We celebrate our love of Tempest Storm burlesque queen. We find out why the crème de la crème of burlesque dancing sees her as an icon of the industry.
Tempest Storm Burlesque Queen
It won’t have escaped your notice that this year (2012) is a leap year! It also means that fabulous 50s burlesque beauty Tempest Storm celebrates her actual birthday on the 29th. We thought it only fitting to ask the wondrous showboy Cherry Loco about his long-time love for the legend herself!
Tempest Storm the Girl with the Fabulous Front!
In an industry which constantly throws around the term ‘empowerment’ without really understanding its meaning it is so important to pay homage to the superstars that came before. The Legends.
These were and ARE the artists and business women who, each and every burlesque performer working today, owes a huge debt of gratitude to. The women who were not only alluring, exotic and enthralling entertainers but also shrewd businesswomen, tenacious publicity moguls and craftswomen at getting ahead – regardless of background – in a business that was run by (and for) men.
Tempest Storm is a fine example of this; a beautiful and intelligent woman who has been performing for over 60 years.
“I’m not going to accept getting old. I’m still feeling young. I’m still able to go out on that stage.”
– Tempest Storm.
The 84-year-old (or 21-year-old if you prefer; she was born on 29th February on a leap-year) is still a class act. By the age of 17, she had already been married twice, suffered an abusive relationship at the hands of her small-town Georgia family and had fled to Hollywood to seek stardom as a showgirl.
It was there when bar-tending at the old Burbank Theatre, that Lillian Hunt stumbled across the Southern belle with the mane of orange curls and 44DD cup bra. Lillian Hunt was a respected and highly-acclaimed choreographer for the Los Angeles Follies Theatre at the time, already working very closely with Betty Rowland (another redhead “Ball of Fire”). The kind of woman who could transform a chorus girl into a headline star with great velocity. Enchanted by Tempest (then, Anna Blanche Banks), Lillian worked closely with the girl; making Storm her Sistine Chapel of the burlesque stage.
Tempest Storm had a natural lady-like grace and elegance which, when paired with Hunt’s vision became magic under the limelight. The duo created one of Storm’s most opulent acts; the recreation of Botticelli’s Venus. She’d rise in a nude-coloured leotard from an extravagant seashell and slowly put on her clothing.
“She is so strong, beautiful, elegant and sexy that I don’t know who wouldn’t admire her.”
– Lou Lou D’Vil, Burlesque Hall of Fame – Reigning Queen of Burlesque 2013.
(Image from Music Direct)
Tempest Storm has never been a stranger to controversy having briefly dated Elvis Presley in the ’50s. The showgirl also had a 13-year-long marriage to Herb Jefferies; a star of black cowboy flicks at a time when interracial relationships were still considered a major taboo.
Ever the businesswoman, in 1953, she had her breasts (or “money makers”) insured for a whopping one million dollars by Lloyd’s of London. Now that’s dedication to craft.
With a career that has now spanned over half a century, Tempest Storm truly deserves her status as Burlesque Legend. She took American theatres by storm with her signature ‘walking’ style, to starring alongside Bettie Page in Irvine Klaw’s infamous Teaserama videos. She also took numerous roles in motion pictures and graced the Burlesque Hall of Fame stage in both 2006 and 2011. Although now retired in Vegas, Tempest Storm’s influence can still be seen in areas much further afield.
In fashion, a 2010 Harper’s Bazaar shot Karen Elson in a beaded nude body-stocking not dissimilar to one of Tempest Storm’s own costumes. Not to mention the model’s famed Storm-esque milky complexion and pre-Raphaelite hair.
In film, Christina Aguilera remarked in early press interviews for the 2010 Burlesque movie that she would be playing the lead role in the, “Tempest Storm movie.” She played a small-town girl who escapes her life to become a burlesque artist in Hollywood.
Tempest Storm remains a force of nature within the contemporary burlesque movement. She published her autobiography Tempest Storm: The Lady is a Vamp, consistently supporting new burlesque artists and being honoured on numerous occasions by the Burlesque Hall of Fame.
Tempest, I salute you!
“Tempest Storm is an inspiration and an icon of the burlesque world, a bejewelled fiery ribbon weaving through modern burlesque. I admire her dignity, her elegance and her rack. She’s who I want to be when I grow up.”
– Anna Fur Laxis, Burlesque Hall of Fame – Reigning Queen of Burlesque 2011 1st Runner Up.
Learn about burlesque legend Satan’s Angel and watch our burlesque video inspired by older women stripping.