1. Maya Angelou
(Image from Chanté DeLong)
She’s a fascinating, confident, intelligent woman who not only writes but has also been a performer: she’s performed her poetry. ‘Phenomenal Woman’ is one of my favourite poems. She was abused and mute as a child and has come through a lot of stuff in life, she is quite incredible.
2. Bette Midler
(Image from Dolores Delargo)
She managed to combine sexiness and sassiness with humour. She is very burlesque in her outlook and in her performances. She’s an incredible actress and I’d say is one of the top personalities of the last century. People may pay more attention to people like Madonna as she’s in pop music but Bette Midler’s every bit as creative with humour.
3. Margot Fonteyn
(Image from The Times)
As a very young child, I remember watching footage of Margot Fonteyn and literally falling in love with her. I went to ballet classes but they didn’t let me dance like her, they made me follow rules and at that age, I didn’t understand the concept of hard work. If you ever watch any footage of her, she’s just exemplary.
4. My Mum
It’s corny but an iconic figure for me is my mum, whose name was Betty. She was kind, she was funny but more than anything she had a great ability to always see the good in people. And she taught me never to hate – she used to say, “Don’t hate people darling, it doesn’t hurt them, it only hurts you.”
She was quite an old mum but when I told her I was going to be a burlesque/striptease performer, she said, “There’s only one thing I ask of you, please just be careful.” She supported me through everything I chose to do. She was amazing.
Find out more about Goodtime Mama Jojo’s career with Jo King’s Burlesque Tips and Stories.
5. Bette Davis
(Image from Fine Art America)
I don’t think I’ve ever seen Bette Davis in anything that I’ve never been blown away by. I love her portrayals of so many roles – I remember her playing Nanny and I was so scared I hid behind the couch. I like the fact that she wasn’t typically or conventionally beautiful yet she had the lead in hundreds of films.
And finally, you can also see Jo King discussing her very own burlesque icons below.
Get more inspiration with Aurora Galore’s Alternative Burly Icons.