Motor City Strippers!

by Bettie on June 29, 2011 · 2 comments

in Blast From the Past, Race, What is Sex Work?

When I see a black woman in a filmy something or other, or clutching feathers, or posed elegantly, I have to click whatever it is to see where she came from. That’s what happened when I stumbled onto this story about burlesque dancers in the Motor City on the Metro Timessite. It begins with a line I cannot turn away from: “They called her The Body. She was built like a double order of pancakes — sweet and stacked.” And gets better and better from there. I found myself completely enthralled the entire way through!

I absolutely think burlesque dancers who get paid for their work are sex workers, so to hear these women’s stories is incredibly inspiring. Lottie Graves mentioned that when she traveled, because of her fame, there’d be champagne and flowers in the room…this is something I can deal with. She also mentions that she wasn’t looked down on because “exotic dancing” was “classy.” I imagine the beaded gowns and rhinestone bikinis had something to do with it. Remind me to buy a rhinestone bikini sometime.

Lottie The Body

Her stories about racism were depressing, but the fact that she doesn’t dwell on them made me smile quite a bit. If she can rise above being called a “walking chocolate bar” by a kid who’d never seen a black woman before, or having another woman’s boyfriend deny that she was a headliner, maybe I can be a little bigger too. She also mentions feathers upon feathers upon feathers. If you’ve been reading my reviews you know I love a bitch in feathers; it warms my heart.

Toni Elling

Toni Elling’s story is just as grand. I mean, she name drops like a pro. Sammy Davis, Dinah Washington, Duke Ellington (who she got her name from and whose protege she was); she met everybody! She does tell a story that seems like it could have happened today though. Apparently some guy felt compelled to rip off her pastie while she was dancing, then stood there and handed it to her with a smile on his face. Where do guys get that from? Naked body parts are not asking to be grabbed at, touched, or filled, for that matter.

The article goes on to detail how the “art” became what it is now, something mostly different from the days when a naked nipple could land you in jail, or a g-string malfunction wasn’t on purpose. But we needn’t dwell on that, right? Read it here!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Roxi D'Lite October 8, 2011 at 10:09 pm

Hello! I’m an exotic dancer and a burlesque performer from Canada’s armpit, Windsor Ontario, which borders Detroit city. I’m fortunate enough to say I’ve met Toni Elling through my friend Sparkly Devil. I adore Miss Toni Elling, she defins the word “lady”. Sparkly moved away and Toni is getting older and likes visitors so I decided to take her out for dinner. When my boyfriend and I arrived at her home to take her out to the restaurant of her choice (she chose Red Lobster) she answered the door in a pretty dress adorned with a sparkly broach and stylish hat and a big smile. Upon picking her up she invited us in and took us on a tour of her home. She showed us old photos, news paper clippings and costumes she’s collected from over the years. She is polite and well put together, her stories are interesting and she had us leaning over our surf n’ turf, hanging on her every word. She sent me home with a present, a little plastic yellow jewellery box that sits on my vanity. She is an incredibly interesting selfless lady who warms my heart and makes me proud to say I’m a stripper.

I am fortunate to have met and become friends with a lot of burlesque legends. Attending the Burlesque Hall of Fame Reunion in Vegas every year is an incredible chance to meet living legends and hear their incredible stories and even watch some of them perform. For more information on how you can meet strippers your grandpa use to know please visit http://burlesquehall.com/

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JUDITH STEIN October 11, 2011 at 11:09 pm

WELL SAID ROXI
I HAD THE HONOR OF MEETING BOTH LOTTIE AND TORI ELLING THIS YEAR AT THE BURLESQUE HALL OF FAME
WHAT LOVELY ,FUN AND DELIGHTFUL LADIES THEY ARE……
AND ROLE MODELS TO US ALL
THANKS ROXI FOR HONORING THESE BURLESQUE LEGENDS
AND I HONOR YOU MY SWEET
WITH LOVE FROM
“MAMA BEAV”
CANADA,S LEGEND OF BURLESQUE
MS JUDITH STEIN

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