Okay, first of all here is a disclaimer: this is not a definitive Top Ten list. It’s my Top 10 list of burlesque Legends. To those not au fait with our Glitter Tribe’s terminology, the term “Legend” is one of respect to our grand dames who came before us. They laid the groundwork for us to be able to do what we do today as showgirls. Many of them got married, some went to ground, but they all should be shown the appreciation due their station. So here are my picks of Legends for Daily Grindhouse and a little bit more about these women who are more than a wink and a smile.
LITTLE MISS RISK PRESNTS:
THE TOP 10 LEGENDS OF BURLESQUE
10. Lilly Christine, The Catgirl
The feline female Lilly Christie, alternatively billed as the ‘Cat Girl’ graced the stage at the 500 Club on Bourbon Street in New Orleans and was the house act for a number of years. Between prowling the stage in all her feral glory as a cat or performing voodoo love spells, the rumours surrounding her death regarding dying from doing too many sit ups are as outrageous as her 37C-22-35 measurements. She had appeared in Esquire as a pin up numerous times, and allowed people’s imaginations to run wild seeing her in print as they did when they saw her onscreen in any of her films.
9. Tempest Storm
The woman. The myth. The Legend. Tempest Storm of the fiery locks, the grinding hips, and the 44DD bust is one of the most well known and loved burlesque Legends. Featured in multiple girlie movies with Bettie Page (directed by Irving Klaw), Tempest is Legend done right. In the late 50s she insured her ‘moneymakers’ aka her breasts through Lloyd’s Of London for one million dollars. Currently residing in Las Vegas, NV, she continues to thrill younger generations with her appearances at Burlesque Hall Of Fame weekends.
8. Wild Cherry
You’d never know that fruit so sweet on the eyes was so tough, but that’s Wild Cherry. Born as part of a travelling carnival show, she became a dancer to earn some income, never having a formal education. But when it came to street smarts, this lady had the Phd. Dubbed “Wild Cherry” for her take-no-shit attitude, she worked stages around New Orleans, dancing, drinking and fighting. Seeing firsthand the cattiness among girls, she’s vocal about the community. Make no mistake – this Legend still has all of her fire, reminding us that a Cherry can be both spicy and sweet.
7. Kitten Natividad
Exotic dancer, actress, porn starlet and icon. Kitten Natividad switched back and forth effortlessly between stage and screen and was muse and partner to the notorious Russ Meyer. Known for her 44 inch chest, she underwent a double mastectomy and beat breast cancer after a lifetime of contributions to the adult industry, helping to create a number of erotica from pornographic films to girlie books. She was inducted into the Erotica Hall of Fame in 2008.
6. Camille 2000
“The girl for yesterday, today, and tomorrow” Camille 2000 is the true mother of cyberlesque. After mastering the ‘traditional’ striptease, she pushed the performance envelope with her robotic, futuristic performances and with her leather clad tribute to the Marquis De Sade. She has also appeared in numerous films and is a member of the Screen Actors Guild.
5. Judith Stein
Our own ‘Mama Beaver’ from Canada, Judith Stein is the consummate entertainer. Hailing from the rain forests of BC she was a crowd favorite doing the circuit of clubs back in the day. Her current performances continue to amaze and delight spectators with whimsical colorful costumes and props. As well as being a mentor to many blossoming dancers, she takes the next generation under her wing and teaches how to embrace “your inner tramp” and is also a home care worker, nurturing those who wish to remain in their homes. She remains our Canadian National Treasure.
4. Dusty Summers
Best known as a nude magician, renowned for her dove acts, she’s also known as a dancer, emcee, and author. Dusty Summerslooked upon the way women in the circuit were getting screwed by club owners and it displeased her. Her solution was to open her own clubs in Florida and Texas to give the ladies a chance for fair treatment. Her books: The Lady Is A Stripper, How To Be A Professional Stripper and The Golden G-String are favorite reading material.
3. Satan’s Angel
Billed as “The Devil’s Own Mistress”, Satan’s Angel is an apex predator at the top of her game, then and now. Pioneering and perfecting the fire tassels, as well as numerous other fire acts onstage, she is also one of the first burlesque performers of that era who was ‘out’ as a lesbian. In addition to her recently released autobiographical documentary about her life, she continues to perform and thrill audiences with her fire tricks preaching safety (onstage) and equality.
2. Tura Satana
Most people know her as the iconic Varla from FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL! but before she graced the silver screen, Tura Satana was found on burlesque stages. Prior to that, after being attacked when she was young, she went on to learn martial arts, form a multicultural girl gang, and take on the burlesque circuit. Whereas many women could have let being a victim overshadow their lives, Tura took her hand, and made it a deadly one, ascendeding to cult figure status in her time. Though she sadly has passed, her legacy lives, continuing to inspire tough-as-nails women on stage and screen.
1. Dixie Evans
Billed and celebrated as the “Marilyn Monroe Of Burlesque” Dixie was more than just a blonde bombshell. As well as being a killer satirist of pop culture in her time, she went on to found the Burlesque Hall Of Fame in Las Vegas with friend Jennie Lee. Starting the first festival/celebration/reunion of strippers, peelers and bump and grinders, she has earned the top spot on my list. Sadly, she recently passed, just after the 2013 Burlesque Hall Of Fame weekend at the age of 86. Her legacy, more than just shimmies and shakes, will live on in future generations of burlesque performers.
Hugs and hisses…
Little Miss Risk
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