Seasons greetings, burlyq-ers and fans!
It has been an action-packed year here at The Burlesque Hall of Fame, with an even more amazing year to come! 2015 marked a bouquet of anniversaries for us, including the fifth anniversary of the museum on Fremont St., our 10th year in Las Vegas, our 25th Miss Exotic World, and the 50th, yes, the FIFTIETH anniversary of the Burlesque Hall of Fame collection. It was also the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Exotic Dancers League in 1955, the organization from which BHoF grew a decade later.
Now, on the cusp of a new year, we are looking at another historic moment: moving the museum into a new facility. Located in the heart of Las Vegas’ Art District (known locally as “the 18b”), the new location will be minutes away from both the Strip and the Fremont Street Experience, making it an ideal location to attract a share of the 41 million tourists and visitors that come to Las Vegas every year.
Inside, we’ll have room to store and work on our collection, an inviting gift shop, a classroom and event space, and best of all, the room to display a good portion of our 3500+-piece collection, as well as pieces borrowed from collectors and other institutions.
I could not be more excited about the possibilities created by this move. Classes, book signings, special events, travelling exhibitions — this is what I have been working toward every day of the four years since I became the executive director of BHoF. This is the vision I came to the job with, to create a vibrant, active space where the history of burlesque could be celebrated, not just by its performers and fans but by the general public, by history buffs and movie fans and dance aficionados and theater students and anyone interested in women’s history, labor history, erotic history — or just anyone looking for a fun way to spend an afternoon.
This effort will cost a lot of money. Glass cases suitable for displaying a mannequin run $4-8000 each. Archival dress forms cost around $800. Light fixtures with UV-free LED lamps (UV light and heat from incandescent and fluorescent bulbs can fade delicate textiles) are about $80 each — plus bulbs at about $20 apiece — and we’ll need dozens of fixtures and dozens of bulbs. We’ll need counters and a point-of-sale system for the gift shop, storage cabinets and shelving for the collection, cameras and motion sensors throughout the space, carpet and picture frames and signage and paint and office furniture and computers and benches and…
Well, you get the picture. We need a lot of things, and each one costs money. Mostly museum-quality things, designed to protect and preserve our precious collection — which means they cost even more. Eventually, we’ll have admissions revenue and gift shop sales to draw on, but that first year, we will have many new expenses and few new revenues.
And so we’ve come to you, rhinestoned headdress in hand, for your help. We have well over ten thousand followers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and elsewhere. Each of them — each of YOU — passionate about burlesque and its history. Each of them — each of YOU — with followers of your own: friends, family, fellow performers, fans. Help us tell burlesque’s stories — tell YOUR stories! Donate today at burlesquehall.com/bigreveal. Or become a member at burlesquehall.com/member. Or both. Tell your friends and family, your social media networks and your audiences that you gave and why you gave and why they should give too. Let the world know that burlesque is important to you — and why it should be important to them.
For $100, through the 31st of December, you’ll get your name along with a pair of pasties mounted on the wall in the new museum. For $150, you’ll get a sparklier pair — or your own pair, if you want — on that same wall. Picture that! A wall of pasties, glimmering and shimmering under the lights! Pair after pair, each one representing the commitment of a person, a troupe, a school, or a business to preserving and passing on the history of burlesque. And at the top, a shelf, and on that shelf, 4 urns, the mortal remains of Jennie Lee, Ricci Cortez, Sherry Champagne, and Mitzi SInclair occupying the place of honor, looking down on us, celebrating their history and celebrating Jennie’s vision of a museum where burlesque would be treated as it deserved, as an important part of modern history and modern culture.
That’s the vision I’ve been working toward, and the vision our board, our Advisory Council, our staff, our Weekender team, our volunteers, and our members have been working toward. It’s a vision that, with your help, is about to be a reality, where the Strip meets the Tease in downtown Las Vegas.
Join us. Give today. Become a member. Spread the word. Be part of BHoF’s history. Be part of BURLESQUE’S history.
And have the happiest of new years!
With hugs and glitter,