“You might not realize this, but there was a time before television, before the Internet, before cell phones, and even before VCRs and DVDs. Yes, once upon a time, when people wanted to be entertained, they went out.” So writes Dixie Lee Evans, the Marilyn Monroe of Burlesque, in the foreword to the terrific book “Burlesque and the New Bump-n-Grind.” She continues, “In those days, audiences didn’t just pay to see a woman take her clothes off, they came to burlesque shows to be entertained. Every night, we performed for couples, servicemen, and women, people of all walks and backgrounds, often with only one thing in common: they had come to forget the drama of their ‘real’ lives, and lose themselves in a glittering fantasy of live music, beautiful girls, and slapstick comedy.”
Look at the people in the photo above. Men and women in their 20s, 30s and 40s drinking, smoking and, by god, having a helluva good time at a burlesque house. See the dancers in the background? Think it’s a bit risque for mixed company?
Back then you didn’t have to sneak off to Las Vegas for this kind of entertainment because there were burlesque shows going on nightly in every major city in the country and everybody went to them. These days you have to be hip to the urban bohemian underground to join the fun.
In future blogs I’ll be expanding on burlesque shows and the many other options for going out on the town – every weekend and often during the week – back in the day.
These people are having a ball!