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It's All That Glitters: Portraits of Burlesque Performers in Their Homes Hardcover – April 28, 2012
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Learn more
About the Author
Brian C. Janes (aka BCJ) is a photographer, videographer, musician and producer based in Los Angeles, California. He has been photographing people since 2002, burlesque performers on and off stage since 2005, and specializes in portraits, glamour, and performance photography.
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When I was asked to be a part of this project I didn't know much about BCJ and looked him up online. I was so impressed by the images, I immediately said yes.
I couldn't be prouder that I am included, but moreover I can't believe how amazing the images and stories are. BCJ captures the heart of the performers with his images, and with the interviews he lets them speak in their own words about burlesque. You get the story and the back story. Its pretty awesome to get to see so many comtemporary performers who've come into this resurgent art form.
Really expected a lot more out of this book given the premise and the cover photos - once more, you can't judge a book by it's cover. I do boudoir photography (and photography in general) as a hobby, which is why I really like these books, and I live in New Orleans, so there are lots of pretty ladies here to do modeling. Schiffer usually turns out very high quality books, and this one is very well-made, it's just that the photographs themselves and the "eye" isn't there.
Good premise - go to burlesque performers' houses, photograph them in costume in some quirky room and ask them simply "What does burlesque mean to you?" Good idea, bad execution. Mr. Janes says up front that he traveled 14,000 miles (as I recall) flying across the country to shoot these photos, but he must've done it on business trips for other purposes, because a very high proportion of the models in this book are in the Midwest; specifically, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio - all the typical places one thinks of as "hot spots" for burlesque (tongue firmly planted in cheek). He has two photos taken in New Orleans, one of an obese older woman I've never heard of, wearing her "I'm going to Wal-Mart" clothes in a completely blah room, and another who looks to be an overweight drag queen I've also never heard of. There are a number of EXTREMELY good burlesque clubs in New Orleans, and Ms. Bella Blue down here runs perhaps the finest burlesque studio in the South, and the mere fact that neither she, nor ANY of her entertainers (probably a crew of over fifty) are in this book tells me Mr. Janes didn't research his topic very well. And, I'm equally sure such icons also exist in New York, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Vegas, and other cities widely known for burlesque.
Other BIG problem with this book - guys. Yes, we know there are ring masters and stage men in burlesque, but does anyone really want to look at them? There's probably a dozen photos in the book of burlesque emcees and hosts, and honestly, no offense, but who cares about them? Last big problem with the book is simply that Mr. Janes doesn't seem to have the "eye" for what he was after. Most of the photos completely lack any imagination and are just pics of ladies standing in their bedrooms, or bathrooms, or kitchens, sometimes wearing a dance costume, sometimes fully clothed in completely drab attire. There's no real interesting lighting, no artistic poses, no moody shots, not much playfulness; they almost look like over-glorified snapshots. Honestly, the photo on the cover is the best one in the whole book.
If you can get this one cheap, pick it up, as about 1/4th of the photos are decent and have merit - the rest aren't very impressive at all. Hate to say, had high expectations for this book and it's a good idea, somebody just needs to go do a better job of it.