Photographer's Notes for The Show Series:
The world it covers is old-time, and a random mix of burlesque, drag, sideshow, and fetish in style. Its modern performers are young, nowhere near extinction. But no doubt the movement will play out its run at some point, and I hope Show will help in some small way to preserve and celebrate its existence.
In 2001, I wandered into the Shim-Sham Club in New Orleans, and caught the first annual Tease-O-Rama event. Little did I know then that this was a watershed moment for the neo-burlesque movement—in a sense, where it all began. I shot a few roles of film, including pictures of the legendary Dita Von Tease and Catherine D’Lish, and started going to shows and shooting casually. One thing led to another, as so often happens in photography, and Show was born.
To me, modern burlesque performers embody so many traits of true artists. They are creator, and narrative. They like being different from everyone else. In fact, they wear that difference with pride. Their style and method of delivery make burlesque popular art—not so much for the elite Art in America crowd. But that doesn’t make it any less artful. Living on the margins, the best of today’s burlesque artists have a signature vision, strong in message and execution. To paraphrase folksinger Mayne Smith, “You might not like their style, boys, but you will know who they are.”