The New Orleans burlesque troupe, the Shim Shamettes, were one of the driving forces behind the birth of neo-burlesque. Learn why their burlesque shows went down in history.
The Shim Shamettes and Neo-burlesque
The Shim Sham Club was originally a Bourbon Street jazz spot. It was once owned by swing legend Louis Prima’s brother Leon, according to Utne Reader. In the late 90s it was re-opened on near-by Toulouse Street featuring New Orleans jazz.
In 1998 Lorelei Fuller aka burlesque dancer Lorelei Lane was inspired by the New Orleans jazz club. Gathering some friends together she asked the club owner for a chance. Then the burlesque troupe, the Shim Shamettes were formed.
In 2000 news of a burlesque convention began to spread, according to book Burlesque and The New Bump-n-grind. In 2001 Lorelei Fuller organised the first Tease-O-Rama and it was held in New Orleans.
(Image from Coochie Crunch)
At that point, neo-burlesque existed in New York, LA, San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, New Orleans, Atlanta and Memphis. While Canadian and British stars were also getting attention.
Two hundred performers gathered for the weekend to celebrate the vintage striptease. All tha acts that appeared had their own character and style despite their numbers. A community was born.
Audience members included the likes of the future Miss Indigo Blue and a new generation walked away after the event. Tease-O-Rama soon became a yearly gathering. Nevermind all the burlesque festivals and conventions that have popped up over the years.
The music was also a big part of the relocated venue. Famed drummer, Ronnie Magri became the musical director bandleader and drummer of the Shim Shamettes. He formed the Ronnie Magri and his New Orleans Jazz Band from the hottest jazz musicians in New Orleans.
The Shim Shamettes went onto other accolades. They were featured on TV documentary, It’s Burlesque. With music from Ronnie Magri, enjoy one of the earliest incarnations of a burlesque documentary:
The band were also the backing to the hottest faces in neo-burlesque at the annual Tease-O-Rama convention. Yet, in 2002 the Shim Shamettes disbanded and a phoenix would rise from the ashes. Coming soon…
Learn about Neo-burlesque and Dutch Weismann’s Follies and watch our quick-fire answer to: what is burlesque?
(Main image from Jian Bastille)