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.
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’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!