Top 15 Classic Burlesque Queens

Here’s a fun little youtube clip adventure through the top 15 Burlesque performers. If you’re anything like me and have an intense fear and hatred of parrots and parrot-like tropical birds, then maybe avoid Rosita Royce’s “Bird Dance.” She’s talented and gorgeous, but THOSE WERE BY NO MEANS DOVES! Parrots are evil, but Burlesque is forever. I’m not even sure what that’s supposed to mean. I’ve been writing for many, many hours now.

Simply Burlesque

The ’30s, ’40s,  ’50s and ’60s were exceptional times for striptease artists. Hundreds of theaters and clubs across the country catered to burlesque and even Hollywood came calling. Hundreds of  extraordinarily beautiful women made careers teasing  eager audiences with carefully planned and, by today’s standards, modest displays of flesh. What makes a classic burlesque queen? Here at Simply Burlesque the criteria is simple:

  • beauty: the performer had to be easy on the eyes with a stunning figure to match
  • dance ability: the best burlesque strippers could easily glide across a stage and keep a beat
  • striptease ability: since burlesque is about the art of teasing, the queens of this field were the ones who could be seductive without being lewd
  • gimmicks: whether she used a fan, her stockings, an animal or balloons, classic burlesque queens always had a little something extra to captivate the audience
  • performance: song choice and costumes…

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1952 Parisian Fashion: Givenchy

1952 Parisian Fashion: Givenchy

An unpublished outtake then published in LIFE Magazine’s retrospect of Givenchy’s career. This guy dolled up Audrey Hepburn every chance he could get. And who could blame him? But do you have any idea how difficult it’s been to find descriptions and (god forbid) names of 1952 haute couture purses? Still, I’m rather fond of the idea of a vintage box purse like the one in the photo… I suppose Givenchy made that one, too, though I haven’t been able to find conclusive evidence one way or another, it being an unpublished outtake and all. You know what, he made it. Let’s make the safe bet that he made it.


Opre Roma! Gypsies should… be recognized as equal.

Opre Roma! Gypsies should... be recognized as equal.

Inspired by the UN’s powerful campaign to spread awareness of sexism using Google’s auto complete search function, I did an experiment using the word “Gypsies” instead of “women” to take a look the mark of antigypsyism on the Internet. This is what I found: “Gypsies should be shot… Gypsies should be killed… Gypsies should die.” I decided to create an image in the spirit of the UN Women campaign to promote the Roma Rights movement and to shed light on what it is that we, that is, every humanitarian, is fighting against.

Which brings me to this: in the midst of this painful show of hatred, I need to acknowledge my many, many wonderful, loving friends who care about human rights for everyone. Y’all make me so happy about the world. I’m so glad you’re with me.


Anniversary of vodka and Venn diagrams


Seven years ago today, it was Friday the 13th of October, which is coincidentally the day that many Pagans believe brings love and good luck to all, and that was the day that Len and I went on our first date. We intended to catch a film at The Cork Film Festival where I was volunteering at the time. The film  was sold out so we headed to The Bodega, a cute heritage bar where we drank a lot of vodka and talked very quickly for many, many hours. He drew a Venn diagram on a napkin to illustrate a point about distributive cognition and it gave me butterflies– I was a philosophy minor and I still am an utter logic-nerd. And he was so cute and such a philosophy-nerd that I was wholly in love already: I texted my best friend and flatmate Sarah Sullivan, “This guy has my brain,”  to let her know that 1. the date was going super well, and 2. I had not been murdered. Later on, I told Len a story about my Romani family during the Holocaust. I had told very few people this story, and certainly I didn’t tell anyone that I was wishing I could pluck up the nerve to write it. After I told him, he said, “You have to write that. It’s a novel. I can see it.” I told him I was just a poet, but I thought about it.

After the Bodega and many vodkas, we snuck into the sociology building at UCC, where he was finishing a Masters in Sociology and I was studying travel writing  through Hollins University’s study aroad program. We used the computers to plan a trip to Italy for artistic inspiration: I was writing a book of poetry, and Len is a talented visual artist and he always wanted to sketch in Italy. Obviously this was before phones with Internet powers. We went on that trip a few months later, and that’s where we decided, in Arezzo on New Year’s Eve, watching boys throw fire crackers at the train tracks below our apartment balcony, that we should just keep riding the crazy, unlikely train of our trans-national relationship and see where it takes us. I told him once that I can only feel comfortable in transit and it took me this long to realize that everyone everywhere is speeding toward something, and now I can sit down and write.

Today, seven years later, I am writing that novel. It’s fiction, certainly, and the characters are characters and not me or anyone else I know, but it has roots in that true story. That night of the 13th, Len told me he wanted to be a composer, and today he is at a piano lesson with a pianist and composer who he truly admires, and he’s already written gorgeous pieces.   So tonight, Len and I are going to eat some raw vegan desserts and drink champagne and feel very luxurious and self-satisfied. Maybe we’ll get crazy and draw a diagram or two.  

cucumber basil lemonade


6 cups water
1/2 cup raw agave
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 basil leaves
1 cup chopped cucumber (peeled if you fancy)
Basil leaves and cucumber slices for garnish

Blend all ingredients,  except for the garnish, and serve chilled. The combination of lemon and cucumber are great for a cleanse or a refreshing pick me up from grading, writing, and other Saturday nerdtivities.




Dear readers,

I’d like to announce the launch of one of my new side projects, co-founded with the infamous and captivating William J. Leith, The Poet Time video blog! Think of it an ongoing e-reading series. Our mission is to bring the visual and audio magic of oratory performance to a wide audience. And we are seeking submissions from poets and short prose writers alike! Please check out our Submission Guidelines and get going. We want to see your magic!