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Tempest Storm (1928–2021), legendary burlesque performer

by Linnea Crowther

Tempest Storm was one of the most famous burlesque stars of all time, known for her headline shows on the Las Vegas Strip.

“The Queen of Exotic Dancers”

Born Annie Blanche Banks, Storm was working as a waitress in Los Angeles when a customer suggested she should try burlesque. She began working at the Follies Theater in 1951, and by 1956, she had become the highest paid burlesque performer in history, making $100,000 per year. The following year, she insured her breasts for $1 million. Legally changing her name to Tempest Storm, she became a popular headliner on the Las Vegas Strip, where she continued to headline well into her 50s. Storm was an integral part of Las Vegas culture, rubbing elbows with the Rat Pack and dating Elvis Presley (1935–1977). She toured widely, selling out clubs nationwide and continuing to perform until 2010.

Notable quote

“The secret to a good striptease is to leave as much as possible to the imagination. No matter what men may think, they don’t actually want to see a performer just come out and take off her clothes. There’s got to be communication, there’s got to be contact. In my act, although I eventually do get down to the legal minimum, I actually put on more clothes than I take off. There’s some psychology in this. A performer who can communicate a feeling of modesty is sexier than one who just strips.” —from a 1968 interview with Roger Ebert

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Tributes to Tempest Storm

Full obituary: Las Vegas Review-Journal

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