Tuesday Tease: RIP Dixie Evans, The Godmother of Burlesque

dixie-week-poster-croppedOn August 3rd, the burlesque world lost the woman who is probably most responsible for the burlesque revival and the preservation of its history. A legendary performer in her own right and an inspiration for multiple generations of burlesque performers, the “Marilyn Monroe of Burlesque,” Miss Dixie Evans.

Born as Mary Lee Evans in Long Beach, California on August 28, 1926, Dixie started her career in the 40s as a model and chorus girl, eventually becoming a star dancer. She was a headlining burlesque performer by the early 50s, performing up and down the West Coast as part of Harold Minsky’s “burlesque wheel” touring circuit. Minsky encouraged her to adapt her stage persona to that of Marilyn Monroe, given her strong resemblance to the, then rising, film star. While resistant at first, she eventually adopted the Monroe persona and it was that act that would define her career as a burlesque dancer.

Evans developed a well-received tribute show to Monroe following her death in 1962 but eventually dropped the act after being mistaken for the dead film star. This was deeply disturbing to Evans and so she eventually adapted her stage show into a parody of Irma La Douce, Shirley MacLaine’s character in the 1963 romantic comedy of the same name.
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Tuesday Tease: Coco Lectric and The Jigglewatts

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This week on the Tuesday Tease we feature Austin, Texas’ premier burlesque troupe The Jigglewatts Burlesque Revue.

Since 2006, the Jigglewatts have kept things hot and steamy in Texas and beyond. Members have headlined shows in New Orleans, Las Vegas, New York, Montreal, Toronto, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Founder Coco Lectric also founded the Austin Academy of Burlesque, is a board member of Burlycon and started the Austin Burlesque Alliance, which gives Austin burlesque performers a forum in which to share ideas and collaborate.

I find producers like Coco so inspiring. Her lack of ego and undying support for her community and art form ensures the survival of burlesque as an art form for years to come. It’s producers like her that help burlesque continue to evolve and flourish.

I see this a lot in the burlesque world: performers attending fellow performers shows and cheering them on, producers staggering their shows so that they’re not competing for audiences and performers sharing their techniques with each other. It’s inspiring and I think other artistic communties should take note. Contrary to the notion that competition encourages quality, I’ve found that, in burlesque’s case anyway, collaboration has been the key to its survival, especially in close-knit communities like Austin, New Orleans or Seattle.

Coco’s been busy preparing for the Jigglewatts first full-troupe tour but she was kind enough to take time out to answer some of my questions and to offer her valuable advice to all you burlesque newbies out there.

Oh, and if you want to help the girls’ fund this tour, of course attend one of their shows but also visit their Kickstarter page. The campaign ends on Saturday, August 17 so you still got time to throw a little cash their way and get some great perks in return.

So, enough from me. Ladies and gentlemen, Miss Coco Lectric!
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