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July 28, 2014

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Burlesque royalty rings in Dixie Evans’ 85th

Bring out the pasties and feathers

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Fred Morledge

Burlesque friends celebrate Dixie Evans’ 85th birthday at the Royal Resort.

Suzanne Ramsey, better known by her stage name, Kitten on the Keys, emerges from an elevator inside the Royal Resort wearing a green bustier, red heels and a tiny top hat. She rolls a suitcase of costumes backstage, then reappears at the piano in the lobby to belt out “Everybody Needs a Da-Da-Daddy” and “Salty Meat Girl,” setting the tone for the birthday party of birthday parties: The Dixie Evans Birthday Bash!.

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Dixie Evans in the 1950s as "The Marilyn Monroe of Burlesque"

Evans, once dubbed the “Marilyn Monroe of Burlesque,” is turning 85, and the bar next to a makeshift cabaret space is already dotted with ladies donning vintage glamour, kitsch and extravagance. They’re here to thank the woman, deemed the might behind burlesque preservation, in the language that bonds them best, and so the lineup of more than a dozen legends and contemporary starlets storms onstage act by act to unload its goods for Evans, who’s seated up front, next to longtime friend and burlesque legend Tempest Storm.

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Kalani Kokonuts performs a hula at Dixie Evans' 85th birthday party.

Tiffany Carter sashays out in an elegant gown and unzips to an electrifying bustier. Renea’ Le Roux blows onto the stage in her trademark Southern Belle outfit. Rita Star cleverly rips away a tailored tuxedo and empties a martini glass onto her naked chest. Kalani Kokonuts gives us a traditional hula, and Satan’s Angel lives up to her name, ending her performance with tassels on fire—literally. A “Happy Birthday” group sing-along ensues with all the girls onstage, and a choked-up Evans says, “I want all of you girls to know that I’m proud of you … all my wonderful girls that I have stood by and have stood by me.”

Then she shouts out, “Let’s go get naked!” The party continues at the pool with cupcakes and champagne. A DJ spins 45s and Cha Cha Velour emerges from a birthday cake.

“This is a fabulous, wonderful night,” Evans says around midnight in the poolside cabana. “Not because of my birthday, but because the older girls and younger girls have reunited.”

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