to start the first public striptease. In 1866 "the Black Crook" opens which was a big success and a milestone in dance and nudity on stage.
Burlesque arrived in the USA from France via Britain in 1868 with the Hootchy-Cootchy & Can-Can dancers, one of the first was Lydia Thompson and her British Blondes. Also in 1868 the Folies Bergere opens its doors in France and the rest is, well, history. Burlesque was originally not about stripping but rather musical Comedy, Dance and Song which eventually split and became Vaudeville (Vaudeville was basically dead by 1932, because of film,) while Burlesque became more and more a girly show. In 1875 Le Divan Fayouau, in the Rue des Martyrs performs a sketch that requires her to remove most of her clothing one piece at a time ... Striptease is now official.
The transformation into Risque Burlesque continued onto the early 1900's with the very first runway appearing at the Shubert Theater in 1912 and later a man named Minsky installs his first runway. Also in 1917 a dancer named Carrie Fenway would be the first to reveal herself (her breast) on stage, even if only accidentally an by 1923 and Hinda Warsaw is said to be the first American stripper who was publicly announced in 1925. Josephine Baker becomes the first topless star of the Follies Bergere in Paris in 1926.
Earlier, dancers such as Little Egypt were shocking the country with her provocative "belly dance" routine (named by Sol Bloom, however please note that belly dance tho it may be erotic, it is not striptease!) and others dancing on the Vaudeville stage when Vaudeville was transforming back into "Burlesque," as well as dancing in many regular nightclubs which had fabulous stage shows featuring the talent, legs and many times the skin of many famous dancers.
Some fabulous dancers found the money and the cheap fame of risque burlesque very appealing with many changing the way we think, dress and act today. By the mid 1930's, strip tease or skin Burlesque was at it's peak. Police raids were becoming standard daily events, payola agreements were on the up rise and many citizens worrying about the moral decay of society thereby running lengthy political and legal campaigns to end it's rising popularity.
Sometime in the mid 1920s, the tumultuous Burlesque shows of comedy, skits and dance transformed into the firmly planted Strip-Tease, then came topless, eventually by the 1950s the G-strings would be removed as well and by the mid 1960's many dancers would be starring in Sexploitation films (a type of soft pre-porn) which helped to further spawn the porn industry and permanently changed Burlesque.
But whatever happened thru out Burlesk history to try and stop its rise, burlesque was here to stay and transformed again into a more sleazier form of entertainment as time marched on. We are talking the Vegas show girl, theatre and early nightclub type burlesque on these pages, not the sleaze, sometimes prostituting, drug ridden strip joints one may think of when thinking Burlesque as portrayed today (many are listed however).
Many of these dancers or strippers of yesteryear are honored here. Prior to the 1960's, these ladies would make Burlesque movies, (Cheesecake, B-Movies etc., yet they were very tame by today's standards), would appear in many magazines, stag parties, etc. and many times featured the dance acts these dancers used on the stage. Many television shows and movies were based on or built around burlesque and/or vaudeville sketches of the past. There is an ongoing effort to bring back the Burlesque shows of yesteryear that feature acts, striptease, dance, comedy, skits and more.
Note: The following pages / section may not be suitable for Minors as some of the photos / clips (such as the ones listed on this page) are on the 'risque' side (no frontal nudity or porn here). Caution is advised as you may want to child block this section. This is the only section on this site were this may apply ... (The section with photo's to block is: http://www.streetswing.com/histburl).