BHOF Legends Recap 2011

Your favorite Pin Curl contributors, Divertida Divotchka and Femme Vivre LaRouge, joined forces with local emcee Violet O’ Hara to accept the Legends Challenge put forth by Burlesque Hall of Fame, and decided to sponsor Dallas’ own Tammi True.  The group’s diligent fundraising efforts put them in the top three and guests of the Legends Brunch, which they gladly recapped for us.

Burlesque Hall of Fame Legends Challenge

By: Femme Vivre LaRouge

L-R: Divertida Divotchka, Femme Vivre LaRouge, Violet O'Hara, with legend Tammi True
L-R: Divertida Divotchka, Femme Vivre LaRouge, Violet O'Hara, with legend Tammi True

This year the Burlesque Hall of Fame issued a challenge to the burlesque community to put our pasties to work for a good cause.  The first-ever Legends Challenge was a great success, raising over $13,000 to help pay the way for the living legends of burlesque to attend the 2011 Burlesque Hall of Fame Reunion in Las Vegas.  Since its beginning in 1957, the annual reunion has grown into the wondrous and star-studded affair that it is today.  It is a great treasure to have the chance to mingle with the beautiful, passionate, and talented women who have passed their trade on to us.  Over twenty legends were in attendance, most of them sponsored by troupes and performers around the country.

We were delighted to sponsor Dallas’ very own Tammi True, former dancer at Jack Ruby’s Carousel Club.  The DFW/Austin burlesque community really came together with the goal of sending Miss True to the event, and we were able to make more than we even dreamed.  Numerous local performers and dedicated fans contributed to this worthy cause, with a generosity that was truly touching.  With the support of Hot Rods and Heels and events hosted by Viva Dallas Burlesque, The Jigglewatts Burlesque Revue, Violet O’Hara of the Ruby Revue, four raffle baskets, an auction, a Burly-Q Bake Sale, and one event dedicated solely to the fundraiser we were able to raise over $2,000!

In fact, the Texas team did so well that we made it to the top three highest grossing benefactors of the Challenge!  Boy howdy, were we gals happy to have our team listed alongside the noteworthy names of Michelle L’Amour and Cora Vette & Burly Cute!  The greatest reward, aside from the honor of lending a hand to these venerable women, was a special luncheon for the Legends and patrons, which Divertida Devotchka, Violet O’Hara, and I had the privilege of attending just before the Legends Q & A.

Highlights from the BHOF Legends Q & A

By: Divertida Devotchka

Gina Bon Bon with Camille 2000 Painting
Gina Bon Bon with Camille 2000 Painting

What memorabilia or sentimental objects did you keep from your burlesque career?

Holiday O’Hara, the Lady Who Loves to Love You, started performing in 1968, retired in 1983 and came out of retirement in 2007. “I kept some costumes and all of my jewelry and all of my boas. What still fit was my jewelry, my boas and my duster.” Holiday also kept pictures of other burlesque performers who inspired her, particularly Gina Bon Bon.

Joan Arline, the Sexquire Girl, performed from 1953 to 1958. Joan still has her burlesque trunk and her costume from when she was 22, which still fits. She last wore the costume one week prior to the Q & A!

Share a favorite backstage memory.

Shannon Doah started performing in 1967. She shared a memory of performing at a club with a very small dressing room with a clothing rack at the back of the room. One night while everyone was getting ready for a show, they looked down and noticed a pair of men’s shoes. They kept looking and discovered a man lying under the rack hiding under the clothes!

Ellion Ness, began performing at the age of 15. During her second week performing in the chorus line at Minsky’s, she was sent on a wild goose chase to find “the key to open the curtain.” She frantically looked everywhere for this mysterious (nonexistent) key thinking that she would ruin the show if the curtain wouldn’t open, and after much searching Minsky told her not to worry and to go get ready for the show.

What do you want your legacy to be?

Camille 2000, the Cosmic Queen of Burlesque, began performing in 1968. She wants her legacy to be her tribute to Marquis de Sade.

Judith Stein began performing in 1974, and said she was “last legend standing” at the after-parties at BHOF weekend (and trust us, she was!)

Toni Elling began performing in 1960 and retired in 1974. Toni wants to be remembered as “a good entertainer. I consider myself that, not a stripper.”

Dusty Summers by RJ Johnson of LightReclaimed.com
Dusty Summers by RJ Johnson of LightReclaimed.com

Dusty Summers, Las Vegas’ Only Nude Magician, began performing in 1965. She posed a question to the rest of her peers on the panel- what was your career after burlesque?

Gina Bon Bon’s performance career lasted from 1962 until 1991. She’s now an artist and brought with her an incredible painting she did of Camille 2000. She is currently working on a collection about burlesque stars.

Joan Arline had 2 children and a successful dance school specializing in Russian ballet and ballroom dancing, and she also became a commodities trader. At age 60, she began performing in the Golden Girl Follies.

Kitten Natividad started performing in 1969. She was also known for her appearance in Russ Meyer films and Kitten had a long relationship with Meyer. Kitten now works in real estate.

Judith Stein learned to surf, started skiing again, started her own business, and now works with the dying “so at least they can die laughing.”

Camille 2000 owns Cosmic Hog Pen, which specializes in “motorcycle leather and switchblades” among other things.

Holiday O’Hara was a professional dominatrix from 1983 until 2005 and is now a hypnotherapist. “I applied the ‘you’re mine’ aspect of working a room to just one person and now I do the same with hypnotherapy.”

Shannon Doah volunteered at an animal shelter for 10 years and said she felt insecure about getting a “normal” job. She now works with a program for victims of domestic violence, particularly helping get the animals out of abusive environments. “With many abused women, the abusers also abuse the animals and they threaten to harm the animal to keep the woman from leaving.”

Tips from the Living Legends of Burlesque:

Tammi True (known as Miss Excitement, she began performing “by accident” in 1959 and retired in 1968): “I never had an ‘act.’ You don’t have to have a ‘character.’ Be true to yourself and just be you.”

Holiday O’Hara: “I’m always Holiday. I’m me. I don’t turn it off and on. Just make love to the audience. The audience makes love to you back.”

Dusty Summers: “Don’t be afraid to learn something new; try something new.”

Haji (best known for her roles in Russ Meyer films, most notably “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” with Tura Satana): “Fantasize. Be a flower, a snake, whatever you can think of. Be fun, be free, but don’t be vulgar.”

Tai Ping (performed from 1960 to 1970 until a car crash ended her dance career): “Use the whole stage; work it all. Everyone paid and they all deserve the same show.”

Toni Elling: “Have fun.”

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