Burlesque Books

Here’s our list of the top burlesque books, that have coaxed our attention away from shiny things. Enjoy the history of burlesque, bump ‘n’ grind and trailblazing neo-burlesque dancers.

Top Ten Must-Have Burlesque Books

There’s a wide selection of burlesque books on the market and the list is only growing. There are also a few personal stories from behind the scenes to look out for.

Australian burlesque performer, Jac Bowie’s upcoming tell-all biography Behind The Burlesque will be released in 2013. Then there’s the photo book currently in production Wild Things: Burlesque Beauties and the Pets They Love and Satan’s Angel has also hinted at a forthcoming release. Now lets dive into what’s already available.

The Burlesque Handbook

Burlesque Books

(Image from Amazon)

The founder of the New York School of Burlesque, Professor Jo Boobs Weldon, shares her brand of backstage wisdom. The Burlesque Handbook gives you all the tools to get started.

This burlesque book is perfect for fans wanting to know how its done, newbies learning the ropes and old hats looking to nod in agreement. This pocket-sized gem is a great start and a must for burlesque beauties.

To get a cheeky taster, you can take a sneak peek underneath the cover on Amazon.

Learn more about how you burlesque with Dirty Martini and Julie Atlas Muz.

Burlesque: A Living History

Burlesque Books

(Image from Amazon)

This burlesque book does what it says on the cover. It charts burlesque history and doesn’t stray too close to modern takes on striptease.

Burlesque: A Living History focuses on some of the movers and shakers who created and defined burlesque dancing. It then momentarily tips its hat to modern day classic burlesque performers who are keeping the tradition alive.

To get a head start, read our history lesson in Guide to Showgirl Burlesque with Bettsie Bon Bon.

The Queens of Burlesque: Vintage Photographs from the 1940s and 1950s

Burlesque Books

(Image from Amazon)

This pictorial essay depicts the beautiful images from 1940s and 1950s burlesque. The American adverts, cards and posters from days gone by, celebrate the female form in all its curvaceous glory.

Flicking through The Queens of Burlesque will prove how much society’s idea of beauty has changed and there’s plenty of Lili St. Cyr to boot. Enjoy reminiscing about when women were women and when showing a little less was teasing a little more.

Learn about one of burlesque dancing’s greatest legends, Jennie Lee.

Burlesque Beauty

Burlesque Books

(Image from Amazon)

Burlesque Beauty showcases eight current burlesque performers from the rejuvenated UK burlesque scene. The book sees a variety of burlesque dancers who are keeping the vintage inspired genre alive.

The featured artists include friends of Burlexe, the lovable firecracker Amber Topaz and cheesecake burlesque goddess Anna Fur Laxis. There’s also Khandie Khisses, Domino Barbeau, Sensu’Elle, Ally Katte, Mysti Vine and Carrie-Ann O’Dell.

This burlesque book features some of the most beloved, funny and wonderful burlesque dancers in the UK at the moment. You can’t help but be charmed by their stories and your coffee table will be worse off without it.

Read: The History of Neo-Burlesque…

Burlesque Poster Design: The Art of Tease

Burlesque Books

(Image from Stella Polaris available at Amazon)

Chaz Royal is the producer of the London Burlesque Festival and is known as `The man behind the curtain’. He champions both classic and avant garde burlesque. As a neo-burlesque performer himself, his book celebrates modern dancers and the women who led the way.

The majority of Burlesque Poster Design is given over to current burlesque dancers. It makes a refreshing change from the many photography books cherishing yesteryear.

The images, however, do show the evolution of poster designs with plenty of Phyllis Dixey and Tempest Storm in there too, making it a brilliant mix of inspiration.

Find out more about the seventh annual London Burlesque Festival 2013.

The Happy Stripper: Pleasures and Politics of the New Burlesque

Burlesque Books

(Image from Amazon)

Now lets get serious for a minute. Author, Jacki Wilson, discusses the heavily debated role of burlesque in a post-feminist era. This book is the thinking-woman’s burlesque read, so all of us then.

It’s the perfect burlesque book to see the art form from a different angle, to start a dialogue, get political and look at the resurgence of burlesque. You can also have a look inside on Amazon.

See how we started a dialogue with In Defence of “Bad” Burlesque.

Pretty Things: The Last Generation of American Burlesque Queens

Burlesque Books

(Image from Amazon)

Liz Goldwyn certainly did her homework. The writer spent eight years researching, interviewing and even getting burlesque lessons from some of the great living legends.

The book sees bump ‘n’ grind heroine, Betty Rowland known as ‘Ball of Fire’ for her flaming locks. There’s also the raven-haired Sherry Britton and Zorita the snake dancer, among its subjects.

Pretty Things looks back at these women’s personal careers with a bevy of archive imagery. Immerse yourself in the stories of fleeting fame and glamour.

Take a look at our interview with burlesque legend, Dee Milo.

Burlesque and the New Bump-n-Grind

Burlesque Books

(Image from Angus & Robertson and available at Amazon)

Michelle Baldwin, otherwise known as Vivienne VaVoom, released this introduction to neo-burlesque almost ten years ago in 2004. She charts the forgotten 90s burlesque and rise of the burlesque revival.

At this point, Burlesque and the New Bump-n-Grind serves to show the latest generation and how they began. From the bottom, up. Wink.

Learn about the new inspirations from punk and comic to circus and queer. This is a great edition for burlesque fans, burlesque history enthusiasts and emerging talent.


Burlesque Books

(Image from Burlesque Magazine, available at Amazon)

Unlike other burlesque books on our list, this fabulous bonkbuster follows the fictional character of Tiger Starr. This creation comes from the alluring mind and dame of British burlesque, Immodesty Blaize.

The winner of Miss Exotic World 2007 told Burlesque Magazine, “I just fancied writing bonkbusters. I think a lot of them are glorious, well-observed pastiche.

“With that being so prevalent in burlesque – exaggeration, tongue in cheek, sending up cultural references – the idea of the bonkbuster appealed to my sense of humour.

“Plus I have experienced so many absurd, eccentric, bizarre, surreal things in my job that [I could channel into fiction].”

Though, Tease is not the famed burlesque dancer’s first work of fiction. She has also released a second novel, Ambition, which is pure Las Vegas escapism. This duo is the perfect, salacious partnership for holiday reading.

Find out more about Immodesty Blaize’s burlesque documentary, Burlesque Undressed.

Burlesque and the Art of the Teese

Burlesque Books

(Image from Amazon)

Of course no list would be complete without the LA burlesque force, that is Ms Dita Von Teese. Her book introduces you to the roaring 20s, the headline honeys of the 30s, through to 40s burlesque and the heyday of 1950s burlesque.

Dita Von Teese begins her introduction to Burlesque and the Art of the Teese with wit and sass by saying, “I advocate glamour. Every minute. Sweatpants (at least spiritually) chafe me.”

The hourglass striptease sensation takes you through her perspective on burlesque, stripping and her rules for the stage before we delve into burlesque history. Take another peek beneath the cover on Amazon.

Look out for the Dita Von Teese Beauty Book. and watch our quick-fire answer to: what is burlesque?

(Main image of Sophia St. Villier from Cirque Du Cabaret)

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