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Burlesque-loving bookworms enjoyed plentiful reading material in 2009

"Tease" is a steamy fictional romp penned by British burlesque star Immodesty Blaize.
"Tease" is a steamy fictional romp penned by British burlesque star Immodesty Blaize.
Photo courtesy of Ebury Press

Don’t let their fabulous good looks and glamorous style fool you, burlesquers are a brainy lot. The performers, producers and aficionados are often enthusiastic readers of books, especially those that highlight the history, stars and style of their favored art form - burlesque. Following is a list of some of the books released this year either written about, for or by burlesque fans:

Burlesque: A Living History by Jane Briggeman - Weighing in at nearly 500 pages, this comprehensive catalog highlights the careers and contributions of selected showgirls, both well-known and workaday. Briggeman’s book brings to life the era of burlesque when it was part of a large theatrical world filled with dance, comedy and live music.

Stripping Gypsy: The Life of Gypsy Rose Lee by Noralee Frankel - Due, in part, to the movie Gypsy, the life of Gypsy Rose Lee is as much myth as true history. In "Stripping Gypsy," Frankel works to peel back the public facade and detail the struggles Lee faced in making an unconventional career for herself while maintaining a sense of dignity and social value. Frankel places Lee's life in social and political context while detailing a fascinating entertainment career, in which Lee created and recreated her own identity to fit changing times.

Burlesque West: Showgirls, Sex, and Sin in Postwar Vancouver by Becki Ross - Far from being a strictly American art form, burlesque loomed large in Canadian outposts such as Vancouver after World War II. Drawing on extensive archival materials and first-person accounts of former dancers, club owners, booking agents, choreographers and musicians, Ross reveals stories from an era before "striptease fell from grace because the world stopped dreaming," in the words of ex-dancer Lindalee Tracey.

Burlesque Poster Design: The Art of Tease by Chaz Royal - More than 150 poster designs, ranging from the Follies Bergère of 1880 to the London Burlesque of 2008, are in this collection, compiled by burlesque and variety producer Chaz Royal. Ranging from subtle to saucy, the designs in this book will appeal to burlesque and graphic arts fans alike.

Tease by Immodesty Blaize - Apparently, not content to be just Britain’s top showgirl, Immodesty Blaize has turned authoress with the writing of “Tease,” a steamy Jackie Collins-style fictional romp featuring the sexsational antics of Tiger Starr, a burlesque dancer who rose from nothing to become burlesque's most sensational showgirl (sound familiar?). As fun and fluffy as an ostrich-feather boa, this tale of glamor, jewels and adoring suitors features a hearty helping of backstage burlesque drama. Rumor has it, Blaize is already planning to release her second book, Ambition (the tale of Tiger’s younger sister, Sienna) in 2010.