Behind the Burly Q: The Story of Burlesque in America

Leslie Zemeckis. Skyhorse (Norton, dist.), $24.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-62087-691-6
Filmmaker Zemeckis offers a narrative version of her 2010 documentary film of the same name in this comprehensive history of the golden age of burlesque. Drawing from extensive interviews conducted for the film, Zemeckis profiles a host of colorful dancers, from 4’11” Tiny Kline—a former circus performer turned burlesque star turned Disneyland’s first Tinker Bell—to Sherry Britton, who was named an honorary Brigadier for entertaining troops during WWII and who went on to get a law degree from Fordham University. The author also describes some of the most famous acts, including Kitty West emerging from a giant oyster shell and Gypsy Rose Lee’s “reverse strip,” in which she dressed other women in the clothes she removed. Some stories are nearly too tragic to bear, like that of Faith Bacon, who had her routine stolen from her, survived two freak accidents, became addicted to barbiturates, and finally killed herself. Rounding out Zemeckis’s oral history are profiles of those connected to the burlesque circuit—like comedians Abbott and Costello—and examinations of the legal and social furors and fevers kicked off by the “Burly Q.” This rich history, rife with vibrant quotes and first-hand insights from burlesque’s biggest dancers, is indispensable for fans of the ribald pastime. 80 b&w photos. Agent: Danny Passman, Gang, Tyre, Ramer & Brown. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/22/2013
Release date: 06/01/2013
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FORMATS
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-1-62914-496-2
Ebook - 282 pages - 978-1-62636-432-5
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