You Gotta Get a Gimmick

The 1962 Gypsy movie taught us all that you gotta get a gimmick. We’re sharing some of our favourite burlesque gimmicks which juxtapose sultry striptease and utilise the many talents of burlesque dancers.

Gotta Get a Gimmick

Burlesque legends’ gimmicks and inventions have often been adopted within the genre as part of a classic style. Pioneer, Sally Rand famously introduced both the fan dance and balloon dance. Both of these burlesque dancing techniques are now staples of the industry.

Whereas, the wit of icon, Gypsy Rose Lee‘s wit is emulated far and wide. Not to mention numerous plays, film and fashion.

The Gypsy (1962) movie was inspired by Gypsy Rose Lee’s memoirs. The unforgettable soundtrack song ‘You’ve Gotta Have A Gimmick’ reminds us that every burlesque dancer has got to make her mark. Finding your USP (unique selling point) is a lesson that we can all use in life. Sing along if you know the words.

Here’s our list of daring ladies who’s burlesque gimmicks are synonymous with their names, juxtapose striptease and showcases their chosen skill, like bump ‘n’ grind with a trumpet. Buckle up.

For more see Our Favourite Gypsy Rose Lee Moments.

Chrys Columbine

We’re kicking off with a current UK burlesque performers, Chrys Columbine. She is notorious for her Naked Nocturne act and you can see why in the video below.

We love when performers incorporate their other talents into burlesque dancing and vice versa. Chrys Columbine in one such woman as her act sees her strip while playing the piano.

Music has always been an important part of any burlesque performance but making your own is multi-tasking at its finest. Almost better than a trumpet.

She manages to deftly remove her burlesque costume while showing off her amazing musical talent. It’s certainly one way to keep your audience’s attention.

The piano has always been a sexy instrument, cough, at least to Pretty Woman fans. It also compliments classic burlesque but both performed by one woman, kicks it up to a whole new level.

The London burlesque artiste is impressive as an effeuilleuse and as a musician. You can watch her Naked Nocturne routine and see the camera scanning her lithe figure. We would add, however, that the packed venue and close quarters don’t do her justice.

Aurora Galore

Friend of Burlexe, Aurora Galore, takes pop music and gives it a raucous and raunchy edge. She uses chart hits, her amazing dance skills and fire twirling, to make some wonderfully of-the-moment burlesque dancing.

Aurora Galore uses her contemporary dance skills to off-set the underlying vintage elements of burlesque. She then layers her theatrical makeup which is equal parts mime and villain for a dark and decadent twist.

Watch Aurora Galore performing at the Helsinki Burlesque Festival and prepare to be wowed.

Learn about her current inspirations in Aurora Galore’s Alternative Burly Icons.

Dixie Evans

The blonde bombshell, Dixie Evans, began in 50s burlesque dancing. She soon became known for her Marilyn Monroe beauty. The iconic screen siren, however, once tried to sue her for using her image.

Marilyn Monroe is one of the most recognisable pop culture figures of all time. Her style has gone onto be used by such neo-burlesque performers as Miss Banbury Cross and it’s as popular as ever.

As one of the founders of the Burlesque Hall of Fame, Dixie Evans has become burlesque’s icon. Watch her perform as the starlet in a producer’s office, giving any attempted censorship the brush off. (Not the original score.)


The original bad gal of burlesque, Zorita, was infamous for introducing live snakes onto the burlesque stage. Zorita’s gimmick got her noticed and certainly got her in trouble. Eventually she was arrested in 1949 and they were confiscated.

Zorita’s power came from her ability to shock and be daring, even by today’s standards. She was also seduced by a snake on the giant web which is seen in burlesque acts by such burlesque dancers as Catherine D’Lish. In this day and age the web is still considered to be erotic and racy.

She never shared the secrets of her amazing snake dancing skills but you can get an insight in this burlesque video:

Satan’s Angel

Living burlesque legend, Satan’s Angel has been living and breathing all things showgirl for 50 years. We previously talked to her about the good ole days and burlesque now, in the lead up to her burlesque documentary.

Satan’s Angel has often spoken of actively looking for a gimmick and joking that she should set her nipple tassels alight. Then she did it and her burlesque gimmick was born.

Many headline honeys over the years have mimicked the technique and Satan’s Angel continues to teach burlesque dancers in fire tassels. Though, the gimmick is still very much hers and always will be.

See her light-up at Hotter Than Hell at the age of 76 and still (literally) smoking hawt.

Enjoy Five Fantastic Burlesque Movie Soundtrack Songs and watch our quick-fire answer to: what is burlesque?

(Image from Burlesque Beat)

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