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July 29 2014

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Dita, Meet Your Makers

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Before there was Dita Von Teese, there were Kitty West, Sherry Britton, and Blaze Starr. These original ladies of burlesque had their heyday, too—albeit several decades ago and minus the front-row fashion seats—and actress/producer Leslie Zemeckis was out to highlight their triumphs via her new documentary, Behind the Burly Q. “There’s this misconception that they were just strippers,” Zemeckis explained at the film’s screening at MoMA last night. “But it was this big, beautiful variety/vaudeville show. They really had this art, and they really tried to do something with their lives.” Famed director and husband Robert Zemeckis was also on hand but was happy to take a back seat for the evening. “Yeah, I sometimes give her a few suggestions, but of course, she’s always right,” he smartly deflected with a smile.

Clad in a burlesque-inspired metallic brocade gown with a high slit, naturally, the fairer Zemeckis also donned a crown for the evening. Not that she was playing diva, exactly—the crown had originally belonged to Britton, a burlesque star from the forties and fifties, known for her stunning looks and bright but short career. Just staying in character, then. Joining her in that was the evening’s co-host, Sharon Stone, in above-the-elbow leather gloves that looked perfect for a slow peel-off. “I’ve always liked gloves and worn a lot of gloves,” she insisted. “I thought they’d be fun to wear this evening.” But not that kind of fun—the gloves, like the rest of her outfit, stayed on all night.

Photo: JIMI CELESTE/patrickmcmullan.com

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