I first saw Dixie Evans when CNN interviewed the woman known as the ‘Marilyn Monroe of Burlesque’ and immediately thought how much fun it would be to photograph her. As Dixie spun her tales, I knew it was exactly the sort of shoot I dreamed of landing.
In life, you can either sit back and wait for something to happen or you can just go out and do it. So I called Dixie and to my good fortune, she said sheâ€™d love to be photographed.
On a sunny afternoon in March of 1993, my wife Fazia and I headed from LA onto Route 66 to Dixie’s ‘Exotic World’ ranch in Helendale, California. We spent an absolutely wonderful afternoon photographing Dixie in the California desert and we quickly became friends for life. The greatest thing about being a photographer is dropping into the lives of people who become your friends. I canâ€™t think of a better way to experience the world around you.
It was the kind of magical afternoon that canâ€™t possibly better…until Dixie mentioned it was too bad we weren’t there when all her friends came out for a reunion later that Spring. With those words, a wonderful shoot just got better…
We came back to Helendale a couple months later to shoot our first ‘Exotic World’ Burlesque Reunion. At in Dixieâ€™s ranch, we met Dixie’s friends – burlesque legends like Tempest Storm, Jeanine ‘the Eyeful Tower’ France and Flame O’Neil. While looking at the rows of publicity photos by â€˜Bruno of Hollywoodâ€™ at the Exotic World museum and was struck by how much they reminded me of the classic Hollywood photos of the 30s and 40s. I realized I had a chance to put these burlesque legends back into the spotlight where they belonged.
Like Jazz, Burlesque is a pure American art form. Burlesque is Americana. I began shooting it because I didnâ€™t want to see a part of Americana fade away.
Iâ€™m overjoyed to see burlesque alive and flourishing today. This August 26 – September 1, burlesque performers will celebrate Dixie’s birthday with burlesque shows and events taking place all over the world in support and celebration of Dixie Evans Week. Please check out the list for a city near you!
Since that first shoot of Dixie, I’ve photographed hundreds of Hollywood’s A-List, but none were bigger stars than Dixie. That first shoot of Dixie will always be my favorite. You know what people always say about your firstâ€¦