The first burlesque or strip-tease artist I familiarized with was Lili St. Cyr. Hardly burlesque & nearly always a tease, Lili's primary source of allure was in the way she actually PUT CLOTHES ON. When most performers were shedding layers, Lili added a few more. Noted for her bathtub/bedroom sequences on lavish stages w/ well manicured sets & props, she began as a leggy bather behind a curtain, moved to the bedroom in towels but slowly, showing off her sculpted ballet thighs & calves never in short supply, procured a nightgown from her collection & slipped it on behind a lit partition, breast & legged dimensions 36-24-35 silhouetted in foggy slow jazz, even classical music. Her performance is really a short film of art, acted live on-stage. Lili used the stretching techniques learned through formal training to arouse our senses, and probably also her own. Would anyone blame Blaze Starr if she subsequently came on-stage while in the midst of an oft practiced routine? Lili's strip-tease in reverse, w/ slow hands just grazing her intimate areas as she plays w/ the silk of her gown, understandably could have had the same impact. Sometimes fragile, uncontrollable, & hermetic in her later years, Lili worked from home after her limelight. She'd become pen-pals w/ admiring fans simultaneously operating her own lingerie business, a precursor to Victoria's Secret. Despite her chill, she continues to make us all warm inside.
Sullivan 44. Note: Lili is not the model on the infamous Vest Pocket paperbacks as she has been thus credited. The actual model is Judy Bamber.