Tempest Storm believes a woman’s greatest weapon is a man’s imagination.
Having a 44DD bust doesn’t hurt either. Nor does the willingness to shimmy down to near nudity on a Las Vegas stage.
The now 82-year-old burlesque dancer made a big name for herself back in the 1950s, swinging her tassels in a decade rife with wholesome housewives and Tupperware.
“The first time I played Vegas, I had a choreographer,” said Storm. “I did an act with props and screens and chaise lounges. I had two dancers in the act with me. It caused a whole commotion in Vegas. The local newspapers said I had the most sinful act in Las Vegas.”
Back then, an evening of burlesque made for a risque night, she said. “Now that production number wouldn’t make a dent!”
All that stage strutting and provocative disrobing earned Storm plenty of attention. Her measurements – 44DD-25-35 – earned her the moniker, “The Girl with the Fabulous Front.”
She dated Elvis, married “Bronze Buckaroo” Herb Jeffries, and was featured in burlesque films like “Teaserama” alongside Bettie Page. One of her G-strings is on display at the Exotic World Burlesque Museum Hall of Fame in Helendale, Calif.
It’s an impressive history – one to tell the grandkids about, once they turn 18.
But Tempest Storm isn’t living in the past, spending her afternoons among crochet hooks and an embarrassing number of cats. This octogenarian still likes to get gussied up, slip into something fabulous – and then slip out of it.
“At my age, I’m still out there dropping my veils,” she said. “I don’t even think of retirement.”
In fact, Storm had every intention of “dropping her veils” at Saturday’s Las Vegas Burlesque Revue at Merrill Auditorium. Unfortunately, she’s still on the mend from a broken hip she suffered after falling during a performance earlier this year.
Storm will still host the burlesque-filled evening, which includes performances by Miss Exotic World Vegas Queens Kitten de Ville and Angie Pontani, Portland’s Whistlebait Burlesque and Red Hot & Ladylike, plus an array of other dancers and comedians.
It’s a racy night both men and women can appreciate. And while there’s no nudity in the show, audience members might still blush at the performances, even in an era of low-rise jeans, celebrity sex tapes and those hot tub scenes on MTV’s “Jersey Shore.”
The Portland show is the first of just two Las Vegas Burlesque Revue performances; the other is happening Nov. 14 at North Shore Music Theatre in Boston.
Storm is hoping the shows trigger a renewed appreciation for the classic style of burlesque she remembers. The timing also lines up with the release of “Burlesque,” a film starring Cher and Christina Aguilera about a small-town girl who moves to Los Angeles and finds her place in a neo-burlesque club run by a former dancer.
Storm believes the film might be an unapproved takeoff of her own small-town-girl-turned-burlesque-star life, though she’ll have to wait for the Nov. 24 release to know for sure. “We’re going to see what happens,” she said.
In the meantime, she is continuing to live with the same sauciness that made her famous in the first place. A generation of men surely remember her fondly, but a new throng of burlesque dancers and appreciators might find her for the first time, at the accomplished age of 82.
“I think it’s fantastic that I can be an inspiration to these young girls,” she said. “I’ve had a good life, and I’m still having a good time.”
To folks who might think a woman of a certain age should trade her G-string in for Geritol, Storm says it’s all a matter of attitude.
“Age has never bothered me,” she said. “A lot of people worry about age. Train yourself to be old, then you’ll be old.”
But if you want to be that minx at center stage, Storm recommends a gorgeous wardrobe, stellar music and the perfect teasing choreography.
And always leave something to the imagination.
Staff Writer Shannon Bryan can be contacted at 791-6333 or at: