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Neo-Burlesque: Striptease as Transformation (Paperback)
The neo-burlesque movement seeks to restore a sense of glamour, theatricality, and humor to striptease. Neo-burlesque performers strut their stuff in front of audiences that appreciate their playful brand of pro-sex, often gender-bending, feminism.
Performance studies scholar and acclaimed burlesque artist Lynn Sally offers an inside look at the history, culture, and philosophy of New York’s neo-burlesque scene. Revealing how twenty-first century neo-burlesque is in constant dialogue with the classic burlesque of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, she considers how today’s performers use camp to comment on preconceived notions of femininity. She also explores how the striptease performer directs the audience’s gaze, putting on layers of meaning while taking off layers of clothing.
Through detailed profiles of iconic neo-burlesque performers such as Dita Von Teese, Dirty Martini, Julie Atlas Muz, and World Famous *BOB*, this book makes the case for understanding neo-burlesque as a new sexual revolution. Yet it also examines the broader community of “Pro-Am” performers who use neo-burlesque as a liberating vehicle for self-expression. Raising important questions about what feminism looks like, Neo-Burlesque celebrates a revolutionary performing art and participatory culture whose acts have political reverberations, both onstage and off.
About the Author
LYNN SALLY is a practicing scholar and artist. She received her PhD in Performance Studies from New York University where she has taught burlesque since 2004. Her research focuses on American lowbrow popular culture and entertainment, and her previous publications include the book Fighting the Flames: The Spectacular Performance of Fire at Coney Island. www.lynnsally.com
"A thorough exploration of the genre, Lynn Sally's insightful Neo-Burlesque: Striptease as Transformation has earned its place on the shelf of every neo-burlesque academic.”
— Dita Von Teese
"A smart, feminist tour de force that strips away the stigmas, social, and legal bullshit surrounding burlesque, and gets down to the nitty-gritty of this sacred art form and the potentially deeply inspiring experience it holds for performers and audience alike. A must read for anybody interested in dance, art, and sexy fun."
— Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens
"With the deft eye of a performer-turned-ethnographer, Lynn Sally provides an insider’s account of the history and stakes of burlesque performance. Indeed, Neo-Burlesque demonstrates that underneath the performer’s coy wink, tuck, and flash lie a matrix of political entanglements that inform how gender, power, and sexuality shape our society’s engagement with popular entertainment."
— E. Patrick Johnson
"Lynn Sally taps her secret history as a burlesque dancer as well as multiple histories of the performing female body in this dazzling study of contemporary burlesque’s cultural meanings. Smart, funny, and moving, Sally's stories and insights will make you rethink this art form and the women who participate in it."
— Linda Mizejewski
"Artist-scholar Lynn Sally shines a spotlight on some of the most iconic neo-burlesque performers of the past two decades. A rich addition to the field of striptease studies, Neo-Burlesque deftly reveals how 'unruly' and 'awarish' women creatively and critically interrogate their own construction through the wit of a knowing wink."
— Dr. Sherril Dodds
"Neo-Burlesque is an impassioned manifesto for the transformative power of burlesque performance. Sally engages her insider perspective to document and theorize how neo-burlesque performers are remaking gender, sexuality, beauty, and feminist politics through the art of the striptease."
— Jillian Hernandez
"Theoretically sophisticated, rigorously researched, and written with confidence and ease, Neo-Burlesque: Striptease as Transformation takes aim at blind spots in academic approaches to sexuality, the female body and the boundaries between high and low cultures. Sally uses case studies enriched by her own experience as a stripper to argue for the radical potential of neo-burlesque. At the same time, she brings a critical eye to its failures to disentangle race from the cultural ideals of femininity and female beauty that neo-burlesque put—literally—on stage. Sally makes a bold and important contribution to the growing body of scholarship on unruly, 'nasty' women who, with fearlessness and wit, insist on not only being heard but also seen. An engrossing and eye-opening read!"
— Kathleen Rowe Karlyn
"Through interviews with performers and descriptive analyses of their acts, Sally characterizes burlesque as a complex practice with interesting historical underpinnings and unexpected contemporary manifestations. It is truly special to read an academic book where the author ensures that its primary subjects—burlesque performers—get to define, in their own words, what they are doing and why. An engaging read that builds toward a more holistic understanding of burlesque."
— Meredith Heller
"Lynn Sally has written the account of record of the germination of the Neo Burlesque movement. Her perspective has been formed through her insider position as a performer, producer and emcee, giving her the authority to name the key contributions that the Neo Burlesque movement has made to feminism, politics, sexuality, and gender. This inclusive account of burlesque history will be enjoyed by burlesque audiences and scholars of performance and feminism. It is a book you will want to read cover to cover."
— Dr. Alison J. Carr
"Dr. Lynn Sally shares an essential insider’s view of an individualistic performing art and how it combines nostalgia and irony to comment on current events. Entertaining and academically diligent, this book connects all the dots between feminism and fun."
— Jo Weldon
"A Different Kind of Coming Out: AFAB Dreams of Becoming a Drag Queen," by Lynn Sally
— The Gay & Lesbian Review
"This remarkable treatise on a formerly taboo subject is a serious examination of an art form that has been tossed off as frivolous entertainment....But the book is not solely a scholarly treatise. Sally delights in taking her reader right into adult entertainment nightclubs via the book’s fabulous color photos, giving them front row seats, as one reviewer put it, as Sally 'shines a spotlight on the most iconic performers of the last two decades.'"
— Sierra County Sun