In the days before hardcore pornography attained mainstream accessibility in America, a more docile and suggestive form of adult entertainment proliferated in and around big cities, especially Manhattan: the classic burlesque show. Populated by musicians, comedians, and strippers, and cloaked in an overarching gaudiness, "burly" shows typically cost a dime for a single admission. Especially during difficult eras such as the Great Depression, the shows enabled male attendees to temporarily cast their troubles aside. As helmed by Leslie Zemeckis
(documentarist wife of Robert Zemeckis
), this chronicle examines the burly tradition by interviewing authors, historians, and burlesque participants including former strippers, comedians, and novelty acts. Taken together, the personal reminiscences not only reflect a broad spectrum of emotions, from triumph to tragedy, but add up to a historical chronicle of a unusual, now-extinct subculture that will remain forever tied to the early to mid-20th century.