Betsy Bosen, Burlesque or Bust
Photo: Don Spiro
A divine triple threat, Betsey Bosen is a calendar darling, a bombshell model and a striptease artist. This sexy starlet revels in burlesque’s timeless art, teasing and delighting her many admirers, ourselves included. The ladies (and gentlemen) line up in droves to experience her sensual talents. Part Bettie Page, part Sally Rand, Betsey Bosen is our generation’s pin-up idol and the ultimate good girl-bad girl.
Betsey Bosen, you’re drop-dead gorgeous. How do you feel about lesbian lust and idolatry?
Thank you! And, yes, I love lesbian lust and idolatry—put ’em together and that’s even better!
Do a lot of girls come to your shows? Do you have girl groupies?
Yes, they do. It’s so great. I love women, we totally rule. If I have girl groupies, I’m not aware of them. That would be cool, though. I encourage them in large, mass amounts. [Laughs]
Tell us about today’s burlesque. What most turns your audiences on?
Today’s burlesque scene is totally amazing. I’m happy there are so many performers today, it’s great. It seems like there’s a new face popping up everyday, it’s really something. I think my audience likes my tease factor. I do a slow and seductive tease, like in my “Bettie” routine. But I also like to up the tempo a bit, like in my “Louisiana Ramble” routine. It’s my sexy, risqué 1940s routine, set to the beautiful music of Sidney Bechet, very New Orleans, very sensual.
Neo-burlesque is really queer—there are a lot of same-sex performers. Why do you think neo-burlesque is so queer friendly?
I love seeing all kinds of people at my shows and all kinds of performers. It’s bitchin’ that there’s a wide variety of people who are involved in burlesque today just like there was back in the day. I just saw this vintage stripper on a variety show from the ’50s and he was dressed up as a woman and did the whole routine, he was so fabulous! In the golden age of burlesque, and even before then, there were all kinds of people involved, straight and gay, different ethnicities and body types. I think that has carried on today, maybe even more so today because it’s more socially acceptable.
What’s been your steamiest performance?
I guess I’d say it was my performance earlier this year in Salt Lake City. I performed in this beautiful old theater and I had an amazing jazz band backing me up. There’s nothing like dancing to live music.
What are your earliest memories of wanting to be a pin-up girl?
When I was 17, I remember seeing a photo of Bettie Page and that’s when I knew I wanted to be a pin-up girl. She’s the ultimate good girl-bad girl. Also around that time I discovered Sally Rand, and the rest is history. No one can dance the way she danced. She’s so graceful and ladylike, so inspiring. Sometimes she’d wear a nude body stocking, but other times she went without anything and this was back in the ’30s! Yep, Bettie and Sally without a doubt, that’s when I knew.
How did you get involved in burlesque?
After finding Sally Rand, I just started reading a lot and getting on the Internet, and reading lots of books and magazines. YouTube and Something Weird are great channels. It’s like a disease—once you’re hooked you’re hooked for good. MySpace is a great place for networking too. You can really make a lot of connections. I’ve met some amazing people there alone. Eventually, I started contacting venues and photographers and videographers and shooting and performing every chance I could. Just start doing it, that’s my recommendation for anyone who wants to get into it, don’t wait for the money. Just begin and the rest will come naturally.
Who are some of your favorite performers, past and present?
I’d have to say my all-time favorite classic performer is Sally Rand hands down, and [for] modern I’d say Dita Von Teese. She’s so inspirational and beautiful in so many ways.
You were born in Salt Lake City. What was it like growing up there and what’s it like to live there now? What’s the current SLC burlesque scene?Yes, it was very dry. [Laughs] But there [are] some amazing people out there too. I miss them. I live in Los Angeles now. It’s funny, as Mormon and conservative as it is, you see a lot of rebellion too. It’s pretty cool. And there is a little burlesque scene too, a few troupes…the Voodoo Darlings are great, definitely check them out if you haven’t.
So, how exactly do you put the “tease” back into “the strip” as promoted on your MySpace page?
By leaving some to the imagination, to me that’s [sexier] than just putting it all out there. You won’t ever come to one of my shows and leave saying that was more than you wanted to see. But you probably will leave saying what a sexy and classy performance it was.
What’s your preference: calendar darling, bombshell model or striptease artist?
I like them all, but I’m definitely a striptease girl. Burlesque is my passion and I plan on performing and touring for many, many years to come.
Tell us about your forthcoming website, StarletofHollywood.com.
Starlet of Hollywood is a vision I’ve had since I was a kid. Like performing, I always wanted to make and sell beautiful vintage clothing. It will be great. My [former] site BetseyBosen.com and my two other clothing companies, Hell’s Kitty Apparel and Juvenile Delinquent Clothing, are all scheduled to be launched Mid-November as well. Hell’s Kitty and Juvenile Delinquent are more casual wear, t-shirts and tanks mostly. Starlet is something I’ve wanted to do for a while now and I’m very fortunate to have found the best partner in the world to do it with me. So stay tuned!
What do you predict for the future of burlesque?
History proves it is a lasting art form. I just hope it will continue to become more and more popular, going back to its roots. Long live burlesque!