Throughout history, burlesque of one kind or another has flourished under the censure of the powerful. Whether it is Greek writers sneaking a slap at the state in their plays; the comical lewdness of medieval skits; the voluptuous chorus girls of America’s 20th century; gay identity slipping into female impersonations; burlesque is the repudiation of exclusion. It’s vulgarity is a weapon against the propriety of the privileged and, later on, the prudish middle classes. In its mocking disregard for what is decent, burlesque becomes the people’s art form.
While striptease is burlesque’s most modern stick in the eye, the tradition is ancient and subversive. Fine art has always belonged to the rich, but burlesque is the revenge of the poor – a thumb to the nose, a fist to the fates, an expression of doubt that proves that hope exists. Of all the arts, burlesque may offer the truest likeness of ourselves, the real picture in Oscar Wilde’s ‘Picture of Dorian Grey’ – grotesque, libidinous, fleshy, irreverent, and immensely watchable. Enjoy!
Starring: Josephine Baker, Charlie Chaplin, Jimmy Durante, Little Egypt, Dixie Evans, W.C. Fields, Mata Hari, La Goulue, Anna Held, Buster Keaton, Charles Leybourne, Marie Lloyd, Jonathan Miller, Minstinguette, Le P’tomane, George Roby, Ella Shields, Vesta Tilley, Little Titch, Lydia Thompson, Sasha Von Bonbon, Mae West, Oscar Wilde, Florenz Ziegfeld.