Behind the Burly Q The story of burlesque in America

Leslie Harter Zemeckis

Book - 2013

Featuring interviews by performers and other notables of the industry, presents the history of American burleque theater from its golden age through its decline and its current renaissance.

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Subjects
Published
New York : Skyhorse Publishing [2013]
©2013
Language
English
Physical Description
xxiv, 360 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (page 342-344) and index.
ISBN
9781620876916
1620876914
Main Author
Leslie Harter Zemeckis (-)
  • Welcome to the Burly show
  • The reunion
  • Six feet of spice
  • Don't tell mama (or the kids)
  • One glove at a time
  • Circus life
  • Tiny Kline
  • Those marvelous Minskys
  • The peelers
  • It's a mad, mad world
  • The straights
  • The tit singer
  • From A to C
  • Backstage
  • The censors
  • A bump...
  • The paddy wagon
  • Little flower
  • The high cost of stripping
  • Family life
  • All you need is love
  • Florida
  • On the road again
  • Sugar sugar
  • Theatres
  • Legendary ladies
  • Birds of a feather
  • You gotta have a gimmick
  • The swinging g-string
  • Stage door Johnnies
  • Money
  • Mixing
  • Interlude before evening
  • Men who made us great
  • The exotic others
  • Pasties and more
  • The Burly beat
  • The mob
  • Texas justice
  • ...And a grind
  • The show must go on
  • Gossip
  • Women who changed Burlesque
  • A leap of faith
  • Bye, bye burlesque
  • Blackout.
Review by Library Journal Reviews

Filmmaker Zemeckis, who directed and produced a documentary of the same name and subject as this book, focuses on burlesque's heyday during the 1920s through 1950s. She introduces readers to a wild and varied cast of characters, many of whom she interviewed herself, such as Lili St. Cyr, Zorita, and the legendary Gypsy Rose Lee, who was immortalized in the Broadway musical Gypsy. However, the author also reveals a more vulnerable side to these larger-than-life figures, discussing unstable childhoods and marital woes. Zemeckis also devotes chapters to comedians and other vaudeville acts associated with burlesque (Abbott and Costello were among the many performers who got their start in burlesque), the "candy butchers" who hawked their wares before shows and during intermission, and theater owners such as the Minskys. Despite occasional stilted writing, the book stresses quotations and anecdotes from the performers involved, giving it an intimate, insider's feel. VERDICT Though the author touches on burlesque as a sociocultural phenomenon, briefly discussing reasons for its popularity and its demise, this title steers clear of heavy analysis. While the academic reader may come away wanting more, Zemeckis offers a rich, colorful narrative that provides a vivid sense of the era.—Mahnaz Dar, Library Journal [Page 85]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Filmmaker Zemeckis offers a narrative version of her 2010 documentary film of the same name in this comprehensive history of the golden age of burlesque. Drawing from extensive interviews conducted for the film, Zemeckis profiles a host of colorful dancers, from 4'11" Tiny Kline—a former circus performer turned burlesque star turned Disneyland's first Tinker Bell—to Sherry Britton, who was named an honorary Brigadier for entertaining troops during WWII and who went on to get a law degree from Fordham University. The author also describes some of the most famous acts, including Kitty West emerging from a giant oyster shell and Gypsy Rose Lee's "reverse strip," in which she dressed other women in the clothes she removed. Some stories are nearly too tragic to bear, like that of Faith Bacon, who had her routine stolen from her, survived two freak accidents, became addicted to barbiturates, and finally killed herself. Rounding out Zemeckis's oral history are profiles of those connected to the burlesque circuit—like comedians Abbott and Costello—and examinations of the legal and social furors and fevers kicked off by the "Burly Q." This rich history, rife with vibrant quotes and first-hand insights from burlesque's biggest dancers, is indispensable for fans of the ribald pastime. 80 b&w photos. Agent: Danny Passman, Gang, Tyre, Ramer & Brown. (June) [Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Featuring interviews by performers and other notables of the industry, presents the history of American burleque theater from its golden age through its decline and its current renaissance.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

By the director of the hit documentary Behind the Burly Q comes the first ever oral history of American Burlesque--as told by the performers who lived it, often speaking out here for the first time. By telling the intimate and surprising stories from its golden age through the women (and men!) who lived it, Behind the Burly Q reveals the true story of burlesque, even as it experiences a new renaissance.Burlesque was one of America's most popular forms of live entertainment in the first half of the 20th century. Gaudy, bawdy, and spectacular, the shows entertained thousands of paying customers every night of the week. And yet the legacy of burlesque is often vilified and misunderstood, left out of the history books.By telling the intimate and surprising stories from its golden age through the women (and men!) who lived it, Behind the Burly Q reveals the true story of burlesque, even as it experiences a new renaissance. Lovingly interviewed by burlesque enthusiast Leslie Zemeckis who produced the hit documentary of the same name, are former musicians, strippers, novelty acts, club owners, authors, and historians--assembled here for the first time ever to tell you just what really happened in a burlesque show. From Jack Ruby and Robert Kennedy to Abbott and Costello--burlesque touched every corner of American life. The sexy shows often poked fun at the upper classes, at sex, and at what people were willing to do in the pursuit of sex. Sadly, many of the performers have since passed away, making this their last, and often only interview. Behind the Burly Q is the definitive history of burlesque during its heyday and an invaluable oral history of an American art form. Funny, shocking, unbelievable, and heartbreaking, their stories will touch your hearts. We invite you to peek behind the curtain at the burly show.Includes dozens of never-before seen photographs: rare backstage photos and candid shots from the performers' personal collections.Skyhorse Publishing, as well as our Arcade imprint, are proud to publish a broad range of books for readers interested in history--books about World War II, the Third Reich, Hitler and his henchmen, the JFK assassination, conspiracies, the American Civil War, the American Revolution, gladiators, Vikings, ancient Rome, medieval times, the old West, and much more. While not every title we publish becomes aNew York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are committed to books on subjects that are sometimes overlooked and to authors whose work might not otherwise find a home.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

By the director of the hit documentary Behind the Burly Q comes the first ever oral history of American Burlesque--as told by the performers who lived it, often speaking out here for the first time. By telling the intimate and surprising stories from its golden age through the women (and men!) who lived it, Behind the Burly Q reveals the true story of burlesque, even as it experiences a new renaissance.Burlesque was one of America's most popular forms of live entertainment in the first half of the 20th century. Gaudy, bawdy, and spectacular, the shows entertained thousands of paying customers every night of the week. And yet the legacy of burlesque is often vilified and misunderstood, left out of the history books.By telling the intimate and surprising stories from its golden age through the women (and men!) who lived it, Behind the Burly Q reveals the true story of burlesque, even as it experiences a new renaissance. Lovingly interviewed by burlesque enthusiast Leslie Zemeckis who produced the hit documentary of the same name, are former musicians, strippers, novelty acts, club owners, authors, and historians--assembled here for the first time ever to tell you just what really happened in a burlesque show. From Jack Ruby and Robert Kennedy to Abbott and Costello--burlesque touched every corner of American life. The sexy shows often poked fun at the upper classes, at sex, and at what people were willing to do in the pursuit of sex. Sadly, many of the performers have since passed away, making this their last, and often only interview. Behind the Burly Q is the definitive history of burlesque during its heyday and an invaluable oral history of an American art form. Funny, shocking, unbelievable, and heartbreaking, their stories will touch your hearts. We invite you to peek behind the curtain at the burly show.Includes dozens of never-before seen photographs: rare backstage photos and candid shots from the performers' personal collections.Skyhorse Publishing, as well as our Arcade imprint, are proud to publish a broad range of books for readers interested in history--books about World War II, the Third Reich, Hitler and his henchmen, the JFK assassination, conspiracies, the American Civil War, the American Revolution, gladiators, Vikings, ancient Rome, medieval times, the old West, and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are committed to books on subjects that are sometimes overlooked and to authors whose work might not otherwise find a home.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

Burlesque was one of America's most popular forms of live entertainment in the first half of the 20th century. Gaudy, bawdy, and spectacular, the shows entertained thousands of paying customers every night of the week. And yet the legacy of burlesque