No one can deny the allure and magic of the burlesque world, that strangely scintillating hybrid of lust, entertainment and art; where performance masters desire. It’s no surprise that it has long occupied a place in the cultural canon, and, as a new book by photographer Matilda Temperley and writer Dr Kaitlyn Regehr illustrates, still seduces the world today.
Every year in Las Vegas, a convention known as ‘The Burlesque Hall of Fame Reunion’ brings together heroines of the burlesque scene; these women are former members of the ‘League of Exotic Dancers’ (which began in 1955) and, annually united, they perform the best of their old routines – some of which are more than 50 years old – to an audience of almost 1000 women from across the age spectrum.
Over the last five years, Kaitlyn and Matilda have become fascinated with this scene – the way in which women who by society’s dictatorial standards were considered to be ‘past it’ came together to celebrate themselves and their art form. The book is rigorous, however, in its consideration of where burlesque sits in the context of pornography and the wider sex-industry; it’s not oversimplified into a narrative of female empowerment, instead offering a varied range of visual and written portraits that offer a fresh, unflinching and direct story about burlesque and its place in the, often untold, history of women.
The neo-burlesque revival
Interestingly, the publication comes at a time when neo-burlesque is enjoying an exciting revival. In the early 1990’s, artists in New York began to explore it as a mechanism for performance. The fresh interest also coincided with Giuliani’s campaign to close strip clubs in Manhattan. As Kaitlyn notes, burlesque ‘represented historical recreations of stripping.’ She continues ‘most of these founding performances were rather transgressive and arguably pushed forward both possibilities for erotic entertainment and elements of performance art.’ It was a movement that preempted the digital age, paving the way for activists in the way the medium challenged stereotypes and fuelled conversation around women’s bodies.
Who’s who in American burlesque?
The book offers a complete survey of the titans of the American burlesque scene. Characters range from Tempest Storm, a woman who started her career as a chorus girl in Hollywood, and Toni Elling, who navigated the prejudice that came with being a black dancer in the 1960s. The profiles are lengthy and nuanced, chronicling a range of unique stories about the lives these women have led, and how it informs their performances. Meanwhile the photographs are candid and full of joy – a reflection of the energy and character that permeates one of America’s most captivating collectives.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.