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Pretty Things: The Last Generation of American Burlesque Queens Paperback – 3 Jan 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: It Books; Reprint edition (3 Jan. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062011812
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062011817
  • Product Dimensions: 25.1 x 20.6 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 446,477 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

“This coffee table treasure serves as . . . a fitting paean to this once-forgotten generation of women.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“Liz Goldwyn illustrates an era in classic American entertainment with hundreds of archival photographs, costume sketches and newspaper clips.” (Time)

“Pretty Things is now the most comprehensive study on the era of burlesque.” (V Magazine)

“In Liz Goldwyn’s Pretty Things, stripteasers bump and grind into the often dark reality of modern burlesque queens.” (Vanity Fair)

“The art of burlesque is lovingly documented through long-lost photographs as well as designer sketches and interviews.” (W magazine)

“[Pretty Things] celebrates the performers once dismissed as second-class citizens.” (Tatler)

From the Back Cover

Liz Goldwyn's lifelong fascination with the inimitable glamour of classic burlesque inspired her to spend the past eight years corresponding with, visiting, interviewing, receiving striptease lessons from, and forming close relationships with the last generation of the great American burlesque queeens. Goldwyn invites us to step back into an era when the hourglass figure was in vogue and striptease was a true art form.

Meet Betty "Ball of Fire" Rowland, who was known for her flaming red hair and bump–and–grind routines. (It turns out she once sued the author's grandfather, Samuel Goldwyn Jr., for using her stage name and costume in his Hollywood picture, Ball of Fire.)

Meet Sherry Britton, who, with her long black hair and curvy, trim physique, was among the most stunning of the burlesque stars before Mayor LaGuardia outlawed burlesque in New York.

Meet Zorita, whose sexually explicit "Consummation of the Wedding of the Snake" dance (performed with a live snake) and other daring performances earned her legendary status.

Goldwyn draws back the curtain to reveal the personal journeys of yesteryear's icons of female sexuality and power, restoring their legacy to an age that has all but forgotten them–despite today's resurgence of burlesque.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By kathy on 21 Feb. 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is a beautiful book and would make a gorgeous present or look good on your coffee table- the cover itself is lovely. It is packed full of amazing pictures of burlesque queens and their costumes with great detail- copies of photos, handwritten notes and scraps of material. My only criticism is that the author sometimes appears quite naive and narcissistic- with a few photos of herself wearing the queens costumes- why? Apart from this it is a very sumptuous, glamorous, escapist book that you can loose yourself in.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J. Mcdonald TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 3 Mar. 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This hefty volume presents archive material likely to be useful to anyone researching the costumes and style of classic burlesque; the drawings and photos taken by designers themselves are of particular interest. Much of the book adopts a scrapbook format and the many backstage and publicity shots evoke the nostalgic glamour of the era. As the text points out however,some of the documentation here is the only proof some of these performers ever existed; it brings home the transience of fame achieved within a branch of theatrical performance, first persecuted by a conservative society then washed away by the liberal backlash that made its artistry redundant. Goldwyn admits in her summation that her naieve perceptions were changed by her research; there are some sad stories told here and the seedy side of the business is not ignored.
Despite the colourful subject matter the book is quite monochromatic; there are colour images but they are for the most part subdued lending an elegiac feel to the presentation, appropriate for the tone of the book perhaps? It is a shame Goldwyn`s documentary film of the same title has not yet been released on DVD - very remiss of HBO.
If you are at all interested in burlesque this is a book you will want - material like this is not easy to come by and although it deals mainly with the specific group of performers Goldwyn met it is a valuable window into a lost world. If you can afford it, buy it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 17 Nov. 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is beautifully presented and contains a fantastic amount of information on the burlesque queens, their costumes and their lives.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Nicolette Glashan on 26 Dec. 2007
Format: Hardcover
I was given this beautiful book after my friend discovered I had my own wish list. It really is a wonderful collection of photographs and stories from an enchanted era. I know I will look at this book for inspiration again and again. Truly fabulous!
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Format: Hardcover
I received this book as a Christmas gift and I adore it. With dozens of photographs and copies of original vintage costume sketches as well as a burlesque 'family tree' marking who worked with whom, who were friends and who were rivals, and plenty of anecdotes and stories from the Queens, this book is so inspiring and really brings the Golden Age of American Burlesque to life.
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