Giulia Rouge, Blonde Pitbul and Black Cherry girls of the group ‘SickGirls’ on break during rehearsal at The Rock Circus Cafe, Bologna. October, 2007.

Giovanni Cocco


Burlesque is an ancient show connected to the nineteenth-century theatre, born during the Victorian England as popular show. The beautiful women kidded the aristocracy of their age through music, dances and ironic and provoking manners. At the end of the XX° century, on the wave of vintage mode and culture, the «burlesque performers» have reinvented themselves creating a «new-burlesque», a show during which the strip-tease is only an element and not at all mandatory. As part of the show there is choreography, orchestra music, comic moments and, for the contemporary version, contamination by fetish and punk elements. 

The first time I attended a burlesque show I was attracted by colours, hairstyles, clothes with a mix of nostalgia, ironic and romanticism; but over all I was fascinated by the humor of these women who, despite living in a stereotyped society, loved showing their bodies in their rounded, full figures. And so I decided, between 2008 and 2010, to travel far and widely, aiming to absorb that experience. After years, the final result of this research work, edited during 2017, took another form as a book, “Burladies”, a powerful visual narrative portraying of the women of the saucy and vivacious world of burlesque.





Giovanni Cocco was born in Sulmona in 1973. His works are exposed in personal and group exhibitions and published on books and international magazines. In 1998, he started a long term project about the life of his sister Monia, disabled from birth, rewarded as runner up at the Emerging Photographer Grant of Burn Magazine – Magnum Foundation and reported from the jury of Roger Pic Prize of the Scam in Paris, which dedicated to this work an exhibition during the Mois de la Photo 2012. Moreover, with this project, he won PDN Award and received the Grant of the Reminder Photography Stronghold Gallery, rewarded by another exhibition in Tokyo. On the occasion of the show in Japan, he realized the relating book.

From 2007 to 2010 he completed Burladies, a portraits series about the women’s life of Burlesque world, with which he was selected for “Mentor” program with the international VII Agency, where he spended 2 years. The work has been published in several international magazines and joins a travelling exhibition throughout Europe, until to become a book in 2018 

From 2010 to 2012, he worked on assignment for L’Espresso magazine for the “Moving Walls” project, with the journalist Fabrizio Gatti – research about the migrants condition along Europe borders in Greece, Italy and Morocco. From 2013 he is working with the Italian writer Caterina Serra on the projects “Displacement – new town no town” and “A che ora chiude Venezia”, an analysis and an investigation between photography and writing about the transformation and homologation of historic Italian cities.

Currently he is based in Rome and represented by Arte Globale  and IlexPhoto 

The book, Burladies, is now available 

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Giovanni Cocco

2 thoughts on “Giovanni Cocco – Burladies”

  1. Awhile back I spent some time with some Neo-Burlesque artists. What I found fascinating was their feelings about the male gaze. I had ignorantly assumed that they viewed their audience as a bunch of creeps, as is the case with most regular strippers, but that wasn’t at all how they looked at it. Taking off their clothes in front of an audience was not something they chose; it was just the way they were born. And they genuinely appreciated the audience appreciating their bodies, and their art. The top burlesque performers like Jo Weldon, Bunny Love, Bambi the Mermaid, Julie Muz, et. al. are genuinely great artists.

    That’s the challenge of photographing Neo Burlesque. How to transcend being just a member of the audience and communicate something of who they really are and how that relates to their art? Without that, the photos can only hope to be as good as the performance being photographed.

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