Pretty Things: The Last Generation of American Burlesque Queens [Hardcover]

Pretty-Things-bookIn celebration of the theatrical release of “Burlesque,” Harper Collins publishing releases a hardcore massive compendium of tributes and explorations in to the final generation of burlesque and the art of the seduction where revealing barely anything often is much more arousing than revealing it all. In the process though, it deems it loud and clear that a PG-13 film about Burlesque makes about as much sense as a PG movie about pornography. It’s absurd since while the book is an amazing look in to the final hurrah of Burlesque it’s also a pretty revealing look in to what made Burlesque so attractive from female performers who were skilled contortionists, to others who had some rather rotund and gigantic breasts who excelled at teasing men with what they didn’t see under their sweaters and tassels.

While the book has been released in an effort to raise awareness of the true art of Burlesque and capitalize on the buzz of Christina’s Aguilera’s film, the book is more a prologue to author Liz Goldwyn’s upcoming documentary entitled “Pretty Things” where she’ll explore the fine art of burlesque and the mastery of the fashion and costumed. “Pretty Things” as a hardcore compendium of artifacts and fashion is an elegant little guidebook of massive girth that explores author Liz Goldwyn’s fascination and love for burlesque as well as her encounters with the burlesque shows and the final generation of the art form before it became antiquated.

Goldwyn, born from Hollywood royalty in the vein of Samuel Goldwyn explains her pining for mementos of these shows and her experiences with Coco Chanel whose outfits were tossed out by Samuel Goldwyn when her fashion was deemed much too androgynous. As well she unfolds the origins of Burlesque including its meanings and its rooted origins that stem from Greece to Shakespeare right down to  Vaudeville where immigrants partook in its form of dancing and arousal as a sense of expression and communication. Thankfully “Pretty Things” is an amalgamation of Ms. Goldwyn’s fascinations so while she does go in to great detail in the origin of Burlesque she also grants us the ability to view full color photos and restored stills of some of the greatest Burlesque queens and their gimmicks, which often included contortion and or very large breasts.

Tracing back to 411 B.C. right down to the early 1950’s, Goldwyn takes advantage of her book by pretty much appealing to all readers putting the vintage fashion on display, while tastefully observing the taut sexuality of the performers all of whom are ravishing and incredibly sexy, but also possessed a degree of talent and she mulls over the intricacies of the costumes and how they were very instrumental to the shows. In the same vein she also bears an astonishing appreciation to the devil maycare and raw sexuality every dancer garnered for their audience, holding their own unique trait that kept them constant attractions. “Pretty Things” is a very length tome with a large history to it, and I couldn’t put it down.