In Las Vegas’ Art District resides the Burlesque Hall of Fame, here one can learn the origins of burlesque and even try their hand at performing, as it’s also a school so this unique art form can live on.
The road to the museum that exists today is long and dusty and begins with Jennie Lee, a dancer who founded the Exotic Dancers’ League in the 1950s, which focused on getting better pay for performers. Lee began saving and collecting items from her fellow dancers, and displayed them at her bar, Sassy Lassy, in San Pedro, California. Later Lee moved to Helendale, transforming a dusty old goat farm off of Route 66 into Exotic World a museum, school, and had long term goals to have housing for retired dancers. When Lee passed away Dixie Evans, a friend and performer continued with the museum, and even started the Miss Exotic World competition for publicity. Soon Exotic World was becoming a must-visit destination for the rising neo-burlesque movement of the 1990s.
In 2005 Exotic World suffered extensive destruction as the result of a storm, and reopening seemed impossible. But performers and fans arrived to save the artifacts, transporting them to Las Vegas, where Exotic World transitioned to become the Burlesque Hall of Fame. Here, a timeline showcases the birth of burlesque (burlesque in its purest form is parody, which is why humor is a key element of many performances) through to the contemporary art form we know today, with a variety of photos, programs, costumes, and props, including Dita Von Teese’s large martini glass from 2000. They also offer classes so the unique art of burlesque can continue well into the future.
I especially got a kick out of their donor wall, which is made up of pasties, featuring a variety of different styles.
Relive the glitz and glamor of burlesque’s unique history at the Burlesque Hall of Fame at 1027 S. Main Street #110 in Las Vegas. Learn more, including purchasing tickets ahead of time on their website.