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Too dirty for Harvard

 The Harvard Club is home to the richest folk of New York - not the young celebes who come and go but the super-rich who maintain the Opera and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and they hold an annual Halloween party at their very exclusive club. What they weren’t expecting as part of the entertainment this year was Dirty Martini, international burlesque star, naked on a chaise lounge!

 As the late great Kenny Everett used to say, it was ‘all in the best possible taste’. Ms Martini was posing for a sculpture being created out of wire by Skye Ferrante, himself a New York notable; a former professional ballet dancer who now makes his wire sculptures as performance art (but they sell for $1000 dollars each, so it’s not exactly pocket money activity). Even so, some of the guests were shocked and complained. Club management informed Dirty Martini that she had to wear a Halloween cape and pasties as “This [was] the first time there [had] ever been nudity in the history of the Harvard Club, founded in 1865, and definitely the last.”

Oh, and if you’re loving Dirty Martini’s shoes, we’ve got just what you want! Gold sequinned burlesque shoes just like hers!

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Posted By Rowena Yee

Bermuda cruise with burlesque star

She danced with Elvis Presley and not as a fan - he asked to dance with her! Tempest Storm was already a huge star when Presley hit the world in the 1950s. She was the face of what was then called exotic dancing in a period when exotic dancing was the biggest entertainment. She describes herself as a ‘class act’ or, as she put it herself, ‘… Beautiful wardrobe. Big band. Opening act. It was sexy, teasing … nothing vulgar.’ and she delighted in showing her 40 inch bust to the audience after her first boss, Lillian Hunt who ran the Follies Theatre in Los Angeles told her at her audition that her nervousness about her breasts was pointless because, ‘They don't make 'em too big in this business’. Hired on the spot, she never looked back, taking ballet lessons, and changing her name to Tempest Storm.

In addition to her little fling with Elvis, Tempest cosied up to Mickey Rooney and Nat King cole and even met John F Kennedy alone, although that didn’t go anywhere. Now, in her nineties, she’s leading a burlesque cruise* to the Bahamas - New York to Bermuda, 15-22 October 2015, if that takes your fancy.

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Posted By Rowena Yee

Jemma is more than an Apprentice!

Jemma Bird sounds like somebody who invented her name from the  burlesque name creator system we shared with you in our last blog post but in fact she’s one of this year’s contestants in The Apprentice - and an accomplished burlesque artist.

Now Jemma hopes to win over Lord Sugar and to develop her performing arts coaching business called Amplify. She’s also part of an all female burlesque troupe called The Pin-Ups which operates as an ensemble, allowing people to book as few as three of the participants or all twelve for a gala event. Jemma trained in dance and in dance tuition and now runs a cabaret agency that scouts for performance artists, gets them bookings and markets the whole process.

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Posted By Rowena Yee

Before and after - burlesque performers revealed

Burlesque is an art form, a way of speaking truth to power and damn good fun!  Sean Scheidt focuses on one area of burlesque … the transformative nature of the art itself - his series of before and after portraits are not so much an expose of burlesque as an unravelling of the nature of the burlesque persona and its role in creating different realities, not only for the viewer of burlesque who is generally seeking some glamour, excitement and subversive fun, but also for the performer. Using costume, make up and performance art to explore being a different person is not limited to burlesque, but the high number of amateur burlesque performers does suggest that there is something powerfully effective in the art. Scheidt himself says that the photo-documentary series is partly inspired by what Harpo Marx had to say about Judy Garland creating a persona in his autobiography … no, we’re not sure either, we’re going to have to buy it and find out for ourselves! He also said, “…I realized the stage has the power to transform a person into someone else. The question I wanted to explore was finding the reality within that transformation.”

We particularly liked this before and after image, both for the artistry of the performer who has really created a stunning persona and for the sheer beauty of the shot. You can see a lot more of Scheidt’s work here.

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Posted By Rowena Yee

Ballet mixer

It’s not what we’d imagine from Darcy Bussell, but Prohibition Houston has just hosted a ‘mixer’ for ballet dancers and ballet fans. The upcoming stars of ballet were thrown together with Principal Dancer Connor Walsh and two soloists, Oliver Halkowich and Jessica Collado. Also present in the 125 strong gathering were a bunch of Prohibition’s own dancers, in burlesque costume. We were talking in our last blog post about the linkages between one art form and another, and this is exactly the kind of crossover we were talking about. Both performance forms requires dedication, athleticism and great costuming!

Speaking of which, if you’re thrilled by those masks in the Prohibition picture, we think you’ll be delighted by our ‘Evening in Venice’ satin and lace eye mask. Very sexy!

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Posted By Rowena Yee

Burlesque or pole-dancing or what …?

There’s a never-ending debate about what we do, and how it’s done. Right back in 2008, this very balanced and thought-provoking article by Bombshell Betty* laid out the arguments for a shared origin and diverging development, of burlesque or pole dancing. So what’s changed? Not much actually. You can make every kind of distinction, burlesque being an art and pole dancing being a sport (which is actually borne out by the development of a championships for pole dancing**) or pole dancing being a largely ‘stripper’ activity whereas burlesque is a largely costumed event … but whatever you say, there will always be people who fight to keep these arts apart, people who want them to be united, and lots of people who have no idea what either activity is and can’t see why they need to be defined at all.

For us, there’s no problem, whatever you call your art, and however you describe yourself, we have resources to make your activity more fulfilling and exciting. As an example, our voluptuous red rose pasties work whether you’re a burlesque artist or a pole dancing competitor - they’re bound to put you in the limelight!

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Posted By Rowena Yee