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Body of Work: Midcentury Burlesque Through the Lens of F. Roy Kemp

(888) 661-6465



The Burlesque Hall of Fame Presents


Opening April 16, 2019

Blaze Starr by F. Roy KempMarch 31, 2019 — Canadian photojournalist F. Roy Kemp spent the 1950s documenting the New York burlesque scene, producing thousands of images that give us a glimpse into the public and private lives of performers unparalleled in other photographers’ work. Starting April 16, 2019, the Burlesque Hall of Fame will feature selections of this work, with images of burlesque superstars like Tempest Storm, Blaze Starr, Zorita, and Jennie Lee, as well as lesser-known performers like Zizi Richards and Naja Karamuru.

Kemp shot pin-ups, but he was decidedly not a pin-up photographer. His best shots catch his subjects on stage, backstage, and in their homes. Kemp’s photos present an almost ethnographic view of the live of a working performer. He shows us performers in and of their moment, women for whom being beautiful is a job, and burlesque is their story.

“Kemp made his living as a photojournalist,” notes the museum’s executive director, Dustin M. Wax. “He used his camera to create realistic stories of people at work and at play, as they lived. Burlesque, on the other hand, is very much about fantasy and escapism, and something really amazing comes out when the two come together through Kemp’s lens.”

Roy Kemp developed his eye as a photojournalist at the Toronto Star before moving to New York with his wife, illustrator Mary Hyrchenuk, to work as a freelancer. During World War II, Kemp served with the Royal Canadian Navy as a war photographer. In New York, Kemp focused on human-interest stories, and his work appeared in Life, Popular Photography, Design, and elsewhere. He died of pancreatic cancer in 1978. In 2017, a collection of around 2000 original photos, negatives, notes, and other material was donated to the museum by his family.

Admission to Body of Work: Midcentury Burlesque Through the Lens of F. Roy Kemp is included with museum admission, and the exhibition will run until at least October 1.

The Burlesque Hall of Fame is located at 1027 S Main St, #110, Las Vegas, NV 89101. We are open Tuesday – Saturday, 10am-6pm, and Sunday 12pm-4pm. Admission $15 ($12 with Nevada ID; $10 for students, military, and seniors). For further information, please contact the museum at or call (888) 661-6465 during open hours.


The Burlesque Hall of Fame and the world’s only museum dedicated to preserving, celebrating and inspiring the art of burlesque. BHoF is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The Burlesque Hall of Fame is a member of the Nevada Museum Association, Western Museums Association, American Alliance of Museums, and the American Association of State and Local History.

BHoF is featured as a top Las Vegas destination:

  • Best of Las Vegas 2018 – Best Museum (Bronze), Las Vegas Review-Journal
  • Time Out Magazine “Best Museums in Las Vegas” (2017)
  • Matador Network “Nevada’s 8 Best Museums (2018)
  • Lonely Planet “50 Best Museums to Blow Your Mind” (2016)

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Burlesque Hall of Fame