Review: Queen of Burlesque

Dear Constant Reader,

Queen of Burlesque: The Autobiography of Yvette Paris by Yvette Paris (1990).

Yvette Paris was a Times Square stripper in the bad old days between the death of classic burlesque and the birth of neo-burlesque.

She started as a fill-in stripper, just because she wanted to see if she could. After a little while, performing as The Minx, she decided her gimmick would be old fashioned burlesque: evening gown, gloves, rhinestone and boas to a bump & grind soundtrack. She was a hit. She decided she’d proven she could do it, so she quit after only a few weeks.

Financial necessity brought her back to the stage, as a go-go dancer. It was hard work, often under hostile conditions. Frequently she feared for her safety. It wasn’t all misery– there are some amusing stories, but they are fewer than the scary ones. When she finally quit dancing, she tried modeling, but she wasn’t making enough to keep her husband from working two jobs. She went back to stripping.

This time she was a gold-star stripper with her old-style burlesque act. The owner of the Harmony Burlesque theatre loved it so much he gave her the title “Queen of Burlesque”. Unfortunately, she couldn’t dance burlesque all the time — girls cycled through the clubs to keep the audiences coming back for new material. In the mean time, she worked as a “booth baby” in a peep show. She later found success as a model and a Marilyn Monroe impersonator.

This was to be part of Prometheus Books series of “sexual autobiographies” about people “whose lives are stigmatized by society”. In this vein, she discusses her thoughts on homosexuality, prostitution, porn, drugs, and other controversial topics.

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Published in: on 9 May 2012 at 12:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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