Today there are many different styles of burlesque, ranging from intimate striptease vibes to a showgirl spectacle. But do you also know cheesecake burlesque? Find out what cheesecake burlesque is all about, where it comes from and some typical features of the style.
Cheesecake en beefcake
The term cheesecake can be found in British poetry as early as 1660. There it was used to describe very attractive or promiscuous women.
Cheesecake, which has nothing to do with food, is best known as an American slang word for semi-naked pin-up art. After all, pin-up art was taboo in the early 1920s. Pin-ups could be found as drawings, paintings, illustrations, photos in magazines, postcards and in newspapers. Pin-up art was meant to be pinned on the wall. It was very popular in the 1930s-50s. Artists such as Gil Elvgren, Vargas and Briben created adorable scenes of beautiful ladies with sexy undertones that remain popular today in books, calendars and of course Burlesque. Think of cute, humorous but also cheeky poses where, for example, the skirt flies up due to a naughty gust of wind and more leg or lingerie is showing than ‘intended’.
Beefcake is the male version of the term cheesecake. These are attractive photos and images of men, and mostly men with a bare muscular torso. It is a form of glamor photography in which a muscular male body is depicted to emphasize the physical appeal. In the 1940s, the number of shirtless photos of attractive stars (actors, musicians, etc.) increased and in the 1950s, film magazines began to portray famous actors in swimsuits. During the same period, you also had the rise of bodybuilding magazines, which remain popular to this day. But beefcake can also be found on the big screen. Today more and more muscular film stars can be seen barely dressed in action and adventure films.
Ryan Reynolds – beefcake
Cheesecake is an energetic classic burlesque sub-genre inspired by semi-naked pin-up art. The style is characterized by humor, (self) mockery, silly aspects and cheerful, cheeky, innocent & playful exaggerated femininity. Very typical are the large cartoon eyes and exaggerated pin-up facial expression. It is an accessible style for many with both sexy and humorous sides. Cheesecake invites you to be playful and sassy without appearing overtly sexual or aggressive. Blowing a playful kiss with a big wink, lifting your skirt just a little too high or a boa that accidentally falls… anything is possible. After all, it’s all about having fun, telling a story and conveying exaggerated emotions through facial expressions (from happy and pleasantly surprised to sad or angry). Especially these expressions are very typical to the style and gives it that humorous side.
There is no specific cheesecake style of music, but people often choose upbeat music with clear rhythms or accents to play with. Music with text often lends itself well to this form of burlesque, because you can depict the text or parts of it narratively.
Cheesecake burlesque look & icon
A general Cheesecake look is one of a colorful pinup. The fetish for lingerie including stockings & garters, translated well on the burlesque stage of the 1950s.
A well-known icon from the 1950s that inspires many burlesque artists within the cheesecake style is pin-up model Betty Page. With her beautiful but modest appearance, big smile, cheeky eyes and naughty scenes, she embodies the style. She also maintains a girlish playfulness in her fetish photos. Not only her photos are worth looking at, but also her performance as an assistant to burlesque legend Tempest Storm in the film Teaserama.
Fascinated by Cheesecake burlesque?
- Be inspired by our online Cheesecake burlesque minireeks.
- Want to learn more Cheesecake?
- Join us for a expression & poses masterclass ‘The face-off’ with Dame Delight.
- Keep an eye on our website and social media for a Cheesecake themed class series from Lilith D’Licious.
- Would you like to read more?
- The art of pin-up – Dian Hanson , 2014.
The burlesque handbook by Jo Weldon
Pretty things by Liz Goldwyn
Burlesque, the art of tease by Dita Von Teese
Headmistress of Sinners Dollhouse