Monday, July 11, 2022

Film clip: My Grandma Was An Exotic Dancer

My Grandma was an Exotic Dancer! From the documentary film JIG SHOW |  Leon Claxton's Harlem in Havana by filmmaker Leslie Cunningham. In this clip, Shirley Bates (now in her 90s) talks about her time as the lead dancer performing exotic dance on the Harlem in Havana revue in the 1940s. Shirley and her older sisters were some of the first brown-skin beauties to bump and grind during the heyday of burlesque. Watch the full film at

Part of The Harlem in Havana Project: Burlesque Education Series covering American burlesque history from the traveling carnival stage.