Since living in Baltimore, I’ve had the chance to attend several burlesque shows and enjoyed them all. I’ve seen performers of all ages, including a few older women, which is often my favorite part of the show; I love seeing these women confident about their bodies, especially in a society that values youth. A photography series by Stephanie Diani captures this same idea. She photographed The Legends of Burlesque, an older group of women burlesque dancers. Diani found these women when she visited the Miss Exotic World pageant many years ago. They made an impression on the photographer, and years later she sought these woman for her project.
All the women photographed are septuagenarians, and performed in burlesque shows well after turning 50, 60, or 70. Even at this age, they still exude a mature sexuality and eroticism. In each portrait, Diani had the women pose for pictures in their favorite Burlesque ensembles or meaningful garment. The resulting images portray glitzy, over-the-top outfits, complete with feathers, fur, beading, and jewels. This is an amusing juxtaposition with their homes, which, not surprisingly, are reminiscent of your grandmother’s home. Each woman looks self-assured and strong, and it isn’t an act. Diani remarks about the women on the Slate photo blog, Behold:
I loved spending time with the women: they were wry and smart and playful. In June 2009, I photographed Hall of Fame legend Big Fannie Annie, by her own account 450 pounds of sizzling sex, in a hotel room in Vegas where she and Satan’s Angel were getting ready to perform during over Hall of Fame weekend. Angel asked Fannie: ‘Do you have any of that cum-in-a-can I can use?’ — a reference to the industrial strength hairspray that is an essential tool of their trade. Another, Toni Elling, took her name from Duke Ellington, whom she used to know. (via Huffington Post)