Burlesque legends like Rose la Rose were innovative business women, bawdy broads and pushed boundaries. Here’s why this burlesque dancer is one to remember.
This is How You Burlesque… Rose La Rose
American burlesque performer, Rosina DePella aka. Rose La Rose was a private secretary and bookkeeper at infamous New York burlesque club, Minsky’s. When a stripper walked out she lied about being 16 and took the spotlight, according to Street Swing.
Rose La Rose was a must-see shake dancer and was burlesque dancing through the 30s, 40s and 50s. She also went on to become the first burlesque dancer to earn $2,000 a week.
Burlesque shows at the time would have a red footlights to let burlesque performers know when censors were in the audience. Rose La Rose, however, would see this as her opportunity to take things to the next level. As a result, this daring beauty was repeatedly arrested.
Her signature burlesque dance was singing to ‘Who Will Kiss My Oo La La?’ in this peek-a-boo burlesque costume. This would allow her to flash bare breasts whilst she also frequently slapped her, “Oo la la.”
In 1958, Rose La Rose bought her own burlesque club, the Town Hall in Toledo, Ohio. Ten years later the city closed the venue for urban renewal even though she put up a good fight.
Instead this wonderful woman opened The Esquire theater where she performed her last burlesque dance in 1970. Unfortunately, it’s claimed that this is where she put the final nail in live burlesque dancing’s coffin.
Burlesque clubs across the country were already set up to show films between performances and Rose La Rose came up with the idea for “cutie-nudie” films. They allowed venues to avoid censors, the hassel of live performers and bands plus they were cheap.
Within months these X-rated movies replaced live burlesque dancers. See the full story here. In 1972 La Rose also passed away at the age of 53.
Since The Esquire was torn down in 2007 her burlesque legacy has disappeared from the burlesque circuit. Yet, she’s still a woman to remember for her influence on the industry. Watch her burlesque dancing.
(Images from Burly-Q Nell)