The following speech was delivered by The World Famous *BOB* at the memorial service for Dixie Evans on Sunday, 1st September, 2013, at Palm Mortuary in Las Vegas. *BOB* and Dixie were incredibly close and enjoyed a very special relationship, and it’s an honour to share her words with you. H-M.
The first time I met Dixie Evans was in 2001 at the first ever Tease-O-Rama burlesque convention in New Orleans. It was once I met her, this beautiful cotton candy puffed cloud of Marilyn Monroe decked out in sequins – complimenting me on my red glitter lipstick – that I realized I HAD to go to Exotic World! Dirty Martini, my best friend, had told me about it; she had already been out there to visit the ranch. When I met Dixie, she just had this amazing charisma, sense of passion and enthusiasm for burlesque. I fell in love with her.
“Dixie Evans was a mother to me, and if you’ve ever stood in a pair of high heels, pasties and gloves, and a tightly zipped gown, waiting to go onstage … she was some type of mother to you too.”
So the first time I went to the ranch, like many people, I flew into Las Vegas and we rented a car. I and the person I went with found ourselves driving out onto dusty roads and eventually getting lost and calling Dixie. It was close to midnight. I felt so sorry, like I would be waking her up or disturbing her. I couldn’t believe how long it had taken us to get out there. Of course she just responded, ‘Oh, I just put on a pot of coffee for the band; don’t worry about it – come on out!’ and continued to give us directions so that we could find our way.
Eventually we found Wilde Road and our headlights hit the Exotic World arched ironwork gate. We drove down that onto a long dusty driveway and there was a little sign hanging by a nail that said “Honk three times for a tour”. We honked three times lightly, even though it was so late, and out came the most beautiful lady I remembered meeting in New Orleans – Dixie. She was in her lavender lace-lined pant suit with a matching bow in her hair. As promised, she had just put on a pot of coffee and she continued to give me a tour that evening, even though it was so late, through the museum.
Her tour started with the burlesque stars 8×10 room, pointing out “The Sophia Loren of Burlesque”, “The Elizabeth Taylor of Burlesque”, and then she leaned in the doorway – as if Marilyn Monroe was a dress one could slip on and off – and in full character she said, ‘And I’m the Marilyn Monroe of Burlesque.’ The museum held great treasures such as pieces of Marilyn Monroe’s wardrobe, Gypsy Rose Lee’s trunk, and Jayne Mansfield’s pink heart-shaped ottoman. At the end of the tour I had a lump in my throat that was so big and I just looked at Dixie. I realised that not only had I met this amazing woman but she had given me a tour through my past – the history of those doing what I was carrying into the future. For once I didn’t feel so alone; I didn’t feel like an island – I had found exactly where I came from. When I looked at her with the lump in my throat and the tears in my eyes and tried to express my gratitude to her she said, ‘It’s you girls that are keeping it alive.’ She wouldn’t take credit ever for carefully guarding the flame of burlesque so that we could go and light our own fires with it.
Dixie Evans was a mother to me, and if you’ve ever stood in a pair of high heels, pasties and gloves, and a tightly zipped gown, waiting to go onstage – being announced in a burlesque show – she was some type of mother to you too. She’s the reason why the community had a place to go to meet each other and create the communities that extended out into what the burlesque community is today.
I thought about what my favourite thing about Dixie is. My favourite thing about Dixie was her stories. It’s through her powerful storytelling that I felt like I actually had time-travelled back and worked with her in clubs and laughed with the greats! It’s through OUR stories of Dixie that we can keep her alive.
The only real way to keep someone alive forever is to keep their passion alive – to keep the things they loved alive – by telling people about them! We can keep Dixie alive forever by sharing our stories with everyone who will listen. By telling them often enough and from our hearts well enough that we can actually create the essence of Dixie in the hearts and minds of each listener. I encourage each and everyone of you to leave here today with the intention of sharing as many stories about Dixie as possible. Thank you.
World Famous *BOB*
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.