“I’m more attracted to glamour than natural beauty. The young Marilyn Monroe was a pretty girl in a sea of pretty girls. Then she had her hair bleached, fake eyelashes, and that’s when she became extraordinary. It’s that idea of what you’re not born with, you can create.”
It could be argued that Black burlesque dancers of the past were far more accepted-embraced, even-by “mainstream” African-American audiences than today’s strippers; in the 1950’s and ‘60s, publications such as JET often featured images of these women, bringing them into the homes of even those who lived far away from the urban metropolis cities such as New York and Detroit where the nightclub performances were typically held.
Neo-burlesque performer Chicava HoneyChild has made the documentation and preseveration of Black burlesque history her cause célèbre. As she prepares a documentary on the contributions of women of color to the theatrical form, she has put together an impressive archive of images dating back to the early 20th century. Take a peek at some of her most stunning finds!
Featured here: Clotilde (1930s), Belle Davis (late 19th/early 20th century), Jo Ann Norris (1960s), Blanch Thompson (early 20th century)
I haven’t been able to find anything else related to Chicava HoneyChild’s documentary, but I certainly hope that she was able to get it off the ground! I’ll keep looking for more details.