These gorgeous portraits of badass, body-positive burlesque dancers are a must-see.

Trend after trend comes and goes, but one thing that seems to remain timelessly classic is burlesque’s retro glamour.

No matter the event, if you want to turn heads without adorning yourself in recent trends, retro glam is it. And who else does it with more va-va-VOOM and straight-up sex appeal than burlesque artists?

While retro glam may be the classic dress code, many curvy burlesque performers are making the art new and exciting. Take "nerdlesque," for example, in which the performers celebrate their love of different fandoms like Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who. Others are using the stage to make a political statement and queering the craft by centering LGBTQ identities.


Burlesque is one of the few art forms where the public embraces curves rather than fights against them.

While fatphobia and racism still exist in the burlesque community, brilliant art is being created from a variety of marginalized groups in a way that's easy to consume, even for the less enlightened.

Burlesque is more than just gorgeous outfits and fun music. Burlesque allows the artists to toy with sensuality, sexuality, humor, raw emotion, politics, and pop culture all in one. Need another reason to love it? Here are 17. Check out these incredible curvy and plus-size burlesque artists that you need to know.

1. Magnoliah Black

Jill-of-all-trades Magnoliah Black is the queer performance star that the world doesn’t know it desperately needs. The Southern-born, Bay Area-based artist sings and dances as well as being a devastatingly brilliant writer, potent healer, and much needed black and fat activist.  

2. Harlow Holiday

Photo by Sweetheart Pinup, used with permission.

Harlow Holiday, an indigenous performance artist based in Syracuse, brings her own gorgeous brand of glamour to the stage.  

3. Noella DeVille

Ohio-based burlesque performer Noella DeVille knows how to entertain! From glamour to nerd, DeVille delves into pop culture references and creates a gorgeously exciting and entertaining show for all.

4 and 5. Keena ButtahLove and Sepia Jewel

Photo by Vixen Photography, used with permission.

San Diego’s premiere plus size Burlesque queen ButtahLove hosts a must-see revue. In this photo, the luminescent burlesque stars Keena ButtahLove and Sepia Jewel (co-hosts of the podcast Showgirl Sunday Dinner) shine together. Do not miss their incredible podcast!

6. Rosie Bourgeoisie

Burlesque artist Rosie Bourgeoisie sweeps Quebecois stages in Montreal in a flurry of style and queer sensuality. For a combination of modern queer meets glorious retro kitsch, it’s hard to beat Bourgeoisie.

7. Ms. Briq House

Ms. Briq House creates POC-centered and unapologetically black entertainment in the Pacific Northwest. Check out the all-POC burlesque revue: The Sunday Night Shuga Shaq.

8. Mila Macabre

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Saskatoon artist Mila Macabre brings gorgeously bold colors and sparkles to life on stage. Off-stage, the Romani dancer brings glamour into the lives of clients as a permanent makeup artist.

9. Moonbow Brite

SoCal performer Moonbow Brite is a beam of color in a dark night. Seriously — she’s awesome. Her dayglo energy radiates from stage and beyond as Moonbow dances for her audiences.

10. Rosie Reigns

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The self-proclaimed "Lioness of the South Bay," Rosie Reigns creates playfully sexy vignettes flavored with retro glamour and her great sense of humor — like this homage to Hilda!

11. Saffron St. James

Ottawa’s "Hoursglass and A Half." A writer, photographer, and musician, Canadian-based St. James produces the "Cabaret LIVE!" show.

12. Mone’t Ha-Sidi

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Mone’t Ha-Sidi owns the room with her energetic (and amazing) Mr. T performance. Based in Sacramento, this hairstylist by day, stripper by night can be found also supporting local artists with Black Artists Matter and Jezebelle’s Army.

13. Kitty Devereaux

Philly-based Kitty Devereaux is changing burlesque. As the mama bear and co-producer of Sister Bear Burlesque, Devereaux is helping queer the idea of burlesque one stage at a time.

14. Catty Wompass

Iowa City’s Catty Wompass is a poet and academic in the world-renowned Iowa Writer’s Workshop by day and queer burlesque artist with a love of retro kitsch and camp by night. Don’t miss her Mrs. Potatohead routine or her heartachingly beautiful poetry.

15. Dottie Lux

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San Francisco’s Dottie Lux has taken many forms, but the most important is that of a lesbian burlesque faerie godmother hostessing many events throughout the Bay Area. As part of a collective of 18 queer activists, Lux has helped save San Francisco’s iconic gay bar STUD, making it a safe place for queer folks of all identities.

16. Mx. Pucks A’Plenty

Seattle-based queer burlesque performer Mx. Pucks A’Plenty toys with gender as they light up the room from on stage.

17. Miss Meow

Montreal’s Miss Meow is the cat’s pajamas. This Canadian cutie commands the stage with a beautiful retro look that is not to be missed.

This article by Laurel Dickman originally appeared on Ravishly and has been republished with permission.

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