What once was considered a seamy business run by shady dealers now is “feminist, punk, gender inclusive, and nonbinary.”

Make no mistake, “Rust Belt Burlesque: The Softer Side of a Heavy Metal Town” by Erin O’Brien and Bob Perkoski is an adults-only read.

The text by O’Brien begins with a profile of the woman credited with the revival of Cleveland burlesque: a Mexican immigrant who uses the stage name Bella Sin. She grew up in Denver and began performing in the Akron area about 15 years ago, forming her own troupe; more success came with the inception of an annual festival in 2011. An affiliation with Cleveland’s Beachland Ballroom followed.

O’Brien follows with a historical look that she acknowledges is not complete, but it gives insight into the earliest appearances of burlesque in Cleveland, which served up minstrel, drag and sideshow-type acts with the shimmying dancers and salty comedians. The main theater was the Roxy on East Ninth Street, now the site of the National City Center. The Roxy closed in 1977.

The theme of inclusivity applies not only to the mission of neo-burlesque to encourage body positivity and support for the LGBTQ community, but also seems intent to include every performer on the scene, artists like Bee Awkward, Lushes Lamoan and Hank E. Panky, the latter described as a “boylesque” act. Perkoski’s photos, most taken onstage, show the drama and color of the performances.

“Rust Belt Burlesque” (191 pages, softcover) costs $24.95 from Ohio University Press.

O’Brien and Perkoski will sign “Rust Belt Burlesque” at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Visible Voice Books, 2258 Professor Ave., Cleveland. O’Brien is the author of “The Irish Hungarian Guide to the Domestic Arts.” Perkoski’s photography also has appeared in “Rust Belt Chic: The Cleveland Anthology.”

Letters home

Woodridge High School graduate Peggy Sue Cogar is fortunate to have a trove of letters her father wrote to her mother while serving in the Army in World War II, and she has compiled them, along with letters from her son Tim’s Army service and Tim’s daughter Taylor, now in the Air Force, in “My Family, My Country: A Memoir of Patriotism and Faith.”

Myrl Russell McMullen met Patricia “Pat” Cooney on a blind date in 1940. He worked at the Acme grocery on North Hill, and she was a high school junior. They were inseparable, according to Cogar, until Myrl was drafted in February 1941.

Myrl was a faithful and effusive correspondent, keeping Pat up to date on his activities in basic training and deployment, though some of the latter were censored for security. Letters came from Iceland, Ireland, and England; Myrl was wounded on a French battlefield and received a Purple Heart. Pat graduated from St. Thomas School of Nursing in 1945. They married in 1946.

In addition to the letters, Cogar includes interviews with other veterans, including a World War II Army nurse and a Tuskegee Airman who had guided incoming fighter planes.

“My Family, My Country” (422 pages, softcover) costs $20 from online retailers. Peggy Cogar grew up in Akron and Cuyahoga Falls and retired to Florida. She is working on a book about her husband’s Guillian-Barré syndrome.

Browns town

It’s far too early for predictions, but it seems that people are optimistic about the upcoming Cleveland Browns season. Some may remember the years that Blanton Collier coached the team, beginning with the 1964 NFL championship. North Canton author Roger Gordon examines the Collier years in “Blanton’s Browns: The Great 1965-69 Cleveland Browns.”

Collier was a Kentucky native who suffered a hearing loss during his Navy service in World War II.

He came to the Browns from a coaching job at the University of Kentucky. With players Jim Brown, Dick Schafrath and Paul Warfield, the team won the championship; Gordon profiles each of these greats and many others. Hall of Famers Leroy Kelly, Gene Hickerson and Paul Groza are expected, but where-are-they-now quotes from quarterback Jim Ninowski, running back Charley Scales and cornerback Bernie Parrish attest to the author’s thorough research. Gary Collins (wide receiver 1962-1971) wrote the foreword.

“Blanton’s Browns” (194 pages, softcover) costs $19.95 from Black Squirrel Books, an imprint of Kent State University Press. Roger Gordon also is the author of “The Miracle of Richfield: The Story of the 1975-76 Cleveland Cavaliers.”

Book events

Loganberry Books (13015 Larchmere Boulevard, Shaker Heights): Duke University economics professor Lori Leachman signs her memoir “The King of Halloween & Miss Firecracker Queen: A Daughter’s Tale of Family and Football,” about life with her father, a football coach who developed chronic traumatic encephalopathy caused by brain trauma, 1 p.m. today; Shaker Heights native and neuroscientist John Kruse talks about “Recognizing ADHD: What Donald Trump Can Teach Us About Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder,” 3 p.m. today.

Akron-Summit County Public Library (Tallmadge branch, 90 Community Road): Kathryn Hardgrove Popio, author of “Cross Keys, Carpet Bag, and Pen: Letters Depicting Three Ohio Families During the Civil War,” appears from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Monday.

Kave Coffee Bar (584 W. Tuscarawas Ave., Barberton): Tim Carroll signs “World War II Akron,” 6:45 to 7:30 p.m. Monday.

Market Garden Brewery (1947 W. 25th St., Cleveland): Poets James Arthur (“The Suicide’s Son”) and Ruth Awad (“Set to Music a Wildfire,” winner of the 2018 Ohioana Book Award) join the Brews + Prose series, 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Cuyahoga County Public Library (South Euclid-Lyndhurst branch, 1876 S. Green Road, South Euclid): Lyndhurst author Mary Doria Russell (“Doc”) launches “The Women of Copper Country,” a fact-based novel about a woman who led a strike in a Michigan copper mining town in 1913, 7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. Register at 216-382-4880.

Barnes & Noble (4015 Medina Road, Bath Township): Fantasy author Christopher Paolini (“Eragon,” “Inheritance”) gives a presentation about his story collection “The Fork, the Witch and the Worm,” 7 p.m. Friday.

Mac’s Backs (1820 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights): Poets Charles Cicirella and Jason Baldinger read from their works, 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday.

Send information about books of local interest to Features Department, Akron Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309 or cpowell@thebeaconjournal.com. Event notices should be sent at least two weeks in advance.