A Brief History of Burlesque


We're so excited to announce the premiere season of A Brief History of Burlesque premiering at Wonderland 2016 that we'll be sharing our own written Brief History of Burlesque with you in the lead up to the event!  We had so much fun researching and writing the show that we hope you'll enjoy reading a little more about it too!  


Intrigued?  Join us for the sauciest history classroom ever!  

Tickets on sale here and you can join our Facebook Event for updates and invite your friends!

Bombshell Burlesque at Wonderland

It all started with the raciest of garments – tights!  That’s right, audiences were scandalised by women in tights in the 1860’s: what a difference a hundred years can make!  Moral outrage followed which fuelled demand and many imitators appeared in theatres.


     Outside of the theatres, an even racier dance was shocking and thrilling the masses: the Hoochie Coochie.  From the late 1800’s up until the 1920’s, dancers performed the exotic and erotic Hoochie Coochie at fairs and sideshows across America.  Using moves borrowed from bellydance, these ladies thrilled audiences with glimpses of flesh and grinding hips!  Due to the adult nature of these dances, they were popular night time attractions at travelling carnivals and that’s where we meet our first burlesque beauty – our 1920’s carnival Hoochie Coocher!

Read more about the scandalous women who dared wear tights here.

Discover the history of the hoochie coochie here and here.

Book to see A Brief History of Burlesque here.

Want to Know More?


Here's some handy links for you to explore!


A Brief History of Burlesque at Wonderland

Tickets * RSVP


Wonderland at Brisbane Powerhouse

Check out the full program and plan your night out.


Ready to make your own burlesque history?


Classes at The Bombshell Burlesque Academy


Bombshell Burlesque: Trick or Tease

Our cheeky halloween show at Mon Komo Hotel!
Tickets * RSVP



The Bombshells Ball - Tease The Season!

Cheer on brand new burlesque graduates and tease queens!

Tickets * RSVP




To begin at the beginning...



The 1930's


Jacqueline Furey

So, we’ve started at the 1920s and will be moving right along – we did tell you it would be brief!


     Up until the 1930’s most burlesque performances included just a flash of torso or a form fitting outfit, but in 1933, a vision under feather fans appeared at the Chicago World Fair.  Sally Rand shocked and mesmerised with her ethereal feather fan dance.  She was rumoured to be totally bare under her feathers…


Read more about Sally Rand and her fabulous fans here and here.

Book to see A Brief History of Burlesque here.


The 1940's: Golden Age Bump & Grind


Jacqueline Furey

While the 30’s were the era of headline honeys like Sally Rand, Gypsy Rose Lee and Ann Corio, the 1940’s saw the public looking for an escape and burlesque was the perfect place to find it!  It was also a time of heavy censorship and stripteasers faced arrest for their salacious bump and grinds. 


Personalities, props and gimmicks were BIG and competition was intense.  Of course, these gimmicks were often copied by others, leading to fierce rivalries!


Read more about one of the greatest rivalries captured by Life Magazine: Evangeline The Oyster Girl and Divena The Aqua Tease here.

Read more about 1940's burlesque censorship here.

Book to see A Brief History of Burlesque here.


The 1950's: The Age of The Showgirl


Jacqueline Furey

At the end of the Second World War, the live art of burlesque enjoyed immense popularity as victory and all things all-American were celebrated. 50’s burlesquers were influenced by movies and their curvy icons like Marilyn Monroe and Brigitte Bardot.  As they attempted to recreate their big blonde hair and epic curves, the corset was reborn!


During this time, the Showgirl became the unofficial icon of Las Vegas as casinos attempted to out-do each other with lavish and memorable shows.  This is how showgirls came to be synonymous with feathers, headdresses and sparkle!


Read more about the history of the Las Vegas Showgirl here.

Read more about 50's Burlesque superstars here.

Book to see A Brief History of Burlesque here.


The 1960's: Vintage Glamour


Jacqueline Furey

By the 1960’s, burlesque was struggling.  Facing competition from racy entertainment easily found in movies or in clubs with topless go-go dancers, it was starting to fall out of favour.  Still, burlesque stars worked the circuit in America and were encouraged to talk to patrons to encourage liquor sales which lead to the modern strip club format we have today.  These 1960’s burlesque queens had to have it all – beauty, charisma and off the charts sex appeal.


Read more about the 1960's burlesque influences and icons here.

Book to see A Brief History of Burlesque here.


The 1990's: Neo Burlesque Revival


Jacqueline Furey

By the 1970’s burlesque had all but died out worldwide, replaced by feature dancers in strip clubs with much smaller costumes.
That was until the 1990’s when performers around the world began to rediscover the, now relatively chaste, vintage stylings of burlesque striptease.  From there the Neo Burlesque revival celebrated and updated burlesque traditions with retro looks and titillating tease.


Read more about the rise of Neo Burlesque here and here.

Book to see A Brief History of Burlesque here.

2000's & Beyond: Modern Burlesque Revival


Jacqueline Furey

Today, burlesque can be anything from classic striptease, to modern dance, to comedic mayhem!  While neo-burlesque performers are often inspired by a nostalgia for the glamour of the golden age, burlesque is now taking it’s own evolutionary path as newcomers to the artform bring their own perspective, approach and skills.  Artists are always seeking new ways to add wow factor to their acts. 

Like the line from Gypsy – You’ve got to have a gimmick!


Read more about current Neo Burlesque here and here.

Book to see A Brief History of Burlesque here.

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