With a Special Introduction by Kate Valentine, aka Miss Astrid
You have heard it before, but I will say it again: any chance to watch and listen to the legends will be the highlight of your mecca to Las Vegas for the Burlesque Hall of Fame weekender. Get next to these older broads and fellas. They have great stories and tricks of the trade that they are eager to share.
When Exotic World moved to Las Vegas in 2006, I was lucky enough to be asked by Laura Herbert to participate. As Miss Astrid, I hosted for six years from 2006-2011: 4 years with El Vez, the Mexican Elvis (the incredible Robert Lopez) and 2 years solo. During these years I got to work, laugh and cry with some of the greats.
While the legends deserve our respect, they are hardly delicate flowers. As those of you who know Miss Astrid know, my act is not the kindest and gentlest. On my first year hosting at BHOF I decided that I would not wear kid gloves just because some of the performers were seniors. After all, they are strippers, so they must have a good sense of humor about everything — including themselves, right? So I teased them for being saggy, and I teased them for being stage hogs, and I hit on Miss Toni Elling mercilessly.
It turned out they loved being teased! The Spitfire that was Miss Candy Caramello approached me one year in the middle of a set, hugged me and said, “I worked with Bob Hope. You are funnier than Bob Hope.” It remains the best (and weirdest) compliment I have ever received.
2006 was the first time I saw Satan’s Angel, the Queen of the Fire tassles. I lost my mind. I was literally so excited by her performance that I did something I have never done before…I rushed the stage! I was set aflame by her, and acting on pure emotion, like a fourteen year old at their first rock concert.
But that’s not all. I can also say that I saw the ultimate showgirl trooper Tempest Storm, and Dixie Evans and the epic final number of the gorgeous Liz Renay. I can say that I was straddled on stage by Tura Satana! And that I have introduced Joan Arline and countless others whose faces I so dearly miss seeing every year. I wish I could name every one of you here.
Yet for every person I was lucky enough to see live on stage, there is someone who is gone that I wish I had been lucky enough to meet. Like Ricci Cortez. Or Zorita. Or Jennie Lee.
We are so fortunate that the Burlesque Hall of Fame honors the women and men who came before us with stage time and space to share their life stories. Providing a stage space for the legends to perform and speak truly epitomizes what neo-burlesque is at its best. So, think you’re a badass? Chat with Camille 2000. Think you’ve got a gimmick? Get a load of Dusty Summers. Think you epitomize elegance? Meet Marinka.
Your time with the legends will be time well spent!
Kate Valentine aka Miss Astrid
The 2014 Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend Burlesque Legend Panel Transcript [PDF Download]
Sunday, June 8th, 2014
Orleans Casino, Las Vegas, NV
Jo Boobs Weldon – (applause) Welcome to the Legends Panel. And you are the people who chose the most fun thing to do at this particular moment in time in the universe. (applause) I’m your host. I’m Jo Weldon and I’m not going to be talking very much, so I’m just going to welcome you all. Thank you for coming. We’ve been doing this for a few – how long have we been doing this? Does anybody know? I love it. People I can tell a story and I couldn’t remember a date to save my life. (MULTIPLE VOICES) How Long? Who knows?
Voice – Seven years? Six or Seven Years?
Jo – Six or Seven Years? Okay, so yeah it’s a tradition now. We’ve always been doing it – she lied. (laughter) And we always will. (applause) I’m just gonna have the Legends introduce themselves one at a time and talk a little bit about themselves. We ask that people be eager to speak and also eager to turn over the mic to the next person. (laughter) Be as eager to listen, as you were to speak. We will be going to audience questions directly after the Legends introduce themselves. So I’m going to – we’re gonna go down the line. Let you guys pass the mic. (mic is stuck in mic stand) Can you pull that for me? (laughter) Can you just pull that out for me? Yeah it’s stuck right? Here, I’ll take that one, you take this one. I’ll take that one, you take this one. I can manage it. Okay. So I’m just gonna have you guys pass the mic down. Because as much as I enjoy your applause and laughs, I feel this is not my moment, but yours. (laughter)
Jo – I wanna know: who you are, when you were working and where your favorite places to work were.
Holiday O’Hara – My name is Holiday O’Hara. (applause)
Jo – I forgot to mention something that is actually very important. Storyline Entertainment from Toronto is here today taping for a documentary on The Legends of Burlesque. This is Storyline over here. (applause) If you have any questions, please feel free to contact them. You can talk to me if you want to get in touch with them.
Holiday O’Hara – I’m still Holiday O’Hara. (laughter) My tagline, I have two… One is “The Lady Who Loves to Love You.” The other one is “The Sweet Tart of San Francisco.” (applause) I danced from 1968 to 1980. Then from 1983 – from 1980 to 1983 I was first, everybody’s relief girl at the Sutter Theatre. Then I was stage manager, and then I was theatre manager. And it closed – I left, because it turned from burlesque into lap dancing, and I said, “Nobody is going to touch my girls for a dollar. A dollar? Maybe a thousand.” (laughter) “But a dollar? No.” And I became a professional dominatrix instead. (applause) And really all I want to say about that is that it’s taking your ability to command an audience and bringing it down to one person. (laughter) And after that I became a hypno-therapist because it’s really all about the trance isn’t it? (laughter) So my favorite place to work, I had – actually I can tell you three – One was the Chez Paree on Mason Street. That was my home. I worked with several of the other Legends that are on this panel. That’s where I really started to hone my craft. And the second place was the Sutter Theatre, (applause) because that was also another place where everybody got to hone their craft. I taught women how to strip, I learned a numerous amount, and I am just very grateful to the whole world of burlesque – not stripping – because I was a stripper, but then it changed. So burlesque is what I did, even through 1983. I thank you very much for being here and having us. (applause)
Jo – Thank you Holiday. I feel the need to start a Legends lap dancing party. (laughter) Uh, just to benefit the uh, museum of course. (laughter)
Tai Ping – Hi, my name is Tai Ping. (applause) One of my favorite places to work was the (5:12 muffled) at Tampa Florida. We had a [muffled] there. It was different types of bands, we had musicians, we had unicyclists. (laughter) I used to go watch him practice in the afternoon. So one day – his name was Larry May – One day I’d like to get on there you know? He said, “Can you balance yourself?” So I said I can try it. So I got on the lower one. And every time I’d get on it, I’d go too forward or either backwards, I said I can’t do it, but I thought I will anyway. He said, “Do you mind if I take you for a ride on one tonight?” So I said okay. So I put on some pants and the owner or nobody knew anything about me. And he says well I admit I’d rather they did not. You just come on up and I’ll get you up there. So he had the ladder to have me climb up there, and he’s pivoting back and forth and I got on it and he went back and forth, back and forth. And the club owner goes, “Jesus, come down from there! What are you doing? You gonna get me in trouble? I don’t have any insurance to cover your ass.” (laughter) I said, “Oh, I’m sorry,” and I would then pivot back and forth and got me to the ladder and I came back down. That was a funny thing. In that club too, there was a package store across the street, on American Street. And we were on Franklin. And you go, there was a back door back there and a phone booth where you could go make phone calls, and the dressing room is right to the left. So the customers would buy you drinks or something, they would give you some watered-down drinks, something like that and I was still new to burlesque and had to have my little (6:57 muffled) on the stage. (laughter) So I had friends over at the package store and they’d come – They said, “Well we’re gonna be at such and such a time and just go by the back of the door like you’re making a phone call, and I’d go back by the door and they’d have like some vodka or whatever – the flat bottle. And I’d lift up my arm, and they’d put it through and I’d fold my arm back down and I’d have a drink. I got my buzz going really, really good. (laughter) So then they had like one of those old-fashioned vacuum cleaners where you’d take it off and you’d stash your stuff in here. And there was a mirror like on the wall across from us. So one night I got buzzed-up, we had Keith Hall – he was the emcee and he also did tap, and so he was always like hmmmm…. sophisticate and all that stuff. At the end they (7:50 muffled), we got him and some of the other girls, like a girl in her early twenties, these like real sophisticated girls, we got Keith like wired up too, you know? So the whole show was buzzing, but by this time I had managed to spike with some vodka to get my buzz going, and by the time I finished the show it was gone and I have to get fired up for the next one. The manager he came into the dressing room and he goes, “Alright, where is it?” they called me Pat, “Where is it? Where’s that booze Pat?” I said, “What booze?” He said, “I know you’re the one who got this place fired up. I want to know where the booze is.” He’s checking the laundry and pulling the costumes apart and the vacuum cleaner is right on the floor in front of him and I’m looking in the mirror and I’m just… (laughter) and finally he said, “Okay I can’t find it. I know you’ve got it.” He says, “When you get boozed up you do a good show,” he said, “But everybody else is just trailing you know? You can’t give the rest of my girls no booze.” I couldn’t give anybody anything. So yeah, that was like funny to me. I messed them up twice on that unicycle and booze. (laughter and applause)
Jo – Thank you Tai Ping. Thank you.
Toni Elling (under Jo talking)– I’m Toni Elling. Everybody knows. (Toni laughs)
Jo – We have, we have – how many Legends do we have? Okay, we have about twenty Legends, so keep that in mind. (laughter) (Toni muffled talking) Oh no, we wanna hear it. We wanna hear it.
Toni – Was that quick enough? (laughter)
Judith Stein – And ladies and gentlemen that was Ms. Toni Elling. (laughter and applause)
Toni – Thank you. (applause)(muffled). I am from Detroit, Michigan. (applause) And I started stripping in 1960 when other people were stopping – at 32 years old I started. And I danced until 1974. And then, lo and behold somebody wanted me to dance again, and here I was in my seventies – oh I’m in my eighties, right? Well, I’m 86. (applause) Thank you. I’ve been coming here for nine years and dancing eight of them. (applause) So you never know.
Judith Stein – She gets me in more trouble. Eighty-six, this woman rocks, trust me. Hi, my name is Ms. Judith Stein. (applause) (Judith laughs) It’s always Ms., I’m never a sweet old broad. (applause) Anyway, I am a Canadian Legend, one of the Canadian Legends. Otherwise known as The Grand Beaver of Canadian Burlesque. (applause) (Judith laughs) I started dancing as a feature at (11:25 muffled) in Oregon. I started dancing in Oregon in 1974 and I finished dancing in 1990. I was 40 years old. I thought I was too old. And I was getting too old. It was getting – like Holiday said, it was getting funky. Anyway, I retired in a small town in British Columbia, done a number of things, tried to stay out of trouble. (laughter) You guys saw me the other night, didn’t you? I worked with Holiday O’Hara and I think one of my favorite places was the place that I started with Holiday O’Hara. A bunch of us (12:10 muffled) and everybody in San Francisco, kicked my ass around the stage until I finally left. I’m really happy to be here. One of my favorite gems is The Palace on (12:24 muffled – street name?).
Holiday O’Hara – Smallest theatre in the world, called, The Palace. (laughter)
Judith – Yeah. It was great. I’m probably – the other – I love Guam. I worked a lot in Guam. I’m definitely a sun bunny. I was always really, really proud to be able to work through my home country of Canada. A shout out to my Canadian kids. (applause)
Val Valentine – Hi, I’m Val Valentine. (applause) Thank you. I started working in 1955 in burlesque. Prior to that I used to dance everywhere. You know, they used to throw nickels and dimes on the floor. But in burlesque I started in ’55. I went on the road, worked fairly, started out as a chorus girl – that lasted for a few months. Went to work in theatres. Worked mostly theatres. Lot of clubs, but mostly theatres. I’m a theatre person. Anyway, I enjoy it. I stopped working in 1985. So I’ve been out there a long, long, long time. I’m really pleased to be here. This is great. This is my fourth year. And they keep asking me back, so that’s cool. (applause) I want to thank all of you. Really truly, you’ve really made – this is a great thing in our lives, to be able to be here and still get, you know –
Legend Voice – Get to hang out!
Val – Yeah. Anyway, thanks again. And I will give you to my friend Gail.
Gail Winns – Hi, my name is Gail Winns. (applause) (muffled) My folks had a sense of humor when they named me that. It has been very helpful going into show business. I started as a chorus girl when I was 15. That was 1950. And then I started dancing, oh gosh, there were so many chorus lines. Oh I know something, Jackie Gleason starring with the June Taylor dancers, just for a while. And then I started dancing and then as Holiday said, once it started getting too where you took it all off – I don’t know, maybe I was raised different – took it all off and stuff, I started singing. (Gail laughs) And I have been singing ever since. Thank you all for coming out. (applause)
Penny Starr, Sr. – Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. (laughter) My name is Penny Star Senior. (applause) I am going to be 81 years old. (applause) I was the one that ran away from home and went to the circus. I wouldn’t have thought, that I wasn’t any good at it. (laughter) So then, owner says, at that time my name was Janet – Penny – I didn’t have my name yet. So the owner says, “Why don’t you work up a little routine with the elephant, Lucy.” I looked up at him and I was like all right. I was young, I admit, okay. So I went – the elephant and me we had a great routine and we worked our way down to Florida and there I thought, I don’t like the elephant anymore, I want to dance. So I got to know some girls, and they got me into a carnival. An early show. Yes, I was a cooch dancer. (applause) (Penny laughs) I learned so much. And in Florida, in Tampa, I worked at Guys and Dolls. And I learned there that you should have an agent and you should belong to union at that time. Because everything was union. Your musicians, everything. There was no DVDs, it was live music in the new clubs. So I thought, okay, I worked my way back to Pennsylvania. Got myself an agent, belonged to AGBA and boy did my career take off. From 1957, I worked – my favorite place was The Cotton Club in Atlantic City. (applause) I met all the jazz greats. It was a wonderful time. And down there in 1963 I was winning Miss Bumps and Grinds. (applause) That was a great time. That’s the story of my career and I got to a certain point where I went to retire, but in the meantime I had a granddaughter. And I find that I had to take her with me on shows in a wash basket. And the girls would feed her while I went on stage and that’s how we used to keep her quiet. (laughter) Now she – of course then she used to play with pasties and sequins and everything that was around. High heels, she loved it. Now, of course since she’s grown up, she’s Penny Starr, Jr. (applause) So now, we have a grandmother, granddaughter act – the only one in the world. (applause) That’s my story. Thank you very much. (applause)
Jo – Thank you Penny.
Suzette Monique – Good afternoon everyone and thank you for joining us today. This is such a great honor. My name is Suzette Monique. (applause) The other Canadian legend. (laughter) I started in 1969 in Vancouver.
Voice – Yeah!
Suzette Monique – Tommy Chong was my very first boss. He’s who hired me. And the big deal then, I was this mystery dancer. I was still underage, it was pathetic. (laughter) So, it was good. From there I ended up working in the States and did all of the West Coast into the Mid-West, settled back into Vancouver for a little while. And then went back to my hometown which is Edmonton, Alberta. I opened the first school for exotics in Canada in 1973. Kind of went on the housewife theme. Wasn’t sure if I was gonna get anybody really out of it. But I ended up getting about three or four girls that made me somehwhat of a big agent at that time. So I continued working. My favorite club in the States, by the way was Mary’s Club in Portland, Orgeon. My most favorite club. I worked many of them, but Mary’s was my favorite. Anyway, I worked through Edmonton, I continued dancing. I have five children, (audience member gasps) so I needed them to have some settlement. I opened again, another agency, called Teasers. And along with Teasers, I taught, I sewed, made costumes and I still danced periodically. I opened that in ’83. And just to make sure that if anybody did show up to work, that they would never be short, I would show up so they’d always have somebody. I did quit really dancing when I was about 35 years old. Again thinking, I’m too old. I’m too old. All the young girls were in and times had changed, and I wasn’t ready to do that change myself, so – but I continued and opened a nightclub in 1994 called Suzy Q’s in Edmonton. That was about the end of my career until last year all of a sudden and I became a Legend. (laughter and applause)
Jo – Thank you.
Shannon Doah – Hi everybody I’m really happy to see you all here. Thanks for being here. I’m Shannon Doah. (applause) I started go-go dancing in San Francisco in North Beach and I think I was 68 years old – I mean, 68… (laughter) it was 1968. Um, and I worked there for a while and I went down to L.A. and I was working in a go-go club near Santa Monica where I met a lot of my lifetime friends and I think Lovey worked there, a lot of us worked there and I was recruited out of there where I went to work at the favorite place I every worked which was The Losers in Hollywood. It was quite an honor. I didn’t even have to audition. They came in and recruited me, they said, “Do you want to come and work in our show?” And I said, “Show? Yes.” (laughter) I learned so much from Lovey and the other gals that I worked with there. I went on to work for an agent and did a lot of traveling. My second favorite place to work was Tahiti, which was my dream to work in a huge tiki hut. It was out in the jungle and it was so exotic, it was so beautiful. I was so young and I was hooked on the business. I worked til around the mid-‘90s when I officially hung up my G-string. I stayed in as long as I could, but it was changing swiftly with all the gentlemen’s clubs. But I was a gentlemen’s club dancer, I’m proud of it. (applause) We all have the same roots. So you know… We’re all related. If anybody out there thinks that there’s a big difference, I know we’re up there doing performance art, but we’re taking off our clothes. (applause and laughter) Okay.
Liza Jourdan – I’m Liza Jourdan. (applause) I’m a second-generation burlesque dancer. My mother was Caprice, she worked the The El Rancho, The York Club and Barry Ashton’s revue at The Silver Slipper. I started dancing in 1969. She had already retired. I worked at The Follies Theatre before it was torn down in Los Angeles, on Main Street. I left there to go to The Body Shop and worked there for several years. Probably my most favorite place to work because I had hot and cold running water and had a bath act. (laughter and applause) So I took three baths a night, that was pretty sweet. I left there and worked at the Pink Pussycat as Peeler Laufur for a few months (Liza laughs), and then my friend Lovey Goldmine who had worked with me at The Body Shop invited me to come and work out at The Cabaret here in Vegas. So I came out here and worked for a couple of years there, doing my bath act with a champagne bottle instead. And I met Lovey’s brother and fell in love and got married. (applause) I had a wonderful marriage. We had two fabulous kids and I was on the school board in my area for two terms and once again, my girlfriend, Lovey called me and asked me if I’d like to be involved in The Burlesque Hall of Fame and so I made my debut this year. (Liza laughs) (applause) So probably The Cabaret was my other favorite place to work because (24:38 Paul ?) the owner is a wonderful gentleman and great to work for. And here’s my sister-in-law. (laughter)
Lovey Goldmine – Hi, my name is Lovey Goldmine. (applause) This was my debut year and I… (applause) Thanks! It’s so amazing. Thank you. This year has caused so much joy. So much joy to be involved with this – before I say anything about myself I just have to say how much I love the resurgence of burlesque. (applause) It’s like – I’m working on a costume now, and I cannot believe how good everyone is. I cannot believe how theatrical, I love the acts, I love the people. I have felt so loved and welcomed, by not only my sister-in-law, my sisters, all of my girls – but the new kids. I mean, I was just so panicked when I was gonna start doing this. I’m really a perfectionist. I had music done by one of the new gals Carla Joy. I had, Sugar Shagmore is her name, and she helped with the costume. Gina Bon Bon loaned me that beautiful costume that I wore. (applause) And you know Gypsy Louise made the negligee. You know, everyone… It takes a community really. It does take a village. And I love to see how much the village has broadened. We have got – I am just so proud of this resurgence. I’m so proud of it. Because you know – I was a mother raising children, and I have great children, but I have terrible taste in men. (laughter) So (26:22 muffled) the losers? (laughter) Anyway, so instead of going to Broadway, which is where I belonged – (laughter and applause) (26:36 muffled) I ended bringing home the bacon one strip at a time. (applause) So anyway, my career began in 1968. I met Landis from the Hollywood Largo. I just went in there one night and I said, “You know? I can do this.” So I went back to his office and I said, “You know, I can do this.” (laughter) He said, (27:08 muffled) And I had this little tiny dress on and I had a great body and he said, “I’m opening a club in Sacramento. Would you like to go open that club for me? Emcee the show, run the lights?” I was 21 but you know he put me in charge of everything there. Well at the time I was dating Lester Chambers from The Chambers Brothers and they had the number one hit, “Time Has Come Today.” He was like my virgin boyfriend? Okay anyway so um… (laughter) I lost my virginity on Fletcher Drive in Los Angeles… So anyway, they had this big hit and they were in town, so I had somebody else emcee the last few people off. I said, “I can’t get in touch with them, I have to go to their show.” So I go running over to the show and I get on stage and I play the tambourine and we go back, and we’re hanging out at the hotel and some guy wants to come into the room. And he says relax – you know this is just a few friends from L.A. – go upstairs with us. They’re sitting with us, you know the lights are shining, the cops are come in, they arrest us. Eight of us for two seeds. And the headlines that read the next day said, “Singer, Dancer, Mistress of Ceremonies, Arrested For Possession of Marijuana.” (laughter) So there I was, and the next night I’m on stage and it’s ’68 and the front row is like that – okay, we’ll move on from there… Anyway, so after working for Chuck Landis, I um… What did I do next? My memory is really bad. Okay, so The Losers is one of the best places I have ever worked and Shannon Doah and Tiffany and I all worked in that show together 42 years ago. And I was the line captain in that show. And Tiff was the other kind of lead dancer. She was our baby. (laughter) So cute our baby. So anyway we have so much history together. And then of course our nudity laws changed at The Losers and mysteriously the place burned down. (laughter) That in show business, as they say, they’re still on the case. Our boss did say, “Look, if you have anything you like here, you may wanna take it out tonight.” So I don’t know if the fire was planned, but the next thing I knew I was going to work over at The Body Shop with my soon-to-be sister-in-law. She was the star of one place and I kind of the other and there was kind of this rawr. But anyway we got over it really quickly – and so from there I – well before The Losers I worked at The Crazy Horse in Paris. I went to Paris and at the time I was one of two girls ever to work at The Crazy Horse and the owner Alain Bernardin, the owner of the Crazy Horse said to me (French accent), “Madame you have a perfect body,” you know? So anyway I worked at The Crazy Horse. I used to work with the ballet from Paris. I came back to the States. I went to work at The Losers, and of course that burned down. Then The Body Shop. Then I was offered a job in Vegas. Some guys came in and wanted me to come to Vegas to start a show but I had one little problem, I was six months pregnant. So anyway, moving on from there I ended up eventually coming to Vegas and Liza came to Vegas and we all – and we worked together. Spent a lot of time working with Tiffany Carter too. The show last year looked like the dressing room at The Cabaret. I worked with all of those women. Delilah Jones, Dusty Summers, Kitten Natividad, you know we were all – we all worked together there. Anyway I’ll quit talking right now, I’m just so excited to be back! (laughter and applause)
Gina Bon Bon – Hi everybody, I am very happy to be here with you people. This is a very hard act to follow. (laughter) Anyways, I start my career in New York. I work New York. I work upstate New York for about 3 years, and then I came down to Florida for a few months, I went back over there. Was hired to work in Las Vegas in 1971 for the Latin Fire Revue in at the old Thunderbird Hotel. (applause) Then I came back – I worked there for like 4 months – and then I went back to New York and I started again as a stripper. When I worked at The Thunderbird I was just a showgirl, but they gave me training for the kind of career I been doing for the past years until I retire. I found – to work all over upstate New York, Canada, Wisconsin, all the East Coast and Florida. Until I decided to – went to Orlando, Florida and I was hired at a place called Clockwork in Orlando, Florida and I worked there for 12 years at The Clockwork. I choreographed shows over there. I had to stay as a house girl, which is you know – I had to do all the work. I had 4 girls with me constantly. We had all the beautiful showgirls that came in. The feature acts that came to work with me. So we had double-feature because I always feature at The Clockwork also. So we have two features at all time. The girl feature and me, I had a show with 4 girls. And the style of the show was very much like The Crazy Horse, Paris you know? With all the lights and all of that commotion. (laughter) So I stayed there until 1991. And then that’s when I retired. And I went into real estate. And I found a beautiful, wonderful, luscious, gorgeous (32:39 body Miss Kitty?), that gave me a chance to come and show you people that I can still move around a little bit. (applause) And I am very, very pleased to have the debut that I did this past Friday. (applause) I was very, very fortunate to work with such beautiful girls, especially that one over there. I think she looks like Eva Gardner. (applause) She really impressed me during the rehearsals, and I’m not a lesbian, but… (applause and laughter) I asked her, she had very healthy chest… (applause and laughter) Anyway, cute breast and I’m very glad to work with her. The group of girls that I work with last Friday – I work with many, many feature girls from the East Coast, these girls are mostly from the West Coast, and these are a bunch of beautiful, beautiful bunch of people that I work with this weekend, and I’m very happy to be here. Thank you. (applause)
Jo – Thank you.
Tiffany Carter – I’m just gonna have a little bit of fun because I have to deal with a hearing aid. (applause) So I just want you all to say my name for me.
Crowd – Tiffany Carter! (applause)
Tiffany Carter – I started in the late sixties as a go-go dancer in California in the Los Angeles area and I worked several clubs, when I met a lady named Cora Lee that named me Tiffany. Back in the day we didn’t get to pick our own names a lot. We were given names. And so I (34:39 muffled) clubs around in L.A. until I got arrested quite a few times for going topless and the lease and alcohol laws were changing. So I got in trouble enough that I needed a better job somewhere. And then I got a job at The Pink Pussycat in Hollywood. Yay! It was my first good strip job. And I went from there to The Losers where we were all joined together with Lovey and Shannon Doah did The Crazy Horse Paris Saloon show. Then after that I hit the road in oh, ‘70s, and in 1975 I got to pageant for Miss Nude Universe (35:16 muffled) by Miss Kitten Natividad and I was 1975 Miss Nude Universe (applause) Yeah it was a great time. I went out of the States – Canada and I went to Japan years later for a little bit. And I quit – 1989 I was running a club in Los Angeles. After stepping down from dancing I went to bartending in a nightclub in L.A. for a little while. And when things got hot there, I decided to get the heck out of Dodge there too and quit the business. In 2006 when Exotic World came to Vegas for the first time, Shannon Doah and I came to see what was going on. (laughter) And oh were we excited to see all these beautiful people and what you do today. So I thank you so much for being here and supporting us and we love you very much. (applause)
Jo – Thank you. Thank you. (applause)
Dee Milo – Hi, I’m Dee Milo. (applause) I’m the one that came back from the fire out in the backyard. (laughter) Anyway I’ve worked in – New Orleans is where I did learn burlesque. Because my boss in San Francisco started burlesque in his place – and I was a bartender at the age of fifteen and a half. (laughter) So when he started the burlesque I came back and I says, “Hey, I’m ready now.” And he says, “No, you can’t work for me as a dancer, you’re a bartender.” I says, “Well, I’ll go work for your boss – your competition.” (laughter) So he says, “Alright, you can work for us.” (laughter) So that was really my first place that I was really doing a lot of burlesque. And that would be my favorite place, because that Barbary Coast, oh, that was good. And then I started in theaters and received a wonderful agent. He took me into all different theaters – into Mexico, into Japan, and I mean this was a world of its own. I stayed six years in Mexico – because the theater – and I was able to work with Jennie Lee. She was the (applause) (37:54 muffled) A little story about Jennie Lee. She was probably the most sweetest, giving person I have ever met. And when she came back to The United States, I had bought a little trinket for my mother that was a porcelain doll. She took it all the way to Salt Lake City to deliver it to my mother. (audience awe) And I mean that was so sweet. But anyhow, I continued up the East Coast up different places and all of a sudden I decided to repent. I went home to Salt Lake City, Utah. And you know what repenting in Utah is? (laughter) So my mother says, now you need to prove you’ve repented so we built a nice big bon fire in the backyard and destroyed everything. But somehow the red dress survived. I married, had kids, and my daughter found this dress in the attic. And she was playing with it, and she said, “Mom, what is this?” And I says, “Oh my goodness.” (laughter) So maybe we call it – years go by and I’m changing my ways again? (applause) So I saw Dixie Evans on T.V. showing the dessert and I thought, “Well, we’ll take some pictures.” And so then I had some photographers take these little sexy pictures, and I said, “I can do that.” And my friend she arranged it with Dixie for me to come out there in ’95. Oh, and what a difference. What love. What compassion I met. I didn’t have that in show business. I mean, the buddies, the friends and these wonderful – strange people – I mean… (laughter)
Jo – Dee, put your microphone a little higher.
Dee – Wonderful, wonderful. (laughter) Oh! (applause and laughter) I appreciate all of the help and people that volunteer and all of my various escorts. They’re wonderful. They had to blow on my pasties and my eyelashes for me. (laughter and applause) So anyway, thank you, thank you for all of this. And all of these people getting together. (applause)
Jo – And, uh – Dee? Am I remembering correctly that you were a runner up in ’95 for Miss Exotic World? Is that – ?
Dee – What was that?
Jo – In ’95, you were a runner up for Miss Exotic World? (41:08 muffled)
Voice – That may or may not have happened.
Dee – I don’t know.
Voice – She said she don’t know. (laughter)
Jo – You were. I’ll show you later. Just so you know, Dee’s a title-holder. (applause) I’ll show you Dee. I’ll show you a copy later.
Dee – Oh, all right. Thank you. I’m glad you’re helping my memory. (laughter)
Jo – No problem.
Gabriela Maze – (Gabriela laughs) I’m Gabriela Maze (applause) (41:43 muffled) I had a wonderful weekend. Best weekend. I don’t think I could have a better one – I don’t know (whistle from audience) – maybe possibly. I also wanted to point out that couple of the ladies left some stuff out like, Tiffany Carter we performed at the same clubs and had the same following and had the same people in Charleston, South Carolina. Lovey Goldmine, we – Crazy Horse (42:09 muffled) It’s wonderful. I started – well auditioned in 1969. I actually have three birth certificates. Sometimes you have to lie about your age to get where you want to be (42:26 muffled). Luckily in the world of bodies, they like you when you’re young. Well they used to, now everybody can do what they want and I think it’s freaking marvelous. (applause) Honestly, I think if you ask any one of these ladies up here – when we see you perform, we’re like, holy shit. (applause) It’s so amazing. And I just cry then. I got to work with all these beautiful people and I love these ladies. They’re all my sisters. I am so proud to be the baby. Sorry Holiday, sorry Suzette, I am the baby. Thank you for having me. (applause) Thank you.
April March – Hello. I’m April March. (applause) I’ll never get over my Friday night dancing with Jett. And my darlings, come again tonight and you’ll see Jett Adore and I again. (applause) I am from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (applause) I got into show business – well first of all I got a job as a copy girl for the Daily Oklahoma. Before I could get fired, I quit. (laughter) I missed the days stock market returns, they did not show me how to work the ticker tape machines at one time. So anyway, from there I saw an ad for a job as a cigarette girl at a place called The Derby Club, which was a very nice stripping summer club. I was 16 at the time. I went and applied for the job, got the job as cigarette girl and that’s where I first saw my first bevy of gorgeous, gorgeous women in burlesque. They were elegantly dressed back in those days, didn’t do too much. Walked in a parade of (44:37 muffled). So anyway, I loved my job and I had aspirations of becoming a great movie star. So one evening I set the cigarette tray down in the coatroom, went to the ladies room and bumped into a little man. I mean literally bumped into him out of the restroom. He apologized. I apologized and he said, “Uh, when do you go on?” I said, “Who me?” I said, “I would never take my clothes off.” (laughter) So anyway, he introduced himself as Barney Weinstein from Dallas, Texas. He owned a club called the Theater Lounge which became the Colony Club and put Candy Barr in the business at the same time that Barney put me into burlesque. But anyway, he gave me his card and he said, “Oklahoma, if you ever decide that you want to get into show business, come see me.” Well, I thought about it for several months and I finally – I was living with my grandparents and I told my grandparents that I had a wonderful opportunity to go to Dallas, Texas and be a tap dancer in a show. (laughter) So I took my little tap dancing outfit with me and my grandparents took me to the Greyhound bus station and I wanted them to know that I had that little tap dance costume with me. I got on the bus, got to Dallas, took a cab out to the Theater Lounge. Was looking around for the office, and I walked into the office and Barney looked up and he says, “Well, well Oklahoma, I knew you’d show up here sooner or later. (laughter and applause) So he said, “Well have you got a place to stay?” And I said no, and he called up and made a reservation at a theatrical hotel where the rates were cheap and that’s where all the acts stayed. So he had several girls work with me, rehearse with me, the band rehearsed with me to get me ready to make my debut. So one of the strippers by the name of Halloween made my costume and I worked with the band and my name then was – my real name was Velma Fern Worden, so Barney said, “ You just cannot use that name.” (laughter) “No one will pay.” So he said, “We’ve got to think of a name for you.” So eventually one afternoon at rehearsal he came running down the aisle, “I’ve got it, I’ve got it.” I said, “What?” “Your new name.” “What is it?” “April March.” And I said, “No, March comes before April.” (laughter) He said, “Not in your case.” (laughter and applause) He goes, “You look like an April, and that’s going to be a very controversial name.” Which it did, it became a controversial name. And I remained April March all my life. I don’t feel like Velma anymore. I just – I’m April. (applause) So anyway, I was a nervous wreck and I went on stage. I used to chew my fingernails, so the girls had glued on false fingernails. And at that time in 1952, the glue wasn’t very good. (laughter) Well the cast from Guys and Dolls were sitting ringside, and I didn’t know who the hell all those people were, I just knew that the waitress said, “The cast of Guys and Dolls are back there.” Maxie Rosenbloom, Julie Oshins, Allan Jones understudy. So anyway, I get on stage, the girls are back behind the curtain telling me what to take off because I didn’t know what the hell to take off first or last. Anyway I was dancing down the runway, I came back and as I took a glove off, a fingernail popped into the drink of Slapsie Maxie Rosenbloom. (laughter and applause). Anyway, I was totally, totally embarrassed, everybody just started laughing and I though they were really laughing at me so I ran off stage. (audience awes) Anyway, they coaxed me into going back again. I went back again finished my number, got off back stage, I was in the dressing room and the waitress came back and told me that the table with the cast wanted me to join them. Now I was only 15 and I wasn’t allowed to drink. I went out – reluctantly, I was embarrassed. But the waitress said, “I’ll let them know.” So I went out to introduce. They said, “That was one hell of a show,” and he said, “Believe me,” Maxie says, “Believe me April, no one was looking at that fingernail.” (laughter) So anyway, that was ’52, I stayed at the Theater Lounge for like 3 months and then I got the booking in Houston, Texas as the star of the show. From ’52 on I’ve always been feature. So anyway, I went to Houston – I did my little tap dance number because I had that outfit. Believe it or not I did that damn tap dance number Tea For Two. (applause) Anyway, the years went on and on and I was working supper clubs. I kept working, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, just around that area because they kept – I’d go in for a one-week contract and I wound end up staying for 6-8 weeks. So anyway, this went on for a long time and finally, I got out of show business for about maybe 40 years. I married a pharmacist that owned a couple of drug stores in Tulsa, Oklahoma so I retired and learned to play golf. That’s how I got into Sports Illustrated. (laughter) I’m the only one in burlesque that was ever in Sports Illustrated but I had an 8 handicap. (applause) Then eventually I played, I worked Miami Beach. I was featured in Miami Beach for a couple of years. And then I got called and I went to Boston and signed up with (51:00 muffled) the B&E Circuit. So I worked theaters all the time after that. Got booked into England, came back and through publicity from before, etcetera, etcetera, I got a call from Eddie Kaplan who was a very good agent in New York City at the time. He said, “April, how would you like to audition for Harold Minsky?” I said, “What? I would love to be in a Minsky show,” because I love productions. So anyway I went to New York City. I went to meet Harold Minsky. I had my little costume with me, music, purse and everthing – I’m the only one that never had to do an audition for Minsky. He took one look at me and said, “Miss March, you’re hired.” (applause) I started the show and we were booked into Wildwood, New Jersey at the Manor Hotel. So I had a six-week layover between one Minsky show going into the other Minsky show. So Ann Corio asked me if I would do six-weeks as feature in her show. Anyway, that story was she threw a press party for me – that’s how I got Sports Illustrated – and after that I went back into the Minsky show.
Audience – Oh! Oh!
Jo – (muffled)
Voice – Motion sensor activated, somebody. (clapping)
Voice – (muffled) (laughing)
April – Talk about being banned in Boston.
Jo – That’s probably good. You can pass the mic if you want.
April – Huh?
Jo – That, that’s good.
April – Yeah? (laughter)
Jo – We want you to finish your story though.
April – So uh, well anyway, I did all this and I did all that. And uh, I wound up – you know I wanted to be a movie star? I turned down three movie contracts. I love burlesque so much. Anyway, so the last things that I’ve done is – Leslie Zemeckis found me and asked me to be in her movie, Behind The Burly Q. (applause) So I did that. We became great friends. Robert Zemeckis is wonderful, etcetera, etcetera. Now I’m in – I just signed a contract 3 months ago – she put Behind The Burly Q II out so I’m in that now too. I think it was just released. It’s um, I don’t know, I think she sold it to Showtime again. But, I’m having a documentary film made after me and I hope it’s out. He’s been filming almost two and a half years, so hopefully, hopefully the film will be out in January and my book will also be out in January. So here I am pitching you all. (applause)
Jo – Thank you April.
Viva La Fever – Hi, I’m Viva La Fever. (applause) I was born in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania in Mary Evans Maternity Hospital and if you don’t know, that’s Dixie Evans name. (Viva laughs) I uh, let’s see – about third grade they asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up and I said a boxer and the teacher said that wasn’t a very good career for a woman so I said, okay – trapeze artist or else a glass blower. (laughter) When I went to high school I had a guidance counselor and she told me I could be a teacher, a nurse, a beautician, a secretary – a something else, there was five occu- , oh five things that women could do then. So I said, okay, I went to college, I was a muscian. So I went to college and I was going to be a music teacher. And I ended up playing tenor sax in a club and not going to class that often. Then eventually got busted for pot, I was the first one suspended for a while. You know? So I moved to Pittsburg, hung out there, went back to college. Some friends of mine from Penn State said, “Hey we’re going to San Francisco at the end of summer. Do you want to go?” “Sure!” So I stood on the corner with my knapsack and my guitar and they picked me up and we drove to San Francisco. Across the South – had all these adventures. Ended up in jail (55:31 muffled) phone calls for everything. So by the time we got to San Francisco, they had to go back and go to school. So I said – I had one semester left I said, “I’m not going this semester, I’ll see you at Christmas.” Well that was September 18th, the birthday anniversary of Jimmy Hendrix’ death, so I had to stay there, for at least that day. (laughter) I had some friends, after a month of so they took me to The Follies Theatre, they knew some people working down there. We saw the show and I thought, “Jeeze, I could do that.” So I walked up to the office and talked to the manager and they hired me. Then, “What’s your name?” “Hadn’t thought about it. Uh, The Blue Lady?” So I was The Blue Lady for a little while. (Viva laughs) I traveled around, you know San Francisco, Seattle, L.A. – there was a guy named Harold Greenland who had a whole slew of theaters, and every time he opened a new theatre, he would send me. Whether it was Cleveland or Toldeo, or wherever, he had a little crew he would send. He had one in Hollywood and I went down there and worked and that’s where I met Camille 2000. (applause) We just decided that it was too much fun not to work together so we would go on the road together and I would be her co-feature. And so we traveled around the mid-west and everything and had a wonderful time. I ended up managing The Follies for a little while and then eventually my mom says, “Well you can’t be taking your clothes off when you’re 50. What are you going to do? You need a pension and you need a health and welfare plan.” Oh, okay, so I went to the San Francisco Chronicle and became a newspaper driver. I drove a truck, it was a 500 man union with maybe about 6 girls? I would go to the union meetings and you know I’d take notes and I’d go the next month and their meeting minutes would say something totally different. So I said, Jesus you guys are so corrupt, so I would go correct the minutes and they would argue with me and so I ran for recording secretary. Guys can understand a woman taking notes and being a secretary. (laughter) So I beat the incumbent and next time no one ran against me. And then I was elected Vice President on the eve of this big strike, so I got thrown into the fire. Then I became President of the union. You know I was a tomboy as a kid. (58:01 muffled) (applause) I was a full-time union official for a while and then I decided to go back and drive a new truck. Then one day Camille calls and she says, “Hey, I went to this thing down in the dessert that’s like all these strippers and stuff and they have a museum, why don’t you come?” And we hadn’t seen each other for 25 years. I mean when she saw me I had like dark hair with these gold streaks running through it. So I said okay, cheap flights to San Francisco and I see her at the airport and I wave and she starts screaming, “Leon!” She’s a big Leon Russell fan and she hadn’t seen me with the silver hair yet. (Viva laughs) So she came over and hung out at my house for about a week and then we drove down to the dessert and that was my introduction to this whole thing. Friday night, it was like any legend who wanted to jump up on stage and perform – it was at The Holiday Inn, which was a little tiny stage, which is the first time I saw Jo Boobs, knocked my socks off. (applause) (Viva laughs) Then on Saturday you would go out into the dessert to Exotic World and the show started around 1pm and it wasn’t over ‘til like ten, eleven? You sat under a plastic chair under a dining canopy all day. (laughter) It was great, but you were so burned out by the end of the day. We drive out to Exotic World to say goodbye to Dixie on Sunday and that’s as far as it went. And then we moved here whenever (59:36 Luther Mara??) decided that Tempest and Dixie had a lot of health needs and stuff, they had to get them out of the dessert and pack up everything and it was all their volunteers and move this here, and I’ve been here ever since. One year after just attending sitting in the background the (59:55 muffled) cornered me and said, “Hey, you know, you’re gonna get on stage with us.” I had never go-go’d in my life. They’re a go-go troupe. They gave me some go-go boots, made a little gold fringe dress for me, choreographed a number and we opened a show on the Titans night. And it still took me about I’d say 3 or 4 more years before I got on and performed on my own. But you know it gets back to you. You get on that stage and you don’t want to get off. So you’ll see me again. (applause)
Jo – Thank you so much.
Ellion Ness – Hi I’m Ellion Ness. (applause) I will try (1:00:48 muffled). (laughter) I have new feet, over the year I got my bunions removed and my hammertoes straightened out, and I have no pain, I am pain free. (applause)
Voice – Tell us a little bit about how you got started?
Ellion – Let’s see, I started on the East Coast. I went to the Empire Theater, I had gotten fired by a job, went to the Empire Theater – I was passing by it and I was looking at these pictures of the comics that the strip tease artists – and some man was sweeping up outside. And he said, “You looking for a job, girly?” (laughter) And I said nothing. And he said, “They’re looking for dancers and showgirls if you’re looking for a job.” So I nodded and he took me by the hand and took me down to where they were rehearsing and I went right into the show. And then after a month I got fired. (laughter) And then this beautiful, beautiful woman (1:01:53 muffled) you’ve gotta go over to Minsky’s because they’re looking for showgirls. So I went over to Minsky’s and I got hired by Chuck Gregory and we did you know, it was great – we had the showgirl line, which you know you kind of walk around and kinda look pretty and do a little hand gesture and stuff. But I wanted to get into the dancers line because that was the fun part for me. So I did that and in about six months I did a burlesque dance act. But the greatest thrill was that I was doing my life dream. I mean I was two, three years of a lot of dancing around naked. I wanted to be in musical comedy. This was my dream. But to be in burlesque was the best. You can’t get better musical comedy. (laughter and applause) But the greatest (1:03:02 muffled) was that I went to work at Minsky’s (1:03:05 muffled) and Minsky was such a gentleman. He was a soft spoken, strong man. And just really wonderful. And while I was there I got to work with Lily St. Cyr which was his sister-in-law. He was married to Dottie Orlando which was Lily St. Cyr’s sister. She kind of mentored me for the three and a half weeks that she was there. She did some mentoring. That was great, I was just thrilled – probably because I needed it. And Chuck Gregory gave me a lot of coaching me and things. And I worked with Tempest Storm – she was gorgeous. The chorus girls got to catch wardrobe. So I caught her wardrobe. And she’s this gorgeous, gorgeous red head dancing around. And she’s like a ventriloquist. (laughter) She has the filthiest mouth you ever did here. “Those fucking musicians are fucking up my music. They’re just fucking it all up,” you know? And no one could see her mouth move. When you’re a teenager girl that’s just fresh out of (1:04:30 muffled) (laughter) You know, my god, a drunken sailor out there. (laughter) Then when she came off she went downstairs yelled at those musicians. You could hear her yelling. Anyway, Minsky came back stage and they went into the office. He was really soft spoken, but whatever he said to her she never screamed again. (laughter) Anyway, and then I worked with Dixie Evans and I got to catch her wardrobe. That was a thrill. Later I found out that was the first time she ever did a Marilyn Monroe of burlesque act. And I’m telling you, when she hit the stage she didn’t look like Marilyn Monroe, she was Marilyn Monroe. See the ball, be the ball. (laughter) You just couldn’t believe it with Marilyn Monroe out there on stage – the actions, everything, the sounds she made, it was just fabulous. And I worked with so many fabulous stars. You know? And uh, I’m good at drawing a blank. But just every week we had a new show. And every week we had new routines. So being a chorus girl, wasn’t like, okay you know you get up there and parade around and you dance around. It was go over there, it just started at 12 o’clock – no we had dinner at twelve. It just started at 1 o’clock and then we had 4 shows and there was a break in between them. And I, instead of dinner break, I gotta have a drink. (laughter)
Jo – Ellie we’re gonna go to Q&A. So…
Ellion – Okay, so anyway, I would like to thank all of you for carrying this on because you are all fabulous. (applause) Thank you. (muffled)
Jo – It’s kind of amazing that how all the best strippers are all the best storytellers here. I don’t think it’s a coincidence. I think the ability to tell a story in movement go along with the ability to tell a story period. So thank you guys so much for sharing so beautifully. This is the most amazing thing ever. So we’re gonna go to Q&A from the audience. We’re gonna have you guys raise your hand to ask a question and you guys raise your hands to answer. So Paula and Tigger are our mics and (1:07:18 muffled)(laughter) So does anyone have a question for the panel?
Audience – I just wanna ask you um, this may be a loaded question, but what do you think was the greatest challenge for you in burlesque?
Jo – Well greatest challenge?
Toni? – Getting on the stage. (laughter)
Jo – We’re gonna bring the mics to you. So raise your hand if you answer, just cause we want people to hear your answer.
Holiday – (faint) I was, oh. It helps if I turn it on. (laughter) Test, test. Sound checking the venue. (laughter) I was a tall, fat, be-speckled, greasy-haired, smart, full body-rash and my mother dressed me funny. The only thing that I didn’t have was pimples. For real. I have no pictures of me, I have destroyed them all. And yet, when I got on stage it there was magic. The hardest thing for me was to believe, to actually bring that girl – and yet I was completely comfortable on stage. To bring It back into my everyday life. On stage it was a miracle that happened. And then, off stage there wasn’t that miracle. So for me, the greatest challenge, was to bring into my life, the appreciation I got from the audience. That was my greatest challenge. (applause)
Jo – Anybody else care to respond to that? (applause)
Legend, Liza? – Tigger? (laughter) My greatest challenge was that I didn’t start until 1969 and to tell the truth, I was fourteen. Fourteen. Gabriela? (laughter)
Gabriela – We just had a conversation and she just checked. We just checked. She said we were born in ’84. (laughter)
Legend, Liza? – And the challenge was being able to play off the fake ID that said you were twenty-two. (1:09:44 muffled) That was a very scary and very challenging thing of my career. But one thing I can say to somebody, or all of you today – and I find that it’s a very important thing – to be a true entertainer is to have passion. And if anybody thinks it’s just a hobby, I’m sorry it’s not a hobby. It is a passion. If you can do a job that you’re passionate about and make a living, now you’ve succeed. (applause) Hobbies belong in the store.
Jo – Lovey, Paula you want to? The Swedish House ladies and gentlemen, give it up. (applause)
Legend? – I think the biggest challenge for me – and maybe Lovey will agree – was when the clubs with the striptease became totally nude. That was challenging. Because we had always (1:10:44 muffled) And so when a total nudity happened, you’d really have to make a decision about continuing. (1:10:53 muffled) But still, it turned out there were ways to do beautiful, tasteful, but that was very, very challenging. Yeah? (applause)
Jo – Thank you. Any other (1:11:07 muffled)?
Legend, April? – I’m a very shy person, that’s why I didn’t give you paperbag version of my life today. You know, and I am shy. But when I’m on stage baby, I own it. (applause)
World Famous Bob – You never know I’m around.
Legend, April? – But thanks for being there. (applause)
Jo – Thank you Bob. Any other questions from the audience? Oh Judith!
Judith Stein – Judith’s opinion. Judith. I think one of the awakenings into burlesque I said before; I’m a radical feminist. And when I decided to become a stripper – and one of the biggest challenges I had was that I was not taken seriously as a strong, liberated, intelligent woman. And I am so proud of you guys, because you’re holding it up. You’re strong and you’re brave, and (1:12:10 muffled) (applause)
Legend? – (muffled) What I have to say to you is that if you have fun on stage, your audience will have fun. There’s some things you can take serious when you’re on stage, but have fun when you’re out there. And I think you saw that’s what I do. (applause) And I wanted to thank you Tigger and Sweatpea and the kids that work so hard in putting this together. (1:12:46 muffled)
Jo – Do you have a question?
Audience – Hi, thank you for being here. I’m (1:13:01 muffled) from Cleveland. And I wanted to find out if you guys ever worked at The Cleveland Roxy, Mickey’s, The Detroit Derby, (1:13:08 – ?? or the ??) in Pittsburgh? (laughter)
April – I worked every one of them. That was the (1:13:18 muffled) circuit. And Boston. I worked all those theaters. I’ve worked everywhere actually. I worked all over Canada, The Follies in San Francisco, Hawaii. But I’m an East Coast gal, you know what I mean? I worked for ??? They had gazillion theaters. Every one you mentioned, I worked many times. Thanks for asking!
Jo – Any other questions from the audience?
Audience Member – What’s something from burlesque today that you wish you had back in the day?
Legend – Soap box. (laughter)
Jo – (muffled)
Legend – Live music. (applause)
Legend – (muffled) drummer with your bumps and your grinds. And to be able to able to bump up against the saxophone player. (applause)
Jo – Dee you were at Duane Park with me that one time. You saw the live music there.
Legend – We had live music.
Legend – Something I really wish we had back in the day, because I’m so excited you have it now cause it changes everything is the technology. And the music to be able to find the music and find someone that can mix it. I was so excited to find someone who could mix my music and you know, I’m just over the top about that I love technology now because it changes everything. (applause)
April – Music, well the theaters ??. I worked all those theaters, Bella, over and over and over again. (laughter) But anyway, every place started out with a seven-piece band, then it dwindled down to five, then it dwindled down to three, then it dwindled down to tapes. (laughter) So then it was such a pleasure, the Minsky show – I mean they had a twenty seven-piece orchestra. And also in the theaters we did like 18-24 minutes a show and then four a day, five on Saturday, and we still traveled on that seventh day even though we had four shows. Anyway, it’s – going to tapes it’s very difficult after and also going to 18-24 minutes in a theater opposed to runs in the Minsky show, I did 7-minutes, and when I did the Corrio show I did 8-minutes. I said to Mr. Minsky, I said, “Mr. Minsky I can’t do 7-minutes.” He said, “Miss March, you’ll do the same thing in 7-minutes that it took you 18 to do.” And he was right!
Jo – Anymore questions? Toni did you want to answer that question? (laughter) What do we have today that you wish you had then?
Toni – I always love to have live music.
April – Me too.
Toni – As she said, you know you want this drummer to accent you when you do this. You want him right there. But I want to tell you about a story about that. (laughter) I was working someplace at this practice (1:17:17 muffled) I never myself rehearsed, with the bands you are supposed to do this so you can get it. And that night this cat’s playing his head off, but I’m doing my drum solo, it was his. He thought he was supposed to do that. There’s another thing, I would love to have more time. I’m one of those that need more time. I’m accustomed to (1:17:49 muffled) So I’m accustomed to time.
Jo – Hi do you have any questions?
Audience – Hi ??, I know you all worked with a lot of men over the years, comedians and straight men and agents and musicians? Could you maybe share something about your favorite man that you worked with at some time? (laughter)
Jo – Viva?
Viva – That would be Monty Kirkman. He was a great comedian. Sometimes he didn’t have to say a word, it’s just how he moved, you know the way he looked at you? You know he was just – I’d have to shoot lines with him sometimes you know and it was like I (1:18:39 muffled). He was just so hilarious. And I just wanted to answer that last question, what do you have now that we didn’t have? Burlesque Festivals and Reunions. (applause)
Jo – Uh…(muffled)
Legend – I was very fortunate. Toni Elling was my mentor, but a very good friend of Toni Ellings was – worked with me for seven years by the name of Taps Harris, which clearly was a tap dancer, emcee, comedian. And I used to do shows with him. Poor guy took me a year to do the time step, which I still remember. And the soft-shoe. He would make me dance with him, we would do routines together. And learning to jitterbug and all that sort of thing. But somebody with such great talent, and from the real, real burlesque era. Meaning is started ’69 he started probably when Toni? Not tap. (Toni inaudible) Yeah, well I started in ’69 so he was dancing or doing this thing way before then. And when you have a mentor like that, who can teach you to all those – how to carry yourself and how to be respectful and how to walk into a room and command a room. And you can do it. You can just walk into a room and command a room. That’s something he taught me how to do. If you respect yourself, everybody will respect you. And one thing about the music. I not only remember the bands, but we used to use reel-to-reel. (audience, yeah!) Everything had to be reel-to-reel. But when you did work with the bands, you also had to carry your music scores. You couldn’t just walk in and say, “Oh, I’m a dancer, you’re supposed to know what I’m supposed to do.” You had to bring your own sheet music scores. Everybody had to do the music scores. And from there that’s when it went to cassettes.
Legend – (inaudible)
Jo – I just wanted to say since we were talking about live music, it’s rarely used at festivals and that kind of thing, but there are tons and tons and tons of live music venues. It’s just not enough time at a festival. So (1:21:13 muffled) But there are lots of live music venues.
Jo – Uh Shannon, did you have your hand up? Oh, I’m sorry, go ahead.
Legend – I have to say that the cassette tapes getting eaten and the sheet music was always a problem. When I went to work at The Follies Theater, we had baggy pant comics. Because I had a mother who was in the business, I knew how to do the scenes, I knew the punch lines to how to be a straightwoman. And so when I got to The Follies Theater, I (1:21:50 muffled) was working there and I got to work with him and do scenes. Which to me was really fun, it was so burlesque. (applause)
Jo – I wanted to say something real quick. We’re actually going to end the panel a little early because we usually do the sign-ins, the photo sign-ins here, they’re going to be over there in the bazaar so that you have more time for that and to be able to talk directly to the Legends as well. We just have a few more minutes. And I wanted to tell everybody that Indigo Blue just texted me that Wild Cherry and Marinka both send their regards. (applause) And actually Camille 2000 told me the other day to send her regards too. (applause) J.D. would you talk about the transcripts real quick? If you’re loving these stories, you’ll really love what JD is about to tell you.
J.D. Oxblood – Hi, I’m J.D. Oxblood, I’m with Burlesque Beat. (applause) Ladies I’m really sorry I didn’t put on a tie. (laughter) So for a few years now, Melody, I don’t know four or five years now, we weren’t seeing these anywhere. So we’ve been recording these interviews, these panels, getting the work transcribed and putting it up on our site. So if you go to BurlesqueBeat.com you can see last years, the year before, the year before. But what I wanted to throw out there is that we would like to hire, that means money for you people, we would like to hire someone from the community to do our transcriptions. If you have some experience doing transcription work, talk to me, talk to Melody, we got some business cards over there by the water fountain. Thanks. (applause)
Jo – So you can listen to these stories over and over. I know I could and let’s see. There’s something else. Where’s Rhonda?
Voice – I think they’re setting up somewhere else.
Jo – Hi, do you want to make an announcement about the project?
Voice – We’re sponsoring a little cocktail for all the Legends downstairs, if you’d like would like company at about 2 o’clock at the pool. Buzz N Brushes is still trying to wrap my mind about that one.
Audience Voice – Big Gay Al’s!
Jo – So you can you know, booze it up, get your photos signed and that’ll be the end of your day. We have time for one more question. But remember you’ll be able to talk individually to the lessons – the Legends. Darlinda?
Darlinda Just Darlinda – My question is that – as you know we have music education, schools of burlesque all of the world and BurlyCon. I just wondered, how were you educated? It a totally different scene back then, so talk about that. I want to know how you were educated.
Legend – Ed Minsky. (laughter)
Legends – (inaudible)
Jo – If we could get them the mic?
Legend Toni??– You watch better dancers, and if they were good, you stole part of their number. Thank you. (laughter)
Jo – What about the stage shows?
Legend – You watch all the chorus girls, you took a little bit of each one and you became pretty good. (laughter)
Jo – I don’t know anybody who does that. (applause and laughter)
Legend Penny? – I grew up in burlesque theaters. I was on the road with my aunt Mitzy?? She was my mentor. I was backstage when I was a little kid, you know? It was fun. And once in a while they let me go stand out front. But I used to dance behind the curtain with their shadow. You know? And that’s where I got my training. You know? I got to go over the summer with her. And my mother said, “Don’’t, don’t tell your teacher.” (laughter) How I spent my summer vacation right? With the chorus girls and they let me go to rehearsal with the chorus girls too. That was the thing for me. I was like eight or nine years old, so that’s how it was for me. By the way I still have all my music arrangements. If you’re interested. I’ve got a wall. (laughter)
Jo – I’m super interested (muffled?????) If I have the money. (laughter)
Jo – Does anyone else want to comment on how they got their burlesque movement training?
Toni – And I’m still in training. I do my whatever during my show. If I think of something I want to do, I try it out. If it works, it’s in. If it doesn’t work, it’s not in. And I’m a clown anyway and so people don’t know the difference. (laughter) But that’s the only time I rehearse. Amd I had seen a one scrip show at a theater. My mother wanted to go because Virginia Bell was the headliner. Mother saw that in the paper. And she wanted to see the lady with the 52-inch chest. So we went to the burlesque show. So of course I saw four or five acts or more. And then a friend of mine that talked me into this was the only other stripper and it was all in my body. I just did what it said: Strip-Tease. (laughter and applause)
Jo – We have time for one more and then we’re gonna go one on one.
Holiday – I think I can speak for many of the women here: on the job training. (applause) And if you were lucky – and I was extremely fortunate – you found a woman that was more experienced, a feature, whatever and she saw something in you. And she took her under your wing. I was fortunate to have Tori Lynn and Ellion Ness at the Chez Paris. And a woman name Joni Love and another woman that was named Magdalena Lopez who was 63, and you thought she was 45 if you thought she was a day. And those women there at the Chez Paris in the Tenderloin taught me so much. And then I went to The Follies and I meet Anita Mann who had had polio and was a ballet dancer doing the splits – nobody was gonna get her down and that is what she taught me, plus a bunch of other stuff. (laughter) My final polish was Anita Mann, I mean, Alexandra the Great 48, (applause) we lived together in Oklahoma City and really what I can say to you is not only go to classes but find somebody. Find somebody more experienced that you and offer to help them, because we’re not giving it away for free honey. (applause)(1:29:13 muffled) It’s gotta be a mutual give and take kind of thing. I’ve had people come up to me and say, “Oh, I love what you’re doing.” But they’re not offering me anything back, so what? I mean really, why should I? But if you want to be in my life, if you want to talk to me, if you want to hear my stories, if you want to recognize that I can’t get around, then I’ll mentor, that’s what I’ve done. I’ve had a fabulous mentee this year named Red Velvet that I adore and she can call me family.
Jo – Awesome. Thank you. (applause) So I wanna – oh and did you want to give a shout out Paula, I mean Swedish Housewife? Sorry.
Swedish Housewife – Lola Frost is here and she is not prepared to um –
Voice – Lola Foss.
Swedish Housewife – Pardon me.
Voice – Lola Foss.
Swedish Housewife – Lola Foss, Pardon me. A co-dancer of yours is here today and I’m sure she’ll come up and say hi to you. But it’s always wonderful to have new dancers present at this house, because this is what it’s all about. We’re here to recruit. We want you all here. So thank you. (applause)
Jo – I want to thank the Swedish Housewife who has initiated a lot of things including the Finishing School program and some of these legends panels. So, really you have no idea how instrumental she has been in this burlesque revival. Thank you Swedish Housewife. (applause)
Swedish Housewife – Thank you Jo.
Jo – I would also like to thank the Legends Outreach Team. Tigger!, (applause) Sweetpea, (applause) Lola Spitfire, (applause) (1:31:21 muffled)(applause), and who am I missing? What?
Voice – Janelle Smith.
Jo – Where’s Janelle?
Janelle Smith – Right here.
Jo – Oh! Janelle Smith. Thank you so much. (applause) It really does take a village.
Voice – It’s party time.
Jo – It’s party time you guys. (applause)
This transcript was recorded, transcribed and provided by Burlesque Beat as part of Burlesque Beat’s commitment to contribute to the preservation of the stories of burlesque. There are most certainly many errors and missed moments in this transcript. If you should spot anything you would like to tell us about it or can fill in any of the blanks, correct any names, etc, please do by emailing us. It’s a mammoth job, and we thank you for your understanding that it is nowhere near perfect, and are delighted to make any corrections.–ED.]
Burlesque Legend Panel Downloads
2011 Burlesque Hall of Fame Legend Panel Transcript, introduction by Todd Vogt
2010 Burlesque Hall of Fame Legend Panel Transcript, introduction by Tigger!
Check out the Burlesque Hall of Fame website for burlesque photos, stories, reviews and news.
Get tickets to the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend.
In 2010, we at Burlesque Beat assigned ourselves the role of recording, transcribing, and making available to the public one of the most important annual events in burlesque, the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend Legend Panel. It may take us ten months to do it, but you will find the 2013 Burlesque Hall of Fame Legends Panel Transcript on these pages, with an introduction by…