Burlesque became one of the most popular forms of entertainment during the Depression era.
Men were unemployed and idle and burlesque was cheap. It was even affordable for blue-collar workers who had been laid off from factories throughout the U.S.
But, by 1937, it had been banned in New York by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia who linked burlesque to prostitution. The Catholic Church agreed and burlesque mostly died out --until now.
BURLESQUE -THE STARS AND THE STAGE
The Minsky Brothers' Theater -Times Square
Gypsy Rose Lee (1911- 1970):
Blaze Starr (b. 1932 - ):
or Zorita (1915 - 2001):
The old hangouts and stars of New York's depression era have given way to neo-burlesque at "hipster" bars in Williamsburg like The Galapagos and Public Assembly.
Burlesque in BillyBurg
By: Madiha Tahir & Ethan Phillips
THE ROOTS OF THE TEASE
Burlesque arrived to the US in the 1860s. Lydia Thompson's British burlesque troupe shocked New York audiences. Women performed as men wearing tights. The show, called, Ixion, became an instant hit.
Burlesque reached its peak with shows like Anatomy and Cleopatra during the Depression, performed at the Minsky Brothers’ Eltinge Theater on 42nd Street.
Between the 1900-1930's, more than 200
theaters opened throughout the U.S. Burlesque performers would usually tour on a 40-week season with a troupe.
But it wasn't just about the girls, the pasties or the skin. Like it's name, burlesque was about comedy and it even included men. Performers like Abbott and Costello, Andy Rooney and Bob Hope would perform routines that involved throwing pies in their faces or dousing themselves with water or simply word repetition:
Abbot and Costello's Who's on first?
(sources: The Burlesque Museum, New York Times, New World Encyclopedia, wikipedia, suite101.com, music101.com)