5 of The Hottest Brown Famous Burlesque Dancers

There were plenty famous burlesque dancers of color.

When we think of the pin up and burlesque era, we think about the famous burlesque dancers such as Bettie Page, Tempest Storm and Marilyn Monroe. They are all women who earned their title! This is not to dismiss the white women of pin up, we are huge fans of these ladies. But black famous burlesque dancers were frequently overlooked. 

Here are some black pin up models and dancers that you probably never heard of:

  1. Toni Elling aka Satin Doll. Toni is from Detroit. She worked for a phone company for many years before considering Burlesque. She was tired of being overlooked for promotions because of the color of her skin. Her good friend Rita Revere, a stripper, gave her the idea of getting into stripping. Toni entered the industry pretty late at age 32. She was known for never taking off her panties. She had famous friends such as Sammy Davis Jr. She is still alive and makes frequent appearances at burlesque events.
  1. Lottie the Body. What a name! Born in Syracuse, New York, Lottie was a trained dancer since she was a teen. Because of her extensive dancing experience, she stood out from many Burlesque dancers. She lived in her own world and was daring enough to dance at white only clubs. She also was paid the same amount as the white dancers. She was tall and STACKED. Before dying in February 2020 at the age of 90 in Detroit, she expressed that she truly lived her life to the fullest, no regrets.
  1. Miss Topsy. Miss Topsy is from Missouri. In her early 20s, she decided to move to Hollywood where she worked as a hospital worker. She met a booking agent named Cora Lee Jr who got her into show business. She started out with modeling then was hired as a shake dancer. As she grew as a performer, her routines became more and more exotic. She traveled the world and loved her art.
  1. Jean Idelle. Jean is from Brooklyn, NY. She was discovered at the age of 20 and became the first black exotic fan dancer. Jean was active in the 50s and 60s. She danced in white clubs and her performance was so loved that it helped break racial barriers. She was well paid and was featured in many magazines. At age 82, after many years of being absent from the scene, she performed a routine at Titans of Tease showcase.
  1. Madeleine Sahji Jackson. There’s not much information about when and where she was born but she has to be included in this list. She was one of the top sexy dancers in her time. She performed at the famous Cotton Club in NYC in the 1930s/1940s. She was thin but she shook and moved every part of her body. They described her as “poetry in motion.” She made her own clothes which were super revealing.

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