Tag Archives: pinup

G-Rated Burlesque: Keeping It Clean for the All Ages Crowd

I just got home from Florida last night, where I was in Orlando to teach a Burlesquercise Intensive and a Pinup Workshop. During the burlesque intensive, some of the ladies told me that they really want to get out and perform burlesque and get a burlesque scene going in their area, but because all the tourism in the area is based on Disney World attractions, there are no adult-only venues. Apparently all the 21 and up bars quickly start serving food so that they can be all-ages venues, because everyone brings their kids to Orlando.

I was incredulous. “You mean there are NO small bars or theaters that you could use for shows? Nothing???” Apparently so. Well, we can’t let Disney keep us down! So I decided to focus on this issue for this blog entry:

“G-Rated Burlesque” may seem like an oxymoron to some people, but I actually recommend that all burlesquers, in any area, create a wide variety of acts ranging from G-Rated to PG-13 and even up to Rated-R material if they feel like getting racy (or even X-rated if they live in NYC). This is an important thing to do so that you will be ready to accept bookings in a wide variety of venues and situations, including those top-dollar corporate events.

So how can you keep it fun and sexy while not offending Mickey Mouse and the Disney gang? Here are a few ideas:

Strip without getting naked. Take your time sensually removing your jacket, your gloves, a hat… Take off one dress to reveal another (full coverage) dress beneath or double up on gloves, bras, stockings, and remove one layer of each… Take off your clothes behind or inside of a large prop, without ever actually revealing your scandlous flesh… I perform a version of my X-mas Stocking act (video below) this way, without ever showing pasties! Now that’s leaving them wanting more!

These are a few ways that you can allude to striptease without actually crossing the line into adult material. For inspiration, watch old song and dance videos! They were masters of this technique. Here are a few of my favorite all-ages-appropriate stripteases:

– “Take Back Your Mink” from Guys and Dolls. Striptease with a story line. I love this act.

– Cyd Charisse in Party Girl: Note the skirt removal and how she removes the scarf over her bodice! Striptease, but still acceptable for all-ages. Also note the bumps and grinds! Burlesque “bump and grind” moves were very popular in dance movies from the 1940’s and 1950’s.

Draw on Classic Burlesque Gimmicks. One great technique is to make reference to classic burlesque through its most iconic techniques and images, while avoiding the striptease. You can perform a fan dance, a shadow dance, and tassel twirling without actually getting naked or even taking off any clothing! Wear a nude leotard embellished with rhinestones or a sexy dress for your fan dance. Do a real or suggested striptease or a naughty pantomime behind a backlit screen for a shadow dance, and no one sees any skin at all! Put tassels on the outside of your gown or on top of your leotard and you can twirl to your hearts content without actually going down to pasties.

– Here is Sally Rand performing a fan dance. She often wore nude body stockings behind her fans. Note how she pulls the fans away while behind a screen.

– Here’s another example with Cyd Charisse. I don’t actually like the look of this nude outfit with tassels, but it demonstrates how it can be done.

Use innuendos. Another great way to keep it clean is to skip striptease altogether, but lay the innuendos on thick. This was a common way to make G-Rated material fun for adults in the 1920’s through 1950’s and can add to the “classic” feel of your performance. Here’s a great example, also from Guys and Dolls:

These are all great ways to keep it sassy and risque without crossing the line into depraved displays of nudity that will shock our good American parents. So long as there is no nudity, what can they say? I mean, if Britney Spears could grind and spin on a stripper pole in front of her concert audiences that included 8 year old girls, what’s wrong with a bit of saucy glove removal?



Filed under Articles: Breaking into the Bump and Grind, Articles: The Entrepreneurial Performer, Burlesque, Photos and Videos, Travel and Adventure

“Pin It Up, Babycakes!” Art Show

In February, 2009, I will be participating in a group pinup-themed art show, “Pin It Up, Babycakes!” at 111 Minna. The show is being curated by two of my burlesque students: Alice Stribling (aka Sweet M’alice) and Jessica Whiteside (aka Tinky Sparkles). The opening gala on Feb 5, 2009, will include burlesque performances by the two curators, the Burlesqueteers, and myself, and will be MC’d by Kitten on the Keys.

The other artists included in the show are:

Jessica Whiteside
Alice Stribling
UK artist Emma Mount
Molly Crabapple
Shaunna Peterson
David Perry
Darling Propaganda
Kirsten Easthope

At this show, I am officially unveiling my collage/assemblage artwork, which combines my pinup and nature photography with watercolor drawings, fabric and found objects to create fantasy portraiture. Here is my artist bio from the website:

I started pinup modeling in 2000, shortly after jumping into the world of burlesque performance. I needed sexy promo shots, and since burlesque and pinup are two sides of the same coin, it was a perfect excuse to channel my inner Bettie Page. In 2003, I stepped behind the camera, using what I learned from working in front of the camera to help me direct my models to get the most flattering shots possible. I have pursued pinup from both sides of the camera ever since, including shooting for SuicideGirls.com and other websites, the Bombshell Betty Pinup Workshops and private clients.

As a photographer (and posing director with other photographers), I get great joy from helping women who do not look like conventional models get photos that make them look more beautiful than they thought possible. I believe that we all have a perfect pinup somewhere inside us, regardless of age or body type, and through the proper styling, posing, lighting and camera angles, that pinup queen can be brought out for the world to view. From the responses I have received from participants in my Pinup Workshops, I know that having beautiful glamour pictures taken for the first time can be a transformative and empowering experience for many women, having a tremendous positive impact on one’s self image.

My collage and assemblage pieces are a very new medium for me, and I am very excited to present them for the first time at the ’Pin It Up, Babycakes!’ show. This form allows me to tell a story visually in a similar way as when I perform a burlesque piece, the main difference being that I must tell a whole story through elements that are visible all at once rather than in a linear sequence of events as with burlesque. I am thoroughly appreciating the challenges and possibilities of this medium, and I hope viewers enjoy the pieces as much as I enjoy making them.

Artwork from this show will be available for presales starting in early January 2009. I will post samples and where to go for presales around that time.

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Recent Highlights

Oh my. It seems like the times when I have the most to write about are always the times when I don’t write anything at all. So this is going to be a big update. Here’s a recap of highlights from the last several weeks:

Pinup Workshop in a Book, RELEASED!

Presales for my book, “Plain Jane to Pinup Queen: Pinup Modeling Workshop in a Book,” were shipped out a day ahead of schedule, and the book is now available for immediate shipment. Jam packed with information about how to create a flattering silhouette, this book will help you look better at photo shoots, for candid shots, and even on stage!

Tease-o-Rama Burlesque Convention

This was a truly magical event. I was euphoric for weeks after the Tease-o-Rama weekend. Everyone was so supportive: performers were friendly and non-competitive, audience members were responsive and super friendly, and the staff! The people helping out behind the scenes were some of my favorite people in San Francisco. Mynx d’Meanor, Reverend Dick, Lady Borgia and Candy came up from San Diego for the weekend, and it was so wonderful to hang out with those folks. They are really transforming the burlesque scene in San Diego, too. They are bringing individual troupes together for collaboration on shows, which no one in SD did before. It is great to see a trend toward more inclusiveness and cooperation in a regional burlesque scene. (Click here to see a great photo of me, Reverend Dick and Lady Borgia backstage after my act!)

My student group, the Burlesqueteers, performed at the opening night meet-and-mingle, and they did a fabulous job. We did our bunny version of “Take Back Your Mink” from Guys and Dolls followed by Josie Starr’s Bunny Assassin act. There was a malfunction during the first number when the power to the sound booth got unplugged, but the girls kept their heads and played it cool like true professionals, and we really pulled it off.

I also performed a solo act during the Saturday night show, and it was so much fun. I really adore performing for a big room, and the Tease-o-Rama crowd is such an appreciative audience too. What a rush! I performed my Tassel Tricks act, which starts out super glam and then gets really silly, sort of a burlesque version of the bait and switch, and the crowd went right along with me. So much fun!


On Monday, November 17, my new Dixieland/traditional jazz band, “Fromagique,” debuted at the Uptown Hubba Hubba Revue show in Oakland. I am singing, dancing, and playing the hoochicoo in this project, and I can’t wait for our next gigs! The performance was really well received, and it was so much fun. The band was amazing. Randy Johnson put together all the arrangements and organized the band, and I have to say he did a terrific job. We still need to get a web page up and running for the band, so I will post links here once we have that together.

Monday night was the first time I sang on stage in almost 2 years, and probably the 5th or 6th time singing in front of a crowd EVER. Talk about stage fright! You know, I really don’t think it’s fair that every new kind of thing I do on stage has it’s own stage fright about it. I mean, I’ve been taking it off on stage for over a decade, so nothing about that scares me any more, but whenever I add a new aspect to it (talking on the mic or any speaking role, over the top comedy, and now singing…) I get stage fright as if I’d never been on stage before. I’m complaining, but I have to be perfectly honest and say that the stage fright is one of the reasons I keep performing. It shows that I am stretching, growing, trying new things. The day I stop getting stage fright is the day I give up the stage altogether.

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Hollywood Pinups, Fishnet Follies and Exotic World Weekend!

I am still recovering from sleep deprivation after a three-week whirlwind trip to LA, San Diego and Las Vegas! Whew! What a trip!

Randy and I started out in Hollywood for our first Southern California Pinup Modeling Workshop and Photoshoot, and later ran another workshop in San Diego. Both of them went very well! We have scheduled another trip to Southern California at the end of July. For our LA workshop, we found a gorgeous studio with leopard print and bamboo walls, so we will be shooting with both of these backdrops at the workshop. It will be so lovely, I am very excited!

Mynx d’Meanor and Reverend Dick very graciously invited us to stay with them in San Diego. I am in love with these two! They produced a landmark burlesque show in San Diego while we were there, The Fishnet Follies, bringing together all of the San Diego burlesque troupes in one show as well as showcasing out-of-town soloists (Flame Cynders from LA, Randy Johnson and me from San Francisco). The show was amazing! Here are a few photos from my acts.

Then it was off to Las Vegas for the Exotic World Weekend! My favorite thing about this event is getting to meet and talk with so many of the Living Legends of Burlesque. It is a special treat and an honor to learn their stories and their secrets. I had a very touching talk with Sheila Rae, who grew up in Oxnard, near my original hometown Santa Barbara. I bought a great piece of vintage jewelry from Holiday O’Hara (aka Cybelle Holiday) who is an SF local and one of my heroes.

You can find more photos from the Fishnet Follies show in San Diego from Mynx d’Meanor here.

Here are Exotic World Weekender photos by various photographers:

Mike Goat
Dizzy Swank
Ms. Burleyque
Tanya Cheex

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Pinup articles, body love/hate, and pornography

Two national magazines have published articles about my Pinup Workshops and Photoshoots so far in 2008! Curve Magazine published an article chronicling the adventures of three staffers as they participate in a private workshop for their Jan/Feb issue.

A few days ago, a friend in an online social website sent me a message telling me that he’d read about me in the April issue of Skin&Ink Magazine. This was a little surprising to me, because I had originally expected the article to run in the March 2007 issue – a full year ago! You can read the article here (sorry, I don’t know how to make it into one PDF document): Page 1, 2, 3 and 4. It is a great article, I think. For some reason though, whether due to misquotes or changed ideas in the year and a half since I interviewed for this article, a couple of my quotes don’t really express my perspective on a couple of touchy subjects, so I’d like to expand and clarify what I think about two subjects mentioned: very thin fashion models and pornography.

First of all, I don’t think fashion models are personally responsible for the eating disorder epidemic that is taking place in the United States, accompanied by misogyny and body hating from both men and women. Fashion models have as little control over their genes and overall body type as the rest of us do, and they are under considerable pressure from their industry to maintain extremely low body weights in order to get work.

And THAT is where the problem comes from. The industry pressure. To be fair, the fashion industry has recently started making efforts to change this. In the last few years, some countries have banned models that they deem unhealthily underweight (read about it here), and Jean Paul Gaultier recently featured a plus size model, Velvet D’Amour on the runway in Paris. You can read a couple of opinions about Gaultier’s gesture here and here.

I’m not sure what Gaultier’s intention was or whether there will be any real changes in the fashion industry standards, and to be honest, I think that in recent years more of this body scrutiny and criticism has come from Hollywood and the tabloids than from Paris or Milan. Tabloid magazine headlines are constantly screaming about celebrity weight fluctuations – whether real or imagined – as if they are really national news. Actresses are constantly attacked and pressured, which makes them lose more and more weight to keep up with expectations, and then the women who read these magazines and hear these reports compare themselves with the supposedly “fat” actresses, and translate the criticism into self-hate. Enough already!

This is what I love about the modern burlesque resurgence, and one of the things I love most about the pinup movement as well. These communities are creating a space for women (and men!) to come together in all of their shapes, sizes, ages and races and be seen as sexy, powerful and beautiful! Pinup artists like Coop and Big Al celebrate voluptuous women. Women of all body types and ages come to my burlesque classes and pinup workshops, and start to feel good about their bodies. Not in a few months when they lose 15 pounds. Now. Just as they are. I have heard other burlesque performers talk about how participating in the burlesque scene has given them this confidence, too.

In a recent article, Margaret Cho discussed how burlesque has changed her views of her body:

Along with her identity as an Asian-America, Cho has struggled with her identity as a woman, particularly her personal struggles with eating disorders. As a young woman growing up in her family, Cho was susceptible to sexist messages that told her she had to be “small, petite, and skinny” to be beautiful. As a result, Cho developed a devastating eating disorder, and went through dramatic periods of anorexia and bulimia. After being told to lose weight while working on her television show All-American Girl, Cho starved herself for several weeks, eventually becoming hospitalized for kidney failure.

A breakthrough for Cho came when she saw burlesque being performed for the first time. “I was so amazed when I saw the performance. There were women with all different body types, ages, races, and you could tell they were so happy and comfortable with their bodies,” she said. “I was crying when I saw it, it really cured me.” For Cho, who performed burlesque on her tour “The Sensuous Woman,” burlesque was not about sexualizing herself as much as it was about emancipating her from the idea that her body is a prison. “We are so conditioned to a certain look that models have, and people think that’s the only kind of body that can be beautiful and sexual, and that’s not true, everybody has that ability.” Cho believed that performing burlesque allowed her to see that ability.

* * *

Another issue from the Skin and Ink article that I’d like to address is pornography and the degradation of women. I do not believe that all porn is degrading to women. Some is, some is great, and some I probably just don’t get, so I don’t like to make blanket statements about it. As Mae West said, “It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it.”

I’ll wind this up with my favorite quote of all time regarding pornography:

“I don’t know what the definition of pornography is and nobody else does either. Pornography is somebody else’s erotica that you don’t like. People are interested in their own sexuality and they’ve always reflected it in their art. End of story.” – Erica Jong


Filed under Body Image, Burlesque, In Print, Personal, Pin-Up

Lindsay Lohan plays Marilyn Monroe for New York Magazine

New York Magazine

In this month’s New York Magazine, Lindsay Lohan recreates images from Marilyn Monroe’s “The Last Sitting” with Bert Stern, the original photographer who shot the pictures of Marilyn in her last photo shoot in 1962, six weeks before her death. While I personally don’t think that Lohan looks much like Marilyn in more than one or two photos (with her blonde wig hanging in her eyes and hiding half of her face), I think this photo series definitely says something about the resurgence of the pinup aesthetic. For the last few years, we have been seeing more and more mainstream magazines showing photo spreads and advertisements reminiscent of the classic pinups, and I’m hoping that this is just the beginning!

Read about the shoot here.


Filed under In Print, Pin-Up

Welcome to the bigger, better blog!

Welcome to the new blog at WordPress! I have moved my old Blogger blog to Word Press, because they have so many more features here, and I have big plans to start blogging regularly again! Starting right away, I will be posting photos and videos from shows, travels and other fun things, posting burlesque and pinup related articles, as well as posting up to the minute news about upcoming classes, special workshops, and shows.

 As always, we have loads of projects in the works. One that I am very excited about is the upcoming “Pin-Up Workshop Tour”!

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