Photographs by Dana Sauchelli
The resurgence of burlesque has been percolating in the underground nightclubs for the past 10 years, but lately the neo-burlesque movement has taken mainstream stages at venues like Joe’s Pub, and has inspired upscale niche clubs such as The Box. Miss Clams Casino, “one delicious dish” as she calls herself — and the subject of this photo essay — began her career in burlesque right after witnessing her first performance. Seven years later, she’s still having a blast, now a producer and performer. Clams can be seen rolling her suitcase full of props and costumes through the New York City subways up to four times a week and hitting a variety of local hangouts, including Littlefield, Public Assembly and Nurse Bettie. From 1840-1960, burlesque served a very different social function than it does today. Once it pushed the boundaries of what was taboo; now it is homage to the art of seduction in a society obsessed with sexuality and nudity. The neo-burlesque community takes its job very seriously, celebrating the body in all its unconventional beauty, reinventing a lost art.