Burlesque history

So where did it really all begin…

In the time when showing the leg was considered to be pornographic how was strip tease ever going to be born? It all started with the rise of photography as being a commercial art form. In 1856 the carte de viste was made, the carte de viste was a small card with a photograph on one side and nothing on the other. The photograph showed a women undressing, these little cards were mass produced and were made available to everyone and in time were exchanged all over the world. Photographers portrayed women undressing tastefully in the same style of certain impressionist paintings.  Showing a little leg here and a bit of ankle there the intention of erotic pleasure was clear while also at the same time being respectable. The pioneer photographer was a man named A.A.E. Disderi his “carte de viste” showed ballerinas lifting their skirts and showing ankles, thighs and even sometimes a cheeky bottom. His photographs secured photographs of women undressing as a commercial erotic icon.



It was in 1868 when things started to kick off properly. A popular group formed called the british blondes- these women danced and sang on stage- wearing knee length skirts, body stockings and flesh colored tights. These women were not playing any roles, they were having fun and being themselves- they were showgirls, and they appealed to the male audience purely on a visual level. The rise of the british blondes was not plain sailing though and they were described as being like an “ancient orgy” and described as being “neither man or women but a kind of alien sex, parodying both” However the newly formed suffragists camp argued that this art form was important and essential to achieving equality between men and women.


After the “british blondes” a lot of other groups started to pop up and in the last two decades of the century a revolution in the theater increased competition among theaters and created a demand for more flesh.


~ by hmsteel on February 11, 2013.

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