Horrible Prettiness: Burlesque and American Culture by Robert C. Allen (327 pp, 1991, University of North Carolina Press, ISBN #0-8078-1960-5). Unlike most books about burlesque, this is a serious study. Conscientiously researched and thoughtfully presented, the author tells us more about the origins and development of burlesque—both as travesty and as a display of the feminine form—than he does about the later phenomenon of strippers, which is what most other burlesque books celebrate.

Burleycue by Bernard Sobel (284 pp, 1931, Farrar & Rinehart, NYC) A gossipy survey of burlesque history from Lydia Thompson to the heyday of Minsky. Enjoyable for the anecdotes, the writing and illustrations. A good choice if you can locate a copy.

A Pictorial History of Burlesque by Bernard Sobel (190 pp, 1956, Bonanza Books, LoC #56-103246). A chatty visit with the people and places that made burlesque fun for so many.  Lots of photos to delight.

This Was Burlesque by Ann Corio & Joseph DiMona (205 pp, 1968, Madison Square Press, NYC, LoC #68-29975). Ms. Corio, one of burleycues classier women, revived burlesque and her own career by touring a naughty but nice show that featured gags and girls long after pornographic films overwhelmed the comparatively tame seductions of strippers. Mostly about the classic years of strip burlesque, this is a copiously illustrated volume.

Minsky’s Burlesque: A Fast and Funny Look at America’s Bawdiest Era by Morton Minsky & Milt Machlin (310 pp, 1986, Arbor House, NYC, ISBN #0-87795-743-6)  The best thing about this book are the half-dozen comedy sketches and the glossary.  Otherwise it is all about the Brothers Minsky and even though it is written by one of them, he still can’t make them likeable.


CABARET—in the USA and Europe

Intimate Nights: The Golden Age of New York Cabaret by John Gavin (387 pp, 1991/1992, Proscenium/Limelight Editions, NYC ISBN #0-87910-161-X). This is singular in its field: the source book for Cabaret as seen in New York from the 1930s through the 1980s. Mr. Gavin weaves a delicious tale of the world of cabaret as recalled by its entertainers, club owners, bartenders and aficionados.  A work of love and a lovely and authoritative work; a must for those who remember.

Cabaret Performance: Volume I, Europe 1890 — 1920, and Volume II, 1920 — 1940: Songs, Sketches, Monologues, Memoirs, edited by Laurence Senelick (Vol. I: 224 pp, 1989, PAJ Publications, NYC, ISBN #1-55554-043-0) and (Vol. II: 285 pp, 1993, Johns Hopkins Press, Baltimore MD, ISBN #0-8018-4543-2). Art, politics and sexuality fired much of the material written for cabaret in France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, the Netherlands, Sweden, Poland and Russia.  Dr. Senelick has compiled English translations of performances pieces of varying accessibility. For those long intrigued by images conjured up by Chat Noir, Cabaret Voltaire, Isherwoods Berlin Stories or films with Emil Jannings and Marlene Dietrich, this two volume set is the real thing.

Cabaret: The First Hundred Years by Lisa Appignanesi (190 pp, 1975/1984, Grove Press/Evergreen, NYC, ISBN #0-394-62177-8). A precursor of fringe theatre and performance art, European cabaret brought the high brow, the high born, the revolutionary and the bohemian together in small intimate dens of satire, subversion, art on the edge and sexual freedom. A handsomely produced book of photographs, posters and narrative.


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