Review: Honey & Spice

Dear Constant Reader,

Before The Burlesque Handbook was published, Jo Weldon filmed some instructional DVDs (I think this was one of the first). She’s an excellent instructor with a wealth of knowledge and here’s yet another way to learn from her.

Honey & Spice: Sensual & Fierce Burlesque,  Jo Weldon, 2009.

Nominally this one-hour DVD teaches two burlesque routines, but there’s additional information, which can be applied to other acts.

As the title indicates, Jo teaches Honey, slow and sensual with a boa, and Spice with lively bumping & grinding. Each routine has an introduction that covers the specific fundamentals: sensual flow and bumps n’ grinds. She demonstrates each dance first, in an appropriate costume. Each dance is made up of five segments of four moves. The names of the moves are shown on the screen and each segment is numbered so it’s easy to follow along. Then there’s a step by step breakdown of each section. Each routine involves striptease with gloves and a bra (although Jo is very coy in the video, you don’t have to be). The music is from The Shim-Sham Revue so it will be very familiar to any B.A.B.E. students.

Before actually diving into the routines, Jo talks a bit about the costume she’s wearing and good dance posture, then runs a short warm up. Afterwards, she demonstrates how to remove stockings and a corset, how to twirl tassels, and how to wear pasties. None of these garments actively figure into the routines, but they’re a good bonus and might inspire you to create your own routines.

Definitely recommended for beginning burlesquers. The more advanced performer can benefit too! It’s always good to go back to basics and you’ll probably learn some new tidbit.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 13 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 18 November 2021 at 12:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Review: Buxom Beautease

Dear Constant Reader,

I’ve got another vintage movie review for you!

Buxom Beautease ad cropped

Buxom Beautease, directed by Irving Klaw, 1956.

This is another from our vast archive of Something Weird DVDs. It’s a filmed burlesque show (not live), with stripping and comedy, but notable for a few reasons.

First, it’s directed by Irving Klaw, the man behind the fetish photos of Bettie Page. He previously directed Varietease and Teaserama, more famous films with higher production values and appearances by Bettie Page.

More importantly, it is, I believe, the only recording of Blaze Starr doing her signature flaming couch act. However, it seems to be an ordinary chaise with a jury-rigged smoke effect, rather than her actual stage couch with the flames. That you can see at the American Burlesque Collection‘s special exhibit Passion in Action.

The cast has some burlesque luminaries, but Dorian Dennis gets top billing over Blaze Starr, Lili St. Cyr, and Tempest Storm. Hold that thought, we’ll be back to Lili & Tempest later.

Despite the ad copy promising color, the film is in black and white. We’ll get back to that later as well.

This is a very long write-up; for my summary go here.

A charming miss come out before each act with a card listing the name of the performer(s), which cuts to a close-up of the title card. As the film goes on, she gets less dressed. She’s not used to introduce repeat performers.

The film starts with a comedy routine between Gene Doyle (straight man) and Joe Young (comic). It’s mostly a bunch of quick bits. They’re playing in front of curtains, but it doesn’t look like a theatre and it doesn’t sound like there’s an audience.

Blaze Starr heats things up with her flaming couch routine. It look like it was filmed in someone’s living room, maybe a basement set up to look like a living room. She does a slow striptease out of a lot of garments. It’s fun when she rather saucily snaps her garter at the camera. Once she’s down to her undies, she straddles the couch and takes a powder puff out of her evening bag. She awkwardly slaps the powder puff on her armpit, her décolletage, and thighs, then hesitates for a moment and naughtily taps it on her crotch. Finally, she writhes on the couch, and as the camera get close on her face, you get some idea of just how alluring she was on stage. The smoke effect goes off and we hear cheers from the “audience”. She is still fairly modestly attired in a strapless bra and high-waisted panties.

The burlesque continues with Barbara Pauline. She enters rear first and lets the camera linger on her behind sticking out of the curtains at the side of the “stage”. She’s performing on a slightly different living room set, with a sofa. She parades back and forth, stripping from gown and feathered hat to bra and fringed belt to opaque triangle bra and ruffled panties, but no further.

More comedy — a “painless dentist” bit with  the comedy duo and a couple of talking (and screaming) women.

Back to the striptease with Dorian Dennis and back to the living room set. In lieu of gloves she wears some interesting puffed sleeve gauntlets. She gives us a bit of a leg show on the couch. Unfortunately, the camera focuses more on her face during the later part of the act when she’s most undressed (although she still doesn’t go down to pasties).

As the next dancer is introduced, our title girl appears to be naked, hiding behind the card. Eve Adams is performing on a stage set, wearing a striking parti-colored gown which turns out to be a zippered top and open skirt over panels (also parti-colored). At a couple of points, she deliberately pulls up her strapless bra, which had begun to slip. She plays with her hair a lot, which is kind of messy by the end of the act, which made her seem very real. Near the end of the act, she’s clearly saying something, but I can’t make out what it is. I wonder if she’s asking how much longer she has to keep going…

Next up is Patti Paget. The card girl is still “naked” but when she places the card on the easel, you can clearly see her bra and panties although she’s trying to keep her body out of frame. Patti Paget is a fan dancer! Although there is some conceal and reveal, she mostly uses the fans to frame and highlight her body. There’s no pretense whatsoever that she’s nude behind them. There’s a longish bit where the camera just focuses on her legs, which seems something of a waste as she’s doing things with the fans that we can’t see. Eventually she puts the fans down for (I think) a little bump & grind, but now the camera is above her hips.

Gene and Joe return for a trip to Paris where they try out their French on Eve Adams.

A slightly more clad title girl introduces Evonne, who is just waking up. It turns out the ubiquitous couch in the living room set is a sleeper sofa. She slowly gets dressed, pulling on stocking and heels (just a touch of fetish styling here) and discarding her nightgown to give us a leg show on the bed. (She’s also the screaming woman from the dentist bit.) The quality of the film doesn’t seem as good as the rest.

The title girl introduces Rita Grable, then points to herself and beckons us to follow her to the stage. Her costume has lavish layers of tulle ruffles on the overskirt, bodice, and muff.

Blaze Starr takes the stage again in a showgirl costume with a feathered headdress and pearl-encrusted bra. She struts, grinds, and strips, but she’s best when she gets down on the floor, despite all the trouble her fringe skirt gives her. It is made of strands of something like tinsel and it keeps getting caught on the heel of her shoe. Although she frequently squeezes her famous breasts together, like all the previous acts, she doesn’t reveal them.

Trudy Wayne cavorts on and near the couch. The camera is always in very close and I don’t think there’s a single full-body shot in the entire act. The lighting is dim and the film quality is about the same as Evonne’s act.

Dorian Dennis, who had top billing, returns to the living room set. Elegantly dressed, with a fur stole, she opens a compact and powders her face before beginning her parade. As in her first act, she wears a tiny lace skirt which serves as her final remove.

Time for some more comedy! Gene and Joe do a bit with some unusual math and enlist Eve Adams for help.

Up until now the film has been black and white. Suddenly we cut to “Striptease Revealed Starring Tempest Storm”, which is in color! This was a short film Klaw made in 1950.  Presumably he tacked on to the end so he could claim Buxom Beautease had color and stars that the budget probably couldn’t afford. The production values are much higher than the previous hour.

First we see a card (held by a different girl) reading “Starring Lili St. Cyr”. Then a desert scene with Lili dancing in a tent with sheer walls. She exits the tent in a sequined harem girl sort of costume and dances to Orientalist music, looking anywhere but at the camera. She strips down to pasties and net pants, then climbs into her famous bath tub, where she swats at flying bubbles while she covers her breasts with one arm. Discretely screening herself with a towel, she headed back to the tent and from behind its walls, at last reveals all. Or as much as one can see through the sheer tent walls

At last Tempest Storm arrives in all her red-headed glory. The set is nothing to speak of, just some curtains hanging on a wall, but it is in color. Tempest performs one of her signature stripteases, slow and sultry. She ends in a net bra with decorations in lieu of pasties.

tl;dr. This is a very modest burlesque film, both in budget and in the performances. There are 12 burlesque acts from ten performers and 4 comedy sets. The comics aren’t particularly funny. The dancers all end in fairly covering undergarments and none in the black & white section go down to pasties.  If anything particularly risqué is happening, the camera cuts away to focus on another part of the dancer’s body. The dancers themselves occasionally look awkward or bored. The sets are minimal and either pretend to be a theatre stage or a living room.

It’s interesting for the historic value, and for immortalizing Blaze Starr’s signature act, but it’s just not that great a film. I suppose I should watch Varietease and Teaserama next, for contrast.

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 31 August 2021 at 3:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Review: Bettie Page Fitness Workouts

Dear Constant Reader,

I’ve got a pretty good fitness routine of barre classes, plus the occasional treat of a Toning with Tara session, but I’m always ready to shake things up and try something new. Bettie Page Fitness has created two workout videos, each one inspired by the dynamic poses in Bettie’s photos, as well as her body positivity. The workouts were designed and demonstrated by health coach and fitness expert Tori Rodriguez.

The first video is Total Body Strength & Cardio. It’s a 45-minute fitness routine with three circuits of toning, using weights, plus cardio, and one circuit of core work. The first time an exercise is introduced, its name and a photo of Bettie Page in the pose that inspired it flash on the screen. I admire the creativity in taking a still photo and turning it into an exercise, like interpreting a photo of Bettie with her arms and legs spread as a star jack.

I really liked the counter in the corner to help keep track of reps and that the three participants would do some of the exercises at different levels of difficulty. I do wish the participants were mirroring the moves though. That is, when Tori says “left”, everyone on screen moves their left which the viewer’s right. It can get a little confusing between what you hear and what you see. I know mirroring is harder on the instructor, but it makes a big difference

The second video is Bettie Page Yoga. I confess I’m not generally a yoga practitioner — most of what I know I learned from my mother who is a yoga instructor, so forgive me if I get a term wrong. This is a 40-minute flow, inspired again by the poses of Bettie Page.

At the beginning Tori suggests setting an intention based on one of Bettie’s characteristics, like her confidence or playfulness. The routine is a mix of traditional poses, like downward-facing dog and warrior 2, interspersed Bettie-inspired poses, like low lunge and standing twist. Again, the first time a Bettie pose appears, a photo of Bettie in the pose and the name appear on the screen (the names of the traditional poses are spoken only). Tori throws in some pinup touches, like a “big Bettie smile” or blowing a kiss.

It’s a fun twist on circuit training and yoga if you’re a Bettie Page or pinup enthusiast. Both workouts emphasize body positivity and good form, as well as general health and fitness. Bettie Page Fitness also sells yoga mats and beach towels with Bettie’s (licensed) image for the complete package.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 15 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 24 February 2021 at 2:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Review: Burlesque Undressed

Dear Constant Reader,

One of my Advisor Committee tier Patrons, Sarah V., suggested I review this documentary. If you want some input in my content here, become a Patron!

Immodesty Blaize Presents Burlesque Undressed, directed by Alison Grist, 2010.

This is a confection of a burlesque documentary. It’s light and sweet, extremely beautiful, carefully constructed, but ultimately insubstantial, and leaves you hungry for more. There’s some burlesque history, but it’s a lot of short interviews, some really only sound bites, and a great deal of burlesque performance footage.

There are interviews with five Legends, three of whom are no longer with us. You know how I feel about preserving the words and experiences of Legends, so this is a high point. Most of the Legends get to tell a brief origin story, illustrated with photos and footage, and they talk about their careers. (Side note: Scratch escorted one of said Legends to the Showgirl Museum for her interview, so I got a little behind the scenes info at the time.) . 

The film also features half a dozen of the top burlesque performers at the time, discussing their acts and inspirations. However, Immodesty dominates. She talks at length about her experiences in burlesque, often in a glamourous setting or backstage, getting ready for perform or model. More than once she’s interviewed while someone is doing her hair. I wish…

The documentary covers a wide variety of topics — costumes, music, glamour, act creation, what killed burlesque, and more. There are also appearances from a few male experts, mostly British, speaking on art, history, millinery, and showgirl headdresses, but their contributions are relatively brief.

Besides clips from several burlesque acts, including Dirty Martini’s balloon act and Perle Noir’s Josephine Baker tribute, there are a number of full or almost full-length performances, many from The Tease Show. Kalani Kokonuts performs “The Geisha”. Kitten DeVille shimmies and shakes as Marc Almond sings (the filmmakers liked this act so much it appears in the documentary and again during the credits).  Catherine D’Lish bathes in her champagne glass. Michelle L’amour does her Sally Rand tribute. And of course, Immodesty opens and closed the film with, respectively, her giant telephone and her rocking horse acts.

At times it feels like a commercial for Immodesty and The Tease Show, but it’s her project; she can spin it however she likes. And The Tease Show is pretty spectacular, with its high-end acts, gorgeous stage set, and 12-piece live band.

If you’re looking for a documentary about burlesque, either historic or neo-, there are far better ones out there, like Behind the Burly-Q or Exotic World & The Burlesque Revival. If you want to see beautiful burlesque performers doing beautiful things, with a little look backstage and a touch of history, this is a fine watch.

As far as I can tell, Burlesque Undressed is only available on DVD, in PAL format. There’s a short excerpt available here.

(Affiliate links in this post benefit the American Burlesque Collection, a 501(c)(3) non-profit)

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 11 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 26 January 2021 at 1:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Review: Lady of Burlesque

Dear Constant Reader,

This month celebrates the birthday of the most famous stripteaser, Gypsy Rose Lee. In her honor, I watched Lady of Burlesque, the movie based on her book, The G-String Murders.

Lady of Burlesque, United Artists, 1943.

Barbara Stanwyck stars as burlesque headliner, Dixie Daisy (a change from the book, in which the main character was Gypsy Rose Lee). She’s hit the big time, headlining at the Old Opera House. But not all is perfect; there’s a lot of tension backstage between singer Lolita LaVerne and well, everyone else, and Dixie is fending off the affections of comic Biff Brannigan. Things become even more tense as a haughty Russian princess arrives and takes Dixie’s spot in the show. And then there’s a murder… and another…

The plot is fairly faithful to the book, but the details have been sanitized for the audience’s protection. One of the plot point hinges on the broken toilet in the girls’ dressing room being replaced. No one ever actually says “toilet” and when the replacement porcelain is shown, it’s a sink. The producer’s affair with The Princess is also implied rather than stated.

We never get to see any real striptease on stage; Dixie takes off a fur muff, to reveal a smaller one, but her Edith Head designed costumes stay firmly in place. During her big song, “Take It Off the E String, Play It On the G String”,  she sings “breaking out in bumps” and there’s an obvious associated move, but the camera focuses only on her face. Cut to Biff in the wings reacting to whatever is happening on stage. Later she does a little chest shimmy; apparently that was acceptable, where bumps weren’t. The Princess does have the outer layer of her costume removed in pieces with a whip. Maybe that was all right because she’s not doing the stripping.

The plot change that I liked best was that when Biff races in to save Dixie from the g-string strangler, she informs him that she had set a trap to catch the murderer and her friend Gee Gee Graham (based on Georgia Sothern) was waiting for her signal. Still, once the murderer is caught we go straight for the romance with Dixie and Biff rushing off to get married. Happy ending!

It’s light-weight fun. I wasn’t so interested in the murder mystery. Both of the murder victims are so unlikeable that it’s hard to care about their deaths and there’s little tension around the police accusations.

However, the on-stage bits are quite entertaining. We get some dance numbers and a bit of comedy, which was just a touch racier than I expected — they did the “pickle persuader” bit and a court room scene. And Pinky Lee, an actual burlesque comic, plays one of the comics. Dixie and the comics perform an “impromptu” dance to cover the sounds of LaVerne and her gangster boyfriend having a noisy fight backstage. There’s also an opening number with chorus girl (fulfilling all the tropes — the bored one, the clumsy one, the show-off, &c.) parading around the stage, to the melody provided by a tit singer, although they never call him that.

It’s nice to see burlesque treated positively and even somewhat accurately, if cleaned up, by Hollywood during the Hays Code years.

Available on DVD, Prime Video, and the Internet Archive.

Affiliate links in this post benefit the American Burlesque Collection, a 501(c)(3) non-profit.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 11 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 25 January 2021 at 11:33 am  Leave a Comment  
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Review: Behind the Burly Q

Dear Constant Reader,

Ages ago I said I was going to review my way through my collection of burlesque DVDs. So far, with a big gap between, I’ve reviewed a movie, an instructional video, and a vintage burlesque film. Time for a documentary!

Behind the Burly Q: The Story of Burlesque in America by Leslie Zemeckis (2010)

You aren’t mistaken; I already reviewed Behind the Burly Q. But that was the book. The documentary came first. In fact, it turned 10 this year!

Zemeckis  traveled the country interviewing burlesque performers and others associated with the art or, in some cases, their descendants, to get as full a picture as possible of American burlesque. Seeing the interview subjects and hearing their stories in their own words has an impact the printed page can not match. Zemeckis herself is invisible, allowing the focus to remain on the history. She may be guiding the interviews off-camera, but she’s not a part of them and there’s no obvious agenda other than collecting the stories, where ever they may lead.

The interviews are interspersed with photographs, newspaper clippings, and film footage. Rather than a chronological history of burlesque, the stories are loosely grouped into sections like “Occupational Hazards”, “Too Many Husbands”, or “Big Money”. Of course many burlesque dancers are featured, some well-known like Dixie Evans and Tempest Storm, some more obscure, but the documentary also tells the stories of comics, singers, variety performers, producers, and more.

The history is further fleshed out by relatives of those no longer with us, such as the son of “tit singer” and straightman Robert Alda (actor Alan Alda), Lou Costello’s daughter, Ann Corio’s husband, Lili St. Cyr’s sister (burlesque dancer Dardy Orlando, who was also married to burlesque producer Harold Minsky). Zemeckis also includes a couple of modern day experts, like David Kruh and Kelly DiNardo.

Since the footage was collected, a number of the interview subjects passed away and in the ten years since, we’ve lost even more. With their words and images captured on film, this documentary is a precious record of our past.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 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 24 December 2020 at 1:51 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Review: Love Moods/Bedroom Fantasy

Dear Constant Reader,

We have a large collection of Something Weird videos. For those not familiar, these are vintage burlesque films released on DVD. This disc is two shorts, each about 15 minutes, featuring Lili St. Cyr: Love Moods and Bedroom Fantasy.

The first, Love Moods: A Ballet Pantomime (1952) was filmed at Ciro’s, the Sunset Strip nightclub where Lili frequently performed. It was directed by Lilian Hunt, the choreographer and talent agent who discovered Tempest Storm. With the stage covered in elegant furniture, including an elaborate bath tub, you get a great idea of the opulence of Lili’s stage shows.

Lili parades around the stage, occasionally throwing in some dance moves, and pouting for the camera. She directs her longing looks at a photo on her vanity. As she prepares to go out, presumably with the man in the photo, she tries on and removes four glamourous gowns and a negligee, as well as jewelry, furs, and other accessories. The centerpiece of her preparations is her famous bubble bath in her gilded tub.

Her striping is the height of tease. The audience never sees more than the slightest flash of her pasties or g-string. She’s always concealed, behind her dressing screen, her garment, a towel, or her maid’s body.

The film is not in great condition, with a number of small jumps; the worst being when Lili’s second stocking mysteriously appears on her leg while she’s dressing at her vanity.

The second film, A Bedroom Fantasy (1953), is a little more like an excerpt from a burlesque show. It opens with The Folliettes, a mob of chorus girls dancing the cancan with more or less skill. After a minute or two this turns into a stately parade as a singer begins crooning off-stage. Then they become a backdrop for the Duponts, dancers who perform a somewhat comedic duet. The Folliettes reprise their can-can and everyone takes a bow.

Now the curtain opens on the main show. Lili is returning to her boudoir after an evening out. The setting is slightly different from Love Moods — instead of an ornate bath tub, she has a lavish bed on a platform. She slowly and expertly strips out of her evening attire and poses languidly on her chaise before putting on her night attire with the help of her maid (a different maid from the previous short).

She dances and poses and even does some calisthenics (gracefully, of course) before climbing into bed. But then the phone rings and she rapturously listens to a singer “on the phone” as she writhes on the bed and wriggles out of her nightgown. The act ends with her going to sleep.

Of the two, I like Love Moods better. She seemed to be having more fun with it. Also, you get to see more outfits, more teasing and, of course, her signature bubble bath. As it was filmed at Ciro’s, this is probably about as close as we can get to seeing an actually Lili St. Cyr stage performance.

The rest of the disc is filled with trailers for other burlesque films, but I’ll be honest — I haven’t watched them.

The performances by Lili St. Cyr highlight why she was such a popular performer in her day and why her legend lives on today. Few performers today come close to matching her opulence and her grace on stage.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 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 8 October 2020 at 2:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Video Review: Booty Lab

Dear Constant Reader,

Here’s another instructional video from my collection.

Booty Lab by Michelle L’amour (2013).

The Queen of the Booty is undoubtedly Michelle L’amour, so who better to take you through all different ways to use your backside. And today is her birthday!

The video starts with a warm up, which is going to be needed if you follow along. The rest of the video is breakdowns of burlesque moves focused on the hips, thighs and bum.

She starts with bumps and shimmy variations that are standard burlesque fare, but they are clearly explained and demonstrated by Michelle. It’s no surprise that she includes isolations, one of her signature moves which you cans see to great effect in her famous “Butthoven” video.

She moves down to the floor for some moves that quiver and shake your legs. These are then translated to standing moves, including the infamous ass clap. Take it from me, it’s much easier to do them on the floor…

Finally, she teaches the move everyone wanted to learn, the booty bounce. Later on there’s a bonus section of Michelle doing the bounce while in a handstand with her feet up on the wall.

After a review of all the moves, there’s a twenty-minute workout, focusing on the booty, of course, but with some abs and arm work as well. This is followed by a much needed stretch. I do this section (plus the warm up) when I need a hit of toning and don’t have much time.

Michelle is an excellent, polished teacher, and her explanations are easy to follow. She demonstrates the moves facing in different directions as necessary for a clear view. They’re also pretty clear for those who have no interest in learning these moves and just want to watch Michelle jiggle.

I’ve had this video since it came out and was fortunate enough to take Booty Lab with Michelle at BurlyCon before it existed. I go back from time to time to polish my moves. I always believe in going back to basics no matter how experienced you are. And maybe someday I’ll actually perfect the clap!

The DVD is no longer available, but you if you rent or buy Michelle’s extensive series of instructional videos, you also get Booty Lab.

Happy birthday, Michelle!

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 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 15 April 2020 at 8:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Film Review: The Night They Raided Minsky’s

Dear Constant Reader,

The other day one of my students asked for recommendations for movies about burlesque and I remembered this one…

The Night They Raided Minsky’s, directed by William Friedkin, MGM, 1968.

Based on the book of the same name, this movie, set in 1925, tells the tale of Rachel Schpitendavel (Britt Ekland), an Amish girl who dreams of dancing on stage in New York. She arrives at the National Winter Garden, a burlesque house, run by Billy Minsky (Elliot Gould).

Minsky is beleaguered by Vance Fowler (Denholm Elliott) a zealous anti-vice crusader who wants to raid the theater. Straightman Raymond Paine (Jason Robards) and top Banana Chick Williams (Norman Wisdom) realize they can solve this problem by informing Fowler that Mademoiselle Fifi will be performing her dance that drove a million Frenchmen wild at the midnight show. Of course, the performer will actually be modest Rachel, doing her Biblical interpretive dance. The raid will be a bust and Fowler humiliated.

Meanwhile Minsky is courting gangster Trim Houlihan (Forrest Tucker) in hopes that he’ll invest in the theatre, but Houlihan thinks that investment gives him exclusive rights to Mlle. Fifi… But not if Raymond Paine seduces her first… And Rachel’s father is storming into the city from Pennsylvania. His daughter had better on the last train home or he will disown her.

Suffice it to say, almost every man in this movie wants Rachel for something.

It’s not spoiling anything (since they announce it at the start of the movie) to say that Rachel gets on stage, discovers the power she has over an audience, and invents the striptease.

The movie betrays its 1960s creation with the saturation of the colors and Britt Ekland’s bouffant hair. However, it does slip in some actual footage from the 20s, and the Lower East Side is dressed up pretty accurately. There’s a nice bit where they transition from the vintage footage to black and white film of a street scene and then take it to color.

The best reason to watch this movie is the burlesque show. Throughout the movie you see the show in progress. A chorus line of 10 terrific girls (but only 9 costumes) prance and shimmy on the stage in skimpy costumes. One of them looks like she’d rather be anywhere else and another just can’t dance. There are classic comedy sketches like “Meet me Round the Corner” and “Crazy House”, some of them including talking women. The candy butcher does his spiel, pitching bonbons along with the promises of gold watches and racy pictures of Mlle. Fifi.

In 1968 there were plenty of people who still remembered burlesque and some of those people were in the movie. The Master of Ceremonies is played by burlesque tit singer Dexter Maitland. Bert Lahr, playing a retired straightman, got his start as a burlesque comic, before his fame as The Cowardly Lion. When he died before filming was complete, burlesque comic Joey Faye stood in for him. Morton Minsky, the youngest Minsky brother, was the technical advisor.

It’s a fun film with a great cast, but the highlights are the scenes onstage and backstage.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 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 April 2020 at 2:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Video Review: Go-Go-Robics and Go-Go-Robics II

Dear Constant Reader,

These may have been the first burlesque-related DVDs I bought when I was just starting out *mumble* years ago. I still think they’re a ton of fun.


On each DVD Angie, Tara, and Helen take you through a high-energy go-go routine that will definitely get your blood pumping. The music is catchy and they wear adorable home-made go-go outfits. Each video has a warm-up, a cool down, a step by step breakdown of the moves, a run of the entire routine with captions, and a chance to do it without coaching. The moves are perky and have cute names. The Pontanis are also perky and cute.

The original Go-Go-Robics is to “Chica Alborotada” by Los Straightjackets featuring Big Sandy. The three of them wear ridiculous tiny sombreros and go-go outfits covered in ball fringe. This routine is mostly classic go-go moves like the Mashed Potato and the Twist.

Go-Go Robics II uses the song “The Baracuda” by the’s. The routine contains almost twice as many dance moves, many of them named by the Pontanis, like Jazzercise Throwdown and Fancy Dancer Jog, although there are traditional moves like the Freddy and Pony.

Personally I like Go-Go-Robics 2 better, but that’s because of all the extras.

There’s “Five Minutes of Fun”, which is more like 10 minutes. You will learn a smattering of go-go moves, none of which were used in the workout. Some are classics like the Hully Gully and some were invented by the Pontani Sisters. There’s even a couple named after them, like “Angie’s Applesauce Stomp”. Then there’s little routine to practice them all.

There are two videos of Pontani Sisters’ routines: “Sterno” (with actual horses!) and “Italian Princess”. It’s a nostalgia trip — I saw “Italian Princess” when we performed with Burlesque-A-Pades.

My favorite by far is “In the Kitchen”, where the ladies cook four Italian specialties. It’s a blast to watch as they drink wine and walk you through how to make the dishes. You’ll want to be smashin’ and bashin’ garlic with a big glass of red after you watch this! I make Angie’s Gravy (marinara sauce) pretty much every summer and I always keep a stash in the freezer. Zuppe Ingese was a big hit too.

You can get the DVDs on Amazon for ridiculous prices or you can buy Go-Go-Robics II directly from Angie for a steal!

Angie also released a couple of solo go-go DVDs. Perhaps I’ll review those next.

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Published in: on 20 August 2019 at 12:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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