Hello again! It’s Amber, your local nerdy bookstore employee here with a few more recommendations for all you readers venturing to try new things. This time around it won’t be within the horror genre, but instead something that I’ve always been curious about but only recently started “researching” and reading more about: the classic art of burlesque…
I started off by picking up a book I had walked past at Vroman’s on the “New and Noteworthy” table, which is filled with newly released and promising books. But the one that caught my eye (this time) was American Rose by Karen Abbott. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because she also wrote the New York Times Bestseller Sin in the Second City. But let’s focus on one book at a time, shall we. American Rose is a biographical journey of the famed burlesque dancer (and oh so much more) Gypsy Rose Lee. It jumps back and forth from her youth as a child performing in Vaudeville acts during the 1910’s-1920’, to her becoming the name people dare not speak but is on everybody’s mind… Gypsy. Raised by an over-bearing stage mother, Gypsy was always second to her sister. Traveling around the country doing childhood acts during the Great Depression was hard and as she grew older and times got worse she turned to the one thing that would put food on the table, burlesque. Gypsy wasn’t the most gorgeous girl nor did she have the most sex appeal but she did have one thing and that was the act. She was methodical and paced, something that caused her name to blow up and which shot her into stardom. Gypsy’s life is incredibly interesting but what makes a great story is a great author and that is Karen Abbott. Abbott has a way of story telling that makes you feel like you were right there in that era, that you could almost touch the passers by and gaze up at the big city sky scrapers and hide that bourbon.
Sadly every biography has to come to an end. When it did I went on the hunt for a new book that dealt more with burlesque and not just with a particular person. That book was Pretty Things: the Last Generation of Burlesque Queens by Liz Goldwyn. This book had so many pieces that make up the whole. With this one you can learn about all the important aspects that make up burlesque from the elaborate costumes to all the diverse acts and performances to different burlesque queens including some of my favorites: Gypsy Rose Lee, Zorita and Lili St. Cyr. It also has a wide range of gorgeous glossy photos for all these subjects.
While my mind was stuck in this era of glamor I decided to pick up Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn: Timeless Lessons on Love, Power and Style by Pamela Keogh. At first I thought this book was a mere collection of quizzes on finding your inner diva but I soon found out it was so much more. It explores the lives of Jacqueline Onassis and Marilyn Monroe in their similarities and differences: Marilyn, the high school drop-out who went on to be the most sought after sexpot actress of her time, and Jackie, the well educated, sophisticated, high fashioned wife of some of the most powerful men of her time, and what they have in common. It also goes into fashion, make-up, dieting, and is an all over fantastic beauty book. It’s a great read even if you go in already knowing which personality you fall under *cough-Marilyn-cough* because titles are deceiving and this book has layers.
When it comes to me and picking up new books, one thing just leads to another. Now that I’m coming to a close on Jackie or Marilyn I’ve decided I’ll inquire into Marilyn some more. My next book will definitely be The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe by J. Randy Taraborrelli. This book was released late last year and is a New York Times Bestseller. I feel like I’ve rung it up a million times down at the registers at Vroman’s, so it’s about time I picked it up and have a look for myself. This book has nothing but rave reviews and Taraborrelli has gotten kudos on not just his investigative skills and research but his captivating writing. I can’t wait. (And one last recommendation for all those Marilyn Monroe fans, which has been madly talked about, is Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes and Letters [edited by Bernard Comment] which is a compilation of just that, Marilyn Monroe’s personal poems and letters as well as rare photos of herself. This book is perfect for anyone who wants to better know Marilyn as a person.)
Finally I’m going to wrap this up with something for those on the edgy side of modern alternative pinup, something the bashful might turn a blind eye to but those who see beauty in more than just typical perfection will find ravishing. And those are the gorgeous fully glossed photo books Viva’s Pinups: Bullet Bras and Backseat Betties: The Photographic Art of Viva Van Story, 666 Photography: Virgin Queens and High-Camp Divas and the world famous Dita Von Teese’s Burlesque and the Art of the Teese/Fetish and the Art of the Teese. All these photo books are simply breath-taking and I can recommend any one of them, in fact, I am.
I’m going to end this with a quote from Dita Von Teese:
“I advocate glamour. Every day. Every minute.”
And so should you…
And that’s all from me this time. Hope you all enjoyed.
- Amber (your local nerdy bookstore employee)