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Black burlesque connects ‘History and Her-story’

Rachel McCollough, Noir Night  STEVE FURAY PHOTO

Rachel McCollough, Noir Night STEVE FURAY PHOTO

By Steve Furay
Special to the Michigan Citizen

On July 25, from 6:30-8:30 p.m., the “Unveiling the Hidden Story of Black Burlesque: Connecting History to Her-Story” workshop will be held at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. The discussion and presentation is hosted by International Black Burlesque Performers, a Detroit-based production company.

Although the historical and cultural impacts of Black burlesque performers are often overlooked with society more apt to recognize Black achievements in music, literature and film,many female burlesque performers strongly influenced  their contemporaries.

“A lot of our history is written off in story books,” said Rachel McCollough at the “Noir Night” show at the Tangent Gallery in February of this year. McCollough, who founded the International Black Burlesque Performers AND performs as Sinnator Charlotte, will conduct the “Unveiling” workshop, addressing the history of Black burlesque from an anthropological view point.

“I like to teach it in an entertaining way and in a very cheeky, very baudy, very in-your-face kind of way, because it’s the only way you get it. (I)t also tells a Black audience (their) history matters and somebody thinks it’s important.”

Names like Josephine Baker and Detroit’s own Lottie “The Body” Graves were popular heroes in their day, but for younger Black women studying the changing roles of women in society, the art form of burlesque has become a powerful practice of liberation and empowerment in today’s white male-dominanted society.

Tickets for “Unveiling the Hidden Story of Black Burlesque” are $20 for museum members, $35 for non-members, 18 years and older, available online at


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