Adèle Wolf brings her Burlesque & Variety Show back for another New Year’s Eve blowout.
Along with local burlesque acts like Wolf, music theater star Renee Anderson and belly dancer Aini Amar, Wednesday’s 10 p.m. show at Oklahoma Contemporary includes internationally acclaimed performers including Iris Le’mour, the 2014 Italy Queen of Burlesque, and award-winning aerialist Skye Starling.
Attendees should dress to impress.
The star of the show could be burlesque superstar and Oklahoman April March, who performs in her home state for the first time in more than half a century. She’s recently been ill, but said she wants to perform at this New Year’s Eve show.
Dubbed the The First Lady of Burlesque because of her resemblance to Jacqueline Kennedy and her ladylike striptease routines, March’s storied career spanned two continents and three decades
Born Velma Fern Worden, March was first introduced to burlesque while working as a cigarette girl at The Derby Club on NE 23rd Street. Seventeen-year-old March lied about her age to get the gig. There, she bumped into a man by the name of Barney Weinstein. He asked when she was performing.
“I said that I was just a cigarette girl,” March recalled. “He said that I was too beautiful for that and that I needed to be on that stage. I said, ‘Oh no. I could never take my clothes off.’”
Weinstein gave March his card and offered her a job as a performer at The Theater Lounge, his Dallas club. When she showed up at Weinstein’s office a few months later, he said, “Well, well, Oklahoma. I knew I’d see you someday.”
From Dallas, March launched a career that took her to clubs around the country and onto the theater circuit, including the U.S., Canada, Mexico and England. Not happy with the direction burlesque was taking, March eventually retired in 1978.
“I quit, thinking burlesque would never make a comeback, but it surely has,” March said.
The neo-burlesque movement exploded again in the last two decades, sparking fresh interest from a new generation. Inspired by the dedication of contemporary performers, March rejoined the community and quickly was welcomed back as a living legend.
Over the last 8 years, she has made appearances, delivered lectures and taught classes focusing on what she calls the “elegant striptease.” She has also appeared in the documentaries Behind the Burly Q and Burlesque Undressed.
“Who wouldn’t like to get that kind of adulation? I mean, damn! Not bad for an old broad,” March said.
More recently, March also started performing again.
“Coming back to Oklahoma is like coming full circle,” March said.
March also will teach a striptease workshop Sunday at the Oklahoma School of Burlesque. Visit oklahomaschoolofburlesque.com or call 445-1696 for more information.
Adèle Wolf’s Burlesque & Variety Show New Year’s Eve Bash
10 p.m. Wednesday
3000 General Pershing Blvd.
Print headline: Burlesque March, After a half-century hiatus, legendary burlesque performer April March returns with a New Year’s Eve show.