“Free” and “I’m already in the same neighborhood or at least the same borough” are a couple of important preconditions for my attendance at an event…but add into the mix a chance to see real live burlesque legends from back in the days of the original burlesque, and of course I’m there in a heartbeat!
On Saturday, the New York Burlesque Festival presented a “Legends of Burlesque” panel at the Slipper Room, featuring former burlesque stars April March and Tiffany Carter, moderated by Dr. Lucky. Myself, about two dozen twentysomething young women in vintage clothes (and a couple of fellow male lummoxes) sat at the feet of these veterans to hear tales of Back-in-the-Day. Both April and Tiffany are what you might call “in-betweeners” — too young to have been on the old burlesque circuits, but already long-retired when New Burlesque first reared its pretty head. (April’s career extended from the 1950s through the 1970s; Tiffany’s from the 1960s through the 1980s.) L.A. and Las Vegas seemed to be their primary stomping grounds (although according to April, on one occasion following a rare pre-show margarita, she stomped right off the runway) but both have danced all over the world, and rubbed shoulders with some of the legends of their own field, as well as some of the famous men who sat anonymously in the audience.
Because April bore a resemblance to Jackie O. for a time she was billed as “The First Lady of Burlesque”:
Tiffany has come out of retirement to dance and teach again:
Neither has lost the old charm. Dr. Lucky kept the questions coming and kept it moving like the practiced M.C. she is. All in all, a Saturday afternoon well spent!
To find out more about show business past and present, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.
And don’t miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc