Behind the Burly Q (Zemeckis)

Behind the Burly Q:  The Story of Burlesque in America
Leslie Zemeckis, 2013
352 pp.
ISBN-13: 9781620876916

The art of burlesque is continuing its resurgence. There are thousands of performers packing venues all over the world. Yet many of the genre’s fans, and even those involved in the trade, are still in the dark when it comes to the history of the craft.

Leslie Zemeckis has decided to do something about preserving the legacy of the pioneers of burlesque with a critically acclaimed documentary Behind the Burly Q (2012). But it was just the beginning. In possession of hundreds of hours of taped interviews and rare, never-before-seen photos, Leslie knew there was more to be done. So she has documented the definitive oral history of burlesque as told by the original stars themselves in her first book.

With a foreword by burlesque’s equivalent of Lady Gaga—Blaze Starr—Behind the Burly Q: The Story of Burlesque in America (Skyhorse Publishing, June 2013) is a fascinating exploration of America’s “seediest” art form.

Given unprecedented access to the performers’ diaries, letters, albums, and memorabilia, Leslie’s book gathers their stories and personal photos here for the first time. In their own words, the performers confide their stories of being courted by King Saud of Saudi Arabia, and their encounters with famous fans, including Abbott and Costello, Jack Ruby, and JFK himself.

The history and the lore come alive with the accounts of “Stage Door Johnnies” who followed the performers from town to town; the infamous “flash” that made New York Mayor LaGuardia shut down the city’s burlesque clubs; and lighting their tassels on fire in a never-ending quest to “out-gimmick” other dancers.

Full of gossip and firsthand accounts of backstage treachery, rivalries, lawsuits, and debauchery, Behind the Burly Q is also a heartwarming and inspiring book about the women (and men) whose stories of “stripping” have never been told. (From the publisher.)

Read the article in Huff Post.

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