On Being Naughty: Bad Girls of History

Rubie Magnitude performing at the Bad Girls of History burlesque show in Toronto.

Rubie Magnitude


April 30, 2017 

Revival Bar, Toronto

Bad girls of history — more like empowered girls of history! The women these acts were based on were all badass, take no shit, self aware gals. Y’know. Badasses.

So who were the amazing bad girls that were up on the stage?

Violet X was Virginia Johnson, half of the team of infamous sex researchers Masters & Johnson (look them up on Netflix). During the 60s, she was a pioneer in the taboo study of sex but to this day Masters still gets all the fame. 🙁 Violet showed just how fun sex research could be (and how naive Masters was about the female anatomy).

Violet X performing at the Bad Girls of History burlesque show in Toronto.

Violet X


Mescaline Van Go-Go was Mama Cass, the lady with beautiful powerful pipes from one of my favourite folk bands, the Mamas And The Papas. She wore a pink outfit and matching pink umbrella just like Mama Cass from her Don’t Call Me Mama Anymore special. A great tribute piece.

Lorelei was Tura Satana (whom we all know about and love!) in her signature Varla outfit from Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! of jeans, tight shirt, and wide belt. A classic and fast-paced bump ‘n grind routine. A great tribute to a great actress, cult icon, and influencer of pop culture.

Lorelei performing at the Bad Girls of History burlesque show in Toronto.



Delicia Pastiche reprised her role as Sappho, the Greek poet from the island of Lesbos best known for her poems about love. Although scholars can’t really agree on her sexuality, Sappho definitely seems to be a feminist heroine and gay icon. Delicia showed us what a day in the life for Sappho might be like as she writes her poetry.

Tanya Cheex gave us a true bad girl of history in the form of Courtney Love. performing to “Miss World” in signature black slip and tiara and raging against the world. Courtney, so talented, so haunted, such a bad girl.

Tanya Cheex performing at the Bad Girls of History burlesque show in Toronto.

Tanya Cheex


Rubie Magnitude definitely educated me with her performance as Matteucia De Francesco, the Witch of Ripabianca. She was accused of flying, using baby’s blood, back in the 1400s. Before she was executed, she placed a curse on her Italian village. The act was a great interpretive dance piece, complete with blood anointment at the end.

Devin Upham and Kit Boulter gave us the story of Anne Bonny, the cross dressing female pirate who made it in a man’s industry, and Calico Jack, the pirate who swept Anne off her feet and made her an equal on his ship. We got to see how their first meeting might have gone.

Kit Boulter and Devin Upham performing at the Bad Girls of History burlesque show in Toronto.

Kit Boulter and Devin Upham


Fan Tan Fanny gave us the story of Anna May Wong, the first Chinese American movie star back whose career spanned from 1919-1961. Her act let us know exactly how she felt about constantly being typecast as either a ruthless “Dragon Lady” or a demure “Butterfly” and never being able to get a leading role.

Scarlett La Flamme gave us the story of Anne Boleyn, the second of Henry VIII six wives. Falsely accusing of adultery so that he could behead her and get remarried, Henry gets to see first hand what happens when a woman is wronged (so wronged). Her spirit comes back to exact her revenge in a truly sexy but fatal style.

Bianca Boom Boom performing at the Bad Girls of History burlesque show in Toronto.

Bianca Boom Boom


Bianca Boom Boom gave us Zelda Fitzgerald, the gal who just loved to read poetry, dance and drink a lot of Absynthe. The first American flapper, or so they called her, was truly a wild gal and never got the hang of domestic life and we got to see some of that amazing flapper flair in the act.

Zyra Lee Vanity gave us the amazing Josephine Baker – burlesque icon, entertainer and spy. A fabulous tribute act, it gave a modern take on the spy angle with a James Bond style intro of Josephine spying and finding a box from which she pulled a belt of bananas, leading us into her famous “danse sauvage.” Brilliant.

The final act of the evening was truly majestic as Dixie Rect took to the stage – and took over the entire stage – as Queen Elizabeth the I. The costume was unbelievable and I’m constantly amazed at the amount of work Dixie puts into the costumes and makeup. You have to just check out the gallery to get a true feel for this act. Words do not do it justice.

Dixie Rect performing at the Bad Girls of History burlesque show in Toronto.

Dixie Rect


Thanks to Johnny B Goode and Belle Jumelles (Mae West) for emceeing this fine soiree. It was fabulous and the acts were so damn creative. I learned so much about some amazing women!

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All photos ©Olena–Photolena–Sullivan and used here with express permission for Burlesque Beat. Performers may use shots for promotional purposes, but please credit properly with photographer’s full name and a link to this piece. All other requests please contact us to acquire permission.

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