CALGARY - Canadian burlesque star Kaitlyn Regehr says she misses her stint on the now-cancelled "Re-Vamped" but still has her fingers in some "risque" business.
Regehr, 27, started out dancing jazz, gained professional training as a burlesque/cabaret performer and choreographer before spending a couple seasons on the Slice Network's "Re-Vamped."
The show would bring together a group of women for what was basically a burlesque bootcamp where they would spend two months getting counselling, fitness training and peer support as well as daily dance lessons as they were transformed into confident burlesque queens.
"I do miss my show," said Regehr in an interview in Calgary.
"I am involved in the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation right now working on a pinup girl calendar for women who live with breast cancer. The nice thing is I get to take some of my favourite bits of 'Re-Vamped,' which is like the female empowerment and working with women, and put it into this project."
Now Regehr has turned her attention to both a documentary film and a book tracing back the history of burlesque and its metamorphosis into modern-day exotic dancing.
She had been focusing on interviews with some of the burlesque queens of the 1950s and '60s including April March, Tempest Storm and Bettie Page.
"I became interested in documenting the stories after I went to hear this burlesque queen speak at a bar. It was like a terribly attended talk because unfortunately, although they were once big stars, the fall from grace was huge because at the end of the day they're all old strippers," she chuckled.
"I'm moving around with these old legends of burlesque — I mean Tempest Storm who had an affair with JFK and has huge videos on YouTube with Bettie Page. These are the people who are kind of within this group that I now find myself within," she said.
"I think this stuff says a lot more about humanity than opera does. I just think it's a piece of forgotten American culture ... it's Americana."
The stories that are emerging showcase an environment that is both dangerous and glamorous with burlesque theatres owned primarily by the mob.
"It was an underbelly world. I think it's very easy in this day and age to look through the nostalgic haze of history and imagine the mobster in his fedora, but it was a rough world," Regehr added.
"Their relationship to power is very different than exotic dancers today. You have them messing around with the Kennedys and Joe DiMaggio. Everything is owned by the Fischetti brothers so they're in this very strange world that is both censored by the government but which the government is heavily involved with."
Regehr said once burlesque moved from private theatres to mainstream clubs, things changed for the dancers.
"It was the beginning of striptease as we know it."
Regehr is hoping to have the documentary finished within a year and the book will come afterwards.
"I feel like there's not been a lot of coverage of this world. The stuff that there is is very historically based — just straight interviews and stock footage. It's not living. Hanging around with these old ladies and going into their worlds — that's living."