Jo Weldon

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Jo Weldon
Jo Weldon at Miss Exotic World Pageant in 2009
Weldon at Miss Exotic World 2009
Born 1962[1]
Nationality American
Other names Jo Boobs
Occupation Burlesque Performer, Author, Photographer,
Website schoolofburlesque.com

Jo Weldon (1962-), commonly known as Jo Boobs or Jo Boobs Weldon, is a performer, photographer, author, activist, educator, and essayist based in New York City. Weldon’s body of work centers around stripping and striptease. She established and runs the New York School of Burlesque and wrote The Burlesque Handbook, the first manual ever published on how to create classical and neo-burlesque routines.[2] Weldon is active in the burlesque community, contributing her knowledge and experience to projects and collaborations. Though she now works in the theatrical world of burlesque Weldon has never lost the influence of, and inspiration from lap dancing and strip clubs. She continues to work as an advocate for sex worker rights and freedom of sexual expression.[3]

Early life[edit]

Weldon began performing retro striptease at Rocky Horror while still in high school. She worked full-time as a stripper from the time she left high school in 1980 until 1995, as well as doing nude poetry readings during that time. Inspired by the fierceness and outlaw energy of ‘undomesticated women’, she occasionally took on short term stints in strip clubs after that time. She worked in a variety of clubs from high to low end. She became a touring feature dancer for strip joints and fetish clubs 1990 -1994, and a Fetish Performer and Actress, 1997 - 2005. Weldon did her first fan dance at The Battle of the Cheetah Girls in 1991.[4] Weldon also spent many years as a glam metal and heavy metal groupie, touring with bands. She speaks publicly about being an alcoholic and drug addict in recovery. After moving to New York in 1997 Weldon decided to take part in burlesque shows she saw at The Blue Angel and Coney Island and was inspired by performances from Angie Pontani, Bambi the Mermaid and Remy Vicious.[5] Weldon's academic career includes a degree in Business Administration, with her graduate work in media ethics. During her internships she worked writing summaries of House of Representatives activities and writing scripts for CNN.

Burlesque Performance[edit]

Weldon performing at Miss Exotic World Pageant in 2007

Weldon’s burlesque style spans from highly classical burlesque to avant garde performance art pieces, for example lindy-hopping to heavy metal music. In her signature Godzilla act she strips from a monster costume to a mashup of Blue Öyster Cult's Godzilla and sound clips from the original Godzilla movie. Weldon says: “I'm an absurdist and a surrealist as well as a lover of glamour.”[6] She has performed internationally and in unusual venues such as the New York Public Library where she performed a tribute to Gypsy Rose Lee as part of the Gypsy Centennial celebration.[7] Weldon promotes the understanding of the history of burlesque from the evolution of classical striptease and the use of comedic elements, and acknowledges the inappropriateness in burlesque.[8] Weldon was a featured performer in Margaret Cho's variety show the Sensuous Woman and has headlined dozens of festivals internationally[citation needed] including, Toronto Burlesque Festival, New Zealand Burlesque Festival, The Vancouver Burlesque Festival, and The New Orleans Burlesque Festival.[9]

Teaching and New York School of Burlesque[edit]

Weldon is an educator and authority on the topic of burlesque.[10] She has taught burlesque to thousands of men and women with a primary focus on having fun. Weldon is the founder and headmistress of the New York School of Burlesque. Since she founded the school in 2003 it has grown to offer classes and develop curriculum and standards for the teaching of burlesque history and technique. The New York School of Burlesque has taught disabled performers at DaDaFest in Liverpool UK, taught breast cancer survivors through their Pink Light Burlesque programme and has trained students in burlesque across America and internationally. The school has produced some of the most respected current burlesque performers [11] and employs tutors such as Darlinda Just Darlinda, Gal Friday, Jezebel Express, Peekaboo Pointe, Veronica Varlow, Weirdee Girl, World Famous *BOB*, Angie Pontani, Dirty Martini, Miss Indigo Blue, Jonny Porkpie, Julie Atlas Muz, Michelle L'Amour, and Tigger.[12]

Burlesque Community[edit]

Weldon performing at BHF in 2010.

Burlesque Hall of Fame[edit]

Weldon has worked extensively as the co-executive director of education at the Burlesque Hall of Fame in Las Vegas. She has judged and co-ordinated the judging for the Miss Exotic World annual pageant which is part of the Burlesque Hall of Fame weekend. In 2012 she was awarded The Sassy Lassy Award for "Recognition of Outstanding Contribution to the Art of Burlesque".[13]

Coney Island[edit]

Weldon was inspired by the sideshows and burlesque shows of Coney Island in the mid 90s, she has since always maintained a strong connection to the Coney Island family. Weldon has moderated the Wild Women Panel, among other, as part of the Coney Island annual Congress of Curious People.[14] Weldon has produced shows for Coney Island's Burlesque at the Beach series for ten years, including her annual "Follies Fromage," a show based entirely on cheese, and the autobographical "God-Damned Women" show. She is the coordinator and lead instructor of the Coney Island University Master Class in Burlesque.[15] She continues to support Coney Island as an amusement district and fights for its historical integrity when it is under threat from real estate developers.[16]

Burlycon[edit]

Jo serves on the Board of Directors of Burlycon, a community-oriented professional growth and educational convention for Burlesque performers, fans, and aficionados founded in Seattle by Miss Indigo Blue and her team.[17]

Pink Light Burlesque[edit]

Jo is the founder of Pink Light Burlesque, an organization to provide burlesque classes free of cost to breast cancer patients and survivors.[18] The first Pink Light Burlesque showcase in December 2011 was featured in TIME.[19] Pink Light Burlesque classes are now available in Seattle, New York and New Zealand.[20]

Published Works[edit]

Weldon taking photos at Miss Exotic World (2007).

The Burlesque Handbook[edit]

Weldon is author The Burlesque Handbook, published by HarperCollins/ItBooks in June 2010, it developed originally from a compilation of her class handouts and from a 50-page ebook that she had already produced, she created a book that covers all aspects of burlesque history.[21] technique and performance.[22] The Burlesque Handbook is the first and only published guide for burlesque performers covering all aspects of burlesque from choreography, costuming, confidence, and etiquette.[23] It has a foreword by comedian Margaret Cho. It also covers performer identity and how to make pasties.[24]

Blogging[edit]

Throughout Weldon’s career she has consistently been an early adopter of communication technology. From 2001- 2010 Weldon produced the website G-Strings Forever, a collection of photographs and articles about stripping and burlesque. Weldon had backstage access to shows and was able to give a first hand perspective on the lives of strippers and performance artists.[25] She maintained a live journal account from 2004 - 2010 where she wrote extensively on burlesque, sex work, women’s issues.[26] Since 2007 Weldon has been writing a burlesque blog called Burlesque Daily. From 2010 - 2011 Weldon answered burlesque questions on her formspring account[27] and currently writes a regular burlesque etiquette column for Pin Curl Magazine.[28] She is listed as a ‘Tease Enabler’ on Twitter.

Articles, Essays and Consulting[edit]

Weldon continues to publish essays and articles on the topics of stripping, sex worker rights, burlesque history and burlesque. She is regarded as an expert in the field and has consulted for (and was profiled in two webisodes for) the movie Burlesque.[29][30]

Sex Work Advocacy[edit]

After being a stripper for 15 years, Weldon continues to support and work for the rights of strippers and other sex workers. She has attended and spoken at academic conferences internationally like the 1999 Socialist Scholar's Conference,[31] The American Philosophical Association Pacific Division Meeting, the International Congress on Prostitution, and the United Nations Beijing Plus Five Conference, where she lobbied for the adoption of the term “sex work” and for a distinction between forced and voluntary sex work.[32] Weldon has written many articles on sex work and sex worker rights, she addresses issues like the lack of research on sex work focused on the monetary needs and perceptions of sex workers.[33] Weldon also toured with the Sex Worker Arts Show,[34][35] and co-produced “W.O.(e).R.D., Women of experience Read Downtown, a performance reading of strong literary works by undomesticated women.[36] Whilst Weldon demonstrates the clear distinctions between burlesque and stripping she has never belittled either genre and has made her admiration for all strip tease artists clear.[37]

Television and film appearances[edit]

Year Appearance Role Notes
1999 Time Square Clean-Up Herself TV, Documentary
1999-2006 SexTV Herself TV series documentary
2005 Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man Burlesque Beauty Documentary, Biography
2006 Monja satanica Estudiante Amore Short horror
2006 Tales of Times Square Anna Turner Documentary
2006 Alison Lapper/Spread Magazine/Lust Circus Herself TV, Documentary
2007 What Not to Wear Herself TV, Reality
2008, 2009 Gossip Girl TV, Drama, Romance
2009 No Strings Attached Herself - Jo Boobs Short
2010 Dirty Martini and the New Burlesque Herself - Jo Boobs Documentary
2010 The Real Housewives of New York City Herself TV, Reality
2011 Show Me How You Burlesque Herself Webisodes, Documentary

[38]

Books, essays and DVDs[edit]

Essays

  • Editors: Brewer, Gwen; Bullough, Vern L; Douglas, Jeffrey J; Elias, James E, Elias, Veronica Diehl. Porn 101: Eroticism Pornography and the First Amendment (Prometheus Books, 1999) Collection of essays including: Weldon, Jo. Topping from Below: Does Female Dominant Pornography Endorse the Rape of Women?
  • Editors: Egan, Danielle; Frank, Katherine; Johnson, Merri Lisa. Flesh for Fantasy: Producing and Consuming Exotic Dance (Seal Press 2004) Collection of essays including: Weldon, Jo. Whipped Cream, Fire Eating, and the Other Delights of Feature Dancing
  • Editors: Kramer Bussel, Rachel; Tyler, Alison. Hide and Seek: Erotic Tales of Voyeurs and Exhibitionists (Cleis Press, 2010) Weldon, Jo. Forward: Opening Doors

DVDs

  • Director: Weldon, Jo. Featuring: Weldon, Jo. Honey and Spice: Sensual and Fierce Burlesque Studio: World Dance New York (2009) DVD / instant video
  • Director: Weldon, Jo. Featuring: Weldon, Jo. Silk and Feathers: Burlesque Fan Dance Studio: World Dance New York (2009) DVD / instant video
  • Director: Weldon, Jo. Featuring: Weldon, Jo. Striptease for Burlesque, Exotic Dance & Every Day Studio: World Dance New York (2009) DVD / instant video

Books

  • Weldon, Jo. The Burlesque Handbook (It Books, 2010)

Awards and Titles[edit]

Year Event or Organisation Award or Title
2005 New York Burlesque Festival Best Bump N Grinder
2006 New York Burlesque Festival Best Burlesque Teacher and Mentor [39]
2007 The Village Voice Best of New York, Best and Hottest Teacher [40]
2008 The Village Voice Best of New York, Best Way to Learn Wig-and-Eyelash Care for Your Burgeoning Burlesque Career [41]
2008 New York Burlesque Festival Biggest Cougar in Burlesque!
2009 New York Burlesque Festival Biggest Cougar in Burlesque!
2010 New York Burlesque Festival Golden Pastie Award, Most Likely to Release a Tell-All Biography
2010 21st Century Burlesque Burlesque Top 50, Number 3[42]
2011 21st Century Burlesque Burlesque Top 50, Number 3 [43]
2011 The Burlesque Hall of Fame Sassy Lassy Award for Recognition of Outstanding Contribution to the Art of Burlesque
2012 New York Burlesque Festival Golden Pastie Award, Most likely to start a harem [44]
2012 21st Century Burlesque Burlesque Top 50, Number 2 [45]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kahn, Eve M. (April 28, 2016). "Dressed to Kill: The Power of Leopard Prints". New York Times. Retrieved February 5, 2017. 
  2. ^ Lewis, Steve. My Intimate Interview with Burlesque Queen Jo Boobs Weldon, BlackBook, 4 November 2011. Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  3. ^ Johnson, Holli-Mae. BurlyCon – Past, Present and Future., 21st Century Burlesque, 13 September 2011. Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  4. ^ PinchBottom Burlesque Performers, PinchBottom Burlesque. Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  5. ^ Urbanski, J.N. URL: examiner.com/article/burlesque-profile-jo-boobs Burlesque profile: Jo Boobs, (link blocked by wikipedia) 15 October 2009. Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  6. ^ Java's Bachelor Pad. Jo Boobs, Java's Bachelor Pad, July 2006. Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  7. ^ "Here she is, world!" Celebrate Gypsy's 100th Birthday with The New York Public Library, Bust Magazine. Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  8. ^ Jo Boobs Teaches the Va-Va Voom!, Coilhouse, January 2010. Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  9. ^ NYSB. Meet The Headmistress Jo "Boobs" Weldon, The New York School of Burlesque, 4 November 2011. Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  10. ^ Author Jo Weldon, Harper Collins Publishers Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  11. ^ Between The Covers. Presenting Jo Weldon! (Rim shot, please!), Between The Covers, 3 May 2011. Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  12. ^ NYSB. Instructors, The New York School of Burlesque. Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  13. ^ Droganes, Constance. Burlesque diva Jo Weldon wants you to take it off, CTV News, 8 June 2010. Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  14. ^ Mixson, Colin. Weird sisters: Sideshow women talk feminism in Coney, Courier Life’s Brooklyn Daily, 16 April 2012, Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  15. ^ Coney Island University "Sono Varietas", Coney Island University website, Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  16. ^ Tricia. Save Coney Poster of the Day: Jane Jacobs Would Save Coney Island, Amusing the Zillion, 13 July 2009, Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  17. ^ Burlycon Board, Burlycon official website, Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  18. ^ Pink Light Burlesque, Official website, Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  19. ^ Santa Cruz, Lauren. Pink Light Burlesque: Breast Cancer Survivors Strip Down and Celebrate, TIME, 26 January 2012, Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  20. ^ Shadwell, Talia. Burlesque a confidence boost for cancer survivors, Manawatu Standard cited in Stuff.co.nz, 2 February 2013, Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  21. ^ Taylor, Joanne. New Feature – Burlesque Book Review, Burlesque Bible Magazine, 22 November 2011. Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  22. ^ Devotchka, Divertida. Spotlight Burlesque / Jo Weldon, Pin Curl, 31 October 2010. Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  23. ^ Weldon, Jo. ‘The Burlesque Handbook’ HarperCollins Publishers, 2010
  24. ^ Jessica. Jo Weldon’s Burlesque Handbook, Burlesque Seattle Press, 7 June 2010. Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  25. ^ Internet Archive for http://www.gstringsforever.com, Wayback Machine, Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  26. ^ Weldon, Jo. Eau de Jo Archived 2013-03-09 at the Wayback Machine., Live Journal, 22 December 2011. Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  27. ^ Weldon, Jo. Ask me anything about Burlesque!, Formspring, 24 May 2011. Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  28. ^ Weldon, Jo. Backstage Etiquette with Jo Boobs, Pin Curl, 31 March 2012. Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  29. ^ Show me how you burlesque - episode 1, Christina Aguilera official website, 8 December 2010. Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  30. ^ Show me how you burlesque - episode 2, Christina Aguilera official website, 22 December 2010. Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  31. ^ Ditmore, Melissa Hope. ‘Prostitution and Sex Work (Historical Guides to Controversial Issues in America)’ Greenwood, 2011
  32. ^ "A Life's Work: The Stripper's Advocate". Nerve.com. 12 May 2004. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  33. ^ Weldon, Jo. Sex work research needs to focus on money, The Scavenger. Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  34. ^ Huang, Karen. Sex as Work. A stage show illuminates the humanity of sex workers, F News. February 2007, Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  35. ^ Jo Weldon performer bio, Sex Worker Arts Show, Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  36. ^ Ikard, Theresa. Burlesque’s Jo Weldon on Feminism, Fluid Sexuality, Domestication Drag, Carnal Nation, 3 April 2010, Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  37. ^ Gasten, David. Why The Burlesque Show is over, The Thing Is, 29 November 2010, Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  38. ^ Jo Weldon on IMBb, Internet Movie Database, Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  39. ^ PinchBottom Burlesque Performers, PinchBottom Burlesque. Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  40. ^ Best (and hottest) teacher - 2007, The Village Voice, Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  41. ^ Jo Weldons School of Burlesque, The Village Voice, Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  42. ^ The Burlesque TOP 50 2010: No. 3, 21st Century Burlesque, 21 January 2011 Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  43. ^ The Burlesque TOP 50 2011: No. 3, 21st Century Burlesque, 9 January 2012 Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  44. ^ Golden Pastie Awards 2012, The New York Burlesque Festival, Retrieved on 30 March 2013.
  45. ^ The Burlesque TOP 50 2012: No. 2, 21st Century Burlesque, 15 January 2013 Retrieved on 30 March 2013.

External links[edit]