Review: Pretty Things

Dear Constant Reader,

Today’s book has a lot of information on one of my favorite topics — costumes!

Pretty Things: The Last Generation of American Burlesque Queens by Liz Goldwyn (2006).

After making her documentary, also called Pretty Things, Ms. Goldwyn returned to her original focus, burlesque costumes, with this book. There’s lots of fabulous information about two prolific costumers with photos, sketches, pages from their account books, &c. Some of the sketches even still have fabric and trim samples attached. It’s marvelous inspiration.

The book also discusses burlesque in general and certain performers in specific, liberally illustrated with photographs and scrapbook pages. The biographies of Betty Rowland, Dian Rowland, June St. Claire, Lois de Fee, and Zorita are livened with first-hand stories from interviews conducted with some of the remaining “last generation”. I was a little surprised that despite numerous quotations from Sherry Britton, she didn’t rate a chapter of her own.

Ms. Goldwyn clearly loves her subject and her sources, but she’s not a dazzling writer. There are the occasional clunkers like the dancer who was “riding a horse wearing a white feather bikini”. Even if you skipped the text and just looked at the illustrations, this book would be worth it.

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Published in: on 9 November 2011 at 12:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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