Burlesque legend Tempest Storm bares her soul

She's called herself the Muhammad Ali of the burlesque world, now the greatest exotic dancer peels back the layers of her personal story.
Yes, burlesque star Tempest Storm seduced a superstar and a U.S. president, but the man she married and the child they had were the real gamechangers in her life. (Mongrel Media)

Tempest Storm tore through the burlesque scene in the 1950s, attracting international fame and the affection of powerful men — including Elvis and John F. Kennedy. 

But the fiercely independent dancer is fascinating far beyond her fame and romantic history. For starters, she was sober in a drink and drug-fuelled industry. She later scandalized her fans by marrying to a black man at a time when racism was widespread and overt. 

Now in her 80s, the performer formerly known as Annie Blanch Banks has never retired. Today she joins Shad to discuss Tempest Storm, a revealing new documentary about her life on and off the stage. 

The dancer opens up about the high personal price she paid behind the scenes, the healing power of telling her own story, and what influential men are really like up close.

WEB EXTRA | Watch the trailer for Tempest Storm, which opens in Toronto and Vancouver this weekend, then scroll through some captivating images of the unretired burlesque legend.

Tempest Storm was offered another name early in her career: Sunny Day. Her reply? 'I don't feel like a Sunny Day.' (Jae C. Hong/The Associated Press)

Tempest Storm is in her 80s but, as she says, she doesn't plan on 'hanging up [her] g-string' any time soon. (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)

'Advice for Young Women' is Tempest Storm's collaboration with Jack White. 'Don't look at yourself through other people's eyes. That's quicksand.' (Jessica Earnshaw)


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.