Well, here we go again! Thank you all for your patience. I have counted, confirmed and written up the results as fast as I possibly can, and here they are. I have taken some extra time to include social media links and 2012 footage for each performer this year, so go check them out!
Thousands of you voted, and more of you than ever before. I am thrilled to see some new faces make the list after the fantastic contributions they have made in 2012. There are also a few tied positions, so there are more than fifty people acknowledged in this list, but I see it as an excuse to celebrate even more people by sticking to fifty positions, rather than fifty individuals.
Angi B. Lovely
A mistress of air, tease and fire kicks off the Top 50 2012. In 2012, awesome aerialist Angi won the ‘Queen of Burlesque’ title at the New Orleans Burlesque Festival, and you can watch her winning performance here. She also performed in the Movers, Shakers and Innovators showcase at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend.
The Fox has been a part of the burlesque community since 2006, winning ‘Best Troupe’ at Exotic World with the Wham Bam Thank You Ma’ams in the same year. Her 2012 appearances included the Alabama Burlesque Festival, Windy City Burlesque Festival, Best of Midwest Burlesque Festival, the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend and Michelle L’amour’s Superstars of Burlesque.
49. Kaylin Idora
A very special and talented new entry at No. 49. Kaylin’s photographs are unmistakable. Resident and visiting performers in New Orleans queue up to pose for her, and the exquisite results of these shoots and her images from The New Orleans Burlesque Festivals are widely circulated and admired. She has also captured performances at the Helsinki Burlesque Festival, and photographed Dita von Teese at some of her New Orleans performances. In 2012, Kaylin was invited to photograph Dita’s Strip Strip Hooray tour, including an intimate backstage shoot with Dita and the other performers. I consider it a privilege to display her photographs on 21CB and I’m really happy she has made the list this year.
48. Darlinda Just Darlinda
The delicious Darlinda is a performer, producer, instructor and performance artist, and she has appeared on television and in Off Broadway productions. Her busy 2012 included a tour with her smokin’ hot co-members of Dangerous Curves Ahead, a trip Down Under with her Schlep Sister Minnie Tonka, a performance at Tease-O-Rama (footage) (SO good to see TOR return this year!), the Dallas Burlesque Festival (footage) and the New York Burlesque Festival (footage), and competing for the title at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend.
47. Khandie Khisses
UK force of nature Khandie Khisses continues to spread fun and joy with endless exuberance, wit and vigour. As well as her many solid performances, Khandie also teaches fun-filled classes at her Hidden Heart Academy, and continues to pen entertaining and thoughtful columns for 21CB. Khandie also made her screen debut in 2012 with an appearance in Alan Moore’s short film, Jimmy’s End.
46. Beatrix von Bourbon
Beatrix is a thoughtful, accomplished performer and a talented a writer. Her guides and articles for 21CB remain some of the most popular and widely read features on this site. In 2012, Beatrix was seen by millions of viewers on Britain’s Got Talent and was polished, graceful and dignified throughout, in spite of the engineering that inevitably goes on in programmes of this kind. You can watch her wowing Simon Cowell and co. here…
45. Dixie Ramone
Delightful Italian ecdysiast Dixie Ramone is at No. 45. Her 2012 highlights included performing at the New York Burlesque Festival and the Perth Burlesque Festival (footage). She continues to instruct new Italian hopefuls at ‘The Academy of the Art of Burlesque’, and strives to be an effective and committed ambassador for Italian burlesque.
44. Banbury Cross
‘Bulletproof Blonde’ Banbury Cross, who is probably best known for her high energy ‘Champagne Showgirl’ routine, ventured successfully into the US scene in 2012 by competing for ‘Best Debut’ at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend. This led to performances at The New Orleans Burlesque festival, including a spot in the ‘Queen of Burlesque’ competition, and I believe Banbury has a US and Canada tour planned in 2013.
43. Laurie Hagen
Deserving new entry at No. 43. Laurie is one of the most naturally talented, professional and creative performers I have come across, and she doesn’t get nearly as much attention as her talent deserves. Her masterpiece reverse strip is finally available to watch online, and I really recommend taking the time to enjoy it. I am told that this act was achieved by filming herself and then exactly replicating her movements played backwards. Exceptional. There are also a further eight videos of Laurie available here…
In 2012, I really enjoyed Laurie’s performance in Polly Rae’s excellent new production, Between the Sheets, which debuted at the Hippodrome Casino in July. She also appeared at the Stockholm Burlesque Festival and gave several excellent performances in Italy and London.
42. Polly Rae
Speaking of Polly Rae… Another new entry that I think is well deserved. You can find out a lot about Polly in a recent in-depth interview I published at the end of 2012.
In July, The Hurly Burly Show enjoyed another West End run at the Duchess Theatre, and had a short residence in South Africa later in 2012. Polly gave a number of performances in Europe as well, but my favourite appearance had to be in her new, intimate and polished show, Between the Sheets, in July, which also featured her good friends Laurie Hagen and Kitty Bang Bang. She seemed so happy and at home in that setting; it was a joy to experience the three of them in their element.
Watch Polly perform at the Summer Jamboree in Senigallia…
Kiki Kaboom – host, singer, burlesque and cabaret queen extraordinaire – particularly shone on screen in 2012. We finally enjoyed the premiere of B-Movie spectacular Burlesque Assassins, in which Kiki sparkled and seduced alongside co-stars including Roxi D’Lite, Koko La Douce, and Armitage Shanks (see below!) She also created and starred in two hilarious and well executed episodes of The Kiki Kaboom Show, which you can enjoy here: Episode 1, Episode 2. Other performances in 2012 include the World Burlesque Games in London, and at House of Burlesque at the King’s Theatre (footage).
A charmingly sinister emcee with ‘a voice like honey-coated gravel’ shares spot 41 with his Burlesque Assassins co-star Kiki Kaboom, which I think is a pleasant coincidence considering their work together on the movie and previous duets.
In 2012, Armitage hosted and performed at a range of events across the US, Canada and Europe, including appearances at the New Orleans Burlesque Festival and Toronto Burlesque Festival. And, of course, his star turn on screen in Burlesque Assassins was a big 2012 highlight.
40. Catherine D’Lish
The ‘Striptease Virtuoso’ is at No. 40 this year. A sensational seductress (and awe-inspiring seamstress), Catherine is a master of her craft; instinctively, effortlessly and luxuriously sensual and skillful, with a wicked sense of humour and a special gift for nurturing and improving the performers who seek her out for tuition and advice.
In 2012, Catherine appeared at Tease-O-Rama early in the year, and joined the cast of Dita von Teese’ Strip Strip Hooray 2012 tour. She finished the year by touring Europe with Cabaret New Burlesque. As always, Catherine created breathtakingly stunning costumes, boas and fans, including an innovatively concealed pair of fans for Dita. (I interviewed Dita and Catherine about their long and celebrated partnership this year, and you can read it here…) You can get hold of some of her beautiful pieces at her ebay store, and sometimes she puts unique one-off creations up for sale, so keep an eye out!
New online footage of Catherine is pretty rare, but a classic video was reposted in 2012 that really shows a master in action. Footage like this should be required watching for aspiring stripteasers…
39. Alotta Boutte
A long serving, singing, stripping, tap dancing San Francisco stunner has made your 2012 TOP 50. Alotta is one of the founding members of Harlem Shake Burlesque, the first African-American neo-burlesque troupe in the US, and I’ve always admired her talent, pride and passion. Highlights in 2012 included an appearance at Tease-O-Rama (footage), a gorgeous performance at Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend, and wonderful sessions at BurlyCon.
38. Sydni Deveraux
Golden Glamazon Sydni Deveraux has made the list this year! Sydni has developed a striptease style that embodies both strength and grace, and her 2012 appearances included the Helsinki Burlesque Festival, Viva Las Vegas, Boom Boom Burlesque, the New York Burlesque Festival (footage) and the Colorado Burlesque Festival (footage). She also led sessions at BurlyCon, and has contributed some fantastic articles and ‘Stripper Talk’ episodes to 21CB this year, which you can enjoy here… A multi-talented, disciplined, dedicated and compassionate performer.
37. Cleo Viper
The ‘fancy, hypnotic, eccentric and bizarre’ Cleo Viper is a performer, producer, choreographer, and the co-creator of the first Italian Burlesque troupe, Voodoo Deluxe. Dividing her time between Milan and Los Angeles, Cleo was the first Italian performer to be accepted to compete in the Burlesque Hall of Fame pageant, competing for ‘Best Debut’ in 2012. She also performed at the Helsinki Burlesque Festival (Footage 1, Footage 2), and you can enjoy a 2012 Milan performance here…
36. Scarlett Martini
Another smouldering Italian at No. 36! Internationally, Scarlett has thrilled audiences in Europe, Japan, Canada and the United States, and at home she is the artistic director of Burlesque Garden in Viareggio. Some of you may have enjoyed seeing Scarlett on screen in Burlesque Assassins in 2012, or perhaps on stage at the Helsinki, Rome, Dublin or Paris Burlesque Festival (Paris footage).
35. Lada Redstar
‘The Hot Pinup from the Cold’ is another new entry at No. 35. I first saw Lada doing a cheeky sailor routine at a Paris show in 2009, and she gets better all the time. I have a fond memory of photographing a negligeed, stockinged and giggling Lada at a London bus stop one evening in that same year. Lada has become particularly well known for her truly stunning and creative costume collection, and in 2012 she lent her vocal to a Bart and Baker remix of Zou Bisou Bisou (watch the video here…) She was also awarded the ‘World Female Crown’ at the World Burlesque Games in London (footage), and you can enjoy another 2012 performance at Cirque Rouge here…
34. Inga Ingenue
Inga has made your TOP 50 again; a beautiful dancer and inspiring teacher, with natural stage presence and audience rapport.
I couldn’t stop raving about her fantastic ‘Minnie the Moocher’ routine that won her the Miss Viva Las Vegas title in 2011, and in 2012 she returned to VLV to give her step down performance (you can watch her performing in the VLV Burlesque Bingo show here…) She also performed in the Movers, Shakers and Innovators showcase at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend, and at home in Seattle she led a ‘Stretching and Core Strength’ class at BurlyCon, as well as playing Alice in Through the Looking Glass: The Burlesque Alice in Wonderland and performing in Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker.
Lola Spitfire is the co-producer of the Colorado Burlesque Festival and a Satan’s Angel-approved fire tassel queen. She aims to incorporate ‘classic, traditional, vaudevillian, and modern talents, along with the art of theatre and burlesque’ into every show she produces.
In 2012, Lola joined the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend production team, in charge of Legend Relations. She performed in Roxi D’Lite’s Boom Boom Burlesque and in one of Theatre Bizarre’s thrilling productions. She also received a New York Burlesque Festival Golden Pastie for ‘Hottest Freshman’.
You can watch footage of her at the New York Burlesque Festival here, the SouthWest Burlesque Showcase here, and performing at the Colorado Burlesque Festival (accompanied by the gorgeous voice of Nadine DuBois) here…
Sharing the No. 33 spot is aerial goddess Midnite Martini, who is famous for her incredible stocking peels and innovative circus routines.
In 2012, Midnite was the Legends Challenge Coordinator leading up to the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend, and she performed in the Movers, Shakers and Innovators showcase. She also co-produced and performed in the Colorado Burlesque Festival (footage). You can see her performing in Naughty Pierre’s Burlesque and Comedy Extravaganza here, and in The Beggar’s Carnivale here…
32. Peekaboo Pointe
‘The Fastest Tassel Twirler from East to West’ is in at No. 32 this year. Peekaboo’s 2012 appearances included performing at The New Orleans Burlesque Festival (footage) and the New York Burlesque Festival, at which she was awarded a Golden Pastie for ‘Sexiest Shimmy and Coolest Quake’. She also led four fabulous classes at BurlyCon and performed at Wasabassco’s 8th Anniversary Extravaganza.
Cora Vette has her fingers in so many burlesque pies! She runs her own troupe, designs and makes burlesque costumes, produces shows, and travels the US hosting burlesque festivals. Not to mention her successful career as a singer and performer outside of the scene.
Cora’s 2012 hosting and performing highlights included appearances at the New Orleans Burlesque Festival and the Colorado Burlesque Festival, and you can click here to watch Cora perform with the VaVaVettes at The White Christmas Ball…
The ‘exotic, melodic and oh so hypnotic’ Luna Rosa shares spot 31. Luna had a busy 2012; her appearances included performances at the Helsinki Burlesque Festival, the Stockholm Burlesque Festival, The Milan Burlesque Awards – at which she was awarded ‘Best Performer’, and in The Missy Malone and Friends Burlesque Revue. You can enjoy a little 2012 showreel here…
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.