As summer approaches, many of our readers will be getting packed up for their holidays , so why not get stocked up on some burlesque-reading, to while away the hours whilst you sit sipping cocktails in the shade of a palm tree by the pool? This month, we’ve put together a little review of some of our favourite burlesque books, from fact to fiction, from history to modern-day, there’s something to suit all tastes…
The Best Introduction to New Burlesque
‘Burlesque & the New Bump n’ Grind’ by Michelle Baldwin
This fabulous book was published over a decade ago now, but is still a super informative, highly-relevant, modern-historical journey through the rise of late twentieth and early twenty-first century burlesque in the USA. Penned by Colorado burlesque star Vivien vaVoom, it provides an excellent and fascinating grounding in the history of traditional burlesque, from Lydia Thompson, to Broadway, to Minsky and on to 1960s go-go dancing and more. You’re then swept through to the early 1990s and taken through the underground scene where neo-burlesque was born, along with a look at the early years of the BHoF pageant. Accompanied by lots of glorious photos to illustrate the stories of today’s contemporary international burlesque superstars, the New Bump n’ Grind should definitely be on your burlesque reading list.
Buy ‘Burlesque & the New Bump n’ Grind’ on Amazon.
The Best All-Round Guide to Burlesque
‘The Burlesque Handbook’ by Jo ‘Boobs’ Weldon
Looking for top tips, tricks of the trade and general advice on everything from fan dancing to backstage etiquette and more? Then look no further. The world-renowned Jo Weldon, head of the New York School of Burlesque released her ‘burlesque bible’ in 2010 and it is arguably the best, most comprehensive burlesque guide out there for beginners.
Split into chapters that cover movement, creating an act, polishing and perfecting your performance and just about any question you could ever ask on the subject of ‘how does one burlesque?’, The Burlesque Handbook is a must-have for those new to the scene, jam-packed with helpful advice and useful pics (check out the fans dancing section, with pics and poses included!)
Buy ‘The Burlesque Handbook’ on Amazon.
The Original Burlesque Murder Mystery
‘The G-String Murders’ by Gypsy Rose Lee
Fancy stepping back in time, to the bawdy, salacious, vivacious and naughty forties? Then the original burlesque murder mystery by Gypsy Rose Lee could be just your cup of tea (or perhaps more accurately, your bottle of gin…) Heralded as one of the Queens of the Golden Era of Burlesque, Gypsy Rose Lee’s name is internationally recognised, and who better to take you behind the scenes, into the darkened theatres of the old burlesques than such a lady?
Opening with a scene that wouldn’t be out of place in any modern-day Amercian TV crime drama, Lee paints a vivid picture of the atmosphere and feeling in the fictional burlesque theatre, that sits at the centre of her double-murder mystery novel. If you want to lose yourself in a film noir-esque story of deception and corruption, The G-String Murders is well worth a peek.
Buy ‘The G-String Murders’ on Amazon.
The Prettiest Historical Burlesque Pictorial Book
‘Pretty Things: The Last Generation of American Burlesque Queens’ by Liz Goldwyn
This absolute gem of a book is a simply divine collection of old performer photographs, costume sketches and pictures. Featuring detailed biographies of some of the original burlesque queens, including Betty Rowland and Zorita, it is a fascinating peep behind the curtain at burlesque of yesteryear. The rich detail in the stories told, illustrated by the incredible visuals included in the book, Pretty Things allows you to delve back in time in an incredibly unique and genuine way.
Buy ‘Pretty Things’ on Amazon.
We hope that’s given you some food for thought and some ideas for your summer reading list. We’d love to hear your thoughts or any suggestions for more exciting burlesque books that our readers recommend.