Superstars of Burlesque: Dee Milo

We return once more to American soil for this week’s superstar. Known as ‘The Venus of Dance’, her natural rhythm and beauty made her a household name across the USA. Having retired in the mid ‘60s, she returned to the stage 30 years later as one of the last remaining Legends at the Burlesque Hall of Fame (BhoF). She is the delectable Dee Milo.

Who is Dee Milo?
American burlesque star Dee Milo worked the professional circuit between 1949 and 1964. Born in New York, she moved to Utah as a child and grew up there, before relocating to Nevada at age 16 and shortly after, to Los Angeles. She toured the country as a headline act, noted for her sensual movement, particularly in her best-known act ‘Sentimental Journey’. She retired in 1964 following a Japanese tour which was a great success and a wonderful high note to go out on. However, Dee returned to the stage in 1995 at Miss Exotic World and has since made appearances at other top US festivals, including the BHoF and Teaserama.

Dee Milo 1

How did she get into burlesque?
Dee’s first attempt to enter the world of burlesque was usurped by her then-employers – a bar employing dancers – who didn’t think their young bartender had what it took to dance for them. Determined not to be put off, Dee moved to New Orleans to gain some experience as a dancer and learn some moves. She soon mastered the art of the tease and returned to San Francisco where she landed a job straight away.

What style of burlesque did she perform?
Dee’s natural, fluid movements made her appear effortless as she danced. Her costumes were glamorous; sequinned, heavily-beaded, opulent numbers and exotic panel skirts which complemented her graceful movements. Her stage style was as glamorous and seductive as her wardrobe and movement.

Some interesting facts about Dee Milo
*When performing in Mexico, Dee met fellow burlesque queen Jennie Lee with whom she remained friends for many years after.

*At one show in San Diego, Dee narrowly escaped arrest when she used a wedding dress in a routine, something which was considered awfully scandalous!

*When Dee retired in 1964, she returned home to her family, where her religious mother encouraged her to burn all memories of her life as an exotic dancer in order to purge herself of sin. All of Dee’s beautiful costumes gowns, pictures and newspaper articles were lost in this tragic event, but thankfully copies of some photos remained in existence and have been sought out by the dedicated burlesque historians of today.

*One single costume somehow escaped the blaze, and was found some years later by Dee’s daughter, who discovered it hidden away in the attic. Its rediscovery prompted Dee to contact Dixie Evans and to slip back into the classic sparkly number as she took to the stage once more.

Catch up on the rest of our Superstars series below.

Lydia Thompson
Bettie Page
Sally Rand
Gypsy Rose Lee
Imogen Kelly
Dirty Martini
Michelle L’Amour
Catherine D’Lish
Dita Von Teese