Weekly Burlesque: Fantasies by Lisa Kereszi

All photos in this review are the intellectual property of Lisa Kereszi.

I first became aware of Lisa’s work when I saw this beautiful image of Julie Atlas Muz, taken in 2000, in BUST magazine in 2002:

At that time I was photographing shows in a sort of impressionistic fashion, trying to give a sense of what it was like to attend a show without concentrating on the quality of the individual photographs. There was no flickr.com and it was difficult to describe the shows to people, so I ran several galleries on my website. Don Spiro and Laure Leber creating beautiful art images, and Norman Blake was taking journalistic shots, but at that time there weren’t as many places to see images of burlesque shows. It was thrilling to see Lisa’s images.

The above image is from Show World, where the Va Va Voom Room played for awhile, and where Deb DeSalvo made her video for “Take It Off,” the song she recorded for Jill Morley’s documentary Stripped. I’m in the video with Lily Burana, and burlesque revival pioneer Billie Madley is in Stripped.

Lisa photographed burlesque in the early stages of the current revival, attending the VaVa Voom Room in 1999, Tease-O-Rama in New Orleans in 2001, Exotic World in 2002, and New York burlesquers at the Slipper Room and other venues, including their homes, through 2003. She also photographed mainstream strip joints and other adult entertainment in New York, Florida, and the Philipines, as well as other locations.

Interestingly, the burlesque performers and some of their audience are shown, but the mainstream strippers are not–mainstream strip joints are portrayed as empty spaces. For me this makes sense, as strip joints when I worked in them were always a strange combination of public display and privacy — cameras were not allowed, and neither the dancers nor the customers wanted them there.

Above: Dirty Martini's feet.

Photography buffs will love this book, and for people like me who love both burlesque and strip joints, it’s a pretty fabulous view of the beginning of one era and the end of another.
Click here to buy this book on amazon.com.

– Jo Weldon

Jo Weldon is Headmistress of the award-winning New York School of Burlesque and is a regular burlesque performer. Visit burlesquedaily.blogspot.com to read her daily blog.

All Photos by Lisa Kereszi