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New Year, New Beginnings

Dear Friends of the Burlesque Hall of Fame,

As of December 1, 2011, I am stepping down as Acting Executive Director of the Burlesque Hall of Fame. On that date, our Curatorial Director, Dustin M. Wax, will take over as Interim Executive Director, charged with leading the organization through the next phase of its ongoing institutional development.

Since its earliest beginnings, the Burlesque Hall of Fame has been the ultimate labor of love; powered by visionaries and volunteers whose chief qualification was a passion for vintage burlesque. Though I remain as passionate about and committed to the BHoF as ever, in order for it to become the kind of organization it was created to be, all of the love, vision, and passion that has sustained it for over a half-century must be supplemented by the broad range of skills unique to trained museum professionals.

While we have managed to keep Jennie Lee’s dream alive in the face of some rather steep challenges, the time has come for more specialized leadership.Therefore, with the approval of the Board of Directors and support of our newly-formed Advisory Council, effective December 1, Dustin will be taking over the day-to-day duties of managing the nonprofit and its collection.

A distinguished museum professional (and the BHoF’s Curatorial Director since May 2010), Dustin is uniquely qualified for this role. He is a published anthropologist and a university-level Women’s Studies professor, well-versed in both collections administration and management and the politics of gender and sexuality–and if you’ve been to the BHoF lately, you’re already familiar with his curatorial skills, which are on display in our exhibit “Spectacular, Erotic, and Slightly Shocking: A Timeline of American Burlesque.”

I step down immensely proud of all that we have achieved in the past five years, as an organization and as a community. We are indisputably on the right path—to legitimacy and viability as an academic resource, sustainability as a nonprofit, and perhaps most meaningfully, to the realization of our founders’ original vision for the Burlesque Hall of Fame: that of a dynamic, living, breathing cultural center devoted to the preservation, elevation, and celebration of the art of burlesque… as they and so many others lived it. And with Dustin at the helm, supported by the global burlesque community, our “little museum that could” is poised to achieve a level of organizational excellence beyond that which its founders ever dared dream.

Certainly, change can be unsettling. But it can also be thrilling–and there are even more changes, big and small, on the horizon. In the coming weeks and months, I expect Dustin and his team to announce multiple changes to the BHoF’s structure and organization; changes that will improve the museum and all of its moving parts, including our cornerstone fundraising event, Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend–which will be celebrating its 55th anniversary next June.

I have the utmost faith in this organization and this team–including if not especially Dustin, whom I respect as much as an educator and an archivist, as a capable, committed individual who genuinely “gets” burlesque and its place in history, on a soul level. I sincerely hope you will all welcome and support him as you did me.

While I will no longer be involved in the day-to-day business of the BHoF, I won’t be going very far. At the request of my fellow Directors, I intend to stay on as President of the Board and will continue to work closely with Dustin, the Board, and our Advisory Council in this capacity. Throughout this time of transition (and beyond), I look forward to renewing my connection with those elements of the Hall of Fame that drew me to it in the first place—the people, artifacts, and ideas that inspire me most, yet necessarily took a “back-burner” to the daily challenges of restoring the nonprofit to administrative and financial health.

In closing, I thank you for the opportunity to perpetuate the work begun by Jennie Lee and furthered by Dixie Evans. It’s been an amazing adventure and I am honored to have served the Burlesque Hall of Fame–and its immensely talented, uniquely colorful constituency, who so graciously entrusted me with their history.

Yours in spangles,
Laura Herbert

PS: As 2011 draws to a close, I do hope you’ll consider showing your support for all we’ve accomplished (and all that remains yet to be done) by joining or renewing your Membership with the Burlesque Hall of Fame. The support of our Members has never been more imperative than it is now, as we embark on this thrilling new chapter in BHoF history.


  1. Reply
    Dave Williams says:

    I concur the museum has seen a lot of growth with you at the helm Laura. It is smart to hand it over to Dustin who is held professionally in high regard. Being the professional that he is I see the museum reaching even greater heights than it already has and finding its place in society as a tribute to the amazing art of the tease. Jennie Lee would be proud to see her dream find this new reality. Thank you for your hard work in bringing the museum to this point. Thanks also for staying on and helping to drive it to new heights.

  2. Reply
    Blanche DeBris says:

    It’s pretty wonderful that this American Treasure of a museum is growing and expanding and that there are talented and passionate people to steward its future. Huzzah for Dustin! But allow me a wee bit of bittersweetness at Laura’s step-down routine 🙂

  3. Reply
    Camille 2,000 says:

    Dearest Laura,
    I don’t know why this made me cry when I read it. I know you & Luke saved the Exotice World Musems & brought it to where it is today The Burlesque Hall of Fame & I will ever be so grateful. I even put it in my book, I no we all fear change but if you made that decision I know you know what you are doing & you are doing it for the best for the Burlesque Hall of Fame, Do I still get my bottle of champagne in my dressing room?

  4. Reply
    21st Century Burlesque Magazine says:

    […] No Comments In December 2011, Laura Herbert, after years of invaluable service, stepped down from her role as Acting Executive Director of the Burlesque Hall of Fame, and was succeeded by Curatorial […]

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