The Glitzy Road to Exotic World
A glittering sea of burlesque dancers reaches high tide the first weekend of each June in Las Vegas. That’s when The Burlesque Hall of Fame throws its annual Miss Exotic World Pageant and reunion. Among burlesquers and the fiends who obsess on them, the history of this pastie-studded exodus is as lovingly passed down as a hand-sewn Swarovski brassiere. In the late fifties, retired dancer Jennie Lee (aka The Bazoom Girl) started a scandalous collection of stripping memorabilia which turned into a makeshift museum on a goat farm in Helendale, California; upon Lee’s death, former Marilyn impersonator Dixie Evans took over, adding the pageant as a way to attract the faithful and fortify the museum’s legacy. By 2006 Exotic World had busted its tawdry seams and relocated to Vegas- this year celebrating 20 years of crowning queens.
Categories range from the coveted “Miss Exotic World” to the non-strip “Best Variety” to the esoteric “Most Dazzling”. The application itself is standard fare; applicants provide proof of age, a nominal entrance fee (doubling as a year’s membership in the BHOF Society), a short Q&A, and footage of the act. The only peculiarities in the application’s legal compliance are a reminder that pasties and g-strings are required, and that any incorporation of dildos will result in immediate disqualification.
Sydni Deveraux, “The Golden Glamazon” is Seattle’s only competitor (“Best Debut”) though Polly Wood, The Shanghai Pearl, and Indigo Blue were invited to perform during the weekend. The kickoff party features the notorious Porcelain Promenade of Evilyn Sin Claire and Belle Cozette, which presented logistical snags. Checking a pair of expensive feather fans or a precious headdress would be tricky; not to mention hauling two full-size rhinestone toilets. So the industrious duo will make the pilgrimage in a borrowed SUV pulling a very glamorous trailer- pre-sold with cargo spots for other nomadic performers. Acting as “Burlesque Baggage Handlers”, they will lovingly haul Polly Wood’s fruit bat headdress, Inga’s Ingénue’s wig box, Sydni’s peacock fans, Indigo’s chaise, rhinestones, rolling platforms, pounds of glitter, silicon caulk, hardware, compressed air, Lysol, glue guns, ribbon dancing wands, fancy dresses, whorey shoes, mirrored sunglasses, fake hair, tents, maps, and a couple gallons of water. Like Priscilla Queen of the Desert, only no falsies on board.