Showgirls of Yesterday: ‘Peeping Todd’ pays tribute to the visual splendor of burlesque’s history

Peeping Todd

It seems as though burlesque has experienced a resurgence of popularity in the last half-decade or so, albeit in different forms. Modern-day outfits such as the Pussycat Dolls and Suicide Girls have taken progressive twists on the classic art of choreographed strip tease, applying, respectfully, pop and punk music styles. Other parties, such as the multi-city Babes in Sin troupes, produce shows that hem closer to the glamorous origins of the art form.

Here in Las Vegas, all of the above approaches to the rebirth of burlesque have made Sin City into its unofficial home. From mainstream nightclubs featuring their own take on burlesque dancing–such as Forty Deuce and Tangerine–to the retro stylings of groups such as the aforementioned Babes in Sin to the modern moves of groups such as the Vegas Vixens, there is no denying burlesque’s prominence in the Entertainment Capital of the World.

Dixie Evans and friendHowever, this past year, the relocation of the Burlesque Hall of Fame to Las Vegas cemented that standing. The organization behind the Burlesque Hall produced the Miss Exotic World convention and contest in Vegas for the last few years, so its nesting here only made perfect sense.

One of the Burlesque Hall’s biggest supporters has been Todd VonBastiaans, an art patron and enthusiast who first made his splash on the local art scene by co-creating, with First Friday organizers Whirlygig, Inc., the Obstacle Art Course, an interactive miniature golf course designed by a number of local artists. He recently opened a curated retail space called Atomic Todd, located at 1541 S. Commerce St., adjacent to the Arts District in downtown Las Vegas.

VonBastiaans featured “In Bed with Liz Renay” at Atomic Todd early this summer, which featured the paintings, books and furnishings of legendary burlesque performer, model and actor Liz Renay, who died in Las Vegas this January.

His love affair with the classic era of burlesque did not end there, however. On Oct. 3, VonBastiaans opened “Peeping Todd: Select Treasures from the Burlesque Hall of Fame,” an exhibit featuring the costumes, posters, headdresses and other paraphernalia of performers from the golden age of burlesque. At the opening reception, performers Kalani Kokonuts and Jami Deadly were on hand to entertain the gallery’s guests, as well as retired burlesque legend Dixie Evans, looking as radiant as ever.

According to Atomic Todd’s website, many of the costumes on display have not been shown publicly for years, and quite possibly not since these classic performers originally wore them.

“Peeping Todd” shows throughout the month of October at Atomic Todd. For more information, call 702-386-8633 or visit

2 Responses to “Showgirls of Yesterday: ‘Peeping Todd’ pays tribute to the visual splendor of burlesque’s history”

  1. I got a chance to see the neighboring Burlesque museum, summer of ’07. If you have a need, feel free to use pictures from my visit…

    The video is nicely done! It rises about the usual online video offerings; interesting, articulate and concise.

    Makes me wish I was still living in Vegas.

  2. Thanks, Mr. Kimberly!! For both the kind words and the photo offering. I might take you up on that.

    Funny: The video was edited on my laptop, which runs verrry slow for vid editing, so I had to guess at the timing of transitions, overlays, etc. Glad it didn’t suck. :)