a very long time ago i was in Victorville Ca. visiting The Roy Rodgers and Dale Evans Museum
so...there was this OTHER place i'd heard of, but details were less than sketchy.. this my friend was in that vague, "whats this internet stuff", period of time....i did mention it was a long time ago , right?...anyways this mysterious destination was called Exotic World...a burlesque museum apparently in the middle of the Mojave Desert...that was the extent of my info...soo as i paid my admission to Roy and Dale's Museum I casually inquired of the wizened senior citizen manning the ticket booth. (obviously a cornerstone of the community). a cigarette hanging out the corner of her mouth, your classic skinny assed ticket booth lady.... i asked Louise, if she was aware of this other museum way up here in the high desert.,,,you know , the way competing museums keep tabs on each other...anyways i hit gold! Oh That Den of Iniquity...that Whorehouse...That Place of INFAMY... SIN BIN the judgements did pour forth...eventually i did hear, ITS About an HOUR UP THE ROAD.....and i got an actual address!
in the midst of her moral tirade she did let slip the problems our dear Roy Rodgers was having with a female stalker, out for his heart,,,she had scratched her name and Roys onto his newest Cadillac. a lovely heartshaped token of their love..Dale was pissed just one more example of love and desire in the high desert
And so off i went.. following old route 66 up past a cement factory, a biker bar and numerous remarkably vague markers along the way, but, this is the thing, eventually i did get there.... I stopped and stared with wonder at the gates, the veritable Portals of Exotic World. just me, the wind, a bunch of dust and the intense heat. I might mention at this point that imposing as the gates were and there was another set of them further on down the road, their only function seemed to be to assist visitors in finding the driveway to the museum itself .. any other sort of fencing had long fallen down...or blown away. so thru the Portals of EXOTIC WORLD I went. I FOLLOWED THE VISITOR INSTRUCTIONS PAINTED ON A PIECE OF WEATHERED PLYWOOD " HONK 3 TIMES AND WAIT " ...Eventually Dixie Evans (The Marilyn Monroe of Burlesque), appeared, dressed as a circus ringmaster /jiminy cricket amalgam and gestured me into the place they called Exotic World ... i was given the full tour, 9 rooms full of all things burlesque and not.... photos, costumes.. fliers and feathers. Dixie advised me to return for the Miss Exotic World Competition....
I've decided to break the images into three galleries: Exotic World early days in Hellendale, Exotic World Vegas, and Legends of Burlesque.
in retrospect the importance of these images has everything to do with timing...there was this odd groundswell of interest in burlesque by young intelligent performers who although aware of their predecessors were taking the act of burlesque to uncharted lands..besides the old girls there was a huge invasion of young talent . Under Dixie's guidance the exotic world pageant became a yearly event-- "a must in the dust." this, the Olympics of Burlesque, drew contemporary performers from most large cities from across America. it also seemed to bring the most adverse weather .
Exotic World USA, located on the site of a failed goat farm, in the middle of the Mojave Desert, a Fellini like experience with bejeweled and draped figures gliding across a landscape of well not much really, a big flat dusty windy tumbleweed strewn location with a couple outbuildings and a pool sorta...there was very little protection from the elements...intense heat and sun. the swarms of flying gnats would make a b-line for your eyes which would thankfully be blown away by sudden grit filled gusts of wind which would then turn into swirling dustdevils . BUT THE SHOW GOES ON! ....high heels and gopher holes, all wrapped up in one glorious day per year.