoy: Burlesque TOP 50 Rewards Balls, Connection and Relevancy

Some Post-Burlesque TOP 50 Wisdom from The One and Only Inga

Burlesque TOP 50 Results: 2009

Burlesque TOP 50 Results: 2010

Burlesque TOP 50 Results: 2011

Burlesque TOP 50 Results: 2012

Burlesque TOP 50 Results: 2013

Burlesque TOP 50 Results: 2014

Burlesque TOP 50 Results 2015

21st Century Burlesque
Quoted in major international newspapers and held in high esteem and affection by the international burlesque community, 21st Century Burlesque Magazine has documented the contemporary burlesque scene since 2007. Founded and edited by Holli-Mae Johnson.

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