"The King and the Burlesque Queen"

- Elvis and Tempest Storm -

“Well, I’m as horny as a billy goat in a pepper patch.  I’ll race you to the bed.”

About Tempest Storm: Tempest Storm is a true superstar of burlesque.  She was born Annie Blanche Banks on Wednesday, February 29, 1928.

With her statuesque figure and enticing stage show she was the queen of burlesque in the 1950s and 1960s and enjoyed high profile relationships with male celebrities including Mickey Rooney, JFK, Englebert Humperdinck, Sammy Davis Jr. and Elvis. 

............Tempest Storm has one of the greatest stage names for any burlesque performer ever, but that isn't all she had. Standing 5'6" tall, with flaming red hair and a figure that men (and many women) would kill for, Tempest soon went from chorus girl to strip-tease star. She also became a pin-up sensation with the help of legendary photographer and director Russ Meyer (Beyond the Valley of the Dolls).

She was one of the defining women in the golden age of the striptease, creating a lasting myth that every classic bachelor is thankful for.

For those of you who weren't around to see her in her prime, you can luckily still find some of her strip-tease movies, most notably Teaserama, which stars her and Bettie Page. These films were meant then to be just stag films, but now are treasured as a glimpse into a world that no longer exists.

Tempest continued to appear live on stage until the 1980s.  Tempest and Elvis participated in a promotional shoot in Las Vegas in 1956 where their relationship began. 

Tempest has retired from performing, but hits the stage every once in a while (like she did at the 2006 Exotic World Weekend) to show the current generation what the golden age of burlesque was all about.

Trivia: One astrologer commented that being a Pisces, Ms Storm would have a slim body.

The following excerpts are from her best selling autobiography, The Lady Is A Vamp, published in 1987 by Peachtree Publishers. 

It is currently out of print but copies can often be obtained from online booksellers including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

It is a colorful and highly entertaining autobiography...........

First meeting:

Standing next to the publicist, I could see the dark, handsome features of Elvis towering over a circle of chorus girls just down the hallway…….the publicist giggled at his own cleverness and scurried away to pull Elvis from the clutches of the young dancers from the chorus line.  Even with his dark skin, Elvis blushed deeply when he saw me.  I could tell he was trying not to look at my plunging neckline as he said in a deep but boyish voice tinged with a southern accent, “Hello, Miss Storm.  Your show is the greatest.”…….

…….As the photographer’s flash winked, Elvis asked what I would be doing later.  I coyly told him that I already had plans.  It was true.  I’d planned to dine with Major Riddle and an oilman from Texas who’d sent flowers to my dressing room the previous night.  I suggested that we might get together another time.  Then I guided his arm around my waist and told him to think naughty thoughts, “like we just got out of bed together.”

His face reddened again.  He turned toward the camera and didn’t look away until the photographer had finished. His uneasiness made smiling a breeze for me.  Not only were we going to get some great publicity photos, but I was also going to linger in Elvis’s mind as a different sort of woman, someone not ready to swoon at the opportunity to be near him.  After several flashes, I put one hand on the upper part of his bare chest above the opening in his silk shirt.  Still, he didn’t look at me.  I finally called a halt to the picture session and turned to leave.  “I’ll see you soon,” he said as we parted.


Secret rendezvous:

……Once we were alone at the table, Elvis didn’t waste any time letting me know what was on his mind. He said he wanted to see me away from the hotel, away from the lounge, away from other people.

I asked in my most teasing tone just what he would do, enjoying my power over this man who held so much power over so many women.  I shall never forget how his face reddened and he struggled to express himself.  “Well, we could, uh…”

I didn’t intend to let him off easy.  “We could do what, Elvis?  Go to some secluded place and make mad, passionate love?”

……I had heard tales about Colonel Parker, Elvis’s manager, friend, and father figure.  “I’ll bet he wouldn’t like your getting all romantically involved with the wrong woman, would he?” I teased.

Elvis said he usually did what he wanted to do, that he was free to dine with whomever he chose. And if he felt like seeing someone that Colonel Parker didn’t approve of, then he’d just leave his security men at the hotel and do what he wanted.

I said, “Elvis, that’s sneaky.”

He said he’d do it anyhow.

Wanting to know just how successful I had been at arousing this legendary sex symbol, I couldn’t resist asking, “Would you sneak out for me?”

He suggested we get together that night, but I demurred. I had another show to do, and I needed my beauty sleep. Then I smiled at him and said, “But tomorrow is another day.”

Indeed there were other days.  Elvis and I became almost inseparable.  We dined together, danced together and laughed together.  As much as I enjoyed the feeling of power that came from having the idol of millions idolise me, I also felt real compassion for Elvis.  I understood the pressures of being a star, of having fans who felt that your onstage persona was theirs for the asking offstage.  I also knew what it was like to be constantly concerned about your image, to calculate the effect of every appearance, onstage and off…..So gradually, I felt myself growing closer to Elvis, and I became less concerned with playing games and more interested in a real relationship.

The one thing Elvis and I had not done was make love.  When I received a late-night phone call from him, remembering our past conversations, I didn’t have to be a mind reader to know what he wanted to talk about at that time of night.

“Tempest, honey, I’m busting out of here tonight, and I want to see you.  Real bad,” he said.

I had been coy long enough, so I consented.  But still concerned with my image, I added, “You can’t come through the lobby.  No man has ever been seen coming to my suite, and I’m not going to start with you.

“That’s just as well,” he said.  “Colonel Parker is raising hell about us already, and I’d rather come in the back way.”

Thus, from the very beginning, our intimate relationship was, in part, controlled by our public images and by those concerned with protecting and maintaining them. This was a lifelong pattern for us both.

I reminded Elvis that there was an eight-foot security fence behind the hotel.  he said he would climb the fence if I would just tell him where my suite was located.  I promised I would open the drapes and turn on some lights so he could see me.  Then the phone went dead.

Elvis. - God, what magic that name bore!  Even though I wouldn’t have admitted it to anyone, I was thrilled at the prospect of what the next few hours might bring.

I stood before the mirror and admired the negligee I’d bought in Los Angeles a few weeks before.  I loved it.  But I decided that it wasn’t sexy enough for Elvis, who was only twenty-one at the time.  So I changed one more time – to a blue shorty that would show off my legs better.  then I put every hair in place.  After all, if Elvis Presley was going to leave his security men behind and climb a fence behind my hotel, I wanted him to remember – for all time – that first glimpse of me when he came around the swimming pool and looked through my patio door.  I wanted it to be just like a scene in a movie, the kind of scene I had imagined back in Eastman as I thumbed through my dog-eared movie magazines for the hundredth time……..

……….Perhaps fifteen minutes after Elvis hung up the phone, I saw a leg slide over the top of the fence.  Then he stopped, hanging comically with one leg at the top of the fence and the other pointing toward the ground.  Obviously, he was hung on something. I couldn’t help from smiling at the sight of my glamorous date’s daring arrival…..I’ll never forget that naïve country boy’s saying, “Well, I’m as horny as a billy goat in a pepper patch.  I’ll race you to the bed.”

So much for the way I would have written this scene.  He grabbed my hand and started toward the nearest door.  I told him that it led to the hallway.  He swore and turned toward another. I said that was the bathroom door. 

He smiled, and Stormy started growling to let me know she wasn’t happy to have a visitor…..I nabbed her, dropped her into the living room and closed the door before she could scamper back into the bedroom.  She immediately started whining and scratching at the door.  our romantic evening was about to turn into a silly comedy sketch.

Elvis complained about the distraction, but he wasn’t distracted for long. I knew how to turn the tone back toward romance.  He was the impatient lover that night.  As the sounds of lovemaking grew more intense, so did Stormy’s growling and scratching.  Once Elvis asked if I would mind if he strangled Stormy, but I managed to take his mind of the dog.

Later, we lay side by side while our breathing slowed.  It was a tender moment between two people who understood the lives they each were leading in the fast lane of a very busy highway, a life that could also be very lonely.  As with any lovers, for Elvis and me these special moments after lovemaking were the time for talking, for sharing feelings, for holding on to that feeling of closeness the physical intimacy helped to create.

He kissed me and said he wanted to be with me as often as our schedules allowed, but he’d have to be careful because Colonel Parker was in a huff about me. I knew what was coming – the stigma I often dealt with, that of being a stripper.

The gossip columns had labelled Elvis and me “breakfast pals” and had speculated that things might be getting serious between us.

Comment on this article

Buy The Lady is a Vamp

From Publishers Weekly:

This show-biz autobiography of a Georgia sharecropper's daughter who achieved fortune as a star of burlesque is sure to draw attention for the list of men with whom Storm claims to have had affairs. They include John F. Kennedy and innumerable entertainers like Mickey Rooney, Sammy Davis Jr., Nat King Cole, Elvis Presley, Vic Damone and Engelbert Humperdinck.

With the aid of Macon (Ga.) Telegraph and News columnist Boyd, she tells of her wretched childhood, gang-rape at age 14, her stepfather's attempt at incest, running away from home in her early teens, failed marriages, serious mistakes as a mother and the death of her last lover. Those who enjoy peeping into the bedrooms of the famous will have a field day.

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