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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Neo-Burlesque (or "New Burlesque") is the revival and updating of the traditional burlesque performance. Though based on the traditional Burlesque art, the new form encompasses a wider range of performance styles; Neo-burlesque acts can be anything from classic striptease to modern dance to theatrical mini-dramas to comedic mayhem. As with the earlier burlesque, neo-burlesque is more focused on the "tease" in "striptease" than the "strip." Audiences for neo-burlesque shows tend to be mixed; men, women, straight, gay, and everything in between.

Burlesque history

Burlesque as a sensation was brought to America from Britain in the late 1860s by Lydia Thompson and her British Blondes, a troupe who spoofed traditional theatrical productions and featured ladies performing men’s roles, in costumes considered revealing for the time period. Since that time it has assimilated vaudeville, minstrel shows, striptease, comedy and cabaret to evolve into the follies of the twenties and thirties to the girlie shows of the 40s and 50s, which eventually gave way to the modern strip club. Burlesque, in its various forms, is a unique traditional American Folk Art.

New Burlesque

A new generation nostalgic for the spectacle and perceived glamour of the old times determined to bring burlesque back. This revival was pioneered independently in the mid 1990s by Ami Goodheart’s “Dutch Weismanns’ Follies” revue in New York and Michelle Carr’s “The Velvet Hammer Burlesque” troupe in Los Angeles. In addition, and throughout the country, many individual performers were incorporating aspects of burlesque in their acts. These productions, inspired by the likes of Sally Rand, Tempest Storm, Gypsy Rose Lee, Dixie Evans and Lily St. Cyr have themselves gone on to inspire a new generation of performers.

Today New Burlesque has taken many forms, but all have the common trait of honoring one or more of burlesque’s previous incarnations, with acts including striptease, expensive costumes, bawdy humor, cabaret and more. There are modern burlesque performers and shows all over the world, and annual conventions such as Tease-O-Rama, New York Burlesque Festival, The Great Boston Burlesque Exposition, and the Miss Exotic World Pageant.

Today's Burlesque revival has found homes throughout the United States and the world, the largest communities located on the East and West Coasts of the U.S. On the East Coast, New York City boasts the largest community (where select nightlife venues have been inspired by the trend--several notable troops include Le Scandal Cabaret, Pinchbottom Burlesque, Starshine Burlesque, and, during the summer, Coney Island's Burlesque at the Beach); in the Pacific Northwest, the Burlesque scene is centered in Seattle--home of Miss Indigo Blue, Paula the Swedish Housewife, Vienna Le Rouge, The Atomic Bombshells, The Von Foxies, Glitzkrieg Burlesque, and Sinner Saint Burlesque, to name a few; in Southern California, the largest communities reside in the San Francisco Bay Area, home of the largest monthly burlesque and variety show (the Hubba Hubba Revue), and Los Angeles. There are also thriving Burlesque scenes in Canada, the UK, and Japan.


New Burlesque tends to put the emphasis on style and tend to be sexy rather than sexual, often involving humor. Unlike modern strippers, who dance in strip clubs to make a living, burlesque performers often perform for fun and spend more money on costumes, rehearsal, and props than they are compensated. Performers rarely strip to less than pasties and g-strings.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Neo-Burlesque" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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