Forgotten and Found: Hunting Down Canada’s Burlesque Past

[Welcome to the first installment of “Forgotten and Found,” featuring artifacts from Canada’s rich burlesque history collected over the years and cared for by Mysterion the Mindreader, founder of The Museum of Canadian Burlesque. We are thrilled to be sharing these exciting pieces with you, and hope you enjoy them as much as we do. Let us know what you think–leave a comment below.–ED.]

Forgotten and Found: Hunting Down Canada’s Burlesque Past

by Mysterion

I have to admit I’m a fan of shows like “Storage Wars,” “American Pickers,” and “Baggage Battles” (I’m on a few episodes) but I’ve loved hunting collectibles at flea markets and antique fairs since long before the trend hit the television. I am a collector; I am also a producer of burlesque and in the past four months I’ve taken my love of both these things to create an exciting national project: The Museum of Canadian Burlesque.

My obsession to collect and share goes back to as far as I remember. I’ve always loved obsessing over toys, movie posters, comics and rare records, sniffing them out (avoiding eBay at all costs) and the thrill of the find. Canadian burlesque is vibrant, and its history long and exciting, sexy and turbulent, lost and found. There isn’t much in the area of a one-stop shop for Canadian Burlesque so I decided I was the perfect candidate for the seek of all that is hidden.

What’s more serendipitous then finding a vintage 8×10 of a legend from The Casino burlesque theatre in Toronto while on route to the wedding of Canadian Hall of Fame member Miss Cadence?

On route to the wedding, in a small town north of Toronto, we pulled into a highway antique flea market I had gone into a few weeks back while toy shopping and stumbled upon an 8×10 of Adele Latour but had a hunch there was more.  There in a glass cabinet, forgotten under a stack of dusty forgotten signed ‘70s celebrities (Sorry Tom Bosley) was a gem. The Casino was the hotspot for burlesque and vaudeville on Queen Street and featured names like Tempest Storm, April March, Lily St Cyr, Sally Rand, and even Sammy Davis Jr. and many others over the years.

Forgotten and found was a ‘60s signed photo of Tempest Storm. Tempest visited Toronto this past January for the first time in decades and here she was again in all her beauty, a moment frozen from our past. Hair styled high, a late 50s glamour shot posed with her gloved fingers on her cheeks, a look of coyness in her eyes. The photo was signed to the Casino technician, “Ernie” in ball point pen. What an amazing photo, lost and found to be shared in the Museum of Canadian Burlesque.

I carefully packed up the photo in my case and went on to celebrate the marriage of one of Canada’s most innovative burlesquers from the East coast. Tempest in a way came along too, a sign of good fortune as I peel away these hidden treasures and expose them once again after decades being hidden.

Mysterion is a Canadian mentalist and TV personality who has been active in the burlesque scene for over a decade. He is a producer of some of the longest running shows In Toronto and a collector of all things burlesque, circus sideshow and vintage toys. All photos ©Mysterion and used here with explicit permission. Do not use photos without obtaining explicit permission.

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