With the Combat Zone down to just two clubs, it's easy to forget that Boston was once a world-famous hub of burlesque and exotic dancing. Men - and women - came from all over to see tassel twirling and fan dancing - and acts that included everybody from comedian Fred Allen to pre-championship boxer Rocky Marciano. Harvard men rarely graduated without taking in a show .
The end was nigh in 1953, when the Watch and Ward Society got Boston Police to shut down the Old Howard , during a performance by three dancers, notably Irma the Body . The theater, which had opened in the 1840s as a Millerite church, never re-opened. And when it caught on fire in 1961, the city rushed in with bulldozers to tear the place down, to make way for the new Government Center  (the Old Howard sat on what is now the plaza behind 1 Center Plaza).
But until then, there was Ann Corio. Although not a native - she was from Hartford  - Corio became known as the ultimate Old Howard dancer. Photographer Leslie Jones captured her and other dancers at work  in the 1930s and 1940s.
In the 1960s, Corio put on her own burlesque revival show, "This Was Burlesque" and put out two records on the theme of "how to strip for your husband." She died in 1999.
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FROM THE FOOD UPRISINGS in the early 1700s to the notorious antibusing riots in the mid-1970s,...
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