Friday, May 23, 2014

Burlesque Historical Society 1950s Postcards Strippers

The Burlesque Historical Society of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, established circa 1950, was mandated to publish the Cavalcade of Burlesque magazine. The publication, part trade magazine, part promotion of burlesque was a wonderful compilation of photographs, comedy sketches, interviews, promotion and advertising of the trade. Searching for details about BHS turned up nothing except a contemporaneous version created by former strippers.

Around the same time BHS began publishing a series of color, chrome postcards of burlesque stars as you would see them on stage. They are not performing but posed as for a formal portrait or promotional photo. After years of searching and compiling to get an idea of what constitutes a complete "set" I've come up with 62 different postcards, probably not all published.

I assume the postcards were sold at burlesque houses as souvenirs, possibly by the performers themselves or by the "candy butchers" walking the theater during breaks in the show. Each card has a typical postcard back with the performer identified, plus the BHS copyright and the byline of the photographer, Bill Bennett. They are exceptional and I have not seen them reproduced in any books on the strip-tease.

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