More on Less: The History of Burlesque in America From Lydia Thompson to Amber Ray
21st Century Burlesque Magazine has documented the contemporary burlesque scene…
Read on to find out more about a fabulous burlesque exhibition in Milwaukee, US, which is open until July 5th, 2015 and includes items contributed by The Burlesque Hall of Fame…
“More on Less: The History of Burlesque From Lydia Thompson to Amber Ray presents the history of burlesque in America — surveying its cultural influence and artistic development from the milestone performances that popularised its early stars, to the legislative and political backlash that undermined them, and ultimately, to the advent of Neo-Burlesque and the rise of a new set of burlesque icons.
“Stars like Gypsy Rose Lee, Sally Rand, Lili St. Cyr, Rose La Rose, Tempest Storm, Jennie Lee, Dixie Evans, Ann Corio, and contemporary performers Dita von Teese and Amber Ray are all on display, represented in photographs, costumes, advertisements, playbills, posters, vintage footage, sheet music, art, and autobiographies. Authentic costumes, both historic and contemporary, are major highlights of the exhibition. Costumes and other materials will also represent the history of men in burlesque, covering the trope of the straight man to the ‘top banana’ comics like Bert Lahr. Works by major artists are also included, demonstrating the appeal of burlesque, its dancers, and its audiences as subjects for modern painters and photographers.”
Featured performer Amber Ray, who has several costumes on display in the exhibition, describes her start in burlesque fifteen years ago:
“It was 2000; it was an amazing time. The internet was being beginning and people were connecting all over the world. I found many others who were doing little shows in their own towns and locked myself into that network. Shortly after I moved to NYC where there were less than 20 of us doing burlesque, and the rest is history. I aimed to carry on a legacy of art and performance that spanned generations and made NYC what it was… a torch bearer.
“The international community started growing and became a network. Today it has become an industry, from shows big and small all over the world to classes, to crafts people, costume designers, graphic designers… artist of all types have assembled to put their spirit into what burlesque has become today.
“In my 15 years in the burlesque world, I have seen thousands of people find their voice, their individual spirits and expression. It’s been done through humour, through political statements, through openness and the spirit to just have fun and/or make something beautiful. The way this has opened up people individually has spread like wildfire though the world.
“I would like to thank Annemarie Sawkins whose interest and investigations sparked this exhibition, the board who approved it, and The Charles Allis Art Museum staff and supporters. I’d like to also thank the entire burlesque community for their efforts, from the ones who layed the groundwork for our history and passed like Dixie Evans and Jennie Lee, as well as the rest of the legends, to the new leaders, new kids and our satellite families of musicians, sideshow, productions and variety! I’d like to thank my family and friends for supporting me and cheering me on as well.”
21st Century Burlesque Magazine has documented the contemporary burlesque scene since 2007. Founded and edited by Holli-Mae Johnson.