Review: The Burlesque Handbook

Dear Constant Reader,

 I cannot believe I haven’t reviewed this book until now…

The Burlesque Handbook by Jo Weldon, 2010.

The Burlesque Handbook was published over ten years ago, but it has never been out of print. It was the first practical guide to being a burlesque performer and remains the best. As Headmistress of The New York School of Burlesque, Jo has been teaching burlesque to all levels from beginners to professionals. Her classes and related material over the years became the foundations of this book. I still have her 12-page pink “Burlesque for Beginners” handout from 2005, which grew up to become this wonderful resource.

The book is packed with useful information from classic moves to music to backstage etiquette to creating a character. There are even templates and illustrated directions for making pasties. There’s an entire chapter on fan dancing! I found the worksheets in the appendix to be incredibly valuable. Even someone who has been doing this for a while can find it useful to stop and question their own creative process.

Besides drawing on her personal experiences, Jo quotes from the “Council of Ecdysiasts” — veteran performers — for varying perspectives on a topic. She also draws upon the wisdom of Burlesque Legends, sharing their words and their stories. It’s great to have advice from a range of performers both present and past.

Jo is also a photographer, so it’s no surprise that the book is peppered with photos (black and white, occasionally with red accents). Some are of Jo and some were taken by her over her many years on the scene. The burlesque moves she describes are illustrated by clarifying step by step photos. Other performers are featured along with appropriate topics. There are even a couple of photos taken at The Expo.

The book is focused on burlesque performance — how to get ready for the stage and look great once you’re there. You’ll have to look elsewhere for information and advice on bookings, producing, hosting or promotion. I don’t have a problem with that. Trying to cover absolutely everything would made for a less focused book. Besides, Jo covers some of those topics in articles and essays elsewhere. 

To give you an idea of just how useful it is, I have a copy on our library bookshelf (thanks, Scratch! I know it’s really your book) and one on my Kindle, so I’ll always have it on hand for reference. I’ve been recommending The Burlesque Handbook to every burlesque performer for more than a decade and I’ll continue to do so.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 12 Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 14 October 2021 at 2:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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