Friday, April 9, 2010

The Lady is a Stripper by Dusty Summers

I have been fortunate enough to have met Dusty Summers on several occasions at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Reunion Weekend in Las Vegas.  After watching her perform on Legend's Night as Las Vegas' only nude magician I was an instant fan of her skill and charisma.  I was even more impressed when I found out she was a pit boss for a casino in Las Vegas, where she lives still.  She was kind enough to let me interview her for my Burlesque History Class, so when I found out that she had a book I had to track it down to read it.  It's a really quick and easy read and I devoured it in a relatively short period of time since I couldn't put it down.

This book is an amazing and heart wrenching tale of a woman over coming all odds to find love, happiness and success.  It begins with the hardships and abuse she suffered with her sister from her family to a series of husbands that weren't much better.  The physical and mental abuse was devastating and is a testament to the amazingly strong woman she is today.  Her rise to a Featured Performer is an amazingly inspiring story of guts an sheer force of will.  Taking her daughter with her in an RV on tour during the summer months so she could make enough money to support her family and spend time together is so touching and shows the lengths a mother will go to do what's best for her child.  Her husbands may have come and gone, but her love  and devotion for her sister and daughter were unending.

As a burlesque performer, I found many parts of the book truly inspiring.  Having been crammed in a car for hours going from burlesque show to burlesque show I did envy her talking about having a sleeper trailer or RV.  Reading about the love and dedication she showed for the art form and the things she did to make sure she never compromised herself as a person really meant a lot to me.  She was able to become a living legend by never doing anything she wasn't comfortable with or didn't want to do.  Dusty Summers did everything in her life on her terms.  Through all of her hardships and trials she took everything in stride and with a grace that is seldom seen today.  Dusty Summers is truly a Lady and everything that goes along with being such.  I do truly think that if more neo-burlesquers read the books by the amazing legends who came before us they would have a much greater appreciation of the freedoms we have today as performers.